Open Debate Fatal Mistake

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
It takes a large number of horses/mules to keep a field army of 100,000 supplied even with a railhead 10 miles away. I am not arguing that conscription is unconstitutional or without merit, my argument is that the elements that make conscription a positive did not exist in the CSA. Was secession a mistake yes, so was firing on Sumter and slavery is not just odious but a threat to public safety that said trial by combat was chosen.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
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.
The fatal mistake of the Confederacy was to imagine that they could fight a war without a central government ,Davis should have realized this from the start
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
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May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
If I remember my history the same thing happened 85 years earlier and it wasn't fatal or a mistake. Just sayin.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Could have the Confederacy won the war with 200,000 soldiers? I have some very serious doubts.
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
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.

So are you saying that the conscripts should have stayed at home, growing foodstuff and hay for the army's use, and if they had, then the CSA would have had a much better chance of winning the war?

Hmmm.

If I remember my history correctly, wasn't there were large number of slaves at home that should/could have done the same thing; growing foodstuff, etc. thus relieving the these white farmers to go fight for the CSA? You make a number of statements, but you don't develop the reasoning to back them up.
There are a number of reasons why the South lost the war, the use of conscripts isn't one of them. I'll offer that a agricultural region fighting against an industrial region in a protracted war probably won't fare too well.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
So are you saying that the conscripts should have stayed at home, growing foodstuff and hay for the army's use, and if they had, then the CSA would have had a much better chance of winning the war?

Hmmm.

If I remember my history correctly, wasn't there were large number of slaves at home that should/could have done the same thing; growing foodstuff, etc. thus relieving the these white farmers to go fight for the CSA? You make a number of statements, but you don't develop the reasoning to back them up.
There are a number of reasons why the South lost the war, the use of conscripts isn't one of them. I'll offer that a agricultural region fighting against an industrial region in a protracted war probably won't fare too well.
Yes I am, given the CSA started with inferior numbers eligible for service and a deficiency in horses/mules a different strategy was needed one that focus on weapons proficiency and the use of field works to offset superior numbers of US forces.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
If I remember my history the same thing happened 85 years earlier and it wasn't fatal or a mistake. Just sayin.
The Colonial Rebels were able to get the able assistance of France and Spain plus financial help from the Netherlands. Of course this didn't occur in the early stages of the war but it did occur. In addition the UK was fighting a two front war in the Indian Subcontinent which was of far greater importance then their North American colonies.
The UK did not have a draft until 1914 and the war in North America was not popular requiring the British to outsource troops from various Germanic Principalities. Bounus points if anyone can PM me with when the US outsourced troops from various nations.
Leftyhunter
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
A counter-argument might be that if the CSA had introduced universal conscription on Day One (with liberal exceptions for key industries, food supplies. etc.) then it might have had enough men in the field to prevail in the 1862 invasions of Maryland and Kentucky. Impressive victories in those campaigns by the rebels could well have led to an early end of the war, and independence for the South.

I think, however, that it is questionable whether the Confederacy could have supported a much larger army in 1861-1862. From my readings on the Maryland campaign, the Confederacy seemed to have already stretched its resources to the limit with the smaller armies already in the field then.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
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

Ahh, the “Lost Cause” in full force. Very funny though!

Good thing the UDC was able to pair up with the KKK to make the Stone Mountain carving a possibility.

I 100% agree that the Confederacy (not the south) needed conscription to put up a fight. However, wasn’t one of the secessionists’ complaints that the US Army wasn’t doing enough on the Texas frontier to keep white settlers safe from Native Americans? It’s not as if the US had some huge standing army to rely on... when you couple that with the fact that several career West Point trained Army officers broke their vow to fight with the rebels, I don’t think the “standing army” road leads anywhere.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Yes I am, given the CSA started with inferior numbers eligible for service and a deficiency in horses/mules a different strategy was needed one that focus on weapons proficiency and the use of field works to offset superior numbers of US forces.
Very few wars are won on the defensive. The two cited wars that were was the battle of Malta and Napoleon's Invasion of Russia. Neither are applicable to the ACW. Malta is an island and it doesn't snow all that much in the South and the US could feed and supply it's troops in the South regardless of weather.
Almost all wars are won on the offensive.
Leftyhunter
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
Very few wars are won on the defensive. The two cited wars that were was the battle of Malta and Napoleon's Invasion of Russia. Neither are applicable to the ACW. Malta is an island and it doesn't snow all that much in the South and the US could feed and supply it's troops in the South regardless of weather.
Almost all wars are won on the offensive.
Leftyhunter

