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Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:08 PM

Civil War Question

In Ken Burns' famous Civil War documentary he argues that the North fought the Civil War with "one hand tied behind its back" and point to the fact that not one member of Harvard's graduating class during that time served...

Was the South really doomed from the start?

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Reply Civil War Question (Original post)
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 OP
SheilaT Nov 2012 #1
maxrandb Nov 2012 #23
Art_from_Ark Nov 2012 #47
brokechris Nov 2012 #50
maxrandb Nov 2012 #65
ieoeja Nov 2012 #30
Drale Nov 2012 #2
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #3
Drale Nov 2012 #5
ieoeja Nov 2012 #32
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #43
Le Taz Hot Nov 2012 #62
RomneyLies Nov 2012 #4
bluestate10 Nov 2012 #25
RomneyLies Nov 2012 #29
ieoeja Nov 2012 #33
Aristus Nov 2012 #6
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #7
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #10
thucythucy Nov 2012 #26
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #38
thucythucy Nov 2012 #40
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #36
bluestate10 Nov 2012 #11
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #15
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #16
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #37
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #35
JVS Nov 2012 #8
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #9
JVS Nov 2012 #12
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #18
Brother Buzz Nov 2012 #14
thucythucy Nov 2012 #27
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #42
yellowcanine Nov 2012 #13
flood99999 Nov 2012 #17
DearAbby Nov 2012 #34
Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2012 #19
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #39
Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2012 #46
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #52
Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2012 #63
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #64
Kaleva Nov 2012 #20
LanternWaste Nov 2012 #21
hedgehog Nov 2012 #22
flood99999 Nov 2012 #24
Are_grits_groceries Nov 2012 #28
aaaaaa5a Nov 2012 #31
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #41
aaaaaa5a Nov 2012 #44
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #51
ThoughtCriminal Nov 2012 #45
Egalitarian Thug Nov 2012 #48
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #57
AnotherMcIntosh Nov 2012 #58
davidn3600 Nov 2012 #49
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #55
graham4anything Nov 2012 #53
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #54
graham4anything Nov 2012 #56
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #59
NoPasaran Nov 2012 #61
WinkyDink Nov 2012 #60

Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:17 PM

1. Probably.

I believe that almost all manufacturing was in the North. In addition, the South did not have particularly good schools at any level, and had a pretty low commitment to public education. There's a reason all the Ivy League schools are in the North.

Since then, a number of very good colleges and universities have been established in the South, but the public K-12 education still can leave a lot to be desired.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:51 PM

23. The South was doomed from the start

The economic decisions they made ensured their defeat.

Quite a few of the wealthy elite of the South were able to pay their way out of service, and the plan to finance the war effort without asking taxes or sacrifice from the citizens doomed them to corruption, graft, poverty, starvation and ill-fed, ill-equipped troops.

What is interesting is, if you look at the political policies and economic policies of the South during the Civil War, they are pretty damn close to the economic policies the current Republican Party supports. It simply is NOT sustainable.

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Response to maxrandb (Reply #23)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 02:17 AM

47. They had some pretty lousy generals, too

For example, Earl van Dorn, the loser at Pea Ridge (March 1862), made his troops march 50 miles through the Ozark Mountains in the snow without a supply wagon ( ), and by the time they reached the battlefield in Pea Ridge (actually Leestown), near the Missouri border in extreme northwestern Arkansas, they were "plum tuckered out".

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Response to maxrandb (Reply #23)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 03:29 AM

50. can you explain these economic policies that are similar?

As I understand it (From Eric Foner's classic book---Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men) the south had much of their wealth tied up in slaves and the economy was based in agriculture and textiles. I don't see that economic system as being very similar to anything I observe today ???

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Response to brokechris (Reply #50)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 03:12 PM

65. A couple of examples

Well, for one thing, there was a lack of taxes to create revenue, and reluctance to invest in many of the things that would prove crucial to the war effort, such as infrastructure, manufacturing, ship-building, etc. It's as if the South thought; "hell, if we need a road or a railway, private development would suffice".

The peculiar industrial development of the Confederate States removed the possibility of an ample government revenue. Though import duties were levied, the proceeds amounted to almost nothing. A small export duty on cotton was expected to produce a large revenue sufficient to base a loan upon, but the small amount of cotton exports reduced this source of revenue to an insignificant figure. There being, moreover, no manufactures to tax under an internal revenue system such as the US government adopted, the Confederacy was cut off from deriving any considerable revenue from indirect taxation. The first Confederate tax law levied a direct tax of twenty million dollars, which was apportioned among the states. These, with the exception of Texas, contributed their apportioned share to the central government by issuing bonds or notes, so that the tax was in reality but a disguised form of loan. Real taxation was postponed until the spring of 1863, when a stringent measure was adopted taxing property and earnings. It was slowly and with difficulty put into effect, and was re-enacted in February 1864. In the states and cities there was a strong tendency to relax or postpone taxation in view of the other demands upon the people.

With no revenue from taxation, and with the disastrous effects of the wholesale issue of paper money before it, the Confederate government made every effort to borrow money by issuing bonds. The initial $15 million loan was soon followed by an issue of one hundred million in bonds, which it was, however, difficult to place. This was followed by even larger loans. The bonds rapidly fell in value, and were quoted during the war at approximately the value of the paper money, in which medium they were paid for by subscribers. To avoid this circumstance, a system of produce loans was devised by which the bonds were subscribed for in cotton, tobacco and food products. This policy was subsequently enlarged, and enabled the government to secure at least a part of the armies' food supplies. But the bulk of the subscriptions for these bonds was made in cotton, for which the planters were thus enabled to find a market.


The below you could almost imagine coming from the mouths of any 'Publican, talk-radio host, or Faux News bimbo

Confederate Revenue Sources during the War

There are three sources of government revenue: taxation, borrowing, and printing money. Given that the Confederate States of America was established on the principle of states’ rights, many Southerners were suspicious of granting the central government powers to impose and collect taxes. Governor Moore of Alabama summarized this position, “The collection of this tax, by the state would be an onerous and unpleasant duty as it imposes upon the state the necessity of enforcing the laws of the Confederate government against her own citizens” (quoted in Lerner, 1956, p. 165 and Weidenmier, 1999a). With opposition from the general public as well as leading political figures, it is not surprising that the Confederate government collected approximately only 8.2% of its total revenues from taxes (Ball, 1991). Tariffs, another potential source of tax revenue, were hampered by the Union blockade of Southern ports.

The Confederacy then turned to debt issue as a means of war finance. The South successfully sold some long-term government securities during the early stages of the war. Bond issues proved a limited source of war financing as Southern prospects diminished, however. Investors increasingly shied away from purchasing securities offered by a government with little or no tax base and a deteriorating military situation. The government resorted to money financing as their primary source of revenue. Overall, debt issue and the printing press accounted for nearly 32 and 60 percent of the South’s total real revenues during the war (Ball, 1991). In the following section, I will briefly analyze the economic effects of the Confederacy’s reliance on note issue as a source of war finance.




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Response to SheilaT (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 05:17 PM

30. "Low" commitment to public education doesn't even come close. One state even outlawed public ed.


Not a single northern state was without public education.
Not a single southern state *had* public education.

The old South was dominated by descendants of Norman aristocrats who managed to politically rule the United States prior to 1860 despite being outnumbered. The ascendancy of Anglo-Saxons for the first time sent them scurrying for the exits as much as the desire to extend slavery. During the Civil War two proposals were put forth in the South to replace African slaves with Anglo-Saxon slaves.

Poll taxes and literacy tests existed prior to the Civil War and was intended to keep the Celtic underclass where they were: under the dominion of their Norman overlords. The old South opposed public education for the same reason. They also opposed the expansion of railroads and canals as these provided infrastructure for new industry which challenged their feudal style dominance by land owners.

Slaves and plantations were a modern adaptation of peasants and baronies.

Southern Colonies:
The Virgin(ia) Queen
Queen Mary(land)
King Charles I and II or King Carolus(ina) in Latin
King Georg(ia)
Rhode (Island and Plantation)

Northern Colonies:
Massachusettes, Delaware and Connecticut native names
New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire (for the home they left behind)
William Penn(sylvania) for a populus politician who often fought the Crown

The North was founded by people seeking to flee the British Empire. The South was founded by those seeking to expand the British Empire. They conquered Tejas. They conquered Baja California, then lost it. They conquered Guatemala, then lost it. They invaded Cuba ... twice.

