Total War: Making War Againts Societies

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In trying to determine if the Civil War was a total war, you first have to start with a definition of “total war”. Many authors cite a few key parts to defining a total war: the devastation to the civilian populations involved in war, the impact and redeployment of a majority of the economy and the society towards war, and the intent of the leaders to utilize any means necessary to bring the war to the civilian population and to inflict as much damage as possible. After clarifying the definition, we need to compare these three parts of total war to some clear examples and then see how the Civil War matches up. The most obvious examples of total war are the wars in the first half of the twentieth century: the First and Second World Wars. These two wars are unparalleled in the world’s history for the devastation that occurred during the wars. The First World War gives us several obvious examples of total war. The first example is in how the primary leaders of the different countries planned on waging the war. Emperor Wilhelm II made it clear to both his admirals and his generals that he wanted them to use every means necessary to crush the French and then turn their attentions to the Russians. The battle plans of the Germans depended on quickly defeating France and then either defeating Russia, or drawing them into a stalemate. To this end, Wilhelm’s navy was authorized to use unrestricted submarine warfare and the army was authorized to attack civilians as they saw fit, when they met resistance by the French armies. Siege warfare, such as the battle of Verdun, is a clear example of when civilian casualties from artillery fire were, not only unimportant to the invaders, but encouraged to be high. The Austro-Hungarian armies were encouraged to do the same things and acted similarly to the Germans in the Balkans, as did the Ottomans. The second example is the damage
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