This study is a historical analysis of selected special operations missions in the American Civil War. The analysis is intended to determine if there are lessons to be learned from these operations that are applicable to present special operations forces.
Selected Civil War direct action and unconventional warfare missions are examined in detail from the planning stage through mission completion and analyzed at the tactical level from the perspectives of special operations applications of the principles of war and the SOF imperatives. Union and Confederate special operations are examined for effectiveness against modern doctrine from the operational and strategic levels.
The study reveals that many of the lessons learned from a historical analysis of Civil War special operations missions are equally important to success today. The modern special operator who conducts a review of similar operations from the past or who has a good historical background in these missions has a great advantage when conducting special operations today.