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Is there any single event in the Civil War that could have been changed to give the South victory?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: May 05, 2011 
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Is there any single event in the Civil War that could have been changed to give the South victory?


110 Responses to “Is there any single event in the Civil War that could have been changed to give the South victory?”


  1. 1
    Iowa Gray says:

    No

    • 1.1
      HarryA says:

      No. As Mr. Foote, so aptly put it, "I believe the North fought the war with one hand tied behind its back".

      • 1.1.1
        nathan reed says:

        no your wrong the south could have won if a stuped mesage boy dint lose jackosons orders at chalersville

        sorry if spilling is bad im deslexic

  2. 2
    JohnKellMcIntosh says:

    Only one. Never fire the first shot.

  3. 3
    Elijah says:

    I can think of two events. First, at the Battle of Chanslorsville if General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson had not been wounded and later died. The second is if General Lee had won the Battle of Gettysburg and then marched on Washington D.C.

    • 3.1
      Harrison says:

      What Elijah has commented is true. Had Lee known that the Union's left flank was weak hed would have sent more than the number of regiments he had placed under General Longstreet's command, who was on Lee's right flank, then when Longstreet had his command charge up Little Round Top towards the 20th Maine, defending agianst the repeated attacks, then there would have been a breach at the end of the Union line. If Lonstreet had succeeded in getting behind Union lines then the supplies for the Union Army, then under General George Meade, would have been lost and the rear of the Union Army would have been attacked. Upon the attack of the rear a large portion would have been wiped out keeping the Union from recovering for quite some time while Lee continued on his raid of the north and then swung down to surround the northern half of washington, D.C., while another Confederate army, possibly Bragg's, would cut off the southern protion of D.C. That is just one instance of what could have turned the tide of the war, there are a few others that could have drawn the war out longer or won the war even.

      • 3.1.1
        John says:

        Hate to say it, but there was an entire US Corps moving towards Round Top, the smaller hilltop was not named Little Round Top until after the battle. V Corps would have repulsed further attacks. The pivot of the battle was on the first day when Ewell should have pressed his Corps to continue to captue Cemetry Hill, thus forcing a Federal retreat to the South to another defensive position.

      • 3.1.2
        Joe says:

        The new cannon fuses were untested, causing the cannonade to be ineffective. This caused the artillery to over shoot their targets, leaving Union forces intact to destroy Picket. Lee's assertion that the cannonade would soften them up for the charge, may have been true. This would have changed the battle and possibly an alliance with France and the Confederacy.

      • 3.1.3
        Don Herko says:

        Actually two full US Corps. The 5th Corps would have been ground into Longstreet's two divisions and whatever might have survived from Longstreet would have hit Sedgewick's arriving Corps.

        Generally speaking, most Civil War Units had one or two days of decent fighting in them and then they needed to regenerate – get back the slightly wounded and replace the rear guards and provost elements. Gettysburg was a unique battle in the war. A meeting engagement thatlasted three days without evolving into a siege by both sides. A slugfest where clean and fresh units were thrown at each other and ground up.

        On the US side, the IIIrd Corps never recovered, it was a non-effective force and finally meld into one division of the new 2nd Corps. Likewise the 1st and 2nd US Corps were attrited to divisional size and the three formed the new 2nd Corps. Not completely, but as you watch the pormotoion of officers through 1864, the 5th and 6th Corps retain their leaders and most of the regimental commanders in 1st, 2nd and 3rd show up in 2nd Corps.

        Side-tracked – Longstreet has some support from Anderson's Division, but Heth and Pender were in no position to provide support, their units were used up on the 1st, that is evident by their inconsistant performance, by Brigade, on the 3rd. As a matter of fact, future hero Mahone fails to provide support on the 2nd or the 3rd. Hill does not step up vigorously and Pickett is too far away.

        Longstreet does incredible fighting, I think it proves he was the premier fighter in the ANV. two of his division went toe to toe with a very good 3rd Corps "in poor position" but none the less, routed them. Then he tusssled with elements of 5th Corps. That Hood and McLaws retained combat power and 3rd Corps was decimated, clearly showed Longstreet's capability.

        H & M lost just under 5000 of the 14,500 on their rolls. US 3rd Corps suffered 4.3K of 11.3K and these losses are almost exclusively on July 2nd. 5th Corps only lost about 2.2K of 11,000 and 6th Corps lost less than 300 of 13,600. the 6th Corps may have been winded, but capable of defense against the worn soldiers of H & M.

        Only one major sized Army was ever decimated in the entire war – Hood at Nashville. This star-crossed Army was plagued by leadership issues since it's creation. The AoP – despite senior leader issues was a competent force led by Meade, it would not have been destroyed by Lee – that is fanciful thought propigated by a horrible alternative history novel by the former Speaker.

    • 3.2
      kevin says:

      I will take your comment one further by saying right flank attack by the army of the confederacy on day one of the battle of gettysburg

    • 3.3
      nathan reed says:

      yes you also forgot shilo and chkilmana

    • 3.4
      Tom says:

      I agree, the loss of General Jackson, who was a military genius was extremely costly to the Confederate cause. Had he been with General Lee at Gettysburg that may have been a completely different outcome.

    • 3.5
      Al Burgess says:

      If that Confederate officer on the way to Antietam, hadn't dropped his copy of Lee's battle plan. Though a close run thing: the Nortnern victory gave Lincoln the victory that he was waiting for issue the Emancipation which caused the British and French not to recognize and support the Confedracy.

  4. 4
    Steve Tolces says:

    If the south had won the battle of Champions Hill and destroyed Grants Army of the Tennessee

  5. 5
    Lawrence Wayne says:

    The Battle of Gettysburg was the South's second & last attempt to take the War into the North. A Southern victory at Gettysburg might have turned the tide of the war in favor of the South….if not militarily, then psychologically.

    The population of the North was growing tired of the war and a Southern victory at Gettysburg might have contributed to an attitude that some Northerner's had adopted……call for a cease fire, recognize Southern independence and move on….

    Of course, this became the platform of the "Peace Democrats" in the election of 1864.

    Lincoln would have been very opposed to any attempt to recognize Southern independence but a Confederate victory at Gettysburg would have had great influence upon public opinion in the North.

  6. 6
    D. Frank Robinson says:

    If the Port of Mobile had been kept open by a victory over Farragut, European recognition and aid may have made the North sue for peace.

    • 6.1
      DAVID A GOPPERTON says:

      If the South had abolished slavery, then attacked Fort Sumter, Europeans might have been more inclined to provide logistical support, possibly even troops.

      European recognition beyond that was an illusory dream

      • 6.1.1
        Nathan says:

        Not true. England planned to assist the South, until the loss at Antietam. If the South had won at Antietam, England would've intervened.

      • 6.1.2
        Jennifer says:

        Hey Nathan ! Your comment abt Antietam got me wondering why you think this battle was so pivotal? Could you elaborate further sometime?

        My thoughts on the one event that could have affected the outcome of the Civil War would be Battle ofBullrun or 1st Manassas. I mean just imagine if the Rebs had kept marchin towards Washington and had circled the Congress! Mission accomplished and all too 'bizaarly' easily. Perhaps this is why they didnt advance as they thought how easy it was goin to be to whip those Yankies

      • 6.1.3
        Nathan says:

        Well First Manassas wasn't part of a Southern advance. It was merely a defense against a Union advance, and it couldn't have been more successful for the South. While there were times that pushing North and capturing DC could've turned the tide of the war, the time after after First Manassas wasn't one of them.

        Capturing the enemy capitol doesn't mean you win the war, nor does it hurt their ability to fight. It psychologically hurts the enemy, but no more. Later in the war, when citizens of the North began to lean toward a treaty with the South, capturing DC would've been a death blow to Northern public opinion of the war, and they would've surrendered. First Manassas however was the first major battle of the war. Northern morale was high, and taking DC wouldn't have taken that away.

        Aside from that, First Manassas was a huge Southern victory, and couldn't have gone better. It established the South's military power, and began the rebels on a huge winning streak.

      • 6.1.4
        Jennifer From Oz says:

        Nathan,
        Once the emancipation proclamation happened that was it for the south. Maybe you're right abt Antietam, although neither side could really claim victory. But then Lee did withdraw after it didnt he which no doubt motivated Lincoln to Proclaim !

      • 6.1.5
        Meg says:

        France – and France's banking establishment, of course, did support the South and not just for reasons of ensuring continuation of extensive and lucrative economic trade ties, though that was a potent force. Nearly 90% of all cotton grown in the south made its way to Europe. England was conflicted, with its significant investments in the post-agricultural industrial weapons and textile manufacturing of the North.

      • 6.1.6
        Don Herko says:

        The European Powers, that had declared slavery over in their countries and colonies, would never have openly sided with the Confederacy unless The American Government openly provoked them. Even the capture of the Confederate agents could not overturn the public opinion by the workers and common men that slavery was wrong and not to be supported or fought for.

        The English government could have toppled over "overt" support for the Confederacy. Most European elites saw the emerging industry in the North coupled with the vast expanses in the plains and mineral resources in California would fuel the US to a position of unparallelled power in the world. A North America divided into five to ten smaller countries would have been more palletable for these Europeans.

        Unfortunately had that occured, the events of the 20th century are completely redone. No US involvement in the 1st World War and stalemate if not German victory. Several of the North American demi-countries would have openly supported Germany by heritage or by English and French support of the Confederacy.

        An Imperial Germany emerges from Central Europe by 1920 as the single biggest power in Europe and its Empire rivals Great Britian.

  7. 7
    DAVID A GOPPERTON says:

    See above. I posted in wrong place.

  8. 8
    R Mac Hayes says:

    Had General Lee adhered to the policy of the Confederate army of Northern Virginia of placing his army between Meade's forces and Washington,DC forcing the Union army to attack him on ground of his own choosing, and assuming a Confederte victory, Lincoln may very well have sued for peace. The northerners were fed up with the war, as were the southerners, however, many northerners were rioting in the streets protesting the involuntary recruitment of new man to fill the emptying ranks of the Army of the Pontomac.

    • 8.1
      rjhyden says:

      Longstreet begged Lee to do just that, and if he had, who knows what might have happened. However, I think Lee was trying to end the war on the third day and that was it. I think he was probably amazed that he escaped afterwards.

  9. 9
    Sam says:

    No, it was the North's war to win or lose. They had the population, money, factories, government, army, navy, farm acerage, railroads etc. The only way for the South to win the war was by the North giving up.

    • 9.1
      Harrison says:

      This is very true. Not going to argue with that. The Confederacy was a fledgling and it did not have any of those things, but it did possess seven of the eight military schools in the country. For example, General Jackson came from VMI, Virginia Military Institute.

  10. 10
    Sharon Sparks says:

    The loss of Stonewall Jackson sealed our doom….Lee not knowing supplies were at Gettysburg,with no way of getting the informatiom.If,if,if…Still the South had all the best Generals and slavery did not have any thing to do with the war.State rights Sir…

    • 10.1
      Steve Tolces says:

      I suggest you read the documents of the various state conventions as to why the the states seceded. They all state they were defending slavery with little or no mention of states rights. It is time for everyone to realize why we had a civil war. It was so the slave states could protect slavery.

      • 10.1.1
        Greg says:

        Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, were all slave states throughout the war. Washington D.C. finally abolished slavery in 1863. Slavery may have been a reason for secession, but if it was the reason for the war, the slave holding areas of the Union should have been invaded and slavery ended. The Emancipation Proclaimation only freed the slaves in states that were in rebellion.

      • 10.1.2
        Harrison says:

        Greg is right. To Steve: The Civil War was being fought because the agricultural South felt that the northern factories that the south was sending its crops to, was not giving it its fair share of the profits. Yes, slavery was a major cause of the war, but it was not the only one.

      • 10.1.3
        Don Herko says:

        The secession led to war. It was not a legal action. The US Constitution was ratified when New hampshire ratified the document on June 21st 1788. Virginia, New York , North Carolina and Rhode Island all vote afterwards, but it was ratified never the less. The Constitution contains no "exit strategy".

        The Constitution better refines the Articles of Confederation, which in the preamble states clearly "the undersigned Delegates of the States affix to our names send greeting. Article of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of …"

        Article ten of the AofC allows for nine of the States acting during recess of Congress as the US Congress for purpose of enacting legislation. So in effect, the US Constitution was the legal expansion of the AofC and thus the perpetual Union was established upon the vote and for those admitted afterwards.

        Secession was therefore an illegal action and punishable by the fullest extent of the US Government. Mr Lincoln showed great wisdom in recognizing the rebelling states needed to be brought back with welcome arms.

      • 10.1.4
        John says:

        Secession is legal if ratified by all the States. States ratify new states into the Union, and the reverse is also true. However, the majority of States required to approve such legislation would not have matelialized.

      • 10.1.5
        Don Herko says:

        Theoretically true John, but since that action to leave the Union has never been attempted, the 11 states' actions in the Fall of 1860 and Winter of 1861 was not supported Constitutionally and to take Federal property in the form of arsonals and shipyards acros the South was illegal (and this next comment might not sit well with some) just as John Brown's action at Harper's Ferry was illegal so was the States of Virginia and Florida taking the Norfolk and Pensicola US Naval Shipyards.

        Nothing like shaking things up on a Friday.

    • 10.2
      Jennifer From Oz says:

      Hey Sharon !
      State rights are sub-ordinate to the welfare of the entire nation.
      Not even tthe Confederacy agreed on stuff.Lucky the South didnt win ,otherwise there would have be endless bickering & hostility to this day.
      Slavery was an issue for a long time befroe the war. I cant see how you think it wasnt a major issue.

    • 10.3
      Matthew in Wisconsin says:

      Take a look at a recent book; The Long Road To Antitam by Richard Slotkin. I found it wonderfully interesting. Slotkin discuses how the victory at Antietam allowed Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation which was certain contribute to the rapid decline of the Southern economy, (Lots of factors contributed to the destruction of the Southern economy of course.) The Emancipation Proclamation also forced both the North and the South into uncompromising positions which required a "total war" to the absolute finish. All to finally resolve the "Slavery Question." To say slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War would be disingenuous.

      • 10.3.1
        rjhyden says:

        I just read this book and an excellent new viewpoint on the war it is, and what happened before and after Antietam.

  11. 11
    Dewey Hicks says:

    This may not be considered a single event but the war was ill conceived by the Confedrate States with little preparation for a prolonged war, a war that lacked a central government with the resources and power to conduct a war of this magnitude. But the most serious problem was the understanding of how a civil war is fought. Southern leadership failed to reocgnize the key fronts and thus condemned the war to failure by fighting too many fronts with insufficient resources. They simply forgot the history of warfare and lessons learned from the colonies' War of Independence. We had 11 southern colonies fighting a stronger central government with the vast resources to wage a war.

  12. 12
    HRB says:

    Shiloh was early enough to have possibly changed the course of the war. A Southern victory would have ended the career of Grant and reversed the war in the west outright, allowed the reoccupation of middle Tennessee, and avoided the necessity of moving soldiers from the Trans-Mississippi later that year. Immediately, it would have allowed the Confederacy to meet the threat of the loss of Memphis following the defeat at Island No. 10 and deprived the North of an operational base for further action down the Mississippi Valley–thus no Vicksburg in July 1863. One can only imagine that the North would have suffered nearly as many of the consequences of a loss that the South did suffer frollowing the battle.

  13. 13
    slarmer says:

    The South had the chance to take Washington from the first, when the North was disorganized, and Washington was defenseless.
    Taking Washington when it was unprepared, could have won the war, or at least forced an agreement, favorable to the South.

  14. 14
    Ed Hamilton says:

    In April 1861, one week after Lincoln called for troops, Governor Yates of Illinois sent militia from Chicago to take over Cairo, Illinois at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers on the theory that 'he who controls the rivers will win the War'. It is said that the Rebels were only days behind.

    Cairo became the main Naval station in the West (and Headquarters for the Army [which controled the Naval operations on the rivers for a time]). A large number of gunboats, including the seven giant City-Class ironclads, worked the upper Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers, aiding the Army in the fight for the West and the The Anaconda Plan. If Cairo had been taken by the Rebels in the first days of the War, it could have prolonged it to such a point that the North would have tired and given up the fight.

  15. 15
    RayK says:

    I fully concur that the two events that doomed the South were the loss at Gettysburg and the death of Jackson

  16. 16
    tsunamisam says:

    The only way for the South to win the war was if the North gave up, and that was not going to happen!

  17. 17
    Joe Valliant says:

    The day that Robert E. Lee declined Lincoln's offer of command over the union Army doomed America to fight its worst war. Lee's emotional and psychological conception of where and to whom he belonged evidently did not put the United States of America as the first of his loyalties. He is often quoted as referring to Virginia as "my country", and his roots certainly ran deep there. Lee was a highly moral man, and God-fearing, so his repudiation of his oath to the United States must have cost him dearly. He certainly aged rapidly at that time; it would have been hard for a stranger who had met him in 1859 to tell in 1862 that he was the same man . Too old and obese to lead himself, Lee's commander in Mexico, Gen. Winfield Scott, wanted Lee to command the Union army, reckoning, and I believe accurately, that Lee would defeat the Confederate army. very quickly. It must have been a bitter thing for the old man when Lee chose to fight for the rebellion. Had Lee stayed faithful to his oath to the Union, I suspect that the Confederacy would not have survived the summer of 1862, if that long. No one, not Jackson nor Albert Sidney Johnston, had Lee's grasp of strategy and tactics and Lee would have made mincemeat of any force commanded by the likes of A.P. Hill and Richard Ewell, who were merely competent. Had Lee observed his oath and the Confederacy been overthrown by mid-1862, the ghastliest and most destructive part of the war would never had happened, and Lincoln's "let 'em up easy" policy would have healed the breach in a few decades rather than the century it actually took. American history without Reconstruction would be sweeter reading.

    • 17.1
      Harrison says:

      agreed

    • 17.2
      Jennifer from Down-Under says:

      Hey ! Amazing comment Joe V.!
      Yes what a loss Lee was to the Union cause.His ties to Virginia went back 6 generations or something like that on his wife's side.The 4 score years and 10 of Ol'Ab's Address didnt cover Lee's lineage and tie with the state of Virginia. Wow! Virginia must have an amazing history for some-one like Lee to love it so much and to be prepared to give up so much for it. I think I'd better start Googling Virginia's History to help me to understand such loyalty.
      We Aussies love our country but we're not that "patriotic" that we'd kill each other over states rights. But then we were 'discovered' in 1770 and you yanks go way back to the 1640's?
      Love communicatin with you knowledgeable and passionate people. Cheers!

  18. 18
    Phil Qualls says:

    In his book, "Fighting for the Confederacy", which I have not read in several years, General Porter listed what he felt were two opportunities that could have change the outcome. The first was the failure of Gen Jackson to attack on a Sunday during the Pennsula Campain that would have entrapped McCellan's army. The opportunity did not exist the following day. As I recall, the second involved the failure of the 1862 Kentucky campaign.

    I personnally think that had we won Gettysburg, our army was too shattered to carry on to win the war. Had we destroyed the enemy army after Chickamauga, the South was also too spent to carry on to win. The enemy had far too much material and industrial advantage to win late.

  19. 19
    Straight Leg says:

    If the South would have "freed the Slaves" shortly after Fort Sumpter, the European countries would have been encouraged to recognize the Confederacy. They would have liked to have seen a divided United States. But as long as the Confederacy advocated slavery, England, France and others were not about to recognize the South.

    • 19.1
      Jennifer from Down-Under says:

      good point Straight Leg (lol)

    • 19.2
      Ed Hamilton says:

      From another Straight Leg: I agree. Some feel that England would have recognised the South because (mostly) of the cotton, but I do not think that that would have ever happened because of the slavery issue. As early as1569: An English court case involving a slave from Russia, ruled that English law could not recognise slavery. In 1772, it was held that no slave could be forcibly removed from Britain. In 1807, the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act abolished slave trading in British Empire. And finally, in 1834, the British Slavery Abolition Act came into force, abolishing slavery throughout most of the British Empire.

      During this period, many of the European countries had passed laws abolishing or, at least, limiting slavery.

      I do not believe that England could have supported the South in the face of this and public pressure.

    • 19.3
      Meg says:

      The cotton gin was already displacing the slave in the south, with agriculture as a whole being displaced by textile manufacturing. The colossal shift was underway at the time of the start of the Civil War. However, by no means does a shifting economy mean the triumph of the new over the old. There were more millionaires in Natchez, MS than anywhere in the country, all of whom had considerable ties to European titans of industry and finance, many of them family. The South's loss was a military one. However, the unconscionable genocide okayed by Lincoln and carried out by Sherman's thug mercenary army not only delivered up a horrific southern campaign of civilian murder, rape and degradation – insuring the starvation of women and children (many of whom were former slaves) – but predetermined that the Civil War would forever remain an emotional hot button not just due to slavery.

      • 19.3.1
        Steve says:

        There were practically no cases of rape during Sherman's march. The Cotton gin was invented over 67 years before years before the civil war started. There were more slaves in 1860 than in 1850 so slavery was not dying out. Very few southern civilians were killed during the war so genocide is not the word to use. Lincoln was the greatest president after Washington. Do you feel the country would be better off if the south had won the war? I don't. Or maybe you feel slavery and Jim Crow were good things. I don't and I am not descended from slaves. What happened to the south was the fault of the southern fire eaters.

      • 19.3.2
        Don Herko says:

        Steve, you are spot on in your assessment. There was much more in the way of civilian crime carried out by Quantrill, highlighted by a raid in Lawrence Kansas 21st of August 1863 where anywhere from 164 to 200 civilians were killed. He was a comissioned Captain in the Confederate Army and by far the biggest butcher during the course of the Civil War.

        I have not found any documented proof of ramdon or ordered killings during the march.

  20. 20
    Jeff says:

    Gettysburg is the watershed moment, and rather than just saying "if the south had won it…" perhaps we can be more specific. On day 2, if the Maine Volunteers had not held at Little Round top, the conclusion of the battle would have been different. Or, day 3, if Custer's reckless charge had not worked – the charge that ended up thwarting the confederate cavalry encirclement of the union lines – then Pickett's charge just might have succeeded. But neither of these specific actions worked in favor of the South, and Gettysburg was lost. Shame was, after the battle was over, that Meade did not pursue and destroy Lee's army trapped on the north side of a flood swollen Potomac River. Now that would have majorly changed the length of the war.

    • 20.1
      Jennifer from Down-Under says:

      After such carnage maybe Meade couldnt push his troops too hard for a few days. Imagine the "clean-up" after the battles

      • 20.1.1
        Matthew in Wisconsin says:

        At Gettysburg – and Antietam – a large percentage of the Union troops didn't action see action, as units continued to arrive throughout the battle. Pursuit of the retreating Confederates, while very difficult, would have been possible with an aggressive commanding officer. A few historians have suggested that a fighting general such as Grant or Sherman would had at least organized an attempt a pursuit of a severely wounded opponent.

      • 20.1.2
        Don Herko says:

        At Gettysburg and Antietam, were the only exapmles of Union Commanders pressing all available forces into the fight. At Gettysburg specifically, only the sixth Corps had light casualties, but it marched over 30 miles on July 2nd to arrive on the battlefield and take key positions on the left right and reserve.

        At Chancellorsville and Fredricksburg, entire Union Corps did not participate. Some Federal Divisions at Chancellorsville did not hear a shot fired in anger.

        The Union Army after Gettysburg was used up. A new Army Commander, one Corps Commander dead, two wounded, numerous division generals dead wounded or captured, the Army was not ready for such a counterassault. Additionally, too many McClellan disciples filled the Army for such an option.

  21. 21
    Jenny says:

    No. Lincoln was determined to preserve the nation at all costs. The southern states were treasonous by the Constitution to succeed. Article I, Section 10 states "No state shall into into any treaty, alliance, or confederation, grant letters of marque and reprisal: coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility."
    Further on it continues " No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit delay.:"
    The US Federal troops in South Carolina withdrew to Fort Sumpter due to the tense atmosphere in an attempt to calm the situation.
    That state succeeded (as did others) before Lincoln could even take office on March 4th, 1860 (the date became Jan 20 in the 1930's).
    It must be remembered that Lincoln wanted the nation to heal after the war ended, and the surrender terms were for each man to lay down his arms (unless they were his own), return home to his family, and resume the life of a farmer and begin springtime planting. A young general from Maine was in charge of the stacking of the arms, and he and his men stood in salute to the confederate soldiers, to recognize them as fellow countrymen, not defeated enemies.

    • 21.1
      Jeff says:

      Actually, Lincoln was first inaugurated in 1861, having won the election in Nov 1860.

      And that general overseeing the confederate surrender was Joshua Chamberlain, the battlefield commander whose Maine volunteers held the line at Little Round Top and perhaps won the Civil at that very moment.

      • 21.1.1
        Jenny says:

        It is said that the General died of his battle wounds at age 85.

    • 21.2
      Jennifer from Down-Under says:

      Hey Jenny! This is an amazing piece of history.
      The article in the Constitution you quote sounds "very bossy" !!
      do you think the writers of the Constitution sensed the potential rivalry and bickering b/w the States?
      When was Article 1 sect 10 wriiten plz?

      • 21.2.1
        Jenny says:

        The whole constitution was written during one long hot summer session called the "Continental Congress". They met to try and address the problems of the Articles of Confederation, which was the previous constitution. The problem with it was the federal government was too weak, and the states had the greater powers. There was a great deal of rivalry and bickering between the states, even then between the north & south. The capital of the USA at that time was Philadelphia, Penn. Washington, DC was not ready for use until 1800 at the earliest, and the British burned the White House, Congress, which had the Library of Congress, in the War of 1812. They were still sore at losing the Revolutionary War. Back to the Constitution! At the meeting, the congress simply scrapped the Articles and started over. That is why the tone is so bossy and firm. It was to make it quite clear that the federal government was to be in charge over the states, and so it clearly spelled out what was considered treason. There was a condition set that 9 out of the 13 states had to radify or approve the Constitution before it became law. That happened June 21, 1788. It's interesting to note that the last 3 states to sign on were North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia: all who were frontrunners in the Civil War of 1861-1865.
        The first ones to sign on were northern states: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,Delaware.
        After the Constitution passed, the congress had already realized that there were weaknesses and started on the first ten amendments, or the Bill of Rights, as we call it. If you ever read of the Federalist Papers, it was to persuade people of the need for the Bill of Rights, and to encourage their leaders to vote in favor of it. The Bill of Rights were ratified Dec 15, 1791.
        There are bookstores here Barnes & Noble) that sell small hardback pocket size copies of the Constitution & the Amendments, sometimes with the Articles of Confederation, or not. If you look them up online, a copy usually runs $5.00 US new, or maybe get one used Amazon.com
        If you're really interested, look up the Constitution of the United States of America, and read the Preamble. I think that's really nice (in order to form a more perfect union). I wonder what they'd think of us today.
        Also, they were aware of the slavery problem, but delayed it to 1810 or 1820 to deal with. Of course, by then it was even bigger. It was beyond discussion.

    • 21.3
      Mustapha says:

      Jenny-

      The Constitution is silent on the issue of secession.

      While it is true that, as you quote, "No State shall" do xxxx, by the act of secession, the states which left the Unions were no longer bound by the Constitution.

