The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) recently co-hosted a panel on the "Geopolitics of the American Civil War," with short talks by Walter McDougall, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and military historian Gregory J.W. Urwin. McDougall stressed the international dimensions of the conflict; he concluded that the outcome of the war reflected deeper trends in global affairs at that time towards centralization and consolidation (e.g., the unification of Italy and Germany, and the Meiji Restoration in Japan). He argued that the Lincoln administration's approach to foreign policy nevertheless reflected the consensus position of Washington's Farewell Address (unilateralist, not isolationist, but one of not going abroad in search of monsters to destroy, as John Quincy Adams later put it in his July 4, 1821 Oration on the Declaration of Independence). Video here:/http://www.fpri.org/multimedia/2016/03/geopolitics-american-civil-war/
For CSD resources on Lincoln and Foreign Policy, see our short essays on the Kossuth Resolutions (http://www.classicsofstrategy.com/2008/12/resolutions-in-behalf-of-hungarian-freedom.html) and Lincoln's Reply to the Workingmen of Manchester, England (http://www.classicsofstrategy.com/2015/07/reply-to-workingmen-manchester-lincoln-1863.html)
In his presentation, Dr. Urwin focused on the post-Civil War writings of Emory Upton, who served a Union general and later commandant of cadets at West Point. This is an interesting example of how military institutions undertake (and resist) change, and how the process may unfold over decades. Upton had been highly critical of the tactics and operational art exhibited by the Union in battles such as Cold Harbor, which he believed reflected a lack of basic professionalism. From 1875-1877, he embarked on an extensive world tour to examine the "best practices" of other military forces, which resulted in the publication of his monograph "The Armies of Asia and Europe." https://archive.org/details/armiesofasiaeuro00uptouoft
Upton recommended a number of reforms for the U.S. Army, which included the establishment of advanced military schools and a general staff, a formal system of personal evaluation reports, and promotion by examination. He advanced these arguments in a draft manuscript, which was left incomplete at the time of his death in 1881. (Among other things, he criticized excessive civilian control of the military.) Friends in the Army circulated the manuscript privately, where its arguments became the source of much debate, although without being reflected immediately in high-level Army or national policy. After the Spanish-American War, which revealed many deficiencies in the Army, Secretary of War Elihu Rood ordered the publication of the manuscript under the title, The Military Policy of the United States; many of Upton's ideas became the basis for the famous Root Reforms throughout the War Department. https://archive.org/stream/militarypolicyu00uptogoog#page/n6/mode/2up
For CSD's introductory essay on U.S. Grant's memoirs, see http://www.classicsofstrategy.com/2008/08/the-personal-memoirs-of-us-grant.html
An aside: Dr. Urwin concluded his remarks by noting that Upton's recommendations represented a major step in the process of moving the U.S. Army from a continental frontier garrison force, to one capable of overseas expeditions and permanent deployments abroad -- an essential pillar of what became America's global presence. Professor McDougall, we note, has long been an influential critic of what he regards as an unfortunate shift from the principles of the Farewell Address, properly adapted, to the posture of a "crusader state" that goes abroad in search of monsters to destroy.