I’ve been blogging on the Battle of Franklin for over ten years. I’ve published over 1,000 blogposts on this site. This blog has generated more than 500,000 unique page views. I’m often asked why I don’t publish in traditional book format. My overall digital imprint engages between 10,000 – 15,000 people every month. I’m afraid print-based products would diminish my overall reach.
Most of my Battle of Franklin posts typically have something to do with an original letter, document, or image related to a soldier or civilian who was engaged in the battle in some way. I will continue to publish those kind of posts but after doing this for over ten years its getting harder and harder to find fresh, original material.
Starting today, I’m going to start evaluating the command decisions, especially among the senior military leaders engaged at Franklin, from the perspective of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. I will also engage with Stoker’s The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2010), alongside Tzu’s strategem.
“Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is perhaps the oldest and one of the most widely read classics of military strategy. Published in ancient China an estimated 2,500 years ago, it has remained “the most important military treatise in Asia” according to the historian and translator Ralph D. Sawyer. This classic of Eastern thought draws from Taoist philosophy and addresses the conduct of war and competition between states with poeticism unlike any classic of Western military theory. Thought to be the transcriptions of a general’s advice to his king, The Art of War emphasizes the use of the unorthodox and deception to overcome adversaries without jeopardizing the dynasty’s existence during a period of increase lethality of warfare. Since its ancient origins, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has become one of the most influential documents on statesmanship and military strategy and is a classic in the East and West.” Text credit
I will place appropriate quotes from Tzu’s military treatise based on the Kindle book: Sun Tzu. The Art of War (Wisehouse Classics Edition) Wisehouse. Kindle Edition. I don’t know how many posts will be forthcoming in this series. I suspect there will be many.
I’m still researching just how well-known or familiar Civil War generals were with Sun Tzu’s Art of War. It seems I’ve read previously that many would’ve been familiar with Tzu from their training at West Point.
Here are some helpful resources if you engage in this journey with me:
- Start with chapter one and follow throughout the discussion with this excellent resource by Jessica Hagy.
- The complete text is found here too.
The military strategy tomes most Civil War general officers would’ve been familiar with include:
- On War Against Napoleon by Carl von Clausewitz
- Elements of Military Art and Science by Jomini