The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War

ISBN : 9780199931149

Donald Stoker
512 Pages
158 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2012
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Despite the abundance of books on the Civil War, not one has focused exclusively on what was in fact the determining factor in the outcome of the conflict: differences in Union and Southern strategy. In The Grand Design, Donald Stoker provides for the first time a comprehensive and often surprising account of strategy as it evolved between Fort Sumter and Appomattox. Reminding us that strategy is different from tactics (battlefield deployments) and operations (campaigns conducted in pursuit of a strategy), Stoker examines how Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis identified their political goals and worked with their generals to craft the military means to achieve them-or how they often failed to do so. Stoker shows that Davis, despite a West Point education and experience as Secretary of War, ultimately failed as a strategist by losing control of the political side of the war. Lincoln, in contrast, evolved a clear strategic vision, but he failed for years to make his generals implement it. And while Robert E. Lee was unerring in his ability to determine the Union's strategic heart-its center of gravity-he proved mistaken in his assessment of how to destroy it. Historians have often argued that the North's advantages in population and industry ensured certain victory. In The Grand Design, Stoker reasserts the centrality of the overarching plan on each side, arguing convincingly that it was strategy that determined the result of America's great national conflict.


1. 'We only want to be left alone.' - The Confederacy's Political Objective and the Union's Rebuttal
2. Making War a Little at a Time
3. Mr. Lincoln Goes to War
4. The Border States: Policy, Strategy, and Civil-Military Relations
5. King Cotton's Tarnished Crown: Confederate Economic and Diplomatic Strategies
6. McClellan on Top: The Evolution of Union Strategy, July 1861 - March 1862
7. The Foundations of Naval Strategy
8. The War in the West - Breaking the Cordon
9. A New Year and a New Strategy
10. War in Virginia
11. The Summer of 1862 in the West
12. To Free Maryland and Tennessee!
13. The Union Rebuffed: The Autumn of 1862
14. The Emancipation Proclamation - Strategy, Policy, and Escalation
15. 1863: A New Year and New Hopes
16. Vicksburg and Exhaustion
17. The Cruel Summer: 1863 - The Gettysburg Campaign
18. From Vicksburg, to Chickamauga, to the Rappahannock
19. Indecision and the West
20. Decision and Desperation, 1864
21. The Full Fury of Modern War - Exhaustion and Attrition
22. War Termination
Some Conclusions

About the author: 

Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College's program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

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