Discussion The Confederacy's Fatal Mistake.

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Kentucky did not secede because slavery was concentrated in a few counties in the Bluegrass along the Ohio River & the industrial slave iron processing counties in the far west. The major agricultural cash product was hemp. The rope walks of Kentucky supplied all manner of products to East Coast ship yards. The hemp production was shielded from imports of cheap jute by one of those tariffs that are falsely given as a reason for secession. Six rail roads enter Kentucky from the north. Only the L & N RR connected it with the Deep South. Economically. Kentucky had every reason to not seceded & no benefit from secession was possible. It was a simple matter of geography.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
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Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Could be, but there was no Confederate States of America when Lincoln wrote that letter on January 11th. He's strictly talking about the few States that had seceded at that point, and Kentucky was not yet an issue.
The sentiments expressed in the letter were common opinions in the US until the battle of Shiloh, and the Seven Days campaign. Many people had to change their minds about the seriousness of the growing conflict.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
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Location
Denver, CO
Kentucky did not secede because slavery was concentrated in a few counties in the Bluegrass along the Ohio River & the industrial slave iron processing counties in the far west. The major agricultural cash product was hemp. The rope walks of Kentucky supplied all manner of products to East Coast ship yards. The hemp production was shielded from imports of cheap jute by one of those tariffs that are falsely given as a reason for secession. Six rail roads enter Kentucky from the north. Only the L & N RR connected it with the Deep South. Economically. Kentucky had every reason to not seceded & no benefit from secession was possible. It was a simple matter of geography.
For the reasons you cite, and other reasons, most people in Kentucky realized that preservation of slavery was a 2nd priority in comparison to maintaining connection with the US economy.
Also, people in Kentucky did not want the Confederate armies in Kentucky, nor did they want any fighting in Kentucky.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
I think the biggest single mistake, besides starting the War the way they did, was the belief that the few advantages the South claimed to actually possess, were game changers. That those advantages precluded war winning advantage to the Union.

The fact was that those advantages were not sufficient, either singly or in their aggregate able to overcome the very real advantages of the Union.

The evidence of the disparity between the two sections were clear enough for those who would see .... Sherman for example, who warned of the coming war, the realities of true state of the South chances of ultimate victory by War.
 

jackt62

Captain
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Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
we under estimate how events pivoted on the decisions of Kentucky men not to secede and join the Confederacy. If Kentucky had seceded there could very well have been a period of separation and competition.
From that perspective of which I agree, Polk's decision to occupy Columbus, thereby tipping the scales of Kentucky's legislature in favor of the Union, was a colossal blunder.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
From that perspective of which I agree, Polk's decision to occupy Columbus, thereby tipping the scales of Kentucky's legislature in favor of the Union, was a colossal blunder.
It is settled history that Polk’s decision was one of the colossal strategic blunders of the war. It was both a military & political disaster. The fall of Henry, Donelson & Nashville were a direct result. If that wasn’t enough, Grant’s ascendancy can also be laid at Polk’s feet.
 

jackt62

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Location
New York City
I think the single biggest mistake, besides starting the War the way they did, was the belief that the few advantages the South claimed to actually possess, were game changers. That those advantages precluded war winning advantage to the Union
Even a secessionist such as Robert Toombs warned Jeff Davis about the probable consequence of the decision to bombard Ft. Sumter:

"The firing upon that fort will inaugurate a civil war greater than any the world has yet seen. Mr. President, at this time, it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet's nest which extends from mountains to ocean, and legions, now quiet, will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal."
 

jackt62

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Location
New York City
It is settled history that Polk’s decision was one of the colossal strategic blunders of the war. It was both a military & political disaster. The fall of Henry, Donelson & Nashville were a direct result. If that wasn’t enough, Grant’s ascendancy can also be laid at Polk’s feet.

