HY 2000 Unit IV Assessment

The South was not in an economic position to wage a successful war for numerous reasons. The North could draw from a white population of 20 million and the South had only 6 million. In the beginning the South relied on the slaves to perform work in the fields and factories, which allowed more of the white males to be able to serve in the military. Later on, the North began to enlist black troops and the slaves became a northern asset. More than 800.000 immigrants began arriving between 1861 and 1865 in the North, with many liable for military service. The North ended up with around 2 million men serving during the war and the South had around 750,000 serving during the war. The South did not have the financial structure to wage a long war. The South could not borrow much because the southerners could not afford the investment. The North received large amounts of money from taxes, but the South did not want to tax their people. The South tried to borrow money from other countries, but other countries did not believe the South could win and survive as a country, so they did not invest. Most of the South’s wealth was invested in land and slaves, which were very hard to convert into liquid capital. The North was more superior to the South in industry. The northern states had 110,000 manufacturing establishments and the southern states had only 18,000. The South’s raw materials base could not support needed industrial expansion. In June of 1860 the South produced 36,790 tons of pig iron, while Pennsylvania alone produced 580,049 tons of pig iron. Railroads were a key element to the Civil War and the North owned 30,000 miles of track compared to 9,000 in the South. The Northern water and wagon transportation was also better. The South had few barges and steamboats and were not able to build many. The South was able to benefit from the lay of the land and use a defensive position to aid in their battles. The Shenandoah Valley was a bountiful southern granary and excellent invasion route into the North, allowing Confederate forces to threaten Washington and other cities, as well as two vital northern transportation systems, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Numerous rivers and waterways provided great defensive positions for the Confederate army against armies coming overland but provided penetration routes deep into the interior if the northern invaders came by sea. The North eventually used the natural barriers against the South by penetrating and depriving Confederate armies of logistical resources, also cutting them off from their manpower pool. The South’s lack of economic resources greatly reduced the chance of the South winning the Civil War. Generally, the country with the most money and resources will win a war.

Millett, A. R. Maslowski, P., & Feis, W.B. (2012). For the common defense: a military history of the United States of America from 1607 to 2012 (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Free Press   

The Union army, led by General Winfield Scott made the strategic proposal called the Anaconda, which was named after the South American snake that slowly crushes its victims. The strategy was to completely exhaust the South. A blockade was put in place to seal the Confederacy off from Europe and thrust down the Mississippi to isolate the trans-Mississippi west. The eastern half of the Confederacy would become a peninsula surrounded on three sides by Yankee naval power and bottled up on the landward side by massive armies. Having grasped the victim in the reptiles constricting coil, the North would wait for suffocation to begin, allowing southern Unionists to reassert control and bring the seceded states back to the Union. The Anaconda strategy dealt death slowly, and the public and prominent politicians wanted a rattlesnake-quick strike at Richmond. The idea of the quick strike with faster results was easier said than done. To attack, the North had to march south to fight the entrenched armies of the South. Marching South meant that some men had to stay behind and reduced the numbers of the men in the Union armies, evening out the playing field for the South. The North outnumbered the South, but rarely had overwhelming numerical superiority on the battlefield. The rifle made one entrenched defender worth several attackers marching into battle. The South would retreat and was able to move through friendly country, destroying the railroads and bridges, denuding the region of supplies, and leaving guards to hinder the pursuer. Aside from having to reorganize after sustaining heavy casualties, the victorious army had to rebuild the communications lines, bring supplies forward, and frequently pause to deploy against the enemy rear guards. Lincoln accepted Scott’s concept of a blockade, but he realized the Confederacy would be hard pressed to resist constant, simultaneous advances, which the North’s greater manpower and material made possible. Lincoln’s strategy was counter to the prevailing military principles of concentration and mass, which demanded only one offensive at a time. The idea of using large numbers to attack the Confederates from different areas at the same time was very hard to accomplish due to the military thoughts at the time and geographic issues. Ulysses S. Grant added one last element to Union strategy. He sent army-sized raids to devastate the rebels’ remaining logistical base. The raiding strategy not only  eliminated the necessity to garrison more territory and to protect supply lines, but it also meant Union forces could avoid costly battles against Confederate armies deployed on the tactical defensive. The raiding force departed one point in occupied territory, moved rapidly through a region living primarily off the land, destroyed everything of military value in its path, and emerged at a different locale. Four key tasks dominated northern strategy after the war’s first year. Control of the Mississippi would deprive the Confederacy of valuable supplies. An offensive through middle and east Tennessee and then along the Chattanooga-Atlanta axis would liberated loyal east Tennesseans, deny the rebels access to Tennessee’s resources, cut the South’s best east-west railroad, and make possible a further movement disrupting its communications routes. Incessant military activity in Virginia would destroy Lee’s army and, secondarily, capture the enemy capital. Finally, as land forces opened the Mississippi, cracked the Appalachians barrier, ravaged southern logistics, and hammered Lee’s army, the Union Navy would tighten the blockade and support amphibious coastal assaults. 

Millett, A. R. Maslowski, P., & Feis, W.B. (2012). For the common defense: a military history of the United States of America from 1607 to 2012 (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Free Press  

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