Accession Number:

AD1159713

Title:

Raphael Semmes and Confederate Commerce Raiding in the Civil War: A Case Study on Operational Art

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2020-05-21

Pagination or Media Count:

58

Abstract:

During the American Civil War, Confederate naval captain Raphael Semmes executed one of the most effective naval campaigns in modern history. As captain of the CSS Sumter and CSS Alabama, Semmes raided Union commerce not only in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, but also in the waters off Europe, Brazil, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. An analysis of Semmes using the framework of US joint military doctrine provides valuable insight into the contemporary understanding of operational art. First, Semmes employed limited resources in effective ways. Second, his operational approach included maneuver, tempo, anticipation, center of gravity, branches, risk, operational reach, and culmination. Nevertheless, Semmes ultimately failed to accomplish his strategic objectives. Faulty assumptions, resource constraints, and limited sea control derailed his effort to bring neutral powers into the conflict or convince the North to abandon the war. The lessons from this study are wide ranging. For the US Navy, military planners should prioritize flexibility and incorporate multiple tools of sea control, including decisive battle, blockade, convoys, raids, and patrols. In addition, expanded sea control is possible using a future hybrid fleet of both manned and unmanned surface, subsurface, and air platforms. Furthermore, Semmess campaign emphasizes the potential exponential impact of asymmetric warfare. Conventional naval superiority is not enough.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]