And as you know, the taking of Henry, Donelson, and Nashville, not to mention the Confederate evacuation of Bowling Green, bust open the southern defense system ranging across Kentucky and Tennessee. Although it wasn't obvious at the time, it might very likely be said that the Union won the war at that point.
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
And as you know, the taking of Henry, Donelson, and Nashville, not to mention the Confederate evacuation of Bowling Green, bust open the southern defense system ranging across Kentucky and Tennessee. Although it wasn't obvious at the time, it might very likely be said that the Union won the war at that point.
At minimum, it was their’s to loose, that is for sure.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Six rail roads enter Kentucky from the north. Only the L & N RR connected it with the Deep South. Economically.
Actually, there were only two rail 'connections' to the North- at Louisville and at Covington (opposite Cincinnati). These connections ended at the Ohio River and resumed on the other side which would involve a great deal of unloading and loading of supplies to get across the river. There were four rail connections with the South.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Even a secessionist such as Robert Toombs warned Jeff Davis about the probable consequence of the decision to bombard Ft. Sumter:

"The firing upon that fort will inaugurate a civil war greater than any the world has yet seen. Mr. President, at this time, it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet's nest which extends from mountains to ocean, and legions, now quiet, will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal."
Fort Sumter highlights, to me, the dilemma of what the confederacy faced in trying to win independence by War.

The insights of a Sherman and Toombs were entirely accurate, but there were other insights, just as important and just accurate.

Political And Economic necessities required the Slave states to be completely united, Especially Virginia, the most populous and industrially advanced of the slave states.

At the time the border states had not seceded and the best advice Davis was receiving was that the longer the border states hesitaated, the less likely their secession. That the confederacy must strike a blow to set secession back into motion. Without Va. the ability of the South resist Reunion, would be immeasurably reduced.

From the viewpoint of Winning a War for independence, Uniting the South increased the odds for success.
 

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Fort Sumter highlights, to me, the dilemma of what the confederacy faced in trying to win independence by War.

The insights of a Sherman and Toombs were entirely accurate, but there were other insights, just as important and just accurate.

Political And Economic necessities required the Slave states to be completely united, Especially Virginia, the most populous and industrially advanced of the slave states.

At the time the border states had not seceded and the best advice Davis was receiving was that the longer the border states hesitaated, the less likely their secession. That the confederacy must strike a blow to set secession back into motion. Without Va. the ability of the South resist Reunion, would be immeasurably reduced.

From the viewpoint of Winning a War for independence, Uniting the South increased the odds for success.
In Pryor´s "Reading the Man" I read that Lincoln´s call for 75000 volunteers was decisive for Virginia joining the secession - and that Lee until that decision was hoping that Virginia would refuse joining the CS.
I am pretty sure that Lincoln acted under heavy pressure and would hence tend to conclude that there were hotheads on both sides.
 

Viper21

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Rockbridge County, Virginia
I continue to believe the biggest mistake the CSA made was, firing upon Ft Sumter. They would've had a much greater chance at a peaceful solution, had they not been viewed as "starting the war". They lost the chance at swaying Northern public opinion against war with that move. They had a chance at Independence until that day.

I've come to the conclusion that, politics have always divided people. It's always brought out strong feelings from folks. Imagine having a President, who didn't receive a single vote in your state. This was the case for 10 of the eventual 11 states of the CSA. Lincoln received less than 100 votes in Virginia (not including what would become West Virginia). In 31 of the 50 counties of future WV, he received zero votes as well.

Pretty significant in my opinion. Imagine how you'd feel if nobody in your state, or surrounding states, cast a single ballot for the person seated as President. For plenty of folks residing in the South, they'd have to travel well over a thousand miles to meet a person who cast a ballot for Lincoln. If you lived in Texas, double that. Almost hard to imagine. Would you feel left out ..? Would you just shrug your shoulders, & say, oh well..? Or would you feel the government didn't represent you, & millions of your neighbors..?

Of The People, By the People, For the People

^Millions of folks found those words ridiculous.
 

Carol

Private
Joined
May 26, 2019
Location
Western North Carolina
I continue to believe the biggest mistake the CSA made was, firing upon Ft Sumter. They would've had a much greater chance at a peaceful solution, had they not been viewed as "starting the war". They lost the chance at swaying Northern public opinion against war with that move. They had a chance at Independence until that day.

I've come to the conclusion that, politics have always divided people. It's always brought out strong feelings from folks. Imagine having a President, who didn't receive a single vote in your state. This was the case for 10 of the eventual 11 states of the CSA. Lincoln received less than 100 votes in Virginia (not including what would become West Virginia). In 31 of the 50 counties of future WV, he received zero votes as well.

