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Mexican War and Introduction to the Civil War


Such an approach will be rejected and the Civil War will become increasingly total ... Of the Civil War's 60 major battles, West Pointers commanded both sides in 55 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mexican War and Introduction to the Civil War

Mexican War and Introduction to the Civil War
  • Lsn 6

  • Mexican War
  • Limited War
  • Turning Movement
  • Technology
  • Junior Officers
  • Introduction to Civil War
  • Road to War
  • Causes
  • Objectives and Strategies
  • Comparison

Limited War Winfield Scott
  • Epitomized the professional officer
  • Served in War of 1812, brevetted to major general
  • Studied European tactics
  • Became general-in-chief in 1841
  • Selected by President Polk to lead a second major
    campaign in Mexico (Zachary Taylors was the

Limited War Objective
  • Objective as a principal of war
  • When undertaking any mission, commanders should
    have a clear understanding of the expected
    outcome and its impact
  • Commanders need to appreciate political ends and
    understand how the military conditions they
    achieve contribute to them.
  • Winfield Scott saw Mexico as a war of limited
    objectives, to be waged by limited means

Limited War Objective
  • Based on this belief, Scott developed a largely
    political strategy
  • Believed that Mexican political life centered
    around Mexico City so completely that capturing
    the capital would paralyze the country and oblige
    the Mexican government to sue for peace in order
    to remain a government at all
  • Therefore his objective was to capture Mexico
    City, not to destroy the Mexican army

Limited War Treatment of Civilians
  • Scott conducted his campaign with strict regard
    for the rights of the Mexican citizens, making
    every effort to confine bloodshed and suffering
    to the Mexican army rather than the civilian
  • He scrupulously regulated his soldiers conduct
    and interaction with Mexican civilians, reducing
    contact to the minimum necessary for the
    sustenance of his army and the morale of his

Limited War Treatment of Civilians
  • But, my dear Sir, our militia volunteers, if a
    tenth of what is said to be true, have committed
    atrocitieshorrorsin Mexico, sufficient to make
    Heaven weep, every American, of Christian
    morals, blush for his country. Murder, robbery
    rape of mothers daughters, in the presence of
    the tied up males of their families, have been
    common all along the Rio Grande. Truly it would
    seem unchristian cruel to let loose upon any
    peopleeven savagessuch unbridled
    personsfreebooters, c., c.
  • Scott writing the Secretary of War after visiting
    Taylors army (Weigley, History, 187-188).

Limited War
  • Scott will carry his ideas about limited war into
    the Civil War with his Anaconda Plan
  • Many Federals, such as George McClellan, will
    advocate a strategy of conciliation toward the
  • Such an approach will be rejected and the Civil
    War will become increasingly total
  • Popes General Orders
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Conscription
  • Suspension of some civil liberties
  • Shermans March to the Sea

Limited War Changing Times
  • while Scott was the preeminent military
    strategist of the first half of the nineteenth
    century, he occupied a lonely plateau in more
    senses than one that at the zenith of his powers
    he was already a museum piece, a soldier of an
    age gone by whose perceptions of war and strategy
    had little influence on most of the very West
    Point graduates whose service in Mexico he so
    fulsomely praised, because the young graduates
    inhabited a new world of very different values
    from Scotts, the military world of Napoleon
    (Russell Weigley, American Way of War, 76).

Turning Movement
  • Scott conducted amphibious landing at Vera Cruz
    and had to then move by land to Mexico City along
    a predictable, well-defended avenue of approach
  • Wanted to avoid frontal assaults by maneuver

Turning Movement
  • Maneuver
  • As both an element of combat power and a
    principle of war, maneuver concentrates and
    disperses combat power to place and keep the
    enemy at a disadvantage
  • Achieves results that would otherwise be more
  • Keeps enemies off balance by making them confront
    new problems and new dangers faster than they can
    deal with them
  • The form of maneuver that Scott relied on in
    Mexico was the turning movement

Turning Movement
  • In a turning movement the attacking force seeks
    to avoid the enemy's principal defensive
    positions by seizing objectives to the enemy rear
    and causing the enemy to move out of his current
    positions or divert major forces to meet the
  • A major threat to his rear forces the enemy to
    attack or withdraw rearward, thus "turning" him
    out of his defensive positions.

Turning Movement Cerro Gordo
  • Scott wanted to avoid a costly frontal assault so
    he had Robert E. Lee and other engineers recon a
    possible route around Santa Annas flank
  • Lee found a way to outflank the defenders, and
    Scott executed the first of several flanking
    movements in his march to Mexico City.

