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Why The North Won The Civil War

In several categories the North was far superior to the South and therefore won the war. Some examples are the economies, financial and industrial capacity, the leadership, and the manpower potential of the North and South. This includes the character and ability of the soldiers. In 1861, when the Civil War first began, the North had almost every advantage number-wise. There were twenty-three states in the Union while there were only eleven in the Confederacy. This is also true in real and personal property. value and manufacturing. The North had more than a three to one ratio of property.

In capital of and incorporated banks, more than four to one. (Current, page 3) In value of products annually manufactured, more than ten to one. The seceded states probably had a much less than proportional share of the national income. Besides, they contained only about a third of the total railroad mileage and practically none of the registered shipping. (Current, page 3) When the Confederacy needed financing for their war effort, almost 60 per cent was derived from the issue of paper money, about 30 per cent from the sale of bonds, and less than 5 per cent from taxation(the remaining 5 percent from miscellaneous sources.

Of the Unions income, by contrast, 13 per cent was raised by paper money, 62 per cent by bonds, and 21 per cent by taxes (and 4 per cent by other means). Thus the Confederacy relied much more upon government notes and much less upon taxation and borrowing as the Union did. (Current, page 10) We understand from David M. Potters that even with all of these numbers, no statistics can measure the amount of suffering by the Confederacy, due to their type of economy which suffers greatly during wartime compared to the Norths economy which flourishes under wartime conditions.

War invigorated the Northern economy by stimulating a leading form of Northern economic activity, namely industrial production… But in the Confederacy, war paralyzed the chief form of economic activity, which was the cultivation of cotton. (Potter, page 92) So while the North was increasing its industry and turning out rifles, cannons and other essentials, the South had cotton to deal with. All they had was the raw product of cotton. The South also made another big mistake which affected their economy. Richard N. Current points out how the Souths mistake was how they dealt with their cotton production.

In cotton, the South had a cash crop of great value, and yet, in the midst of war, Southerners reduced their planting, burned some of the bales they had on hand, and discouraged shipments abroad. (Current, page 7) Instead of making the best use of this resource, B. J. Hendrick observes, the Davis government deliberately did all in its power to make it useless. (Current, page 7) Due to some misconception, not only Davis and Memminger, but basically the whole South along with the leaders, believed that cotton, or the lack of it would win the war for the South.

On the Southern staple, Great Britain resumably depended for its prosperity, and so did France, and so too did the United States. (Current, page 8) The Souths strategy was twisted, because they were hoping that without cotton, the British and the French would come to the Confederacys aid. This proved to be a big mistake because Without cotton, the United States would suffer the closing of its textile mills and, more important, would have no export crop sufficient for obtaining indispensable foreign exchange. Current, page 9) So the South wasnt able to trade their cotton for war material, and because of this they were always behind the North in production. As General Johnston put it, the cotton money would have procured arms for half a million men, who could have been ready and in the field by the time the very first battle was fought. (Current, page 7-8) John B. Jones, an employee of the Confederate government, records in A Rebel War Clerks Diary the privations that Richmond underwent during war. The food shortages resulted mostly from a breakdown in distribution.

Manufactured goods could be obtained only by running the blockade or smuggling through the lines overland. (Morris, page 177-178) On October 1, 1862 Jones writes: How shall we subsist this winter? There is not a supply of wood or coal in the city- and it is said that there are not adequate means of transporting it hither. Flour at $16 per barrel and bacon at 75 cents per pound threaten a famine…. 21st of November Common shirting and Yankee calico that used to sell at 121/2 cents per yard is now $1. 75! What a temptation for Northern manufacturers!

Still, we are in quite a bad way now, god knows! (Woodress, page 178) Jones tells us how bad their economy is, how prices are shooting up, and no one can afford anything. Common bleached cotton shirting brings up $1. 50 per yard. All ther dry goods are held in the same proportion. Common tallow candles are $1. 25 per pound; molasses, $8. 00 per gallon; potatoes, $6. 00 per bushel. These evils might be remedied by the government, for there is no great scarcity of any of the substantials and necessities of life in the country, if they were only equally distributed.