Pretty significant in my opinion. Imagine how you'd feel if nobody in your state, or surrounding states, cast a single ballot for the person seated as President. For plenty of folks residing in the South, they'd have to travel well over a thousand miles to meet a person who cast a ballot for Lincoln. If you lived in Texas, double that. Almost hard to imagine. Would you feel left out ..? Would you just shrug your shoulders, & say, oh well..? Or would you feel the government didn't represent you, & millions of your neighbors..?

Of The People, By the People, For the People

^Millions of folks found those words ridiculous.
I agree. The election of 1860 enhanced the population geography in more ways than one. The ending results of this race proved that the power of the people had changed. Money and Power equal Greed and Separation. Outnumbered and feeling the strain of being backed into a wall successfully added fire under the pot. Politics divide a country. Economics divide a people. Geography defines the lines drawn.
 

Lost Cause

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Don’t matter. He still was responsible for the thievery.

To Edward R. S. Canby

Executive Mansion, Washington,
Major General Canby: Dec 12, 1864.

“.....we cannot give up the blockade, and hence it becomes immensely important to us to get the cotton away from him. Better give him guns for it, than let him, as now, get both guns and ammunition for it. But even this only presents part of the public interest to get out cotton. Our finances are greatly involved in the matter. The way cotton goes now carries so much gold out of the country as to leave us paper currency only, and that so far depreciated, as that for every hard dollar's worth of supplies we obtain, we contract to pay two and a half hard dollars hereafter. This is much to be regretted; and while I believe we can live through it at all events, it demands an earnest effort on the part of all to correct it. And if pecuniary greed can be made to aid us in such effort, let us be thankful that so much good can be got out of pecuniary greed.”

A. Lincoln
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
In Pryor´s "Reading the Man" I read that Lincoln´s call for 75000 volunteers was decisive for Virginia joining the secession - and that Lee until that decision was hoping that Virginia would refuse joining the CS.
I am pretty sure that Lincoln acted under heavy pressure and would hence tend to conclude that there were hotheads on both sides.
What Lincoln would do about secession is problematic, because that was subsumed into the large issue of War.

One cannot judge Lincolns words and action without reference to the bombardment and reduction of Ft. sumpter

The attack on Sumpter was a clear act of War, to which Lincoln had to respond or face the very clear danger of impeachment or worse, as evidenced by the Northern publics response to the attack.

The issue of peace or war had been settled by the csa. There was to be war, and Lincolns responsibility as President was to try to get ahead of it and control it as best he could. The Sword was drawn and the scabbard thrown away, by Davis. It is no good for people to cry peace, Peace, when there is no Peace.
 

Don Dixon

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
Lincoln never did anything to promote peace or conciliation. The purpose of maintaining the garrison at Sumter was to provoke a war.

The purpose of maintaining the garrison at Fort Sumter was to demonstrate ownership of land which had been ceded to the national government by the State of South Carolina years earlier, ownership of a facility which had been constructed with the resources of that national government, and was garrisoned by the troops of that national government. Lincoln had been very careful to advise the governor of South Carolina that the Star of the West was only bringing provisions for the garrison and no troops would be landed to reinforce the garrison if the ship was permitted to land the provisions. The standoff could have gone on for some months had the provisions been landed and the fort not been fired upon. That would have been an opportunity to "give peace a chance."

But, that was not what the Southern government wanted. Continued national government occupation of the fort conflicted with the secessionists fictitious claims of a national sovereignty, and the Confederate government elected with great deliberation to fire on the fort and start a war.

Lincoln fulfilled the obligation of every competent president of the United States - as opposed to the incompetent president of the Confederacy - which is to ensure that if there is to be a war the enemy fires the first shot.

"All we've got is cotton, and slaves, and... arrogance." Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Potomac Pride

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Location
Georgia
Lincoln wasn't president when the Star was sent to Sumter.
Yes, James Buchanan was the President when the Star of the West was sent to resupply Ft. Sumter. When the ship was fired upon, it turned around and sailed home. When Lincoln became President a few months later, he knew what would happen if he tried to resupply Ft. Sumter. Members of his cabinet told him not to do it but he ignored their warnings.
 
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