Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Preferred Name

Joseph A. D'Arezzo

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


David Dillard

Steven Guerrier


This research seeks to inform on the relationship between tactics and attrition during the 1864 campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley. Many studies have broadly examined these campaigns but have not focused their analysis on the relationship between tactics and attrition. By doing this it allows this examination to gain a deeper understanding of how particular engagements were decided, and ultimately the fate of the Shenandoah Valley. This research utilizes a chronological approach and relies on numerous primary sources from officers that provide an accurate appraisal of troop strengths and tactics employed. Various sources such as letters, diaries, and correspondence have been used to support these findings. Official reports have also proven to be quite useful as they provide thorough and comprehensive information on the progression of many engagements. Memoirs and post war manuscripts also provide valuable insight into the role of attrition and the relationship with tactics. This study demonstrates how attrition and tactics were closely related. It exposes that tactics often dictated how extensive attrition would be in a given engagement. Additionally it demonstrates how attrition, or the prospect of it, would dictate to the commanders what tactics could be used. It is also evident that the army that best marshaled their resources to mitigate or accentuate numerical disparities would be most successful. The field would benefit from an incorporation of this type of analysis, as it would provide a clearer explanation of how individual battles were decided. This type of analysis distills the sometimes overly complex nuances of many works and provides a clear and concise appraisal of how battles were decided.