Thursday, July 5, 2018

Just Finished Reading - Civil War Logistics: A Study of Military Transport

Earl Hess has helped fill yet another scholarly void with Civil War Logistics: A Study of Military Transportation. This work focuses, as Hess explains in the subtitle and Preface, more on transportation than supply logistics. 

Hess examines the main arteries for military transport in the mid-19th century; "River-based," "Rail-based," Coastal Shipping," "Wagon Trains," and even "Pack Trains, Cattle Herds, and Foot Power." 

Using these categories he gives us a much better idea of the extraordinary organizing and planning required of the Union and Confederate quartermasters. The time and trouble it took to move armies from place to place, keep the soldiers and their animals fed, sheltered, and equipped is simply astounding. 

The significance of the role of the quartermasters in the Civil War has too long been ignored in favor of more traditional tactical military history, but it is easy to see through particular this lens that those armies would not have moved or fought at all if they were not transported and supplied. 

This book, like we've come to expect from Hess is well researched and written. Civil War Logistics is a work that every student of the conflict should read. I highly recommend it.

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