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Chapter 3 American Military Policy 1783-1860


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Title: Chapter 3 American Military Policy 1783-1860

Chapter 3American Military Policy1783-1860
Beginnings of Americas Professional Military
  • Theory Reality in conflict
  • Uneven military policy for first 75 years
  • Militia favored in theory by majority of
  • Not supported in reality to fight its wars
  • NTL US citizen soldiers held own in early going
  • Native American Hostilities gt the push westward
  • War of 1812 (with qualifications)
  • Mexican War (1846-1847) gt (validates USMA)

Congress A Peacetime Army
  • Role of Congress
  • Lip Service paid to theory of citizen soldier
  • But no real support or funding for Militia
  • Tacit acceptance of regular Army officer corps
  • Congress initially rejects Washingtons Four
    point program proposal to establish a small
    professional standing army
  • New Constitution allays many of Congresss
  • Washingtons model is finally adopted (with
  • USMA is established in 1802
  • Gradually Officers view service as long life
  • Result commit to longer careers
  • Develop more serious professional outlook
  • Form close relationships
  • Institutional identity developed
  • Military traditions take shape
  • Honored by those who follow

Impact of French Revolution
  • America ambivalent divided
  • Praised revolutionary ideal vs. deplore radical
  • Divided primarily along party regional lines
  • Jeffersons Democratic-Republicans for French
  • Pro-democracy in line with core party principals
  • Hamilton's Federalists for British
  • Party for law order of a strong central
  • Official American Government position?
  • Neutrality
  • Economic impact
  • Brits blockade French ports attack shipping at
  • French employ Privateers raiders
  • America trades with both is attacked by both

Impact of Royal Navy
  • British Navy most effective in control of seas
  • Capture 250 American Merchants trading with
  • Force America to agree to British treaty demands
  • America promised to comply with British embargo
  • Brits promise to abandon frontier posts they
    still occupy
  • French reaction seize American ships
  • America caught in middle (but Brits have upper
  • 1789-1800 undeclared Quasi-war with French
  • Congressional reaction
  • Builds 54 warships makes USN first line of
  • Also conducts operations against Barbary Pirates

War of 1812
  • Background Overview
  • Brits inflict greatest harm to US trade freedom
    of seas
  • Embargo Act major failure very unpopular
  • Political regional division (NE vs. SW) on war
  • Strong British provocation impressments take
  • Madison concludes war with Canada necessary
  • Key way to get Britains attention freedom of
    the Seas
  • America very divided and unprepared for war
  • Congress declares war anyway
  • War of 1812 summary (Map overview)gt

War of 1812 Map overview
War of 1812- Northern Theater Strategy
  • Strategy formulated for invasion of Canada

Obstacles to executing above strategy?
Obstacles to Strategys Execution
  • New England a major obstacle to its execution
  • No political support for war
  • No Militia mobilized by NE states for Federal
  • NE Militia held for local use only
  • West eager for war but lack logistics support
  • Major challenge
  • Administrative problems
  • How to equip, feed, manage its Militia
  • Impact on initial American Operations in North?

Initial American Operations
  • Early American operations poorly supported
  • Most result in disaster or are aborted
  • American poor leadership, training, lack of
    coordination among commanders
  • Courage lacking in some cases
  • Gen William Hull surrenders 2000 at Detroit
  • BG J. Winchester at Battle of Frenchtown
  • British repel Americans go on offensive
  • Capture Detroit threaten Michigan Ohio river
  • On Niagara Front- mostly stalemate
  • Few exceptions to American defeat
  • Early US Navy Ops in ocean to protect American
    trade harass Brits
  • Later in NW Perry at Put-in-Bay
  • MG Harrison retook Detroit defeat Brits
    Tecumseh in Battle of Thames
  • (Destroyed Brit-Indian alliance)

Major British Advantage
  • British Control of the Sea
  • Blockade American Ports for re-supply
  • British enjoy all above plus transportation
    operational support

British Strategy Operations
  • Three major British Offenses conducted during
  • 1. Attempt from Canada via Lake Champlain
  • But U. S. Navy blocks British advance
  • Commodore Macdonough defeats British squadron on
    Lake Champlain
  • With his LOC threatened, Gen Prevost orders his
    Army of 10K to return to Canada
  • 2. Chesapeake Offense
  • Burn Capitol White House
  • Fail to seize key port of Baltimore (US
    privateer base)
  • 3. Mississippi via New Orleans
  • Jackson blocks defeats

2. British Chesapeake Offense
  • 24 August Gen Ross, supported by Admiral
    Cockburn, attack defeat American force blocking
    British advance on Washington at Battle of
  • Burn Capitol White House other public
    buildings around Washington then withdraw
  • Ross then moves his Army up Chesapeake to
    threaten Baltimore
  • 12 Sep he defeats US force at North Point
  • Ross is killed by American sharpshooter
  • A 25 hour Naval bombardment of Fort McHeny fails
    blocks British Navy advance to support Armys
    attack on Baltimore
  • Our flag was still there Francis Scott Key
  • Failure to seize key port of Baltimore enabled
    continued operation by privateers

