Peter G. Tsouras on MG George H. Sharpe

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Spotted this on the shelves at Barnes and Noble yesterday-- wasn't even aware of it before seeing it. (That's one of the best things about physical bookstores...)

Major General George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War. Casemate Books, 2018.

The stories about Belle Boyd and Rose O'Neal Greenhow are a dime a dozen (and most not even worth that much): what has long interested me was real battlefield intelligence and the staff-work to refine and report it, about which there's been much less written. Off the top of my head, the only major previous works were Edwin Fishel's The Secret War for the Union and William B. Feis's Grant's Secret Service, both of which grace my shelves. I am looking forward to reading Tsouras' biography of George H. Sharpe, who headed up the Bureau of Military Intelligence Information from the Chancellorsville campaign through the end of the war-- it looks like it will be a good 'un.
 
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wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Spotted this on the shelves at Barnes and Noble yesterday-- wasn't even aware of it before seeing it. (That's one of the best things about physical bookstores...)

Major General George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War. Casemate Books, 2018.

The stories about Belle Boyd and Rose O'Neal Greenhow are a dime a dozen (and most not even worth that much): what has long interested me was real battlefield intelligence and the staff-work to refine and report it, about which there's been much less written. Off the top of my head, the only major previous works were Edwin Fishel's The Secret War for the Union and William B. Feis's Grant's Secret Service, both of which grace my shelves. I am looking forward to reading Tsouras' biography of George H. Sharpe, who headed up the Bureau of Military Intelligence from the Chancellorsville campaign through the end of the war-- it looks like it will be a good 'un.
I've read the Feis book. Sharpe stands out as a systems man with respect to intelligence in the east.
Dodge and Hurlbrut seemed to have run many assets in the west.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Although armies had been gathering battlefield intelligence for years, the ability of military staffs during the American Civil War to process information in to useful intelligence was not up to modern standards.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
I bought it the day it came out. Like Fishel, it focuses on Sharpe's successes but glosses over the failures. It does, however, go into a lot more detail about the workings of the BMI, and is worth it for that.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
More importantly, it quickly developed to modern (for that time) standards, but there were two problems-- the idea of a formal staff, as opposed to a general's personal staff, hadn't really occurred yet*, and all the lessons learned about intel work during the war were seemingly forgotten as quickly as possible afterward. (ETA: the pre-20th century Army had not really discovered the value of doctrine yet, it seems. The word is often derided, but when done properly it encapsulates "lessons learned" and is incredibly valuable.)

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* See The Right Hand of Command: Use and Disuse of Personal Staffs in the Civil War by Steven R. Jones. (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2000.)
 
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