Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Donald Stoker's "The Grand Design"

Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College's program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War, and reported the following:
One of the things differentiating my book from the rest of the Civil War literature is its examination of strategic issues rarely (or never) discussed anywhere else. Page 99 is indicative of this because it is part of the discussion of a strategic topic not normally touched upon: Confederate naval strategy. It is probably safe to say that the average reader does not even know there was such as thing. But the reality is that the Confederates had some very developed ideas in regard to naval strategy and it is not a far stretch to say that their naval thinking was superior to that guiding their land war.

Confederate naval strategy took as its starting point an effort to get a technological edge over the Union and thus break Northern naval power by building a small number of technically superior vessels. These were to take two primary forms: high-speed, steam and sail powered raiders armed with a small number of rifled cannon that would attack Union shipping, and ironclad coastal vessels to secure Southern ports and break the Union blockade. A third tier was coastal defense. This took the form of fortifications (page 99 shows Robert E. Lee’s involvement in this), and undersea mines, known as “torpedoes” during the Civil War. Confederate undersea warfare also saw experiments with submarines, such as the famous Hunley (see page 99).

The South’s ideas though, were more advanced than its industry. It could never build or buy abroad the ships it needed to put its ideas into practice.
Read more about The Grand Design at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue