Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage

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University of Alabama Press, Jul 30, 1984 - History - 209 pages
Describes tactical theory in the 1850s and suggests how each related to Civil War tactics

Why did the Confederacy lose so many men? The authors contend that the Confederates bled themselves nearly to death in the first three years of the war by making costly attacks more often than the Federals. Offensive tactics, which had been used successfully by Americans in the Mexican War, were much less effective in the 1860s because an improved weapon—the rifle—had given increased strength to defenders. This book describes tactical theory in the 1850s and suggests how each related to Civil War tactics. It also considers the development of tactics in all three arms of the service during the Civil War.

In examining the Civil War the book separates Southern from Northern tactical practice and discusses Confederate military history in the context of Southern social history. Although the Southerners could have offset their numerical disadvantage by remaining on the defensive and forcing the Federals to attack, they failed to do so. The authors argue that the Southerners’ consistent favoring of offensive warfare was attributable, in large measure, to their Celtic heritage: they fought with the same courageous dash and reckless abandon that had characterized their Celtic forebears since ancient times. The Southerners of the Civil War generation were prisoners of their social and cultural history: they attacked courageously and were killed—on battlefields so totally defended by the Federals that “not even a chicken could get through.”

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User Review  - dswaddell - LibraryThing

A rather dry book which reads more like a term paper then a published work. The author is making the argument that the tactical offensive tactics learned by the Confederate leadership during the ... Read full review

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About the author (1984)

Grady McWhiney is professor of history, and director and distinguished senior fellow, Center for the Study of Southern History and Culture, The University of Alabama.



Perry D. Jamieson is historian, Strategic Air Command, United States Air Force, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

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