Citizen-Officers: The Union and Confederate Volunteer Junior Officer Corps in the American Civil War

Bledsoe Jacket Sketch

From the jacket:

“From the time of the American Revolution, most junior officers in the American military attained their positions through election by the volunteer soldiers in their company, a tradition that reflected commitment to democracy even in times of war. By the outset of the Civil War, citizen-officers had fallen under sharp criticism from career military leaders who decried their lack of discipline and efficiency in battle. Andrew S. Bledsoe’s Citizen­-Officers explores the role of the volunteer officer corps during the Civil War and the unique leadership challenges they faced when military necessity clashed with the antebellum democratic values of volunteer soldiers.

Bledsoe’s innovative evaluation of the lives and experiences of nearly 2,600 Union and Confederate company-grade junior officers from every theater of operations across four years of war reveals the intense pressures placed on these young leaders. Despite their inexperience and sometimes haphazard training in formal military maneuvers and leadership, citizen-officers frequently faced their first battles already in command of a company. These intense and costly encounters forced the independent, civic-minded volunteer soldiers to recognize the need for military hierarchy and to accept their place within it. Thus concepts of American citizenship, republican traditions in American life, and the brutality of combat shaped, and were in turn shaped by, the attitudes and actions of citizen-officers.

Through an analysis of wartime writings, post-war reminiscences, company and regimental papers, census records, and demographic data, Citizen­-Officers illuminates the centrality of the volunteer officer to the Civil War and to evolving narratives of American identity and military service.”

Critical praise:

“…[A] rich and well-designed study that develops categories for understanding why these men fought, how they became leaders, and how they were changed by their wartime experiences… The shock and horror of combat, the difficulty of keeping order amidst the chaos and carnage of the battlefield, the challenge of leading men into withering fire time after time, and the almost-impossible task of negotiating between the desires of the men and the imperatives of the generals, are covered with sensitivity and insight… Bledsoe has written an important and useful study of the thousands of young officers who served–and sacrificed their lives in appalling numbers–as the backbone of leadership for the volunteer armies. As the first scholarly work to study these men as a distinct group with certain defining characteristics, it will be a starting point for all future discussions of officers in the Civil War armies.” –The Journal of Military History

“…[A] worthy addition… Bledsoe’s contribution to the field is significant… he has created an excellent reference for any historian interested in approaching what can be rather abstract notions… Bledsoe’s book is well researched, well written, well argued, and a most welcome addition to the field.” –Ohio Valley History

“…[S]killful use of quantitative methods adds depth to Bledsoe’s judicious use of textual evidence. Citizen-Officers gives a thorough and detailed treatment of how American civilians developed from untutored amateurs into competent and skilled junior officers by the end of the war… Smoothly written, tightly argued, and augmented with ample data, Citizen-Officers makes a solid contribution to the study of American Civil War soldiers.” –Journal of the Civil War Era

“…[A]n essential read for the serious student of the Civil War.” –

“…Bledsoe has filled a significant gap in our knowledge of Civil War armies. …[I]t will richly reward anyone interested in the long development of the United States’ armed forces or the profoundly personal experiences of soldiering in an era of predominantly volunteer armies.” –H-Net Reviews

“…[A]n important book… It all comes together for a tangible, accessible, and interesting take on an underappreciated group in Civil War scholarship… The book helps historians grasp the weight of command that rested on the shoulders of these officers; they felt the demands to live as a virtuous example to their men, all while directing their citizen volunteer soldiers into life-endangering combat. It is a book that engages readers in the heart of the Civil War….” –Civil War Book Review

“…[E]ssential reading for anyone seeking to more fully understand the leadership of the most fundamental building blocks of Civil War armies.” –Civil War Books and Authors

Citizen-Officers fills a major gap in the literature on the American Civil War. It offers perceptive analysis of volunteers who filled junior ranks among officers in both the Union and Confederate armies. The author’s careful attention to the republican example of disinterested service, the transition from civilian to military cultures, the impact of combat, and change over time, among other virtues, lends distinction to this book.”—Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Union War

