Why the South Lost the Civil War - Cover Page: February '99 American History Feature
Federal soldiers and civilians at the front of the Confederate Capitol building in Richmond, VA.

Why the South Lost the Civil War – Cover Page: February ’99 American History Feature

By Carl Zebrowski
8/19/1999 • American History Magazine

Ten Civil War historians provide some contrasting–and probably controversial–views on how and why the Confederate cause ultimately ended in defeat.

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike at him as hard as you can and as often as you can, and keep moving on.”

Put that way, the business of fighting and winning wars sounds simple enough. And perhaps it was simple in the mind of the man who so concisely described the complex art: General Ulysses S. Grant. After assuming command of all Union armies in March 1864, Grant crushed the Confederacy in about one year.

But the American Civil War, like any war, was not simple. The North and South engaged each other for four long years. More than half a million people were killed. Families were torn apart, towns destroyed. And in the end, the South lost.

For the past 130 years Americans have argued over the reasons for the Confederacy’s downfall. Diverse opinions have appeared in hundreds of books, but the numerous possibilities have never adequately been summarized and gathered together in one place. So we decided to ask ten of the country’s most respected Civil War historians: “Why did the South lose the Civil War?” Here (edited for length) are their answers.

–Carl Zebrowski



Former editor of Civil War Times Illustrated and author of more than thirty books about the war, including the recent A Government of Our Own: The Making of the Confederacy.

Why did the South lose? When the question is asked that way, it kind of presupposes that the South lost the war all by itself and that it really could have won it. One answer is that the North won it. The South lost because the North outmanned and outclassed it at almost every point, militarily.

Despite the long-held notion that the South had all of the better generals, it really had only one good army commander and that was Lee. The rest were second-raters, at best. The North, on the other hand, had the good fortune of bringing along and nurturing people like Grant, William T. Sherman, Philip Sheridan, George H. Thomas, and others.

The South was way outclassed industrially. There was probably never any chance of it winning without European recognition and military aid. And we can now see in retrospect what some, like Jefferson Davis, even saw at the time, which was that there was never any real hope of Europe intervening. It just never was in England or France’s interests to get involved in a North American war that would inevitably have wound up doing great damage, especially to England’s maritime trade.

Industrially the South couldn’t keep up in output and in manpower. 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.

I don’t agree with the theories that say the South lost because it lost its will to win. There’s nothing more willful or stubborn than a groundhog, but whenever one of them runs into a Ford pickup on the highway, it’s the groundhog that always loses, no matter how much willpower it has.

We can’t fault the Southerners for thinking at the time that they could win when we can see in retrospect that there probably never was a time when they could have. The most important things they couldn’t see was the determination of Abraham Lincoln to win, and the incredible staying power of the people of the North, who stuck by Lincoln and stuck by the war in spite of the first two years of almost unrelenting defeat. The only way the South could have won would have been for Lincoln to decide to lose. As long as Lincoln was determined to prosecute the war and as long as the North was behind him, inevitably superior manpower and resources just had to win out.

The miracle is that the South held out as long as it did. That’s an incredible testament to the courage and self-sacrifice of the people of the South–both the men in the armies and the people at home who sustained them, with nothing but continuing and expanding destruction all around them.

The South lost the war because the North and Abraham Lincoln were determined to win it.



Historian and author of ten books about the war.

The South lost because it had inferior resources in every aspect of military personnel and equipment. That’s an old-fashioned answer. Lots of people will be scornful of it. But a ratio of twenty-one million to seven million in population comes out the same any way you look at it.

The basic problem was numbers. Give Abraham Lincoln seven million men and give Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee twenty-one million, and cognitive dissonance doesn’t matter, European recognition doesn’t matter, the Emancipation Proclamation and its ripple effect don’t matter. Twenty-one to seven is a very different thing than seven to twenty-one.



Consultant for the weekly series “Civil War Journal” on the Arts and Entertainment network, on-set history advisor for the movie Gettysburg, a staff writer and researcher for Time-Life Books’ The Civil War series, and a founder of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

The South certainly did not lose for any lack of idealism, or dedication to its cause or beliefs, or bravery and skill on the battlefield. In those virtues the Confederate soldier was unexcelled, and it’s my belief that man-for-man there was no finer army in the history of America than the Army of Northern Virginia.

But of course the factors that enter into the South’s ultimate defeat are those things that you hear time and time again, and with a great amount of validity: the North’s industrial base; the North’s manpower resources; the fact that foreign recognition was denied the Confederacy. In time these things would tell on the battlefield, certainly on the broader level. The North was able to bring its industry and its manpower to bear in such a way that eventually, through sheer numerical and material advantage, it gained and maintained the upper hand.

That’s when you get into the whole truly tragic sense of the Lost Cause, because those men knew their cause was lost, they knew there was really no way they could possibly win, and yet they fought on with tremendous bravery and dedication. And that’s, I think, one of the reasons why the Civil War was such a poignant and even heart-wrenching time. Whether or not you agree with the Confederacy or with the justness of its cause, there’s no way that you can question the idealism and the courage, the bravery, the dedication, the devotion of its soldiers–that they believed what they were fighting for was right. Even while it was happening, men like Union officer Joshua Chamberlain–who did all that he could to defeat the Confederacy–could not help but admire the dedication of those soldiers.



Author of three books about the war’s final year, including the recent Out of the Storm: The End of the Civil War (April-June 1865).

One main reason why the South lost (and this may seem offbeat because it flies in the face of the common wisdom) is that the South lacked the moral center that the North had in this conflict. Robert Kirby in his book on Florida’s Edward Kirby Smith and the Trans-Mississippi suggests that the South’s morale began to disintegrate in the Trans-Mississippi in about 1862.

The North had a fairly simple message that was binding it together, and that message was that the Union, the idea of Union, was important, and probably after 1863 you could add the crusade against slavery to that.

Ask the question, “What was the South fighting for; what was the Southern way of life that they were trying to protect?” and you will find that Southerners in Arkansas had a very different answer from Southerners in Georgia or Southerners in Virginia. And what you increasingly find as the war continued is that the dialogue got more and more confused. And you actually had state governors such as Joe Brown in Georgia identifying the needs of Georgia as being paramount and starting to withhold resources from the Confederacy and just protecting the basic infrastructure of the Georgia state government over the Confederacy. In the North you certainly had dialogue and debate on the war aims, but losing the Union was never really a part of that discussion. Preserving the Union was always the constant.

So, one key reason the South lost is that as time went on and the war got serious, Southerners began losing faith in the cause because it really did not speak to them directly.



Professor of history at Princeton University and author of nine books about the Civil War, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom.

Historians have offered several explanations for the Confederate defeat in the Civil War. First, the North had a superiority in numbers and resources–but superiority did not bring victory to the British Empire in its war against the American colonies that were fighting for their independence in 1776, nor did it bring victory to the United States in its war against North Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s. While Northern superiority in numbers and resources was a necessary condition for Union victory, it is not a sufficient explanation for that victory. Neither are the internal divisions within the Confederacy sufficient explanation for its defeat, because the North also suffered sharp internal divisions between those who supported a war for the abolition of slavery and those who resisted it, between Republicans and Democrats, between Unionists and Copperheads. And, in fact, the North probably suffered from greater internal disunity than the Confederacy.

Superior leadership is a possible explanation for Union victory. Abraham Lincoln was probably a better war president than Jefferson Davis and certainly offered a better explanation to his own people of what they were fighting for than Davis was able to offer. By the latter half of the war, Northern military leadership had evolved a coherent strategy for victory which involved the destruction of Confederate armies but went beyond that to the destruction of Confederate resources to wage war, including the resource of slavery, the South’s labor power. By the time Grant had become general-in-chief and Sherman his chief subordinate and Sheridan one of his hardest-hitting field commanders, the North had evolved a strategy that in the end completely destroyed the Confederacy’s ability to wage war. And that combination of strategic leadership–both at the political level with Lincoln and the military level with Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan–is what in the end explains Northern victory.



Professor of history at Pennsylvania State University and author, coauthor, or editor of eleven books about the war, including the recent Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond and The Fredericksburg Campaign: Decision on the Rappahannock.

The principal cause of Confederate failure was the fact that the South’s armies did not win enough victories in the field–especially enough victories in a row in the field–to both sustain Confederate morale behind the lines and depress Union morale behind the lines. In the end there was a waning of the will to resist on the part of Southern white people, but that was tied directly to the performance of the Confederate armies in the field; more than once they seemed to be on the brink of putting together enough successes to make Northern people behind the lines unwilling to pay the necessary price to subjugate the Confederacy.

The primary reason the Confederates did not have more success on the battlefield is that they developed only one really talented army commander, and that, of course, was Robert E. Lee. There never was a commander in the West who was fully competent to command an army–and I include Joseph E. Johnston and Albert Sidney Johnston and Braxton Bragg and the rest in that company. The almost unbroken string of failures in the West depressed Confederate morale. Lee’s successes in the East were able to compensate for that for a good part of the war, but in the end there simply was too much bad news from the battlefield. And that bad news, together with Union advances into the South, the destruction of the Confederate infrastructure, and the problems of the Confederate economy that worked hardships on so many people, all came together to bring about Confederate defeat.



Historian and author of Two Great Rebel Armies, which examines the Confederacy’s defeat.

If I had to pin the South’s defeat down to one sentence, I would have to say it was due to very bad military commanders: Albert Sidney Johnston, P. G. T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, John C. Pemberton, Joseph E. Johnston, and John Bell Hood (and if you want to go down a notch or two in the command structure, Leonidas Polk, William J. Hardee, and Joseph Wheeler).

With people like Polk and Hardee you’ve got ranking generals in an army who deliberately sought to undermine their commanding general Braxton Bragg. With Wheeler you’ve got a subordinate general who on at least two occasions–in the fall of 1863 and the fall of 1864–went off joy-riding when he should have been obeying his orders from his army commander. With Beauregard and Johnston you had two generals who were unwilling to work with their government. With Hood and Bragg you had two generals who were basically incompetent as army commanders. And with Albert Sidney Johnston you had a general who underwent some kind of confidence crisis after Fort Donelson.

Let me point out that every one of those generals was in the West. Any explanation that does not account for the West is irrelevant to your question. The war was lost by the Confederates in the West and won by the Federals in the West. I don’t see how you could even question that. In the crucial theater of the war, the Confederacy did not have a competent commanding general.



Professor of history at Ohio State University and author of the upcoming Hard Hand of War, his first book about the war.

There are really two interesting questions. One is: Why did the South fail to gain or maintain its independence? The other is: Why did the South not only lose its bid for independence but also its bid to influence the terms under which reunion would take place?

The answer to the second question seems to involve a combination of two things. First, the political culture in the South made it difficult for the many people (including those in leadership positions in the Confederacy) who wanted a negotiated settlement to make their will felt. Instead, Jefferson Davis, as president, was able to continue insisting on no peace short of independence. In a real two-party culture, Davis might have been pressured to compromise, or he might have been eased out, or the Congress might have been able to do something.

The other part of the answer is that while the key Confederate commanders–Beauregard, Lee, Joe Johnston–were trying to maximize their military position so as to influence any kind of peace negotiations and give the North an incentive to allow the South to reenter the Union on somewhat its own terms, military mistakes in the late winter and early spring of 1865 scuttled the Confederate military position in Virginia and the Carolinas. This precipitated a collapse sooner than might have happened, undermining any chance that the Confederate government might eventually pursue a negotiated settlement.



Professor of history at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and coauthor of Why the South Lost the Civil War.

My collaborators and I, in our book Why the South Lost the Civil War, laid out our theory, which is that the South lost the Civil War because it didn’t really want to win badly enough. Defeat was ultimately due to a loss of collective will. But in other discussions with various learned groups, I’ve been induced to admit that in order for the Southern people to have a sufficient degree of will to win the war, they would have had to be a different people than they were. And so, in that sense, victory for the South was ultimately an impossibility.


Now certainly the course of the war, the military events, had a lot to do with the loss of will. The Southerners hoped that they would win spectacular victories on Northern soil, and they didn’t. They hoped that they would be able to exhaust the will of the Northern people, and they didn’t. And I don’t know that all of the Southern people put a great deal of stock in their hopes that Abraham Lincoln would not be reelected, but certainly the key Southern leaders did, and this was their great hope and great strategy toward the end.


With regard to military turning points, I’m not a fan of those, and I certainly don’t think that Gettysburg and Vicksburg dictated the inevitable outcome of the war. We tend in Why the South Lost to imply that there was really still hope until March of 1865, but really I think the outcome of the war became inevitable in November 1864 with the reelection of Lincoln and that utter determination to see the thing through, and, of course, the finding of U.S. Grant by Lincoln and company. Grant was certainly the man to provide the leadership that the North needed.



Former chief historian of the National Park Service and author of several books about the war.

The South lost the Civil War because of a number of factors. First, it was inherently weaker in the various essentials to win a military victory than the North. The North had a population of more than twenty-two million people to the South’s 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 and in industries and as teamsters and pioneers with the army, they were not used as a combat arm in the war to any extent.

So if the South were to win, it had to win a short war by striking swiftly–in modern parlance, by an offensive blitzkrieg strategy. But the Confederates had established their military goals as fighting in defense of their homeland. In 1861, when enthusiasm was high in the South, it lacked the wherewithal and the resolution to follow up on its early victories, such as First Manassas in the East and at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington in the West.

Despite the South’s failure to capitalize on its successes in 1861, it came close to reversing the tide that ran against it beginning in February 1862. In the period between the fourth week of June 1862 and the last days of September and early days of October, the South did reverse the tide, sweeping forward on a broad front from the tidewater of Virginia to the Plains Indian territory. And abroad, the British were preparing to offer to mediate the conflict and, if the North refused, to recognize the Confederacy. But beginning at Antietam and ending at Perryville, all this unraveled, and the Confederates’ true high water mark had passed.

In 1864, with the approach of the presidential election in the North, the Confederates had another opportunity to win the war. If the Confederate armies in Virginia, Georgia, and on the Gulf Coast could successfully resist the North and the war of attrition inaugurated by General Grant (with its particularly high casualties in Virginia), there was a good probability, as recognized by President Lincoln himself in the summer, that his administration would go down to defeat in November. But the success of Admiral David G. Farragut in Mobile Bay, the capture of Atlanta on the second of September by General Sherman, and the smashing success scored by General Sheridan at the expense of General Jubal A. Early at Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19 shattered this hope, and Lincoln was reelected by a landslide in the electoral vote. With Lincoln’s reelection, the road to Southern defeat grew shorter.

Judging from these responses, it seems clear that the South could have won the war . . . if. If it had more and better-equipped men, led by more capable generals and a wiser president. If it had a more unified purpose and was more aggressive. If it faced a different opponent.

The last condition should not be underestimated. By the end of the war, Lincoln and his powerful army were remarkably proficient at prosecuting war according to Grant’s simple strategy. As historian William C. Davis has succinctly put it, “the North won it.”

Carl Zebrowski is associate editor of Civil War Times Illustrated, another magazine published by PRIMEDIA.

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228 Responses to Why the South Lost the Civil War – Cover Page: February ’99 American History Feature

  1. Northern Rebel says:

    The south did not lose the civil war, America did!

    • Daniel says:

      Confederates states right to self detemination and freedom from the central government, makes imposible for a nation to wage a war. Lincoln was the president of a nation, Davis was the puppet of divisive forces among the south. Should the south won America will be a second class country as the south is today. The south lost at all levels: Millitary, Industrial, cultural, moral, and organization, A loose federation cannot work as a nation as soon as problems start, divided they go, a strong central government is a must to win a war

    • mikeh106 says:

      The south lost because it took a morally inferior position. States’ rights, my butt! The war was all about slavery. At least South Carolina was honest in their secession, stating explicitly that it was because of slavery. There was no “noble cause”, only the desire of one race to own members of another. The defeat of the Confederacy was one of, if not the, best things to ever occur in America.

      • Christopher says:

        Wrong. If anything, the South’s “position”, its ideology, was what kept it in the war so long in the face of the 3 to 1 population advantage of the industrialized North. A people fighting on its own soil for a cause are the most tenacious. See Vietnam.

      • BIll says:

        That is an ignorant comment, the media and left wing nuts have made it about slavery over that last 150 years. The initial war was not a slavery issue. Several states in the Union had slavery and some of the territories who allied with the south did not have it.

      • Al Featherston says:

        Absolute right — although the “Lost Cause” fanatics continue to try an deny it.

        Too bad the people who started the war weren’t an anxious to cover their tracks as the South’s modern apologists are. Just read the various Articles of Succession — they make it clear that they were leaving the union to protect the rights of slave-holders.

        All the state’s rights BS as propaganda for their own ignorant masses. The sale-owners who ran the Southern Legislatures couldn’t get the poor, blue-collar whites to fight and die for their right to own slaves … so they sold a bill of goods to their own people.


      • DarthProphet says:

        For those who say it wasn’t about slavery know nothing of history and why the south started the war in the first place. THe south started the war because they believe Lincoln would abolish slavery end of story the south lost because they were immoral,led by stereo typical elitist. In other word and Oligarchy which is the exact opposite beliefs held by those you defend it to this day. The typical citizen of the south represented the same demOrat party for the same sheeple reason they do today ignorance and a false sense of superiority. As a right wing religious conservative I am constantly offend by those who claim to hold the same beliefs today as I do yet defend what the south was in 1861, nothing more then traitorous sheeple led by elitist Oligarchy of slave holders. In closing the demOrat party hasn’t change a bit and from what I hear come from the mouths of many southeners today certainly explains why even at recently as 1996 the demOrat party was a majority party in the south!

      • George says:

        In Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Kennedy provided showed that the North was leaving the South in its dust on an economic basis: miles of railroad track, banking assets, steel capacity, population growth, etc. The South was losing the economic competition so it was starting to lose the political competition for new states and votes in Congress. The North was changing the law to suit itself: higher tariffs on manufacture imports; cheap land for immigrants; low barriers for immigrants. The Southern way of life was threatened because its economic base couldn’t compete for capital or new manpower.

        From that perspective, the South could not afford to wait because time was not on its side. Look at how much the North changed from 1860 to 1865. The North’s economic base of grain and manufacturing would soon dwarf that of the South until the South abandoned the false economic promise of slavery.

      • Jack P says:

        Wow mikeh. You know not of what you speak..sounds like maybe you’re a shoot from the hip college kid. I didn’t expect Spielberg to be entirely fair to the South in his film “Lincoln”..but the movie was pretty doggone objective. Watch it and take special note of the Northern states that led the charge to deny voting privileges to blacks while the war was still in effect..and also not how corrupt and manipulative Lincoln was when he deliberately prolonged the war so as to not totally lose support from northern states on the legislation he wanted to push through (14th amendment). The shame of slavery hung over many any northern stares and some til shortly before the war. The war for the first couple years was about trying to force the south to stay in the union.

    • Don Herko says:

      The real question of States Right was could the country continue with the rights of slave owning states taking presidence over the rights of free states. An African “freed” man in Pennsylvaina lived in fear of being identified as a escaped slave, arrested by authoritites and taken South into Slavery.

      Visit the Abraham Brian home at the edge of the Gettysburg field near the old visitors center. He and his family fled the Confederate host because they Army of Northern Virginia were taking suspected slaves back to Virginia.

    • Joe B says:

      With a salute to you Civil War experts, I’m not an expert on the Civil War at all, but I love history, especially the tactics of warfare, and have been to Gettysburg and seen the options, and it seems clear to me that the North didn’t win it so much as the South lost it, and stupidly, with bad generalship, both at Gettysburg and in many other places, both from the start and at various points over the next 4 years.

      The numbers of combatants are irrelevant in wars. Small numbers have routed larger numbers regularly in history, usually by better generalship involving superior tactics. For the South, the superior tactical advantage was mobility, which is gold in warfare, and it was wasted on meaningless real estate.

      If the South had correctly decided that a smaller force should concentrate all its resources in an early attack with superior speed (like the straw through the telephone pole in a tornado) and avoid any conflict other than capture of the flag, they almost certainly would have won. And as you gentlemen all know, circumstances even gave them that unsought opportunity at Bull Run – but bad generalship brought it to naught. Even at Gettysburg victory was very possible by bypassing the massing Union forces and firing the arrow of their entire force directly at Washington, D.C. A night maneuver around the southern flank, a dawn feint attack from the west by a small remaining force with a full artillery barrage (useless in a speed race) on the slow union army, and then a race to the capital with everything you’ve got, not even stopping for battle …

      The war in the west should have been irrelevant. The South could have won at several points in the East just by using their superior mobility to avoid all combat except that which was necessary for the ONE THING – capture the head of state. And if it failed, same result with only a fraction of the total suffering.

      Instead, they decided to defend and count on an eventual political victory. Gee, sounds a little like Vietnam, doesn’t it?

      • Peter says:

        “The numbers of combatants are irrelevant in wars. Small numbers have routed larger numbers regularly in history”

        You’re definitely right by saying that, but in many cases the smaller side in the war had outside help; namely, North Vietnam had help from China in the Vietnam War and the American Revolution against Britain was supported by France.

      • Tower Hamlets estates says:

        Lee had not the resources to advance on Washington from Gettysburg, least of all with a hostile army on his heels, prepared to cut him off and destroy him. His mistake at Gettysburg was confronting that army at all, not in the manner of confrontation, direct or indirect.

    • Michael says:

      The South lost because it was defending an evil cause.

      • Christopher says:

        Wrong. Lots of so-called “evil” governments have won wars.
        The South was outnumbered and did not have the industry of the North (industry that was thoroughly nationalized and mobilized by the dictator Lincoln).

      • Don Herko says:

        But the Southern States made the decision to leave the Union over the issue of the protection of the rights to own slaves. That protect is written into the Confederate Constitution in several places. They then seized Federal Property and fired on memebers of the Federal Military, that is insurection. Refusal to obey the laws of the Federal Government, exactly what Washington put down in Western PA during the Whiskey Rebellion. The nation could not exist with temporary membership of the States. The US Constitution formed a “more perfect Union” from the “perpetual Union” formed under the Articles of Confederation.

        The individual states are the building block of this nation. The US Consititution was radified after only nine of the 13 states had voted to radify it. That made it the law of the land over all 13. Each state after that voluntarily joined the Union.

        And before we get too deep into a discussion of States Rights, I will say again that the rights of one state does not take presidence over the rights of another. The Fugitive Slave Law did in fact create that problem. A freed African Man in PA could identified by a slave owner from Virginia as a run away and the Sherriff in PA was bound by law to arrest the Freed man.

        The eleven states left the Union after the election of Lincoln because they felt he would threaten the institution of slavery, not because of an Federal intrusion into personal life or of Federal involvement in State affairs.

        The Federal Government did as a result become stronger after the Civil War, but that was a product of fighting a modern war not by a grand scheme of Lincoln to centralize power in Washington.

        The United States was at a tipping point. At the beginning edge of the industrial revolution, it was the last modern society with the institution of Slavery, which itself directly contradicts our boast in the Declaration of Independance of “all men are created equal.” The country had gone to great lengths to push of dealing with the issue of slavery in cold hard reality. Most Presidents up to that time had been Southerners and so had the Supreme Courts. The Senate remained deadlocked and only the House represented a clearer picture of America.

        There were no more compromises to be made. More States were to join the Union and they would predominatly be Free States. Slavery would not be profitable and it was inevitable that the Federal Government would end slavery if it wanted to be concidered a major influence around the globe. To Europe we were backwards farmers with backwards ideas – like Slavery. We were not going to be taken seriously.

        Confederate Leaders understood where the direction in the nation was headed and that Federally mandated emancipation would not be followed with compensation and they the rich land owners would be faced with financial ruin within a generation. Ultimately it was financial ruin at the hands of Northerners and Midwesterners they viewed as inferior to Southern Gentlemen or take matters into Southerners own hands and make a go of it as a nation on their own with a comodity that was percieved to have power to allow them to be successful – Cotton.

      • scv camp302 says:

        what nonesense the3w Northern Armys committed actions that would have got Sherman LIncoln and Sheridan hung at Nuremberg. Sheridan and Sherman then went on to do the same thing with great guston to the Plains Indians .

      • Don Herko says:

        scv camp302

        first the Confederacy was conceived to defend and support the institution of slavery so Michael’s statement is completely accurate.

        second much of Sherman’s actions are in fact lore and fiction. Destroying war making materials is not unusual in war and fairly standard practice. Now if you study the census data in 1860 and 1870 you will find that one: the data helped Sherman pick his route of march because he understood that his army could not stop in any area for an extented period of time for fear on denuding the area of food and material. Second and more important to your concern, the area in which Sherman marched had an aggregate increase in production from 1860 to 1870. This is hardly possible if the accepted notion of devistation and destruction was in actuality what happened during his march.

        The worst thing that happened on Sherman’s march were the dozens if not hundreds of freed slaves that died crossing the Ebenezer Creek pontoon bridge. With Wheeler close on the end of General Davis’ 14th Corps (US) and the former slaves that followed, Davis dismantled the bridge and the former slaves fearing for their lives with the approach of Wheeler jumped to their deaths in the fast moving current in that December evening.

        A good portion of the value of goods destroyed along the route of Sherman’s March was to govenrmental and infrastructure. Railroads were not easily replaceable, but food crops were replaced by the next growing season as documented by the Census data. The anticdotal stories of deviant actions are just that. The average soldier in the ranks did not carry off family treasures. Being a former Infantry Officer, I can tell you that you do not want to carry anything extra for two hundred miles. Sherman tightly controlled the number of wagons associated with the march. Again there are some valid accounts and evidence of illegal action, but compared to the War Crimes of the Thrid Reich, I recommend you go to Germany or visit the National Holocost Museum first.

        I am in no way saying that it was fun to have two columns of 32,000 men march through the area, I am saying that there is not evidence to support your claim.

        I have talked to family members that long claim to have had relatives in Sherman’s path only to have them point out where that family member actually lived. I never questioned their story just showed them Sherman’s route of march.

      • Tommy says:

        What an asinine and completely uneducated viewpoint.

      • Don Herko says:

        Do you have anything to add other than an empty and base criticism Mr Tommy.

        I have studied data from the US Census website. The entire 1860 document is downloaded on my desktop. I have taken college and post graduate level courses in History, Military Studies and Strategy, I have graduated from the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, my personal library contains well over 150 books from authors such as Freeman, Foote, McPhearson, Sears, Coddington, Treudau etc. As an adult, I lived in Georgia for alomst seven years near Columbus Georgia and Augusta. Crisscrossed the state a number of times logging more than a month in hotels near Savannah alone. Toured Atlanta and Macon. Lived for four years in Virginia, right on the Petersburg Battlefield. Trained for 10K and 10 mile races by running the length of the Petersburg Seige driving tour – literally looked into the Crater hundreds of times.

        You might think my challenge of the conventional wisdom flies in the face of your narrow minded view, but it comes with a breadth and width of background that would qualify as educated.

        I would enjoy a discussion on the topic or others, the complete mismanagement of the war in the west by Jefferson Davis, a man by all accounts and experiences, should have been head, shoulders, arms, legs and feet above a country lawyer from the Midwest is almost unbelievable.

        Sherman stood in Atlanta in September 1964 with 100,000 men and was opposed by a completely disfunticonal defeated army of perhaps 40,000 under the command of a man completely unsuited for command. The only functioning Confederate Force between the App Mountians and the Mississippi River could do nothing more that harass Sherman’s supply lines. Nothing prevented Sherman from marching in any direction he wanted to without impunity. Even after leaving a force and a Commander, Thomas, capable of decimating Hood.

        The failure of the Confederate government from protecting itself (infrastructure and war materials) or its citizens finally was manifested in Sherman’s actions. The leaders finally accepted what had been confronting them since Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chatanooga, the war was lost. That same stubborn streak has not allowed you to open your eyes to a point of view that differs from your own narrow opinion.

      • Jack P says:


        I certainly respect your study and acumen of the war. But when you try to downplay the atrocities committed by Sherman’s army against fellow Americans..you are on very thin ice. Things were done to the people and property of the South that weren’t much different than SS tactics in WWII.
        You can say they were enemies at the time or maybe not fellow Americans..but they were and are Americans in every sense.

        What happened in the South were indeed war crimes and they should never have gotten so far out of hand.

    • Mark Stuber says:

      All the South had to do is not lose. The North had to win. The South had interior lines. If Jefferson Davis did not inteverene with the locale commander resisiting Sherman’s March to Atltanta maybe Sherman could have been delayed long enought for Lincoln to have lost the election. Instead, Davis fired the commander and replaced him with a liked mined individual he ordered frontal assaults into Sherman’s line which merely made Atalanta easier to capture. With Cinco De Mayo coming up, I am surprised no one mentions how if the battle of Guadalupe had gone different, the French May have intervened. The already had a large army in Mexico. If Lee would have avoided battle at Getty’s Burg or a at least stayed on defense and not order frontal assualts, the would have eneded up different and delayed the war even longer. Time was on the South’s side.. not the North’ss. Remember, Lee was between Meade and Washington. Lee did not have to charge into Meade, Meade would have had pressure to charge into Lee. I never felt Lee was that great of a general. By that point of the war, he had enough experience to understand how technoligy had weekened offesee (tactically) reletive to defense. He had the best of both worlds, the strategic offence and the tacitcal defense and threw it away.

    • Mittymo says:

      The South joined the Union because it was represented to its constituent states that it would be in their best interests to do so. However, as soon as the South joined the Union, the North began hounding it to transform its economy & forfeit its fortunes. The South never would have joined the Union in the first place had it realized the Northern states would bully it into sudden & drastic changes.

      Moreover, the Constitution is a social compact (i.e., contract). Perhaps a radical & unexpected change in circumstance (such as the North’s insistence on a radical transformation of the South’s economy & forfeiture of the fortunes the South had invested in slaves) justified an abrogation of that contract. In addition, any breach of the South’s social compact obligations (i.e., secession) would be a civil matter, subject to damages, and not a criminal matter, subject to capital punishment.

      Slavery was dissolving under its own weight throughout the Americas & likely would have ended in the U.S. before 1900 (if not sooner), without crushing the South in the process. But Lincoln mismanaged the situation, fumbling our nation into a bloody & bitter war, destroying the economy of the South, plunging the South into poverty for 100 years (harming the blacks that lived there as a consequence), & weakening our nation for the same period of time. Certainly Lincoln had other options, with far better potential outcomes. For example, our government could have compensated slave owners for their slaves (akin to eminent domain) instead of requiring them to forfeit the fortunes they had invested in them.

      • Jack P says:


        The most thoughtful remarks i’ve seen. Well stated.

        Having been born and reared in Chicago and then moving south in my 30s and spending 25 years..i can say unequivocally that that few statements are truer than the one saying “whoever wins the war gets to write the history books”. What the texts book say and what happened do not align. If you don’t live in the south–you probably won’t believe that.

    • Patrick says:

      That sums it up perfectly. The war started the systematic growth of central government and erosion of liberty.

  2. TK says:

    That’s why we had 100,000 more kills than the north did, okay.

    • Rebel-smasher says:

      “That’s why we had 100,000 more kills than the north did, okay.”

      And Germany had several million more kills than the allied forces. Be proud.

  3. Dennis C. says:

    The north had 110,000 battlefield casualties. The south had 94,000.

  4. Yankee says:

    The war is Over you lost. Whats the diifence how many died on each side that doesnt determine wins and losses.

  5. bobby b says:

    who cares the south lost thats wat happened we all know it but w.e there isnt anyone who wont agree that southern women are fine az hell!!!

  6. kenneth says:

    I have to say first off; i am a true confederate at heart. I love the south, as my grandfathers fought for it and loved it. At First the writer lost me with “the south only had one good leader…robert E lee” and “the north had a lot of great leaders…” i would like to point out “Stonewall” Jackson. If you look at his battles and life, anyone would surely say it was as great (if not greater) then robert E. lee. Anyone interested in this should read “Why the south lost the war” book. It states that Jackson had the right idea on how to win. Sadly hes life was lost in 1862. Also another good commander i have to comment about is Forest (in the west) but i do have to agree with the other commanders being dumbasses (sadly). I hate sharman ( and hes “march to the sea”) i think it was wrong and evil…but war is evil. nothing is unfair, even i have to admit that. If only the south would have resulted to that kind of warfare… anyway good reading. :)

    • LittleDixieChuck says:

      Jackson died in 1863, not 1862.

    • Mark Buehner says:

      He was talking about army leaders, not subordinate commanders (granted Jackson led an army in his valley campaign and briefly at Cedar Mountain, but otherwise he served under Lee). There were some very talented subordinate commanders in the West (Clebourne, certainly Forrest) but they were wasted on bad commanders and their blunders ultimately crushed the Confederacy.

      • Jack P says:

        @ mark buehner
        BINGO! Forrest was arguably the most talented field commander the US ever produced. Patton and Rommel studied and used his tactics. The most dangerous thing to be in the war was Forrest’s horse. He had TWENTY NINE shot out from under him.

        The first thing northern folks associate with him is the KKK. When it formed (albeit under a different name and purpose) he was asked to lend his name to it. Soon after he disassociated himself from it when darker intentions became known. He was found innocent in court of any wrong doing with that group.

        He was the first featured speaker at the “light pole bearers” assoc. in Memphis–an early iteration of the NAACP..this can be found easily via search. Forrest’s own slaves fought with him and stayed with him after the war of there own volition. I daresay that his slaves and the courage and work they did are big reasons why he basically never lost more than one battle. In the excellent Ken Burns public tv series it was said the war produce two genius’s–Lincoln and Forrest.

    • Titus Oates says:

      Note that Lee is described as the only competent ARMY commander.
      Who was it who said there was a world of difference between commanding a corps and an army?

      Jackson, for all his promise, never commanded an army, so we’ll never know how he would have measured up. Albert Sydney Johnston died to early to take his measure as well. As for other Confederate ARMY commanders, Joe Johnson was competent, Bragg had some tactical skill but alienated his officer corps and John Bell Hood was a disaster. Hood’s Franklin to Nashville campaign in a textbook example of how to do most everything WRONG.

      In contrast, after the failures of McClellan, Pope and Burnside, the Union was able to bring forward the solid Meade, the relentless Sherman, Sheridan, the unflappable Grant and the innovative George Thomas.

  7. Matt says:

    The Union had poor commanders. Burnsides worst of all. Im a Yankee by birth, Crookston Mn. However Im Confederate by the Grace of God.

    As for the Southern Leaders. Robert E. Lee was a much better Gen. than Grant.. HOWEVER, Lee depended on THOMAS Jackson as his right hand man. HE even stated “Jackson has lost his left arm and I have lost my right. Next when Jackson died due to the infection sickness that followed the wounds, LONGSTREET became Lees next best choice.

    The Souths best Generals
    Robert Lee
    Thomas Jackson
    Gen. Longstreet
    Gen. Hood
    Gen Braxton Bragg
    Nathan Forrest not one of my choices.

    • Don Herko says:

      In the Overland Campaign, at the critical point just after Cold Harbor, with Ten Thousand men layed across the field, Grant had the resolve to push his troops. He disengaged from Lee, jumped two “insurmountable rivers” and landed at Petersburg with Two Corps assaulting Petersburg for over 48 hours without Lee truly understanding where Grant was.

      When his subordinated failed to push through and cut off all the rails and capture Petersburg in one pass,Grant had the fortitude to understand and execute a seige where he would take away Lee’s only advantage, Mobility. Lee’s troops moved quicker at every step from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor. Grant negated that. The superior Commander always takes away his opponent’s greatest advantages.

      All the while Grant was directing the operations of every other field army in the Union.

      Not saying Lee did not do an amazing job, but Grant was better.

      • DarthProphet says:

        I like you man .. Educated people think alike ;) Nice blows in your above post. Just the facts when they can’t deal with fact then just call them what they are demOratrs sheeple those whose real value to man kind is digging ditches ;)

    • Titus Oates says:

      Hard to fathom Bragg and Hood as great generals.
      Bragg got whipped soundly at Chattanooga, when the ground favoured him and Hood wasted the Army of Tennessee at Franklin and Nashville. After Nashville, the Confederate Army of Tennessee was never again an effective force – the only time that happened in the entire war. Perhaps most damning is Grant’s assessment of Nashville: “Had I been Hood, I would have pinned Thomas down in Nashville and marched, virtually unopposed, on Chicago.” I think that illustrates both the scope of Hood’s failure and Grant’s uncanny strategic vision.

  8. Matt says:

    Oh and one last think

    Combat losses and other losses together were not 110,00 verses 94,000

    The dead were UNION 360,000 combat and decease
    The Dead SOUTHERN 258,000 combat and decease

    THE SOUTH lost 110,000 LESS than the NORTH did.

    The south were always outnumbered, and yet they always inflicted the same or a greater Kill ration.

    Best of all the battle II Fredericksburg the North had the High Ground and still the south had fewer loses. I regret to say that Lee needed Jackson then most of all. LEE became delusional that his men were unbeatable. Jackson could had convinced him that it was not worth fighting. THE SOUTH ALWAYS faired better as a DEFENSIVE ARMY

    • Rich says:

      True, the South lost fewer men. Unfortunately for the South, they also HAD fewer men, therefore they couldn’t replace the ones they lost; the North could. The Germans had the same problem fighting the Russians, and the Japanese had it fighting the U.S. after Midway. The South could have won only by forcing the North to quit (for example, by taking Washington(, and they never managed to do this.

    • Mark Edens says:

      The difference is loss from disease, which you would expect to be much greater for the North, because over the course of the war it had many more men under arms (a certain number will die from disease just from being in military camps). The 110,000 to 94,000 represents battlefield deaths, which are roughly equal. Southern cavalry was better on average, at least in the first two years of the war. Southern infantryman may have been better shots (especially early on) because of a greater percentage of men from rural areas, through hampered by inferior weapons and ammunition. Union artillery was generally superior throughout the war. Southern armies being generally somewhat smaller than the Union armies opposing them may account for some discrepancy in casualties. If 1000 men get in a firefight with 750 men, the 1000 have a clear advantage, but might well suffer a few more casualties.

    • Marc says:

      It is not surprising that the North had greater losses then the South. The North was on the offensive for most of the war. In particular the Grants Overland Campaign in Virginia resulted in a large number of Northern casualties. In that campaign they relentlessly attacked against a strong defensive general (Lee) with well entrenched positions. According to wikipedia the north lost 55K men and the south 32K.

  9. rebel34 says:

    wow dude! history books state that the south won more battles and killed more yanks but the war is over. now we are a nation what does it matter on who won the war. stop being prideful with the past read history be4 you say stuff and get over it!!!!!

  10. Kaitlyn Larson says:

    Why in the world are all of the important words highlighted?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?………. ??

    • Gerald Swick says:

      Kaitlyn, I suspect you found this article by doing a keyword search on our site. Whatever word you search for will be highlighted within the article, but no one else will see that highlighting.

  11. Rich says:

    The author is right on many counts but on military leadership he falls significantly short. Lee was a great battlefield commander but in my mind was not a great tactician. While he was very able, I believe his main talents were to inspire his army by his charisma. Lee was an engineer at heart and this was reflected in the many successful defensive networks he constructed.

    I believe his best Generals on the attack were Jackson, his Shenandoah battles are legendary. He too was charismatic but in a different way than Lee. He was great on the offense but had the genius to avoid major losses;

    Longstreet, he was well rounded and was able to be effective on both the offense and the defense. Had Lee listened to Jackson at Gettysburg I believe that the battle would have been a stalemate at worst, and a victory at best. Whether a victory would have allowed the South to eventually win is problematic at best. The variables are so enormous as to negate a clear outcome.

    Stuart, he was arguably the best cavalry commander on either side. Again, he had the charisma to infect his troopers with the will to win in spite of the odds. His positive and negative trait was his flambouyancy. That he made the grave mistake of not being where Lee wanted him in the prelude leading up to Gettysburg will always be one of the big questionmarks regarding possible South victory at Gettysburg.

    The south had numerous divisional commanders that were, in my opinion, superior to the North’s. Unfortunately, great divisional commanders do not necessarily make good corps commanders. After the losses of Johnston, Jackson and many other broad thinking commanders, Lee had to rely on commanders who while they excelled on the line could not effectively command at the corps level.

    To sum, in my mind the asolute best team of generals on either side of the civil war were the Lee, Longstreet and Jackson. While they were very different in personality and temprament, when united in battle they were virtually unbeatable.

    No so with Grant. In my opinion, Grant won by superior numbers not in my mind by superior tactics or operational skills. He simply wore them down by attrition. Had the roles been reversed, by puttlin Lee in his place on the Union side, I believe Lee could have significantly shortened the war and the carnage that followed.

    The Civil in my mind will remain one of our greatest enigmas.

    – 30 –

    • Peej says:

      To some of your points (overall, I enjoyed your post though)…

      Had Lee listened to Jackson at Gettysburg, it would have to have been through a seance. It was Longstreet who advised Lee to take the army around to the right and get between Meade and Washington. that would have forced Meade to attack on ground of Lee’s choosing.

      The Confederates started with the larger number of excellent battlefield commanders and developed even more during the war. However, the Union, despite its generally less experienced cadre of battlefield officers at the beginning, caught up and passed their southern counterparts by the end of the war.

      Something similar happened in the early Southwest Pacific campaigns in 1942 and 1943 where the Japanese, who had been fighting since 1937, hammered the Allies in individual battles because the Allies were woefully inexperienced and had weapons systems that had not been fine-tuned to fight that war. However, the Americans learned quickly and for every Admiral Turner there was a Marc Mitschner and for every undersized carrier, there eventually came a fleet of Exxex class carriers.

      By the way, mny commanders who were not good in a fight, like Kelly Turner and Frank Jack Fletcher, were able to take over other jobs and excell. It just took time to find the right niche for every officer. Kelly Turner, for instance, was instrumental in developing the “Fleet Train” a massive network of supply that enabled the US Navy to roam the Pacific.

      Montgomery Meigs was another example, an officer who was not a battlefield officer, but was a genius at supply.

      To your point about Grant; he was only briefly a battlefield commander but his strength, once it came to light, was that of a strategic commander in the mold of Eisenhower or Nimitz. His ability was to motivate his Corps commanders to operate in the same direction – his direction.

      The Confederates, on the other hand, had the amazing Lee, but he was too much a gentleman to “crack the whip” as Grant had done. Lee was loyal and genteel and, as hindsight has shown, kept otherwise able commanders well beyond their effectiveness.

      • Brian says:

        Most qualified military historians would disagree with your assessment of Grant. He had the clearest strategic vision, starting with his recognition that the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers were the gateways into the Southern interior, which led to his campaign against Forts Donelson and Henry, and continuing through his overall strategy for all Union armies in 1864 – 5. Grant’s Vicksburg campaign, in which he bypassed the forts, landed below Vicksburg, cut loose from his lines of supply to live off the land, fought and won five battles, and then invested, besieged, and took Vicksburg itself, is universally regarded as a masterpiece of operational art. His relief of the Union armies in Chattanooga, in which he reopened the supply lines and routed the Confederates who had all the high ground, was brilliant. The Overland Campaign was not, as pro-Confederate writers still try to argue, mere butchery. He was facing a superb opponent in a limited space (between the Appalachians and the sea) crisscrossed with several east-west flowing rivers which constituted lines of defense. Even so, he totally outmaneuvered Lee by crossing the James, and had his subordinate commanders not hesitated, he would have taken Petersburg in the summer of 1864 and likely ended the war that year.

        Also, Lee may have been a great battlefield commander, but he had to be the worst quartermaster in history. His armies were always starving in the midst of plenty. Grant, by contrast, was a great quartermaster, who always saw to it that his troops were well fed and well equipped.

        Finally, although Grant’s losses were greater in absolute numbers, Lee’s losses as a percentage of his troops were always higher than Grant’s. If the Grant of Cold Harbor was a butcher, he was no more a butcher than the Lee of Pickett’s charge.

    • DallasGeorge says:

      Did the Army of Northern Virginia have a strategy or were they just counter-punchers? Weren’t most of their victories on the defensive when they parried a Union attach and then counter-attacked to victory? That was Longstreet’s advice to Lee at Gettysburg: to assume the defensive and let Meade attack Lee. Lee’s strategy was to defend Virginia, not to win the War. France was repeatedly proven that you can’t win a war on the defensive.

      Also, I believe you over estimate Stuart. The Confederates had the initial advantage in cavalry but after two years, the North had learned their lessons. Custer was certainly Stuart’s equal in elan and leadership and Sheridan was a better strategic general and a good leader.

  12. Gary R. Smith, Ed.D. says:

    According to Andrew F. Smith, the south was starved into submission. Hunger defeated the Confederacy. See Smith, Andrew F. STARVING THE SOUTH: HOW THE NORTH WON THE CIVIL WAR. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.

    • Don Herko says:

      Not starved, it was a distrbution issue to the Confederate Armies. Sherman the hated plotted his marches to feed his hungry host. A civil War field army would devistate an area it occupied if not fully supported by the logisitcal services.

      The route Sherman traveresed saw an overall increase in productivty between 1860 and 1870 with agriculture output. Lincoln directed and Grant executed the starvation of the Confederate government and it’s seat in Richmond. The South’s largest city, New Orleans had no wide spread devistation because it was taken as an open city, much credit to Lowell for his concern of the population, likewise Savannah did not suffer nor did Nashville or Memphis. Vicksburg, Petersburg and Atlanta suffered due to Confederate Armies occupying the city and fighting from the urban center. The natural resources in the immediate area cannot sustain the local population and occupying force.

      Much of Sheman’s march is lore and anticdotal vs actual devistation.

  13. Craig says:

    I completely disagree with William C Davis. “The south only had one really good commander, General Robert E. Lee”. Without question the most beloved general of the civil war and a good strategist. But I don’t even have to put much thought into what other great generals the confederates had (Stonewall, Longstreet, Stuart, and list goes on). What major battles did Lee win without Jackson? None. Who advised Lee not to attack at Gettysburg on the second and third day? Almost everyone on his staff. Did the confederate army have a chance to win an offensive campaign against a much larger, better-equipped and well led union army when Lee decided to enter Maryland on the offence? No. So I have to disagree that Lee was such a great general that “The rest were second-raters, at best”. Although the south had some poor leaders, guess what, so did the north.

    The truth is, the only reason the south lost the war was due to Lincoln’s resolve to win it at any cost. Both side had several great Generals, good equipment, Good brave dedicated soldiers, and a strong will to win. But without European support, the south never could withstand a TOTAL WAR against the north at the time. One main reason the war lasted 4 years was largely due to the fact that the south had so many great generals willing to fight compared to the north, who also had great generals (just not in the right position at the beginning of the war).

    Why the south lost the Civil War?

    Government and populace on both sides had similar will and determination to win, however,

    1. The south never received European recognition.
    2. Manpower in the north was far greater then in the south.
    3. Industrial capacity was far greater in the north then in the south.
    4. The north had control of most of the nations warships.
    5. The north had the advantage to continue commerce and trade with minimal disruptions.
    6. Much greater wealth in the north.

    Although the south had cotton (cotton is king), they overestimated the need for this raw material in Europe during the beginning of the war. So Europe never helped to break the north’s blockade, preventing easy commerce and trade to take place. Thus devastating the economy in the south.

    Why did the north win? Abraham Lincoln, period.

  14. Bill says:

    Well, the south had inferior weapons, no shoes, far less people, and was able to wipe out 100,000 more of the north by the war’s end. That says a whole lot given the north had the best of everything and it was 4 to 1. They also failed to mention Stonewall, and Nathan Bedford which absolutely scared the softer northern troops (if you want to call them that) into something you would exopect a woman to feel..The south lost, because of one simple mistake at Gettysburg. It had nothing to do with what the south was fighting. That was the simple part. It was strategic mistakes. The south would engage 25 people, the north would meet it with 50,000 and still lost the majority of battles. The difference between now and then weapons are far much better. And, the north still his the softer side of “troops”.

  15. Michael Closter says:

    “The miracle is that the South held out as long as it did. That’s an incredible testament to the courage and self-sacrifice of the people of the South–both the men in the armies and the people at home who sustained them, with nothing but continuing and expanding destruction all around them.”

    It was no miracle – it was self-destruction. From the time Lee re-crossed the Potomac after G-burg, there was absolutely no chance for victory; and within a week of the opening of Grant’s 1864 offensive, it was obvious that the South would lose. Rather than end the carnage and destruction, diehards and stubborn old men kept the South in the war, increasing loss of life and property, and insuring that the post-war recriminations would be at their highest level possible.

  16. DallasGeorge says:

    I have no expertise with which to criticize the authorities but I wonder if one aspect of the North’s numbers advantage has gotten proper emphasis. Not only was the North larger is population than the South but the flood of emigration to the North from Europe was supplying a ready source of young men desperate for employment. Sadly, I wonder if all of the Grant’s huge casualties were born in the North if the North could have so blithely pursued their steamroller strategy without an outcry from grieving families.

    Similarly, most of the civilian population in the North was almost unaffected by the War compared to the civilians in the South

  17. Stepan says:

    Any analysis of why the South lost the Civil War misses the point if it does not mention the loss of Stonewall Jackson.

    Jackson was the most aggressive commander on either side of the battlefield and early on had a plan for dismantling the north, having lived there and vacationed there during and after his West Point days.

    Yet his ideas were anathema to Davis’ “We just want to be left alone” strategy.

    While Jackson reigned supreme in the Shenandoah Valley 1862, in combination with Lee he was unbeatable.

    Many have said that if Jackson had been in command of his corps at Gettysburg instead of the reticent Ewell, the South would have won that battle as well.

    With regard to the superiority of the North in terms of manpower and manufacturing base, the relatively short distances over which these resources could be brought to bear cannot be ignored.

    Thus, it is not a valid argument to contend that the South could have defeated the North just as the American colonists defeated a much larger, better organized, and professional English fighting force when the latter had a command and control structure located an ocean away.

    Neither could the Irish successfully revolt against the English for centuries, because of the close proximity of the English superpower.

    Having a military superpower in its own back yard did NOT help the Southern cause.

    • Don Herko says:

      I have to disagree with you on the point of Jackson. Jackson performed his most brilliant campaigns in the Valley, his own personal turf and when he got to dictate his own plans. During the Seven Days he was sloppy and late. He was very average at 2nd Bull Run, and the events leading up to it. (John Gibbon’s Brigade earned the name “Iron Brigade” by defeating numerous poorly directed charges by Jackson). He was undistingishable at Fredricksburg, allowing to deepest penetration of forces against his front. I think he was very good, but he is far from the key to strategic turn of fortunes.

      Taking Jackson’s performances into account, he would have not moved quickly to disengage Harrisburg as Ewell had. Thus he would have linked up with Stuart sooner, but been delayed in getting to Gettysburg and Longstreet would have fought Meade alone.

      Now all of this is truly conjecture, about how Jackson would have performed at Gettysburg. But a single Confederate Corps Commander can not possibly have held the fate of the United States. That is very dramatic and very much overstates his importance in a strategic discussion of a conflit that stretched far far beyond Northern Virginia.

      Doing just a brief search of Corps and Division Commanders both North and South in the east, most were changed due to casualty: Longtreet, Hood, Jackson, Hill, Ewell, Stuart, Reynolds, Hancock, Sickles, Howard, Kearny, Sedgewick, Joe Johnson, the list goes on and is just as extensive in the West. Jackson was living on borrowed time to have survived as long as he did. His importance is magnified by the predominance of accounts of Eastern Operations. Again looking Strategically, his importance is greatly diminished.

      • Stepan says:

        Jackson surely did some idiotic things–the most egregious being the disposition of his troops at Port Republic, which nearly led to his early death.

        Gettysburg is pure speculation with regard to Jackson’s performance there.

        However, I mention it because I believe only Jackson and Lee had a vision of how to defeat the North. One without the other was much less effective.

    • Don Herko says:


      They did not have a strategic vision to win the war. Lee and Jackson were myopic to Virginia. Lee politely refused or deferred(whatever description you like) to go west and personally fix things out there.

      Early in the war, he went where Davis asked him, the Carolina Coast, but his heart belonged to Virginia. Once Lee assumed Command near Richmond, it was his to command until victory or defeat. The War was won out West or lost out West.

      • Stephan says:

        They did have a plan to defeat the North by taking the war up North not out west.

  18. Marvin Cruzan says:

    To win such a war of separation required a sense of unity. Unity was the antithesis of a war of secession. Georgia’s Govenor Brown demonstrated that when he threatened to seceed from the Confederacy over the issue of a military draft.

    Only Noah Trudeau got it right:

    “The North had a fairly simple message that was binding it together, and that message was that the Union, the idea of Union, was important, and probably after 1863 you could add the crusade against slavery to that.

    Ask the question, “What was the South fighting for; what was the Southern way of life that they were trying to protect?” and you will find that Southerners in Arkansas had a very different answer from Southerners in Georgia or Southerners in Virginia. And what you increasingly find as the war continued is that the dialogue got more and more confused. And you actually had state governors such as Joe Brown in Georgia identifying the needs of Georgia as being paramount and starting to withhold resources from the Confederacy and just protecting the basic infrastructure of the Georgia state government over the Confederacy.”

    That’s why the North would prevail despite such massive losses.

  19. John says:

    The book “A Patriot’s History of the United States” says that part of the reason the South lost is that it insisted in fighting the Northern armies head on. Even when the South won a battle, they lost a larger percentage of their total army than the North did. In the end, these kinds of victories could only lead to their defeat. They would have had a much better chance of winning if they had simply avoided head on battles unless they were certain to have an advantage. This was essentially the same strategy that Washington used against the British. If the South had simply tried to outlast the North rather than win the war, the North might have eventually just given up.

  20. Mark Buehner says:

    The decisions that cost the South the Civil War were actually made before the first shot was fired- General Winfield Scott set in motion the Anaconda Strategy to crush and dismember and ultimately starve the South, and Jefferson Davis laid down a policy of defending the South at every point, thereby diluting the already outmatched Southern resources. These ideas were pervasive, they affected every decision that came after in subtle ways to the point where their big picture implications weren’t really thought through.
    Had either the North not seized Southern ports and worked down the Mississippi (a plan not universally agreed with as interrupting Southern commerce made Europe unhappy), or if the South had made better use of interior lines and coordinated its forces more efficiently, the South stood an excellent chance of forcing a peace.

  21. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. says:

    This debate has worth. But the wrong question has been raised. That war should never have been fought. The Union could have won with both hands tied behind their back; the South never had a chance. The industrial revolution was making the north into a giant, while the South was still agrarian. (Full disclosure: my fore bearers lost lives, fortunes, and limbs fighting in gray. Everything.)

    Within a generation, the industrial North was wrestling with unionization of industry, the beginnings of migration from farm to factory. Had R. Lee taken command of the Union army, the war may have been ( a fantasy ) over in three weeks, with far less harm to his native region. Then the social conflict of slavery would have evaporated due to competitive costs issues, one tractor could do the work of a company of slaves, at far less cost. The harm that still hurts our nation is the destruction of states rights vs national government authority. This is the issue locking up the resolution of Yucca Mountain nuclear spent fuel.

    The Union army won by imposing its overwhelming weight against a weak opponent, no genius was needed. R. Lee took long chances, in desperation; some worked. To me. the big strategic decision maker was Longstreet. He knew when to hold them (Fredericksburg VA) and when to fold them (Appomattox). Lee overruled him at Gettysburg and was wrong.

    A personal note: My father grew up in abject poverty among former slaves. The plantation system had destroyed the financial order, with no viable replacement. He was raised by former slaves, all struggling to eat. One, Uncle Sydney, was his mentor. Dad cried recounting the death of his silver haired hero, who taught him to fish, ride a horse, go hunting. Dad, as a boy, asked the old man his age, and was told, “Massah, I never learned to count, but was a young buck n… when we fought the Yankees at Vicksburg.”.

    From war, we must learn to love.

    • Iowa GrayBeard says:

      Good points about Longstreet. My view is that he is very unfairly demonized by Southern apologists, this and previous generations.

      God bless your father, and Uncle Sydney. That personal note really touched me. As a boy growing up outside of Houston, TX, I knew people like Uncle Sydney. It is on their shoulders, that their descendents, and we, stand.

      • R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. says:

        Uncle Sydney had a wife, Aunt Sarah, the terror of little boys in short pants. Her management policy, when dealing with boyhood mischief was to order the young miscreant to fetch a switch, from the switch bush. Choosing a switch which was too weak, meant a broken stick and hence redoing the corporal punishment. Choosing a switch too stout meant broken skin, and welts. Making hard decisions in front of the switch bush could reduce a little man to tears.

        We would be a better nation if the US government was run by Aunt Sarah.

  22. Wisconsin Badger says:

    Our great country would be a very different place had the South won. Regardless of all of the revisionism thqt has occurred, the Civil War was a war of ideas and the democratic idea won. The war was lost in the Confederate West because the non-slave owning farmers there were being asked to fight a war for the slave-owning plantation owners in the East. These farmers could not afford to buy their sons out of the army like the plantation owners could (and did). Resentment led to the loss of morale. Lee’s overconfidence at Gettysburg didn’t help either.

  23. Don Herko says:

    The answer is Abe Lincoln. No man in the History of the Country was better sutied for the position at the exact time he was needed. From arguing (successfully) against the Supremen Court in the Marberry (sic) case to learning to and ultimately directing the strategic aspect of the war, no one has ever been his equal in the White Hosue.

    In the most critical time of the war, 75 days from May1st til July 14th 1863, Lincoln was directing his three major subordinate armies in a coordinated offensive. Hooker in Virginia, Grant at Vicksburg and Rosecrans at Tulahoma. Over the next 75 days the Confederacy suffered 100,000 casualties, the loss of the Mississippi River and full connectivity with the Western states of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Much of Mississippi lay in ruin and the rail in the part of the country was damaged severely.

    Lee had been repulsed in Penn. and Lincoln wanted a killer blow. Grant requested a move to Mobile at this time, Mid July and Lincoln refused. He wanted Grant to refit and move east. Mobile was not required to finish off the Confederacy, Atlanta was the more critical point. The Chattanooga campaign held Lincoln up from directing that move.

    In the East, Lincoln’s frustration was never more evident that the episode in the White House where his son form him despondent over the news that Lee had escaped into Virginia.

    Could Meade have beaten Lee, it is very doubtful, but from Lincoln’s strategic level vision as the true Commander in Chief, he was putting well equipt Armies in the field andgiving good guidance. It was only Grant’s continued success, with only what Lincoln provided, and without complaint finally convinced Lincoln that Grant would do what he asked without question and hesitation. Grant would finish the war for Lincoln.

    Other factors are important, slavery was critical, Emancipation had a part, Industry palyed a role, so did the capability to produce a navy, population helped, preserving the Union as a single message over 11 losely Confederated States was important, the ability to replace fallen leaders, the availability of qualitiy leaders, a developed infrastructure (rails and canals, a more refined rail system.

    The resolve of a single man, a relatively unknown product of rural America to singlehandedly at some points, bring this nation through it’s toughest trial is why the North won and the South lost. Every other arguement pales in comparision.

  24. Peej says:

    As a youngster, I read a DoD book put out covering WWII, a red-covered book with really thin pages like a dictionary. I wore that book out then armed with what I assumed was all the knowledge in the world, I proceeded to teach my Dad everything one needed to know about WWII.

    My Dad, who had I cared to ask, had fought with Patton’s 4th army, was less than impressed but listened patiently.

    When I had finished, he gave me the two pieces of knowledge that I have kept to heart since then:

    1. If you can help it, war is not like a football game. You can win a football game 24-21. You want to win a war 100-0! It means fewer dead on your side – and possibly on their side as well.

    2. For all the talk of strategy, the American victory was due to the fact that if we needed 100 of something, we sent 10,000, and had the officers and troops who knew how to use them.

  25. Dave Thomas says:

    The argument by Mr. Krick ignores the fact that without the fall of Atlanta in September 1864 the horrendous losses of Grant’s summer campaign of that same year in Virginia probably cost Lincoln the election. Does the North win the war with 21 million vs 7 million under McClellan?

  26. Dave Thomas says:

    Why can’t people admit that Abraham Lincoln defeated Jefferson Davis, and the only things that kept the war going on for four years were the South’s generals, interior lines of communication, and the power of defensive weaponry in the 1860’s. Lincoln is a towering figure in American military history and doesn’t get his due. Jefferson Davis is one of the great failures as an American war executive rivaling LBJ.

  27. Southern by the grace of God says:

    What I would expect from a bunch of Yankee liberal professors. First, to claim that the South had inferior military leaders is contrary not only to conventional wisdom, but also what is taught at war colleges around the world. That aside, there was no more set of incompetents in history than the Northern generals. They blundered their way to victory, jockeying for position to replace Lincoln along the way. They were divided, arrogant and lazy. Sherman was a terrorist. To elevate him to the title of great general is shameful – even for a Yankee – but especially for a liberal. U.S. Grant became one of the most incompetent Presidents in our history.

    The South lost for four reasons, in this order: (1) they were outnumbered 3 to 1 on the ground; (2) they had no industrial base with which to manufacture the implements of war while the North had the greatest industrial base in the world at the time; (3) bad luck and impatience at the battle of Gettysburg – which was caused largely because Lee realized his mistake after – (4) Lee’s failure to press ahead after Bull Run.

    Now, Northern generals made many more mistakes than Lee, but they could afford to given their superiority in number and equipment. The Civil War was not a lost cause either. The South could have won and nearly did. As it was, it took the entire industrialized North years to defeat us. In the end, the North’s victory was only temporary. A century and a half later it’s entire industrial base has fled cold and what’s left has moved to places like North Charleston, South Carolina. If only U.S. Grant had lived to see it….

    Yee Ha!

    • Don Herko says:


      I commend your admiration, but question your reasons

      4. Lee was not at Bull Run, it was Pierre Beau. and Joe Johnston, Lee assumed Command over 12 month later.

      3. Gettysburg was an important battle, but when Lee met with Davis in early June and convicined the Confederate President the best way to relieve Vickburg was a surgical strike and some yet undetermined point North of Washington DC in the Pennsylvania App. Mountians in early to mid July 1863, the fate of the Confederacy was sealed. Only one Army in the war was ever destroyed in its entirety, (The Army of Tennessee against the gates of Nashville) Lee could not bring the equipment and supplies required to destroy the Army of the Potomac. That needed to occur in Virginia during an attack such as Chancellorsville, where Lee could have blunted a Union advance and countered by attacking and mauling several Union Corps. The Army of the Potomac, for all its poor fortune in Army Commanders , was a solid organization staffed with phenominal men such as Warren, the Engineer, Hunt, the Artilleryman and Engalls the Quartermaster.

      1 & 2. Rich Southern men for a generation decided not to develop industry or shipping. They put their stock in the agriculture and industry of cotton and slavery. These same men and their son’s made the poor decision, as prominent political men in their respective states, to not allow Lincoln’s name to appear on any ballot in any of the 11 Confederate states. They had no idea how little support the idea of leaving the Union really had.

      a. The western Counties of Virginia left and became the Union State of West Virginia, taking with it 30% of the population and men willing to fight.

      b. Tennessee provided over 33,000 men to fight in Union Blue.

      c. Western North Carolina was greatly under-represented in the Confederate Army.

      d. an Alabama Cavalry Regiment formed most of Sherman’s escort force during the march to the Sea.

      e. of the potentially 1.1 million men 18-45 years old living in Southern states in 1860, over 100,000 men wore blue and bled for the Union. That number dwarfs any nuber even estimated for men going South.

      Not that anything I present will sway you from your objective view of the greats tragedy in our nation’s history.

      • Bob Redman says:

        “Only one Army in the war was ever destroyed in its entirety, (The Army of Tennessee against the gates of Nashville)”

        Not quite true. Thomas also destroyed a Confederate army at Mills Creek, the first major Union victory of the war.

        See http://www.aotc.net

      • Redleg says:


        A unique, reasoned analysis!

        Well done sir.

      • Iowa GrayBeard says:

        Your point is well taken. Objectivity indeed!

    • Don Herko says:

      Unless I am referencing the Wrong Mills Creek, Thomas defeated an Army of about 6,000. While important to the strategic development of the Union victory, Hood had 40,000 men or so moving into Tennessee in the fall of 1864.

      I use that refernece to point out how Lee planned the destruction of the AoP or Hooker planned the destruction of the ANV. Thoes were both empty fanciful ideas without merit.

      Lee thinking, in the spring of 1863, that he could move north of the Mason Dixon line and fall upon the Union Army and destroy it, is not a realistic plan. Armies just do not disintegrate. No large force in the Civil War just melted away, except Hood. Even the illfated 11th Corps rebounded from a poor showing in both Chancellorsville and Gettysburg to provide faithful service at Chattanooga, Atlanta and beyond. There are far greater instances of European “professional” armies of the 19th century melting away during a defeat than an American Civil War Army breaking apart.

      All this just goes back to my point that Lee’s plan to relieve the pressure of Vicksburg by conducting an offensive in PA was so strategically wrong that it hastened the Confederate defeat in the war not just the battle. Having a myopic view of the war from a Virginia perspective, Davis and Lee were outclassed by a backwoods lawyer and a store clerk with no tolorance for the drink.

  28. Don Marsel says:

    The South most certainly sealed their fate of losing the war for their independence when they foolishly decided to fight a war (attack the North) after seceding. They may very well have lost their independence to true Northern aggression later, but that war would have been different for sure, and I think only by prolonging the start of hostilities with the North, letting them strike first, would there have been any hope for a more tolerable outcome for them. There are no guarantees, but time could have helped them to gel as a nation, prepare for the likely war with the North, and court foreign trade and recognition. Also being the victim of true aggression rather than the aggressor could have helped win sympathy among some Northerners especially in the border states and abroad, or at least soften Northern resolve, and it could have helped to cement the bond of the new confederate union.

  29. Bruce McAliley says:

    Deo Vindice.

  30. Bob Redman says:

    The South lost because, having little access to copper, it could not produce the metallic cartridge used in the Henry and, above all, the Spencer repeater which was decisive in the Tullahoma campaign and the battle of Chickamauga.


    • frobisher says:

      If the Spencer repeater was “decisive” in the battle of Chckamauga, how do you account for that battle being a notable Confederate victory?

      • redmanrt says:

        Not quite so notable a victory. The Army of the Cumberland maintained control of Chattanooga.

        During the battle Wilder roamed the field at will putting out fires. Dana ordered him to escort him back to Chattanooga, but Thomas did well enough without Wilder’s brigade at Horseshoe Ridge for the remainder of the 2nd day, as you may or may not recall. You know, the “Rock of Chickamauga,” outnumbered 3 to 1, stood firm.

  31. Bob Redman says:

    The South was a weak dictatorship, so weak that for four years it could not even dictate the completion of a 50 mile stretch of railroad between Montgomery and Selma, Ala.

  32. […] think the South lost the Civil War. Not a long read, but pretty interesting explanations IMO. Why the South Lost the Civil War – Cover Page: February '99 American History Feature I was surprised that Stonewll Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest were not mentioned as competent […]

  33. Jake_in_Louisiana says:

    Since every war is prosecuted for political objectives, it is impossible to separate any explanation of why the South lost the Civil War from the political context in which it was fought. And in this instance the general objectives–yes, there were exceptions–on each side varied greatly. Southerners wanted political independence to end their confrontation with northerners on slavery. Northerners wanted the Union preserved at all costs, though their individual motivations for that preservation may have differed from one to another and probably changed over time as the course of the war moved many in the North to use the conflict to end slavery and seek a reformed Union as a consequence. The Civil War was a test of these two competing wills and though the military history of the conflict is of course vital to explaining why the South lost, it must be related to the shaping of the will on each side as the war progressed if it is to be presented properly.

    So the question arises: “When, where, and how did the South have an opportunity to break the will of northerners to preserve the Union, if at all?” Since I do not accept the principle of historical inevitability, I will dismiss the impossibility of southern victory. No; in spite of the long odds against it, I believe it was feasible for the South to win its independence. But because I am convinced that Abraham Lincoln was committed to preserving the Union, I think this implies that the necessary precondition for southern victory was to undermine Lincoln’s prospects for mobilizing northern political will as he continued to wage the Civil War. And, even if we set aside northern fatigue as the election of 1864 approached, it appears clear that, for the most part, Lincoln became stronger as the war progressed, largely because of Union gains writ large, which were primarily bolstered in the fighting in the West.

    Though I cannot present the argument that winning the Civil War for the South was merely a question of understanding the military necessity of attending to the defense of the western Confederacy, I do argue that southern victory was impossible if the Mississippi Valley was left largely unattended, which is what in fact happened. And in this observation I believe the central flaw in the South’s strategy–I am tempted to argue that Jefferson Davis bears the greatest responsibility here–becomes clear; the South could not win with the quick and decisive early victory it sought, because that plan required it to concentrate the mobilization of its material and manpower resources too heavily in the east. Davis and the South effectively conceded geographical advantage to the North from the outset of the conflict, which all but guaranteed a hardening of the northern will to fight as a result of their successes in the West.

    There are obviously other considerations that would have followed from a more continental strategy for the South, which I will not go into in great length. An increased rate of mobilization of southern resources, especially manpower, would have been required to fulfill the demands of deploying military assets across a broad expanse of territory. With a reduced concentration of manpower in the eastern theater, military strategy would necessarily have been more defensive in nature. And a much-improved command and control structure within the Confederate army would have been needed, one that thought out and implemented wartime strategy in a coordinated fashion, unlike the wide latitude for individual initiative given to local commanders in the war we know. But these problems were not insurmountable and, especially with respect to the need for a defensive strategy designed to raise northern casualties (as Longstreet argued for in vain), they were at least discussed for the most part.

    In sum, only a strategy that slowed northern progress across the broad expanse of the geography of the eastern half of North America that emphasized a defensive posture designed to raise northern casualties was the only prospect for the South’s success. The odds would still have been long in the event they had chosen such a course, but the prospects for southern independence would have been raised.

    • Joe B says:

      “the South could not win with the quick and decisive early victory it sought, because that plan required it to concentrate the mobilization of its material and manpower resources too heavily in the east.”

      Everything I have read says they could have walked into an undefended Washington D.C. after Bull Run and captured the entire federal government, President Lincoln included. Endgame. No more forces needed.

      And after walking the hills around Gettysburg, I still don’t see why they charged the main federal lines when they could have moved around them to the south, outraced them to D.C., and taken on much weaker opposition. The Union army failed to sufficiently reinforce Little Round Top even after that key skirmish, so it was wide open for movement down there that very evening and the next day. Could have left the main Union army behind. Advantage, mobility.

      Leads me to think the Confederate leadership never really wanted to wage war. I think they simply hoped for a political solution. What a waste.

      • Jake_in_Louisiana says:

        “Everything I have read says they could have walked into an undefended Washington D.C. after Bull Run and captured the entire federal government, President Lincoln included. Endgame. No more forces needed.”

        Yes; they could have taken Washington, D. C., though I tend to think that Lincoln would have escaped. I don’t think that would have settled matters by any means, as the increased Union resolve that followed Bull Run demonstrated. I think the really interesting corollary to a hypothetical capture of Washington D. C. after Bull Run is really “what would have happened to secessionist sympathizers in Maryland if the Confederates held Washington?”

        With respect to the possible “southerly flanking maneuver” that Lee chose not to implement at Gettysburg, I do think it could have created a much different battle, since the Union army would have been forced to attack in that scenario. But I also believe that, by July, 1863, Union military assets in the general vicinity of Washington were strong enough that Lee could not have taken the capital with an army that would have been significantly weakened from its engagement with the Union army.

        But your Bull Run scenario is still interesting.

  34. MikeofAges says:

    Has anyone considered the battle for hearts and minds, especially the battle for the Northern home front? If the South had made it clear in the beginning that it was seeking only its own independence and not expansion into any further territory beyond the boundaries of its member states and that the issue was not the preservation pf slavery maybe Northerners would have been less interested in battling to the death against secession.

    The United States soon after its founding attached itself to the firm anchor of a single geopolitical scheme, which became known as “Manifest Destiny”. What this meant in practice was that the nation was intended to encompass the land from the eastern seaboard all the way west to the Pacific coast, The Confederacy deviated from this scheme not only in the particular of separating a portion of this land from the entirety, but also in the generality of contemplating the expansion of its boundaries into the Caribbean and Latin America.

    This possibility presented the North with the question not only of whether it should accept the presence of a brother nation which had chosen to separate because of differences in its culture and its economic basis, but also the question of tolerating the presence of a possibly hostile expansionist power furthermore involved in entanglements with the European great powers.

    Then there was the failure of the South to read the world tea leaves on the issue of slavery. The South could have announced at the beginning that it “foresaw the end of slavery” and taken the first firm, even if small, steps in that direction. That, and foreswearing expansion outside of the existing boundaries of the states that formed it membership, would have done a lot to weaken Northern political resistance to Southern independence. Lincoln treated secession more than anything else as an affront to the Manifest Destiny concept and as an affront the idea that the Union had a special role to play in the process of the moral development of world civilization.

    The South could have taken these issues off the table. But the South didn’t. Maybe that had something to do with why the issue ended up settled on the battlefield.

    • Don Herko says:


      It is an interesting premise, but the Confederate Constitution specifically defended the right of slavery, so the idea of the new nation ending slavery is not plausible, just because we can look with 21st century eyes on a 19th century issue.

      The South wanted to expand. With the Missouri Compromise hemming slave states in 1820, and the explosion of Cotton as a crop with the new mechanical “gin” land for the labor intensive crop was at a premium. Eastern Texas was an early target as was Southern California. Cotton requires a certain temperature band and plenty of fresh water. The reason that Missouri did not automatically join the Confederacy despite a pro-Southern governemnt was slavery was profitable only along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The middle of the state was populated by small pro-Unionist farmers. The border wars in Kansas was fueled by some Missourians but they were used up by the start of the Civil War. There were not enough pro-slavery men to counter the pro-Unionists. That is why Missouri went neutral then ultimately to the Union, with a Confederate style shadow government is exile in Arkansas.

      The Civil War had to happen, thankfully it happened when Abe Lincoln was on the watch.

      • Iowa GrayBeard says:

        Exactly! Had the South not had the desire to expand the bounds of slave holding states, the war would not have happened, and slavery would have died a slow lingering death.

      • MikeofAges says:

        Even through 19th Century eyes, some thought slavery was doomed with or without expansion. I can only imagine that many in the South saw the institution as clearly doomed without expansion. Lincoln thought so as far as I know and opposed the expansion of slavery exactly for that reason. He saw slavery as an impediment to America’s proper destiny.

  35. haithabu says:

    If the Civil War had been an election we would have said that it was the North’s to lose. The North had too many resources to lose the war militarily but it could have lost it politically (in the same sense that the U.S. lost the Vietnam war), due to a loss of support at home. This did not happen because of Lincoln’s superb political leadership. He commanded a level of unity in support of the war effort that I do not think any president other than Washington could have achieved.

    But the numbers are only part of the story. You have to look at why the North had such a material advantage. The tally of manpower and resources on the Union side included the slave states of Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland and the seceded portion of Virginia. If those states had fallen into the Confederate column the ratio of population would have been much closer to even (60/40) and Confederate forces based in Kentucky would have been poised to split the Union in two. Instead it being a Southern war of defense played out in Northern Virginia, it might have become a Northern war of defense played out in Ohio.

    So to return to the election analogy, the North achieved its overwhelming advantage because it had the better ground game and carried the swing states – again largely due to Lincoln’s decisive leadership in pouring resources into those states early on.

    If the Confederates had been as proactive in mobilizing and moving their regulars into those states things might well have turned out differently for them. But they were slow off the mark because they were not mentally prepared to fight an offensive war. And that I think was the crux of the problem for the South.

    • Don Herko says:

      The Confederate General Polk invaded Kentucky and pushed that state into the Union Column.

      Lincoln moved troops into only one State, Maryland. Delaware was completely in withthe Union.

      Missouri was not a pro-Southern as many thought, I posted earlier about that.

      The Virginians east of the Shenandoah completely discounted what the minority of their state believed. That was common in many Southern States. A mantra that they used in the reverse as a supporting reason for leaving the Union.

      • haithabu says:

        The Confederate interests in Kentucky were first that it would secede and add its forces to the Southern cause and failing that to remain neutral and serve as a buffer against Northern invasion.

        When Polk invaded Kentucky in late 1861 the battle for either objective had already been lost. The June election had returned a unionist super majority to the state legislature and the Union Army was openly forming military units in the state.

        The secessionist cause in Kentucky had not died a natural death. I believe that the turning point was the formation in May 1861 of the Unionist Kentucky Home Guard which was armed by the Federal government in opposition to the secessionist State Guard. This likely contributed to the collapse in the secessionist vote in the June election by way of “voter suppression” (the election turnout was about half that of previous years).

        I’m not suggesting that Polk should have invaded sooner – at least not openly. I’m suggesting that the Confederacy should have covertly provided manpower by means of out of uniform regulars to the State Guard in order to limit the formation and operation of the Home Guard units. Then the election might have turned out differently and there would have been no need for Polk to invade. As it was, Lincoln played the game more aggressively than they and as a result won the state.

    • Don Herko says:

      Some in the South may have thought Salvery was doomed; however, the institution became so entangled in the economic life of the South, it was not going to be phased out.

      The slaves were seen as an economic asset to be pulled from the Plantation owners only by force.

      • haithabu says:

        I think it likely that the boll weevil would have finished off slavery if nothing else did.

    • Don Herko says:

      Sorry posted last one wrong,

      The Southern States claimed that their voice was being silenced, yet in the two border states (Missouri and Kentucky) they had pro Southern elected governments but a majority of citizens that were pro Union. Niether had an overwehlming majority, but enough of a majority to oust the government in Missouri.

      That the Union Home Guard in Kentucky was a reaction to the Confederate guard is exactly why the attempts of Confederates to move first doomed any hope of keeping Kentucky neutral or get them to side with the South.

      I will not argue that Lincoln played a better political game that Davis. He did it throughout the war.

      • haithabu says:

        I believe that long term neutrality was not an option in Kentucky. Even without outside intervention, the logic of events would eventually have tilted it one way or another, probably to the Union side because they were the stronger party and Kentucky would have occupied an exposed salient as a Confederate state.

        So the Confederate mistake was not that they intervened in Kentucky, but that they did not intervene effectively enough. The State Guard did not have the pro-secession effect it might have had within the state because it suffered a steady hemorrhage of men who went south to enlist. The flow of resources was headed the wrong way.

        With regard to Union support within Kentucky, it is deceptively easy to gauge the level of support for a certain cause in retrospect. As it was the General Assembly declined a convention on secession in December 1860 precisely because they feared at that time that the Confederate cause would prevail in a popular vote.

        Somewhere between December, 1860 and June 1861 the political winds shifted, and as I have suggested, the most likely cause was that the Union side was more effectively supported with direct federal intervention.

  36. Texas Jeff says:

    It’s a cliche to say so, but the reason that history is so interesting is because it so often repeats itself. I pay a lot of attention to the news, read a lot of comments in news articles and in the last several years I have come to a conclusion that I firmly believe: The United States will not exist in its current form in 100 years.

    The same issues that ultimately ripped the country apart in the mid nineteenth century are resurfacing, i.e. the overbearing assertion of federal power on the states and a rising sense of resentment of this interference at the state and local level. I don’t see how to reconcile the fact that the red and blue states have very different expectations regarding the role of government as well as towards social norms, economics, race relations, etc. From a logistical standpoint, it was always unlikely to have a unified democratic government in a country as large as ours given the vast diversity between regions. From a moral standpoint, it’s unethical for either the red or blue factions to obstruct the other’s right to determine the way they want to order and govern their society.

    I hope that this future split is amicable and does not devolve into bloodshed but there is no doubt in my mind that the United States will eventually be broken up into at least two, but more likely 3 or more separate countries.

    • MikeofAges says:

      Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, and those that do are doomed to repeat it anyway.

    • Marky says:

      100 years? That’s an awfully long time in our fast moving world and way too generous of a time frame. The US is too big and diverse to be run so centrally from DC, where the Federal government now micromanages everything down to the local school board. The fissures are beginning to show.

      The reality is that a U.S. president could not recreate today what Lincoln did in the 1860s. In fact, any president today responsible for the death of 3 percent of the population of the U.S. (about 10 million today) would be labeled genocidal and tried for crimes against humanity. No marble temple to sit like Athena in the Parthenon for such a guy.

      So never mind millions or even thousands of casualties, just a few hundred killed before the cameras will suffice for the U.S. to negotiate the secession of any state who so chooses. It may go something like this: “OK, but you pay us amortized over the next 30 years the value of federal installations within the state.”

  37. Marky says:

    The article begins with the incorrect term “civil war,” when in fact it was no such thing.

    A civil war is a conflict between two factions within a nation for control of the government. The Confederate States of America didn’t want control of the United States of America any more than the USA wanted control of England. In both cases it was in fact a war of independence.

    However, victory is written by the victors so no surprise that for propaganda purposes it had to be called a civil war –a squabble between the same peoples– and not a war between two different nations where one invaded and subjugated the other.

    • MikeofAges says:

      A Civil War is generally understood to mean a war between two different factions of the same nation divided by regional, dynastic, political, religious or cultural loyalties. North and South were the same nation prior to secession, which makes the conflict a civil war by most reckonings. The U.S. Army’s official history of the conflict does call it “The War of Secession”.

      • marky says:


        The North and South were both rule by Washington. That doesn’t make them the same nation. Once the South declared their independence and elected a new President and raised it’s own army, they were a separate nation.

        Under your definition we would have to tell the Latvians, Estonians Ukrainians, Russians that they were the same nation because they were under the rule of Moscow and collectively known as the Soviet Union.

        Also under your definitions we would have to call the American war for independence from the British a civil war. After all weren’t the founding fathers the same as the British. They shared the same ethnicity, same lineage, same language, same forefathers, same religion, same appetite for conquest.

        Finally, I’m not referring to what the U.S. Army may or may not call the conflict. I clearly say in the opening sentence I’m referring to the term “civil war” used in the headline and the body of the article we are reading. If the article said “War of Secession” or “Confederate War of Independence” clearly there would be no need for my comment.

    • haithabu says:

      Actually the American war of independence was a civil war in many respects. English speaking Canada was founded by those Americans on the losing side who voted with their feet and went north after the war.

      As of 1812 most of the population of Upper Canada had been born in the 13 colonies, and so a case could be made that the land portion of the war of 1812 was round 2 of the same civil war.

    • Don Herko says:

      In actuality, the War could more correctly called a failed rebellion or insurrection.


      1. Open, armed, and organized resistance to a constituted government.
      2. An act or a show of defiance toward an authority or established convention (American Heritage Dictionary @2000 copyright)


      Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the act or an instance of rebelling against a government in power or the civil authorities; insurgency
      [from Late Latin insurrecti?, from insurgere to rise up] (Collins Englidh Dictionary – c. 2003 Harper Collins)

      I think the term Civil War was and is much more appealling to a healing process that either of the two words above or such names as War of Northern Agression.

      I reference the Founding Legal Documents of our Country the Artitcles of Confederation and the US Constitution that specifically allows admittance into the Union, voluntarily ( US ConArticle IV section 3) and Article XI which states

      Canada acceding to this confederation, and adjoining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States.

      The Union originally designated in the Articles of Confederation Preamble as a perpetual Union, was further refined in the Preamble of the Constitution as a more perfect Union.

      The final words of the Art of Con are reenforcing: “And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.”

      Obviously the Articles were not complete in their ability to support the fledgling country so a better document was needed to more perfectly found the Union.

      In other words, and state or states cannot break the Union because of an outcome of an Election, Presidental decsion, Congressional Law or Judicial Ruling because their are perpetually invested in this Union. That the Southern States did not like the fact that Lincoln was their future President was not cause to fire on a supply ship sent by President Buchanan (Star of the West Jan 9th 1861) ordered by future Confederate General Floyd.

      I can see where you don’t believe in the term Civil War but more correctly this was insurrection. However, as a Historian with a view to National Military Strategy I like the term Civil War because of how that term better encompasses the sectional nature of the rise of the conflict from the beginings of the Nation with the battle over the idea of slavery in a Nation that valued freedom. Through decades of political compromises and deals to push the ultimate decision of the exisitance of slavery to future generations.

      I would be happy to continue to discuss this with you especially in light of the phrase “and not a war between two nations where one invaded and subjugated the other” The word subjugation is facinating.

      Donald G Herko
      LTC (R) US Army
      MA Military Studies

  38. The Col. says:

    I wonder what would’ve happened if the south DID NOT fire on Ft Sumter? You have then just 9 succeeding states. It would have forced the North to become the aggressor (invade Virginia) and in the court of world opinion may have had England’s intervention with the South much sooner. You also need to remember is that it took the North 4 years to finally subdue the South. With European intervention, the South would have forced independance in late 1862.

    • Don Herko says:

      European intervention has always been another source of “monday morning quarterbacking” for some who believed in the ability of the South to win its independence.

      First the South delcares independance and then takes Federal Property. It is a moot point about the actual shooting at Sumpter, because they already fired on the US Supply ship.

      There were three huge issues with European intervention with substansial equipment and men:

      1. Neither the French or English Governments would be successful in providing overt support to the South that, at its core, was a potential nation build on the predication of the ownership of slaves. France abolished slavery originally in 1794 and England with several laws principally 1807 and 1833. Mexico abolished slavery in 1830 which makes the immigration of slave owning, English speaking Protestants into Eastern Texas a facinating discussion for another day.

      2. Many European Countries were still smarting over the Crimean War. England had 22,000 fatalities and France almost 100,000 in what is accepted as, along with the American Civil War, the first modern wars. Despite European criticism of the American Conflict as fought by ametuers, the Crieman War was full of poor decision making, disasters such as the Charge of the Light Brigade, bad logisitcs, poor health care (nursing saw its modern birth in the war as the army medical departments were overwehlmed) and opposition back home.

      England had been burned twice for fighting a war on North America in the past. They did not have the stomach for another. England was dependent on US Crops, but not cotton, it was the food crops of Wheat and Corn that supported the English People. The loss of Southern Cotton was made good by imports from India and Eygpt. Lincoln’s Statue is prominant in the old cotton town of Manchester England as a hero of workers rights over slavery.

      The Trent affair was a major concern that occured in late 1861, but Lincoln skillfully difused it. Again, slavery and crop shortages across Europe led England to the Pragmatic conclusion that was cemented by the Southern loss at Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation all in the fall of 1862.

      3. Expansion of Germany as a world power. England was very concerned about emerging powers in Europe. The Crimean War consumed nearly 500,000 dead among the nations that fought and in the aftermath, Prussia rose to assume the leadership of a new Germany in direct opposition to France for territory around the Globe. The Franco Prussian War in 1870 was inevitable as was German intervention into colonialism up to World War I.

      What seems like an almost certain involvement by the British was never really that close. Even the most overt act by the English, sending of 11,000 troops to Canada in late 1861 and early 1862 was more sabre rattling than actual preparation for combat. Once Union began to string together victories starting with Forts Henry and Donalson, the English could see the SOuth being strangled. Antietam was viewed more as a “Hail Mary” play and the loss cemented the European view that the South was doomed.

  39. Robert says:

    A very interesting read and some very insightful comments as well.

    I’d like to bring up a couple of issues that I did not see raised before:

    1) the initial Southern strategy of fighting a purely defensive war- or, at least, defending its home turf rather than attempting to expand its borders- was actually a very good idea. At no point did the South ever have the resources necessary to conquer the North. It might well have caused the North to suffer a politically unsustainable level of casualties (it nearly did, in fact) by forcing the North to conquer them, the potential result being a peace based on sepratation after a McClellan presidential victory in 1864.

    2) the decision by the North to establish and maintain a blockade of Southern ports was a stroke of genius. While the South was outweighed, to varying degrees, by the North in just about any type of resources you want to name, the South’s deficit in shipbuilding and sailors was perhaps the greatest deficit of them all. The lack of an adequate industrial base meant that the South had to import a sizable percentage of their war material and the blockade reduced that to a trickle by mid-1863. the South turned to ironclads very early on but, again, was hamstrung by it’s lack of iron rolling mills to produce the armored plate and by armories to produce the cannon and ammunition…and the option to import these on the scale necessary just did not exist.

    One point with which I take some exception: that the South lost because its effort was based on an immoral cause (Slavery). While slavery was- and is- indeed immoral, there is no evidence that Lincoln siezed upon that immorality as a causus belli. To the contrary, his initial justification for going to war was the preservation of the Union. There is a quote attributed to Grant in which he says that he would not have put on the uniform had the reason been abolition. Had the North truly been a hotbed of abolition, it seems to me that it would have been foremost mentioned among the justifications for war.

    • Michael says:

      The South lost because its cause was evil. It is as simple as that. God and history were on the side of the North.

      If the South had won, would they still have slavery?

      • Robert says:

        The short reply is, Yes, slavery, to some degree, would have endured, at least temporarily.

        But that is a wholly unsatisfactory reply to a very complex question.

        If the war had ended quickly- say, after First Bull Run- then slavery would have lasted longer because the South would not have suffered the privations of a long war. If they had won later- say, in 1864 or 1865- then its end would have come much sooner, as there were plans to arm slaves by that time because the South was so short of white manpower. In most of these plans, in return for their service, slaves would be manumitted and, in a few, given the right to vote and own property (though not testify in court against whites and other such secondary rights).

        But slavery, in either case, was doomed. The South could not have remained an aristocratic planter’s society indefinitely. Assuming that the rate of American innovation had remained constant, the South’s industrial base would have expanded, and the workers necessary to run the new industries could not have remained totally or even largely uneducated.. Laws against the education of blacks went largely unenforced, and it would have been increasingly difficult to keep an educated race entirely subjugated.

        I side with those who believe that slavery was withering on the vine, and we need not have fought a war that cost the lives of a half million men and women in order to kill it sooner.

    • Don Herko says:

      You are right, Lincoln could not have abolished slavery without the Civil War. he could have gone down in history as another ineffectual President on the mid 19th century and have his name obscurely placed on several public school across the nation.

      But the fact that the Southern States believed he could effect slavery, caused them to leave him off the ballot in Maryland, Viginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. (South Carolina did not have a popular vote at the time). Their arrogance in never willing to accept the outcome of an election, forced the inevitable war in 1861.

      That the 11 states voted to leave the Union and seize federal property (arsonals) left the brand new President two options:

      1. fight to preserve the Union or 2. allow any remaining state at any time leave the Union for whatever reason they would like. Option two in effect means the county would disolve.

      This war had to be fought to preserve the Union and only Lincoln truly understood that. He was able to use the war to right an injustice that few other believed in to include most of his predominent Commanders Grant Sherman.

      If only one face was on Mount Rushmore it should be Lincoln’s

    • haithabu says:

      If the South’s defeat can be attributed to any single thing, I would say that it was by firing on Fort Sumter and giving Lincoln a clear casus belli. Prior to that the preponderance of public opinion in the North even among abolitionists was to “let the erring sisters go”. Immediately afterward the North was filled with war fever.

      Davis & Co. had good strategic reasons to begin hostilities. They were concerned that some of the states which had seceded would either stray back into the Union or go it alone. Creating a clean break would solidify their commitment to the Confederacy and Davis hoped would bring the other hesitating Southern states into the fold. In this he was right, but it was a fatal error nonetheless. Without that slap in the face, as the people of North saw it, I don’t think that Lincoln could have mustered the political will and popular support to invade the South.

      I believe that the basic errors in Confederate strategic thinking were:

      1) Failure to recognize that time was on the side of the Confederacy. The longer it remained seceded, the more secession would be recognized as a fait accompli in the North and become the new status quo, leading to de facto and eventually formal recognition internationally.

      War between the Confederacy and the Union would likely have come sooner or later, over boundary issues if nothing else, but if by then the CSA had achieved recognition as a sovereign state, such a war would have been like any European war, two nations fighting to gain concessions from each other. However, by forcing the pace of events and moving to immediate hostilties, the CSA gave away that advantage and plunged into a fight for its existence.

      2) Failure to recognize that the CSA’s political battle had to be won in the North as well in the South. By attacking Fort Sumter, the CSA galvanized Northern opposition to secession and silenced its sympathizers there.

    • Don Herko says:

      The Firing at Fort Sumpter was the most public example of Confederate States taking federal property.

      The problem you state about Davis holding the coalition together is in part a result of the fact that many in theSouth did not want to leave the Union. Western Virginia, Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, Central Missouri, a good portion of Kentucky were all vast regions that were unrepresented in the election of 1860 (except Missouri). We still do not know what the portion of Southern men would have voted for Lincoln, which would have given us a more accurate picture of support for Lincoln and remaining in the Union. We can only extrapolate data to defend .

      The war and the defense of the Confederacy did push some support from preserving the Union to defend the home state. Again over 100,000 from the 11 Confederate States went to fight for the Union, Deleware (a slave state) had one of the highest per capita representation in the Union Army, Missouri provided over 100,000 men to the Union Army of approx 225,000 men of eligible age ( I have been studying the 1860 census) Kentucky provided over 75,000 men of 180,000 eligible, again Tennessee 33,000, West Virginia alone 32,000 of Virginia’s 1860 population of 196,000.

      Davis was galvenizing support, I think he did understand that the support for leaving the Union was not overwelhming and he needed to controi the message and paint Lincoln as an invader. The relief ships with supplies were prevented by force from getting to Sumpter.

      In reality, we say Davis, but this issue did not happen at Fort Monroe, nor in Florida with the Union Fort Pickens just in South Carolina, where the seperation fever was the greatest and had been for more than a generation. They had threatened during Jackson’s time and pushed again against Lincoln. South Carolina was the only state that did not even have a popular election, instead votes for electors. So the least deomcratic state in the Union, with a deep history in threatening to leave the Union, and some of the wealthiest slave owners in the Country (Wade hampton and his extended family) was the site of the spark of the war. Did Davis control this? Did he benefit ultimately in garnering support?

      I have doubts that Davis was truly a controling strategic thinker as an opposite to Lincoln. He always seemed more comfortable acting and working in the details best left to the Secretary of War or one of his deputies.

      • DallasGeorge says:

        There is a very interesting perspective on Davis in the book, 1858. He spent the summer at the home of New England senator. He had to be in New England because his periodic onsets of herpes ( contracted in Cuba at the age of 20 to 22) required him to stay cool. Back home, the local folks got uneasy at the all the time and attention that he got from his ‘northern friends.’ When he returned home, he increased his advocacy for secession, perhaps to reassure his base supporters. The block asserts that secession was, in part , expedient for Davis’ political reputation.

        I don’t recall if the book indicated whether his severe herpes was publicly known. In some cases, he went blind for at least a week.

      • haithabu says:

        You raise a good question as to whether the Davis cabinet was really in control of events in Charleston. The evidence is mixed. John Minor Botts wrote that,

        “On Wednesday night, the 10th of April, Mr. Roger A.
        Pryor, who was supposed to have been deputed by his co-
        adjutors in Richmond, as otherwise he would scarcely have
        ventured to take such a responsibility upon himself, made a
        speech in Charleston, in which he gave the most solemn as-
        surance and sacred pledges that if they would begin the war
        by firing upon Fort Sumter, the Virginia Convention would
        immediately pass an ordinance of secession, notwithstanding
        the vote that had just been taken, which stood 46 for secession and 95 against it. But upon this assurance from Mr.
        Pryor the state determined to act …..” (The Great Rebellion p. 203)

        It’s not clear to me whether Botts is referring to the state of South Carolina here or the Confederate state. However, we do know that the Davis cabinet met that same day and voted to demand the surrender of Fort Sumter. Once the ultimatum was issued, an attack was inevitable. Even if the immediate decision to attack was made in Charleston, it only hastened things a day or two.

        What I found interesting is the statement that CSA Secretary of State Robert Toombs made in opposition to the motion:

        “”Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet’s nest which extends from mountain to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal.”

        Toombs had been passed over in favour of Davis for the office of CSA president. That raises an interesting question: if Toombs had become president instead of Davis, would the Confederacy be around today?

  40. […] are many, varied, and depend on the particular Southerner. Some of the most obvious are that the South lost the Civil War and — both literally and figuratively — has never been able to recover. Another is that […]

  41. […] lost they rarely include the Western Theater as a major piece of that puzzle. Way back in 1999 American History magazine asked 10 prominent Civil War historians to offer their take on why the South lost. Only […]

  42. steve em says:

    I will make no attempt to conceal my sympathies lie with the Confederacy in most respects. That is in large part due to the fact that it had a devastating effect on my family. The question of whether secession was constitutional or not is a matter of legal interpretation, though it’s also presented on both sides of the issue as Prima Facie yes or no. It is obvious from the very beginnings that most of the states felt they had the right to secede when conditions warrant.
    There is in fact prima facie evidence of that, since even the New England states convened to discuss secession. The ultimate question to me seems to me what warrants such action. It that the Declaration of Independence is not only a eight-man other rights of the oppressed but also a blueprint for revolution when the time demands.
    It is hard to argue that the deep South did not succeed over the issue of slavery when they made it abundantly clear that they did. On the other hand any examination of the order of secession shows that states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky drew up secession documents based upon Lincoln’s decision to use force to maintain the Union.
    Likewise it is impossible for a logical person to ignore that Lincoln sole purpose was the preservation of the Union and not the ending of slavery. It is obvious that he did not like slavery and would prefer its prohibition. It is also obvious that this feeling was generated not out of sympathy with enslaved Negroes as much as his firm belief that man should be rewarded for his labors. He also made abundantly clear that he would like to send all Negroes back to Africa because they are morally and intellectually. Inferior to white people. The evidence for that is indisputable.
    The restriction between the New England states and southern states goes all the way back to the very founding of the colonies. The New England states were founded by Puritans and Virginia and the other southern coastal states were founded by royalists many of which were descendents of peers and their indentured servants who were primarily from northern Britain and Scotland. That cultural and religious divide was never bridged. As more immigrants emerged in the South a very high population of Ulster men and women merged with the descendents of the indentured servants. Though they are commonly referred to as Ulster Scots most of them in fact were from the border regions of Scotland and England and had been displaced from that area to Ulster only a generation or two before.
    A quick look at the surnames shows a dearth of Celtic origins and a large number of common Border names like Johnson, Jackson, Armstrong, Maxwell,Nixon Graham etc.Lincoln had once been a strong proponent of secession, and as a first-term congressman from Illinois, he spoke in a session of the House of Representatives in 1848 and argued that:
    “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.” Lincoln recognized the right of West Virginia to secede but refused to recognize the right of the South to secede. However in the US Constitution Article IV, Section. 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitutions reads: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

    And, of course, the Northern view is wrong. The Constitution of 1789 — a document of delegated powers — does not prohibit secession, and the 9th and 10th Amendments must be interpreted to allow for a constitutional right of secession — to say nothing of the natural right of secession so eloquently described in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence

    President Lincoln, in his Inaugural Address before the war, gave his support to the first 13th amendment pending at that time which would have explicitly protected slavery where it already existed.


    No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

    Two days later, in his First Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln promised to support the amendment even though he believed that the Constitution already prohibited the federal government from interfering with Southern slavery. As he stated:

    I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution . . . Has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose, not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable (emphasis added).

    .Abolitionist Lysander Spooner saw that despite all of the “anti-slavery” rhetoric by Lincoln, Seward, their actions proved to Spooner that these men were all quite” diabolical liars, connivers, and political manipulators.” He excoriated them for believing that they could “ride into power on the two horses of Liberty and Slavery.” In his letter he literally called Seward and all the rest of the Republican cabal “double-faced demagogues.”

    Shortly before the war, the Chicago Daily Times was only one of many newspapers predicting a calamity for federal revenue and business in the North if the South was allowed to secede with its ten percent limit on import taxes which would attract trade, especially from abroad, to the South rather than the North. In an editorial it stated:

    “In one single blow our [Northern] foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade will pass into other hands . . . We should lose our trade with the South, with all of its immense profits. Our manufactories will be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue (ten percent or less), and these results would likely follow.”

    In order to eliminate all political ties, the Northeasterners tried in vain to break the bonds of Union, and the movement lasted until the failed Secessionist Convention in 1814, again. Secessionist Convention convened over the Louisiana purchase and Texas annexation by the United states.The New England secession movement was led by U.S. Senator Timothy Pickering, who was the adjutant general of the Revolutionary Army and served as President George Washington’s secretary of war and secretary of state, the latter position being held under the administration of President John Adams as well. Pickering announced that secession was “the” principle of the American Revolution. “I will rather anticipate a new confederacy,” he declared, “exempt from the corrupt and corrupting influence of the aristocratic Democrats of the South” (Adams, p. 338).

    The State of Connecticut is a FREE SOVEREIGN and INDEPENDENT State; that the United States are a confederacy of States; that we are a confederated and not a consolidated Republic. The Governor of this State is under a high and solemn obligation, “to maintain the lawful rights and privileges thereof, as a sovereign, free and independent State,” as he is “to support the Constitution of the United States,” and the obligation to support the latter imposes an additional obligation to support the former. The building cannot stand, if the pillars upon which it rests, are impaired or destroyed.”

    As the author points out, during the entire New England ordeal, there is virtually no literature to be found that supports the view that the inherent right to secession was non-existent. It was, in fact, really never questioned.Abraham Lincoln famously declared that “the Union is older than the states.” This is, of course, hogwash. The colony of Pennsylvania, for example, was created on March 4, 1681 when King Charles II gave a charter to William Penn. Earlier, a large part of the colony was included in the Virginia colony, chartered in 1606. Lincoln’s argument that the union preceded the states is nonsense.

    On February 5, 1809, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature nullified the embargo act by denouncing it as “unjust, oppressive, unconstitutional. While this State maintains its sovereignty and independence, all the citizens can find protection against outrage and injustice in the strong arm of State government” (James J. Kilpatrick, The Sovereign States, p. 130)A lexis de Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America, “The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the States; in uniting together they have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the states chooses to withdraw from the compact, it would be difficult to disapprove its right of doing so . . . .” The New England states debated the idea of secession during the Hartford Convention of 1814–1815.

    .The New York Tribune wrote on February 5, 1861, that “Nine out of ten people of the North” were opposed to forcing South Carolina to remain in the Union. “The great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration” is “that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed.” Therefore, if the Southern states want to secede, “they have a clear right to do so.” The New York Times concurred on March 21, 1861 by writing, “There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go” (emphasis in original). The Hartford Daily Courant wrote on April 12, 1861, that “Public opinion in the North seems to be gradually settling down in favor of recognition of the New Confederacy by the Federal Government.”

    His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz. New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to be free, sovereign and independent States; and he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the Government, proprietory and territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof. (“Treaty with Great Britain,” in Charles Eliot, Ed., The Harvard Classics, vol. 43, American Historical Documents, p. 175).

    During the debates of the federal constitution delegates of the states made it plain that secession was their right.Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, authors of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 that enunciated the doctrine of nullification. St. George Tucker, a respected jurist in the early republic era, wrote in 1803:

    And since the seceding states, by establishing a new constitution and form of federal government among themselves, without the consent of the rest, have shown that they consider the right to do so whenever the occasion may, in their opinion require it, we may infer that the right has not been diminished by any new compact which they may since have entered into, since none could be more solemn or explicit than the first, nor more binding upon the contracting parties
    We, the delegates of the people of Virginia . . . Do, in the name and behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them at their will . . .

    : “We, the delegates of the people of New York . . . Do declare and make known that the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whenever it shall become necessary to their happiness . . .”

    N: “We, the delegates of the people of Rhode Island and Plantations, duly elected . . . Do declare and make known . . . That the powers of government may be resumed by the people whenever it shall become necessary to their happiness . . .”

    Hamilton in Federalist Papers 6 predicted that disunion would lead to war, as occurred constantly in continental Europe.

    A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously doubt that, if these States should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.
    President Andrew Jackson, in his Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, made the case for the perpetuity of the Union while also contrasting the differences between “revolution” and “secession”:[32]
    But each State having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure.[33
    The argument about the whiskey rebellion is entirely disingenuous because the whiskey rebellion it not involve the assembly of duly elected representatives of the state that under the Constitution of that state to decide on succession.

  43. steve em says:

    Any defense of the actions of Gen. Sherman or Gen. Sheridan as merely necessary war measures DO not hold up to rational scrutiny. First all medicine and food sent to the South was considered contraband and therefore Southern civilians as well as Confederate soldiers were denied such essentials as quinine and morphine not to mention the effects of starvation and lack of shelter brought on by the scorched-earth policy of both generals.
    50,000 Southern civilians died in the war given the southern population at the time that would be equivalent to 2 million people in our population. That civilians were targeted for reprisals of Confederate activity is well documented. Sherman himself ordered his subordinates on several occasions to round up civilians and shoot a few in retaliation for Confederate snipers. The letters of federal soldiers themselves reveal a brutal campaign against Southern civilians.
    Shermans order to General Louis D. Watkins: “Send over about Fairmount and Adairsville [Georgia], burn ten or twelve houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random, and let it be known that it will be repeated every time a train is fired upon ….”
    In 1862 Sherman was having difficulty subduing Confederate sharpshooters who were harassing federal gunboats on the Mississippi River near Memphis. He then adopted the theory of “collective responsibility” to “justify” attacking innocent civilians in retaliation for such attacks
    . He burned the entire town of Randolph, Tennessee, to the ground. He also began taking civilian hostages and either trading them for federal prisoners of war or executing them.
    Jackson and Meridian, Mississippi, were also burned to the ground by Sherman’s troops even though there was no Confederate army there to oppose them. After the burnings his soldiers sacked the town, stealing anything of value and destroying the rest. As Sherman biographer John Marzalek writes, his soldiers “entered residences, appropriating whatever appeared to be of value . . . those articles which they could not carry they broke.”As Mark Grimsley In His Sherman and Total War describes it,
    “With the utter disregard for blacks that was the norm among Union troops, the soldiers ransacked the slave cabins, taking whatever they liked.” A routine procedure would be to hang a slave by his neck until he told federal soldiers where the plantation owners’ valuables were hidden.
    General Philip Sheridan is another likewise attacked defenseless civilians. After the Confederate army had finally evacuated the Shenandoah Valley in the autumn of 1864 Sheridan’s 35,000 infantry troops essentially burned the entire valley to the ground. As Sheridan described it in a letter to General Grant, in the first few days he “destroyed over 2200 barns . . . over 70 mills . . . have driven in front of the army over 4000 head of stock, and have killed . . . not less than 3000 sheep. . . . Tomorrow I will continue the destruction.”
    letters home Sheridan’s troops described themselves as “barn burners” and “destroyers of homes.”
    One soldier wrote home that he had personally set 60 private homes on fire and opined that “it was a hard looking sight to see the women and children turned out of doors at this season of the year.” A Sergeant William T. Patterson wrote that “the whole country around is wrapped in flames, the heavens are aglow with the light thereof . . . such mourning, such lamentations, such crying and pleading for mercy [by defenseless women]… I never saw or want to see again.”
    Better example what Sherman’s orders to burn three Confederate Holmes because Confederates “had murdered Sedgwick, Commander Union VI Corps. In fact the general was killed by a sniper when he stepped into open range admonishing the cowardice of federal soldiers were keeping low and avoiding Confederate fire “”Why they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance!”– He told them immediately prior to his death due to confederate riflefire, Spotsylvania, VA, 5/9/1864.All of the above mentioned actions would be be considered war crimes,according to the Geneva Convention.
    Sherman openly boasted of the distruction of southern cities and literally reveled in civilian suffering. Sheridan likewise left a civilian population in desperate situation lacking food and shelter. Beside the same individuals that practiced the genocide of the Plains Indians showing the same lack of human feeling or remorse.1880s, what Sherman sometimes referred to as “the final solution of the Indian problem,” which he defined as killing hostile Indians and segregating their pauperized survivors in remote places . . . .Whihc as he wrote to Grant was “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children.” Writing two days later to Michael Fellman, Citizen Sherman .
    Sherman issued the following order to his troops at the beginning of the Indian Wars: “During an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance is made, death must be meted out ”
    if this were not enough Sheridan served as an advisor to the Prussians during the Franco Prussian War, his friend Sherman advised Bismarck to apply the same scorched-earth policy to France as he did to Atlanta and the South.
    I do not find any moral superiority or either cause my sympathies entirely lie with the thousands of American soldiers on both sides died and civilians in the South as well both black and white. Freeing the slaves and enslaving free, states rights and human rights and only be seen as hypocrisy meeting hypocrisy.

    • Don Herko says:

      There was not rampent starvation throughout the South, the problem was distribution. As a retired Army Logistician, I have studied it. Richmond had become one of the larger cities in the South. It did not however surpass New Orleans (the largest city in the pre war southern 11 states) which did not suffer from starvation due to the bockade. New Orleans was captured sooner, but the surrounding region produced more food than the surrounding region of Richmond with the additional luxury of having the Mississippi river bring food stuffs for trade both domestically and internationally. Richmond was the supply center that supported the Army of Northern Virginia. The over-taxed rail system between Virginia and the rest of the South just could not compete with the demands of the citizen of the city, the new Confederate Central govenrment with the 1000’s of workers and families, the 60,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army that occupied Richmond itself and the Union Prisoners held in Richmond area prisons. Now add to the dilemma rampent inflation caused by a government that authorized each state to print its own money. It was a reciepe for disaster that culminated in the food shortages and extreme prices for food stuffs.

      Sherman’s march itself is an excellent example of logistics. He planned it along routes where the most abundant food crops were. He knew he needed to move quickly and not stop for any length of time as his Army would quickly consume all resources in an area. He also understood near the Georiga Coast, the crops became less abundant and unable to support his Army for any length of time at all. No look at the Richmond area, it was not possible for this region to fully support it’s population plus twice again that number in soldiers, government workers and prisoners with a rail system that did not even have a single gauge running between the states.

      I think you are mixing up references and not sure if you have many of them correct. Sherman did not punish anyone after the death of Sedgewick

      “Better example what Sherman’s orders to burn three Confederate Holmes because Confederates “had murdered Sedgwick, Commander Union VI Corps. In fact the general was killed by a sniper when he stepped…”

      This example is a very poor mangling of historical facts. Makes me question some of your other undocumented quotes and references as well as the context of those you do site. Meade was Sedgewick’s superior Officer and Grant was Meade’s. Grant was near tears as the body came by. Likewise, Sherman wept when McPhearson’s (sic) body was brought to him near Atlanta and no reprisals were ever attributed to the McPheason incident. The US Army Fort in Atlanta does break with tradition and bear the name of a falled Northern General deep where Forts were named almost exclusively for Confederate Heroes: Lee, Pickett, Hill, Bragg, Benning, Sam Houston, Hood, AP Hill, Polk.

      Sherman did not order wholesale destruction of private propety, and having done my fair share of marching I will tell you that carrying extra dead weight in a sack for 10-20 miles a day is not a common practice. Sherman’s men marched from Atlanta Georgia, to Savannah to Columbia to Washington DC. Marched, the regiment had a wagon baggage was sent home from Atlanta, and the postal system did not work between the opposing forces. His Army received no mail until four days after arriving in Savannah.

      Incidents did happen, but not widespread rampent crimes as you infer.

      Sherman did not boast of burning multiple cities, Only two cities burned during his 64 and 65 campaigns and he went to his grave agruing that Hampton started the fires in Columbia SC to keep bridges and supplies from falling into Enemy (Union) hands. Sherman is most probably cuplable for not reacting vigorously enough to stop the fires once started. He graciously accepted Savannah’s surrender and did nothing to the beautiful city. I recommend a visit, the old part of town near the waterfront is an excellent example of colonial period architecture – amazing city. Sherman also did not aim his forces towards Charleston SC to punish it for starting the war. Charleston also is a beautiful city with its old charm – and its reminders of slavery. Some of the old slave market building survived to now support some of the downtown restaurant district. Sherman was on the most direct path to Grant to cut off Lee’s escape route into Western Virgina and beyond.

      I can’t agree with you premise that both sides were equally cupable. I can say war does horrible things to men and in any war the enemy is dehumanized to a point that shooting another man is an acceptable form of behavior. I never shot anoyone in Iraq, but I did dehumanize thaose that shot at me. The American Civil War was the first war where accounts of all the participants have survived and not just that of a King or a General. The value of that cannot be measured. Raw emotion of men ordered to kill fellow men. The glorification of war in 1861 tarnished by the reality of five years of conflict and death. Even today we only see the physical scars of soldiers returning from the Middle East. Look at photos of returning vets from the Civil War. The missing limbs, the vacant stares, the susbstance abuse. Lee did not turn grey from the fun he had, the war aged him – ravished his body. America ignored the problem of slavery for 80 years, pushing the issue down the road to its posterity. One man had the courage to solve the problem for us all and he was shot in the head for it.

      • STEVE EM says:

        Someone must remember the bragging words of Thomas Ward Osborn, a Union Officer who served with Sherman and stated that “The city is built entirely of wood and is in the most excellent condition to burn. The space on fire by midnight had housed thirty-five thousand people. The flames rolled and heaved like waves of the ocean. The scene is splendid, magnificently grand; the scene of pillaging, the suffering and terror of the citizens and of our frantic and drunken soldiers.”
        Erman, in Milledgeville, Georgia, issued Special Order no. 127, “In caseof…destruction (of bridges) by the enemy,…the commanding officer…on the spot will deal harshly with the inhabitants nearby….Should the enemy burn forage and corn on our route, houses, barns, and cotton-gins must also be burned to keep them company.”

        General Howard reported to Sherman, “We have found the country full of provisions and forage….Quite a number of private dwellings…have been destroyed by fire…; also, many instances of the most inexcusable and wanton acts, such as the breaking open of trunks, taking of silver pate, etc.”
        Sherman reported to Grant, “The whole United States…would rejoice to have this army turned loose on South Carolina to devastate that State, in the manner we have done inGeorgia.”

        On December 22 in Savannah, Georgia, Sherman advised Grant, “We are in possession of Savannah and all its forts….I could go on and smash South Carolina all to pieces.” On December 24 Sherman wrote Halleck, “The truth is the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina.”

        Rigadier General Edward M. McCook, First Cavalry Division of Cavalry Corps, atCalhoun, Georgia, on October 30, 1864, reported to Sherman, “My men killed some of those fellows two or three days since, and I had their houses burned….I will carry out your instructions thoroughly and leave the country east of the road uninhabitable.”

        General Sherman also wrote to U.S. Brigadier General Louis Douglass Watkins at Calhoun, Georgia, on Oct. 29, 1864: “Can you not send over to Fairmount and Adairsville, burn 10 or 12 houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random and let them know it will be repeated every time a train is fired upon from Resaca to Kingston.”

        sHERMAN After willfully destroying Columbia, Sherman then tried to deflect responsibility onto the Confederates, claiming they set bales of cotton afire, destroying their own capital city at the orders of Confederate Lt. General Wade Hampton III. Yet the last Confederate troops to leave the city insisted that they were given strict orders from Hampton that no cotton was to be fired.

        Sherman later recanted this allegation. In his Memoirs, Volume 11, page 287, he writes, “In my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion a braggart and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina.”

        Two years later commander of the US 15th Corps, General Howard, also admitted to this heinous act. He openly admitted that, “It is useless to deny that our troops burnt Columbia, for I saw them in the act.”
        Eneral Sherman also issued the following military order at Big Shanty, Georgia (presently Kennesaw) on June 23, 1864: “If torpedoes (mines) are found in thepossession of an enemy to our rear, you may cause them to be put on the ground and tested by a wagon load of prisoners, or if need be a citizen implicated in their use. In like manner, if a torpedo is suspected on any part of the road, order the point to be tested by a carload of prisoners, or by citizens implicated, drawn by a long rope.”

        “If you entertain a bare suspicion against any family, send it to the North. Any loafer or suspicious person seen at any time should be imprisoned and sent off. If guerrillas trouble the road or wires they should be shot without mercy.”
        Erman, in Milledgeville, Georgia, issued Special Order no. 127, “In caseof…destruction (of bridges) by the enemy,…the commanding officer…on the spot will deal harshly with the inhabitants nearby….Should the enemy burn forage and corn on our route, houses, barns, and cotton-gins must also be burned to keep them company.”
        Sherman reported to Grant, “The whole United States…would rejoice to have this army turned loose on South Carolina to devastate that State, in the manner we have done inGeorgia.”
        commissary at Fort Gibson reports about 20,000 people, mostly refugees and Indians, on the verge of starvation. It cannot be expected that the army will supply these people. Please call the attention of the Department of the Interior to this matter. The case demands immediate attention while the Arkansas is navigable.

        “It is a common, an e very-day sight in Randolph County, to see women and children, most of whom were formerly in good circumstances, begging for bread from door to door. They must have immediate help, or perish. Fifteen hundred families, embracing five thousand persons, are in need of immediate aid.”

        “This was in January, 1866. The destitution here described was not confined to a portion of the country, nor was it a new thing. In 1863, the shortness of the crops, the depreciation of the currency, and the consequent high prices of provisions, produced a famine among the poorer classes. The families of soldiers, fighting the battles of a confederacy which paid them in worthless paper, were left to suffer the extremes of want, . In Mobile there were insurrections of women, driven by starvation to acts of public violence.”
        “The Savannah (Georgia) Campaign. No. 4.–Reports of Capt. Orlando M. Poe”, Official Records (War of the Rebellion)–SERIES I–VOLUME XLIV [S# 92] NOVEMBER 15-DECEMBER 21, 1864
        “The Savannah (Georgia) Campaign. No. 7.–Report of Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard”, Official Records (War of the Rebellion)–SERIES I–VOLUME XLIV [S# 92] NOVEMBER 15-DECEMBER 21, 1864
        “The Savannah (Georgia) Campaign. No. 1.–Reports of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman”, Official Records (War of the Rebellion)–SERIES I–VOLUME XLIV [S# 92] NOVEMBER 15-DECEMBER 21, 1864
        Official Records (War of the Rebellion)– SERIES I–VOLUME XV [S# 21] Union Correspondence, Orders, And Returns Relating To Operations In West Florida, Southern Alabama, Southern Mississippi, And Louisiana From May 12, 1862, To May 14, 1863: And In Texas, New Mexico, And Arizona From September 20, 1862, To May 14, 1863.–#2
        Confederate Military History, Vol. 5 CHAPTER XXI
        Confederate Military History, Vol. 6 CHAPTER XVII
        “History Of The Army Of The Cumberland”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. I. Richmond, Virginia, June, 1876. No. 6
        “Editorial Paragraphs”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. II. Richmond, Virginia, July, 1876. No. 1.
        “Diary Of Captain Robert E. Park, Twelfth Alabama Regiment”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. III. Richmond, Virginia, February, 1877. No. 2.
        “The Burning of Columbia, South Carolina — Report of the Committee of Citizens Appointed to Collect Testimony”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. VIII Richmond, Va., May, 1880. No. 5
        “Sherman’s March To The Sea, As Seen By A Northern Soldier”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. X. Richmond, Va., August and Sept, 1882. Nos. 8-9
        “General Sherman’s March from Atlanta to the Coast — Address Before the Survivors’ Association of Augusta, Ga”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Volume XII. July-August-September. Nos. 7, 8, 9, April 20th, 1884

        “How would you like it, what do you think, to have troops passing your house constantly … Ransacking and plundering and carrying off everything that could be of any use to them? There is considerable excitement in foraging, but it is [a] disagreeable business in some respects to go into people’s houses and take their provisions and have the women begging and entreating you to leave a little when you are necessitated to take all. But I feel some degree of consolation in the knowledge I have that I never went beyond my duty to pillage.”
        My Dear Wife:
        “I have no time for particulars. We have had a glorious time in this State, Unrestricted license to burn and plunder was the order of the day. The chivalry have been stripped of most of their valuables. Gold watches, silver pitchers, cups, spoons, forks, &c., &c., are as common in camp as blackberries. The terms of plunder are as follows: The valuables procured are estimated by companies. Each company is required to exhibit the result of its operations at any given place. One-fifth and first choice falls to the commander-in-chief and staff, one-fifth to corps commander and staff, one-fifth to field officers, two-fifths to the company. Officers are not allowed to join in these expeditions, unless disguised as privates. One of our corps commanders borrowed a rough suit of clothes from one of my men, and was successful in his place. He got a large quantity of silver (among other things an old milk pitcher), and a very fine gold watch from a Mr. DeSaussure, of this place (Columbia). DeSaussure is one of the F. F. V.’s of South Carolina, and was made to fork out liberally.

        Officers over the rank of captain are not made to put their plunder in the estimate for general distribution. This is very unfair, and for that reason, in order to protect themselves, the subordinate officers and privates keep everything back that they can carry about their persons, such as rings, earrings, breastpins, &c., &c., of which, if I live to get home, I have a quart. I am not joking. I have at least a quart of jewelry for you and all the girls, and some No. 1 diamond pins and rings among them. General Sherman has gold and silver enough to start a bank. His share in gold watches and chains alone at Columbia was two hundred and seventy-five.

        “But I said I could not go into particulars. All the general officers, and many besides, have valuables of every description, down to ladies’ pocket handkerchiefs. I have my share of them, too.
        “We took gold and silver enough from the damned rebels to have redeemed their infernal currency twice over. * * * I wish all the jewelry this army has could be carried to the Old Bay State. It would deck her out in glorious style; but, alas! It will be scattered all over the North and Middle States.
        “The damned (n’ERS), as a general thing, preferred to stay at home, particularly after they found out that we wanted only the able-bodied men, and, to tell the truth, the youngest and best-looking women. Sometimes we took them off by way of repaying influential secessionists. But a part of these we soon managed to lose, sometimes in crossing rivers, sometimes in other ways. I shall write you again from Wilmington, Goldsboro, or some other place in North Carolina. The order to march has arrived, and I must close hurriedly.
        “Love to grandmother and Aunt Charlotte. Take care of yourself and the children. Don’t show this letter out of the family.

        “Your affectionate husband, “THOMAS J. MYERS,”Lieutenant, &c.
        N the 18th December, 1864, General H. W. Halleck, major-general and chief-of-staff of the armies of the United States, wrote Sherman as follows:

        “Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the place may be destroyed, and if a little salt should be thrown upon its site, it may prevent the future growth of nullification and secession.”
        To this suggestion from this high source to commit murder, arson and robbery, and pretend it was by accident, Sherman replied on December 24, 1664, as follows:

        “I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think that ‘salt’ will be necessary. When I move the Fifteenth corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will naturally bring them into Charleston first, and if you have watched the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally do their work pretty well; the truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble for her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her. I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt if we shall spare the public buildings there, as we did at Milledgeville.” (See 2 Sherman’s Memoirs, pages 223, 227-8.)

      • Don Herko says:

        MAJ Osborn served in the Army of the Potomac with the 11th Corps until his unit’s transfer to Chatanooga in the fall of 1863. I assume the quote may be about Atlanta but the population was 9,554 in 1860 and 21,789 in 1870. Columbia SC had a population of 3,300 in 1860. As a matter of fact (http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0027/tab09.txt) lists only 4 cities that large in Confederate States (New Orleans 6th, Charleston 22nd, Richmond 25th and Mobile 27th) (three border state cities: St Louis, Lousiville and Baltimore) The quote was a rememberance clouded by time.

        The next two citations speak of war, Confederate forces destroying items of need for the Union Forces Union forces dealing with irregular warfare. According the the Geneva Convention today, un-uniformed non regular forces are not accorded the same treatment as regular combat forces.

        South Carolina did infact start the movement for leaving the Union, during Jackson’s Presidency, and he sent troops to deal with them harshly. Decades later, and over 100,000 casualties, it was just human nature to want to punish those that started the war. Look at internment camps in California.

        Sherman and Hampton argued until death over who was to blame for the fires in Columbia. Sherman did little to stop the fires, Hampton’s actions like Wheeler before him was to stop Sherman by destroying infrastructure. It is quite possible these actions started the fires in Columbia. To pin them categorically to one side is short sided.

        As for the land torpedos or land mines. Sherman was not going to risk the lives of his men against a tactic that has been universally deplored. Having been in a convoy that was targeted by an IED on a busy highway in downtown Baghdad, those items kill indescriminately, so why should the killing be limited to Union Soldiers.

        You spend most of your post jumping from fact to fact that range from Charlston SC to Arkansas and from 1862 to 1866 and beyond. We can spend eternity debating the merits of the quotes of an individual soldier or leader from their perspective clouded by time. Howard and several of his men truly belived in supporting the freedom of African Americans – He grew to resent those rich plantation owners of South Carolina from preventing his efforts in the Freeman’s department. Each man’s quotes are efforts to bloster, edit, refine, defend or glorify his own efforts. The job of historians is to piece these together to better understand what actually happened.

        Lincoln was prosecuting a war to ensure the survival of the Union. If the South wins, North America would mirror Europe with literally dozens of small nation states, some completely land-locked by the begining of the 20th century with no power to help stem the tide of global war in 1916.

        Sherman’s actions while brutal by some, anticdotally horrible by a few hastened the end of a war that was over by 1864. Sometimes only a dose of reality is needed for the obvious to become visable. Davis refused to acknowledge the obvious. As do many in the South.

  44. Michael says:

    You sound like the Japanese complaining about Hiroshima or the Germans complaining about Dresden. You sound like a moral relativist.

    Face facts — the South was very, very evil and it had to lose. It had to be crushed. Sherman and Sheridan did what they should have done. Who are you to second guess the military?

    Collateral damage is unfortunate but normal.

  45. steve em says:

    collateral damage is unfortunate but normal.”
    Thank you Lt Calley..

    What absolute and ridiculous nonsense. Very, very, evil that is beyond stupid.You say nothing defend no position just toss out ad hominems and thing that is an argument. By your logic the extermination of the Lakota was justified. After all they were very very evil. Are you an expert on the ontology of evil,or are you perhaps a bit presumptuous d Do not forget Lincolns execution of the Mankato Sioux.
    . Who are you to second guess the military? I dont know maybe a judge ate Hague someone who was a soldier that had to follow the uniform code of military Justice..
    Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions collective punishments are a war crime. By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and World War II. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that took place there. Additional concern also addressed the United States’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, in turn, caused death and disease to millions[citation needed] of Japanese civilians as well as their decedents[sic][citation needed]. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resort to “intimidatory measures to terrorize the population” in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices “strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.”
    combatants who are hors de combat (out of the fight) due to wounds, detention, or any other cause shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, with the following prohibitions: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
    Every soldier Marine Airman and Sailor is taught this. It is his or her personal responsibility to adherecompliance with the LOAC.

    Distinction. Distinction means discriminating between lawful combatant targets and noncombatant targets such as civilians, civilian property, POWs, and wounded personnel who are out of combat. The central idea of distinction is to only engage valid military targets. An indiscriminate attack is one that strikes military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. Distinction requires defenders to separate military objects from civilian objects to the maximum extent feasible. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to locate a hospital or POW camp next to an ammunition factory.


    • frobisher says:

      Slavery was “very, very evil.” The secession ordinances of virtually every state that seceded state the defense of slavery above “states’ rights” as the their reasons for acting.

  46. steve em says:

    Lincoln was prosecuting a war to ensure the survival of the Union. If the South wins, North America would mirror Europe with literally dozens of small nation states, some completely land-locked by the begining of the 20th century with no power to help stem the tide of global war in 1916

    Then we would not be an emprie and stride the globe like a behemoth with a huge standing army.IfWE would actually be a jeffersonian democracy instead of a Corporate Plutocracy If Lincoln was right in protecting the Union then so was George the IVth. Tibet by your logic hould be Shermaznized as should Checny and taiwan. We should have stayed out WWI. the War to end wars. I do not think th eCivil war should have been fought because it could not be won conventionally. I would have waged a camaign of terror and arson with select Units until the Union had enough. kInd of like we did against the Indians and Phillipine insurrection.Only Boston and Philadephia burn them like Atlanta.

    • Don Herko says:

      As a benevolent Super Power, unlike any other in the history of the world, for 100 years we have been involved in wars and only asked for enough land to bury our dead.

      That is another legacy of Lincoln, on the deck of that ship with Grant, Lincoln and Porter, he directed his senior Commanders to welcome the Southern States back into the Union. He walked the streets of Richmond and welcomed former slaves to the Union as equals, begging them not to bow to him. That is not a legacy of a King ordained by God. That is leadership, we expect from every President.

      You second paragraph is so distorted I cannot make any sense of it good luck to you sir.

  47. steve em says:

    Davis was a horses ass of course and Sherman was a war criminal and would been if he had not been in the Civil war.Col’s always love war can not get enough I got more than my share as a mighty lance cpl.I was in a War we could not win but it sure was good for the military industrial complex., Dow made a mint of off napalm.

  48. SecondString says:

    I spent most of my life being thankful that the Union won the war, since it held the states together and allowed for the the growth of the most free and prosperous nation on earth. However, with the over-reaching, over taxing, inefficient, corrupt imperial federal government we now have to live under, I find myself wondering if it would not have been better the other way.

  49. Richard says:

    My sympathies are with the North (although my ancestors fought for the South, mostly), but the reason the South lost the war has nothing to do with right, wrong, virtue, states rights, confederations vs. nations, or any of that. The South lost the war when it failed to use its early military advantage (the South had a military tradition and many military schools to support it) and invade the North. The capture of Washington, assumption of Maryland and other border states into the Confederacy, and martial success would have given the North pause. That pause may have led to an accommodation between the USA and CSA. Many virtuous men have fallen with bullets through their skulls. War is the true realpolitik.

    • Don Herko says:

      They had absolutly no infrastructure to execute the war. Having a strong militia tradition in Virginia does not compensate for little to no militia tradition in Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida etc. The Military tradition and Military prep schools idea is myopic to Virginia, which unfortunatly dominates popular views of the time.

      The most famous current Southern Military schools, Citadel (founded 1842), VMI (1839), VA Tech (1872), Texas A&M (1866 or 1871), North Georgia (1873) There is references to a school in Mississippi and a school in Louisiana first led by William T Sherman just before the war broke out. The graduates from VMI and the Citadel made an impact on the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at the lower level giving units from Virginia and the Carolinas a cadre of trained and drill junior leaders.

      No Officer on active duty besides Winfield Scott and Albert Johnston led a force larger than a regiment so the practicality of an Southern Officer mustering a force large enough to move on DC before 1862 is out of the question.

      The thought that a government that began it’s existance in the Spring of 1861 could support a field army operating in Northern Virginia was completely out of the question. The Union General Staff during the Civil War never gets it due credit. Two men in particular deserve great credit: Herman Haupt the chief of the Union Rail system and Montgomery Meigs the Quartermaster General. Meigs is credited with personally managing the entire supply system for the Union cause estimated at 1.5 billion dollars and is also credited with tracking every cent.

      The Confederacy had no such men running their strategic war efforts.

      • Richard says:

        They needed no military infrastructure, as you say, in the earliest weeks of the war. There were no Federal troops to oppose them and pro-Southern riots and activity in Maryland and sympathy in the other three slave-owning border states. A bold move by Confederate militia (which is as good as it gets when there is no one opposing you) to take Washington and influence those states would have shifted hundreds of thousands of soldiers from north to south, brought their industry and wealth into the Confederacy, and made long-term war a much more costly venture for the USA.

        As for the military acumen of the south, it was part of the culture of the cavaliers. In the north, no.

      • Don Herko says:

        The beginning weeks of the war were chaotic, but there were Federal Troops available, but not Confederate Militia.

        Montgomery Alabama was the first Confederate Capital, Jan 1861. The Confederates fired on Sumpter on April 11th. Richmond was not selected until May and Davis Arrived on the 29th of May. There was not an organization to carry out such a plan. There were rioters in Baltimore, but Union troops put that down with troops arriving in Baltimore April 19th. This was two days after Virginia voted to leave the Union. By the end of April many regiments had arrived in DC. Bolstered by the US War Department that remained intact, it made for an adventurous time but no real practical danger. Virginia did not have weapons, uniforms, artillery, horses, wagons, ammunition, medical supplies, a commander or money to attempt such an excursion. Even in the 1860s, there is a machinery for a government, any government to appropriate and execute a budget for military operations.

        Of the four border states, Deleware sent more men per capita than any other state. The other three sent more men to Union Armies than Sourthern Armies. Missouri kicked out its pro-Southern Government. Missouri founded as a slave state did not have the climate and river system to support large plantations and functioned as a slave state in name only. Aside from a few plantations near the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the state was a small family farm state and many of the pro-slavery fire eaters went to Kansas and diluted that potential pool duing the 1850s.

        Kentucky wanted to remain Neutral and was forced into the Northern Camp by an invasion of a Southern Army led by General Polk. That invasion back-fired. The Continental and later US Federal Government had fled a physical capital several times, but not once did it end hostilities.

        Virginia had problems with keeping all its counties in line. Almost 1/3 of the counties and population left Virginia to form the Union State of West Virginia. They began meeting in May of 1861 to discuss rejoining the Union after less than four weeks after the state of Virginia left the Union.

        Even after the victory at Bull Run, the Confederate Army, trained for months under decent leaders was in no shape to execute an offensive operation. McDowell’s Army did not do well in its first offenisve operation either. Again the movement of massed formations was not taught. The US did not have a senior tactics school like most European Powers did.

        For all the natural abilities of men like Hampton and Forrest, with no formal training, they both required some time to develop leadership skills of moving large forces. Forrest never commanded more than 12,000 which was the same size as the invasion force under Scott. He did not have that many until near the end of the war or three years of combat.

        Finally, more than 2/3 of current and former West Point cadets remained in the Union, providing the back bone of the Federal Army.

  50. Celie says:

    The South lost the war because the Southern people eventually figured out the huge disconnect between their formidable propaganda machine and the dismal reality of their war machine. Brave soldiers can’t compensate for incompetent secretaries of war, mediocre generals, unrealistic objectives and overall poor logistics

  51. Richard says:

    My, Don Herko, you are heavily engaged here, as they say. Opinions are shooting past you left and right.

    I will stand with my previous statement that the war could have been won by the Confederacy in the early days of the conflict. Lincoln needed to galvanize his nation and that took time. (“Where are they? Are they coming?”) There were few Federal troops in the vicinity of Washington D.C., the capitol was (is) situated in the middle of the South, and opportunities presented themselves thereby. I agree, the CSA may have driven the border states northward by overt action, but they went north anyway, some after coercive action by either side. Jefferson Davis’s decision to fight a defensive war also cost the CSA much of its offensive punch. The key was Washington, at least before the build-up of the Federal army. Imagine a CSA with its capitol in the then domeless capitol building.

    You keep dodging those opinions, Don, and keep your head down, d’ya hear? I enjoy your commentary.

    • Don Herko says:


      I am dodging opinions and staying with facts, facts as they stood in the Spring of 1861. The opinions you aspouse are fun to think about if you are so inclined, but they have no basis in reality.

      There was no Confederate militia capable of moving on Washington DC in the Spring of 1861. There were more that 10,000 men in DC before the Confederate Capital moved to Richmond. Were they top notch, no, but no better or worse than what the Confederates could muster. Winfield Scott was still the General in Chief and would have been more than capable of designing a defense to protect the capital. The intital 75K troops were streaming into DC by train moving infinately fasted than troops that could be moved by the non-existant Confederate rail system.

      Finally, the idea that a city, any city was the key to victory has been folly for Generals for eons. The Crusaders wanted to capture the Holy city of Jerusalem, not defeating the Muslims just capturing a city. Napoleon and Hitler both viewed Moscow as the key to those wars. Hilter thought the capture of Paris would end French resistance. On to Richmond was the battle cry for several failed Union Commanders.

      It was not the capture of Vicksburg, but the capture of the Army that turned the tide in the West. Pemberton’s 30K man force just melted away after that battle most never returned after parole. It was not just a defeat but a removal of a strategic force that Davis could not replace. Grant without an opposing force could move in any direction Lincoln desired. That he moved to Chatanooga and turned the tide on that battle sealed the fate of the Confederacy.

      Mr Richard you continue to dream of a force that did not exist to execute a plan that could not have occured, not hard to dodge when you are shooting blanks.

      • Gerald Swick says:

        Apart from the small number of (untrained) men available, Virginia’s arsenals were also lacking in the spring of 1861, as were most other states’ arsenals. This is from “An Omen at Philippi, the First Battle of the Civil War,” America’s Civil War magazine: “The arsenal at Richmond had just 9,363 firearms, 6,700 of which were obsolete flintlock muskets and pistols.” Reports sent to Robert E. Lee about the arsenals can be found in the Official Record of the Rebellion.

      • Richard says:

        Discussing anything with a true believer is a waste of time.

        Vicksburg, by the way, was a strategic victory depriving the CSA of supplies and succor from Texas and Arkansas. As long as the Union controlled that river, the CSA was split in half. Some of the soldiers paroled there by Grant were captured again later by the Union, thus contributing to the decision not to parole prisoners of war.

        Blanks indeed! Such arrogance. Somewhat like that of the Confederacy itself.

  52. Don Herko says:

    I do believe in facts.

    Once Grant captured Vicksburg and the Army holding that city, the river was opened for Union travel. No Confederate stronghold controled the river. Union commerce could flow without major impediment. It was not that the South could not have pushed supplies across the river, the Union controled the natural crossing points and those on the West just felt abandoned by Richmond.

    It was the psychological effect of the capture on that army that most felt abandoned by the Confederate Government. Some did recover to fight again, but most went to their homes never to return. A long recovery was required from near starvation and for those that lived away from major fighting did not return to the ranks. Louisian, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas vets generally had enough. Not all but most, why fight for a government that did nothing to keep Vicksburg from falling.

    There was not another instance like Vicksburg to compare to support your comment about the Union not paroling prisoners. They did not exchange prisoners once Grant assumed control of all the Armies, but that was not a single issue either. Prisoner exchange did mean that the Union would fight the same men again just like the Confederates would fight Union men again. It was in fact the reluctance of the Confederate Government to exchange African American Soldiers. The Confederate government did not capture too many African American Soldiers, those they did capture were immediately impressed into slavery. The most extreme example of that treatment was the Fort Pillow massacre.

    I don’t believe I am arrogant in my views, I acknowledge many such as Gerald, who have specific and greater insight on topics than I do. I have learned that there are hundreds if not thousands of very knowledgeable men and women that have have specific knowledge beyond me.

    I just do not accept fantastic comments that have no basis in fact. If it is a discussion about what Lee could have done within the context of the Gettysburg campaign, opinions abound. But to pontificate about what Jackson could have done in the campaign tends to be fruitless because most true believers cannot accept critical reviews of Jackson’s campaigns, tactics or the man himself.

    Your original thesis that the South could have won the war with a quick strike utilizing an advantage that did not exist just does not hold water.

    I wrote a paper comparing and contrasting the Virginia and Tennessee military traditions and how those two states were the foundation of the two major Confederate Armies. Examining why the ANV was so successful and the Army of Tennessee was so star- crossed – even more so than the Army of the Potomac.

    I also have discussed at length that Davis was the most capable man in North America to become President and he completely failed. Lincoln however, was completely ill-suited to have accomplished what he did , but he did infact do it.

    Throughout the war, the Confederacy never showed the apptiude to support a strategic offensive. Their major cities served as supply depots. Unlike the Union and the very capable Montgomery Meigs who developed a system of main depots and forward temporary depots that operated to support the foward moment of armies on the offense.

    The greatest example was the coordination between Meigs and Ingals ( AoP QM chief) when Grant decided to leave Cold Harbor and attack Petersburg. Meigs and Ingals turned off the forward depot in Northern Virginia and redirected the supplies to City Point , once Ingals had his supply train jump the two rivers. City Point became the busiest port in the world until it was shut off at the end of the war.

    Your proposal does not count on the fact that nothing existed in Richmond to support any operation until well into the summer. By the time Davis relocates the Richmond and in begins to build as an deopt to support operations, tens of thousands of Union Soldiers were actively drilling in and around the city. There was a high level of anxiety throughout Washington DC at the begining of the war. Southern sympathies existed that completed surrounded the city. Men from the DC milita event went to the Confederate flag, but the hype was never matched with actual on the ground Confederate capability. The professional soldiers Scott and Meigs rallied the forces and went about building the infrastructure to wage war.

    Lee does not resign from the US Army until April 20th, West Virginia secedes from Virginia April 27th, The Confederacy declares war on May 6th, North Carolina does not secede until May 20th not until June 24th does Tennessee secede. The physical timetable does not support any capability for an offensive operation.

    As for beliefs, I had no relative, to my knowledge, that fought in the war. My father’s parents both immigrated from Eastern Europe. Mother’s family from Ireland in the 1800s – to New York and Northern PA. I do not have a personal dog in the fight. With that said, I think Lincoln single handedly saved the Union and paid with his own life. He should be the only carving on Mount Rushmore. He walked the streets of Richmond and would not allow freed slaves to bow to him because he rightly believed everyone was created equal. Lincoln so mastered the concept of total war, he became our first true Commander in Chief a true war chieftan.

  53. Walt says:

    Your history documentation on the war is very impressive. Help me understand the eye witness accounts of Sherman’s soldiers. Are you saying that the letters written to the soldier’s families are lies or are not real? I do not claim to know. Only asking because you seem to know.
    Thanks for the history. Glad to know its behind us all and settled so we can all live in peace and harmony as one nation. Thanks Again

    • frobisher says:

      Have you considered the possibility that the letters were cherry-picked out of tens of thousands available by someone who wishes to prove a point?

  54. Don Herko says:


    Thank you for the kind words. I do not know specifically what letters but I would like to recommend a movie done a few years ago called “Vantage Point” The movie is done from numerous points of view to paint the picture of an attempt on the US President’s life. The eye witness accounts of an individual during such a momentous event is only a very small piece of what actually happened. You can take any major event in world history and see the event unfolding is confusing and very dire. History, or better time and reflection allows us to come to grips with what actually happened.

    Did the US need to arrest thousands of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. The attack was not the opening stage of an assault on the west coast, but at the time contemporary accounts gives the feeling of the world coming to an end.

    Now lets look at how the post American Civil War literature developed. The Northern accounts dominated early writings. Vet groups like the Grand Army of the Republic build monuments to their units and kept Confederate memorials from national parks. As those vets began to die out, the families of Southern vets took up the pen to capture accounts of their dying relatives. Union relatives moved on, they won the war, harbored no need revisist the past. Douglass Southall Freeman also penned two magnificant works to which he dedicated to his father, a soldier in Jackson’s Valley Army and all Confederate soldiers form the ANV. Lee’s stock rose and Grant’s fell – aided by a truly aweful presidency. Longstreet’s defection to the Republican Party in the post war south (and his critical view of Lee’s actions at Gettysburg) also cemented his downward fall from grace. Accounts were generally “Virginia-centric” that helped to elevate those Confederates that fell during the war (Jackson, Stuart and AP Hill)

    Against that rise of “pro-Southern” writings, is the total war that Sherman fought against both the South and the Native Americans. He becomes an easy target of opportunity as a beast with absolutely no talent as a General Officer in tactical, operational or strategic arts.

    Sherman was ruthless to show the South that the Confederate Government was powerless to stop his Army from moving at will throughout the deep South. Some private property was destroyed, some wealth was stolen off. As a former Infantryman, I can say those men that traveled hundreds of miles through Georgia and the Carolinas did not carry off the wealth of the region. Sherman meticulously (sic) managed the size of the force and the number of wagons. Tired or worn horses were swapped with local horses and often the old horses were shot. damaged wagons were burned, wounded soldiers were often taken along. The army could not stop, a stationary army in enemy land would stavre and de-nude the area of material in short time. Sherman did not stay long anywhere to do such damage to civilian property. That the land increased in value and Agricultural output from 1860 to 1870 shows a land that was NOT decimated by war, unlike Virginia.

    I would not argue for a second that damage and crimes did not occur. As an Iraq war vet, I know despite orders, contraband was sent home and property of the Iraq people did leave the country. Packages were x-rayed for contents but stuff did get through. Bottom line Union Soldiers did see some homes burned, food was stolen, but Shreman’s Army did not create the damage that was all attributed to it nor was the damage as extensive as have been claimed.

    I have just finieshed John Keegan’s book, and was at the part last night talking about the last months of the Confederacy. The South had a huge problem with desertion. It did not even pursue deserters towards the end of the war. They banded together to form lawless groups to keep from being brought to justice and these bands roamed the countryside living above the law. I am not about to begin and blame these ex-Confederates for a tremendous amount of damages and crimes either, but the sum of all parts, Sherman, his Army, stragglers, ex-slaves, deserters, common criminals, hatred for Sherman and poor or faded memory have all contributed to the legend of making Georgia Howl.

    To be honest, I think the soldiers were probably tougher on South Carolina than Georgia. They seem to admit it in journals and writing. South Carolina did start the war, but the legend persisted about the “March though Georgia”.

    Thanks again Walt, I do enjoy talking about this stuff.

  55. Walt says:

    Thanks for your educated and researched response. I am as die hard as any Southern man that ever lived in the South. However, I do believe in the three sides of the story theory, “My side, their side, and what really happened”. I view your comments as the closest I have read about the “what really happened”. I enjoy these discussions myself and if you do not mind I will have further questions that challenge both of our views. If you visit the South please let me know and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee . Thanks Again!!

  56. Krissy says:

    I am by no means a historian or college grad, anything like that, however I have always loved history. The American Civil War has always been interesting to me, and of course I was southern born. I lived in Arkansas and Tennessee for most of my childhood and teenage years. They will always feel like home to me and be a piece of my heart, so naturally I wonder what it would have been like to be a Southern Belle in those times. What it would have been like to live in the cotton kingdom. I still hold that southern pride and as I have said before, wonder what it would have been like if the south had won the war. I guess I was just born a century and a half too late. Reading all of the comments and the facts on this site is very interesting, thanks for all of the knowledge.

  57. buffkin says:

    I know people here believe in facts but here is a fact for you war is written by those who won. Fact is the north was just as bad and evil as some would but it as the south. All is fair in war got over it people yes the north did horrible things in the south if u don’t believe that then your naive. Here is a fact not found in a book the civil war was all about government control and money that’s it.

    Most people think we freed the slaves back then but they didn’t your a slave to our beloved government now if you know or not. Why do we even have states or state government when the federal government runs and controls everything the state government means nothing. My point is this the south lost cause of money no money no war.

    There is no facts or winner’s in war and unless you have been in that war then you know nothing about it. I get tried of people saying how bad the south was and how the civil war was all over slavery please grow up people it was all money games. But it what you want to think or believe. Its the same now as back then just money game just there are no men left with balls to fight for what is right.

  58. Northland says:

    I’ve often wondered if Lincoln had done just two things different if the War would have been much shorter.
    1) Ordered Lee detained until he had made his decision whether he would command the Union Army.
    2) Appointed nearly anyone but McClellan as commander.

    Or what if Lee had accepted?

    • Brian A. Cobb says:

      Lee had a good run, from Second Bull Run (maybe even from the Seven Days) through Chancellorsville, but Pickett’s Charge showed he was not the general an insurgency needed.

      The prime imperative of an insurgent army is to remain an army, and Lee threw that away on July 3, 1863.

  59. Brian A. Cobb says:

    The South lost because, instead of George Washington, she had Robert E. Lee.

  60. Fred says:

    The article is very good. I would add the following:
    1. The South was politically unable to get all slave states into the Confederacy (Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, Missouri).
    2. The North had the Navy (both salt water and riverine) and was able to blockade the South. This Anaconda plan took the South by surprise. They failed to account for this possibility in their planning. The Southern Navy was ineffective for the most part.
    3. The Southern artillery was ineffective and the Northern was very effective. The South could have done much better had they been able to purchase artillery abroad. They didn’t have the capacity too make it themselves.

  61. frobisher says:

    Two-thirds of Civil War deaths were from disease, this being the era before antibiotics and adequate attention to sanitation. First, for many on both sides, war marked the first time they were in contact with multitudes of others Anyone from a town that had not suffered a epidemic of a particular disease was highly susceptible. Oh, and then there were charming places like Andersonville, a still overlooked blot on the Confederacy, whose commandment was the only individual on either side executed for what amounted to war crimes.

  62. Cole says:

    How many times did we stress that the South had bad commanders? Somebody wants to change a pretty defined opinion. Unfortunately, none of you are a Shelby Foote. So grind away at your opinion wheels and good luck to you. Even small souls have an impact.

  63. Don Herko says:

    The South was never going to get all four border states into the Confederacy. They each represent problems of the States that did try to leave.

    Missouri was a slave state in name only. Slavery was not profitable except along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers where there was enough water to support the large cotton plantations. Elsewhere, small family farms were prominent. Only the occasional family slave existed normally inherited from a relative.

    Deleware firecely independent and a government that does not intrude on personal lives, it has almost no farming, but has become home to some famous and large corperations despite its size (Dupot Chemical and several large banks)

    Maryland was sharply devided on the issue, in the east along the coast, slave owners used waterways to support their plantations and slave culture. In Western maryland, much like Western Virginia (30+ counties and over 30% or the eligable military aged men) that voted to leave Virginia and stay in the Union.

    Kentucky did not want to be involved in the war. A frontier spirit of independence it hoped to avoid picking a side, because like Missouri, Virigina, Tennessee and North Carolina it had a large segment of the population that was pro-Union even though the government was pro-slave. Polk’s invasion hastened the inevitable move by Kentucky to the Union cuase.

    Every rebelling state had Federal volunteer regiments even South Carolina which did supply freed men to form Colored Regiment. Tennesse and Viriginia provided about 30% of those that served to Union Regiments. North Carolina, not quite that many. The 1st Al (Union) Cavalry escorted Sherman through Georgia and the Carolinas.

    2. It was the North’s ability to build a navy under Wells and Fox that was the difference. No Southern state hade a seafaring tradition like the New England states.

    3. The South lacked the industry to support an artillery branch. This is the first instance of industiralism having a profound impact on the war. Additionally, while the South received most of the prominent Cavalry Officers Lee, Johnston, Johnson, Hardee, Stuart Rooney Lee, Hood and others. The South also had the advantage of thousands of natural riders. The North kept most of the talented Artillerists; Henry Hunt chief among them. Southern West Point grads gravitated towards the Cavalry while Northern graduates seemed to have taken to artillery. Hunt was so disapointed in his former pupils, that at Appomattox, he found them in gray and chastized them for performances at Gettysburg and other battles. Henry Hunt’s mentorship and handling of the Army of Potomac Artillery branch was one of the most underrated, yet possibly most crucial aspects of that Army’s survival of the dark days Summer of 1862 until summer of 1863.

  64. Oddstar says:

    The North was on the offensive throughout pretty much the entire war, so of course the North took more casualties. It’s a lot safer, generally speaking, to stand in a trench and shoot at the men charging across no man’s land than vice versa.

  65. Defeat says:

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  66. keevan d. morgan says:

    as to the main question, somebody once said that if one looks at the civil war as a revolution, the south had the best chance of success of any in history, but if one looks at it as a war between nations, the south’s loss was a foregone conclusion. too many resources in the north in every possible way.

    as to a lesser issue, mr. davis’s comment that the south had only one good army commander and a bunch of second rate generals is not correct. general longstreet is well remembered as having early perceived the changed nature of fighting and being the leader in the concept of (at least then through about now) of \modern\ war and the power of modern weapons in defensive positions. longstreet saw the outcome of \pickett’s charge\ years before he found himself in a position to protest it.

    as an aside, longstreet’s views reflect on the main question as well. a couple of southern professors posited i think in the 60s (the 19s, not the 18s) that the southern ethos of \attack and die\ (the name of their book) led to the defeat, and the casualty statistics from the war showed that its constant attack in battle strategy eventually bled the south to death.

    there were other brilliant southern generals, such as alexander (short wicks or whatever other cause of imprecise firing at gettysburg aside) was a very young but very capable artilleryman. while surely the \fact\ that the south had all the good generals is a myth, so is mr. davis’s opposite comment.

    let’s just be glad the south did lose, as that same general alexander wrote in the forward to his book on the war years, so that we could have one greater nation with no slavery instead of two lesser ones, and that the south accepted its loss in a way making that possible without guerrilla war (which acknowledgement is not intended to lessen the impact of the kkk etc.).

    keevan d. morgan, esq., chicago

  67. Don Herko says:

    Longstreet was a great subordinate, but blundered horribly in front of Burnside at Knoxville. It was a dismal display.

    Alexander was promoted to lead the Artillery due to Pendleton’s unbelieveable incompetence. Alexander performance was so bad at Gettysburg, that Hunt sought him out and chastised him. While Alexander was overmatched on the field – incapable of managing the fight Hunt was supervising his batteries, assessing battlefield effects, arguing with Corps Commanders, replacing used batteries, all the while being disappointed at the dispaly of his former students from the other side. At one point he critizied a battery commander for wasteful spending of government funds by not shooting his guns in a more competent manner.

    Nope, Once AS Johnston died, the south lost the best chance in the west to conduct the war and develop junior leaders. Bragg poisoned and ruinned that army.

  68. Fred says:

    I agree with what you say. It’s possible that the South was counting on getting all the slave states, though, which was a miscalculation. There was a star on their flag for each of the slave states. They tried to get them into the Confederacy. I visited Paducah and Fort Donnelson a few years ago and learned a lot about the war in that area. Kentucky certainly wanted to be neutral. It was a very delicate political situation. Grant’s leadership and coordination with the Navy were instrumental in the capture of Fort Donnelson, which was where the confederacy started to unravel in the West. My wife is from Missouri. There was a lot of fighting there early. Col Lyons and the Germans helped to keep them in the Union. The Confederates had to evacuate most of the state because the riverine fleet, the brown water navy, could cut them off.

  69. Bob in Maryland says:

    I’ve often wondered whether, assuming the South actually ever did have any hope of winning the war, their final chance for victory was Early’s raid into Maryland in 1864. For a few days in early July, there was a real possibility of General Early storming into Washington, D.C., virtually unopposed. Imagine what a position of strength the Confederacy would have been in, had President Lincoln and a large part of congress been captured and held hostage, with an immediate truce being the condition for their release.

    So perhaps the Battle of Monocacy, on July 9th 1864 (which delayed Early long enough for the Union to prepare a defense of the capital) was the true \decisive battle\ of the Civil War.

  70. steve em says:

    Oh, and then there were charming places like Andersonville, a still overlooked blot on the Confederacy, whose commandment was the only individual on either side executed for what amounted to war crimes.
    There ewer Union prisons with higher death rates and they were not blockaded from food and medicine, The Andersonville trail was a total kangaroo court. The main witness claimed he was in the army and he was not . Contingents of soldiers went to Washington from the prison asking for Prisoner exchange and were rebuked. The commandant was not allowed to present a defense. etc,
    Rebel prisoners in our hands are to be subjected to a treatment finding its parallels only in the conduct of savage tribes and resulting in the death of multitudes by the slow but designed process of starvation and by mortal diseases occasioned by insufficient and unhealthy food and wanton exposure of their persons to the inclemency of the weather….Congressional Globe, 38th Congress, 2nd session, 1/24/1865, pg. 381
    Signed by Abe Lincoln
    Lincoln was then told by General Dan Siegel that this would not work as the Confederates were starving from the blockade and distruction of farms. and in fact giving the union prisoners the same rations.
    the North had no moral high ground it raped and pillaged its way through the south .Also the Border states did ot secede over slavery but over Lincolns draft to attack the Confederacy. Look at the order f secession for Virginia,,North Carolina,,Arkansas for instance.

    The whiskey rebellion was a rebellion the south by orderly means under the constitution of their states met and choose to leave the Union. That secession was considered by many constitutional is attested to the Hartford convention were New England met to consider secession.
    Two states Massachusetts and Virginia had in their state
    constitution the prerogative to leave the Union. The Communist Chinese have in fact brought up Abraham Lincoln as an example of why they should be allowed to take over Taiwan and Tibet..

    the fact remains that Lincoln was the cause of the war as he decided that states did not have the right to secede and thus invaded them. Whether he was constitutionally right is a moot point.
    Also the deep south did secede over the economic issue of slavery, This is not true of the border states.. Sherman targeted Civilians, executed some. The north was as virulently racist as the south with a few exceptions Certainly Lincoln was just read the Douglas debates.Lincoln had thousands arrested without writ, he has opposing newspapers burned downed .n the blistering summer of 1861, President Lincoln began pressuring and ordering the physical shutdown of any Northern newspaper that voiced opposition to the war. These attacks were sometimes carried out by soldiers, sometimes by angry mobs under cover of darkness. Either way, the effect was a complete dismantling of the free press.

  71. steve em says:

    The bottom line is wars are made by the powerful and fought by the powerless. America is now a corporate plutocracy in no small part due to Lincoln.those who criticize Lee are in odds with almost every major military historian in the Western World,including Winston Churchill.

  72. Titus Oates says:

    Lee faced the same problems Rommel did in Africa – an enemy able to field overwhelming numbers of men and nearly unlimited supplies. Once the war of attrition began, the South was doomed. I would argue that, in the strategic sense, Lee lost every battle he fought. Each cost him men and materials his side could not easily replace. Grant understood that; thus his methodical \grind ’em down\ (my phrase, not his) approach. I also believe that Lee was very lucky at Gettysburg in that Meade chose to stand and fight a defensive battle, rather than moving to cut off Lee’s retreat and suspect supply lines. How long would Lee’s formidable army have remained formidable had they been forced to live off the land, subject to constant harassment? Indeed, how long would their ammunition have lasted?

    Someone, perhaps it was \Stonewall\ Jackson, is said to have wanted to march on DC immediately after First Bull Run. Hannibal’s generals also wanted him to attack Rome immediately after Cannae. In both cases, the commanders chose, I think wisely, not to attack a defended city in enemy territory with a battered, tired army.

    The South needed a swift, smashing \knock out punch\ in the first months to win. But I really don’t think they had the wherewithal to land it, although Gen. Grant did throw out a tantalizing idea. In 1864, when Hood had Thomas bottled up in Nashville, Grant is supposed to have growled that, had he been in Hood’s position, he would have left a covering force to confine Thomas and bypassed Nashville, heading for Chicago. Instead Hood forced a fight with Thomas and had his army virtually obliterated. But a race for Chicago, late in the war, with all eyes on Virginia, could have been a real game changer.

  73. Don Herko says:

    The Lee Grant myth is a tough one to crack.

    Grant was a brilliant strategist, but a very capable tactical master in his own right. He consistantly out moved his opponents, every one of them in the West both tactically and strategically. Grant was very capable of out manuevering Lee as well, but the Generals of the East were under Lee’s spell.

    The story of Grant during the Overland Campaign whittling while the battle raged and chastizing an Officer that was in his presence worrying about Lee attacking in the rear of the Army. Grant told the Officer to focus on what the Union forces were going to do to Lee and not what Lee might do to the Union Forces.

    The McClellanites (officers promoted and beholden to McClellan) were prominent members of the Army of the Potomac and Grant realized he need to do somwthing drastic to get the Army to best Lee. After Upton’s assault, Grant tried to break Lees lines at the Mule Shoe on an grand Corps level. when his officer could not press their advantage, Grant tried to out move Lee locally, Grant could not get the Army to move at a speed he was accustomed to so he made his only real mistake of the campaign,Cold Harbor – a place that has forever tainted his reputation as a great commander.

    No one remembers that Grant disengaged from Lee, jumped two rivers at three points to arrive at Petersburg with two full Corps facing less than 10,000 Confederate reservists, and Smith and Hancock let him down again. Lee refused to acknowledge Grant was even there for more than 24 hours.

    Grant then took all of Lee’s mobility away from him. Grant pins Lee to Petersburg and Richmond and just starves him out. As the seige progresses, Grant is able to replace McClellanites with Corps Commanders of his choosing, so by the end of the campaign, Meade, Sheridan and Ord as Army Commanders
    Humphries, Griffin, Wright, Parke, Gibbon, Wetzel and Merritt for the Cavalry as Corps Commanders

    This group was agile enough to break the seige and Five Forks and the Breakthough at whatis now Pamplin Park, mop up Petersburg and Richmond and still move quickly enough to block Lee at every turn right up to Appomattox Courthouse.

    The Star Crossed Army of Tennessee (CSA) was a fine gorup of men, but even more cursed than the Army of the Potomac. It could never have accomplished that mission, and for all of Hood’s abilities as a fighter, he could never have pulled off such an undertaking.

    What Sherman did in Georgia and the Carolinas has never been duplicated and should stand along with Ceasar’s crossing of the Rhine as a remarkable Military Operation unique in the History of Warfare.

  74. Brian says:

    I’m always bemused by those who argue that the Civil War was unnecessary because slavery would have died out naturally. Even if that were true, just how many years of enslaving four million and more people would they be willing to tolerate? From the inception of the nation, we have always held slavery to be worse than death. And yet Southern apologists are willing to see this hideous institution survive for decades longer, rather than see it ended by war.

    Moreover, it is by no means clear that slavery would have died out naturally. Slaves worked in some Southern factories, like the Tredegar Works. Want to bet that trainloads of slaves couldn’t have been headed North to work in factories there, or West to work in mines? After Dred Scott, the Federal Government had no power to prevent slaveowners from taking slaves to the territories. And there was a case working its way through the federal courts toward Roger Taney’s Supreme Court which stood for the proposition that even free states could not forbid slaveowners from taking slaves into those states and working them there.

    Lincoln had it right:

    Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said \the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.\

  75. Richard says:

    I believe the South had one chance to win the war and it was to win it early, delivering a staggering blow before the North could gear up its war machine. I don’t think Jackson’s plan of invading the North and taking Philadelphia or New York would have had the effect many seem to think it would have — it might have had the opposite effect, making the Northerners really angry and involving the entire country in the war rather than the rural people, lower classes and immigrants who provided much of the blood and muscle of the Union Army. But if it had happened early, while Lincoln paced and asked, \Where are they? Where are they?\ as he waited for the state troops to arrive, it might have forced an agreement.

    As for Grant (whose autobiography is the best I’ve ever read), he was a fine tactician but a brilliant strategist, while Lee was the opposite, at best. Lee certainly had the Army of the Potomac dazzled, but I can’t help but to think it was Little Mac’s incompetence reflected as glory that mesmerized them more than anything Lee did, a hypnotic trance Grant later had great difficulty snapping them out of.

    I find most of the comments here excellent and thoughtful, by the way — they’ve ignited reconsiderations, always entertaining.

  76. Fred says:

    Here are two things I recently learned about Lincoln that help explain why there was a war:
    1. To make more efficient use of his campaign money in 1860 he didn’t campaign at all in the South. Perhaps had he campaigned there Southerners might have disliked him less. But then again perhaps he wouldn’t have won the election.
    2. Lincoln believed that no Southern states would secede from the Union if he was elected in 1860. Whoops! That was a big miscalculation. But Southern states had been talking about secession for decades, so what was different this time?

  77. Don Herko says:

    Lincoln did not campaign at all during the general election, he allowed surrogates to do speeches for him and he was not on the ballot at all in most Southern states.

    And lets not forget, at this time, South Carolina which threatened secession under their home grown Andrew Jackson, did not have an election, a committee made the determination of the electors for President.

    Why was there a war, the was unstoppable movement to the abolishment of the institution of slavery

  78. Boltzmann says:

    The South won.

    War is politics using other methods, and the obverse is true: What were he goals of the South? States rights, black economic and political subservience, a heirarchian agricultural society, and a “Southern culture” that tried to perpetuate that of England in the 1700s. Once Reconstruction ended, the South accomplishd all of those until the Seond Civil War was finally won, with the passage of the Federal – “the Union” – Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1964 and the Voting Rights Act. Thousands died in the 90 years after Reconstruction, and the Battles of Mongomery and Birmingham were every bit as critical as Gettysburg and Peterburg. For nearly a century, the South achieved its primary goals, and even now “states rights” and “affirmative action” and the Federal Government are powerful political issues.

    The South won, and has not been fully defeated even today. Those who believe in James Earl Ray know I’m right; we honor Martin Luther King as a warrior, and we hope – we HOPE – that he won.

  79. Bill says:

    I watched Shelby Foote’s documentary and he concluded by saying the South couldn’t have possibly won under any circumstance indicating the North and South militarily were leagues apart. I have lived I the North and South and the yearnings of the cultures are also leagues apart. I remember as a boy living in NJ the most exciting toy was a model tank, fighter plane or some war game. I wonder what little boys in the South considered in the same time frame was the most exciting, a pickup truck, hunting rifle or fishing pole. Today, the South ranks lowest in longevity,income and wealth.

    In my opinion, the Civil War is one of the overrated military engagements as the outcome was never in doubt. No disrespect to the suffering and dead on both sides. The South was just another conquest within the realm of Northern beliefs another fly to be swatted. Today, the South votes staunchly Republican and perhaps produces the most patriotic sons and daughters in this nations military service.

  80. Greg says:

    Slaves where money in that time. In fact slaves accounted for a very large portion of the nations wealth! You can separate the two. Money is slaves and slaves where money

  81. redmanrt says:

    The Civil Disagreement was basically a dispute over the best places at the Washington feeding trough, and control of the West.

  82. Lin tse-hsu says:

    The designation of the conflict as a \civil war\ was used (by Lincoln) while the war was extant. The U.S. Army history of the war, if the poster was referring to the official records, was The War of the Rebellion.

    The Union view, articulated by Lincoln and later by Chief Justice Chase (post-war) was that there was no secession. The claim of the Southern States that they had seceded was considered faulty and repudiated both during the war and in Texas v. White (1869). The reason for this seemingly strange claim was that secession is a legal process by which one polity separates from another. The Union position was that the so-called secession was in fact an insurrection, or attempted revolution. In other words an illegal or extra-legal process.

  83. Ein Vogel-frei says:

    I think the themes of this article have importance to us today, now, in the real world.

    The strongest consensus appears to be primarily centered around manpower and resources (one and the same in many ways). a 3:1 advantage in population cannot help but show up in frontline manpower, support resources, food, ordnance, transportation (huge). Three times the pool to draw on for expertise from sergeant to general, from organization to production to logistics.

    In a like manner, it was stated several times that the best way to imagine a different outcome would be early victories that would encourage European support. In other words, the South needed outside resource to lessen their material disadvantage.

    Today: for us to have influence in the world, to continue to direct our own destiny, to counteract the very real forces of intolerance and anti-democratic nations; to combat global warming if we choose; to rein in Russian imperialism if we choose; to fight wars on poverty, drugs, child trafficking; all require us to have produce more resources (manpower, materiel) than the “other side” whoever that might be.

    Our future success depends on regaining a strong economy; which I believe requires us to demand that our leaders evaluate their policies primarily in that light: does this tax/regulatory proposal help, or hurt, our economic growth picture. That is the only way back to taking control of our own destiny.

  84. tpaine says:

    Adopted on 24 December 1860, the Declaration of Immediate Causes explained why the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union. The 7-page manuscript (also printed by the state printer, Evans & Cogswell) provided a constitutional argument for South Carolina’s right to secede from the Union and establish sovereignty as a “separate and independent State.” Because the northern states had disregarded the fourth article of the United States Constitution to return runaway slaves, the committee argued that the federal compact was “deliberately broken.” With the compact broken, the state of South Carolina justified its secession from the Union.

    • steve em says:

      Yes the reason given for secession by the deep south was slavery. The Border states left overt Lincolns raising an army to force the confederacy back in. Read there orders of secession for Virginia NC ,Tenn Kentucky etc.
      The South did hto start the War Lincoln did by blockading the South.
      The war was fought because Lincoln believed secession was not legal.and therefore was a rebellion. Also its absurd to talk about immorality when slave states fought for the Union and the fugitive slave act still applied to them.

    • D Herko says:

      The statement itself is proof positive that theState of Carolina expected that its laws regarding slavery were supremen over the laws of Pennsylvania and it laws of emacipation dating back to the 1780 and the PA law of Gradual Abolition. The same law that required President Washington to rotate his personal slaves back to Virginia every six months while serving as President, working in Congress Hall, Phiadelphia PA 1790 to 1797.

      The fugitive slave law further eroded laws of Northern states by forcing them to return men and women (by their definition of their state laws and constitutions) to citizens of southern states who viewed these men and wmen as property (by definition of their state laws and constitutions)

      So though it is popular to argue States rights a a Southern issue. It was actually a very powerful Northern State issue that their states constitutions and laws were trampled by the Federal government.

  85. steve em says:

    Yes then he made them reapply as it were to earn their right back to a Nation they never left. Got to congratulate China on its Shermanizing of Tibet, Lincoln would have loved it.

  86. INTJ says:

    The North had twice the population, twice the manufacturing capacity, an ample food supply, and a virtual naval monopoly. The mystery is not why the South ultimately lost, but how the North managed to let it come so close to winning. Had Lee occupied the high ground at Gettysburg on the first day, had Chamberlain’s 20th Maine not held Little Round Top the following day, or had Sherman been held out of Atlanta until after the 1864 election, it is easy to imagine a war-weary Union public settling for a negotiated peace.

  87. steve em says:

    You have got to be kidding. WE genocide the plains Indians killed a staggering number of people in the Philippines in their fight for Independence. Invaded Mexico and took by force arms much of its territory. Yes we freed the Slaves and enslaved the free. must also be forgotten, , that most Northern states “refused to adopt Negro suffrage” and that Lincoln was as much a white supremacist as any man of his time. “It is forgotten that Lincoln, at Charlestown, Illinois, in 1858, formally affirmed\: I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” The not bowing incident is entirely apocraphyl
    LIncoln the Hero hief Justice Roger B. Taney, sitting as a circuit judge, ordered Merryman released, but federal officials, acting under Lincoln’s orders, refused. The aging Chief Justice, just three years from death’s door, thereupon issued a blistering opinion holding that only Congress had the constitutional right to suspend habeas corpus. The President \certainly does not faithfully execute the laws, if he takes upon himself legislative power, by suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and the judicial power also, by arresting and imprisoning a person without due process of law,\ declared Taney. If Lincoln’s action was allowed to stand, then \the people of the United States are no longer living under a Government of laws, but every citizen holds life, liberty and property at the will and pleasure of the army officer in whose military district he may happen to be found.\
    Lincoln also waged a war on the free press well documented in http://lincolnswrath.com/

    • D Herko says:

      Lincoln faced the single greatest Constitutional Crisis in the History of the Country. The fragmentation of the Country itself. Europeans were infavor of a fragmented set of countries on the North American continent. The blossoming American industry and merchant naval power were going to overwehlm European competitors.

      Had the Southern states simply let Lincoln be the President, he would have been another in the line of ineffectual presidents dating back to the 1840s.

      The Confederacy was formed by the states of the lower South in Feb 1861. Lincoln delivered his inaugural address 4 March 1861. It is no a chicken or egg arguement. The Constitution Crisis had occured and the previous administration did nothing. SC (DEC 20th 1860), MS (Jan 9th 1861) FL (Jan 10 61) AL (Jan 11 61) GA (Jan 19 61) LA (Jan 26 61) TX (Feb 1 61) Confederate Assambly Feb 1861, Election of Confederate President and rasing of Army, Lincoln sworn in March 4th 1861. Lincoln even promised to support slavery in border states early in his presidency.

      US Secretary of War John B Floyd moved arms and cannon to Southern Armories during 1859 and 1860. He resigned to become a Confederate General and was one of several Generals Grant trapped at Fort Donelson he decided to surrender but escaped capture for fear of being tried for Treason, the treason was the prestaging of weapons for the pending crisis.

      If Mount Rushmore was to have one President it should be Lincoln, if this country ever had a patron saint it would be Lincoln. This country has existed and thrived due to his actions, sometimes alomst single-handedly through the darkest hours of our history. He did not ask for what happened he just handled it with more compassion and grace that anyone else could have and it only cost him his life.

  88. D Herko says:

    As the Grail Knight in the Last Crusade said to Indiana Jones, ” He chose poorly”

    The South decided that Lincoln running for President was a threat to their economic future, so much so that he did not appear on any ballot in any Southern State (South Carolina did not have popular vote elections at all during this time the electors for the state were decided in Columbia). So when Lincoln ultimately won the election. THe Southern States attempted to leave the Union without even finding if Lincoln could have done anything.

    The Articles of Confederation (4) established a secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercorse among the peoples of the different states Article (6) defines the Central governments role to conduct foreign political or commercial relations.

    The US Constitution formed a more perfect Union still did not solve the issue of Slavery, but it was good enough the the Confederate Constitution was nearly a word for word copy except for the expressly written support for the perpetual ownership of slaves

  89. Brian says:

    At Fredericksburg the South had the higher ground, Matt. Better to get your facts right. The Confederate forces held St. Marye’s Heights and Prospect Hill. Union forces under the incompetent Ambrose Burnside attacked uphill against Confederates who were ensconced behind a stone wall. Needless to say they were slaughtered.

    In general, Southern battle casualties were lower because they were on the defensive and because there were simply fewer Confederate soldiers. In percentage terms, however, the South’s casualties were greater. One of the lesser known facts of the war is that Lee’s casualty rate as a percentage of his forces was higher than Grant’s.

  90. Walter says:

    Over time, much of the South grew to see the war as being a war for the interest of the rich planters, in order to keep their slaves, and much of the Southern yeomanry recognized that the war wasn’t really about them. It would be hard for Americans to prosecute a war today if they believed that this war was not about their homes, their families, their lives, but the fortunes of, say, the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. West Virginia seceded from Virginia in 1863, and the counties of East Tennessee and some mountain counties in North Georgia and North Alabama (Winston County, AL, in particular) were sympathetic to the Union. It was a war for the benefit of the uppermost classes of the South, and wars such as those inevitably lead to cynicism of the populace when the deaths mount up and the outcome becomes doubtful.

  91. Dan Warren says:

    Thanks D Herko for your brilliant writing on this subject. It was much more illuminating than the article itself, or the comments of the various historians. You should be writing a book about the civil war, or whatever other subject you wish to write about. Your writing style is very good.

    Your grasp of the subject is incredibly impressive.

    My ancestors were not in America at the time of the Civil War. Mine were from Eastern Europe as well.

    I have traveled around the country in my cargo van, delivering emergency freight, and I have been struck by how big the country is, and how vast the distances must have been to the armies of the Civil War. Still, the distances were transversable, and the birth of modern logistics was made during the Civil War, as you informed us.

    Also, I have been struck by the carnage and have tried to estimate how many more Americans would be alive today, if not for the carnage of this war.

    Here is something I wrote a while ago. It is a perspective on the legacy of the Civil War on the sensibilities of the divisive tactics being used by the democratic party with it’s emphasis on dividing the country into resentful ethnic and racial groups:

    I wrote this post during the presidential campaign. If you are patient enough to slog through it, I think you will find an incredible point of view regarding the cataclysm of our great civil war. The post starts out talking about WWII, but then focuses upon our civil war, and the remarkable truth about this bloody sacrifice. Please read on….

    This post is off topic, to an extent…but, it is a serious post, and I hesitate to bring it up…… but will, because it brings forth a very sobering truth about America.

    Actually, the Germans were pretty much already defeated by the time of our invasion of Normandy.

    Of course, the Anglo-American war effort in Europe was immense, but the Russians were already well into the German Reich territory. And, I am certainly not trying to take anything away from the American-Anglo-Canadian-Australian and other nationality’s efforts in the Allied effort against the Nazi’s, but to acknowledge the Russian effort, which, I think is under appreciated in the west. They lost maybe twenty million soldiers, and maybe half again as many civilians…it was incredible.

    My take on WWII was that Russia beat Germany, the USA beat Japan. This is just a shorthand way to view it. Of course America had a huge hand in defeating Nazi Germany…..but, the German army was ground to pieces in Russia.

    The bottom line was that Germany destroyed Europe with two world wars.  I also view the two world wars as Germany’s reach to become the, or at least a, big player on the world stage. They had been upstaged by England prior to WWI, and as a virile nation and people, the Germans wanted a bigger stage.

    WWII was a redo of WWI.

    After those two disastrous wars, Western Europe dissolved into the hapless socialist backwater she is today.

    All the starch went out of Europe after those two horrendous back to back wars which killed off the cream of Europe’s youth…twice. This is the background of why Western Europe has allowed herself to be overrun by a Muslim minority which ridicules the very states that have, misguidedly, taken them in.

    The American Civil War was similar in scope and destruction to each of those wars in Europe. Imagine what might have happened in the USA if we had had two civil wars within twenty years of each other.

    Recent research into the civil war has indicated that the military deaths attributed to this war on both sides may have been higher than had been thought. I forget the new figure which has been estimated, but believe it is around 750,000 men from the north and the south. Keep in mind that the population of the whole nation during the civil war was just a fraction of what it is today.

    About 10% of the men of military age form the north were killed during our civil war.  And by military age I mean from around age 18 up to age fifty. For arguments sake, I assumed the north lost about 400,000 war dead.

    I did some simple math and research of reproductive rates in America, and calculated that about 10 to 12 million more Americans would be alive in America today, if just the Northern soldiers had not died in the war.

    Why did I do the calculations for just the Northern soldiers?
    I wanted to see what the sacrifices were of the white northerners to free the slaves.

    That creates quite a perspective. The “takeaway” from this calculation? For every 2 to 3 black Americans alive in America today, about one white person was never born, due to the huge numbers of white northern soldiers killed to free the slaves.
    Think of all the women in the north who ended up as spinsters, as there obviously were just not enough men to go around after the war for all the women to marry.

    This is quite a different narrative…quite a contrast in narratives from that of he radical/leftist, self appointed black leaders (and white leftists, as well) which is filled with such venom towards the whites…and particularly the white republicans.

    To understand  the massive blood sacrifice by the white soldiers of the north to free the slaves is truly eye opening. I think it would be fair to say that this creates a blood bond between white and black Americans. The blacks suffered from their long, cruel bondage, and the whites from the north made a horrendous blood sacrifice to free the blacks from that cruel bondage.

    This is a perspective which I have never seen noted forthrightly anywhere, but when you make note of it, it seems very humbling to me. It is a shared sacrifice that binds us together as Americans.
    You just won’t hear a sentiment like this from the leftists, though, will you?

    Also, the LEFT does NOT want you to know that those 400,000 war dead from the north were mostly white republicans, as the republican party had recently emerged from the ashes of the old Whig party. Abraham Lincoln was the first republican presidential candidate. Further, the Abolitionist movement (the movement to abolish slavery) was a true grass roots movement which had swept across the north, and this movement spawned the republican party.

    Your leftist professorial types would come up with some leftist BS that the Civil War was not fought to free the slaves….but, it most certainly was. The Civil War would never have happened if not for the very emotional and contentious issue of slavery at that time. The northerners….yes, the republicans….. were bound and determined to abolish slavery. The southerners….yes, they were democrats overwhelmingly ….were bound and determined to keep their way of life, which was bound up with slavery and the economic benefits of it as they saw it, and keep the meddlesome northerners from encroaching upon their “states rights”, to live as they saw fit.

    There is undeniable truth in this post….the facts are undeniable, and the truth of the view of the tragic suffering of those enslaved and those who died to free them, seems undeniable to me, as well.

    And is this not a truth, a truth of suffering that binds the people of America together, and makes us a more humble people? May this not be part of the history of our people which makes us such a champion for the freedom of people around the world?

    We do not suffer tyrants, we do not easily turn our eyes from the suffering of other nations, of other people. And, as Colin Powell once said, and I paraphrase “There has never been a nation before in history which has given so much of it’s blood and fortune, and expected so little in return”.

    His words were in commemoration of the invasion of Normandy, I believe. 

    If you don’t understand the meaning of Colin Powell’s words, INSTANTLY, you are simply just ignorant of American history (you are probably a victim of the leftist campaign to rewrite American history books, and take over the classrooms of American to propagandize our youth with their leftist BS), and you need to begin a life long program of studying American history, just to appreciate this great nation, what it has stood for, and then to figure out how YOU can get off your butt and help to restore America back to what it was so that America, the beacon to the world, is not lost.

    And the very big truth is this: If America fails and drops as the world leader….if we lose our vigor as a nation, if we sink into a serious decline which we do not emerge from…..which IS what is NOW happening,….. under Obama and the leftist/democrats….. what will be the result? What light will be extinguished from the world?….What hope will vanish?

    Do we want to see a world dominated by regional powers, such as China and Iran?

    What if there had been no USA in 1939?

    What if there is no USA in 2039 which bears much resemblance to the USA of 1939?

    This is another BIG TRUTH of what we are about to lose with the continued assault of  the leftists/NEW DEMOCRATS upon the traditions, the culture, the economic strength and viability of the great nation of the UNITED SATES of AMERICA !

    • D Herko says:


      I too appreciate what you wrote. I like what Colin Powell said about America since World War I we have asked for only enough ground to bury our dead – that is unique in the history of the world.

  92. steve em says:

    Lincoln was a crude nasty power politician who was devoid of an ounce of integrity.Tell your hero worship to my wife i who is Mankato Sioux.If bBoth had not murdered him he would not have been a martyer and would have gone down in history as the most controversial President.
    how ironic a man who preside over the executioner of 38 Mankato Sioux should be the one honored at a carving oin the Black Hills,Rushmore. When Sheridan sent his letter about the devastation of the Valley and told Lincoln tha they had nothing left but their eyes to cry,LIncoln wrote bac and grateful Nation thanks you. When asked at Hampton Roads what Lincoln would do wiht all the free saves he answered they can t root hog or die.
    Maybe we should put up a statue of Hirohito over the USS Arizona?

  93. D Herko says:


    The Dakota war of 1862 is much more complex than what you have boiled it down to – a half fact. In 1862 Sioux warriors killed some 800 men, women and children in Minnesota towns. The Army tribunal convicted 302 and sentenced them to death. Lincoln reviewed each case and despite pressure, he communted 264 of the sentences because he felt that those warriors did not participate in actual rapes or murder, just part of the event to a lesser degree. He went agaisnt popular thought of the press and public to do his level best to limit further enflaming the native peoples.

    So your bumper sticker comment is a flat and not representative of what really happened.

    As for Sheridan, I can only say that war is won when one opponenet loses the will and capacity to fight. Native tribes for centuries fought each other a key to victory was to capture the women and children of the opponent’s tribe to keep that tribe from fighting.

    The history of warfare is full of episodes that the winning side crushed the will of the opponent. My favorite two are Ceasar bridging the Rhine and Sherman marching through Georgia and the Carolinas.

    Ceasar constructed a bridge the likes of which had never seen before and not seen again for centuries. He crossed his Army then just marched around to show his opponent that nothing was impossible for his Army.

    Sherman likewise tokk his Army through the heart of the south without opposition. He told the people of the south, their government could do nothing to protect them. He did not cause widespread destruction, despite popular myth, those counties in his path in Georgia showed an increase in crop production between 1860 and 1870 according to the US Census. And Sherman’s march through Sourthern Georgia and South Carolina swamps were of movements worthy of the greatest engineering minds in history.

    British military schools were teaching the lessons of the American revolution and of Cornwallis problems moving through the swamps in the South Sherman moved an Army four time the size with ease over terrain the British Army thought all but impassable.

    As to the quote you attribute to Lincoln, I have never read such a think, but it goes agaianst his actions in Richmond, which occured days after the Hampton Roads conference with Grant, Sherman and Porter, where Lincoln walked the streets of Richmond and would not let freed men and women bow to him, he wanted them to understand they were his equal.

  94. steve em says:

    k to the South and you who went with us through that land can best say if they have not been fearfully punished. Mourning is in every household, desolation written in broad characters across the whole face of their country, cities in ashes and fields laid waste, their commerce gone, their system of labor annihilated and destroyed. Ruin and poverty and distress everywhere, and now pestilence adding to the very cap sheaf of their stack of misery..

    I have destroyed over 2,000 barns filled with wheat, hay and farming implements; over 70 mills filled with flour and wheat, and have driven in front of the A
    Gen. Sherman in a June 21, 1864, letter to Lincoln’s Sec. of War, Edwin Station wrote, \There is a class of people men, women and children, who must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order.
    Sherman wrote his wife that his purpose in the war would be \extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least of the trouble, but the people\ of the South. His loving and gentle wife wrote back that her wish was for \a war of extermination and that all [Southerners] would be driven like swine into the sea. May we carry fire and sword into their states till not one habitation is left standing.\

  95. D Herko says:

    We in today’s society do not write in the flowery prose of the mid-1800s. So contrast what Sherman did with what he wrote.

    In front of Atlanta he was destroying the ability of Johnston’s later Hood’s Army of sustaining itself as he made his way deeper into Southern territory. Atlanta was destroyed to keep Hood from coming to Sherman’s rear. very little actual damage between Atlanta and Savannah. Savannah spared and retains the colonial air to this day.

    But it all comes back to the South attempting to leave the Union before Lincoln ever became President. All slave states supressing the vote, John Floyd moving weapons and supplies to Southern Arsonals – prestaging them for the insurection.

    It had to be put down with force.

  96. steve em says:

    Shermans florid language concerning the Indians matched his deeds precisely.Yes your thinking is entirely in,line with the British position in the Revolutionary war.You know well the matter of secession was not a issue which had ever been resolved.him that Sherman didn’t burn every city in the South is hardly a measure of virtue. They certainly didn’t destroy Meridian Mississippi Columbia South Carolina in a few other places.
    That is is why New England had the Hartford conference,and why Massachusetts voted to leave the Union over the Fugitive slave act,. None suppressed the vote in history like Abe Lincoln did in his election. talk about apocrypha als this Lincoln ,loved Negroes nonsense is beyond hysteria. He signed a proposed amendment that would have kept slavery in perpetuity if the south returned to the Union.
    Equating secession with insurrection is rather dubious reasoning at best. First, it assumes that the states as independent entities had no right to leave the union which is a highly debatable point. To give an example up until 1861 the graduates of West Point gave their oath of allegiance upon graduation to their individual states. Both Virginia and Massachusetts have it within their state constitution that they had the right to secede at any time they so desired. If this was unconstitutional why then was it not stricken or force to be removed.
    \were Lincoln walked the streets of Richmond and would not let freed men and women bow to him, he wanted them to understand they were his equal.\ Seriously?

    There was no reporting of this alleged incident at the time, like a lot of other myths about Lincoln is a myth. Never happened was never reported story came years later and it goes against Lincolns life long views of Negroes

    LIncoln 1854
    \\I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the White and black races, (Applause) – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, not to intermarry with White people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the White and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on equal terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race…\

    Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes in Washington, D.C. on August 14,1862 . \You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly,many of them living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.\
    From ‘Fragments: Notes for Speeches’, September 1859: \Negro Equality! Fudge!! How long in the government of a God, great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagoguism as this?\

    Speech at Springfield, Illinois on June 26, 1857: \Judge Douglas has said to you that he has not been able to get from me an answer to the question whether I am in favor of negro citizenship. So far as I know, the Judge never asked me the question before. (Applause.) He shall have no occasion to ever ask it again, for I tell him very frankly that I am not in favor of negro citizenship\

    The New England states had their own history of secession which no they never did nevertheless was considered without question their right. In fact this was one of the key elements in the destruction of the Whig party.

    I am not nearly as versed in military history as you are. I was just a grunt in Southeast Asia surrounded by brilliant minds like Gen. Westmoreland.
    Your views of Indian warfare ar ento quite complete I would suggest Counting Coups and Cutting horses.him him him him him Indians were quite capable of annihilation of each other if they got the opportunity. there is no question that the action of federal troops and the Civil War would be considered war crimes by today’s Geneva Convention.

    Your position simply is the ends justify the means which is fine I understand that though I disagree. I am also well aware of Caesars engineering feat along the Rhine.
    That something is no effective military tech tactic does not speak to whether it’s moral or just. Caesar was anything but just or moral. I guess it all comes down to Vae Victus. this seems to be your philosophy..him him him

    I am not sure why you even bring up the suppression of the vote since Negroes had no Ability to vote and either the North or South it seems to be a non sequitur.

  97. D Herko says:

    I do not stand to defend Sherman’s viture or humanity. I have long since abandon the idea that any General Officer in any war is worth defending from a personal or moral position. I will talk about their actions in battle, I will analyize their strategies, I will just pass not judgement on their status as \good Christian Gentlemen\ nor will I accept that to be in the discussions in the evaluation of them as Generals. The oath of office of West Point Cadets in Antebellum Amercia was not to individual states but to \them\ in the aggregate. This is becasue before the Civil War it was a plural \these\ with respect to the nation as in these United States. After the Civil War it was singular \the United States\ Like any scientific experiment, and make no mistake, the United States was and is the ultimate experiment in Human history, the Civil War was the proof, the acid test. The idea that Southern Officers leaving the Union was not disloyal, because in essance the Union should disolve upon the Southern States leaving – men can often justifiy their actions to themselves. That statisifed their own moral code with respect to the oath to the Union. Again I don’t defend Generals I just see a moral flaw in parcing one’s own words. I continue to think your position on Lincoln is flawed. You may not think he walked the streets of Richmond, then your beef is with the National Park Service which has memorialized this event. You continue to see actual facts as myths and myths as facts, I can only point out the historical records.

    The supression of the vote was Southern leaders not allowing anyone to vote for Lincoln. He received no votes in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, TN, TX, SC because he was not on the ballots in those states. That is voter supression. He was not allowed on the ballot. As you point out, Lincoln, was not a pre-war advocate of freeing slaves. Somehow, Southern Leaders imprinted on Lincoln something he was not, as you have shown in his pre-war writings. So the idea that Southern States tried to keep their own people from voting, fought to have their laws have precedence over the laws of free states, actively preppared to leave the Union by force,

    A Union that was prepetual by the eariest documents read Article 1 section nine of the US Constitution, it clearly defines what states can or cannot do. Both the Articles of Confederation and US Constitution form a Union not an alliance of states. A Union by defintition is a strong bond. That the framers changed from the document (Articles of Confederation) to a Constitution defies the idea that states can enter and leave at will. The framers had all these words at their disposal, they decided to use the word Union not alliance, not collection not any other word – the word has meaning.

    Jackson put down the original threat of South Carolina leaveing the Union during his Presidency.

    Having been to war myself, I don’t bring morality into the discussion. Again were are talking about the American Civil War. A war fought between two sections of a country, one of the few left during the mid 19th century that allowed the institution of Slavery. All of Western Europe and most of the countries in Central and South America has abolished the practice. The strong moral position of the war was taken by Lincoln. Lee was thrust out of Maryland and he issued his proclamation. Was it perfect, no it was not. Did he eventually politically engineer the border states to give in on slavery – yes he did.

    I put much more stock in what people do over what they say. History is full of political broken promises. Teddy Roosevelt’s Son hit the beaches on D-Day with the 4th Infantry Division. his officers came to him and said that the navy dropped him off on the wrong spot. He famously replied \We’ll start the war from right here\ That is what Lincoln did. He was sworn in as President on March 4th, seven states had already decided to leave the Union and were arming with weapons provided by the former Secretary of War (Floyd). Had Lincoln filed he would have been the last president of the United States. I am not going to guess how many countries would exist in the geographic location the US now occupies. I am not going to guess which states might still have slavery. I am not going to postulate the fate of Native Americans. I can see that everything seems to be worse that what Lincoln envisioned when he told Grant, Sherman and Porter to show restraint. Sherman was almost fired for presenting terms in a matter consistant to what Lincoln told him in front of Grant. He did not think a President’s death changed the vision.

    My wife and Children being part Native American has allowed me to look deeper into that portion of our history. I don’t feel guilty for what happened, I was not there nor were my parents nor grandparents. I just continue and will continue to learn and understand with the hopes of raising a future that will not let such events happen again.

  98. steve em says:

    And with all due respect this is becoming fruitless as you don’t seem to answer my points.
    .1 the issue of legality of secession was not resolved and was only resolved through war.
    2. Lincoln like all men of his time was a white supremacist and that the myth of St. Abraham does not hold up to historical scrutiny. 3 the dissolution of the union would not have ended the United States it would have created another government upon the continent the Confederate states.
    4. The Republican Party was a new party and had to get sufficient signatures on the ballot to have a candidate on it. South Carolina didn’t have balance it had electors.
    5, your statements such as there was no great amount of starvation and so on based on crop yields runs against a great deal of evidence even in the slave Chronicles to the contrary.
    5. The same people who like to call secessionist traitors come from the states that felt it was legitimate to secede when the interests of the region were at odds with the government.
    6. There is no imposing upon Lincoln some false image he was an abolitionist who put abolition behind his own political interests and firmly believed in colonizing Africans back to Africa.
    7. That he changed some of those positions or modified them is not a question he did out of political expediency.

    Eight Lincoln and his army fought by the concept of total war, even emancipation cannot canonize starvation and abuse of citizens.
    8. I don’t think Lincoln was evil I think he was a power politician who was willing to disregard the Constitution state the Union.
    9 Saving the Union is a phrase that has an inherent problem as I pointed out before the union was still existed among the states that remained in the United States.
    10 the Constitution clearly states that one state cannot be divided into two states which Lincoln did in Virginia, of course that will be argued that it was legal or necessary, as was ignoring the writ of habeas corpus, destroying process and repressing free speech, declaring war without constitutional authority,
    11. I do not feel any guilt for what happened either to the slaves (as abhorrent as it was) nor to the genocide of the Indians because as you put it I did not do it.
    12 my final point is this war was a total abomination it cannot be justified from any perspective from either side in every other country except for Haiti slavery was eliminated through politics and renumeration of the slave owners. As onerous as t(hat might have been in some cases.)

    Lincoln also took an oath to defend the Constitution, that Constitution does not give him the right to declare war, Congress must declare war, unreasonable search and seizures no writ of habeas corpus, dividing a sovereign state within the union into two states are among his violation of his oath. So it is only the Confederate officer you hold accountable but not your beloved patron St. Abraham

    Now I want to go back to point .7 which you do not agree with ,based on crop yields after the war. My great grandfather John had two families the first when he was in his early 20s. They lived in the Rockbridge area not far from Lexington. It were small farmers they owned no slaves. They did not like slavery not out of any great love for Negroes I suspect , but because but our ancestors came over as indentured servants and felt the lash as well. Also slavery did nothing for the commoner poor man in the South as the plantations were entirely self-sufficient.
    When Sheridan came through the valley and scorched it the family had to move with little provisions as you can well imagine living by a small lake or river his wife and two young daughters contracted malaria. Quinine as well as opiates and all other goods were blockaded. While they were not starve to death there were undernourished in the combination of the three brought about their early death. This sort of thing happened over and over again

    After the war he remarried my great-grandmother relatively late in life. He was pretty beat up them having spent a stint in Fort Delaware and point Lookout. The glib reputation of starvation and suffering of the civilian population is as repugnant to me as is the neo-Confederate position that slavery was no worse than working at Walmart.

    Much of these hard feelings have been resolved by 1900 and you can see that in the reunion at Gettysburg decades later and by the letters and friendships of many soldiers who fought on either side. One side of our family fought for the Union one side for the Confederacy. Reconstruction in the words of Shelby Foote was losing the war and having your nose rubbed in it. Foote was anything but pro-Confederate.
    Now I see the Confederate flag referred to as the Confederate swastika and the continuing demonization and ridicule of Southerners particularly poor Southerners. This along with the 1000 US military bases around the world the needless loss of life in Afghanistan and during the Iraqi war to me is the heritage not of Jefferson and Washington or Thomas Paine, but rather Lincoln the railroad corporate lawyer and his cronies.

    Yet there he sets like Zeus in the Parthenon in Washington DC.

  99. steve em says:

    poNe other thing,I do nto deny that Lincolnlked through Richmond. It is a classc iexample of mythologizing. According to William Crook his body guard in his memoirs published in 1907. Crowds of Negroes surrounded him and aman kissed his feet. Crook said Lincoln told him bow before no one but f God. and tehn said as long as I am alive I will you see to to you get every ti right of a citizen.

    now the only real witness to this was William crook who worship LIncoln. I don’t doubt them Lincoln might have said something to that effect given the circumstances. But as we know from his speeches he was pro-abolitionist when he was with abolitionist but he was pro-colonization when he was around those who were not.

    one incident even if it did happen exactly as Crook stated it does not repudiate Lincoln’s long history of supporting white supremacy. That’s where the mythologizing comes in.

    if you are stating that it had been resolved that secession was unconstitutional and that is your interpretation but obviously it had never been resolved.
    This is from a letter from Lord Acton to Robert E Lee
    Without presuming to decide the purely legal question, on which it seems evident to me from Madison’s and Hamilton’s papers that the Fathers of the Constitution were not agreed, I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.\

    The key point was undecided and that it was undecided is indicated by the New England Hartford convention discussing secession as early as the war of 1812..since it was undecided it is not up to you to judge those who chose to defend their state against invasion who believed it was Constitutional.
    You are correct that men can always justify to their conscience any action, they can justify blockading medicine to the enemy and its civilians. They can justify secession as insurrection and rebellion as being not applicable to the rules of war.
    Even of all people Marcus Garvey commented that something died at Appomattox that had no reason to die as much as it was a glorious day for freedom.
    That thing which died was Jeffersonian democracy that people had the right to choose their own form of government when the existing government no longer met their needs or in fact impinged upon. Four of my forefathers fought in the Revolutionary war and as many fought for the Confederacy, they felt they were fighting for the same thing. The only member of my family who owned slaves lived in Delaware and was a captain in the union army.

    We have wandered a long way from topic which is why the South lost the Civil War. They lost it because they did not have the manufacturing base the men and matériel necessary. As historian Gary Gallagher stated the union fought the war with one hand tied behind it. I should also note that at the end of the war the Davis administration agreed to free the slaves if France and England would come to their aid. Far too little too late.
    My reasons for these long rambles is the constant irritation that I feel over the slander of my ancestors particularly in regards to equating the battle flag of northern Virginia with the swastika.whatever mistakes my ancestors made they paid for in blood in places like Normandy, the battle of Guadacanal, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. My late brother was with the Marines at Chozen reservoir.my nephew carried the battle flag to Afghanistan.
    if were going to postulate about history than here’s a postulate for you the South agreed to spring free the slaves but they must be sent to the Midwest and West at least 90% say. If they had done that I guarantee you Lincoln would’ve declared war on them.

  100. D Herko says:

    Ok point by point

    1. A provision for secession was never included in the Constitution because the framers never imagined that once created the country would break apart, they did not plan for failure and that is just what secession would be failure. Secession ends the Union and Jackson nor Lincoln afterward could not allow the country to just break apart. The idea of a legal standing is then moot, because the legal system like the legislative and executive would be rendered useless.

    2. Both History and Happenstance allow men and women the opportunity to rise above their own failings and accomplish something that exceeds the expectations of the masses. Lincoln for all his faults, depression, upbrining, prejustices, children’s death, wife’s mental state, political opposition (the list is quite lengthy) he overcame them in a moment of necessity to be the single greatest driving force behind the preservation of the Union. No one during this time was more active, took more chances, emersed themselves more into the task. I would be interested to find out whom you think was more instrumental than Lincoln in the Union remaining as one entity.

    3. During my studies I can clearly deliniate thre sections of the Country that would have emerged. The Northeast (Maine to PA), The South (Maryland to Mississippi) and the \Old\ Northwest (Ohio to the Dakotas) Texas with too few plantations in the classic sense alnog with other states in the South West of the Mississippi would have formed their own Country. With a disolved Union California and the Western Coast (AZ and Mew Mexico) Kansas could possibly join the \Old\ Northwest states. I don’t see Manifest destiny taking hold Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska don’t form as soon as they do. The US does not buy Alaska from the Russians nor do they aquire Hawaii. You can disagree it is all opinion, but two countries is not realistic especially if secession is so easy for any state having a dispute with a weak central government.

    4. Actually Slave states Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri,Texas and Virgina did have representation at the Republican convention, Just Texas and Virginia refused to allow him to be on the general election ballot.

    5. As a retired logistican, I am uniquely qualified to say after study, that the true problem with respect to hunger in the Confederacy especially the Armies and key cities boil down to: distribution, the Southern states did little to keep pace or encourage the implementation of standardized rail systems. This coupled with the complete lack of industry equates to the haphazard way rails were created not equal in guage and not maintained meant food from the farms could not make it to the people that needed to eat. This put an undue burdern on the Shennandoah Valley to produce food for Richmond and the Army of Virginia. Called the Breadbasket of the Confederacy it in reality only supported Lee’s Army and the Confederate Central Government. This name magnifies the issue that the Confederacy focused all of its efforts on the Virginia theater of war. Had the Confederate leaders kept the Confederate capital in the deep South, the results of the war could well have been different. But the Confederacy like the Antebellum US Government was too Virginia Dominated. From 1789 to 1860 only 22 years were there someone from a free state sitting in the White House While from Virginia alone 36 years men from this state held the office. Jackson’s 8 years, Polk’s 4 years and Taylor’s portion of a term finish off the 71 years.

    As the Union Armies continued to isolate Virginia from food sources, cutting the Mississippi, move through Georgia etc. the problem only magnified. This coupled with the shear number of men the South used in the war drained the states from growing the food and getting it to the hungry. Of the 5.5 million whites (1860 US Census) in the South, about 1/2 were female. That leaves 2.75 million males. Considering that statistically almost no northern men went to the South while more than 100,000 men from Southern state went North ( I can provide detailed analysis) The Southern States were almost completely drained of men capable of serious farming and infrastructure.

    6. I am not labeling Lincoln, I am just looking at the results of his labors.

    7. You can see him as purly a political animal, I just think it was courageous of him to present the Emancipation Proclamation with the war in doubt in the fall of 1862.

    8. With no Union there is no Constitution. The Constitution itself, give provisions for national emergencies, I can think of none greater than the disintegration of the country itself.

    9. The judicial system works on presedence, once secession was successful for 7 southern states then four more, do the border states leave. What happens when Ohio or Rhode Island has a dsipute with the Central Government (once in has relocated from DC to some undetermined location). How about in the South those 7 to 11 southern states are very diverse. Will Virginia continue to dominate Southern politics, Texas and it’s independent streak won’t stand long for a Confederacy that is fixated on a plantation cash crop based economy that is not profitable in Texas.

    10. The State of Virginia completely ignored the western 33 counties as it decided to attempt to leave the Union. West Virginia provide 32,068 men for the Union, a number just slightly greater than TN 31,092. It is not a stretch to say that many men from these Southern States were opposed to secession. Every Confederate state provided regiments of volunteers to the Union cause. Missouri a slave border state was dominated in state politics by a small minority of slave owning plantation men. The vast majority of the state were men who were not slave owners and were not going to fight for such. That is one of the reasons Missouri did not join the Confederacy. Missouri was admitted as a slave state, but geographically, the land in the middle of the state does not have enough water sources to support large plantation farms. So the 40 years since it was admitted, it gradually changed demographically from a slave state to a free state – just not by its political representation in Congress. And like West Virginia, Eastern Tennessee and Eastern North Carolina both were not fervently behind secession. Lincoln was eager to protect the loyal Unionists around Knoxville and made it a priority throughout the war – not really the actions of a political animal.

    11. we agree

    12. we agree war is an abomination. So if the intention of the South was peaceful, why did Floyd pre-stage weapons and why was there no negotiation with the Buchanan or Lincoln administrations. The Southern States voted to leave and they then took Federal Property, why did they not return the weapons and supplies and negotiate for the removal of US Federal entities from Southern soil.

    Lincoln did not declare war, because the South was not a foreign power. Congress retains the authority to declare war on a foreign power. No foreign power, that I have found in many years of research, ever recognized the Confederacy. France recognized the United States three years before Yorktown. So if you think secsssion is a merky issue, the power to declare war must be equally merky by your logic.

    I have not glibbly denied any suffering, nor have I equated a Confederate Soldier to any true monster of history, that is your irritation to carry. I to had blood relatives in World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam and I have served my own 22 year stint with a wonderful year spent driving through Baghdad in 2004.

    I do not spend time postulating what if. It is pointless. I do think that a bunch of uber-wealthy slave owners were so arrogant in their belief of self-importance that they dragged you ancestors and millions of others into the greatest tragedy of our nation’s history. That somehow you have put the the responsibility of this tragedy on Lincoln is baffling. This crisis was going to happen, Slavery was the first billion dollar business in this country, it was not just going to melt away. I don’t postulate that it might not have happened, that men would give away their fortunes. That is folly, your folly.

  101. Darren says:

    The big failure for the Union side is what happened after the confederacy was obliterated. The Union Army should have occupied plantations, gathered evidence of the worst atrocities, and administered justice; mass hangings, for instance. The political leadership should have be treated in the same manner as the Nazi’s after all, who started the war? In addition, seized lands should have been passed over to the slaves who had worked the fields; as a matter of compensation and which they would have required to build a life. The Union Army should have remained in the occupied states as long as necessary to eliminate or strongly moderate resentment and maintain civility. The war was about freedom and at the heart of the confederate cause was the continuance of slavery. So in reality, the confederacy had no future, slavery was a crime against humanity; had the Union lost, the British who had abolished slavery in 1834, and had been policing the oceans may have decided to finish the job or join the Union effort. Had the Union done a better job after the war, racism would have be dead long before the 1970s.

  102. steve em says:

    e Union Army should have remained in the occupied states as long as necessary to eliminate or strongly moderate resentment and maintain civility. th tmight be the funniest thing I have ever seen mass hangings and long term occupation to eliminate or strongly moderate resentment and maintain civility.

    ‘In addition, seized lands should have been passed over to the slaves who had worked the fields; as a matter of compensation and which they would have required to build a life.\

    Oh yeah that was going to happen most ended up share croppers on the same land.If the union did what youy asked we have a two hundred year version of the Troubles in . They should have done wha Lincoln wanted send the Negres out of the country..

  103. D Herko says:

    There was much misplaced anger after the war from both sides that only made the reunification worse.

    From the Union side

    1.much of the anger comes from the assassination of the President.

    2. Union men blamed the Confederacy for the loss of life and the war itself. The first hand diaries and journals don’t pull punches in the blame these vet levy on the Confederate leaders and men, likewise the blame for the war itself goes from South to North.

    From the Confederate side is the reality of losing the war.

    1.There is the ego of many men that felt a sense of superiority. The common Southern man and solider was most likely a second or third generation American fighting against what they thought of as an immigrant army.

    2. Many wealthy Southerners invested all into the war, their family fortunes were gone, worthless Confederate script and bonds homes in levels of disarray. In a plantation society, if the plantation has failed the surrounding community based on support to those plantations all fail. Blacksmiths, furniture makers, school teachers communities in ruin.

    3. the flower of the Southern male population was gone. Killed wounded or captured, most definately psychologically altered after years of war, There is not a workforce capable of rapidly fixing their situation. Speculators or even honest men from other parts of the country only increased the anger.

    4. tens of thousands of men in blue returned to their southern homes. I can only imagine the turmoil within those families and communities.

    I will not comment on what Lincoln might have done had he not been shot dead. That is dependent entirely on your views on the man.

  104. steve em says:

    I was of course being facetious in my last sentence. Lincoln made it clear he wanted to let the South up easy. He definitely feared a race war he was definitely on the side of white supremacy, but the war had modified his views to some extent on Negro suffrage.
    whether secession was constitutional or not had never been adjudicated and to say it was or was not is pointless.
    As I have stated before I thought the idea of secession would only lead to more secession until the South look like pre-Bismarck Germany or ancient Ireland where there was a King for every 100 acres.
    This is one of the best talks I have ever heard on Robert E Lee and the Civil War in general. I will try to restrain myself from posting further when the next lunatic comes on suggesting mass hangings of Confederates or that they were equivalent to Nazis.


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  106. Nageye Kondus says:

    I think the only reason why the south lost war was the issue of slavery. Nothing more nothing less. They called it their way of life but in essence they were fighting to enslave another human being. The north on the other hand, on the top of preserving the union, was in essence fighting for the freedom for all. They didn’t had to gloss or give it different definition such as way of life or anything. Thus, they can proudly say today, we fought against the slavery and we succeeded to end it. There can never be anything more glorious just than the ending of the slavery and that is what the northern camp will always be remembered and appreciated, not by the Americans alone but by the whole world.

    What can the south say today they fought for? They cannot say they fought to keep enslaving black people. Though this is exactly what they fought for. So they simply lost the war for fighting for the wrong and unjust cause.
    If England and France would have entered the war on the side of the confederate states they would have lost straightaway. Simply because the wrong cause, and they clearly understood that.

  107. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. (ret.) says:

    A close friend, West Point grad, scholar and \Nam vet told me something that stuck.

    R. E. Lee knew at day one, that the South was over matched. The reason that he is famous is that he took long chances, but he was compelled to. His luck, and judgment ran out at Gettysburg. Within a day after Grant took over, Lee knew what was coming.

    A question which dogs me. Our combined nation lost 700,000 KIA, by far the worst disaster our nation has ever suffered. But why? Slavery is one factor, but post bellum, the industrial worker in north and south was brutally treated by the Robber Barons. Death on the job was common. America was expanding west and the various reconciliations (e.g. Missouri Compromise) failed. Post bellum, Sherman slaughtered the western Indians. The KKK expanded hegemony over the Southern (and Northern) blacks. The central question to me is why the war was not avoided, never fought. Other than arrogance, I have never found a good answer. And this will be needed in the next horror.

  108. Gordon says:

    Whenever someone today states that war wasn’t about slavery, I ask them two questions:

    1. If not slavery, (the one and only great issue dividing the country since its founding), then what else was worth the deaths of as many as 800,000 people, in a country of only 32 million? Tariffs?

    2. If you don’t believe the words of the South’s political and military leaders themselves on why they seceded (state’s Ordinances of Secession, thousands of speeches, etc), whose word are you taking?

    The South lost the war because the North beat them. As superb Confederate General John Brown Gordon replied when asked whose fault it was that they lost the Battle of Gettysburg (Lee or Longstreet, Stuart, etc)

    I always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.

  109. Bill Neely says:

    I have not read all the comments so this may have been covered but two factors are rarely considered. First, it would seem to me that the firing on Ft. Sumter was premature. The fort had little in the way of armament since the fort had not been finished when it was occupied by Major Anderson in the dead of night from Ft. Moultrie. There were little in the way of supplies and it was not in a position to hold out against for long. While the Union could have re-supplied it by sea, getting it armed would have been problematic. The South would have been in a much better position had it held out for the Union to take the first aggressive action particularly in the Mid-west where sentiment for the war was week.
    Another advantage for delay would have been to improve support for the war in areas of the South where support for the war was weak. Coming from NC where when put to a vote the citizens voted against secession, and from a central NC county where the vote was 45 in favor of a convention to secede and 2,436 opposed. Had the South waited the sentiment in these counties might have swung facing a first strike by the North. In addition, foreign support for the South might have grown.

    • PhilG says:

      I agree that the attack on Fort Sumter was a turning point for the Confederacy.

      Before the attack, time was on the Confederates’ side. The Union did not have the political support to go to war with the South without some sort of provocation, and without a war, international recognition was only a matter of time.

      Once war broke out after the attack, time was on the Union side.

      There are plenty of other “what if”s, but this was the first and most pivotal one, and it was not subject to chance like so many of the others; it was entirely under the Jefferson administration’s control.

  110. R, Simpson says:

    We often see the results as inevitable, but that isn’t so. The South certainly lacked numerical superiority, it lacked manufacturing, and it lacked the naval power to open its ports to obtain its materiel needs. The South’s primary advantages were in its military commanders, its home field advantage, and overall enthusiasm for the war. Its best chance for victory was to bleed the Union armies long enough to force a political end to the war and a negotiated peace.

    Had Lee’s best commander, Stonewall Jackson, not been accidentally killed after Chancellorsville, had Jeb Stuart performed his scouting duties for Lee at Gettysburg instead of wandering off in search of plunder, had Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain not held Little Round Top against all odds, had Grant been content like his predecessors to let the Army of Northern Virginia sit after being bloodied, or had Lincoln not approved Sherman’s invasion of Georgia (or appointed someone less bold), the results in November 1864 quite probably would have been very different, and the South might well have won its independence.

  111. Brian says:

    While I respect the evident sincerity of your views, you are factually wrong in virtually every particular. You assert that the \North began hounding [the South] to transform its economy & forfeit its fortunes.\ In fact, the South controlled both the politics and the economy of the US for the entire antebellum period. A majority of the Presidents before Lincoln were Southern slaveholders, as were a majority of Supreme Court justices. Two thirds of the Speakers of the House and Presidents Pro Tem of the Senate were Southern slaveholders. This state of affairs obtained largely because of the well-known 3/5ths compromise, which made Southern voters more influential on a per capita basis than Northern voters.

    The other great bastion of Southern political power was the Senate. The Constitutional compromise which allotted two Senators to each state regardless of population operated to protect Southern interests. This is the source of the Missouri Compromise in 1819/1820, and the Compromise of 1850. Both operated to keep the number of slave states equal to the number of free states.

    Economically, slave property was the most valuable commodity in the US before 1860. A far greater number of millionaires lived in the South than in the North. The most valuable export of the US was cotton–it made up over 50% of the income of the country as a whole. The cotton economy was the foundation of the industrial revolution in the North, where textile mills in Connecticut and Massachusetts made clothing from Southern cotton, either directly or from cloth woven in Britain from Southern cotton and then exported back to the North.

    A huge percentage of banking activity on the part of the Bank of the United States, as well as private banks, involved loaning money to Southerners to buy land and slaves to grow cotton.

    The importance of the Southern cotton economy to the infant industrial revolution in the North is demonstrated by the many Southern commercial ties to Northern importers of slaves, as well as banking. So interconnected with finance was slavery that the mayor of New York during the Civil War, Fernando Wood, proposed that New York City secede.

    So your arguments about Northern efforts to destroy the economy of the South and dominate it politically are not supported by the facts.

    You then characterize the Constitution as a \social compact,\ from which the Southern states could choose to withdraw. Many statesmen and legal scholars would disagree. As another commenter noted, George Washington put down a rebellion by personally leading close to 15,000 troops into the field. Lincoln’s powerful arguments in the run up to the Civil War, and in the First Inaugural complement Washington’s understanding. To paraphrase him, no nation’s founding document contains the seeds of its own dissolution.

    But even if this were so, the Southern states were not free to dissolve their \compact\ without the unanimous consent of the other states. The secession of the Southern states would do tremendous damage to the economies and military/political structures of the remaining states. Even as simple a thing as the loss of New Orleans would be devastating to the Midwest. Jefferson once said that the US has only one natural enemy–anyone who controls New Orleans.

    And the suggestion that there should only have been a \civil\ remedy for the Northern states is just silly–to what Court could they have appealed for relief, and how could that Court have enforced its judgments?

    You then repeat one of the most common assertions of Confederate apologists, that \Slavery was dissolving under its own weight throughout the Americas & likely would have ended in the U.S. before 1900 (if not sooner)….\ You offer not a shred of evidence for that proposition, and for a very good reason–there is none. The number of slaves in the US increased continuously from 1800 to 1860. The production of cotton increased every year from 1800 to 1860. The production of cotton per slave increased fivefold from 1800 to 1860 (see, for instance, The Half Has Never Been Told, by Edward Baptist). The great hope of the North, that slavery could be put on the path to ultimate extinction, as Lincoln put it, depended on keeping it out of the territories, and the Dred Scott decision had dealt a body blow to that ambition.

    And even if slavery would have died out in 30 or 40 years, how could such a course of action be justified? That would mean that 4,000,000 men, women, and children would continue to be enslaved, even as more were born into slavery, for decades. Such a great and profound evil would have been worse than war, yes worse even than the deaths of 750,000 and the destruction of the war.

    You then fault Lincoln for not achieving the end of slavery by other means, such as compensated emancipation. What evidence do you have that there were any Southern states or individuals who were interested? Lincoln actually proposed such a plan for the District of Columbia back when he was a Congressman in the 1840’s, and it got no support. Once the war started, he offered compensated emancipation to the border states, pointing out that slavery was likely to be destroyed by the war and giving them the chance to get something for their slaves rather than nothing. No support whatsoever was forthcoming. Southerners were utterly and completely committed to slavery, and only their utter defeat destroyed it.

  112. Fred says:

    The Union blockade (Anaconda Plan) was a big factor. The South didn’t think the Union could do this but they did. Think of it. There was a couple thousand miles of coastline to blockade. It wasn’t as hard as all that, though, because of the long, thin outer islands. The South couldn’t trade their cotton for supplies. Their artillery was very bad. In addition, the South failed to unite all the slave states. The politics of this was very close, particularly in Maryland. But the border states didn’t really have a lot of slaves so it wasn’t such a big deal for them.

  113. Nate says:

    The biggest what if point of the war for me is the famed discovery of the abandoned copy of Lee’s Orders and Troop Disposition during the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Even with that intelligence “Little Napoleon” managed to let Lee escape relatively intact.

    If the invasion had proceeded as Lee intended I think he would have caused havoc in the North while running circles around McClellan. That was when Grant was still regarded nationally (with the patently untrue) charge of being a drunkard who had nearly lost Shiloh in the bloodiest battle of the war to date, and Sherman was still known as a head case.

    The second would be if the Confederates had taken advantage of their surprise at Pittsburg landing, hit Grant instead of his horse, captured Sherman and all of Grant’s protejes, and rolled up the Union Army of Tennessee at Shiloh before the gunboats and reinforcements turned the tide.

  114. Steve says:

    The reason the South lost the Civil War is because they lay adjacent to a greater power than they–the North. It doesn’t do to rebel against a greater power that lies so close to home–as the Irish found out for so many centuries.

    The South may have had a decent chance to influence the outcome of the war, not necessarily win it, if Stonewall Jackson, the South’s best offensive commander, had not died of complications from friendly fire at Chancellorsville.

  115. John says:

    This was a war of attrition after 4 years the South had little in resources left. left. With their smaller numbers and smaller industrial base they were never going to win a set-piece battle war.

    Despite the long-held notion that the South had all of the better generals, it really had only one good army commander and that was Lee. The rest were second-raters, at best. This is pure nonsense.

    McClellen, Burnside & Hooker were so dismal Lincoln wisely
    dismissed them & came up with able men who could lead armies,
    but none compare with Lee, Jackson or Forrest.

    In the west the top generals were worthless & Forrest realized as much. After his surrender, when asked by a Union Officer who he thought his greatest general was, General Robert E. Lee replied, Sir, a gentleman I have never had the pleasure to meet, General Nathan Bedford Forrest.\n
    Shelby Foote who wrote the monumental 3-volume Civil War: A Narrative held that there were two authentic geniuses to emerge from the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln & Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.

    His greatest adversary William T. Sherman called him “the most
    remarkable man our civil war produced on either side’ & ‘he had a
    strategy which was original & incomprehensible. There was no theory
    or art of war by which I could calculate with any degree of certainty
    what Forrest was up to.’

    Thamas Jackson & Bedford Forrest tactics are still studied at West Point are the Generals of the North studied their I doubt it, if so not as much.

    ‘German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox), studied Forrest’s battle tactics as did the U.S. Army’s ‘Ole Blood and Guts General George S. Patton, and General ‘Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf. The Institute for Military Studies concluded that the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads (won by Forrest), was perhaps the most spectacular display of tactical genius during the war. Union General William T. Sherman (the real butcher) said that he would get hat devil Forrest if it cost him 10,000 lives and broke the US treasury. Sherman sent four successively larger armies after Bedford, and he decisively defeated each one.’

    So yes the North perhaps had better Generals of the Army than the South, but its hard to say that if Jackson or Forrest were given command in the West.

  116. Doug Sterling says:

    The South lost its independence because it had a rash and intemperate leader, Jefferson Davis, who started a war instead of launching a lawsuit. There’s no doubt in my mind that the US Supreme Court of 1861 would have upheld the 10th amendment right of the Southern states to secede. We never found out because Jefferson Davis instead ordered the assault on Fort Sumter, in spite of the earnest plea of his Secretary of State Robert Toombs not to do so. Toombs said memorably: \Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet’s nest which extends from mountain to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal.\ Toombs was correct.

  117. Patrick says:

    If Lincoln was a great leader he never would have invaded the South. After Fort Sumter no one had been killed in battle. A cool headed leader was needed. Lincoln certainly would not have invaded if he could have anticipated the bloody consequences. He didn’t understand the people in the country where he was born. After some cooling of tempers the North and South would have been natural allies, even if the South split. There were no foreign powers with the resources to conquer north or south. America would have expanded and developed at a much greater pace. Nothing good came from the war. It was pointless slaughter.

    As in Russia, where half the population pines for the mighty Stalin, a large and ignorant part of America tries to convince themselves the war was fought for the sake of the Negro. Take a visit to northern areas and observe the stark segregation and Black poverty.

    Today the poorest cities are in the North. The once impressive industry of New York State is all but gone. Could the North win a civil war today?

    • Fred says:

      Two mistakes I have recently observed regarding Lincoln:
      1. He didn’t campaign in the South at all in 1860. Maybe he wouldn’t have won any southern states but he could have told his story there.
      2. He didn’t think the southern states would secede. He said they always threatened but dismissed that they would. History proved him wrong.

      • Gerald Swick says:

        Not to argue with the intent of your comments, Fred, but regarding Lincoln not campaigning in the South in 1860, presidential candidates did not personally campaign for office back then. It was considered beneath the dignity of the presidency. Their party would send out representatives to stump for the candidates, and in Dixie Republicans were almost as scarce as penguins. Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin weren’t even on the ballots in some Southern states. During this election, however, one of the Democratic candidates, Stephen Douglas “broke with tradition and made a shockingly active effort to get elected,” Gerald J. Prokopowicz wrote in Did Lincoln Own Slaves? “At first he traveled by train through the Northeast, making brief speeches at each stop. He defended his unorthodox conduct by claiming that he was simply going to visit his mother and didn’t want to be rude by refusing to acknowledge the crowds that met him at every station … By the end of the summer, Douglas realized that Lincoln was going to win the election and that secession was a real possibility. He threw off any pretense and openly campaigned through the South, speaking not for his candidacy but for national unity. His efforts were in vain …”

        Had Lincoln broken with tradition and campaigned in the South, it is entirely possible that some other assassin would have beaten John Wilkes Booth to the punch by nearly five years, such was the intensity of feeling against the “Black Republicans.”

  118. Brian says:

    As another commenter says, candidates didn’t campaign in the modern sense. Also, none of the Southern states allowed Lincoln’s name even to appear on the ballot, so he or any Republican nominee would have been wasting his time.

  119. Brian says:

    Always interesting to consider how talent and virtue are not synonymous. Forrest was a military genius, and a brave and capable fighter. He was also a miserable human being. He was a slave trader before the war, and one of the founders of the KKK after. He was responsible for the Fort Pillow Massacre, in which hundreds of captured Black Union troops were summarily executed.

    By the way, your characterization of Sherman as a \real butcher\ is entirely inaccurate. He was very sparing of the lives of his troops, unlike his opponent John Bell Hood. And as for civilians, Sherman was certainly ruthless in destroying property which supported the war, but there were almost no civilian casualties during the March to the Sea or any of Sherman’s campaigns.

  120. Fred says:

    I agree that Lincoln shouldn’t have personally campaigned in the South. I just think he shouldn’t have dismissed them and should have had some sort of campaign effort in the South similar to the effort in the North. It wouldn’t have won any states but it would have been less divisive.

  121. Fred says:

    I would add the following:
    1. The South failed to unite all the slave states against the North. They would have fared much better with Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware in the Confederacy.
    2. The South made a big mistake in firing on Fort Sumter. I believe the North was nearly ready to give it up with no battle when they fired. Doing that stirred up a hornets nest similar to Pearl Harbor in WWII.
    3. The South fought well in the South. Having good intelligence was a big factor in that. It was different when they invaded the North. For example, discovering Lee’s battle plan used as wrapping of a handful of cigars spoiled Lee’s first invasion of Maryland and brought on Antietam.
    4. Winfield Scott gave the North an excellent battle plan at the start of the war. The Anaconda Plan for a naval blockade of the South coastline is a good example of that and wasn’t an obvious thing to do given the South’s long coastline. But it was easier to do than one might think because of the geography of their coastline, which contained many long, narrow islands giving the South few practical outlets to the sea.
    5. The North’s artillery was very good and the South’s was very bad. For example, Lee’s massive artillery bombardment before Pickett’s Charge on the third day of Gettysburg was ineffectual.
    6. The North’s riverine fleet is an unsung factor aiding in control of the rivers. This caused evacuation of Missouri by the South, for example, because of the fear of being cut off. It also was a big factor in the battle of Shiloh.

    • VillageElder says:

      I believe the main reason is #2, above. “The South made a big mistake in firing on Fort Sumter.” If the South would have just blockaded the fort and patiently waited, allowing the northern troops to leave, the situation of succession would have ended peacefully. The South would have had their separate Southern States of America. Then, eventually, agricultural automation in the South would have ended the slavery issue.

  122. ron m says:

    There are a few reasons why the South lost the war. The most obvious is that the North had superior resources. These include a populations of 22 million vs 5 million (excluding slaves), a far superior industrial base, superiority in telegraph and railroad infrastructure, etc., as well as an established currency.

    Another reason why the South lost the war is that the very principles upon which the Confederacy was founded prohibited their nationalization of a singular fighting force. To put it another way, the basis of secession for the south was to escape “Federalism” and promote the rights of states and individuals. This ideal by its nature prohibits things like conscription or pooling of resources by the several states for a “national” war. In other words, the Civil War pitted one united nation against a bunch of states under a loosely organized agreement. When the Confederacy instituted a single currency and a draft (out of necessity to prosecute the war), they abandoned the principles upon which they were founded, resulting in public backlash. This combined with a currency that was nearly worthless, made this fight unsustainable without significant help from other countries.

    In the South, citizens struggled with worthless currency, their land being razed, and a limited population base to use as soldiers, and extreme sacrifice to the war effort. In the North, daily life continued without much interruption for many citizens. To paraphrase Shelby Foote, the North won the war with one hand tied behind its back.

    In my opinion, had it not been for the repeatedly hesitant actions of George McClellan, the war would have lasted less than two years.

  123. euphie says:

    General Picket was asked this very same question; his answer: “I always thought the north had something to do with it.”

  124. rlhailssrpe says:

    The question is in two parts. One is ill phrased, “… how and why the Confederate cause ultimately ended in defeat.” The North “won” the how but what was the result of that “victory”? We suffer today from the penultimate disaster of a Representative Democracy which failed abjectly to resolve differences and remain united.

    That war should never have been fought. Both leaderships failed, particularly in the South, due to arrogance and its certain resulting stupidity. It was a fiasco until Lincoln’s second election and his selection of Grant to grind the South down, “by the left flank”. He continually attacked in war of attrition which Lee had no hope of matching, and he killed most of the talented Confederate generals.

    The north recognized and took advantage of the revolution in technology, e.g. the telegraph. That same revolution made slavery a losing proposition, while enslaving industrial workers in company towns. We evolved from slavery to industrial unions in two generations. And man still have not figured it out, due to abject destruction/ conquest of our enemy, e.g Israel – Palestine, England – Ireland, Russia – the Ukraine. The new technology, fission and fusion has made war inconceivable to any sane person.

    IMHO, the best Confederate general was Longstreet. He told his boss, “Dont do this” at Gettysburg and told him again, “It’s over, quit killing” at Appomattox. (Did pretty good at Fredericksburg Virginia too, if slaughter is your thing.)

  125. Mark Thomason says:

    The South made poor choices and inefficient use of resources that it did have. The South also made some poor strategic choices, that played into the North’s strategy. Whether or not it could have produced a win, the South could certainly have done much better.

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