How Did The Telegraph Dominate The American Civil War

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Napoleon dominated the European battlefields during his pre-1809 reign as France’s emperor. The French military genius overwhelmed inferior military opponents with innovative maneuvers of mass armies, total war supported with French nationalism, and rapid decisive military victories. Following 1809, Napoleon’s military successes faded as he stubbornly applied French Revolution-era military strategies against present enemy forces of equal strength and tactical adeptness.
The American Civil War proved that prolongated 19th Century wars would replace pre-1809 Napoleonic-era rapid decisive wars. The victors of 19th Century warfare were militaries that successfully exhausted their opponent and broke their opponent’s will to fight. The North’s …show more content…

Prior to the Civil War, however, the telegraph was already a tested mode of communication in Europe. In the 1850s, during the Crimean War, the telegraph system allowed the governments of Paris and London to communicate with their respective military commanders. The difference of telegraph utilization between the Crimean and Civil Wars is that the Union used the telegraph to communicate tactically between commanders, in addition to the telegraph’s use for the back and forth strategic and operational communications. Union commanders, like General Sherman, valued the tactical utilization of the telegraph: “The value of the magnetic telegraph in war cannot be exaggerated, as was illustrated by the perfect concert of action between the armies in Virginia and …show more content…

The incorporation of the telegraph, at the tactical level, proved advantageous to the Union’s efforts for out-maneuvering Confederate forces in support of the North’s exhaustive strategy. One evening during the Union’s advance towards Richmond, the telegraph proved effective for Union commanders to issue last-minute guidance prior to the next day’s battle at Five Forks:
“…Grant's during those dark hours that preceded the dawn of his and the Nation's final triumph. Meade was no less active. He dispatched suggestive messages to Grant, mandatory ones to Warren, Humphreys and others, and inquiring telegrams to all points. The efforts of the telegraphers during that night so to aid the officers that perfect order and assurance might come with the opening of the

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