Did Grant win the Civil War?

wausaubob

Colonel
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Denver, CO
Grant threw a series of left flanking movements which kept Lee's forces engaged. It was simply a tactic of attrition. The North had men and supplies. The South didn't.
When the US occupied TN and AR, and Texas was cut off from the rest of the Confederacy, the 5 Atlantic states of the Confederacy + Alabama were on their own. They were going to run out of forage, mules and horses, and become immobile, long before the ran out of men. The horses and mules eat more and they weaken and die first. The locomotives wear out, and without mechanics to repair them, become unusable. Attrition involves much more than battlefield deaths.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
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Location
Denver, CO
Timing is everything they say.

Up until Grant came along, no Union general was taking the long, the strategic view. He saw what needed to be done and Lincoln agreed with him.

Maybe, in your view, he came in late.

In my view, he came just in time.
In the end, the US armies did not go after the Confederate armies. They cooperated with the navy in closing the blockade runners' ports, and they dismembered the Confederate railroad system. Siege conditions were imposed on the whole Confederacy. Grant refused to make it explicit that he was deploying his own strategy.
 
Joined
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Not to argue Davis was infallible and never made mistakes but the Confedracy was doomed from day one. Civil Wars are not won when the smaller side despises forty percent of their own population. The smaller side is not likely to win without foreiegn intervention. A smaller side dependant on agricultural exports without a competent blue water navy and enslaving forty percent of it's population is and proved to be extremely vunarable.
Leftyhunter
I totally agree, in 1861 when the war began, no objective observor could have assumed the South had any chance of winning. In fact the war could have essentially been over at Bull Run with a scintilla of luck by the Union.

But!!!! IN spite of all reason and odds, there were at least 2 occasions when the South could and possibly should have won the war. Antietam and G'burg. It is almost a dead certainty that sans the "Lost Order" Lee's rampage through Md would have brought British/French intervention and an end to the war.

At G'burg with very little better generalmanship, it is not hard to envision a Southern victory and agains european intervention.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I totally agree, in 1861 when the war began, no objective observor could have assumed the South had any chance of winning. In fact the war could have essentially been over at Bull Run with a scintilla of luck by the Union.

But!!!! IN spite of all reason and odds, there were at least 2 occasions when the South could and possibly should have won the war. Antietam and G'burg. It is almost a dead certainty that sans the "Lost Order" Lee's rampage through Md would have brought British/French intervention and an end to the war.

At G'burg with very little better generalmanship, it is not hard to envision a Southern victory and agains european intervention.
No European nation was going to side with a slave supporting government end of.

And the South never came close to winning the war ever Lincolns landslide victory in 1864 sort of puts to bed that myth.

The War was won in the Western theatre not the East where battles tended to be rinse & repeat.

Just my opinion.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
No European nation was going to side with a slave supporting government end of.

And the South never came close to winning the war ever Lincolns landslide victory in 1864 sort of puts to bed that myth.

The War was won in the Western theatre not the East where battles tended to be rinse & repeat.

Just my opinion.

Generally agree, though I do think its possible that, after a CSA victory at Antietam, Britain MIGHT have offered to mediate, starting a series of unknowable possible timelines. I don't think the type of 'CSA victory at Antietam' possible was ever anything more than a Winning Draw, but the political results of even such a draw could have been devastating. No certainties, of course.
 

Pat Answer

Sergeant Major
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“...somewhere between NY and PA”
If the British were ever going to "intervene" it would have had to be before the Emancipation Proclamation and while the objective disparity in resources was not quite as apparent on the ground as it would be later. The autumn of 1862 might have done the trick for the CSA had things gone better not only in Maryland but also in Kentucky.
But then again if cotton was "king" then wheat was a strong pretender to the throne; McClellan was moving strongly to head Lee off before Special Order 191; Bragg's dilemma was that he could not stay in Kentucky without recruits flocking to him and recruits were not going to flock to him unless he demonstrated that he could stay...
I'm going to go out on a limb, but probably not that far, and say that Gettysburg would have had to be a battle of highly improbable decisiveness to counter the loss of Vicksburg, besides discounting the EP.

