Open Debate Fatal Mistake

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
The fatal mistake of the confederacy was the introduction of conscription. It demoralized both the army and the public. 2nd it mislead officers both political and military into thinking they could create and maintain larger forces than what they really could. Allowing the 1yr men to go home upon expiration of enlistment would have eased the burden on the commissary, ordinance and quartermaster depts. The CS could not out conscript the US, conscription lead to unsustainable offensive operations such as the incursions into Kentucky, Maryland and Pennsylvania .
Like to see your arguments for or against.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
The fatal mistake of the confederacy was the introduction of conscription. It demoralized both the army and the public. 2nd it mislead officers both political and military into thinking they could create and maintain larger forces than what they really could. Allowing the 1yr men to go home upon expiration of enlistment would have eased the burden on the commissary, ordinance and quartermaster depts. The CS could not out conscript the US, conscription lead to unsustainable offensive operations such as the incursions into Kentucky, Maryland and Pennsylvania .
Like to see your arguments for or against.

Without conscription on the part of the rebels, the war would have been much shorter. Those one year men made up half of the confederate army under arms, letting them all walk without forcing their replacement would have put the rebels at a greater numerical advantage than they already faced.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Without conscription on the part of the rebels, the war would have been much shorter. Those one year men made up half of the confederate army under arms, letting them all walk without forcing their replacement would have put the rebels at a greater numerical advantage than they already faced.
How can we be certain the war would have been shorter. By extending 1yr enlistments how many civilians were discouraged from enlisting. What we do see is an increase in desertion following the introduction of conscription.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
I think we make the assumption that the one year enlistments accounted for half of the confederate forces. I think the jump is in thinking that if they’re allowed to leave it will result in a rise in volunteers...

A rebel force half the size in spring/summer 1862 equals a shorter war.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
I think we make the assumption that the one year enlistments accounted for half of the confederate forces. I think the jump is in thinking that if they’re allowed to leave it will result in a rise in volunteers...

A rebel force half the size in spring/summer 1862 equals a shorter war.
I share the assumption 1yr men made up half the force, honoring the terms of enlistment would have stressed the force but you still have a considerable number of men under arms.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
Nope, Most pre-date the conscription act.

I agree with your quote on that earlier thread:

Great Thread and you are correct on the reenlistment fever (as there were boys who didn't which is for a whole different thread) It was a big deal to say I reenlisted for the the war and in this case a whole lot more. It was a way to get them to reenlist and not have to be conscripted, which after the war meant a LOT to a LOT of folks.


There was a fever to re-enlist, spurred on by the looming conscription.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
“The Confederacy acted first, partially because the Union’s manpower advantage (a ratio of greater than three to one in military age males) made it more imperative for the South to get every available man into the army. Initially, the Richmond government stressed keeping its soldiers in the ranks rather than adding new ones. By the end of 1861, the Confederate army stood on the verge of disintegration. Most men had enrolled only for a year, so their enlistments were set to expire in May, June, or July 1862. President Davis, the army, and Secretary of War Judah Benjamin struggled to alter this inexpedient policy with Benjamin recommending that Congress entice current troops to re-enlist for the war by granting them bounties and furloughs. In December 1861, Congress enacted this legislation providing each re-enlistee with $50 and a 60-day furlough. Yet, in February 1862, Benjamin estimated that 92,275 troops had enlisted for the war, while 240,475 were twelve-month men.[1]