“As Andrew Bledsoe shows in his exceptional Citizen-Officers, managing civilian soldiers who were fiercely resistant to military rule required intelligent and inspired leadership. There were plenty of martinets and incompetents who were despised by the troops, but in time they were cast aside. The vast majority of lieutenants and captains matured on the job, employing a tough pragmatism that helped transform unruly volunteers into disciplined killers. Citizen-Officers is an essential book that deserves a place alongside the classic soldier studies by James McPherson and Joseph Glatthaar.”—Peter S. Carmichael, director of the Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College

“Andrew Bledsoe provides a nuanced and insightful analysis of the overlooked but essential aspect of junior officers in Civil War armies. His study teaches us a great deal about how Civil War armies worked. It also addresses a fundamental question about nineteenth-century conflicts—building responsive volunteer militaries from a democratic citizenry that rejected natural leadership and the aristocratic pretensions of the Old World. Bledsoe persuasively shows how an adaptable and creative cadre of men, pulled from civilian life, matured into effective leaders, and, in the process, how democratic nations create and sustain popular wars.”—Aaron Sheehan-Dean, editor of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia

The Tennessee Campaign of 1864 (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland)

From the jacket:Cover to Tennessee 1864

“Few American Civil War operations matched the controversy, intensity, and bloodshed of Confederate general John Bell Hood’s ill-fated 1864 campaign against Union forces in Tennessee. In the first-ever anthology on the subject, The Tennessee Campaign of 1864, edited by Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear, fourteen prominent historians and emerging scholars examine the three-month operation, covering the battles of Allatoona, Spring Hill, and Franklin, as well as the decimation of Hood’s army at Nashville.

Contributors explore the campaign’s battlefield action, including how Major General Andrew J. Smith’s three aggressive divisions of the Army of Tennessee became the most successful Federal unit at Nashville, how vastly outnumbered Union troops held the Allatoona Pass, why Hood failed at Spring Hill and how the event has been perceived, and why so many of the Army of Tennessee’s officer corps died at the Battle of Franklin, where the Confederacy suffered a disastrous blow. An exciting inclusion is the diary of Confederate major general Patrick R. Cleburne, which covers the first phase of the campaign.

Essays on the strained relationship between Ulysses S. Grant and George H. Thomas and on Thomas’s approach to warfare reveal much about the personalities involved, and chapters about civilians in the campaign’s path and those miles away show how the war affected people not involved in the fighting. An innovative case study of the fighting at Franklin investigates the emotional and psychological impact of killing on the battlefield, and other implications of the campaign include how the courageous actions of the U.S. Colored Troops at Nashville made a lasting impact on the African American community and how preservation efforts met with differing results at Franklin and Nashville.

Canvassing both military and social history, this well-researched volume offers new, illuminating perspectives while furthering long-running debates on more familiar topics. These in-depth essays provide an expert appraisal of one of the most brutal and notorious campaigns in Civil War history.”

Critical praise:

“Arguably the most decisive military event of the Civil War, the 1864 Tennessee campaign has finally received the detailed scrutiny it deserves in this excellent volume. Thirteen of the best scholars in the field have produced the most complete and compelling coverage and analysis to date. Great commanders, soldiers in the ranks, and ordinary civilians—white and black alike—emerge starkly, illuminating the campaign’s enormous desperation, mass carnage, and enduring tragedy.”—T. Michael Parrish, Baylor University

“In this superb collection of essays, Steven Woodworth and Charles Grear have assembled a cavalcade of stars to contemplate the Tennessee Campaign of the fall of 1864, with emphasis placed on the battlefields of Franklin and Nashville. The essays, chock-full of new insights and a bounty of primary sources, cover everything from the commanders and the details of battle to the civilians forced to contemplate so much death and destruction. Additionally, a few authors consider the memory of the battle, as well as the failed and successful efforts to preserve the sites where the Army of Tennessee faced its final, tragic chapter.”—Brian Craig Miller, author of John Bell Hood and the Fight for Civil War Memory