The Contradictions of Shelby Foote

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wausaubob

Major
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Off topic, but you may be forgetting the Confederate privateers. Wikipedia states that the impact of the privateers was so great that "the American flag virtually disappeared from international waters". Maine's shipping was decimated by the privateers (Maine had substantial shipping operations at the time); some writers hold that Maine's shipping has never really recovered.
As individual ships the raiders created problems. But those problems arose in 1862, and the solution was for the American owners to sell their ships to British owners. As for the recovered dominance of British ship building, after 1861 there was an ongoing search for fuel efficiency, and iron hulls were replacing wooden hulls, an obvious advantage for the British.
Steamships ca 1861 were not very fuel efficient. The US had to establish coaling stations and retain the forts at Key West and in the Dry Tortugas. They did.
 
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wausaubob

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The Confederate maritime raiders were a problem. In contrast, the US had its railroad system, Great Lakes shipping, and unlimited gunboats and steam transports on the internal rivers. The Confederates had very little impact on those transportation systems, despite efforts to be disruptive.
 

wausaubob

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If one examines the 1870 census reports, new Midwest and Great Plains cities appear, like Terra Haute and Kansas City. The Midwest was under going a productivity and population revolution.
 
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wausaubob

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There was a rapid revolution in the power, weight and speed of steam locomotives as the Civil War was happening. By the end of the Civil War the rapidly progressing northern railroads were operating a different level than the depreciating southern railroads.
 

Fairfield

Corporal
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As individual ships the raiders created problems. But those problems arose in 1862, and the solution was for the American owners to sell their ships to British owners. As for the recovered dominance of British ship building, after 1861 there was an ongoing search for fuel efficiency, and iron hulls were replacing wooden hulls, an obvious advantage for the British.
Steamships ca 1861 were not very fuel efficient. The US had to establish coaling stations and retain the forts at Key West and in the Dry Tortugas. They did.
Doesn't sound like much of a solution to me especially, as the Alabama Claims (and Treaty of Washington) showed, the Brits were already favoring the privateers.
 
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wausaubob

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What Mr. Foote was referring to was the fact that while the military results of the war were contingent on individual factors, the economic and demographic results were not symmetrical. And to the extant that California had not been split in half, Kansas was decidedly a free soil state, the demographic and political results of free immigration and 5 year naturalization under control by local courts, had already been demonstrated.
 

wausaubob

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In railroad locomotives and steam transports at sea and on the rivers, the US had 99% of the production once the war began. Therefore the US was either going to win the war outright, or leave a damaged and depreciated Confederate economy with the task of trying to rebuild, without Yankee investment, and with Britain trying to diversify its cotton supply.
 

wausaubob

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It was not symmetrical but the war was necessary to prove how asymmetrical it had become. Neither the election process, nor the census process were accurate enough to convey the situation in the Midwest. The population in the Midwest was larger, growing faster, more male dominated, and more anti-slavery, then either mechanism could show. The rate of family formation was very high.
The Midwest was growing because of east/west migration, international immigration, and south/north immigration. Not every man was naturalized and could vote, so the elections were not perfect reflections of the demographics.
Census procedures were not good enough to record the fast growing population, and they weren't published until May of 1862, and then again in 1864. And most people did not read them. When the Midwest states began to do school censuses in 1865 they discovered there had been a substantial under count in 1860. In 1866 the census commission took another look at the census numbers, particularly as to towns and cities, and then in 1870, a new census confirmed: the Midwest had overtaken the other two major sections of the country.
Under these circumstances, war, mobilization and the roster of regiments, was the best test of the relative strengths of the various sections.
The people in the west best able to observe what was happening were in Kentucky. They waited, and observed events in w. Virginia and Missouri. Much as they wanted to protect the status quo and slavery, they observed the reality that the Richmond government did not have the ability to protect slavery in Kentucky.
The secession crisis begins with 8 states in the western slave section of the US. Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. There were only seven connected paid labor states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
But in the first six months after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the test was presented: who was going to show up. And it turned out that w. Virginia had an Ohio economy. Regiments from Illinois and Iowa were rushing into Missouri and were willing to overcome any initial setbacks. As a result, the new state of Kansas was no longer separated from the rest of the US.
That gave Kentuckians the choice of seceding and having the war occur in Kentucky, or not seceding, and at least protecting their farms and towns, if not the long term viability of slavery.
In less than six months, w. Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky and the territory of Nebraska, were all solidly connected to the US.
And the Confederate state in the west with the largest white population, Tennessee, was also the state in which public opinion was the most deeply divided.
And that is just the west. In the coastal, maritime, trade economy of the east coast, in which steam vessels could go anywhere and strike where they wanted to, the imbalance was even greater.
 
