Go to School on TNC: Fredericksburg

More

I'm rewatching Ken Burns' Civil War piece (For like the fifth time. It really is an incredible, if not flawless, piece. Easily the greatest doc I've ever seen.) Anyway, I was watching the chapter on the Battle Of Fredericksburg, and the point is made that the casualties were so high because, as was true for much of the Civil War, men marched in ranks directly toward enemy guns. 


It's clear that at the onset on the Civil War, firearm technology had advanced quite a bit, and thus the old tactics weren't effective. I'm more interested in how Western war was fought in the antebellum period, and the origins of the notion of massing men and advancing. (Forgive me if I'm summarizing any of this wrong. I'm a total novice.) I hear allusions to Napoleon often and how his methods were basically made obsolete by the Civil War. 

Is anyone able to speak, in concrete terms, about what this meant? How were battlefield tactics taught before the Civil War, and why were they taught that way? When did the generals begin to change and adjust? How quickly did those adjustments spread to the broader world? Any thoughts are appreciated.
Jump to comments

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

From This Author