South Carolina had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the American Revolutionary War. They surrendered to the British months into the war and ordered the Continentals to stay out. Their first call for secession was several decades prior to the Civil War.

Their confidence at the onset of the Civil War was based on their belief in racial superiority over the hated Anglo-Saxon. Their early superiority in cavalry was due to their keeping a form of the old knighthood alive.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:18 PM

2. The South was doomed from the start

Even though they had the superior military leadership and soldiers, the North had overwhelmingly superior numbers as well as equipment and ability to replace losses. The South's agricultural economy was extremely vulnerable to war, as seen in Shermans march to the sea. Even if the South had defeated the North in the war, they would not have recovered for many many years and most likely they would have fallen into ruin and begged to rejoin the Union. People asked the question what if the British or French joined the war? That would never have happened because the British detested slavery, although one could argue that Colonization was basically slavery, and the French were not really strong enough at that point to help another country fight a war.

P.S. That is a great documentary, but then again anything by Ken Burns is great.

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Response to Drale (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:20 PM

3. Weren't The French Every Bit Anti-Slavery As Great Britain

The South would have been international pariahs.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:24 PM

5. I'm not quite sure but

they were still recovering from the French Revolution 60 years before and the Napoleonic Wars and were in no state or mood for more war.

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Response to Drale (Reply #5)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 05:23 PM

32. Actually, the French tried. Their intent to aid the CSA ended on Cinco de Mayo.


They planned on a quick victory in Mexico then a march into the South where they would help the CSA against the USA. Cinco de Mayo was far from ending the war in Mexico, but it pretty much guaranteed there would be no French aid to the CSA.

Yes, they were anti-slavery. But power politics made them eager to split the United States.


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Response to Drale (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:55 PM

43. The British ruling class DID NOT detest slavery, but the British industrial working class sure as

 

fiuck did. We can thank Liverpudlian laborers (and Manchester also) for making Britain's entry into the war on behalf the CSA impossible. Were the decision left to the British aristocracy, Britain would probably have come in on the side of the CSA, bringing France with it.

So, ironically, the Union owes its existence to the British working class standing up for the dignity of free labor.

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Response to Drale (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 06:01 AM

62. Wait.

"The British destested slavery?" Actually, the British owned the companies who acquired (kidnapped) free men, turned them into slaves and then sold them. Your statement here is incorrect.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:22 PM

4. Yes, the South was doomed from the start

 

They were outmanned, outgunned, and outproduced from day one.

It was a war of attrition and, had Lincoln actually had decent generals, would have been over in just over a year.

Robert E. Lee is personally responsible for most of the deaths in the war. His brilliant leadership is the only reason the war stretched out as long as it did.

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Response to RomneyLies (Reply #4)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:56 PM

25. Funny. Was it Lincoln didn't have decent generals, or a decent leader of generals.

I think the latter was the case. A Grant, with all his faults, was buried deep in the Union officer ranks early in the war. So were Sheridan and Sherman. Sheridan, arguably one of the two best fighting generals on the Union side, was a Quarter Master early on in the war. Grant collected a capable staff to execute the western flank war for the Union. Grant had his serious mis-steps after taking over command of the Army of the Potomac, but inaction and retreat were not among his weaknesses.

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Response to bluestate10 (Reply #25)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 05:07 PM

29. The single biggest mistake of the Civil War can be summed up in a single name

 

George B. McClellan

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Response to RomneyLies (Reply #29)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 05:34 PM

33. 6-1 against Lee. Retreated 6 times anyway. And stopped at the Virginia border with Lee routed.


As if it wasn't already obvious, a member of his command staff informed an anti-war Democratic Senator when they stopped at the Virginia border that they had no intention of winning the war. They would just parade the Army around, only kicking Lee's ass when Lee takes the offensive. Give anti-war pols time to end the war.

