The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

To Infinity and Beyond — Final Thoughts on History, CGSC and the Military Profession

History is not about dead people but rather it is a story of the living –people and nations.  We are the current chapter of that story.  Knowing the story as it preceded us, what happened in the previous chapters, is absolutely necessary to understand the role we (and the institutions we are part of) play in the current chapter.  It is also necessary to know what came before in order to anticipate what future chapters might contain and to prepare ourselves for the type of challenges the future chapters will present us with.  Using history in this way, to provide context to our lives, careers, our military, and the world events we participate in is an important part of critical thinking, which is the foundation of military decision making, problem solving, and sound military judgement in all areas.  Understanding this basic concept, and then applying here at CGSC and more importantly, as we go forward in our lives and careers is the reason we have military history in the curriculum of CGSC.

March 27, 2014 Posted by | H300, leadership, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History Instruction at Leavenworth, circa 1908

In 1908 there were two military schools in operation at Fort Leavenworth, both under the general organization called the Army Service Schools.  The first school was the School of the Line.  It was attended by officers, generally lieutenants and captains with six to ten years service, selected from their regiments.  There were approximately fifty officers in the course.  The other course was a second year follow-on to the School of the Line.  It was called the General Staff School. Attending this course were the top twenty-four graduates of the previous year from the School of the Line.

 Below is an excerpt from the 1908 Commandant’s report.  It is taken from the report of the General Staff School, Department of Tactics.  It describes the history instruction provided to the General Staff School officers.  Note that the total hours of history instruction was approximately 156 (in addition to the the school of the Line’s  total of 76).  Consider that in today’s CGSC course the total hours of history instruction is 60.  Also note that Lieutenant George C. Marshall was the honor graduate of this class and then stayed on additional two years as a member of the faculty.  The author of this report was Major J.F. Morrison, head of the Tactics Department.

Click here to see the full original report.




Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,

The Secretary,

August 31, 1908.

The Army Service Schools.


The course in Military History was another innovation and was a success. One campaign (The Peninsular,

1862) was taken. The course was preceded by ‘two lectures on Historical Research. A large

scale map was prepared for us by the Engineering Department covering the theatre of operations. All

movements of the armies were followed day by day to the conclusion of the campaign. The method of

historical study now adopted in all great universities was adapted to military research. Every move and

the reasons therefore were sought and credibility of testimony weighed. The class did not accept secondhand accounts but sought corroborative testimony or information from original sources. One campaign so studied is more valuable to a military student than ‘many more superficially studied. The College Library is well supplied with necessary books. Captain A. L. Conger, 29th Infantry, was the instructor in charge  and developed the course; it was fully planned and carried out by him. The class did splendid work and spent many extra hours in the library looking up information.


So successful do I believe it to have been that in the next year thirty-nine half days will be given to this work and three preliminary lectures instead of two. This can not replace the course in the Line School but naturally follows it. The Line School course is a necessary preparation for it.



Our profession is largely empiric and a careful and correct study of Military History is most important. Not a memory stored with names and dates, but a knowledge of important campaigns.


More History:


The class was taken this year for a Staff or Historical Ride from Manassas to Gettysburg.  The ride was announced to the class at the beginning of the school year and each member assigned the part he must discuss and the requirements made that careful study of all the campaigns involved was required of those to go. While five half days were allowed for preparation, it was but a small fraction of the time expended on it by the class. During the spring the Staff Class has, in other departments, much work that does not require preparation to be made at home. These evenings were what was counted on for preparation for this ride, and not amiss. The work of the class on this ride, its extent and thoroughness, the complete grasp they got of this part of our Military History, was one of the most satisfactory things to me in the year’s work. The ride was profitable to all concerned and I earnestly recommend that they be continued as long as such satisfactory results are obtained.

 Before leaving Fort Leavenworth, Lieutenant Fitch gave a lecture on the Military Geography of Virginia.


July 3d. 

Wagons at train for baggage; horses, with lunch.

Class to Bull Run field at the Henry house.

Papers on:

First Bull Run-Captain Baltzell.

