If you believe that the use of Napoleonic tactics was outmoded at the time of the Civil War, you are not alone. If you believe that the advent of the rifle musket changed the landscape of warfare in a way that was underappreciated if not misunderstood by Civil War combat leaders, again, you are not alone.
Conventional wisdom buttressed by reams of scholarship has long maintained that the horrendous casualty rates incurred by Civil War fighting units were directly attributable to advances in tactics not keeping pace with advances in weaponry. How else can one explain the bloodiness of the whole affair?
Our speaker, Dr. Earl Hess, argues that there is another explanation. After intensively studying the three tactical manuals available to Civil War officers (written by Winfield Scott, William J. Hardee, and Silas Casey) and thoroughly reading the battle reports to be found in the Official Records, Dr. Hess maintains that the linear system in use during the 1860s not only was highly effective but it was the true system to be used with the rifle musket.
He also argues that most regimental commanders North and South quickly learned the drill, taught it to their subordinates, and effectively used these tactics on the battlefield.
Please join us as Dr. Hess shares the conclusions of the research that informed his recent book Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness and marvel as he turns conventional wisdom on its head. Details of the meeting are are the left of this page.