Mission to the Crimea: The American military commission to Europe and the Crimean War, 1855-1856
Gruber, Ira D.
Master of Arts
Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was a vigorous champion of reform, aiming to enlarge the army, to increase its capabilities, and to foster military professionalism. The Crimean War offered an opportunity to send a delegation of officers to Europe to study military establishments there and to observe the latest technological advances under the trial of combat. During 1855 and 1856, Major Richard Delafield, Major Alfred Mordecai, and Captain George B. McClellan spent a year traveling through Europe, inspecting military schools and facilities of the great powers, and touring the battlefields and camps of the Crimean War. The commission's experiences in the war zone, along with their other observations in Europe, enabled them to compile encyclopedic reports that had immediate effect during the Civil War. Moreover, the reports transformed American military expertise and greatly enhanced the corporate identity of the army officer corps as a professional body.