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Sat, 06 Jul



Antebellum Military Science and the American Civil War

How well did an education at the US Military Academy at West Point prepare its alumni for the challenges of the greatest war ever fought on the continent? Dr Ian Hope suggests that by 1860 there had emerged a distinctly American way of war that had a profound impact on the conduct of the Civil War

Antebellum Military Science and the American Civil War
Antebellum Military Science and the American Civil War

Time & Location

06 Jul 2024, 13:00 – 16:00 BST

London, Civil Service Club, Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ, UK

About the Event

While faith in the Enlightenment was waning elsewhere by 1860, at the United States Military Academy at West Point and in the minds of academy graduates serving throughout the country Enlightenment thinking persisted, asserting that war was governable by a grand theory accessible through the study of ‘military science.’ Officers of the regular army and instructors at the military academy and their political superiors all believed strongly in the possibility of acquiring a perfect knowledge of war through the proper curriculum.

Dr Ian Hope’s talk will examine how the doctrine of military science evolved from teaching specific Napoleonic applications to embracing subjects that were useful for war in North America. He refutes traditional assertions of a lack of professionalization in the antebellum American army and an overreliance on the teachings of Swiss military theorist Antoine de Jomini. Instead, Dr Hope will show that inculcation in West Point’s American military curriculum came to provide the army with an officer corps that shared a common doctrine and common skill in military problem solving. The proliferation of military science ensured that on the eve of the Civil War there existed a distinctly American, and scientific, way of war. Dr Hope concludes and demonstrates that this doctrine had a profound impact upon the conduct of the American Civil War.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ian Hope MSC, MSM, CD is the Chief Historian for NATO and Historical Adviser to SACEUR. During his 40-year military career, he served with the West Nova Scotia Regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the Canadian Airborne Regiment and the British Parachute Regiment. His operational experiences include the first Gulf War, multiple tours in the Balkans, Africa, and Afghanistan.

He is a graduate of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, and the United States Army’s Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies, and Army War College in Carlisle, as well as being an Ancien of the NATO Defense College. He has a Bachelor of History (Honors) from Acadia University, a Masters of Military Arts and Science, a Masters of Strategic Studies, and a PhD in History from Queen’s University Canada.

He is the author of A Scientific Way of War(2015), Dancing with the Dushman (2008), Unity of Command in Afghanistan: A Forsaken Principle of War (2007), three monographs and a dozen articles and chapters on military history and strategic studies.

Discounted tickets are available to Full Time Students, please contact us for further details.



    This ticket is for people attending the meeting in person at the Civil Service club. Space is limited, so while we will admit 'walk-ins' if possible, anyone not purchasing a ticket in advance may be turned away if the venue is full. Tea, coffee and biscuits are included. Also includes access to the CSC bar before and after the event. A 50% refund will be given on the day to Full Time Students on presentation of a Student Card.


    This is a hybrid physical and online event (via Zoom). A small fee is charged for online access to hybrid events to cover costs. Zoom attendees cannot participate in the raffle. The online link will be sent to you on your email receipt. FullTime Students are eligible to attend free by Zoom - please contact us for a discount code


    We welcome voluntary donations to enable us to continue our education and conservation projects on both sides of the Atlantic. You can now make a donation of any value from £1 upwards on a single 'ticket'.


    Sale ends: 05 Jul, 12:00 BST

    We will be holding a raffle of books and other memorabilia. You must be present in person to participate, but to save time on the day you can purchase these online in advance. ONLINE RAFFLE TICKETS MUST BE PURCHASED NO LATER THAN MIDDAY THE DAY BEFORE THE EVENT.




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