The Grand Design Strategy and the U.S. Civil War

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2010-07-15
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
List Price: $27.95

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Customer Reviews

The Grand Design...  June 24, 2011
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The textbook opens with a discussion of strategy, as we understand it and as understood 150 years ago. In this section, the author defines terms and outlines his argument. Don Stoker takes you above all the battle and smoke and into the inner logic and strategy of Abraham Lincoln's planning and subsequent execution of the plan of war against the rebel states. This is a textbook every student of the war will want to read. This is an understandable explanation of why the war came to be fought as it was.

The Grand Design Strategy and the U.S. Civil War: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.


Of the tens of thousands of books exploring virtually every aspect of the Civil War, surprisingly little has been said about what was in fact the determining factor in the outcome of the conflict: differences in Union and Southern strategy.

In The Grand Design, Donald Stoker provides a comprehensive and often surprising account of strategy as it evolved between Fort Sumter and Appomattox. Reminding us that strategy is different from tactics (battlefield deployments) and operations (campaigns conducted in pursuit of a strategy), Stoker examines how Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis identified their political goals and worked with their generals to craft the military means to achieve them--or how they often failed to do so. Stoker shows that Davis, despite a West Point education and experience as Secretary of War, failed as a strategist by losing control of the political side of the war. His invasion of Kentucky was a turning point that shifted the loyalties and vast resources of the border states to the Union. Lincoln, in contrast, evolved a clear strategic vision, but he failed for years to make his generals implement it. At the level of generalship, Stoker notes that Robert E. Lee correctly determined the Union's center of gravity, but proved mistaken in his assessment of how to destroy it. Stoker also presents evidence that the Union could have won the war in 1862, had it followed the grand plan of the much-derided general, George B. McClellan.

Arguing that the North's advantages in population and industry did not ensure certain victory, Stoker reasserts the centrality of the overarching military ideas--the strategy--on each side, showing how strategy determined the war's outcome.

"Superb examination of Civil War strategy. Of the numerous books on the American Civil War, few have explored in depth the critical role of strategy in determining the outcome of this nation's bloodiest conflict. On the eve of the sequicentennial of that war, Donald Stoker fills that gap with a superb examination of the larger employment of military power beyond the battlefield."-ARMY Magazine

"For the Civil War buff: As we head into the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, armchair historians will want to keep up with the sesquicentennial. There is no shortage of excellent guides to the conflict. A recent one that I've enjoyed dipping into is The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War, by Donald Stoker. Rather than a blow-by-blow account of battles and operations, it describes the strategic objectives of North and South and how civilian and military leaders tried to realize them."-National Review Online

"The Grand Design is not for your basic Civil War buff, but it is an intense read on tactics, operations, and strategies that lead you to a deeper understanding of what we were really fighting for and how chance, vision, and perserverance actually led to the restoration of our country."-Sacramento Book Review

Author Biography

Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College's program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Policy and Warp. 13
The Sinews of Warp. 22
Mr. Lincoln Goes to Warp. 36
The Border States: Policy, Strategy, and Civil-Military Relationsp. 44
McClellan on Top: Union Strategy, July 1861-October 1861p. 52
Union Strategy: November 1861-March 1862p. 69
The Foundations of Naval Strategyp. 93
The War in the West: Breaking the Cordonp. 107
A New Year-and a New Strategyp. 119
War in Virginiap. 139
Confusion in the West: The Summer of 1862p. 169
The Tyranny of Timep. 185
Facing the Arithmetic: Escalation and Destructionp. 207
The Enormous Proportions of Warp. 231
Vicksburg and Exhaustionp. 261
The Cruel Summer of 1863: The Gettysburg Campaignp. 277
The Autumn of 1863: Playing the Deep Gamep. 307
The Siren Song of Tennessee: The Winter of 1863-64p. 332
Decision and Desperation, 1864p. 351
The Full Fury of Modern Warp. 334
War Terminationp. 395
Conclusion: In War's Shadowp. 405
Abbreviationsp. 419
Notesp. 421
Indexp. 482
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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