The War was won in the Western theatre not the East where battles tended to be rinse & repeat.

Just my opinion.

I agree with your opinion. I don't remember who said it but his/her observation that the east explains why the war dragged on as it did while the west explains why it ended as it did has always stuck with me.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I totally agree, in 1861 when the war began, no objective observor could have assumed the South had any chance of winning. In fact the war could have essentially been over at Bull Run with a scintilla of luck by the Union.

But!!!! IN spite of all reason and odds, there were at least 2 occasions when the South could and possibly should have won the war. Antietam and G'burg. It is almost a dead certainty that sans the "Lost Order" Lee's rampage through Md would have brought British/French intervention and an end to the war.

At G'burg with very little better generalmanship, it is not hard to envision a Southern victory and agains european intervention.
Hypotheticals are really difficult to evaluate and impossible to prove or disprove. I can't see a senario where it makes sense to fight for one side or the other. France and the UK had just recently fought Russia and they won more or less but didn't leave a good impression in the French or British public. The French were already fighting in Mexico and they tried to use as many puppet Mexican forces and French Foreign Legion has possible to minimize French casualties.
It just makes more sense for European countries to stay on the sidelines and see has much weaponry and other items to both sides on a cash and carry basis.
Leftyhunter
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Grant picked the right side.
His side backed paid labor, family farms, Manifest Destiny of westward expansion, and industrialization. On those issues, there was great unanimity in the west. There was agreement on the goal of creating a great nation, but there was a lot of argument about who and how.
Grant picked the side whose slavery policy and policy against the slave trade lined up well with the policies of the world's dominant merchant and naval power.
Grant picked the same side that most of naval officers and seamen picked, the side that had all the ships, and could build whatever ships and boats it wanted.
Did Grant create the US victory? Not even in his own mind. But did he make the right decision and align himself with the known trends and future destiny of the US?
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Generally agree, though I do think its possible that, after a CSA victory at Antietam, Britain MIGHT have offered to mediate, starting a series of unknowable possible timelines. I don't think the type of 'CSA victory at Antietam' possible was ever anything more than a Winning Draw, but the political results of even such a draw could have been devastating. No certainties, of course.
By Sept 1862 Britain had sourced new suppliers of Cotton and British investors had poured millions into supplying both sides in Arms and goods not to mention Britain relied on the Northern US Bread Basket as it does today.

Don't underestimate how much money was invested into US industries and infrastructure by British investors and although their was some sympathy for the Southern cause at the end of the day money talks.

Just as an added incentive not to join the South or even support them Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in 1834 it had virtually held a gun to all the major powers head asking them to do the same , It would have looked a tad hypocritical for Britian to support a nation where the foundation of that said nation was Slavery.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
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Location
Denver, CO
By Sept 1862 Britain had sourced new suppliers of Cotton and British investors had poured millions into supplying both sides in Arms and goods not to mention Britain relied on the Northern US Bread Basket as it does today.

Don't underestimate how much money was invested into US industries and infrastructure by British investors and although their was some sympathy for the Southern cause at the end of the day money talks.

Just as an added incentive not to join the South or even support them Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in 1834 it had virtually held a gun to all the major powers head asking them to do the same , It would have looked a tad hypocritical for Britian to support a nation where the foundation of that said nation was Slavery.
There was no gun, but there was an enormous pile of money, and nearly complete merchant dominance. The British Empire had outlasted Napoleon and co-opted both Spain and Portugal. The British would have used trade to bankrupt an independent Confederacy and there would not have been very much investment from Britain in an independent Confederacy.
If for some reason the US had been forced to grant an armistice to the Confederacy, the British would have stepped in and shown how slavery could be isolated and starved. They were on a winning streak which was going to last through the rest of the 19th century.
 