3. Mississippi via New Orleans
  • 50 British ships 5300 troops arrive 13 Dec 1814
    off New Orleans gulf coast from Jamaica
  • Troops disembark to barges land on the Gulf
  • To get to New Orleans Brits must get past
    Jacksons defenses south of city
  • British attack Jacksons well fortified position
    are repulsed
  • After several initial engagements Brit General
    Pakenham launches assault on Jan 1815 against
    main defense on East a secondary attack on West
    side held by Gen David Morgan
  • Americans block repulse British
  • British suffer 2000 CAS to 70 US
  • Treaty of Ghent had officially ends war six weeks
  • Why do Brits decide to end the War?

Decision to End War of 1812
  • Brits end war soon after Napoleon defeated
  • Lake Champlain Offensive turned back by USN
  • Brits conclude they cant win decisively
  • Wellington Americans have no center of
  • Most important Napoleon defeated-
  • Causi bellum eliminated
  • Peace settlement (Treaty of Ghent)
  • Status quo antebellum (?)
  • Only real losers in War of 1812?
  • Impact of war on American Military?

Post War Lessons Learned for Military
  • American Army Navy status now secured
  • NTL- Several flaws revealed as a result of war
  • For Defense of Nation- Militia system is
  • Regular Army better, but still plagued by
  • Poor leadership during early stages of war
  • Admin logistic support deficient
  • War Department require major overhaul
  • As result Nation makes first serious attempt to
    reform its Armed Forcesgt

Early Attempts at Professionalism
  • Primary job of Military after 1815
  • Frontier constabulary (primarily out West)
  • Strategic purpose of military (IAW Congress
  • 1. Defend Nation from invasiongt strong but small
  • Considered adequate for the job
  • 2. Establish fortification system along coast
  • Objective Delay invaders until Militia formed
    and deployed
  • Debate continues Militia vs. standing Army
  • SECWAR John C. Calhouns proposed reforms
  • Standing regular Army gt proposed Cardre system
  • Army of 6313 readily expandable to 11,558
    Officers men
  • Peacetime Units at half strength gt doubled in
    size of war
  • Employ Federal Volunteers and 288 Officers to
    fill out billets

Reforms Impact on Officer Corp
  • Army life becomes more stable
  • Officers view army more as a career remain
  • Take their profession of arms more seriously
  • Military competence improves as its
  • U. S. Military Academy revived and reformed
  • Established standards and traditions
  • Captain Thayer responsible for key reforms
  • Acts as first superintendentgt 4 year curriculum
  • Emphasis on Engineering and Math
  • Established Cadet ranks to stress leadership

Other Professional Trends
  • Other indicators of a more professional
  • More efficient Bureau system established
  • Also adopted the Navy
  • Mid-grade professional military schools
  • Arty at Fort Monroe Infantry at Fort
  • Professional Journals on Tactics equip. reform
  • Opened debate on how to improve Army (later Navy)
  • Military support for Nations economic expansion
  • Indian pacification out West
  • Distracts from professional development
  • Deepen harbors, survey turnpikes, Charts
    Navaids, exploration

Military Professionalism Politics
  • Military professionalism from political
  • Regular Army still suspect in eyes of many
  • Firm belief that any patriot can lead an army
  • Theoretical vice actual support for militia
  • Poor uniform training, weapons, equipment
  • Lack of adequate funding support from the states
  • Volunteer Militia form to fill void but lack
    basic support
  • Clubs and fraternal associations built around
    martial ceremony
  • Mostly dash but potential source of manpower in
  • De facto reliance on small regular force in
  • Citizen soldiers supplement regular army manpower
  • Old attitude prevails patriots just as capable
    as pros

Mexican War - Map Overview
Mexican War (U.S. Strategy)
  • Project Military power into North Mexico
  • Concentrate on areas coveted by Polk admin
  • Occupy California and New Mexico
  • Hold Northern Mexican provinces as bargain
  • Impose settlement on Mexico favorable to U.S.
  • Aims of above strategy proved difficult to
  • Required modificationgt shift center of gravity
  • Also domestic politics intrudes into American FP
  • Democrats and Southern region of U.S. for war
  • Whigs anti-slave Democrats of NE against war
  • Slavery becomes the underlying issue of Mexican

Northern Campaign
  • Gen Taylor crosses Rio Grande captures
  • Ordered by Polk to Monterrey
  • Suffers heavy casualties
  • Accepts 8 week Truce but forced by Polk to
    abrogate it
  • By Dec 1846 Americans control Northern Mexico
  • Including California and New Mexico
  • Mexican reaction?
  • Refuse to give in
  • Recall American strategic aim?

