Writing about recorded history should be a relatively easy task to accomplish. Recorded history is based on facts. Regardless of what time period one may write about, one will find enough information about that time of period. The key is to put everything in a logical and understandable manner. This paper will be about the Civil War.
I will try, to the best of my knowledge, to discuss the Norths and Souths positions and Arguments for going to war, their initial military strategies and their strength and weaknesses. The paper will actually be a summary from chapter 10 of the book Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era By: James McPherson, Amateurs Go To War. Before discussing the war itself, one must understand the Unions and the Confederates arguments and reasons for going to war. Lets start at the beginning, when the South was first showing animosity for the North, which eventually led to sessionist ideas by the South. The Compromise of 1850 was drafted in response to the threat of a Southern Convention, because of Zachary Taylors decision to carve out two huge territories in the Far West and to admit them in the union as free states.
Henry Clay drafted the compromise, which includes eight parts. The first pair would admit California as a State and organize the remainder of the Mexican cession without any restriction or condition on the subject of slavery. The second pair of resolutions settled the boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico in favor of the latter and compensated Texas by federal assumption of debts contracted during its existence as an Independent Republic. Clays third pair of resolutions called for abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia but a guarantee of slavery itself in the District. As if these six proposals yielded more to the North then to the South, Clays final pair of resolutions tipped the balance Southward by denying congressional power over the interstate slave trade and calling for a stronger law to enable slave holders to recover their property when they fled to free states Battle Cry of freedom: The Civil War Era, McPherson James, (p.70-71). The Northerners hated the fugitive slave law, because in the past it was never enforced and it never gave a trial by jury to any runaway slaves.
The only testimony heard was that of the slaveholder and he usually recovered his slave. Not only that, but the slaveholder was compensated $10 for winning the trial because of all the trouble he had to go through in recovering his property. Because of the passage of the compromise, the North had to enforce the law which it hated. As the United States expanded westward, two new territories were carved out and the issue of slavery arose again.
The U.S. government let the two new territories decide themselves whether or not to permit slavery. Since it was up to the people to decide the slavery issue, Northern abolitionists enticed anti-slavery supporters to move into the new regions and vote to make Kansas and Nebraska free states. Southern pro-slavery supporters did exactly as the North did to make Kansas and Nebraska slave states. The two sides clashed with one another over this issue and there was literally a Civil War in Kansas.
One particular situation that occurred in Kansas was the sacking of the city of Lawrence. Pro slavery advocates of the city of LeCompton, Kansas set up a group or a posse that went to the anti-slavery city of Lawrence, Kansas, ransacked, burned and literally destroyed the city. In response to this attack by the Southerners the Northerners took revenge. John Brown, a radical abolitionist, decided to do a similar thing to the Southerners. He planned an attack on LeCompton, Kansas. Enroute to LeCompton he encountered about five pro slavery supporters, and without remorse, hacked them to death at Potawattamie Creek in Kansas.
The entire country was slowly being divided into two parts and even congress could not do anything to resolve the problems. Political parties were splitting along North/South lines and even violence was a common occurrence in congress. The last straw, which eventually split the Union, was the election of 1860. On the eve of the election, Southerners had already agreed that if a republican wins the election, they would leave the Union.
Well, history shows that Lincoln, a republican, was elected and the south truly did leave the Union. During the four months, prior to President Lincolns inauguration, President James Buchanan did nothing to discourage secession. It may be even concluded that he was sympathetic to the Southern cause. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, and by February 1861 seven more southern states followed South Carolinas example. Finally, when Lincoln took the office, all of the federal arsenals in the south have been overrun by Confederate forces. In Fort Sumter, South Carolina, federal troops were literally surrounded and their supplies eventually ran out.
Lincoln made a decision to send an unarmed supply ship to the harbor of Fort Sumter. Lincolns reasoning was that if the South fires on an unarmed supply ship, it would be an act of war. If it doesnt it would mean that the South is bluffing and it really does not want to secede. Well, on April 12, 1861 Confederate troops fired on the unarmed supply ship at Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. The Norths primary reasons for going to war was to keep the country together.
The South was fighting for state sovereignty, the right of secession and interpreting the constitution the way they wanted to, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 310). Slavery was not the reason the Civil War began. Lincoln had argued that it was unconstitutional for any state or states to secede from the Union, which is why keeping the Union together, as one country, was the Norths most important cause for war. The South was fighting for the sacred right of self government, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p.
310). The South felt that it was fighting for the same reasons that the founding fathers had fought for in the war for Independence. According to southerners seceding from the Union, all they wanted was to be left alone, and not to be bothered by the North. After Davis speech to the Confederate Congress he included the phrase All we ask is to be let alone, which inturn specified the most immediate, tangible Confederate war aim: defense from invasion. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p.
310). Slavery was not the major issue or cause for going to war. Slavery handicapped Confederate foreign policy. The first Southern commissioners to Britain reported in May 1861 that The public mind here is entirely opposed to the government of the Confederate States of America on the question of slavery.The sincerity and universality of this feeling embarrass the government in dealing with the question of our recognition. The North initially stated that the war was not about slavery.
Lincoln even mentioned that he had no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with slavery in the states where it exists, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 312). The Constitution protected and will continue to protect slavery where it existed. As was stated earlier, the North fought the war to keep the Union together, because of the fact that secession was unconstitutional. Militarily, both the North and the South were not prepared for this war.
Although the North was the manufacturing part of the country, it had to somehow change its peacetime economy to a wartime economy. Most of the arms that belonged to the North were very old and outdated. It had old muskets and cannons that dated back to the war of 1812. Northern leadership was crippled as well. Most of the pristine military academies were in the South, and most of the graduates of those military academies served in the confederate armies. Many of the Norths military leaders were veterans of the war of 1812.
Many of the Norths leaders were in there 60s and beyond. The army had nothing resembling a general staff, no strategic plans, no program for mobilization, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 312). The Northern navy was in better shape then the army. Although 373 of the Navys 1,554 officers and a few of its 7600 seamen left to go with the south, the large merchant marine from which an expanded navy would draw experienced officers and sailors was overwhelmingly northern. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p.
313). The Northerners military strategy was to basically cut the Southerners lines of communications, to slowly choke the Confederate army to surrender. The navy did a good job following this strategy. The North set up blockades, which the navy carried out to the best of its ability. The Confederates had quite possibly the best leadership in the war. Although to win, it needed more then best leadership.
The South had primarily an agrarian economy. This fact alone was a major obstacle for the South during the war. The South had the men, leadership, and even some ammunition when the war began. The South had to find the resources, employ those resources, and finally put those resources together. The confederacy had only one-ninth the industrial capacity of the Union. Northern states had manufactured 97% of the countrys firearms in 1860, 94% of its cloth, 93% of its pig iron, and more then 90% of its boots and shoes.
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 318). When it came to the Navy, the Confederates had no navy. Although lacking material resources, they used tugboats, revenue cutters, and river steamboats to be converted into gunboats for harbor patrol. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p.
314). The Confederates also came up with the idea of the first submarine. The Confederacy sent into action the worlds first combat submarine, the C.S.S. Hunley, which sank three times in trials, drowning the crew each time, before sinking a blockade ship off Charleston in 1864, while going down itself for the fourth and last time. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p.
314). The Confederacy was also the first to introduce torpedoes/land mines. Even though these innovations were developed during the war, they did not prove substantial enough to win the war. Jefferson Davis strategy was to take a defensive position rather then an offensive one.
The basic war aim of the confederacy, like that of the United States in the revolution was to defend a new nation from conquest. . Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 314).
Davis reasoned just as Washington did during the revolution, that retreating against a stronger enemy is not bad all the time. It gave time to regroup your forces and build a counterattack against the enemy. Although the south did try this tactic at the beginning of the war, they didnt follow this strategy at the end of the war. The south had the temperament that they could easily whip the Yankees and that they should take the war to them. The idea of waiting for blows, instead of inflicting them, is altogether unsuited to the genius of our people, declared the Richmond Examiner. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p.
337). In conclusion, the lack of adequate resources proved to be the devastating factor for the Confederacy. Although the Confederacy had the excellent leadership at the beginning of the war, later, southern public opinion showed that the people in the South were sick of taking the defensive position and wanted to attack the North. Because of this strategy, the Confederacy lost many soldiers in battles while trying to fight in the North. The Souths last ditch effort at the end of the war was a promise of freedom for any slave that fights against the Union.
Even though the North had inferior leadership, its manufacturing capabilities surpassed that of the South. At first the North did not have many men enlisted in an army. However, later on the North had voluntary regiments of men fighting for the Union. The Norths major lines of communication were never destroyed and the Union army was always well supplied. In conclusion the North won because it had superior resources and industry to sustain the war effort to its conclusion.
William L. Yancey and A. Dudley Mann to Robert Toombs, May 21, 1861, in James D. Richardson, comp., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 2 vols. (Nashville, 1906), II, 37. 5 1 History