Gainsville-Lieutenant Cox.

Groveton-Lieutenan t Fisher.

Second Bull Rur-Captain Raymond.

Camp at Gainsville, ten miles.

 July 4th.

Move to Delaplane, twenty-one miles.

 July 5th.

Move from Delaplane to Front Royal. eighteen


Papers on :

Front Royal and retreat to Winchester-Lieutenant Morey.

 July 6th.

Wagons to Middletown, nine miles. Cla’ss to Tom’s

Brook via Strasburg, and return via Strasburg to Middletown:

twenty-seven miles.

Papers on :

Tom’s Brook-Captain Herron.

Fisher’s Hill–Lieutenant Collins.

 July 7th.

Move from Middletown to Winchester, thirteen


Papers on :

Cedar Creek, before leaving for Winchester- Lieutenant Beebe.

Kernstown, en route-Captain Kerth and Lieutenant Currie.

 July 8th.

Remain all day at Winchester.

Papers on :

Winchester-Captain Hickok.

Opequon-Captain Stodter.

Sketch of Jackson’s campaign in the valley-Captain Major.

Sketch of Early’s campaign in the valley—Captain Conger.

 July 9th.

Move to Harper’s Ferry, via Charleston, twenty-eight miles.

Papers on :

The Capture of Harper’s Ferry-Lieutenant Landa.

Events Leading to Antietam-Captain King.

 July 10th.

Wagons to Sharpsburg, twelve miles. Class to Crampton’s Gap, via, Pleasant Valley, nine miles; then

to Turner’s Gap, seven miles; then to Sharpsburg for camp. Total for class, twenty-four miles.

Papers on:

Crarnptolz’s Gap-Lieutenant Locke.

Turner’s Gap-Captain Rhodes.

 July 11th.

Remain at Sharpsburg.

P a p e r s o n :

Federal Right-Lieutenant Fuqua.

Federal Left-Lieutenant Monter.

 July 12th. Wagons direct to Hagerstown. Class via Williamsport.

 July 13th.

Move to Fairfield, twenty miles.

Papers on :

The Retreat from Gettysburg-Captain Sharp.

Event8 Leading to Gettysburg-Captain Sayre.

 July 14th.

Move to Gettysburg, seven and a half miles.

Papers on :

The First Day’s Fight-Lieutenant Jackson.

July 2d-Culp’s Hill-Captain Birnie.

 July 15th.

At Gettysburg.

Papers on :

The Battle of July 2d-The Federal Left-Lieutenant Palmer.

The Battle of July 3d-Left and Center-Lieutenant Hodges.

July 3d-Culp’s Hill-Captain Chiles.

Review of the Battle of Gettysburg-Lieutenant Marshall.

 July 16th.

Allowance of a day for delays en route, or for seeing Gettysburg more thoroughly. In the latter case,

the two last named papers to be read on this date.

 The above program was carried out. The following problems were given out and the solutions submitted were discussed by instructors and class.

 In most cases the discussions were very complete:

I. As Chief of Staff for General McClellan, draw up the order that should have been issued after obtaining the “lost order” September 13th.

 2. ‘As Chief of Staff for General Lee, issue the order that should have been issued the night of September 14th, at termination of Battle of South Mountain.

 3. As Chief of Staff for General McClellan., write the order that should have been issued the evening of September 16th.

 4, Write the order for General Lee% withdrawal after the Battle of Antietam.

 5. Take the situation of the troops as it existed the evening of June 30, 1863-As Chief of Staff for General Lee, submit a plan of action.

 6. Same as above except as Chief of Staff for General Meade. Submit a plan of action for him.

 7a.. Was the position taken by General Sickles with his Corps July 2d, faulty? In other words, is his claim as to the position correct?

 7b. With modern arms would the advanced position be better than the one ordered by General Meade?

 The above problems were solved by class on the ground after a study of the same and hearing the

papers and discussions relating to the battles in question, but without other preparation or warning.

July 24, 2009 Posted by | H100, H200, H300, military history | , , , , , | Leave a comment