Week 2



Alfred Thayer Mahan


Learning Modules:  A brief study in strategy: Mahan, Corbett, Napoleon, and Jomini; West Point and the US Naval Academy’s curriculum


Scanned Readings

Anderson, Bern. “The Naval Strategy of the Civil War,” Military Affairs, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Spring, 1962), pp.11-21.

Alex, Roland. The Way of the Ship. Ch. 21: Anaconda Anyone? (Wiley & Sons, 2008), pp. 148-188.

Hattendorf, John B. ed. Mahan on Naval Strategy (Naval Institute Press, 1991), pp.97-176.

Corbett, Julian. Principles of Maritime Strategy (Dover, 2004), pp. 167-310.

Connelly, Thomas. The Politics of Command (Louisiana SUP, 1973), pp. 3-48.


Discussion Board:

  1. To paraphrase Jonathan Dull, the United States could not create a modern navy until it shook off the shackles of colonialism. Mahan, Corbett, Napoleon, and Jomini are all seen as respected strategists of war.  Mahan and Corbett focused on naval strategy, but Mahan lived through the Civil War, and Corbett had the luxury of hindsight.  Some historians look at Napoleon and Jomini as crumbling and ancient theories unsuited for this new age of war.  Which theory or theories do you subscribe to and why?  OR do you completely disagree with all of them?
  2. We will study The Anaconda Plan in more depth as the class proceeds, but what are your thoughts on the initial plan? What are your thoughts on Connelly’s assessment of Robert E. Lee and his strategy?  Jefferson Davis is an interesting character – Do you know anything about his background before the war?  What advice do you think Davis needed above all else?  Do you think he would have listened?


Zoom PP Lecture:

The lecture will discuss the Anaconda Plan, Winfield Scott, strategic points as a war tactic, and how this plan evolved.  Remember that the Department of War (army) was separate from the Department of the Navy, with their own secretaries, each of which was responsible to the president.  We will look at Welles and Mallory and their relationship with their respective leaders.

LSS Notes:

Use part of PowerPoint from incident at Cape Fear