Unfortunately for him, the Senator was more aghast at Army generals secretly defying their orders than he was by the war. So he went to the Presidency, the staff member was impeached and McClellan allowed to retire.


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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:24 PM

6. And despite the South's huge agricultural output,

they concentrated on cash crops like tobacco and cotton, which they were unable to sell overseas because of the naval blockade. The South never did get around to growing food crops in any quantity necessary to make a difference to the war effort. Not even when Confederate soldiers were reduced to eating grass and acorns.

Greed will get you every time...

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:27 PM

7. The question is absurd on its surface, as hindsight

 

is always easier than foresight.

Lest you think of the South as 'doomed,' consider this little what-if: what if one of McClellan's staff officers had not discovered a copy of Lee's written orders wrapped around 3 cigars in a field in the days before Antietam? No historian seriously believes that McClellan would have gotten over his case of the 'slows' without those orders in hand to give him a spur. Even with the orders in his hand (even knowing Lee's exact intentions and order of battle), the best McClellan could manage was a draw with Lee's forces retreating in good order across the Potomac to live and fight another day. (Think Gettysburg in 1863.)

Had Lee successfully enveloped and invested Washington, D.C. in 1862, we might be asking whether the North was doomed from the start.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:34 PM

10. Ken Burns Made The Argument. I'm Just Echoing It./nt

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #10)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 04:08 PM

26. Actually, I think it was Shelby Foote

who made the argument, being interviewed as part of the Burns documentary.

The South could have won the war, the military preponderance of the North notwithstanding. History is full of examples of under dogs winning against the odds, from the American revolution to Vietnam.

The South lost because a) its leaders insisted on hanging on to slavery, at the expense of gaining foreign intervention b) its military insisted on fighting a conventional war, rather than a guerilla non-conventional war and c) by 1863 most of the enthusiasm for the "Cause" among non-slave owning whites was spent--hence the need of the Confederacy to impose a draft and extend two or three year volunteer commitments for the duration. (The North, by contrast, allowed two and three year enrollees to leave the service when their time was up).

Southern apologists like Foote like to say the loss was inevitable as a way of excusing the incompetence of their heros, first and foremost Robert E. Lee. To suggest that the South lost due to poor leadership and devotion to an evil cause doesn't fit into the whole let's glorify our wonderful ancesters meme.

Just my humble opinion.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:38 PM

38. Its military could hardly have fought a guerilla non-conventional war in any

 

meaningful sense, since the sea in which it swam (to borrow Mao's phrase) was a slaveocracy. Hard to imagine slaves supporting a guerilla strategy.

Hope you get a chance to read Alan Nolan's Lee Considered. Nolan pretty much demolishes the myths that have risen up around Robert E. Lee, Foote's hagiography notwithstanding. As just one example, when Meade was rushing the Army of the Potomac to Gettysburg, Longstreet advised Lee to disengage and maneuver. But Lee had his war on and Longstreet's entreaties fell on deaf ears. And Lee is still considered a genius by hagiographers like Foote.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #38)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:44 PM

40. Your point on the "slaveocracy" is well taken

and I'll definitely check out Nolan.

Thanks, and best wishes.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #10)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:28 PM

36. Shelby Foote indulges in a species of the logical

 

fallacy of 'retrospective determinism' (aka 'fate'):

"Assuming that because something happened, it necessarily had to happen, i.e. that it was the only possible outcome."

http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/158-retrospective-determinism

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:42 PM

11. There is one big problem with your thesis.

Even if Washington had fell due to McClellan's incompetence, the federal government could have de-camped to cities like Boston and New York to continue the fight. You also fail to note that the western Union armies were doing well against their confederate opponents and could have come to the aid of the Army of the Potomac, had the AOTP faltered enough to seriously endanger Washington.

BTW. Good observation on the cigars. Now answer how many times good cigars have fallen powerful men in and around Washington.

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Response to bluestate10 (Reply #11)


Response to bluestate10 (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:45 PM

16. Didn't Lincoln Sack McClellan For Lack Of Aggression

And Grant said "if he won't use this army I will."