Scotts Campaign (1847)
  • US Grand Strategic aim find seize Mexicos
    center of gravity
  • General Winfield Scotts campaign in South
  • Scott lands 14K Army 300 USMC at Veracruz
    captures it
  • Then marches 225 miles thru Sierra Madre to
    capture Mexico City
  • (the new designated Mexican center of gravity)
  • Effective tactics innovation employed
  • Meticulous planning of professional USMA officer
    corps pays off
  • Coordinated amphibious landing- surf boats built
    and used IAW plan
  • Combat loaded equipment saves time
  • Landing at Veracruz unopposed falls after brief

Battle of Cerro Gordo
  • From Veracruz on to Mexico City
  • 40 miles inland to west Army encounters Sierra
  • Rugged, rocky difficult path - perfect for
    enemy to interdict
  • Santa Anna blocks Scotts path
  • Scotts engineers recon search for way around
    to enemy rear
  • Brief but sharp battle ensues-gt Mexicans fall
    back in disorder
  • Santa Anna falls back in disarray later to hold
    another defensive choke point along route

Prelude to Final Assaults
  • Following delay to accommodate departure of 7
  • Volunteer enlistments up insist on returning
  • Scott continues on to Mexico City following delay
  • Again encounters enemys attempt to block his
  • Innovative tactics work around blocking attempts
  • Replay of Cerro Gordo again and again
  • Close in on primary objective with confidence
  • Army at its best and most effective to date

Final Assault- Mexico City
  • Scott continues his advance
    into Mexico City
  • Bombards then assaults Chapultepec Castle
  • Mexican cadets try to defend
  • Enemy battery is captured
  • City falls 14 Sept 1847
  • 11k US defeat 30K Mexicans
  • Defeat well entrenched troops
  • Modified strategy validated
  • Center of gravity finally identified
  • Major political impact
  • US victory forces negotiations
  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
  • CA, NM, AZ to US

Results, Lessons Learned, significance
  • Important firsts for American military forces
  • Power projection abroad success
  • Mobilize and maintain Army in foreign country
  • Key role of US Navy
  • Transport, support, re-supply (like Brits
    during 1812-14)
  • Troops acquitted themselves well
  • Defeat larger force acted with courage
  • Officer leadership displayed (especially USMA
  • West Point training development paid off
  • Especially Evident during Scotts campaign
  • Tactically flexibility innovation of officer
  • Total American causalities 7700 Dead
  • (6800 to disease/900 KIAs)

New Technological Developments Adaptations
  • New energy invention application (sea land)
  • Steam Engine applied to potential military use
  • Railroad Steamship
  • (Expand trade shorten time for transportation)
  • Problems to overcome (, fuel, maintenance,
  • Inefficient use of energy Vulnerability
  • Advances in Naval Artillery
  • Dahlgrens 11 muzzle load smooth bore
  • Modified coke bottle shape (absorb blast)
  • Fired shell (wood) or solid shot
  • Critical intermediate step on way to rifled arty
  • Trend cannon on steamships (tactical link

Ordnance Weapons Advances
  • Improvements in Army ordnance weapons
  • Percussion cap eliminated priming
  • Rifled Musket improved accuracy range
  • Minnie ball solves problem of loading rifle
  • Army adopts rifled musket by mid-1850s
  • Ignores tactical implications of increased
    range/fire rate
  • Would pay heavy price as a result during Civil

American Strategic Thought
  • American Strategic Thought its limitations
  • Dennis Hart Mahon West Points Napoleon Club
  • (Jominis cookbook)
  • Fortified active defense strategy tactics
  • (then counterattack)
  • Developed future leaders of Civil War (Hallack
  • Keep troops concentrated alert for surprise
  • Practical focus of most mid 19th century Military
  • Day to day nitty-gritty details of military
    tactics equipment
  • Strategic Thought left to future strategist
  • (especially for Navy in late 19th century (A. T.

Overall Assessment
  • Gradual progress toward standing Army
  • Focus pacify western frontier Indians out West
  • For War fill out Army with volunteers (Mexican
  • Established coastal fortifications defend
  • Delay invader to permit time to mobilize

Overall Assessment- 2
  • Technological improvements achieved
  • Land officers prepared to exploit railroads
  • To be applied successfully by Confederates at
    First Bull Run
  • Adapted rifled musket with Minie ball
  • Tactical Implications
  • Army failed to appreciate tactical implications
    of rifle
  • Smooth bore musket vs. rifled musket with Minie
  • 100 vice 400 yard range with higher rate of fire
  • Kill zone increased by factor of 4 higher
  • Especially without tactical adjustment to assault
  • At Sea Steamships fitted w/Dahlgrens cannon
  • Transition link to bigger long range rifled guns
    on ships

