Why The South Lost The Civil War

Essay, Research Paper

Civil War

There are many factors that contributed to the South?s loss of the civil war. Not only was Southern leadership weak, but the Southern army was significantly smaller than the North?s immigrant fed army draft and around 180,000 slaves fighting for the abolishment of slavery. The South also suffered severely from an insufficient transportation system for the movement of weaponry and goods. As though this wasn?t enough of a disadvantage for the South, their dream of foreign intervention, possibly by Britain, was shattered by the diplomatic leadership of the North, and a British oversupply of cotton that prevented manipulation of Britain?s markets. With all that the Southerners had against them, they also had a few important advantages over the North, which they never really exploited enough to make any significant gains in the war. One of these advantages was the strategic ability of not having to move over great expanses of land, but rather being able to hold their position and wait for the Northerner?s to attack. Another one of these advantages was a large amount of experience in the areas of horseback riding, and weapon handling for most Southerners. Though the army was smaller, this in combination with superior military intelligence helped the South to wage a somewhat competitive war. Robert E. Lee, considered by some to be one of the greatest war Generals of all time led the South to an amazing victory at the crucial battle of Gettysburg with the help of ?Stonewall? Jackson. As for governmental leadership, the South had Jefferson Davis, who had a good idea of a well-knit central government, but who was at ?loggerheads? with his people and his congress.

The North, in contrast to the South, had a large army, strong governmental leadership under the population pleasing and effective Abraham Lincoln. ?Honest Abe? had the advantage of controlling a population under a long established central government. He was also ?tactful, quiet, and patient, yet firm in his relations, (his tactfulness being among his more diplomatic qualities). The North also possessed and had access to ? of the U.S. railway systems, making for exceptional transportation of forces. Northern economy was diverse, as opposed to the South?s large reliance on ?King Cotton?, and industrial strength kept the northern army supplied with plenty of weapons and munitions. The Northerners also enjoyed a steady flow of British, Irish, and German immigrants across the border and into the army. The North?s strong economic system also allowed for the establishment of a banking system, even in a time of heavy taxation. The North had few disadvantages, but it is quite possible that these disadvantages could have turned the war the other way for the South if they were exploited.

The lack of foreign intervention to aid the South was probably the number one cause of Southern failure. At one point in the war, a Union warship stopped a British mail steamer, and then captured two confederate diplomats headed toward Europe. The Britains later sent out the Alabama, a raider ship that took some 60 Union merchant ships but a Union cruiser eventually destroyed it. The small tensions between the North and Britain could have easily inflamed if not for the diplomacy of Charles Francis Adams who signaled that ?this is war?, if Britain released destroyer ships.

The Brief American Pageant


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