- Series: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series (Book 59)
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Texas A&M University Press; Texas A&m University ed. edition (January 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0890968160
- ISBN-13: 978-0890968161
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,549,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Army for Empire: The United States Army in the Spanish-American War (Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series) Paperback – January 1, 1998
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From the Back Cover
This fully documented study presents the organization and administration of the Spanish-American War army and the responses of the War Department to the conflict of 1898 and the challenges of overseas empire. In a clear and concise manner, Cosmas puts forth factors that invited many of the war's disasters. The Congressional penury of the 1890s, the political conflict in Congress, changes in President William McKinley's military strategy and goals, which placed frequent shifting demands upon the army - all contributed to sending inexperienced land forces ashore in Cuba. This account reconstructs the War Department's story of the war and traces the course of the department's effort to organize and equip an army and then deploy it to secure objectives of national policy. Cosmas analyzes each major decision concerning these matters: how and why it was made and the results it produced.
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Top customer reviews
A great read.
The struggle over these issues just before and during mobilization led directly to changes in priorities and policies in regards to the conduct of the war. Not an overnight read, this book is an excellent study of the U.S. Army as it entered the 20th Century.
This book is a look at the United States Military actions throughout the course of the Spanish-American War. It is not a history of the war itself, but an attempt by the author to reconstruct the military history of the war through the official records. The author uses these records to give the reader a detailed account of the progress of the war from the beginning to the end. Cosmas gives the reader an inside look at the interactions between: the War Department, President McKinley, the Army and Congress. It is the author's intent to show how the United States Military had transformed itself into an Empirical force not to be reckoned with. The majority of this book deals with the preparation of the Army leading up to the war and the changes in strategy throughout the war. Cosmas points out the mistakes made throughout the war and how they were dealt with. He goes on to explain how the solutions eventually led to a better, more organized military by the end of the war.
The author used both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources used include: manuscripts, government documents, newspapers, books, and articles. The Newspapers used in this book include: Detroit Free Press, 1892, The New York Times, 1897-1898, The Washington Post, 1898. There is a short list of newspapers used for this book, but there were several articles used from those newspapers. Some of the books used include: Lodge, Henry Cabot, ed. Selections from the Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, 18884-1918. 2 vols. New York and London, 1925, Miles, Nelson A. Serving the Republic, New York and London, 1911. These are just some of the many books used as sources.
The organization of this book is of a topical manner. The chapters are of a reasonable length and are broken down into sub sections. The organization is an easy way for readers to follow the subject matter without getting too bogged down into details. It is an easy read for a college student or someone who is interested in Military history. There are some photos used in this book that help the reader place a face with the names in the book. There is one map used and is again, useful for the reader to understand what the author discussing in the book.
This book is a short history of the Spanish-American War through the lens of the military. It offers a detailed account of military actions throughout this brief war. It is not a full history of the war itself, but offers a decent account of the war. The reader is allowed by the author a unique, inside look at the military and how it functioned in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It also examines the transition of the military from an outdated Army of the Civil War era to a more organized modern Army that would be constantly transformed in World War I, World War II, and future wars. It is this transition that was crucial for the United States to compete globally with other countries which were practicing Imperialism at the time.
The author begins his book with an Army that is split in what it wants for the future. War has not broken out yet, but some Generals are pounding their chests and beating the drums of war. Their arrogance and self righteousness leads them to believe that the American military might is an indestructible force. It would seem they are itching for a fight. Other Generals had been around long enough and were wise enough to know that the Army and Navy needed to be reformed. The American military had not fought in a fully fledged war since the Civil War; three decades earlier, except fighting Indians on the plains and the South-West. It became clear that the military was in need of modernization.
Cosmas also maintains the need for modernization came from outside forces as well. The finance industrial capitalists of the late nineteenth century had a need for expansion in order to move into foreign markets. This was a need to colonize underdeveloped countries in order to strip them of their resources. In order to carry that out, the United States had to have a large standing Army and a sea faring Navy. The American government looked to the Pacific, the Caribbean and South America for colonization, as it seemed to be the most natural course. In the Caribbean, Cuba was selected as the most likely target. Spain was losing control over its colonies and this was the perfect opportunity to free the Cubans and make them economic allies. The United States supported a guerrilla war against Spain and gave support to the Cubans. With the destruction of the USS Maine, a rallying cry towards war by use of "yellow journalism" was enough to get the support of the people to go to war.
No sooner than war broke out, that the War Department began to have problems. The author maintains that some of those problems that occurred were outside of the War Departments control and, "disruptive changes in McKinley's war strategy accounts for most of the mistakes and misfortunes that ensued." (101) It is Cosmas' belief that President McKinley's interference in war strategy caused most problems because the War Department was hesitant in their actions due to fear of what McKinley would do. Often times they would rush plans and constantly stay unorganized. The military was able to eventually work out the kinks with the help of Secretary Algers; the large standing Army was organized and able to easily defeat the Spanish. The war quickly ended within four months.
In the final analysis, this book is a little too short if you are a military history buff since it does not include detailed battle accounts, but it is fine for someone who is a mild history buff and wants a short read. The information provided is detailed and accurate. It is a different take on writing a historical account. If anyone who is interested in military strategy and wants to get an inside look at nineteenth century strategy and politics, then this is a good book for that purpose.
Much of the story of the preparation of the Army dealt with the sometimes stormy relationships between President McKinley, Secretary of War Alger, Commanding General Of The Army Miles, Adjutant General Corbin, General Shafter, Commander in Cuba, and more minor characters. Cosmas points out the challenges confronting the administration which contributed to the disorganization and poor food for which it was criticized. Legal restrictions on the deployment of National Guard units complicated the recruitment of volunteer troops. Problems arose out of the incompatibility of equipment among the state militias. Political tugs of war between regular and state forces complicated staffing. Limited ordnance production capabilities constrained material accumulation. Shifting war aims introduced inefficiencies into the deployment of troops. The post hostility problems with tropical diseases and their stateside ramifications receive in depth analysis. All in all, Cosmas concludes that the War Department succeeded, by war's end, in developing a suitable Army for Empire.
Cosmas does a good job in explaining how the shifting war aims drove changes in invasion plans. Whereas original debate centered over attacks on Havana or Puerto Rico, the discovery of Adm. Cervera's fleet in Santiago Harbor compelled a landing near Santiago. The reader learns that the seemingly irrational departure of the Spanish fleet from Santiago was done under orders. The resulting destruction of the Spanish fleet cut the army off from its sources of supply and condemned it to either starvation or surrender.
Cosmas show how inefficiencies turned up in unexpected places. Despite the longer trip, the expedition to the Philippines was better organized than the one to Cuba. As things turned out, the Army raised about twice as many volunteer troops as it used.
Having read other books about the Spanish American War, "An Army For Empire" supplemented what I already knew. It tied things together and showed the "whys" behind the "whats". For this it was worthwhile. I thought that the extensive verbage about supply and organization may prove boring, but it never did. I would not recommend this as a first book about the Spanish American war. I do recommend it to deepen the understanding of the mature reader.