Counterpoint Did a longer war favor the North or South?

StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
I imagine this has been said by one or more people already, but what I would say is that in strict military terms, a long war favors the North, because it would allow for it to bring its full resources (both in manpower and manufacturing) to bear on the smaller, less industrial South. That being said, a longer, bloodier war could, if the South managed to hold its own, convince the Northern populace that the conflict was fruitless and it should sue for peace. Ultimately I think you have good reason to choose either, and I honestly am not sure which is more favorable.
 

jackt62

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The Confederacy had hoped for a short, decisive war that would prove its fighting prowess to the Union who would quickly decide that it would be more advantageous to let the south go. This sentiment was particularly strengthened by the Confederate victory at 1st Bull Run. But Lincoln's willpower in looking beyond that defeat, and his tenacity to preserve the Union ended any southern hopes of a short war. Once the Confederacy realized that the Union was in it for the long haul, it had to adjust its strategic thinking to attain its goal of independence. But it never successfully settled on a viable pathway to that goal.
 

wausaubob

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Slavery could not protected by means of a defensive war. Invaders have frequently free slaves.
The US naval capacity was roaring by 1863. And after July 1863, both sides shifted towards railroad logistics. The US had a domestic, rail, bridge and locomotive industry, the Confederates did not.
 

wausaubob

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The Confederates could not sustain a conventional war once Kentucky remained in the US, the US occupied Tennessee, and Texas was cut off from New Orleans and the US occupied the Vicksburg/Jackson line. There was no way could sustain the horses and mules necessary to win a conventional war.
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https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1860/agriculture/1860b-09.pdf
@Rhea Cole can narrow down the point at which US cavalry had the Confederates out numbered and over powered. But Brandy Station should have been the warning that the Confederate cavalry was weakening. Neither side was a true nomadic, mounted society.
 
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wausaubob

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The Civil War occurred in three phases.
1. The US was a telegraph nation and was not an ocean away. The five border areas felt the weight of US mobilization in days and weeks, not months and years. This phase ended with the telegraph line to California being connected in Utah in October 1861. By November it was 21 connected states, plus California and Oregon, plus the three next possible states, West Virginia, Nebraska and Nevada, against 11 states.
2. The US navy, officered by professionals and manned by experienced sailors, deployed from November 1861 to July 1863. By the time this phase over the US had complete control of the internal rivers and the far west. It had firm but not complete control over the Atlantic coast.
3. The third phase was a railroad war and wasting war on both sides' livestock resources. The idea that the US was going to give up was a harmful fantasy.
 
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Lubliner

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The Civil War occurred in three phases.
1. The US was a telegraph nation and was not an ocean away. The five border areas felt the weight of US mobilization in days and weeks, not months and years. This phase ended with the telegraph line to California being connected in Utah in October 1861. By November it as 21 connected states, plus California and Oregon, plus the three next possible states, West Virginia, Nebraska and Nevada, against 11 states.
2. The US navy, officered by professionals and manned by experienced sailors, deployed from November 1861 to July 1863. By the time this phase over the US had complete control of the internal rivers and the far west. It had firm but not complete control over the Atlantic coast.
3. The third phase was a railroad war and wasting war on both sides' livestock resources. The idea that the US was going to give up was a harmful fantasy.
So you can add the fourth phase as total destruction of all factories by Grierson and Sherman, and Sheridan probably helped accomplish your third phase along with Stoneman.
Lubliner.
 

leftyhunter

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This may not help in this inquiry, is it possible that the administration wanted the total destruction to the South in order that the Confederacy could not rise again and return politically or economical to threaten the disunion the nation again .Slavery would have been dealt with but the ideas behind the separation }states rights and northern aggression}anger at having been defeated esp.by such an hostile people{the South would Rise Again must have been in certain politician's thoughts }and would remine as a core for a rebirth of the Confederacy. Study any ancient war and one of the main reason that the victor would do this to the foe is that it would not rise again to challenge the victor, Question -Why did the Allies demand Uncondional Surrender of the Axis?Why did Grant demand UC from the areas he defeated, Lee being the only one that he did not ,then Lee was totally defeated and would not be a threat to Grant, esp. with no weapons .
Not sure if " the Adminstration wanted the complete destruction of the South". The federal government did not restrict private investment in the South and the South recovered in the immediate post war period. If destruction occured it's called war . The allies had just fought a war with Germany twenty years before during WWI so it was prudent to take no chances and the allies knew they had to keep a tight leash on post war Germany has they all suffered agrevious losses.
Leftyhunter
 

wausaubob

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So you can add the fourth phase as total destruction of all factories by Grierson and Sherman, and Sheridan probably helped accomplish your third phase along with Stoneman.
Lubliner.
By January 1865 officers and soldiers in the US armies were a little angry that the war was continuing. There wasn't much restraint on the vindicativeness of the armies, to say nothing of escaping military and civilian prisoners in places like Richmond.
 

Lubliner

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By January 1865 officers and soldiers in the US armies were a little angry that the war was continuing. There wasn't much restraint on the vindicativeness of the armies, to say nothing of escaping military and civilian prisoners in places like Richmond.
I thought @leftyhunter brought up a good point that coincides with yours. To think about investment purposes and infrastructure early on in the war, it would have been much more profitable to end the war quickly. By 1863 the rampant destruction and killing picked up to the point only conquering the south entirely would work. Money and lives were lost that could never be reclaimed.
Lubliner.
 

yankeesfan65

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Well war weariness almost lost the war for the union. So clearly a longer war favored the south. After all, the union did much better than the south during the war. How many cities fell to the confederacy? Lee twice "invaded" the north, and twice was quickly beaten back. But Lee, simply by keeping his army a threat, almost cost Lincoln the 1864 election.
 
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wausaubob

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Well war weariness almost lost the war for the union. So clearly a longer war favored the south. After all, the union did much better than the south during the war. How many cities fell to the confederacy? Lee twice "invaded" the north, and twice was quickly beaten back. But Lee, simply by keeping his army a threat, almost cost Lincoln the 1864 election.
What did the 20th century renew as a lesson of history? The end of one war is a prelude to a renewal at later time. Unless the economy of one or all belligerents is destroyed, the war will be renewed. The Confederacy was being taken apart by the US Civil War. The Republican Party was getting firmly established in the west. Tennessee and Arkansas shifted from inside the blockade to back within the US distribution economy. Thousands of formerly enslaved people were fleeing slavery in Tennessee and Virginia.
By 1863 even immigration to the US returned to near normal levels.
The US was toying with the Confederacy by January of 1864. When the hammer of full mobilization dropped starting in August of 1864, the result was complete victory.
The Confederates might have been obsessed with Lincoln, but they were fighting the 700 West Point graduates who were running the US Army, and most of the professional officers of the pre Civil War navy, and the enormous industrial apparatus supporting them.
The longer the war went on the more lop sided it became.
 

John S. Carter

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What did the 20th century renew as a lesson of history? The end of one war is a prelude to a renewal at later time. Unless the economy of one or all belligerents is destroyed, the war will be renewed. The Confederacy was being taken apart by the US Civil War. The Republican Party was getting firmly established in the west. Tennessee and Arkansas shifted from inside the blockade to back within the US distribution economy. Thousands of formerly enslaved people were fleeing slavery in Tennessee and Virginia.
By 1863 even immigration to the US returned to near normal levels.
The US was toying with the Confederacy by January of 1864. When the hammer of full mobilization dropped starting in August of 1864, the result was complete victory.
The Confederates might have been obsessed with Lincoln, but they were fighting the 700 West Point graduates who were running the US Army, and most of the professional officers of the pre Civil War navy, and the enormous industrial apparatus supporting them.
The longer the war went on the more lop sided it became.
What is left out is the political side of 1864. As you state very well ,is that by 1864 the Confederate army and the Confederate in general was totally beaten down. Then would you agree that the only belief that they had was that if the army could keep in the field for just a few more months, not necessarily being victorious just out last Grant and Sherman ,that the population would demand a settlement to the war. Was this not the ideal that most governments have when faced with defeat that just one incident in the war would result in the other side seeking that resolution. Washington remained on the field against a superior army till one battle changed the outcome of the war. Frederick the Great was facing defeat when the Russians left the war. Jefferson believed that the Northern people would do this if only the war could be continued even with small pockets of residents . <edited> In all wars it seems that any war becomes a war of nutrition , endurance ,and a belief that there will be a event that will alter the outcome. The most fortunate part of this war ,is that on that April day ,both sides had men who had a sense of humanity and reality about them. Then apro. four months later this same event would occur again.
 
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American87

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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 think both your points played out to some extent. The South did lose because of supplies, or lack thereof. By 1865, they were pretty much devoid of everything needed to fight, and only had couple small armies in the field.

However, much of the war came down to Lincoln's reelection, because the North had grown war-weary. But the captures of Atlanta and Mobile, and Sheridan's victories in the Valley, gave the North the stimulus they needed to push on.

So yeah, both are hypothetically correct, and in the Civil War's case, at least, it came down to a few decisive battles. Presumably one side can win by wearing the other out, either in supplies or in morale.

I'd also argue for the Revolutionary War, that the British lost because of fighting the French in the West Indies, Europe, and India, and they felt it was all not worth it and sued for peace, including American Independence. In that case, they suffered both from lack of resources and from the strain of a long war.
 

John S. Carter

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I think both your points played out to some extent. The South did lose because of supplies, or lack thereof. By 1865, they were pretty much devoid of everything needed to fight, and only had couple small armies in the field.

However, much of the war came down to Lincoln's reelection, because the North had grown war-weary. But the captures of Atlanta and Mobile, and Sheridan's victories in the Valley, gave the North the stimulus they needed to push on.

So yeah, both are hypothetically correct, and in the Civil War's case, at least, it came down to a few decisive battles. Presumably one side can win by wearing the other out, either in supplies or in morale.

I'd also argue for the Revolutionary War, that the British lost because of fighting the French in the West Indies, Europe, and India, and they felt it was all not worth it and sued for peace, including American Independence. In that case, they suffered both from lack of resources and from the strain of a long war.
Question; Had not the European countries ,not only France but also Russia, Netherlands, and Spain, had not supported the Americans in their revolution ,would the revolution had succeeded.? Then there is the question is if the American had loss at Saratoga would the French sent their army and navy to support the colonies. In international diplomacy each county's main strategy is that one does or does not do what is to best serve their own countries interest. With the French this was opportunity for the last war. What better way than to gain revenge than to aid in the colonies to gain their independence from England. With the CW, the Union had the better of the diplomacy in that they had the moral issue of slavery and a trade establishment stronger than the South, {once they started receiving cotton from India and Egypt, the South's main export would just sit on the piers},not only industrial goods but also agricultural. What was the most important part of this diplomacy was that both had brilliant men in charge of their foreign diplomacy ,Stewart with the Union and Palmerston with the British. The main diplomacy of the British and other European countries was on simple question ,what would be gained by recognizing the Confedercery and what would they risk losing by doing so ? I do not read where any European country merchant ship docking in Confederate ports .Did they continue trade with the Union or was it just on American ships?
 

American87

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Question; Had not the European countries ,not only France but also Russia, Netherlands, and Spain, had not supported the Americans in their revolution ,would the revolution had succeeded.? Then there is the question is if the American had loss at Saratoga would the French sent their army and navy to support the colonies. In international diplomacy each county's main strategy is that one does or does not do what is to best serve their own countries interest. With the French this was opportunity for the last war. What better way than to gain revenge than to aid in the colonies to gain their independence from England. With the CW, the Union had the better of the diplomacy in that they had the moral issue of slavery and a trade establishment stronger than the South, {once they started receiving cotton from India and Egypt, the South's main export would just sit on the piers},not only industrial goods but also agricultural. What was the most important part of this diplomacy was that both had brilliant men in charge of their foreign diplomacy ,Stewart with the Union and Palmerston with the British. The main diplomacy of the British and other European countries was on simple question ,what would be gained by recognizing the Confedercery and what would they risk losing by doing so ? I do not read where any European country merchant ship docking in Confederate ports .Did they continue trade with the Union or was it just on American ships?

I'm not sure what you're getting at. We can only speculate as to whether the British would have sued for peace without foreign intervention. Their Southern Campaign did not go to well, and it was back to the drawing board for them, at least for another year, until the French fleet and Rochambeau and the Continentals under Washington cut Cornwallis off and forced him to surrender.

Had that not happened, it would have been another year of hit-and-miss with Washington, perhaps. Or Perhaps Washington would have secured a Saratoga on his own, or he would have been forced to surrender. It's a case of speculation.

As to the French joining the side of the Americans without a victory at Saratoga, it's hard to say. They were impressed with the loss at Germantown, because Washington showed so much fight. Perhaps a vigorous offensive at Saratoga, even at a loss, would have had the same effect. It's another case of speculation.

As this applies to the Civil War, I don't know. If the Confederates sought to enhance their chances of foreign recognition through victory in the field, they seemed to blow it in 1862 with their losses in the West, and with the failed invasions of Maryland and Kentucky. At that point, Lincoln made anti-slavery a war aim, and European powers would have been pressed to justify interceding on behalf of a belligerent who was struggling at arms, and whose cause was was apparently very unpopular in their own home countries.
 
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