Why The South Could Not Win The
Civil War Essay, Research Paper
Ever since the day the South surrendered to the North in May of 1865, Americans have argued on why the South lost. Others argued that the South never had chance to win the war, yet more than half a million people were killed, homes were lost and destroyed and families were torn apart. There are many theories to explain this, many arguing that the South never had a chance to win the Civil War to begin with, for the North out numbered and had better resources than the South at almost every point, militarily.
Industrially the South couldn’t keep up in output of weapons, ammunition and other supplies. That is one of the main reasons the South looked overseas for help. Jefferson Davis knew that the South was at a disadvantage so he looked to England and France. By the end of the war, the South had, more or less, plenty of weaponry still, but it just didn’t have enough men to use the guns. By getting either England or France on the Confederate side, supplies would have been more plentiful and also it would have inevitably ended up doing great damage economically to England’s maritime trade. However, the fact remained that foreign recognition was denied to the Confederacy in all its attempts.
Another reason the South well fell short of a victory was the obvious difference in population between the South and the North. The North at the time had twenty-two million men while the South had a meager nine-and-a-half million, of whom three-and-a-half million were slaves. While the slaves could be used to support the war effort through work on the plantations, in industries and as teamsters and pioneers with the army, they were not used as a combat arm in the war to any extent. This cuts the South’s manpower by a third, leaving a fifteen-and-a-half million difference in the population of the two areas. Give the South fifteen-and-a-half million more possible soldiers, and the outcome would have been different.
The right military strategy is the key to a war. In order for the South to win the war, they would have needed to apply what is now called a blitzkrieg strategy. This would have been a quick decisive attack on the North to follow up its early victories of Manassas in the East and at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington in the West. However, the South employed a strategy that employed fighting in defense of their homeland. When moral was high in the South in 1861, it lacked the wherewithal and the resolution to follow up on its early victories, possibly with the reward of a quick end to the Civil War.
The obvious differences of the population of the two sides along with the lack of industrial resources in the South and the poor selection of an intelligent military strategy all thwarted the south in the Civil War. The South obviously never had a chance to win the war, they merely dragged it out for four long years at the cost of approximately 620,000 men.