Combat Reconsidered: A Statistical Analysis of Small-Unit Actions During the American Civil War

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Historians often emphasize the physical features of battleterrain, weaponry, troop formations, earthworks, etc.in assessments of Civil War combat. Most scholars agree that these external combat conditions strongly influenced battle performance. Other historians accentuate the ways in which the mental stresses of soldiering affected combat performance. These scholars tend to agree that fighting effectiveness was influenced by such non-physical combat conditions as unit cohesion, leadership, morale, and emotional stress. Few authors argue that combat's mental influences were more significant in determining success or failure than the physical features of the battlefield. Statistical analysis of the 465 tactical engagements fought by twenty-seven ... continued below

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Barloon, Mark C December 2001.

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  • Barloon, Mark C

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Historians often emphasize the physical features of battleterrain, weaponry, troop formations, earthworks, etc.in assessments of Civil War combat. Most scholars agree that these external combat conditions strongly influenced battle performance. Other historians accentuate the ways in which the mental stresses of soldiering affected combat performance. These scholars tend to agree that fighting effectiveness was influenced by such non-physical combat conditions as unit cohesion, leadership, morale, and emotional stress. Few authors argue that combat's mental influences were more significant in determining success or failure than the physical features of the battlefield. Statistical analysis of the 465 tactical engagements fought by twenty-seven Federal regiments in the First Division of the Army of the Potomac's Second Corps throughout the American Civil War suggests that the mental aspects of battle affected fighting efficiency at least as muchand probably more thancombat's physical characteristics. In other words, the soldiers' attitudes, opinions, and emotions had a somewhat stronger impact on combat performance than their actions, positions, and weaponry.

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  • December 2001

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  • Sept. 25, 2007, 10:56 p.m.

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  • Jan. 21, 2014, 3:57 p.m.

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Barloon, Mark C. Combat Reconsidered: A Statistical Analysis of Small-Unit Actions During the American Civil War, dissertation, December 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3066/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .