Civil War Battlefield Orders Gone Awry

The Written Word and Its Consequences in 13 Engagements

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About the Book

During the Civil War, the outcome of many a battle or campaign hinged on the proper wording, dissemination and interpretation of battlefield orders. Early in the war, officers trained in small unit combat could suddenly find themselves commanding thousands of men and writing orders to subordinates with little experience in the practice. The inclusion of accurate origin information, up-to-date knowledge of the situation in the field, the amount of discretion given to recipients, and the speed and geographical acumen of couriers were critical. This innovative volume examines 13 cases in which the tide of battle turned on written orders, including Ball’s Bluff, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Chickamauga. The importance of this seemingly clerical task, this work shows, equaled that of tactics, manpower, and supplies in determining the course of the Civil War.

About the Author(s)

Captain Donald R. Jermann served more than 32 years on active duty in the Navy covering World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He also served as a senior executive in the Department of Defense and lives in Laurel, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Donald R. Jermann
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, 34 maps, figures, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6949-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9034-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

Introduction      3

1. Ball’s Bluff      13

2. The First Battle of Winchester      25

3. The Battles of Mechanicsville and Gaines Mill      36

4. Malvern Hill      49

5. The Second Battle of Bull Run      62

6. The Maryland Campaign of September 1862      76

7. Perryville      88

8. Fredericksburg      98

9. Vicksburg      110

10. Gettysburg      124

11. Chickamauga      138

12. Spring Hill      152

13. The Battle of Five Forks      162

Appendix: Custer’s Last Stand      181

Chapter Notes      197

Bibliography      203

Index      205

Book Reviews & Awards

“the author has done the Civil War community a real service. Recommended”—North & South; “an immensely valuable, ground-breaking look at one of the causes of failure in the field during the war”—The NYMAS Review; “a unique look at the strategy and tactics of the Civil War battlefield…provides a fresh look at Civil War history from a new perspective”—Reference & Research Book News.