Most Civil War generals were graduates of West Point, and many of them helped transform the U.S. Army from what was little better than an armed mob that performed poorly during the War of 1812 into the competent fighting force that won the Mexican War. Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh demonstrates how the "old army" transformed itself into a professional military force after 1814, and, more important, how "old army" methods profoundly shaped the conduct of the Civil War.
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Hsieh challenges studies that have argued that field fortifications and rifles gave the advantage to defenders, insisting instead that other factors, such as leadership, morale, and troop strength were more influential in success or failure. Smart and genuinely stimulating, West Pointers and the Civil War will be controversial in the best sense of the word.Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse
The originality and importance of this book are indisputableboth scholars and amateurs will find much that is new in Hsieh's scholarship. West Pointers and the Civil War will challenge all readers to take Civil War officers on their terms, to understand their collective and individualized histories, and to see the contingency of war on the front lines of the Civil War.Peter S. Carmichael, author of The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion