Did the Seven Days campaign effectively end confederate hopes of independence?

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Ethan S.

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 19, 2019
Location
Carter County Kentucky
I've got to thinking, and I have come to the conclusion that the Seven Days campaign killed the confederacy's chance at being independent. I say this because of all of the Frontal assaults Lee ordered. Yes, they were effective, but he lost way too many men, way too soon in order for it to be justified in my opinion. Because of the massive casualty list, I don't think he had enough men for a clear victory at Sharpsburg. Sharpsburg was another hit the Army of Northern Virginia did not need.

Or was the Seven Days just like any battle, being that any casualty was one they couldn't afford?


Thoughts?
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Good question, my take is that the battle is too early to make that call. It certainly foreshadows an approach that will ultimately drain the CSA fighting power. But IMHO I think the battle is too early to say it ended the chances. Important battle though, no doubt.

Great picture, by the way!
 
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RobertP

Major
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Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
Lee had to do something drastic as McClellan was literally at the gates of Richmond and the city close to being invested. After all, he did win a smashing victory just a few weeks later at 2nd Bull Run. The mistake IMO was deciding to fight it out with his small, tired army at Antietam after his plans had been compromised.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Perhaps Lee could have devised plans that would be less costly, or the plans he did use might have been executed more effectively, but repelling the Union army would still involve significant casualties. Ditto or more so for waiting for McClellan to attack when he was ready. At best they might have avoided a fraction of the historical losses, but I agree it's unlikely to affect the whole course of the war, let alone doom the Confederate cause.

We might also consider the moral effect on the Union troops and commanders of being repeatedly pushed back, not even really understanding how or why they had been beaten. I think this was the beginning of the "what Lee's going to do to us" attitude that Grant deplored in 1864.
 

H. B. Woodruff

Private
Joined
May 10, 2019
I do not think the Seven Days Campaign was the beginning of the end of the rebellion. I think that the southern strategy of concentrating large amounts of troops against your enemy is tactically effective, but in this case strategically naïve. I do not think I could have done any better though.
 
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Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
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Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
I think the Seven Days was an important turning point. If McClellan had captured Richmond (capping a very successful spring campaign for Federal armies), war over for all intents and purposes.

McClellan obviously failed to do so, so the war goes on. And, as a result, Northern war objectives shift from conciliation toward hard war. This shift can be timed to June and July -- Pope is appointed to command the Army of Virginia, the second Confiscation Act is passed, Lincoln writes the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln calls for new troops, etc.

My opinion is that the Maryland/Kentucky campaigns mark the end of Confederate hopes of winning independence. After that, their only chance was to outlast the North and hope that Lincoln was not reelected in 1864.
 
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jackt62

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
What were Lee's alternatives? He could assume a defensive position in the Richmond fortifications and let McClellan commence siege tactics but Lee himself acknowledged the futility of being in that position 2 years later at Petersburg. Or perhaps, after the successful Valley Campaign, Lee could have ordered Jackson and his Corps to threaten Washington City, forcing Lincoln to pull additional forces from the Peninsula, and throwing off McClellan's timetable. But given Lee's strategic thinking about an "offensive-defense," his plan to assemble the largest Confederate force he could and strike the AOTP was still the most effective. Despite the heavy casualties and blundered execution, the Seven Days battles resulted in a strategic victory for the ANV. It bought the Confederacy 2 more years during which time, the southern path to independence might have succeeded had northern war-weariness resulted in a negotiated settlement.
 

Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
If you accept the Virginia-centric view of the Civil War, whatever the AoNV did was earth shakingly important. On an 8"X10" map of the operating area of the Western Theater the entire operating area of the AoNV & AoP is the size of a postage stamp. That is literally true. Out West, any battle that did not end with the opposing army either captured or sent running from the field in ruin was not going to win or loose the war. Nothing short of absolute victory was the measuring stick used there. So, no, the Seven Days was just another example of the long drawn out stand off between the AoNV & the AoP. The day when Grant rose to command was when the South lost the war.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I've got to thinking, and I have come to the conclusion that the Seven Days campaign killed the confederacy's chance at being independent. I say this because of all of the Frontal assaults Lee ordered. Yes, they were effective, but he lost way too many men, way too soon in order for it to be justified in my opinion. Because of the massive casualty list, I don't think he had enough men for a clear victory at Sharpsburg. Sharpsburg was another hit the Army of Northern Virginia did not need.

Or was the Seven Days just like any battle, being that any casualty was one they couldn't afford?