Turning Movements and the Civil War
  • The Mexican War created an informal, unwritten
    tactical doctrineto turn the enemy. (Archer
  • Civil War battles and campaigns that involved
    turning movements include the Peninsula Campaign,
    Second Manassas, and Vicksburg
  • Nonetheless the Civil War will also include many
    costly frontal attacks such as Fredericksburg and
    Picketts Charge

Technology Rifles
  • Two things that made these frontal attacks so
    costly were the rifled musket and the Minie Ball
  • A few volunteer units like the Mississippi Rifles
    had rifles in Mexico, but the Regular Army
    stubbornly held to smoothbore muskets

At Buena Vista, Jefferson Davis commanded the
Mississippi Rifles to Stand Fast,
Technology Changing Times
  • By the time of the Civil War, the rifled musket
    and the Minie ball will cause a change in
    military tactics
  • The defense will gain strength relative to the
  • Artillery will loose its ability to safely
    advance close to the enemy and breach holes in
  • Close-order formations will become dangerously

Technology Other Examples
  • Steam-powered ships
  • Ironclads
  • Telegraph
  • Railroads
  • Balloons

Junior Officers Rehearsal for the Civil War
  • Approximately 194 Federal generals and 142
    Confederate generals previously served in Mexico
  • Lee, Jackson, Hill, Pickett, Longstreet,
    Beauregard, Bragg, etc
  • Meade, Grant, Kearney, McClellan, Hooker, Pope,
    McDowell, etc

Junior Officers Impact of West Pointers
  • In 1817, Sylvanus Thayer replaced Captain Alden
    Partridge as superintendent of West Point and
    began reversing the damage Partridge had done.
  • Thayer broadened and standardized the curriculum,
    established a system to measure class standing,
    organized classes around small sections, improved
    cadet discipline, created the office of
    commandant of cadets, and improved military

The Father of the Military Academy
Junior Officers Impact of West Pointers
  • By the time of the Mexican War, Thayers reforms
    had produced a generation of men who would fill
    the junior officers ranks in Mexico.
  • These lieutenants and captains stood in sharp
    contrast to the older officers who had not
    benefited from a systematic military education
    and training.
  • The impact of Thayer and West Point was readily
    apparent in Mexico.

West Point was founded in 1802 and was
instrumental in training engineers in the 19th
Junior Officers Impact of West Pointers
  • Winfield Scott called his West Pointers his
    little cabinet
  • Scott was unwavering in his acknowledgement of
    West Pointers declaring,
  • I give it as my fixed opinion that but for our
    graduated cadets the war between the United
    States and Mexico might, and probably would, have
    lasted some four or five years, with, in its
    first half, more defeats than victories falling
    to our share, whereas in two campaigns we
    conquered a great country and a peace without the
    loss of a single battle or skirmish.

West Pointers in the Civil War
  • West Pointers will play a key role in the Civil
  • 151 Confederate and 294 Federal generals were
    West Point graduates
  • Of the Civil Wars 60 major battles, West
    Pointers commanded both sides in 55
  • A West Pointer commanded on one side in the other

Civil War Causes
  • Slavery
  • States rights vs centralized government
  • Agrarian vs industrialized way of life
  • Cultural differences
  • By the time of the Civil War, an entire
    generation of Southern young men had come of age
    with a sense of Southern cultural identity,
    commitment to slaveholding, and a willingness to
    defend these values against a Northern culture
    (Gary Gallagher)

Road to War
  • War is nothing but the continuation of policy
    with other means.
  • Clausewitz
  • Missouri Compromise (1820) -- Maine admitted as
    a free state and Missouri as a slave, but no
    other slave states from the Louisiana Purchase
    territory would be allowed north of Missouris
    southern boundary

Road to War
  • Nullification Crisis (1832) -- Responding to a
    tariff on manufactured goods, South Carolina
    declared a state can void any act of Congress it
    feels is unconstitutional
  • Mexican War (1846-1848) -- viewed by some as a
    Southern attempt to expand slavery
  • Wilmot Proviso (1846) failed. Would have
    formally renounced any intention to introduce
    slavery into lands seized from Mexico

John Calhoun argued that each state was sovereign
and the Constitution was a compact among
sovereign states.
Road to War (cont)
  • Compromise of 1850 dealt with issues involving
    territories gained in the Mexican War and slavery
  • California admitted as a free state
  • Slavery in New Mexico and Utah territories to be
    determined by popular sovereignty
  • Slave trade prohibited in the District of
  • A more stringent fugitive slave law was passed
    that required all U.S. citizens to assist in the
    return of runaway slaves

Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, introduces
the Compromise of 1850
Road to War (cont)
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) -- popular
    sovereignty overturns Missouri Compromise
  • Harpers Ferry and John Brown (1859)
  • Lincoln elected (Nov 6, 1860)
  • South Carolina votes to secede (Dec 20, 1860)
  • Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia,
    Florida, and Texas follow

Road to War (cont)
  • Lincoln takes office (March 4, 1861)
  • Fort Sumter (April 12, 1861)
  • Lincoln requests 75,000 three-month volunteers
    (April 15, 1862)
  • Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee

States in the Civil War
  • North
  • Restore Union
  • Therefore couldnt completely alienate or destroy
    the South or the Southern people
  • South
  • Hold on to de facto independence
  • Continue the struggle long enough for the North
    to tire of it
  • Similar to American colonists

Northern Strategy
  • Secure border states
  • Still need to go on offensive to win
  • Scotts Anaconda Plan
  • Blockade
  • Secure the Mississippi River and cut the South in
  • Wait
  • Capture Richmond
  • Anaconda Plan would take too long
  • In June 1861, Lincoln orders an advance on

