Preparing for Disunion

West Point Commandants and the Training of Civil War Leaders


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About the Book

Between 1817 and 1864, sixteen officers were assigned as Commandants of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. They played an important role in training the officers who would serve on both sides of the Civil War.
Historians criticize the program as antiquated for its time: A course in Napoleonic strategy and tactics that did not account for rifled weapons or the particularities of terrain. Yet these commandants made changes to the program, developed new textbooks and instructed cadets who became field generals.
The biographies of the commandants are presented along with their contributions to the Academy, notable graduates and other military service.

About the Author(s)

Allen H. Mesch is an author, educator, and historian from Plano, Texas. He taught at the University of Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University, and Texas Woman’s University.

Bibliographic Details

Allen H. Mesch
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 290
Bibliographic Info: 46 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7425-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3365-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
The United States Military Academy 5
Military Training 13
The Department of Tactics 22
West Point in the Civil War 37
Commandant of Cadets 46
George W. Gardiner 54
John Bliss 58
John R. Bell 62
William J. Worth 65
Ethan A. Hitchcock 71
John Fowle 79
Charles F. Smith 84
John A. Thomas 93
Bradford R. Alden 98
Robert S. Garnett 106
William H.T. Walker 111
William J. Hardee 117
John F. Reynolds 124
Christopher C. Augur 129
Kenner Garrard 133
Henry B. Clitz 138
The Commandant’s Role in Preparing Civil War Generals 143
Appendices: Major Campaigns and Strategic Battles of the Civil War 165
U.S. Military Academy Graduating Classes 169
Notable West Point Graduates Who Served in the Civil War 217
Highest Rank Prior to the Civil War 251
Notes 255
Bibliography 271
Index 277