Thoughts?
Of far more importance is the fact that the Confederacy could not seize and hold border states. The eleven Confederate States needed a buffer and they never received one.
Also much more important then the Seven Days was the fact that the Confederacy could not build a proper blue water Navy to break the naval blockade and ensure the security of Confederate maritime trading routes.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I've got to thinking, and I have come to the conclusion that the Seven Days campaign killed the confederacy's chance at being independent. I say this because of all of the Frontal assaults Lee ordered. Yes, they were effective, but he lost way too many men, way too soon in order for it to be justified in my opinion. Because of the massive casualty list, I don't think he had enough men for a clear victory at Sharpsburg. Sharpsburg was another hit the Army of Northern Virginia did not need.

Or was the Seven Days just like any battle, being that any casualty was one they couldn't afford?


Thoughts?
What really killed the Confederacy chance to be an independent nation is the fact that forty percent of their population were not treated as equals and had no incentive to join the other sixty percent in fighting and working for an independent Confederate nation.
Also the fact that 104k white Confederate men enlisted in the Union Army denied invaluable manpower to the Confederacy.
Leftyhunter
 
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Ethan S.

Sergeant
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Aug 19, 2019
Location
Carter County Kentucky
What really killed the Confederacy chance to be an independent nation is the fact that forty percent of their population were not treated as equals and had no incentive to join the other sixty percent in fighting and working for an independent Confederate nation.
Also the fact that 104k white Confederate men enlisted in the Union Army denied invaluable manpower to the Confederacy.
Leftyhunter

I'm pretty sure their line of logic was, "If I give these slaves guns, they'll just revolt". Not smart. Anyway, 9,000,000 versus 22,000,000 wouldn't be that much better anyway.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
If you accept the Virginia-centric view of the Civil War, whatever the AoNV did was earth shakingly important. On an 8"X10" map of the operating area of the Western Theater the entire operating area of the AoNV & AoP is the size of a postage stamp. That is literally true. Out West, any battle that did not end with the opposing army either captured or sent running from the field in ruin was not going to win or loose the war. Nothing short of absolute victory was the measuring stick used there. So, no, the Seven Days was just another example of the long drawn out stand off between the AoNV & the AoP. The day when Grant rose to command was when the South lost the war.
I recall a history magazine a while ago putting out a special issue solely on the campaigns of 1864. It included a broad map. That map made your above point quite vividly!
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I'm pretty sure their line of logic was, "If I give these slaves guns, they'll just revolt". Not smart. Anyway, 9,000,000 versus 22,000,000 wouldn't be that much better anyway.
True arming slaves would backfire but if the Confederacy is going to have a chance at independence it needs a United nation. If the approximately 180k USCT troopers most were Southerners and they made a huge difference in the outcome of the war. If the Confederacy is going to win by attrition it can't afford for well over two hundred thousand Southerners black and white to enlist in the Union Army. Those Southerners who enlisted in the Union Army could easily of replaced the Confederate losses in the Seven Days.
Leftyhunter
 
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Carronade

1st Lieutenant
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Pennsylvania
Almost half the male, working-age population of the Confederate states was in the army already. There's a limit to how many workers you can take out of the economy and have it still function, let alone support a massive war effort. If they had recruited any significant number of slave soldiers, the impact would have been felt in production, industry, transportation, etc.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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Location
los angeles ca
Almost half the male, working-age population of the Confederate states was in the army already. There's a limit to how many workers you can take out of the economy and have it still function, let alone support a massive war effort. If they had recruited any significant number of slave soldiers, the impact would have been felt in production, industry, transportation, etc.
True but in conventional war the outnumbered side can not afford to give manpower away to the other side which is exactly what happened to the Confederacy. In fact the Confederate States gave over 200k enlisted men to the Union Army.
Leftyhunter
 
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Belfoured

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Almost half the male, working-age population of the Confederate states was in the army already. There's a limit to how many workers you can take out of the economy and have it still function, let alone support a massive war effort. If they had recruited any significant number of slave soldiers, the impact would have been felt in production, industry, transportation, etc.
If you use McClellan's estimates the entire male, working-age population was enlisted. :banghead:
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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los angeles ca
The approx. 97,000 Union casualties during the Overland and Petersburg campaigns attest that the war was not over when Grant took command.
If Grant would of just sat in Northern Virginia and not tried to seize Richmond how would of that helped the Confederacy to win it's independence?
In the meantime the blockade is only getting tighter every month and significant parts of the Confederacy are revering to anarchy.
Leftyhunter
 
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