TRANSITION OF THE U.S. MILITARY – CIVIL WAR TO WWI
TRANSITIONOF THE U.S. MILITARY – CIVIL WAR TO WWI
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Transitionof the U.S. Military – Civil War to WWI
Thehistory of the armed forces of United States spans to a period ofabout 200 years. Over the years, there have been enormous changes inhow the military is organized, tactics, fighting skills andsophistication. From the American war of independence against Britainin 1774, the epic civil war of 1861-65 and world war one and two themilitary have been very pivotal in maintaining the American status asa superpower. The organization of the American military during thecivil war adopted a similar system as one used during the Mexicanwar, the basic structure of the army hitherto was very similar to thecurrent army organization. There were the regiments, Brigade,division, cavalry, battery and other units1.
Thehistory of the United States military reclines in the mainstream ofthe modern western army development. A former colony of Britain, theAmerican army, has heavily borrowed from the European traditions andalso contributed in equal measure. Shaped by the new world setting,the creation of industrial and democratic revolutions, it hasadvanced along with the nation that it serves. To the present statusas the sole superpower in the world, America has encountered numerouschallenges that have threatened her own existence. The mostconspicuous event is the American civil war of 18652.All along the military has been an integral part in the existence anddevelopment of US into a major power. Until technologicaladvancements reduced the distance separating the USA oversea states,the military has been mainly very small. Before the civil warAmericans had been very loath in devoting resources towards thecreation of an outstanding army3.The most importance aspects that caught the attention of Americanleaders were economic development and stability. As such the militarywas composed of a small group of professional nucleus that could beexpanded in case of an external attack through induction of citizens.The country was not prepared for future war. The ancient militarysystem was taking the advantage of the barrier elected between USAand other countries, especially in Europe by the ocean and thebalance of power in Europe in the 18th and 19th century. In fact itis only after world war two that completely altered the balance ofpower in Europe, did USA consider a change in its military system4.
Asaforementioned the American military has passed through a myriad ofeconomic, social and political events that have had tremendousimpacts on its organization and functioning. Prior to the civil warand especially during the colonial period the militias originatingfrom various colonies defended the European settlers, while at thesame time establishing themselves in the new world. In fact, blackmilitias who came to be known as buffalo soldiers played asignificant role in the elimination of France from the northern partof the United States5.These militias, together with the continental army that latertransformed into the regular army played a crucial part in helpingthe US to extend its territorial space and policing, and exploringlarge parts of the Western part of the country. In the conflicts andwars of this period, military activities were limited to problemsfundamental in the creation, preservation and expansion of the nationpegged on the principles of personal freedom ad representativegovernment. During this era, the US army fought only once-revolutionary war- with the assistance of allies6.
1898was an important year in the US, since it marked the turning point ofthe military. After the outbreak of the Spanish –American war,which US easily won, was becoming apparent that she was now a worldpower. After that period, the country intensified its efforts inpromoting American interest in oversea nations and promoting Americanpolicies. The military was also considered an important instrument inprotecting the nation against tyrannical powers. As a result, moreand more US citizens began to show support the involvement of thenation in imperialistic ventures. Many resources both human and nonhuman that had been channeled for internal economic development werenow shifted to states beyond the boundaries of the country.Consequently the military (both army and navy) was central insafeguarding US interest in oversea states7.
Inthe 19th century, the navy formed the first defense line of the USand it contribution was pivotal in the defeat of Spain, in 1898.After the war, it was evident that the navy needed to be expanded andmodernized to reach the level of other world powers such as Britain.Ten years after the Spanish war Roosevelt and other leaders favored ahuge navy8.Roosevelt waged a strong campaign for the expansion of the navy andincrease in navy funding. This led to the development of highvelocity riffles and the regular army also started getting equippedwith better and improved magazine type rifle. By the end of 1906, USmilitary was equipped with 38-caliber revolvers, and 45-caliberrevolver and other rapid firing machine guns.
Thoughthe US military helped the country win the Spanish war, there weremain defects that were identified that called for the reforms in themilitary administration to get rid of inefficiencies. It was proposedthat the position of the commanding general, to remove the divisionof authority between the general and the secretary of war. Thecommanding general would be replaced by the chief of staff who wouldexecute orders directly from the president9.Additionally, a long –range plan for the military was constitutedby creating the general staff, and it would include a group ofspecial military officers that would be involved in the preparationof the military plans. Consequently, the size of the army, navy andair force was gradually increased, and by the 1914, USA militarycould rival any military in the world.
Thoughthe US military system and organization shares the legacy of Europeanmilitary ideas and practices, the thought of the military is shapedby the historical events and nations experience over ten years. Thetraditions of the civilians, the form of government, and position ofthe US in relation to other states and the nature of the country havehad an immense influence on USA military institution. Sequentially,these institutions reflect the culture of Americans. After the civilwar up to the outbreak of world war one, America military has beenstructured to meet the civilian requirements, and place limitedburden on the people while at the same time giving the nations thesound defense devoid of erosion of basic American values. Over theyears, the world political climate has changed and with the onset ofterrorism and threat of nuclear attack, the nations now maintains thelargest military in the globe, superior to any other state whether atsea, air or land. The military is always ready for action andcooperation with other military machinery from US allies.
BradLookingbill. The American Military: A Narrative History. John Wiley &Sons, Inc, 2013.
Glasrud,Bruce A., and Michael N. Searles. Buffalo soldiers in the West aBlack soldiers anthology. College Station, Tex: Texas A&MUniversity Press, 2007.
Hammes,Thomas X. The sling and the stone: on war in the 21st century.Grand Rapids, Mich: Zenith, 2006.
1 Brad Lookingbill. The American Military: A Narrative History. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2013.
3 Hammes, Thomas X. The sling and the stone: on war in the 21st century. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zenith. 2006.
5 Glasrud, Bruce A., and Michael N. Searles. Buffalo soldiers in the West a Black soldiers anthology. College Station, Tex: Texas A&M University Press, 2007.
6 Lookingbill (2013)
7 Thomas (2006)
8 Lookingbill (2013)
9 Lookingbill (2013)