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The Practice of StrategyFrom Alexander the Great to the Present$
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John Andreas Olsen and Colin S. Gray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608638.001.0001

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The American Civil War

The American Civil War

(p.199) Chapter 9 The American Civil War
The Practice of Strategy

Williamson Murray

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 focuses on the relationship between the evolving grand strategy and military strategy in the American Civil War (1861–5). Williamson Murray emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between Abraham Lincoln's grand strategy—aimed at the preservation of the Union with its form of government—and Ulysses S. Grant's ability to execute the military expression of that strategy through effective generalship, selection of capable subordinates, and decisive combat. Murray argues that two main factors explain why it took the North four years to defeat the Southern states. First, the vast size of the theatre of operations posed great logistical challenges. Second, enormous popular enthusiasm for their respective causes led both sides to insist on holding out to the bitter end, despite huge casualties and suffering. Ultimately, Lincoln's grand strategy succeeded because the verdict that ‘the United States is a country’, singular rather than plural, was never seriously challenged again.

Keywords:   American Civil War, confederacy, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, grand strategy, military strategy, war, history

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