The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 194
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
for entirely new administrative concepts, and the failure of Con-
federate leadership to evolve or adopt these concepts prevented
the South from effectively waging the kind of war which vic-
In the first essay, "Total War and the Problem of Command,"
the author makes the point that because Southern leaders were
saddled with outmoded techniques and concepts they were slow
in perceiving that the nature of war had changed. In fact, they
never fully appreciated the fact that modern total war is, in
essence, war of whole populations, by whole populations, against
whole populations. This insensitivity to change vastly intensified
the already formidable problems of an agrarian nation fighting
an industrial war. The second essay, "Command and Civilian
Administration," is an analysis of key personnel in the Confed-
erate command structure. The penetrating sketches of Secretaries
Seddon and Mallory are particularly keen, and the Confederate
president, aptly described by the author as a conservative leading
a revolution, is charitably portrayed as the victim of an iniquitous
system. The last of the three essays, "Command and the Factor of
Logistics," deals with that less glamorous but always important
aspect of war, supply. The comparatively simple supply systems
of earlier days were clearly no longer sufficient. Total war meant
total logistics, as well; and this demanded a degree of coor-
dination between procurement, transportation, and distribution
agencies hitherto unknown. As a result, the South was faced with
yet another problem it never really solved.
In its efforts to adjust to the demands of total war, to work
out an efficient, high level, military command system, and to
develop an effective logistics program, the South failed. It is
Vandiver's thesis that these failures were deeply rooted in the
South's own tradition. Clinging tenaciously to its beliefs in
States Rights and decentralization, the Confederacy furnishes an
excellent illustration of Von Clausewitz' postulate that a nation
fights its wars under terms imposed by its social system. The South
was, indeed, faced with a paradox: in order to wage modern war,
it needed to attain a high degree of centralization in a nation
stubbornly committed to the principles of decentralization.
OTIS A. SINGLETARY
The University of Texas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/220/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.