Overall Assessment- 3
  • USMA professional schools established
  • Thayer reforms of 1820s improve officer quality
  • Professional officer corps emerges
  • Begin to think of Army as calling
  • Officers view their profession as a career
  • Think more about military art science as result
  • Problems would remain
  • Militia declined after 1815
  • Attempts to fill gap with volunteer Militias
    martial clubs
  • Amateur tradition alive well for Americans
  • Civilian sentiment persisted over standing
    regular army
  • Civil War would test amateur tradition theory
    to the limit
  • Anybody can lead men in combat (At least until
    first shot fired)

Next Assignment The Civil War
  • Back-up Slides

Forming Peacetime Military (1783-1846)
  • Factors Pro Con for peacetime military
  • Federalists Party support strong central
  • Requires strong professional National force
  • Washingtons Four point program proposal
  • 1. Establish small regular Army
  • 2. Establish Militia under Federal Government
  • Two tiers Ready Volunteers and Common Militia
  • 3. Establish arsenals armament factories
  • 4. Establish Military Academies to foster
    military science
  • Congressional Response
  • Rejects Hamiltons endorsement disbands
    Continental Army
  • Forms First American Regiment (700 Militia with 1
    yr enlistments)

Washingtons Model Prevails
  • Washingtons model shaped US land force by early
  • Still limited Federal control over militia
  • No volunteer or Federal Select militia act passed
  • Resultgt emergency requires 90 day mobilization
  • Also no uniform Federal standards imposed on
  • Impact- State Militias suffer
  • Training, organization, regulations, equipment

U. S. Constitution to the Rescue
  • Constitutions impact- solves problem
  • Eliminates weak confederation government
  • Article 1 gives Congress power over military
  • Alleviates Congress concern of Presidential
  • Divided power between Congress President
  • Checks and Balances Division of Authority
  • Congress given most explicit power to control
  • (see section 8 of Article 1 of Constitution)
  • Reserves control of Militia to the States (not
  • Congress established system of arsenals arms
  • 1802 U. S. Military Academy established

Mexican War (Prelude)
  • Background U.S. Foreign Policy- manifest destiny
  • Goal all of North America
  • Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon
  • Florida from Spain
  • Oregon Territory split with Brits in 1849
  • US long covets southwest owned by Mexico
  • Opportunity presents itself
  • After Texas Revolutiongt
  • Texans apply for statehood
  • Annexed by US in 1845
  • Impact on US/Mex relations?

Mexican War (US Plans, Preparation)
  • American Plans Prep much improved since 1812
  • President Polk directs MG Taylor to deploy to
    south Texas border
  • CA Agents, Freemont scouts, US Navy also
  • Take strategic positions on, around, and off West
    Coast of CA

Mexican War (Battle of Palo Alto- May 1946)
  • Disposition of forces
  • Zac Taylor with 2300 vs. Arista with 6000
  • Offsetting Mexican numbers
  • Strong leadership of professional officer corps
  • Mexican assaults w/smooth bore muskets bronze
  • Versus American cannon fire from fortified
  • Battle Execution
  • Arista makes two failed frontal attacks then
  • Mexican cavalry attempts to flank American
  • Piecemeal attacks allows Taylor to shift forces
    to plug holes via tactical LOCs
  • Taylors Arty in strong defensive positions
    suppress assaults Arista withdraws his forces
  • Battle damage assessment (BDA)
  • American hold field at cost of 200 causalities
  • Mexicans withdraw after suffering 1600 casualties

Battle of Buena Vista (1847)
  • Meanwhile Santa Anna returns from exile in Cuba
  • Assumes CINC, then Mexican Presidency
  • Taylor establishes defensive position with 5K
    troops at Buena Vista
  • Santa Anna attacks 22-23 Feb 1847
  • Taylor employs shuttle tactics on interior lines
  • Again- Plugs holes made by assaulting Mexicans
    attacking with smooth bore muskets
  • Americans hold as a result of their effective use
    of cannon direct fire against attackers
  • Santa Anna withdraws w/2K cas. vs .700 US cas.
  • Strategic significance of Buena Vista ???
  • Was this battle consistent with achieving U.S.

Final Assaults
  • Scott commences operations w/recon to probe
  • Search vulnerable points in Santa Annas defenses
  • Employs tactical surprise (deploys arty across
  • Scott opens attack w/effective field arty
  • Shocks Mexican infantry attacks flanks
  • Exploits gaps in enemy defenses
  • Any exception to this tactical approach?

Battle of Molino del Ray
  • Notable exception
  • Battle of Molino del Ray
  • Frontal assault cost Scott 25 casualties- high
    cost victory
  • American self confidence individual courage
    carry day
  • Also Mexican infantry armed with older muskets
  • Less range and slower rate of fire