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #16)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:31 PM

37. Yes, Lincoln fired McClellan when he failed to pursue

 

Lee's army as it retreated. However, Grant did not take over immediately following McClellan's departure. There were a whole slew of fuck-ups (like Joseph Hooker) and mediocrities (like George Meade) before Grant finally assumed command of the Army of the Potomac. I've never seen that quote ascribed to Grant. I have seen a variation of it ascribed to Lincoln, but can't lay my hands on it at the moment. (Think Lincoln said words to this effect, "If he (McClellan) will not use the army, I will find a general who will.")

Great thread, btw. Even dusted off my copy of Battle Cry of Freedom to check a couple things out

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Response to bluestate10 (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:14 PM

35. Before Washington fell to the Army of Northern Virginia, chances are that the North would

 

have sued for peace, meaning the South would have been allowed to secede.

I doubt the Western Union armies could have reached the eastern theater in time to help stymie a hard-charging Lee, Longstreet and their subordinates (like Stonewalll Jackson and A.P. Hill). But we'll never know.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:27 PM

8. I believe it was Shelby Foote who was arguing that in the documentary.

And the answer is, yes the South was doomed from the start.

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Response to JVS (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:32 PM

9. I Could Be Wrong But I Thought I Remember It From The PBS Special By Ken Burns In 1990

As you remember it was a huge event that got a lot of attention. And it was aired during the first Gulf War and some in the media were drawing parallels between the first two conflicts.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:43 PM

12. Shelby Foote was the historian interviewed who said that the North had one hand behind its back

It was part of Burns' documentary, but it was Foote's argument.

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Response to JVS (Reply #12)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:46 PM

18. TY For The Clarification

Twenty two years is a long time.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:43 PM

14. Shelby Foote was EVERYWHERE in the film

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #14)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 04:10 PM

27. And James McPherson--a far more progressive historian--

was nowhere to be seen.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #27)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:49 PM

42. Foote is the better writer, imo, but McPherson is the better historian (and

 

a pretty darned good writer himself).

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:43 PM

13. South was doomed, only lasted as long as it did because South had better generals at first.

North had more people, more industrial capacity, more money, more military resources, more agricultural capacity geared to food production, better roads, telegraphs, railroads and ports. South had better generals but that changed the longer the war dragged on.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:45 PM

17. I don't think that they were doomed

I think that the South had the tactical advantage of not having to do anything. If the North wanted to preserve the Union then they would have to invade. By playing a defensive war all the south had to do was to simply wear down the Northern desire to make war. If you look at the attitudes of the North even as late as the Summer of 1864 there were many who wanted to appease the south and let them go on their merry way. Hence we had George McClellan running for President with the idea of compromise. Lincoln thought that he had no chance of being reelected. If it weren't for Grants victories at Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the fall of Atlanta, things very well might have turned out differently. If McClellan had won the election we would have two countries and the union would have been lost.

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Response to flood99999 (Reply #17)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 07:10 PM

34. I agree

the 1864 election was key. Holding it in the midst of a Civil War, this has never been done before. It shows our belief in the electoral process. It was honored. The will of the people was upheld. Even the vanquished South, honored the result of the election. Accepting Johnson as successor to Lincoln. (Some would argue they had no choice. I would say they did, knowing once they swore allegiance, could vote 1868 the candidate of their choice.)

Had Lincoln lost to McClellen, there would be the USA, and the CSA today.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:47 PM

19. The handwriting was on the wall when New Orleans fell.

May 1, 1862.

The navy was going to strangle the confederacy and there was little they could do about it except starve. When Europe (especially Britain) found it could cotton in Egypt and elsewhere the South's hopes of dragging them into our fight were finished.

The Union had a string of incompetent generals who were aces at losing battles and retreating. Then came Grant who still lost battles but didn't retreat and crushed Lee with overwhelming force and materiel.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #19)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:42 PM

39. Um, excuse me, what battles did Grant lose? I can't think of any offhand. He

 

fed men into the charnel house (the Wilderness comes to mind) but he had an uncanny ability to win battles (and the war).