Offensive or defensive, good thing the armies of the slavers were defeated.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Very few wars are won on the defensive. The two cited wars that were was the battle of Malta and Napoleon's Invasion of Russia. Neither are applicable to the ACW. Malta is an island and it doesn't snow all that much in the South and the US could feed and supply it's troops in the South regardless of weather.
Almost all wars are won on the offensive.
Leftyhunter
I am unable to think of any war won on the defensive. The two you mentioned were not wars -- one was a battle and the other was a campaign. The US Revolution is the closest I can come to a defensive war win and that is questionable when you look at it as world war. To win, the victor must impose his will on the enemy -- how do you do that on the defensive? You have to make the looser THINK he is going to loose so much that he needs to surrender to prevent that loss (ie the British surrendered in the Revolution because the anticipated losses of colonies was too much to stand).
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I am unable to think of any war won on the defensive. The two you mentioned were not wars -- one was a battle and the other was a campaign. The US Revolution is the closest I can come to a defensive war win and that is questionable when you look at it as world war. To win, the victor must impose his will on the enemy -- how do you do that on the defensive? You have to make the looser THINK he is going to loose so much that he needs to surrender to prevent that loss (ie the British surrendered in the Revolution because the anticipated losses of colonies was too much to stand).
Good points . From what I recall of the battle of Malta there were a few attempted landings that were repulsed and then the offensive side just gave up.
Russia was invaded but Napoleon couldn't supply his troops due to the scortched earth campaign of the Russians and long supply lines that had to slowly go over snow blocked roads with Cossack raids thrown in the mix.
Exactly right about defensive war not winning battles. Wars are won on the offensive as was Yorktown by a combined Colonial Rebel, French and Spanish troops us the French and Spanish Navy sealed of Yorktown from the British Navy.
The British had to choose between keeping the far more lucrative Indian Subcontinent vs their North American colonies. It could not of been a hard decision to make.
Leftyhunter
 

rebracer

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Location
Southern Louisiana
I would also argue that conscription filled the ranks just by existing. Like nearly every issue we discuss about this war the people of that time had a vastly different view of so many things. Many men rushed to enlist to specifically avoid being a "conscript" when they may otherwise have sat out longer or indefinitely. I have seen many instances in unit histories, journals, letters etc. where the men frankly had very terrible things to say about conscripts, including completely shunning them from the Company or forcing them to transfer altogether. As many of you know there was a very distinct sense of honor that existed especially at the Company level and a conscript had a serious stigma that many men in no way wanted to be identified by. I have found this applied to individuals who were "substitutes" as well.

All of this certainly applies to the Union Forces as well concerning drafted men.
 
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atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
I would also argue that conscription filled the ranks just by existing. Like nearly every issue we discuss about this war the people of that time had a vastly different view of so many things. Many men rushed to enlist to specifically avoid being a "conscript" when they may otherwise have sat out longer or indefinitely. I have seen many instances in unit histories, journals, letters etc. where the men frankly had very terrible things to say about conscripts, including completely shunning them from the Company or forcing them to transfer altogether. As many of you know there was a very distinct sense of honor that existed especially at the Company level and a conscript had a serious stigma that many men in no way wanted to be identified by. I have found this applied to individuals who were "substitutes" as well.

All of this certainly applies to the Union Forces as well concerning drafted men.
How many who enlisted to avoid dishonor of conscription later deserted. The CS created a force it could not properly supply and therefore could not properly use. As for fighting a defensive war what choice did CS have, it did not have resources to invade take and hold US territory. I argue the only hope was a smaller properly supplied force using field works that stood a chance of wearing down the US will to prevail.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I would also argue that conscription filled the ranks just by existing. Like nearly every issue we discuss about this war the people of that time had a vastly different view of so many things. Many men rushed to enlist to specifically avoid being a "conscript" when they may otherwise have sat out longer or indefinitely. I have seen many instances in unit histories, journals, letters etc. where the men frankly had very terrible things to say about conscripts, including completely shunning them from the Company or forcing them to transfer altogether. As many of you know there was a very distinct sense of honor that existed especially at the Company level and a conscript had a serious stigma that many men in no way wanted to be identified by. I have found this applied to individuals who were "substitutes" as well.

All of this certainly applies to the Union Forces as well concerning drafted men.
Through out history conscirpts can go either way. Sometimes they fight well and it's not unknown for conscrpited armies to defect to the enemy, dessert or become anti government guerrllas or freelance bandits.
The Confedrate Army did all of the above.
The Union Army very rarely had defectors but plenty of desertion and some deserters became freelance bandits.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
How many who enlisted to avoid dishonor of conscription later deserted. The CS created a force it could not properly supply and therefore could not properly use. As for fighting a defensive war what choice did CS have, it did not have resources to invade take and hold US territory. I argue the only hope was a smaller properly supplied force using field works that stood a chance of wearing down the US will to prevail.
I have a thread I can bump up regarding Confederate desertion lots of sourced quotes.
Leftyhunter
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
I have a thread I can bump up regarding Confederate desertion lots of sourced quotes.
Leftyhunter
Your take from your thread as to number 1 reason for desertion rate. I put problem with CS manpower to lack of food for soldiers and their families.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Your take from your thread as to number 1 reason for desertion rate. I put problem with CS manpower to lack of food for soldiers and their families.
Not necessarily desertion was a major problem from 1862 onward. The "Twenty slave owning rule" that exempted slave owners from military service if they owned twenty or more slaves didn't help.
Without scientific polling from Confedrate deserter's it's a bit difficult to know x percentage deserted for what reason.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Your take from your thread as to number 1 reason for desertion rate. I put problem with CS manpower to lack of food for soldiers and their families.
From what I gathered from my readings many Southern white males were seriously questioning exactly why they had to fight and die to protect someone else's property. Also Southern society in common with the rest of the US was very class oriented I.e. " rich man's war poor man's fight".
Leftyhunter
 
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