The Civil War- Modern or Napoleonic War? Essay

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Was the Civil War the first modern war or the last Napoleonic War? This question has plagued historians for years. Joseph Dawson, author of the article “The First of the Modern Wars?” argues that the Civil War was the first Modern War. His view is the commonly accepted one. Alternatively, in his book Battle Tactics of the Civil War, Paddy Griffith compares the tactics used in the Civil War to those used during Napoleon’s time. He counters the common belief and argues that even though the Civil War had new weapons and techniques, it was still a Napoleonic war. He draws the conclusion that even though Civil War soldiers used weapons that were more advanced; they were still using Napoleonic tactics. By examining the rifles used during the…show more content…
Furthermore, while these rifles were better, the soldiers were not properly trained in using them; therefore, they were often use erroneously. This misuse hindered their accuracy. With the misuse and the lack of ammunition, they were not actually any better than the previous rifles. According to Dawson, another aspect of modern war is raising mass national armies. The Civil War definitely had mass armies. Two million Northerners and 900,000 Southerners enlisted. The government was able to do this by inspiring the soldiers to fight. In the North, they convinced soldiers that the Union is a wonderful thing. It has a great democratic government; it offers economic opportunities and it cherishes individual rights. They told soldiers that the world is a better place when the Union is together and it is worth the fight to reunite it. Another thing that motivated the Northern men to fight was the Emancipation Proclamation. It gave men something concrete to fight for, the end of slavery. In the South, they told the soldiers that they were fighting for national independence, states’ rights, and property rights, the right to own slaves. Overall, they said that the men were fighting to maintain the Southern way of life. Consequently, due to ineffective control of the armies by Commanders, these mass armies did not have the usage they should have had in a modern

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