Counterpoint Did a longer war favor the North or South?

wausaubob

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Actually, the British supplied the CSA really good with materials. So there had to be a reason for that at least.
Supplied? Sold to, the Confederacy would be more accurate. And the Confederacy paid with it scarce supply of specie, and cotton marked at the dockside price in a blockade port and sold in Liverpool at the British price.
 
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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.
To begin with America did not defeat the British Empire and achieve their independence. England's traditional enemes Spain and France jumped in and tried to win back the losses they had suffered. England perservered and minus the American colonies won back what they had lost. Eventually they decided to cut their loses and not try to win back the colonies. I don't think that there was much chance that they could not have forced the submission of the 13 colonies if they had been willing to accept the loses it would have taken. Given that there were no gold mines between Maine and Georgia. it make no economic sense for them to perservere.

However in 1860, it is clear that the Confederacy could have easily with their militia forces in Virginia waltzed into DC and taken the city and even more advantageously after Lincoln had arrived, taken the city and him in a coup de main.

The problem was that neither side really envisioned a prolonged struggle for dominance. The North simply assumed that retaking the South would take little more than a puff of wind to set the dominoes falling. The South simply could not envision the North trying to keep them in the Union by force. Nobody envisioned a war with a million combined casualties.

Lincoln unnecessarily prolonged the war with his repeated calls for 90 day volunteers. He got enough volunteer to assemble an army just in time for them to be defeated and go home. At Gettysburg Chamberlain on his way to the battlefield was herding a couple of regiments whose enlistment was just about ready to expire. He convinced them to proceed to the battle without compulsion. It is entirely likely that without their presence the Union forces on Little Round Top would not have been able to repel the Confederate assaults on day 2. Ergo a Confederate victory.

On the other hand it is undeniable that the one Union asset that never wavered was the continued immigration to the North through the entire war. The North could have made good ALL their losses in every battle just from immigration from Europe. The South not one man.

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leftyhunter

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To begin with America did not defeat the British Empire and achieve their independence. England's traditional enemes Spain and France jumped in and tried to win back the losses they had suffered. England perservered and minus the American colonies won back what they had lost. Eventually they decided to cut their loses and not try to win back the colonies. I don't think that there was much chance that they could not have forced the submission of the 13 colonies if they had been willing to accept the loses it would have taken. Given that there were no gold mines between Maine and Georgia. it make no economic sense for them to perservere.

However in 1860, it is clear that the Confederacy could have easily with their militia forces in Virginia waltzed into DC and taken the city and even more advantageously after Lincoln had arrived, taken the city and him in a coup de main.

The problem was that neither side really envisioned a prolonged struggle for dominance. The North simply assumed that retaking the South would take little more than a puff of wind to set the dominoes falling. The South simply could not envision the North trying to keep them in the Union by force. Nobody envisioned a war with a million combined casualties.

Lincoln unnecessarily prolonged the war with his repeated calls for 90 day volunteers. He got enough volunteer to assemble an army just in time for them to be defeated and go home. At Gettysburg Chamberlain on his way to the battlefield was herding a couple of regiments whose enlistment was just about ready to expire. He convinced them to proceed to the battle without compulsion. It is entirely likely that without their presence the Union forces on Little Round Top would not have been able to repel the Confederate assaults on day 2. Ergo a Confederate victory.

On the other hand it is undeniable that the one Union asset that never wavered was the continued immigration to the North through the entire war. The North could have made good ALL their losses in every battle just from immigration from Europe. The South not one man.
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To be fair 104k white Unionist troops plus 180 USCT troopers mostly Southeners definitly meant an estimated 284k men the Confederacy lost and could not make up . Maybe @Pat Young can quantity how many newly arrived immigrants who got off the boat from 1861 to 1865 actually enlisted in the Union Army. Quite possibly there were far more sons of Dixie in the Union Army then newly arrived immigrants.
Leftyhunter
 
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Undoubtedly the north, time always favors the greater numbers.

I suppose one could argue America has somewhat had a short attention span and tolerance for some wars, but as the Confederacy came from, and was restored to that same America, war weariness or impatience would have, and best I can tell did affect both sides about the same.
 

JeffBrooks

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Politically, a long war favors the South, since its only realistic possibility of success (aside from foreign recognition) was to continue the fight until the Northern population grew war-weary and forced a change in political leadership in the Union that was favorable to peace. Democracies do not like long wars and are generally unwilling to pursue them unless there are obvious signs that success is being achieved and there is an end of the war in sight. The Revolutionary War for Britain, as well as Vietnam for the United States, are examples of this. The setbacks the Republican Party suffered in the 1862 mid-term elections were a warning sign that this might happen in the case of the Civil War. Had there not been signs that the Union was pushing forward to victory in the summer of 1864 (Atlanta, Mobile Bay, Shenandoah Valley) the Northern population might have thrown Lincoln out in the presidential election that November.

Militarily and economically, a long war favors the North for the obvious reasons of its massive advantage in military manpower, material resources, and money. So long as the political will to continue the war remained intact, the North was bound to prevail eventually. Because the North's political will held in 1864, the Confederacy was doomed to defeat.
 

Pat Answer

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Politically, a long war favors the South, since its only realistic possibility of success (aside from foreign recognition) was to continue the fight until the Northern population grew war-weary and forced a change in political leadership in the Union that was favorable to peace. Democracies do not like long wars and are generally unwilling to pursue them unless there are obvious signs that success is being achieved and there is an end of the war in sight. The Revolutionary War for Britain, as well as Vietnam for the United States, are examples of this. The setbacks the Republican Party suffered in the 1862 mid-term elections were a warning sign that this might happen in the case of the Civil War. Had there not been signs that the Union was pushing forward to victory in the summer of 1864 (Atlanta, Mobile Bay, Shenandoah Valley) the Northern population might have thrown Lincoln out in the presidential election that November.

Militarily and economically, a long war favors the North for the obvious reasons of its massive advantage in military manpower, material resources, and money. So long as the political will to continue the war remained intact, the North was bound to prevail eventually. Because the North's political will held in 1864, the Confederacy was doomed to defeat.

^This. And I find it interesting that, broadly speaking, Lincoln (the politician) came to see the conflict in terms of military attrition while Lee (the general) consistently sought to use his campaigns to cause political attrition. Each understood, perhaps better than many others, the war he was trying to fight.
 

OpnCoronet

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In historical terms, the chance of a short war for the confederacy, was almost Nil. The combination of the increase of defensive firepower and outmoded militarry doctrine, dictated that neither side could overcome the power of the defensive to the degree necessary to acchieve a Strategic victory, i.e., no matter how brilliant a tactical victory, its cose precluded the ability to rapid followup necessarry to attain a strategic advantage., as for example Lee s inability to follow up, successfully, any of his tactical victories, not matter how brilliant..




.
 

jackt62

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In historical terms, the chance of a short war for the confederacy, was almost Nil

I agree. Although the Confederacy was emboldened by its Bull Run victory, it mistakenly believed that that success was due to the prowess of the southern soldier who could "whup 10 Yankees." The Confederacy's second error in thinking was that Lincoln and the north would lack the wherewithal to settle in for a long struggle.
 

leftyhunter

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In historical terms, the chance of a short war for the confederacy, was almost Nil. The combination of the increase of defensive firepower and outmoded militarry doctrine, dictated that neither side could overcome the power of the defensive to the degree necessary to acchieve a Strategic victory, i.e., no matter how brilliant a tactical victory, its cose precluded the ability to rapid followup necessarry to attain a strategic advantage., as for example Lee s inability to follow up, successfully, any of his tactical victories, not matter how brilliant..




.
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say the reason the Confederacy couldn't follow up on tactical victories such has at Bull Run is because of lack of sufficient manpower and logistics? Grant won the Overland Campaign not because he won tactical victories but he even though he lost the battle of Cold Harbor he had he manpower and logistical wherewithal to just punch on through to Petersburg.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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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.
Since the Confedrate economy is highly dependent on foreign trade it can not withstand an effective naval blockade for an indefinite time period.
Leftyhunter
 
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It seems to me that the only real possibility for a Southern victory was in a short war. The problem was that there was a real reluctance to take offensive action against the North. Even Lee's first invasion was not so much to hurt the North, but a misplaced effort to sway Marylander's into joining the Rebel cause as well as to keep the war off Southern land with its attendant destruction of his state's people and property. It was only till sometime between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg that most of the South realized that they would have to actually defeat the North to win.

In actual fact the South could have easily triumphed in the early weeks/months of the war by sending a few militia companies to DC which was defended by a mere 108 men. Taking the North's capital and possibly her President as well might well have deflated the North's will to fight.

Or had there been someone with the will after 1st Bull Run to drag the exhausted Confederates to their feet and shove them after the broken Northern army they might well have broken into Washington at that point.
 

Pat Answer

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Taking DC might have worked, and then again it might not have worked. What if, after whatever initial shock, the Federal government sets up in Philadelphia and continues the war effort? What if Europe, where capital cities fall all the time in war, isn't impressed?

It seems to me the only real possibility for a Confederate victory lay in a combination of events convincing the people of the Union states that continuing the war was not worth the cost despite their advantages in material resources and manpower. Holding out for foreign recognition and/or the collapse of Union will sounds simple, but that really is a goal rather than a plan. I think this is the real issue here. If a short war proved impossible, what was the contingency plan for a longer one? The Confederacy, which certainly did not lack the will but lacked the resources compared to the Union which had both, was right to target Union will. But I'm not seeing where Richmond sat down and figured out the most effective and consistent ways to increase war-weariness in the North out of proportion to that of the South.
 

OpnCoronet

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Wouldn't it be more accurate to say the reason the Confederacy couldn't follow up on tactical victories such has at Bull Run is because of lack of sufficient manpower and logistics? Grant won the Overland Campaign not because he won tactical victories but he even though he lost the battle of Cold Harbor he had he manpower and logistical wherewithal to just punch on through to Petersburg.
Leftyhunter

That is correct, as far as it goes. But in relation to the OP, it points to a war of attrition.

In wars of attrition civilian morale is very important and over time cannot sustainb such a war, unless there is a perception of winning the war and the cost of winning is seen as acceptable for what is to be gained by that victory.

As I have noted on other threads, the course of the civil war could be traced on a map month by month all through the war with blue Union piins steadily advancing and gray ones falling steadily back. Only in Northern Virginia did he pins remain relatively statiic.

Although I think the danger of a critical loss of civilian morale just before the elections of 1864 is exaggerated, it still is true I think that the size of Lincolns reelection turned on the overwhelming pereption of the war being closer that before, resulting from successive military victories just before the electionl.

So in terms of the history of the Civil war, the prerequisite of sufficient resources to continue resistance as long as necessary by the confederacy and the lack of a true perception of Union failure by the general populace, precludes the chance of a long war being any better than a short one for the confederacy, in either case they lacked the necessary resources, both material and morale, for either to succeed.
 

jackt62

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One of the Confederacy's biggest problems was its lack of a clear and consistent war strategy. It did define a simplistic war aim of "we just want to be left alone," which itself was not entirely accurate given the Confederate yearning to enlarge the CSA to encompass Union border states and parts of the western territories such as New Mexico. But as far as strategy to accomplish its aim was concerned, the leadership muddled through a range of plans at different times and in different locations that were often contradictory (e.g., Davis' cordon strategy to defend all the borders, Lee's offensive-defensive strategy to bring the war to the northern public, Johnston's Fabian strategy of giving up territory to cut off federal supply lines). It would be interesting to speculate how the war would have played out if the Confederacy had devised a unitary strategy from day 1; putting together a workable strategy would have required the Confederacy to seriously consider its resources and infrastructure, and determine whether its interests were best served by a short war, or a longer struggle.
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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It seems to me that the only real possibility for a Southern victory was in a short war. The problem was that there was a real reluctance to take offensive action against the North. Even Lee's first invasion was not so much to hurt the North, but a misplaced effort to sway Marylander's into joining the Rebel cause as well as to keep the war off Southern land with its attendant destruction of his state's people and property. It was only till sometime between Chancellorsville and Gettysburg that most of the South realized that they would have to actually defeat the North to win.

In actual fact the South could have easily triumphed in the early weeks/months of the war by sending a few militia companies to DC which was defended by a mere 108 men. Taking the North's capital and possibly her President as well might well have deflated the North's will to fight.

Or had there been someone with the will after 1st Bull Run to drag the exhausted Confederates to their feet and shove them after the broken Northern army they might well have broken into Washington at that point.
I think you are right, in part. I don't think just taking the capitol would have done it. You had to get Lincoln. He was like Churchill and was ready to continue the struggle until the union was sustained or the American people told him they no longer wished to fight. Or as he said in his first in Inaugural address.

"I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary."

Without Lincoln's leadership I don't know if the northern states would have continued with the war. Of perhaps having the American capital and President captured by rebels would have just caused America to be even more committed to winning the war.
 

jackt62

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Without Lincoln's leadership I don't know if the northern states would have continued with the war

That is very true! Lincoln could have taken the easy way out and accepted the Crittenden proposal or some other formulation that would have either enshrined slavery and/or allowed the southland independence. But he stuck to his principles, communicated them forcefully to the public, and took strong actions to back them up, starting with re-provisioning Sumter, imposing the blockade, and calling for 75,000 volunteers. But Lincoln was also shrewd enough to understand public opinion, and only cautiously widened the nation's war aims to include emancipation. Moreover, to continue the war in the face of mounting casualties and stiffening opposition from Democrats, required an iron will. Which all together makes Lincoln one of the 2 or 3 greatest presidents.
 

Andersonh1

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I'd have to say that a longer war clearly favored the North, based on what we saw actually take place. They had the manpower and the resources to keep fighting when the South had largely run out of both. A quick knockout punch of some sort was what the South needed, and they could not manage it.
 

wausaubob

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As soon as the 7 cotton states seceded, Congress admitted Kansas as a paid labor state. As the war continued the United States also admitted West Virginia and Nevada. Nebraska had sufficient population for admission, and could have been admitted if necessary.
So a longer war was very much in the interest of the Republican Party of 1862.
By July of 1862, small, but significant campaigns had secured US control of Arizona and New Mexico. It would take weeks or months for that to become clear, but the main issue in dispute, control of the west, was settled by October and November of 1862. A longer war allowed the administration in Washington to move steadily towards emancipation. That did not completely satisfy the British, but it did buy more time.
There was an enormous disparity of resources in the Mississippi theater. The US controlled the steamboat and ferry traffic and had multiple railroad connections to the Confederacy. The western Confederate states, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had insufficient manpower to match the western US states. Those Midwest states could man the army units with volunteers, and the riverine navy, and still grow the population and agricultural production.
The longer war meant that the Midwest was going to dominate the border states and the far west.
 
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