The difficulty is in procuring transportation, and the government monopolizes the railroads and canals.. (Morris, page 179) He also tells us how basic life needs are going up in price, and we are approaching the condition of famine. (Morris, page180) So the civilian orale of the North stayed good because everyone was making money, while in the South, the economy was very desperately in need of help, and the Southern civilian morale deteriorated. Even before the military morale deteriorated, the economic one collapsed. Potter, page 92)

The leadership and the strategies of the generals was a big factor in the North winning the war. The generals themselves were a big factor in the North winning the war. The Civil War was a fight mainly fought between men, who at one point in time trained at West Point Academy. Of the sixty biggest battles, West Point graduates commanded oth armies in fifty-five, and in the remaining five a West Pointer commanded one of the opposing armies. (Williams, Page 27) We are told by T. Harry Williams that in looking at all the Southern generals, only one was a commendable general.

In the last analysis, the only Civil war generals who deserve to be ranked as great are Lee for the South and Grant and Sherman for the North. (Williams, page35) Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson were both excellent corps leaders, but Longstreet failed in independent command, while Jackson lacked the administrative ability to handle a large one. (Williams, page 34) . The Cavalry generals of JEB Stuart, Sheridan, Forrest and Wilson never showed any promise for success. With that, we are left with Lee as the only great general in the South.

Due to poor leadership at times, the South had bad strategy which led to tragedy and loss of men. For example, General Picketts unsuccessful charge up Cemetery Ridge in an effort to break the center of the Union line. The Confederate army lost around 4,600 men, and Lee retreated. (Morris, page 159) Whitelaw Reid, a war correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette writes: Ascending the high hill to the rear of Slocums headquarters, I saw such a sight as few men may ever hope to see twice in a lifetime. Around our center and left, the rebel line must have been from four to five miles long …

The great, desperate, final charge came at four. The rebels seemed to have gathered up all their strength and desperation for one fierce, conclusive effort… In some places they literally lifted up and pushed back our lines, but that terrible position of ours! (Morris, page 159) It was a fruitless sacrifice, and they gathered their broken pieces, made their lines, and marched away, after being defeated and crushed. Morris, page161) All of the Northern generals which consisted of McClellan, Thomas, Hancock, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, Buell, Halleck and Rosecrans (H. Williams,page 33), were mediocre generals and they each had their own problems. This meant that Grant and Sherman were the two great generals in the North.

One of General Grants strong traits was his character. In a typical explosive comment to J. H. Wilson, Sherman said: Wilson, I am a damn sight smarter than Grant. I know a great deal more about war, military history, strategy and administration, and about everything else than he does. But I tell you where he beats me, and where he beats the world. He dont care a damn for what the enemy does out of his sights, but it scares me like hell. Williams, page 42) The North was fortunate in finding two generals who between them executed Clausewitzs three objectives of war: to conquer and destroy the enemys armed forces (Grants job) to get possession of the material elements of aggression and other sources of existence of the enemy and to gain public opinion by winning victories that depress the enemys morale. (Williams, page 45) We also understand from the historian, T. Harry Williams that the overall strategies of the North and the South are important. In supreme leadership the Union was clearly superior.

The North quickly built a unified command system for the entire military machine. Lincoln made sure that the Norths advantage in manpower was put to good use. He used the advantage and kept pressure on the entire perimeter, so that the Confederates couldnt shift their troops. The Federal troops moved simultaneously, and would prevent the enemy from moving troops from one threatened point to another and would nevitably achieve a break-through. (H. Williams, page 46) This specific strategy went against the so called rules of war learned in the West Point Curriculum. H. Williams, page 46)

Grants strong point was his way of going into war. .. Sherman wrote to Grant that he considered Grants strongest feature was his ability ability to go into full battle mode without hesitation, doubts, or reserve. (Williams, page 42) While Grant didnt have much book knowledge, he had plenty common sense. It was this ability of grants to grasp the political nature of modern war that marks him s the first of the great modern generals. (Williams, page 44) Ways of making war are always the product of cultures.

