Date of Award

Spring 1986

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Carl Boyd

Committee Member

Peter C. Stewart


This thesis describes the military career of John Bigelow, Jr. , with emphasis on the professional development of United States Army officers. It questions the role Bigelow played in the formation of army professionalism, a sense of corporate responsibility to exercise military expertise correctly. A focus on Bigelow to delineate professionalism in the army provides a fresh perspective of a pivotal period in American military history in the aftermath of the Civil War and before the United States started to build a colonial empire. Bigelow articulated a comprehensive concept of total^ar as he perceived its development in the United States. He developed a doctrine of total war against civilian populations based principally on the Civil War campaigns of William Tecumseh Sherman.

This study challenges many assumptions about the development of a military ethos within the army after the Civil War. Specifically, many military historians suggest that the U.S. Army’s isolation on the frontier, away from civilian society, fostered the professionalism that flourished during the period. A study of Bigelow’s diaries, papers, correspondence, and publications suggests instead that a close association with civilians, rather than isolation, may have been the catalyst for the development of military professionalism.


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