Southern Strategy
  • Defend at the border
  • Political pressure to defend all territory
  • Maintain legitimacy through territorial integrity
  • Protect slavery
  • Offensive-defensive
  • Realize they dont have the resources to defend
  • Allow Northern thrust to develop
  • Determine the main axis
  • Concentrate and counterattack at an advantageous

  • North
  • 20 million people
  • 110,000 manufacturing establishments
  • 22,000 miles of railroad
  • 75 of nations total wealth
  • 16,000 man Army and 90 ship Navy
  • South
  • 9 million people (5.5 million whites)
  • 18,000 manufacturing establishments
  • 8,500 miles of railroad
  • Wealth lay in land and slaves (non-liquid)
  • No existing military

  • North
  • Had to project forces across large and hostile
  • Requirement for offense
  • Had to maintain supply lines
  • Fighting to regain preexisting status quo
  • South
  • Could take advantage of interior lines
  • Could win by only succeeding on the defense
  • Friendly territory and population
  • Fighting for homeland and independence

Abraham Lincoln
  • Lincoln had little to suggest he would be a good
    wartime president, especially in contrast to
    Jefferson Davis
  • Lincoln had no significant military experience
  • Served as a captain in the Illinois militia
    during the Black Hawk War but never saw combat
  • In actuality he was an excellent commander in
    chief who was well ahead of his early generals in
    his strategic thinking

Abraham Lincoln
  • Almost from the beginning of the war Lincoln
    urged his generals to make the enemy armies their
    objective and to move all Federal forces
    simultaneously against the Confederate line
  • Many of his early generals, especially McClellan,
    arrogantly minimized Lincoln, thinking war was to
    be carried on by military professionals without
    interference from civilians and without political

Abraham Lincoln
  • Many of Lincolns generals clung to strategies of
    limited war and conciliation toward the
  • McClellan stated, I have not come here to wage
    war upon non-combatants, upon private property,
    nor upon the domestic institutions of the land.
  • Meade thought the North should prosecute the war
    like the afflicted parent who is compelled to
    chastise his erring child, and who performs the
    duty with a sad heart
  • Lincoln did not find a soul mate in this
    strategic approach until Grant

Jefferson Davis
  • If modern computer-calculators had been
    available in 1861, they would have surely
    forecast that Jefferson Davis would be a great
    war director and Abraham Lincoln an indifferent
  • T. Harry Williams
  • Davis had an excellent military background
  • West Point Class of 1828
  • Regimental commander in the Mexican War
  • Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce

Jefferson Davis
  • Daviss breadth of background probably better
    qualified him for high army command than any man
    in the United States.Yet some of Daviss
    background would also be a handicap.
  • Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones, 9
  • Part of this handicap can be traced to Daviss
    experience in the Mexican War.

Jefferson Davis
  • Commanded the Mississippi Rifles, a volunteer
    regiment, in Mexico
  • Fell under the command of Brigadier General
    Zachary Taylor, the father of Daviss first wife
    Sarah Knox who had died just three months after
    their marriage
  • Unlike Scott who made maximum use of his staff,
    Taylors forte was individual command rather than
    collective effort
  • From Taylor, Davis would learn a very
    self-reliant command style

Zachary Taylor
Jefferson Davis
  • Davis won great fame for his performance at Buena
  • In 1847, he was offered but declined an
    appointment as brigadier general in the United
    States Army
  • Instead he returned to his political career

Mississippi Rifles at Buena Vista The National
Guard Heritage Series
Jefferson Davis
  • But Buena Vista made Davis very confident in his
    own abilities
  • ... Buena Vista was a relatively minor battle,
    so that the young colonel should not have
    assumed, as he did, that he was expert as a
    tactician and strategist. This assumption led to
    overconfidence when Davis was called upon to
    direct the military effort of the Confederacy
  • Cass Canfield
  • Near the close of the Civil War, the Richmond
    Examiner lamented, If we are to perish, the
    verdict of posterity will be, Died of a V

Jefferson Davis
  • Took his title as Commander in Chief of the
    Confederate Army quite literally
  • considered himself a military leader first and a
    politician second
  • Chris Fonvielle
  • Had six secretaries of war in four years, but for
    all practical purposes, served as his own
    secretary of war and chief of staff.

Confederate Secretaries of War Leroy Pope Walker
1861 Judah Benjamin 1861-1862 George Randolph
1862 Gustavus Smith 1862 (acting) James Seddon
1862-1865 John Breckinridge 1865
Jefferson Davis
  • as everything about the military fascinated him
    and he believed only he was capable of running
    things, the President performed tasks that
    belonged properly to clerks in the War Office,
    and even in the Adjutant Generals office.
    Conversely, as he squandered his time and
    energies in the field of his interests, Davis
    neglected affairs which properly belonged in the
    Presidents office
  • Clifford Dowdey

The White House of the Confederacy
  • Peninsula Campaign, Shenandoah Valley, and