By the end of March, the Confederacy needed even more men. Facing a desperate military situation - General George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac approaching Richmond, a Union army slicing south through Tennessee and into Mississippi, and the Union navy poised at the mouth of the Mississippi River - in addition to the looming expiration of the enlistments of its original volunteers, President Davis suggested a straightforward solution. On March 28, 1862, he proposed the passage of a law declaring that all men between the ages of eighteen and thirty five should be enrolled in Confederate service. Davis contended that a military draft would be the most equitable method of expanding the army, and, he matter-of-factly brushed aside any constitutional objections, asserting that “the right of the State to demand, and the duty of each citizen to render, military service, need only to be stated to be admitted.”[2]”

https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/conscription.html

It seems not as many as hoped or needed had voluntarily re-enlisted for the slaveholders’ rebellion. Conscription was their only course to continue their war.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
At best the CS could properly support 200,000 men in the army engaged in static defense. The CS did not have and never had the horses/mules to occupy and hold enemy territory. Conscription simply wasted manpower who would have contributed more to the war effort growing foodstuffs and hay. CS kept increasing the authorized strength of the army without the means to support it.
The conscripted army fell apart because the soldiers and their families were starving.
 

kel1985

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
I beg to differ with the original post. The biggest mistake the south made was starting hostilities before they had sufficient industry and weaponry to even come close to what the Union brought to the table. Their means of transporting supplies was also deficient, which led to other issues. Conscription if anything gave them at least a fighting chance.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
I beg to differ with the original post. The biggest mistake the south made was starting hostilities before they had sufficient industry and weaponry to even come close to what the Union brought to the table. Their means of transporting supplies was also deficient, which led to other issues. Conscription if anything gave them at least a fighting chance.
The Sedgwick quote brings a smile, oh the irony of life.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
At best the CS could properly support 200,000 men in the army engaged in static defense. The CS did not have and never had the horses/mules to occupy and hold enemy territory. Conscription simply wasted manpower who would have contributed more to the war effort growing foodstuffs and hay. CS kept increasing the authorized strength of the army without the means to support it.
The conscripted army fell apart because the soldiers and their families were starving.

And this is exactly why the CSA (not the south) needed conscription. 200k men under arms would have been defeated very quickly. Also, as previously referenced, without conscription, they’d have been hard pressed to field 200k.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
The fatal mistake of the confederacy was the introduction of conscription. It demoralized both the army and the public. 2nd it mislead officers both political and military into thinking they could create and maintain larger forces than what they really could. Allowing the 1yr men to go home upon expiration of enlistment would have eased the burden on the commissary, ordinance and quartermaster depts. The CS could not out conscript the US, conscription lead to unsustainable offensive operations such as the incursions into Kentucky, Maryland and Pennsylvania .
Like to see your arguments for or against.
To be fair to Davis every nation in the modern era engaged in a large scale conventional war uses some form of Conscription.
Has for the morale of a conscripted army that depends on many complex factors. Sometimes conscripted armies fight well and are loyal sometimes not so much. The Confederate Army with desertions and defections falls in the not so much catagory.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
QUOTE="atlantis, post: 2281522, member: 18919"]
The fatal mistake of the confederacy was the introduction of conscription. It demoralized both the army and the public. 2nd it mislead officers both political and military into thinking they could create and maintain larger forces than what they really could. Allowing the 1yr men to go home upon expiration of enlistment would have eased the burden on the commissary, ordinance and quartermaster depts. The CS could not out conscript the US, conscription lead to unsustainable offensive operations such as the incursions into Kentucky, Maryland and Pennsylvania .
Like to see your arguments for or against.
[/QUOTE]
The fatal mistake of the Confederacy has many posters have noted over the years was the bombardment of Ft.Sumter. The bombardment certainly didn't unify the American people against the Confederacy but it unified enough to win the war and that's good enough.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
May 12, 2018
Not sure if it was a “fatal mistake” (I say that’s supporting slavery, a logically incoherent system that was morally wrong) but it is something I think gets overlooked. If people want to play a Confederate in re-enactments, the disillusioned conscript just trying to survive isn’t a bad choice. Far easier to pull off, too.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
I believe the first Conscription Act was a necessary evil. You have to remember that the South did not have a standing army when the CW started. The original call was for the states to provide troops with the enlistment being a year. We all figured the war would not last long and beside everyone knew that 1 Confederate could whip 10 yankees but after the first year we realized that it was only 1 to 5 so we need more troops. :D
 
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