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wausaubob

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New York was a very big market. There were newspapers there representing every possible opinion. What went beyond opinion?
When the Confederates refloated the Merrimac and made it into the ironclad Virginia, the immigrant inventor Ericsson created an entirely new design, with new engines and a revolving turret, and the Confederates were ahead for 1 day.
And in the meantime, the foster son of New York, the Tennesseean, David Farragut, got over the bar at the Louisiana delta, bombed the Confederate forts with long distance mortars, slipped the barrier chain, defeated the Confederate flotilla, and steamed up river to New Orleans, with a ship aptly named: Hartford.
The reality was that the New York/Brooklyn/Newark/Jersey City/Elizabeth/Paterson industrial complex regarded the south, particularly Louisiana, Florida and Texas, as part of the empire, and they were not going to let go of any part of it. They were especially not willing to have New Orleans become and independent import/export city, running a system that undercut the New York tariff system. Instead they were going to fight as their businesses and jobs depended on protecting the imperial status quo, and they had the mechanical means to do so.
 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
That said, may dad’s father figure as a boy (his own father had died when he was two) was his Confederate vet grandfather. So he heard first-hand what that generation believed about the South’s odds in the war.
”Show me history untouched by memories and you show me lies. Show me lies not based on memories and you show me the worst lies of all.” — Carlos Eire, Waiting for Snow in Havana
 
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wausaubob

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What Mr. Foote was getting at was that until the Ohio regiments showed up in western Virginia, and the Illinois and Iowa regiments began crossing over the Mississippi, at Quincy/Hannibal and at St. Louis, people could convince themselves the federal authority was far away and the Republican victory was illegitimate. But as armed, uniformed people began to show up in large numbers, there were facts that could not be denied. People in Kentucky were not particularly happy about the Republicans, but they could see the unionist patrol boats and visitors to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois could count the federal regiments and their accounts had credibility.
In the central theater, within six months, a government starting with no concentrated army and a dispersed navy, changed the ratio from 8 slave states:7 paid labor states and 1 disconnected state with a small population, to 6 slave states v 10 connected paid labor states and one potential state.
168 years have gone by, and some people rhetorically want to say that it did not happen or was not significant. But Shelby Foote was not buying it. Mississippi paid a high price for denying federal authority and for excluding the federal government from being involved in the transition from slavery to freedom.
 
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wausaubob

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The facts are there in the preliminary report on the census. Census procedures were not good enough to produce a fully accurate count in the fast growing states and territories. But it was absolutely clear that while the overall growth rate of slavery was between 23-27% per decade, the overall growth rate of the US population was about 37% per decade. Most areas of the Midwest were growing faster than that and important cities had doubled in size in 10 years.
It was easy for politicians to ignore and conceal these facts, but war changes all that.
War is not voting. A man can volunteer whether he has been naturalized, and it doesn't matter whether he moved from NY to IL in the last 12 months. Anybody can volunteer, and a new count of live men in uniforms takes place.
 

wausaubob

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By 1861 it was already known how steamships could project power across long distance. The US had already accomplished it at Veracruz and Mexico City. The English and French had done it in the Crimea. People could ignore naval power if they wished. But army officers who had served in Mexico knew it would be deployed. Thus p. 107 of the preliminary report, listing all the states in which ships and steamers had been built in 1860 demonstrated that by the time the report was published, the US had control of all the ship building and maintenance yards that had existed prior to war.
Which is why the US was able to build gunboats, ironclads, steam sloops, and transports, and the Confederates purchased a handful of raiders to fight a proxy war for the British against US merchant shipping.
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
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Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
Shelby Foote was a very entertaining man, who knew a lot. Hearing him talk and reading his books are interesting, however a lot of what he says needs a handful of salt taken with it.

The South had a chance, yes. If certain dominoes fell into place, but the Union needed far less dominoes to fall in order to win. If it turned into essentially what 1864-65 became, a war of attrition, the outcome was pretty inevitable. I think Grant coming East is the final nail. He was the General who would start winning victories, grind Lee's Army down, and win over the Northern populace. That's what killed the Confederacy.
 
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wausaubob

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Another part of what Shelby Foote is referring to is the long legal struggle between the steamboat industry and the railroad industry about the Government bridge at Rock Island. The steamboat industry lost most of these fights. By 1869 the US had a TCRR, and 1874, there was a combined iron/steel railroad bridge crossing the Mississippi at St. Louis.
 
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