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #39)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 02:11 AM

46. The Wilderness and Cold Harbor to name 2.

Both were losses but he just came coming at Lee. Shelby Foote says that Lee was the worst general of the war because he stubbornly refused to surrender after he knew the war and all hope was lost.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #46)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 03:52 AM

52. "Loss" is a loaded term to describe the outcome of either battle, as Grant was pursuing

 

a war strategy of attrition against Lee at that point. (I do recall that Grant said Cold Harbor was a big mistake after the war had ended.) In a meat-grinder war, there was no way Lee could hope to out-maneuver or out-general Grant.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #52)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:14 PM

63. Which is what I said. He lost (battles) but won the war.

He knew how to beat Lee with a much superior army. The previous generals only knew how to make a hash of it and then retreat. Sherman, like Grant, used his advantages and overwhelmed a clever but weak enemy.

But, IMO, it was the blockade that really disabled the confederacy by depriving them of the means to fight.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #63)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:53 PM

64. The general strategy was established very early on by General Winfield Scott. His

 

"Anaconda Plan" was essentially the winning strategy that the North pursued, i.e., naval blockade and bisection of CSA along the Mississippi by controlling Vicksburg and points north and south, accompanied by land invasion\occupation of rebellious territory.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:48 PM

20. It all depended on how willing the North was to wage the war to its conclusion.

Change the outcome of a few battles, Generals Albert Sidney Johnston & Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson didn't die, Lincoln loses the election of 1864 and the North then calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a negotiated settlement with the Confederacy.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:50 PM

21. As per Paul kennedy in Rise and Fall of the Great Powers...

In Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy, it becomes pretty obvious that the south had such as small, almost insignificant manufacturing base (relative to the north), an even tinier means of transporting that material (relative to the north), and a manpower base that was not large enough to replace its losses (absolute numbers), that all things being equal, it was only a matter of time before the South was dramatically overwhelmed by the north's capacity to wage war.

It's a wonderful book that deals with both the conflicts and the economics of the great powers in the post-Hapsburg world, and one I'd recommend to anyone with even the slightest inclination to how and why conflicts have gone the ways they have over the past 400 years.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:51 PM

22. Another factor which i've never seen discussed in this context is that the South was

not united about the war. People from counties not dependent on cotton tended to be ambivalent or opposed to secession. Some counties seceded from the Confederacy! In addition, there were any number of people who enriched themselves at the expense of the Confederacy. In some areas, groups purporting to be gathering supplies for the Southern troops (grain, fodder, fowl, livestock) left civilians with nothing. I believe that there was considerable dissension among the states of the Confederacy. Everyone tends to assume that if the South had not been defeated, the Confederacy would have hung together. I suspect the individual states would have split off quite quickly.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #22)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:56 PM

24. Good Point

The war, from the southern perspective was about the states rights. I know that when there was a call for troops in the west the state of Georgia refused to send anyone. Claiming states rights.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 04:27 PM

28. The South was doomed as long as

the North was committed to making them stay. There was only one main ironworks factory and it was in Bimingham. The sheer number of people on each side was lopsided. If the North had ever gotten tired of the fight and let the South go, that would have been the only out.

The South had brilliant generals such as Lee and Stonewall. Jackson was as crazy as they come in some ways, but he was forward thinking in his tactics. His death was a huge was the rel deth blow. blow.

Lincoln got way fed up with McClellan because he refused to use the forces he commanded. Lincoln finally stumbled on to Grant who knew Sherman. Vickburg's fall was the real death blow. After that, the Mississippi was under Union control.

Whatever the war didn't destroy Reconstruction did. The Feds came in and ran things and kept order. However, the focus was on punishment and not on rebuilding some government structure that would last. Then the Feds left and it was worse. Any gains made by the freed slaves in some areas were rolled back.

I realize some people still want us hung for treason. If any effort had been made to seriously rebuild, the South would not be so behind today. The effects of Reconstruction had long term ramifications.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 05:23 PM

31. Yes. If Grant had been the North's primary general from the start, the war never would have lasted


that long.

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Response to aaaaaa5a (Reply #31)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:46 PM

41. Oh, please. I can bash McClellan with the best of them, but the Army of the Potomac

 

that Grant won the war with was largely the product of McClellan's organizational expertise. Had Grant been in charge of organizing the Army of the Potomac from the get-go, we might have two separate countries today (based on Grant's tenure as President, anyway, and the gross incompetence he manifested then).

