Timing Is Everything Essay, Research Paper
Timing is Everything
Why the South lost the civil war, is an issue that will be debated from now until Americans lose the right of free speech. This writer agrees with the theory James M. McPherson supports. From the onset of the war, it was simply a matter of time before the South would be forced to concede. The length of time that the Confederate states managed to hold out was quite remarkable considering the adverse odds they were up against.
The Confederacy fought for its constitutional right to own property; specifically slaves. Slavery had been a part of southern life and culture since the first Dutch ship carrying slaves from West Africa landed on the southeastern coast of the then British colonies. It is not likely that a war would cause Southerners to feel guilty about something that has been their existence for over two hundred years. After the war and the slaves had been freed, but they were not equal. Southern states passed laws called black codes that took away the civil rights of blacks. Southerners felt so guilty about slavery, that they decided to make free life for blacks as miserable as possible. In addition state governments passed legislation to make the current situation of blacks as similar to slavery as though could.
The peculiar institution of slavery had supported the infrastructure of the southern economy since plantation owners realized indentured servants did not work like it was supposed to. Without the free labor of slaves, what would happen to the crops that needed to be gathered? Would the plantation owners pick the cotton? That is not very likely. Therefore, if the civil war was truly a rich man s war, and a poor man s fight , the plantation owners who are not on the battlefields would not feel guilty about this institution that has given them so much.
The southern states were the only western countries (Europe and North America) to still be practicing slavery. However, the supposed external pressure from Europe was a fa ade to abolish slavery. There is no reason for European countries to want the south to eliminate slavery. Slavery lowered the price of imported cotton. With no laborers to pay the sale prices can be lower. Slavery benefited European commerce. Morals are a great thing to have and are righteous, but they are not the driving factors behind governments. Money and power are the two forces that the commercial world revolves around.
It s a simple fact about life, and in this case war, that success breeds confidence. At the start of the war, the southern generals, Beauregard, Lee, the two Johnstons, and Jackson, outclassed the northern generals, who had not yet worked their way through the ranks and acquired leadership positions. Therefore, the early battles of the war were Confederate victories especially in the East, which sent southern moral soaring. Union leaders thought they would march down to Richmond, take the capital and end the war. This did not happen. The initially inept northern generals were neither conditioned nor able to smash he rebel uprising . The confederate victory at Bull Run, among other early Confederate victories, put an end to northern overconfidence.
The essence of this theory is that four major turning points on the battlefield and in the political arena determined the outcome of the war. The first turning point came in the summer of 1862. Southern counteroffensives in Virginia led by Lee and Jackson, and in the West seized the momentum from the north and created the potential for a Confederate victory.
The next turning point came in the fall of 62. Two battles fought at this point, Antietam and Perryville had important effects on the outcome of the war. The victories threw back Confederate invasions, stalled European mediation and recognition of the Confederacy, prevented a Democratic victory in the northern elections, which might have inhibited the government s ability to carry on the war, and set the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.
The third and most critical point came in the summer and fall of 63. Victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg within a few days of each other ultimately turned the tide toward northern victory. The victory at Vicksburg gave the Union complete control of the Mississippi River, a vital part of the Anaconda Plan. This cut the southern states off from their food supplies in Texas and other areas west of the Mississippi. Gettysburg was the turning point in the war. It was the largest army Lee would ever have, and it was the farthest north he would ever get with a substantial amount of troops. Lee had every chance to win the battle but made an uncharacteristic mistake on the first day of the battle by forgetting to take the high ground. In addition, rarely was insubordination seen in the Confederate ranks, but a commanding officer named Ewell blatantly ignored Lee s orders and was a contributing factor to the loss. After his defeat, Lee was on the defensive until finally surrendering at Appomatox.
The south s last chance at victory came in the summer of 64. The tremendous number of casualties and lack of progress in Virginia almost brought the north to peace negotiations and the election of a Democratic president who would end the war. Sherman s total war campaign against Georgia, his march to Atlanta and eventual capture of the city devastated the countryside and moral of the people. The capture of Atlanta clinched a victory for Lincoln in the upcoming election and only then did it become possible to speak of the north s inevitable victory.
The south lost the will to fight when it realized it could no longer win the war. The Confederate military campaigns, which in the early part of the war had inspired its civilians and military men alike, now brought doubt and a lack of confidence. The timely success of the Union, guaranteed victory and completion of the war. Only then did the south experience an irretrievable loss of the will to fight.”