Introduction: Warfare in North America and Europe, 1861-71

TitleIntroduction: Warfare in North America and Europe, 1861-71
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsFörster, Stig, and Jorg Nagler
EditorFörster, Stig, and Jorg Nagler
Book TitleOn the Road to Total War: The American Civil War and the German Wars of Unification
PublisherCambridge University Press ; German Historical Institute
CityCambridge ; Washington, DC

“The age of cabinet's war is behind us, - now we only have people's war....”

“Such a people's war, on both sides, has never happened before since the existence of large states....”

With these words, the conservative Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke and the left-wing military analyst Friedrich Engels, clearly two very different characters, summed up their impressions of the German Wars of Unification and of the American Civil War, respectively. They were both talking of wars that had taken place in the same decade (1861 to 1871) but on two different continents, for very different reasons, and apparently under very different circumstances. Yet, both men used the same term - people's war - to characterize these military conflicts. We may therefore ask to what extent were there structural similarities between the German Wars of Unification and the American Civil War. Never mind the large differences between these wars; there should have been similarities if such otherwise opposing personalities such as Moltke and Engels looked at them in the same way. [Publisher]

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