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #41)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:58 PM

44. I had a very knowledgeable civil war historian tell me that Lincoln


was so upset with McClellan that he was nearly fired several times throughout the early part of the war due to incompetence. It is my understanding that McClellan was so cautious in his war strategy that it cost the North dearly on several occasions.

Many historians have argued that the Civil War ended after the battle of Antietam. Apparently McClellan literally watched Lee and the limping defeated Confederate Army crawl away from the battle-zone at the conclusion of the war. And as a result, the Civil War lasted another 2 years, with intellectuals on both sides knowing their was no way the South was going to win. Hundreds of thousands of additional lives were lost for no reason.


As for Grant, yes many historians don't regard him as a great President. But that's not the topic of the thread.


One interesting note, at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln asked Lee to command the Union. Lee declined because he was from Virginia. And Virginia was joining the confederacy.


Of course as with anything, there are a wide array of opinions.

Here is one here:

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam/history/mcclellan-at-antietam.html

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Response to aaaaaa5a (Reply #44)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 03:48 AM

51. I must take issue with the first statement of your second paragraph. I know of no historian

 

who argues that the Civil War ended after Antietam. Had McClellan exercised more aggressiveness in pursuing Lee to prevent his escape across the Potomac, the Civil War might have ended. But just getting McClellan to move for any reason was a Herculean task, as Lincoln discovered to his dismay.

Another interesting irony: Grant and Lee both served together in General Winfield Scott's U.S. Army (Captain Lee at a higher rank than Lt. Grant) that defeated Mexico at the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847. Lee actually commended Grant for Grant's efforts in an after-action report! Just one reason among many why I love history

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 11:27 PM

45. Atlanta

If the Confederates had managed to holdout against Sherman a few months, that might have endangered Lincoln's re-election and lead to a settlement. In order for that to work out, though, I think it would have had to also change the outcome of the Democratic nomination in 1864 (Thomas Seymour instead of George McClellan).

A lame duck Lincoln would have need to untie that 2nd hand to finish the war by March 1865.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 02:19 AM

48. Certainly they were. OTOH there is a very good argument made that it would have been

 

far better if Lincoln had let them go, as slavery was already failing and their new nation would have failed with it.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #48)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:19 AM

57. That is a specious argument (no offense) and does not give credit to the quasi-mystical

 

status Lincoln accorded to the concept of the Union as the "last, best hope" (when arrayed against the decadent European monarchies and autarchic regimes). The question before Lincoln and his fellow citizens was simply this: can a region of the country leave said country whenever it determines that it wants to?

Given British and French demand for Southern cotton, I see little evidence to suggest that an independent Confederate States of America would have failed anytime soon. It survived for four yearsof total war as it was.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #57)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:29 AM

58. "Given British and French demand for Southern cotton," the South was exhausing its land.

 

It's practice of doing so in the existing slave states was unsustainable.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 03:18 AM

49. The South could have won

This was an extremely bloody war. Ultimately 750,000 Americans died in that war. To give you perspective, more people died in 3 days at the Battle of Gettysburg than what we lost in the entire Vietnam war.

The Union did not exactly kick ass. The reason the Confederacy lost is really bad military strategy and stupid politics. Their military officers made some questionable decisions especially in the middle and end of the war.

Really all the South had to do to win was hold up defensive positions in the south and wear down the North. How long was the Union willing to fight? Not likely much past 1864.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #49)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:15 AM

55. Well, your argument is belied by the fact of Lincoln's re-election in 1864 and by morale

 

in the various Union armies, which was strong and getting stronger in 1864. McClellan pegged his entire 1864 campaign on Northern war weariness and went down to a resounding defeat. Had Confederates successfully defended Atlanta and rebuffed Sherman, things might have turned out differently. I would say Sherman kicked some serious ass, an assertion supported by the fact that the South still bears a grudge against him some 150 years after the fact.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:06 AM

53. Yes, the North had the better soldiers and generals

 

and of course, the slavemasters couldn't do anything by themselves without a whip in their hand which of course they were only able to use being that the slaves were in chains and couldn't fight back.

