American Military History - Book 5: Toward A Professional Army - Richard Stewart

American Military History - Book 5: Toward A Professional Army

By Richard Stewart

  • Release Date: 2015-08-23
  • Genre: Military
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American Military History - Book 5: Toward A Professional Army Richard Stewart Book Review Score: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars

The War of 1812 sent the Army of the young republic a decidedly mixed message of valor and glory interspersed with cowardice and blunders. The performance of both regulars and militia had been very uneven, although each improved as the conflict drew to a close. In a sort of role reversal, what glory did appear from the victories on the Niagara frontier in 1814 had gone not to the fabled citizen-soldier but to the oft-despised professional. Admittedly, the militia, when properly led as during the Battle of New Orleans, had on occasion done well; but after the war many military realists questioned the ability of the Army to employ him effectively. There were several reasons for this. It was extremely hard to obtain from state governments accurate figures on how many militiamen were available. Another critical limitation on their effectiveness was that since militiamen by their very nature were citizen-soldiers, they did not necessarily live close to where fighting would occur, especially if that were on the frontier. Moreover, the states jealously kept control of arming, disciplining, and training their militia and resisted having the men serve out of state. Though training was crucial, the War Department was limited to making recommendations and supplying training manuals. The Army could not enforce the type of rigorous training that had enabled Bvt. Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott to convert regular soldiers, some of them as raw as militiamen, into the professionals who had excited the admiration of even the British at Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane. 
For the thirty years after the War of 1812 to the beginning of the Mexican War, the Army of the United States would slowly and painfully evolve into a professional force with generally recognized standards of training, discipline, and doctrine. The first branch schools would open their doors. The U.S. Military Academy would turn out highly motivated professional officers, many of whom were trained engineers, to lead the Army. The new officer corps, including many experienced veterans of the War of 1812 who had supplanted the superannuated veterans of the Revolutionary War, would gain an increased sense of identification as a corporate body of professionals. These officers, tested in countless postings on the expanding frontier and bloodied in the Creek and Seminole Wars, would serve as a skilled cadre, ready when called upon in 1846 to lead a "lightning war" of conquest against Mexico that would vastly increase the size of the United States...

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