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wausaubob

Colonel
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Location
Denver, CO
The Confederacy organized for a quick and decisive victory and did not achieve that. In a longer war the overwhelming logistical and naval power of the US was going to lead to victory. One war, or a series of wars, each one more violent than the preceding war?
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
The Confederacy organized for a quick and decisive victory and did not achieve that. In a longer war the overwhelming logistical and naval power of the US was going to lead to victory. One war, or a series of wars, each one more violent than the preceding war?

A short war with lots of big early CSA victories was certainly the best and biggest hope of the confederates. A longer war only favored them if growing Northern war fatigue outweighed diminishing CSA capacity - a very, very big (and unlikely) gamble.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
By Sept 1862 Britain had sourced new suppliers of Cotton and British investors had poured millions into supplying both sides in Arms and goods not to mention Britain relied on the Northern US Bread Basket as it does today.

Don't underestimate how much money was invested into US industries and infrastructure by British investors and although their was some sympathy for the Southern cause at the end of the day money talks.

Just as an added incentive not to join the South or even support them Britain had abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in 1834 it had virtually held a gun to all the major powers head asking them to do the same , It would have looked a tad hypocritical for Britian to support a nation where the foundation of that said nation was Slavery.

Hindsight is 20/20. At the time, the actual leading folks involved considered it a very, very serious threat.

Had England offered dispute arbitration (we were NEVER going to see Redcoats on the Rappahannock!), they likely would have couched it in terms of avoiding greater bloodshed, of interrupting a potential Servile Insurrection (with all its additional horrors), and as flexing their influence as 'the' final global arbitrating power. That's how their public excuses would likely run, anyway. A resultingly independent CSA would be no economic threat, would weaken the rising power of the competitive USA, would absorb both parties in their own internal revenges\expansionist goals, and leave Britain a free hand to dominate, manipulate, and profit from the result without the investment of a single soldier.

Any number of multiple outcomes are possible, of course. And that's my point. With quasi-perfect hindsight, we say our outcome was the ONLY one possible. We are blindly mistaken in our well-intentioned self-delusions.

To the folks at the time - the actual leaders facing the actual situations and making the actual calls - the threat was very real indeed.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Hindsight is 20/20. At the time, the actual leading folks involved considered it a very, very serious threat.

Had England offered dispute arbitration (we were NEVER going to see Redcoats on the Rappahannock!), they likely would have couched it in terms of avoiding greater bloodshed, of interrupting a potential Servile Insurrection (with all its additional horrors), and as flexing their influence as 'the' final global arbitrating power. That's how their public excuses would likely run, anyway. A resultingly independent CSA would be no economic threat, would weaken the rising power of the competitive USA, would absorb both parties in their own internal revenges\expansionist goals, and leave Britain a free hand to dominate, manipulate, and profit from the result without the investment of a single soldier.

Any number of multiple outcomes are possible, of course. And that's my point. With quasi-perfect hindsight, we say our outcome was the ONLY one possible. We are blindly mistaken in our well-intentioned self-delusions.

To the folks at the time - the actual leaders facing the actual situations and making the actual calls - the threat was very real indeed.
That would not ended the problem. Neither by military victory, fought on the defensive, or a political settlement could reverse the fact that the paid labor/family farm economy was going to seriously outgrow the slavery economy, and become completely dominant, within 20 years.
A static comparison of the military manpower of the two sections as of June 1860 doesn't look too bad for the Confederacy.
1633736586748.png


However the differential growth rates in the two sections had already been established, and immigration to the US never completely ceased.
1633736713004.png


https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1864/dec/1860a.html

By the time the violence accelerated and both belligerents were reaching for full mobilization, the Confederacy was already declining from several small territorial losses.
Without a very short war, the Confederacy was going to be the more damaged section, with the less diverse economy, and the slower growing population.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
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Location
Denver, CO
Not only was the US ahead in military manpower by 1862 and growing faster, the rate of growth was accelerating.
1633738831494.png

1633738887111.png

https://www.jstor.org/tc/accept?origin=/stable/pdf/1883656.pdf&is_image=False

So that was the problem. No matter what settlement produced a Confederacy, it was still going to wrapped around slavery. And slavery was stop gap solution to labor shortages, not a source of population growth.
 
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