Once they attempted to fight actual un-chained FREE people, their ability was quickly seen as zero.

and Thank God for President Lincoln.

(btw, the fact that the south soldiers got 100% amnesty than citizenship says something about President Lincoln and should be used in the argument today to also provide 100% amnesty than citizenship (though of course zero of today's group that needs citizenship were traitors to the United States of America like 100% of those in the confederate army were.)

The ones Lincoln pardoned from their crimes against our country would have had a far different result in the years after WW2 ended, with now 90 year old fighters still being arrested when found and given their just punishment for their roles in Hitler's army.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #53)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:11 AM

54. You might want to review your history a little bit, specifically the

 

Battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, before dismissing Southern military 'ability' to fight or touting the supposed superiority of Northern soldiers and generals (at least in the eastern theater).

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #54)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:18 AM

56. to use a parallel with today

 

some say President Obama's forgotten now opponent in debate one won that debate

me and Al Sharpton and Dennis Haysbert among many others saw Obama letting the loser show all he had, and of course, the real outcome came later in debate 2 and debate 3 and the election results itself

On any given Sunday, anyone can win a football game.
But through the entire season, a bad team cannot win it all and doesn't.

the better team wins the long game.
(in Nate Silver terms, probably about 91% of the time or more as he has shown in his stats.)

Once the better team started playing in WW2, the outcome never would have been any different there either. Hitler was doomed from the start to fail in the end.

Very similiar techniques in two totally different times.

Some could say the same about the 2008 primaries-why did President Obama defeat Hillary?
Why did Obama defeat McCain? Why did Obama win 2012?
Because the better people were his voters each and every time.
Why will Hillary win in 2016? Because she will have the voters she did not secure in 2008.
President Obama's.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #56)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:30 AM

59. At Chancellorsville, Stonewall Jackson successfully attacked Hooker's exposed

 

and unanchored flank and almost single-handedly destroyed the entire Army of the Potomac. No Union victory in any single battle comes close to matching the potential significance of Chancellorsville - one reason why the war lasted into 1865. The North could not deliver a knock-out blow.

Sports analogies have at best a limited utility and the U.S. Civil War occurs on a vastly different level than 'winning a football game'. We are damned lucky that the United States as we know it survived and I can only credit the strange and mysterious workings of a benign but mysterious providence working through A. Lincoln, U.S. Grant and W.T. Sherman (with an assist from P. Sheridan) for it.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #59)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 06:00 AM

61. Jackson's flank attack wrecked the XI Corps

The remainder of the Army of the Potomac remained on the field, although they did give ground the following day as the result of heavy and costly Confederate attacks. And of course Jackson was wounded in the bargain, which led to his death a few weeks later. Hooker entrenched, defending the fords over the Rapidan. Lee was ready to launch another round of bloody frontal assaults against entrenched troops but Hooker lost his nerve and withdrew across the river. While a great tactical victory for Lee, Chancellorsville was no Saratoga.

As far as Union victories with greater strategic significance than Chancellorsville, I can argue for a few, mostly delivered by Grant. The Forts Henry and Donelson Campaign resulted in the surrender of one Southern Army and the loss of western and central Tennessee to the Confederacy. At Shiloh Grant fended off the CSA's attempt to retrieve their position in Tennessee, leading to the capture of the important railroad junction at Corinth. (And it shouldn't be forgotten that the Southern concentration of forces prior to Shiloh meant that New Orleans was barren of troops when Farragut and Butler came calling.)

At the same time Hooker and Lee were fighting at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, Grant was launching the operations that led to the Siege of Vicksburg and the destruction of a second Confederate Army, opening the Mississippi to trade and essentially wrapping up a theater of the war. And a few months later the Federal strategic grip on Tennessee was completed and confirmed with Grant's relief of Chattanooga and Burnside's seizure and defense of Knoxville.

Of course, none of these ended the war at one blow. That may have been asking too much of any one battle. But each of these Union victories extended federal control, while eliminating southern armies and putting resources forever beyond the reach of the rebellion.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 05:27 AM

60. Since the Confederacy DID lose, the answer is yes.

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