Friday, April 8, 2016

The Great Man

“In war, men are nothing; it is the man who is everything. The general is the head, the whole of an army. It was not the Roman army that conquered Gaul, but Caesar; it was not the Carthaginian army that made Rome tremble in her gates, but Hannibal; it was not the Macedonian army that reached the Indus, but Alexander.”

– Napoleon Bonaparte

Read this quotation in Bevin Alexander’s interesting How the South Could Have Won the Civil War. Restricting itself purely to the military facets of the war, the book analyzes the strategic and tactical implications of a dozen of the more notable Civil War battles, emphasizing how the South failed to take advantage of the North’s blunders or follow faithfully their own, generally more competent leaders. Particularly Thomas Jackson, genius in the Art of War, the Great Man of Napoleon. By no means am I an expert on all this, but I am getting to be well-read, and Alexander’s book has induced in me an appreciation for Stonewall Jackson that I had not had prior. Sure, everything I read told me he was a tactical revolutionary, but this book shows how he was a tactical – and strategic – visionary.

General Jackson died of friendly fire wounds received during the battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863, just past the halfway point of the Civil War. Had this singular event not happened, there very well might have been two superpowers in North America: The United States, and the Confederate States.

(Which brings up another interesting point I read somewhere, a source I can’t honestly recall. If the CSA did gain its independence, think of how the 20th century may have turned out. The South courted English and French recognition during the Civil War. The North had an influx of German immigrants before and during this period. Imagine if during World War I the CSA entered on behalf of the Allies [England, France, Italy, Russia] and the US entered on behalf of the Central Powers [Germany and Austria]. Would the US then have allied itself with the Axis Powers, with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, twenty years later?

There’s a bizarre thought, no? … )

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