For the nationalistic North it was comparatively easy to achieve a broad view of war. (Williams,page 46) He was able to break away from the rules of war which he studied at West Point, and therefore was able to beat the Southerners. Sherman is the other general involved. Colonel Burne points out that never once did Sherman command in a battle where he engaged his whole force and that he never won a resounding victory. (H. Wiliams, page 42) Although Sherman was skilled at he arts of war and showed all the basic traits of a great commander, Burne contends that Sherman had two failings.

One, that Sherman never went after a military objective, rather a geographical one. His job was to split the South, but he concentrated on gaining more land. His second failing was that he never took risks and avoided them. The South didnt achieve any of these things. The South on the other hand, decided to guard the perimeter of their lands, which was called a cordon defense. The South was spending too much time on the defensive strategy, while they should have een working on the offensive.

Confederate strategy was wholly defensive, and was designed to guard the whole circumference of the country. In military jargon, a cordon defense. (T. H. Williams, page 46) Just as a cordon defense was the worst strategy for the South, a cordon offense was the best strategy for the North. (Williams, page 46) BH Liddell Hart disagrees with the opinion of Burne, and feels that Sherman was the greatest general of the civil war because more than any other commander he came to see that the object of strategy is to minimize fighting. (Williams, page 44)

The manpower potential, character and ability of the soldiers of the North and South also contributed to the North winning the war. As historian David Donald wrote, As a historian explains why the winning side triumphed, he naturally tends to identify the victor with the most cherished values of the society in which he lives… he attributes to the victor the masculine traits of strength, power, aggressiveness and tough mindedness(paternal assets which we may not like, but necessarily respect)(D. Donald, page 77), while the losing side would be given the negative attributes.

Therefore, the historians write that the Lincoln administration was fighting for the preservation of the Union, the freedom of the slaves and for the defense of democracy. (D. Donald, page 77) The fact stated about a third great attribute, of preserving democracy, is a distortion of the real facts. It is not referring to the political ideas involved, but the antiauthoritarian and individualistic ideas going on during the nineteenth century. These democratic tendencies really hurt the confederacy. A perfect example of this was the Confederacys army.

There was basically no military discipline involved.. D. Donald, page78) .. the Southerners never took kindly to regimented life. Even their appearance showed that they considered themselves individualistic citizens who were temporarily assisting their country. (Donald, page 78) For instance, military volunteers from Mississippi didnt complete assignments which they found to be tedious. They declared they didnt enlist to do guard duty but to fight Yankies. (Donald, page 78) Many soldiers received orders to do menial labor, and instead they would get their black slaves to it for them.

The Southern soldier reserved his democratic right to interpret is orders broadly, and if he didnt like the orders, he just disobeyed them. Unconvinced that it was necessary to carry heavy packs, they carelessly tossed irreplaceable equipment aside on long, hot marches. Even the idea of marching at a regular rate in tidy lines offended their sense of individuality. (Donald, page 79) As volunteers, the Southern soldiers decided when their service was over. Many times there were Southern soldiers who would come out from a victorious battle, in the beginning of the war, and would head back home, having done his share. Donald, page 78-79)

In addition, the elective system had carried over from the peacetime army, where the soldiers themselves elect the officers. This furthered the demoralization of Confederate discipline. Instead of concentrating on who was the best soldier, Secretary of War James A. Seddon pointed out that the elective system inevitably produced an undue regard to popularity, especially among the non-commissioned officers.. (Donald, page 80-81) One observer said: Authorize a squad of six men to elect a Lance Corporal, and five of the number will at once become candidates. (Donald, page 81)

In conclusion, another important question that can be asked is Why the South lost the war. In fact, there were many times that both North and South faced the same problems, such as the elective system. However, the North was able to maintain its path and straighten these problems out quickly, while the South couldnt. Together with the lack of proper leadership, lack of war material, and men with poor attitudes, the South really didnt stand a chance. So even if the North made mistakes, they were able to compensate, while the South usually flustered even more. These are the reasons the why the North won the war.

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