November 2019 Southern MD Civil War Round Table Meeting

November 12, 2019

The Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table is pleased to announce that its next meeting will occur on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 7:00pm at our NEW meeting location, The Maryland Veterans Museum, 11000 Crain Highway North, Newburg, MD 20664.

Guest Speaker:  Harold Knudsen

 Book: General James Longstreet the Confederacy’s Most Modern General

 Presentation title: Modern War Methods of General James Longstreet

 Synopsis of Presentation Material: The Civil War is replete with aspects and firsts that illustrate this war was the first ‘modern war.’ Initially, the war was fought extensively with Napoleonic tactics, but a few professional Army officers worked to improve the tactics, operations, and strategies which made the Civil War the precursor of the 20th Century World Wars. Like Grant and Sherman, the well-known modern Union generals, it was General James Longstreet that made some of the most profound modern contributions to the art of war.

Unlike Grant and Sherman, however, Longstreet’s legacy became the victim of the post war movement in the South known as the Lost Cause; he was punished for becoming a supporter of certain Reconstruction bills, the 13th and 14th Amendments, and accepting postings with the Republican Grant Administration. His military record was attacked by Lost Cause proponents who viewed his politics as scandalous and traitorous.

Ignoring the politics, and looking at Longstreet’s body of work by comparing it to modern military doctrine reveals several large scale innovations. His defensive tactics showed a clear evolution during Antietam, culminating at Fredericksburg with World War I lethality. His offensive tactics at Chickamauga were similar, if not the forerunner to World War II tactical level German armored tactics. Other areas show progressive applications with artillery, staff work, force projection, and operational level thinking.

LTC Harold Knudsen will present these modern innovations by touching on the evolution of war by tying comparatives from the Napoleonic era, to WWII, and beyond back to the Civil War, which shows that several of the battles Longstreet evolved his thinking, and how his innovations appeared in future wars. General Longstreet was not the sole agent of all modern change away from Napoleonic method during the war, but his contributions were very significant, done on a large scale, and do show Longstreet was a modern thinker unparalleled in the Confederate Army.

LTC Harold Knudsen is an Illinois native. His career spans twenty five years of active duty Army service, and includes seven resident career artillery, command and staff Army schools and colleges. He has many years of tactical experience in the integration of fire support into maneuver plans and fire control computation for cannon units. He spent nine years in Germany training tactics offensive armored warfare, as well as peace-keeping and counter-insurgency training. A combat veteran of Desert Storm, he performed extensive artillery fire planning and execution in support of the US breakthrough of the Iraqi line and penetration into Iraq. Later, he has also served in the Iraq Campaign at Multi National Corps Iraq in Baghdad. His years of staff work at the Corps, Army, and Pentagon levels give him a strong understanding of army operations from the lowest to highest levels. His book: General James Longstreet the Confederacy’s Most Modern General, draws heavily from 20th Century Army doctrine, field training, staff planning, command, and combat experience.