      In fact, under the Bill Of Rights (10th Amendment), any power not specifically denied to the states or specifically given to the Federal government resides with the state. That being the case, one could argue that the states which left the Union did so under their 10th Amendment right.

      • 21.3.1
        Jenny says:

        Let me repeat: The US Constitution, Article I, Section 10 " No state shall….
        enter into a CONFEDERACY! That was the treasonous issue. Furthermore,
        it states:No state shall keep troops or ships of was in time of peace."
        Article I Section 8 states "Congress shall have the power to define and punish felonies and offenses against the law of nations." and "To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions." (even from their own countrymen).
        There were not any armed forces from the North into Southern states prior to the battle at Fort Sumptor, SC.
        The was an attempt to avoid the Civil Was by trying to get President Lincoln to sign the Crittenden Compromise. Basically, it said all new states
        would be free, but all the current slave states would remain slaves forever.
        Lincoln said "NO". And the war began.
        Treason is covered in Article III, Section 3 "Treason against the United States Shall consist only in levying was against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort."

      • 21.3.2
        Jenny says:

        The Bill of Rights were added as an amendment to the Constitution to give a guarantee of rights to the people that had not be covered. It does not in any
        way reign supreme over the Constitution, but strengths it.

  22. 22
    henson says:

    shermans march to the sea.,,, replace hood with johnston. stay in front of sherman after atlantas fall, take all live stock and any thing that shermans army would need sustain itself to the sea. then have forrest calvary hit and run shermans rear. and when they get close, turn every yankee prison of war camp lose and let them be shermans burden. then tn a matter of time bag the whole 60 thousand. not only would lincoln lose the election, they probley would have hanged him…

    • 22.1
      henson says:

      after reading about gen. hood i believe he was addicted to pain killers. after the fall of atlanta he headed for nashville where he had a better chance of getting a fix. i also believe he was in withdraws at the battle of franklin. where he became unstrung, which resulted in a sinceless loss of life. gen. hood had morels of a mad man in this battle. somthing was very wrong with him at this time. could it have been withdraws?

  23. 23
    jen bill says:

    they could have developed a plan of attack instead of relying soley on defensive methods

  24. 24
    Jenny says:

    A detail rarely mentioned was the creation of a new state due to the succession of Virginia. The Northwest mountainous section did not want to fight against the Union, or supply soldiers for the Southern Cause. So the area declared itself independent of Virginia, and became the new state of West Virginia. They fought for the Union.

  25. 25
    Nathan says:

    There are two battles that, had the South won, would've turned the tide of the war in favor of the Confederacy.

    The first was the Battle of Shiloh. The South should've won the battle and it was a poor decision on their part that lead to their defeat. On the first day of the battle, the Rebels strongly defeated the Yanks. The Southerners, who believed that the Union reinforcements were days away, decided to set up camp for the night and finish off the Yanks the next day. Unfortunately for the South, the Union army arrived that night, and in the second day of the battle, the North destroyed the Southern army. This was the end of the war in the West. The Southern army in the West was decimated, and the Union was able to concentrate all of their efforts on the war in the East.

    The second battle that could've changed the war's outcome was Antietam. England wasn't fond of the United States due to recent border disputes in the Oregon territory and some harsh feelings lingering from the War of 1812. The British favored a divided America, and wanted to help the South win. They didn't however, want to back a looser. It all came down to the Battle of Antietam. Had the South won the battle, England would've entered the war on their side, greatly improving the South's chances of victory.

  26. 26
    Ed Hamilton says:

    The South lost 15,000 men at the Battle of Fort Donelson. If they had those men at Shiloh, the armies would have been much more even (65,000 US – 60,000 CS), and the result may have been different. Of course, if the South had retained Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh would not have happened.

  27. 27
    LEE says:

    If the South had won the war the United States of America as we know it would have a different composition, as the country would have then been divided in two. Hard to fathom such a thing. I am always amazed that the South was willing to pull the entire country asunder just to preserve a way of life that was destined for change. Refering here naturally to an economy run by the growing of one crop – cotton therefore making it necessary to continue the act of enslaving others in order to maintain that way of life.The loss of life to the tune of over 600,00, not to mention the maimed (physically and mentally) soldiers and the distruction of property etc. makes this war a black mark on the history of the U.S.

    • 27.1
      Jennifer from Down-Under says:

      Ironic that you wrote "black mark" Lee (any relation to…?) lol let's say "a black and red mark" on the history of your great country. bla bla
      The more I read and research about the C.W., the more I am amazed by the courage of the participants. eg. Joshua Chamberlain, shot /injured 4 times and could have sat out the war in glory but chose to "finish off this business"
      Are some things worth fighting and dying for?
      The Abolition of Slavery took this much blood and suffering.
      War brings out the best and worst in people. eg that negro woman who helped the slaves escape on the 'underground railway', she put her life at risk for others to be free. This is the ultimate of human actions and the war brought out this greatness in her as it did for zillions of others.
      What gets me is I've read so many times that the Confederates were not fighting to keep slavery and that most of them were not slave holders.So where did there ferocious fighting passion come from? What were they so willing to die for ? States rights? I mean big deal?
      Can some one please explain?
      Cheers from Oz

      • 27.1.1
        henson says:

        if some army was invading your country would'nt you fight with passion?

      • 27.1.2
        Jenny says:

        I believe that South Carolina fired on Union soldiers on an island Fort Sumptor before anyone "invaded their country". And it was a merciless bombardment that kept any supply ships from bring food or water to the Union men, much less guns.
        Over half of the men who died were not killed in battle, they died of disease, dysentery (a real threat back then), lack of food & water & good nursing. This was on both sides.
        It's hard to explain why the Southern Cause was so strong in going to war. To this day, some states flags still have the rebel flag as part of them. Men wear hats, shirts, belt buckles of the rebel flag. Why do they have this emotional tie to a past of slavery and defeat? I don't know the answer
        Perhaps if we could explain it and understand ourselves, we could free our obsession of the Civil War.

      • 27.1.3
        Jenny says:

        How do you explain the date discrepancy between the succession of South Carolina ( before Lincoln could even take office) and when the first "Northern
        Invaders" actually arrived on sacred southern soil?

  28. 28
    Ambrose says:

    I think Ed's point is spot-on about the Battle of Fort Donelson. As good as the Conferedacy's command structure was in the East, it was equally as bad or worse in the Western Theatre. Because of Jeff Davis's inability to separate friendship from professional military decisions, the Battle of Fort Donelson takes on so much more importance in the greater context of the Civil War in the West. Had those cowards Pillow and Floyd not been in command at Donelson things might have been different. For instance, had Lt. Col Forrest been in command at Fort Donelson the attack on Grant's troops that had been moving forward the previous day would not have been called off. More than likely he would have pressed McClernand after sunset. Remember, the Union River Fleet had been repulsed the previous day and Grant's men were very low on rations and supplies and they were sleeping in snow with no blankets or fires. Had Fort Donelson not fallen, there probably would have been no Battle of Shiloh. More importantly, had there been no Battle of Shiloh, Albert Sydney Johnston would not have been killed and taken away from the Army of Tennessee. That being the case, Johnston more than likely would have commanded the Confederacy's major Western army for the duration of the war. That alone would have alleviated the disastrous command structure that Jefferson Davis put in motion with Beauregard, Bragg, Joseph Johnston and then the unstable, murderous John Bell Hood. A.S. Johnston would have known how to keep idiots like Bishop General Polk as far away from command as possible – unlike Davis. Had Lt. Col Forrest been in charge at Fort Donelson and Donelson still fell, Forrest would not have surrendered 12,000 to 15,000 men. Only a fraction of those men would have become prisoners of war and at least 10,000 to 12,000 of them would have gone on to fight at Shiloh. Finally, and maybe more important than anything said heretofore, had the Confederacy won the Battle of Fort Donelson, it is very likely that none of us would have ever known who U.S. Grant was. Had Grant lost Donelson, Halleck would have removed Grant from command and U.S. Grant would have spent the remainder of the Civil War behind a desk with a bottle and a cigar.

  29. 29
    Tipton says:

    If McClelland had been left in command.

    • 29.1
      Jenny says:

      President Lincoln finally sent a message to McClelland saying "if you aren's using the armny, I'd like to borrow it."
      McClelland was very hesitant in his command, and since all of the generals had gone to school togeather at West Point, Gen Lee was well aware of what tactics would work best against him.

  30. 30
    Patricio Loco says:

    The union victory of Gettysburg was obviously a pivotal battle, and I think when it really comes down to it, Picket's charge, and the barrage of the cannons beforehand really was what turned the battle in the Union's favor. Until that last day of the battle, it was really anybody's war, for both had sides had fought to a bloody stalemate at little round top and seminary ridge. It was on July 3rd, with the artillery from confederate guns missing their mark, and the blunder of misplacing the supply wagons, followed by a highly organized yet highly fatal charge turned the battle decisively in favor of the Union. It seems that from this point in the war until the end, for many and varying reasons, the Confederacy could never recover their former strength or morale.

  31. 31
    Byrd says:

    No, much as it pains me to say, being a dyed in the wool southerner. Shelby Foote, the great historian said it best, when he maintained that the North fought the whole war with one hand behind its back. It never really tapped into its full manufacturing capability, nor into its immense advantage with regard to population. 'The Late Unpleasantness' was not a popular war in the north and the only thing that truly could have won it for the South was to have made it so costly the North would have wanted to quit. The South simply did not have that capability.

    • 31.1
      Jennifer from Down-Under says:

      Hi again ! If 'cotton was king' and the South's cotton industry in1860 was worth in today's terms $75billion wow! and worth all the produce of the entire country, then how come they werent cashed up enough to finance the war? Did they have so little taxation or what? de Tocqueville ? claims in the 1830's when travelling in the South that there werent may educational institutions. All that wealth must have remained in the pockets of plantation owners. The Southern economic system did not seem to benefit the majority of citizens. Pity the poor soldiers who fought didnt appreciate this, I mean fighting for a system which clearly benefits only a very small minority .

      • 31.1.1
        Mustapha says:

        The South was an aristocracy, the North an oligarchy.

        Sadly, it was not in the South's best interest to educate the masses, as most of them were the sons and daughters of farmers and had little chance to rise above that station. Obviously, the South did have need of "educated folks", but they came from the Plantation class or from the North.

        While it's true that the South's economic system "did not benefit the majority of citizens", the same could be said of the North. The factory owners, shipping magnates and such were as fabulously wealthy as their Southern plantation owner counterparts while their workers were scarcely better off than slaves.

    • 31.2
      Meg says:

      Northern blockades of critical large southern port cities did as much or more damage than the Northern land armies. When your soldiers are threadbare, shoeless, starving and with no guns, as are your civilians, then defeat is only a matter of time.

  32. 32
    Mustapha says:

    I'd have to point to two, but you could not have one without the other.

    Lee would never have approved Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg had Jackson not been killed at Chancellorsville.

    Jackson would have convinced Lee (rightly, in my opinion) that probing for a weak flank and then turning it was imminently preferable to a charge against the middle.

  33. 33
    levon says:

    The battle of Champion Hill in Mississippi prior to the siege of Vicksburg. Grant, who was on a major conquest to take Vicksburg was foraging and had no supply line. Joseph Johnston had been ordered by Jefferson Davis to defend Vicksburg at ALL cost, defied orders choosing instead to defend Jackson Mississippi the state capital .Grant's invasion force could have been consumed into oblivion had Johnston flanked or surrounded the invaders. Consequently the control of the Mississippi River would have remained with the Confederacy and generals such as Grant Sherman & Thomas would have been mere footnotes in history. Also the first battle of Bull Run would haved saved hundreds of thousands of lives had the hot pursuit of the routed union forces been executed. The war would have been virtually ended about as soon as it had began with the siege or capture of Washinton DC the number one event question answered and the constitution been upheld. Basic economics would decide the rightness or wrongness of anything past that. Slavary was no longer economically feasable because of a superior Eygptian cotton and european textile industries. Hopefully Lincolns plan of Liberia and governmental reimbursment to slave owners would have prevented any furthur violence and we could have reconsiliation as one country once again. I truely believe ol' Abe would have concurred.perhaps only the egophite southern firebrands along with northern and foriegn industrailist with their central bank's incessant money printing would not! a rich man's war and a poor mans struggle……….today as is was then!

  34. 34
    Matthew in Wisconsin says:

    So many great responses on here. I want to agree with everyone!

    Here are my three "game changers." Battle of Antietam, Sept 18th. If Lee would have regrouped and renewed the the attack on the 19th on the lounging McClellan, (who didn't cross the Potomac until October 26th, no hurry, right?) he could have routed the Union army once again. How? I don't know that. But Lee had done the impossible before.
    2nd: At Gettysburg. If Lee would have called off Pickett's Charge, and instead have given Longstreet his entire division to work with and assault the far south left flank, while Jubal Early conducted an aggressive holding action on the northern right flank, I do believe that the Federal lines would have collapsed. But then everyone says that, so it's not very original on my part.
    3rd: If Bragg would have advanced after winning the Battle of Perryville, instead of retreating right out of Kentucky, the western half of the war would have gone differently.

  35. 35
    Tom says:

    The south should have fought on ground of their choosing at Gettysburg. The north was going to fight them on any ground why not pull back to better ground and make the north attack you at strong defensive positions. Once you beat them follow them as they retreat toward Washington. The only troops left in the area were old reserves. The north would have sued for peace. Also if Stonewall Jackson had been alive he may have taken the high ground before Gen. Buford. This could have changed the war.

  36. 36
    Al says:

    If A S Johnston had beaten Grant to Cairo the defeat of the South in the west would have become much more difficult. If the breakout attack at Ft Donelson had been exploited Halleck and McClellan would have sent Grant home. Who knows how the west would have played out then. It would extended the war. This was the South's only chance. The vast resources of the north in men and materials made it impossible for the South to win on the field of battle. Ultimately making the north sick of war was the only chance.

    • 36.1
      Ed Hamilton says:

      Finally, someone understands the importance of Cairo. Please refer to entry 14. I feel that this move by Governor Yates of Illinois to take control of Cairo was the first Northern strategic move of the War.

      • 36.1.1
        Al says:

        Control of Cairo was vital. It s position gave control over the Mississippi, the Ohio, as well as the Tennessee, and the Cumberland. This would put Kentucky in the Confederate camp and provide a buffer for the west. The loss of Cairo moved the Confederate defensive from the Ohio to Tennessee's southern border. Cairo was the key to the west.

  37. 37
    Glenn says:

    British intervention would have had the same result that French intervention had during the Revolution. Fortunately, The British did not see a divided United States as a better strategic position for them in North America, or that scenario might have been more than just a southern fantasy.

    • 37.1
      Jack T. says:

      I'll agree with you that both Pillow and Floyd were cowards but there's no way Forrest would have been a realistic option to have been in command at Donelson. NBF was a minor figure at the time with practically no military experience.

  38. 38
    Jack T. says:

    I agree that it's very hard to imagine that any one thing could have changed the course of the war in the Confederates favor but if Polk had not invaded Kentucky it's possible that Grant would have under the direction of Freemont thus pushing the bluegrass state into the Confederacy. Kentucky was vital to winning the war as it was the gateway into the heart of the center of the Confederacy. As Lincoln said "I may have God on my side but I must have Kentucky".

  39. 39
    Harry Schoger says:

    Lee only deployed one third of his available forces when he ordered Pickett's charge. Had he brought more troops to bear in that fatal event, he might have readily dispatched the entire Army of the Potomac.

    • 39.1
      Don Herko says:

      MR Schoger,

      The problem was he did not have any other fresh troops "to bear".

      Most Civil War armies did not have the capabiltiy to mount several offensive actions in consecutive days. Especially in Lee'sANV where a directive was given to not list "slightly" wounded on the rolls as casualties due to the fact that casualties are posted in newspapers and readily available to the enemy.

      Now for the other organizations:
      Hood's Division-suffered 1/3 casualties(2372) from 7375 effectives, to include Hood himself and two of four BDE CDRs wounded in action starting by a march early on the 2nd and concluding after dark with consolidation
      McLaws- suffered 1/3 casualites(2307) from 7153 effectives two of his BDE CDRs Mortally Wounded same conditions as Hood

      2nd Corps:
      Johnson's Division 2000 casualties on July 2nd and morning of July 3rd of 6433 effectives and in action on Culp's Hill Morning of July 3rd, two BDE CDR wounded or killed
      Early's Division 1500 casualties of 5500 on July 1st, 2nd and moring of 3rd, engaged on morning of July 3rd one BDE CDR wounded
      Rodes Division 3100 of 7900 39% casualties primarily on July1st. Three largest Brigades suffer 50% casualties, two of the Birgades are combat ineffective (ONeal and Iverson)

      3rd Corps
      Hill and Pender Divisions formed the left half of the Offensive. Brockenbrough's Brigade was not heavily engaged, but it broke during the offensive
      Anderson's Division was the only unit capable of being included, but curiously Lee did not assign Anderson to Longstreet's offensive.

      Also "readily dispatched" is very dismissive of a very good unit 2nd US Corps, which absorbed and dispatched the offensive. More troops would have just equaled more casualties. Had Cousre and Jenkins been in the offensive the breach might have been a bit bigger, but there was no force ready to exploit the gains. The Army of the Potomac was not going to evaporate on that ground on that day. This was not the 11th Corps at Chancellorsville, nor Bragg's Army on the heights above Chatanooga.

      Hancock, the best Corps Commander in the history of the Army of the Potomac, with Gibbon and Hays very able Division Commanders Webb, Harrow, Hall
      also very able Brigade Commanders.

      The assault was folly. Lee had come this far and did not want to admit that he had been out-Generalled. Not that Meade was great, he was a competent commender, but Meade did not make mistakes like previous commanders and he got all his available troops into the fight, something that no other AoP commander had been able to do.

  40. 40
    James Thompson says:

    in the first battle of union forces Vs. confederate forces
    if the confederates had pushed to Washington they would have won
    (or so my history teacher tells me)

  41. 41
    Don Herko says:

    James,

    That is bravado on the part of those that believe General Stonewall Jackson was correct in his assertion for an agressive war carried out against the Union.

    Strategic Offensives are difficult by even the most professional armies. It took the Allies 11 six months in 1944 to move the same distance the Germans did in six weeks in 1940. Logistics alnog with politics were limiting factors. Napoleon was crushed by the Russian winter as was Hitler 125 years later. Iraq in 1991 and 2003, the US led forces stopped near the same distance from Baghdad, due to supply problems. (I am a Historian and retired US Army Supply Officer so I have intimate knowledge on some of these examples)

    The victorious Confederate Army at Bull Run did not have any capability to project itself to DC. It won the battle due primarily to a defensive nature with which it fought. The Confederate Commanders reacted to McDowell's movements and the Union Army itself was not really capable of pulling off the advanced movements at this early stage in the war.

    Why did the Union lose Bull Run, but win Shiloh, it has to do more with their opponents any the opponent's ability to carry out offensives that early in the war.

    Many Southerners were also very opposed to invasion. Dorsey Pender's wife was so opposed, she believed it to be the will of God that her husband lost his life at Gettysburg.

    Finally, Jackson's first offensive at Kernstown was a defeat, even though it began his most impressive and greatest achievement – The Valley Campaign

  42. 42
    Chris Barrett says:

    To focus alittle more specifically: should JEB Stuart's gallop into the rear and strike against the Union line have been completed at 2:00pm on July 3rd…Meade's army would have faced piece-meal destruction. The cavalry reserves at Lee's side were commanded by Imboden. Pickett's divisions along with these reserves would have had tremendous opportunities to capture Meade himself.

  43. 43
    Don Herko says:

    This is stuff of fancy. Imboden was never prepared to make such a move and Lee had him guarding the Army trains to the West.

    Stuart was an excellent cavalryman, but he did not have a realistic chance of executing this plan. The East Cavalry Field was fewl ridgelines away. The ground did not support a large Cavalry strike to the rear of Meade's lines. To compound the problem, the US VIth Corps extended the lines to the east of Cemetary Hill. Once Stuart hit Gregg's forces, his tow Brigades and Custer, Staurt lost any momentum his tired troopers might have had. Even if Stuart prevails, and that was a tall order for troopers in the condition described by all accounts, there was Sedgewick and the Provost Brigade. I took time once to walk their monumnets in the vicinity of Meade's HQ. So Stuart had no real chance to break Gregg with McIntosh, Gregg and Custer and break Sedgewick and break Partick's Provost Brigade armed with Sharpes repeaters in the defense.

  44. 44
    jbelkin says:

    Well, the obvious answer is they weren’t backwards racist idiots but that is asking a lot – and yea, that is a perjorative judgment but then many in the Northern states were/gave up slavery so what was wrong with southerns? They were all living in the same country – just because they couldn’t figure out how to make a living? Yea, there’s a good reason to enslave people – for the money. So, to ensure slavery, they were willing to die and become traitors – yes, it’s sedition if you start a civil war and LOSE. The South would never win because they rejected all the advances in technology of the 19th century because they couldn’t conceive of a world where labor wasn’t free and they were “the master race.”

    Yes, obviously there were enlightened southerners but they unfortunately let their dumber neighbors run the show …

  45. 45
    Harry Schoger says:

    At Gettysburg Dick Ewell on Day 1 failed to attack the straggling Yankees falling back through town to the Cemetery and Culp's Hill. Had his predecessor, Stonewall Jackson, been in command he surely would have gone on the offensive in that situation. Had Ewell taken those two heights there is great likelihood that the South could have won the battle and forced a negotiated peace.

  46. 46
    Don Herko says:

    There are stark realities in war that transend meories and conjecture, lookings strictly at day one from a strategic view. Meade was positioned in open terrain with strong wings that were mutually supportive and a screen of cavalry.

    Meade did not have to fight at Gettysburg. Upon the death of Reynolds, he sent Hancock to determine whether the area was the best place to fight. In addition to Hancock, Hunt and Warren also moved forward. Three very talented senior officers recognized the value in the ground that Bufford identified and Reynolds endorsed. Meade, his staff and many of his Commanders had already selected a position \Pipe Creek\ from which to fight a battle if things worked out badly up north. Corps positions were spelled out and supplies were positioned to support.

    Lee by contrast commited to fight on ground he had not seen, unlike Northern Virginia where he and his senior commanders had intimate knowledge and a wealth of supportive civilian scouts and a master map maker in Hotkiss (sic). Not one of his Corps Commanders had seen the ground, Heth a brand new division commander with less than two months in position engaged in a fight by accident.

    The Operational view is that two small Union Corps and divsion of Cavalry fought an action against four Confederate divisions the bulk of Heth, Pender and Rodes 9,000 casualties occured on the first day. Iverson and ONeal while Reynolds and Howard lost most of their 10,000 on the frst day. The Confederates carried the positions in advance of the lines the Union wanted to protect.

    Ewell had about 3,000 men Early's victorious Brigades (dicounting losses and Smith's Brigade that moved of to the flank to chase \ghosts\ or rather scouts of Buford's units and scouts of Slocum's Corps over the hill.

    Rodes was combat ineffective, Early was the smallest division in the army and both Heth and Pender were too far to support. Again Gettysburg becomes a giant obsticle to offensive operations. It does not allow Rodes and Early to coordinate attacks on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd. So it is up to Early's 3,000 or so to charge into the teeth of the Union's finest branch – the Artillery.

    Most of Wainwright's guns survived the afternoon fight and not all of Howard's batteries moved forward at all. So Smith's Birgade and the survivors of the 11 other Union Birgades were scattered on these to hills with somewhere around 50 guns.

    The Confederate divisions each had four 4-gun batteries, but Ewell and Hills Corps ARTY 30 and 36 guns respectfully were in the jumble moving over the pass from Cashtown. They are not getting in the fight.

    So fighting against an enemy in the defense, a beaten enemy, but in the defense none the less, with a very visable Hancock and Hunt in their ranks with good artillery, that would have been a tough slugg even for Jackson – which too many people give an inflated ability.

    If we accept that the Confederate could have thrown them off the hills, what then. Heavy losses to Early and the supporting elements and the Union forces fall back to Pipe Creek. Lee has four bloodied divisions and two hill to show for his labor.

    Lincoln and Hallack had freed up the garrison at Harpers Ferry and the Commander French was in route to support Meade. Crouch with his milita was still at Harrisburg and an element at Carlilse that refused to surrender to Stuart. Gettysburg would have been a prelude to a larger battle where Meade and the Union effort would have had a greater numerical advantage and Lee would have been hamstung with tired cavalry, wounded and captives from Gettysburg and depleted war supplies. He could eat off the land but the requirements of war, bullets, cannon, guns, medical supplies and gun powder were not to be had. Meade would have been entrenched on Pipe Creek and not moved until he had a tactical advantage. This is how he fought in the fall campaigns of Mine Run and Bristoe Station.

    It is more likely that Lee would have forced an engagement after a successful result in the fight on the hills of Gettysburg and that forced fight would have been against a more consentrated Union force equal to or stronger than the beginning of the campaign.

  47. 47
    David says:

    The mortally wounding of Confederate General Albert S Johnston, a greater tactician than Thomas J. Jackson, at Pittsburg Landing, which cost the Confederates a victory that would have surely thrown the Union forces back accross the Tennessee River and would have kept the Confederacy in control of Tennessee in the Western Theater.

  48. 48
    me says:

    if the south had won the battle of gettysburg by taking cemetery ridge on the firs day then they might have won

  49. 49
    Dan says:

    Well stated. If either Josh Chamberlain's stand and subsequent bayonet charge on Little Round Top (Day 2) or George Custer's brilliant use of the 5th, 6th and 7th Michigan as a brand-new Brigadier General (Day 3) had failed, the Confederacy may never have reached its \High-water Mark\ and begun to ebb. While most remember Pickett's charge as the concluding action at Gettysburg, it is often overlooked that this was coordinated with an attempted flanking manuever by JEB Stuart's cavalry. If Stuart had succeeded in getting around the Union right he would have both outflanked the line and cut off communications and supply. Custer, in proving himself by leading from the front rather than the rear in his head-long charge, not only inspired his own troops but stymied Stuart's flanking attempt, which would have been disastrous to the Union had it been successful. The loss of Little Round Top on Day 2 would have equally disastrous, given its strategic value. Confederate artillery placed on Little Round Top could have enfiladed the entire Union line, ensuring a Confederate victory. (Although the comment that Chamberlain's 20 Maine may have only bought time while additional reinforcements were en route may show that the Union would have held it regardless.)

    Getting back to Day 3's events, we might also credit the invention of the 7-shot Spencer repeating rifle as an event that prevented Confederate victory in this turning-point battle. Custer's 5th Michigan regiment, which had been dismounted and deployed as skirmishers, were newly armed with the Spencers, which Stuart's cavalry had never yet encountered. Expecting the Union skirmishers to stop and reload after their first volley, a large contingent of Stuart's cavalry began an all-out charge but were quickly met with a second volley and rapid fire after that. The Spencers slowed the Confederate advance until Custer, leading the 7th Michigan, charged forward with his famous inspirational yell, \Come on, you wolverines!\ Had the Union not become armed with the repeating Spencers, the outcome of that skirmish might have been different, leading to a much different outcome of Pickett's charge, the battle of Gettysburg, and in turn the entire war.



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