Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Lang, Andrew F.

Committee Member

McKnight, Brian

Committee Member

Marshall, Anne

Committee Member

Hersey, Mark

Date of Degree

5-13-2022

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Major

History

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of History

Abstract

Union General Ambrose E. Burnside launched his invasion of East Tennessee in the summer of 1863. The corps he used consisted of half-infantry and half-mounted units to utilize their speed to overcome mountain obstacles. The successful campaign and the capture of the agriculturally rich region of East Tennessee and its vital East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad deprived the Confederacy of resources, ultimately contributing to Confederate defeat. The American Civil War saw commanders plunge into the mountains of Appalachia and encounter a terrain and a people with which many were unacquainted. This dissertation argues that their tactics and strategies for dealing with the mountainous terrain and its people stemmed from their past education about mountain warfare. Confederate and Union commanders of the American Civil War came from military and non-military backgrounds, but each encountered literature that described the region and, in the case of books on military philosophy, how to conduct a war within mountainous terrain. Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point read the works of Baron de Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, who used their respective experiences in the Napoleonic Wars to illustrate proper tactics. Those works and other military theorists greatly influenced young cadets who became Civil War commanders. They used their studies of European commanders to guide them through tactics and strategies best suited for mountain warfare. Union commanders utilized mobile fighting units to overcome the natural obstacles of the environment and strike at a significantly rich agricultural region to the Confederacy, which aided in its defeat.

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