Southern Strategies

Why the Confederacy Failed

Edited by Christian B. Keller

Southern Strategies is the first-ever analysis of Confederate defeat using the lenses of classical strategic and leadership theory. The contributors bring over one hundred years of experience in the field at the junior and senior levels of military leadership and over forty years of teaching in professional military education. Well-aware that the nature of war is immutable and unchanging, they combine their firsthand experience of this truth with solid scholarship to offer new theoretical and historical perspectives about why the South failed in its bid for independence.

The contributors identify and analyze the mistakes made by the Confederate political and strategic leadership that handicapped the prospects for independence and placed immense pressure on Confederate military commanders to compensate on the battlefield for what should have been achieved by other instruments of national power. These instruments are the diplomatic, informational (including intelligence and public morale), and economic aspects of a nations capability to exert its will internationally. When combined with military power, the acronym DIME emerges, a theoretical tool that offers historians and national security professionals alike a useful method to analyze how a state, such as the Union, the Confederacy, or the modern United States, wielded or currently wields its power at the strategic level. Each essay examines how well rebel strategic leaders employed and integrated these instruments, given that the seceded South possessed enough diplomatic, informational, military, and economic power to theoretically win its independence. The essayists also apply the ends-ways-means model of analysis to each topic to offer readers greater insight into the Confederate leaderships challenges.

“The question of why the Confederacy failed has sparked endless discussion. Southern Strategies offers analysis from professional soldiers, whose training and experience set them apart from most earlier historians who addressed the topic. Their essays explore a number of leading commanders and campaigns, as well as economic and diplomatic factors, and bristle with arguments and insights that surely will encourage further debate.”

—Gary W. Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War Emeritus, University of Virginia, and author of The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis

“The applied military history dimensions of this volume constitute an extremely useful and helpful perspective that promises to enrich our overall understanding of Confederate strategy. This is a valuable and highly recommended contribution to the field of Civil War military history, particularly for nonmilitary or academic historians less familiar with the important concepts and applications the contributors explore.”

—Andrew S. Bledsoe, assistant professor of history, Lee University

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Southern Strategies confirms the reality that the outcome of the American Civil War cannot be boiled down to one or two simple reasons. It offers fresh and theoretically novel interpretations at the strategic level that open new doors for future research and will increase public interest in the big questions surrounding Confederate defeat.

About the Author

Christian B. Keller is professor of history and director of the Military History Program, US Army War College, and author of The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy and Chancellorsville and the Germans: Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory.