Counterpoint Did a longer war favor the North or South?

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Sep 7, 2019
I've read some on this forum state that a longer war favored the North because of its advantages in men and resources. But the British had even greater advantages in the Revolutionary War, but after 7 years of fighting they decided it wasn't worth it. A longer war is likely to have more draft riots, and the chance of the Democrats winning and making some kind of peace settlement. I would have thought a longer war favors the most committed army (the South), which is defending its own soil, although I acknowledge the Union blockade did take its toll over time.
 

huskerblitz

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I've read some on this forum state that a longer war favored the North because of its advantages in men and resources. But the British had even greater advantages in the Revolutionary War, but after 7 years of fighting they decided it wasn't worth it. A longer war is likely to have more draft riots, and the chance of the Democrats winning and making some kind of peace settlement. I would have thought a longer war favors the most committed army (the South), which is defending its own soil, although I acknowledge the Union blockade did take its toll over time.
Not really a good comparison with the Revolution honestly. You have 3000 miles of ocean separating the bulk of British forces from the theater of war. And when France, Spain, and the Dutch joined in that complicated things even more for the British. And keep in mind, it was the British merchants that finally got Parliament and the King to back off the war because of shipping restraints was killing their bottom line. So just not an easy comparison.

I think if we simply look at history, we can see that a longer war (four years compared to say one or two years) hamped the South much, much more than the North.
 

wausaubob

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See page 19. There was a rapid technical revolution going on in locomotives, http://ppolinks.com/hoboken32340/2014.013.0131_Motive_Power_Dev_Penn_RR_System_1924.pdf The Confederacy was cut off from deliveries from these producers. The non Confederate parts of the south, especially in Kentucky and Tennessee, were part of the US distribution network, and their bills were getting paid by the US military. There are reasons why the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Louisville and Nashville railroads emerged from the war with their credit intact and the ability to expand.
 

lupaglupa

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I agree with @huskerblitz that having the Atlantic Ocean as a supply line makes it hard to compare the British experience in the Revolutionary War with the issues either side had in the Civil War. I do think that if the war had dragged on a lot longer that the North would have grown tired of it and perhaps pushed to end the war. But the pushes to end things that did come in the North were not to walk away - they were to adopt harsher tactics. Meanwhile the South had just about run out of all necessary supplies, including men. One only has to read newspapers from either side to see the difference in everyday life. While the South suffered many in the North prospered.
 

OpnCoronet

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The question is ... which side was betterequipped to fight and win a longer war?

Except for the war in northern va.,the history of th ear was mostly one of continuous confederate retreats. What this means, IMO, is that in order to sustain southernconfidence in continuing the war and, at the same time, depress Northern confidence in the war, success, for either, would depend upon their confidence in winning or losing their War, and, the evidence that could be seen, was mostly Unionist.

Drawing the war out to no good purpose, for either side would be nonsensical and by 1864, to the unbiased mind, all the advantages were Northern, i.e.,there had to be a light at the end of the tunnel and the war for the South, for those who would see, was a progressive dimming of the light for independence.
 

byron ed

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...I've read some on this forum state that a longer war favored the North because of its advantages in men and resources. But ...A longer war is likely to have more draft riots, and the chance of the Democrats winning and making some kind of peace settlement. I would have thought a longer war favors the most committed army (the South), which is defending its own soil, although I acknowledge the Union blockade did take its toll over time.

By no measure whatsoever could it be said the South had the most committed army, so let's just toss that out right away.

In the case of the Civil War, a longer war yet favored the North. For one thing, the longer the war went on the wider the spigot of deserters from the Confederate army opened. And after emancipation was announced, the wider the spigot of slaves walking away from Confederate front lines and homeferont was, meaning an increasingly crippled ability to maintain defensive works or a national economy as the war went on. Foreign support had dried up by 1863 so nothing to hope for there.

In effect slavery was done no matter who won after 1863. And with that precept of the Confederacy usurped, how many Southerners were inclined to fight and die instead for tariffs or defense from invasion. Practically, and obvious to the Southern populace, defense from invasion was moot by the second half of the war, everybody could see that it could not be stopped (remember: "we warn't defeated, we wuz overwhelmed" ).

The only hope for the Confederacy was to make the war shorter before all those elements ensured its eventual defeat. A Copperhead victory in the North could have obtained that, and would have except for that aforementioned commitment of the Northern not-Copperheads.
 
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leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
I've read some on this forum state that a longer war favored the North because of its advantages in men and resources. But the British had even greater advantages in the Revolutionary War, but after 7 years of fighting they decided it wasn't worth it. A longer war is likely to have more draft riots, and the chance of the Democrats winning and making some kind of peace settlement. I would have thought a longer war favors the most committed army (the South), which is defending its own soil, although I acknowledge the Union blockade did take its toll over time.
We need to in mind that the Colonial Rebels only won their independence because of massive foreign assistance such as French troops, financial aid and the French Navy.The Spanish Navy fought on the side of the Colonial Rebels and the Netherlands sent financial aid. In addition to the above starting in 1778 the British were engaged in a two front war with the French in the Indian Subcontinent so the British Army was stretched thin.
No real objective evidence that the Confederate Army was more dedicated to military duty vs the Union Army. Per "Lincoln's Loyalists Union soldiers from the Confederacy " Richard Current North East University Press 104k Southern white men many who had defected from the Confederate Army joined the Union Army.
Many others most famously Newt Knight became Unionist guerrillas and desertion was a major problem for both the Union and Confederate Armies.
Also has the war progressed many Southerners of African ancestry joined the USCT.
As the war progressed Unionist guerrillas were able to create bigger pockets of resistance.
Not seeing how a long war helps the Confederacy especially as the Confederacy looses ports and the Union Navy becomes ever larger.
Leftyhunter
 

A. Roy

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I've read some on this forum state that a longer war favored the North because of its advantages in men and resources. But the British had even greater advantages in the Revolutionary War, but after 7 years of fighting they decided it wasn't worth it. A longer war is likely to have more draft riots, and the chance of the Democrats winning and making some kind of peace settlement. I would have thought a longer war favors the most committed army (the South), which is defending its own soil, although I acknowledge the Union blockade did take its toll over time.

I would think the question about who would be favored in a longer war would depend on why the war went on longer. I can imagine a couple of scenarios under which a longer war might favor the Confederacy:

1. If the war were extended because Confederacy succeeded in getting recognition and aid from foreign powers -- enough aid to strengthen its position, sustain its economy, push back the US, and maintain its borders.

2. Or if the war were extended because the US carried on with the McLellan-style cautious, subdued military approach, instead of moving to the Grant-Sherman aggressive strategy -- maybe combined with Democratic political victories that would have pushed for a peaceful compromise.

This kind of hypothetical exercise is interesting. Kind of hard to do, though, because what actually happened was complicated enough, without having to speculate on what-ifs.

Roy B.
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
Q
I would think the question about who would be favored in a longer war would depend on why the war went on longer. I can imagine a couple of scenarios under which a longer war might favor the Confederacy:

1. If the war were extended because Confederacy succeeded in getting recognition and aid from foreign powers -- enough aid to strengthen its position, sustain its economy, push back the US, and maintain its borders.

2. Or if the war were extended because the US carried on with the McLellan-style cautious, subdued military approach, instead of moving to the Grant-Sherman aggressive strategy -- maybe combined with Democratic political victories that would have pushed for a peaceful compromise.

This kind of hypothetical exercise is interesting. Kind of hard to do, though, because what actually happened was complicated enough, without having to speculate on what-ifs.

Roy B.
Not so sure about McClellan fighting all that cautiously. The Confederate Army suffered heavy casualties during the Peninsula Campaign and Antietam. During the Peninsula Campaign the AnV was never outnumbered by the AoP.
Foreign intervention always makes a huge difference in civil wars but no nation thought that recognising the Confederacy made sense.
Very true that hypotheticals are fun but we also need to keep in mi d what really happened.
Leftyhunter
 

byron ed

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Midwest
...a longer lasting war wouldn't be the slightest advantage for an army where a lot of soldiers didn't even have shoes anymore.

Actually there weren't a lot of soldiers that didn't have shoes for very long, just some. That's one of those things that's exaggerated because it fuels people's interest in the CW, like how hard hardtack was, or bullets that were stopped by a belt plate etc.
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
Actually, the British supplied the CSA really good with materials. So there had to be a reason for that at least.
Actually the British sold weaponry to both sides on a cash and carry basis. Eventually the British curtailed arms sales to the Confederacy such has the Laid Ram Affair.
Leftyhunter
 
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