Discussion The South's Defensive War

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wausaubob

Major
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Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
If the Confederacy postpones the initiation of the war, the national government is still using political tools to gain advantages in KY, TN and MO. In a few months of waiting, the US may get its steam frigates and sloops recalled and tow all the ships at the Norfolk yard to Philadelphia. As the Confederacy waits, or postpones the final outcome, the US gets stronger and more organized.
 
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wausaubob

Major
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Denver, CO
The Confederacy had to take the offensive to keep up the scare. But if it doesn't work, the consequence is likely that the opponent takes the threat of continual war seriously, and fights to point of complete victory.
 

wausaubob

Major
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Location
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Since the Confederacy issued letters of marque, invaded Pennsylvania, and then invaded Pennsylvania a second time and burned Chambersburg, PA, they had magnified the threat in the eyes of the US. An action such as John Morgan raiding into Indiana, Ohio and western Virginia, does not make much sense for a belligerent that is losing territory.
 

wausaubob

Major
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Location
Denver, CO
The US pursued a mix strategy of politics and force, and in the process retained Wilmington, DE, Wheeling, VA, Baltimore, St. Louis, Alexandria, VA, Louisville, Newport and Covington, KY. Without expending many lives, they captured the cities of the border states, and part of Virginia.
Most of the cities of the 11 state Confederacy were on rivers, or on the coast. By deploying its naval resources, with some combined arms support, the US also captured Nashville, TN, New Orleans, Norfolk, VA and Memphis, TN. None of these captures involved large battles. The large land battles occurred elsewhere. The last four locations were retained by the US throughout the war. So whatever offensive operations the Confederacy undertook, they did not retake these important towns and cities.
 
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Dead Parrott

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The US pursued a mix strategy of politics and force, and in the process retained Wilmington, DE, Wheeling, VA, Baltimore, St. Louis, Alexandria, VA, Louisville, Newport and Covington, KY. Without expending many lives, the captured the cities of the border states, and part of Virginia.
Most of the cities of the 11 state Confederacy were on rivers, or on the coast. By deploying its naval resources, with some combined arms support, the US also captured Nashville, TN, New Orleans, Norfolk, VA and Memphis, TN. None of these captures involved large battles. The large land battles occurred elsewhere. The last four locations were retained by the US throughout the war. So whatever offensive operations the Confederacy undertook, they did not retake these important towns and cities.
All of which appears to confirm the importance of keeping the Border States early in the war. And recalling how close states like Virginia were to NOT seceding.

The decisions (coaxed or otherwise) of the Border States really decided the tenor of the war.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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Location
los angeles ca
A very vital point, IMO. I agree with those that argue that there was no real military answer to the economic, political and social weaknesses of the csa.

I tend to believe that the weaknesses of the South, were so deep and pervasive, there was no real military solution to achieving southern independence. Neither the offensive or defensive(or any likely combination of them) models would be sufficiient, in themselves to winning the kind of Revolutionary War they had engaged in.

As noted by you, Shiloh, Bragg's Ky invbasion or Lee's two iinvasions of the North, failed, not so much by military weakness as the inability of the confederacy to supply the necessary men and supplies to follow up on any successes. As many analysts then and now note, in the end, no territory lost by the confederacy was every permanently regained.

As noted by Lefty Hunter, et. al., the model available for fighting a revolutionary war from a position of material inderiority, was the Revolutionary one of the American colonistsin gaining their independence.. Almost as soon and real war broke out, the Founding Fathers sent their best and brightest to Europe. Congress sent Ben Franklin, John Adams, eta. al, to find and build alliances, political and commercial,. The South sent Mason and Slidell, et. al.
I have a thread from a few years ago where I argued that due to the geopolitical situation of the early 1860s vs the early 1780s that it is unfair to bash Slidell and Mason.
Franklin et all where lucky in the sense that both France and Spain were willing to go to war with the UK over the Indian Subcontinent. The Colonial Rebels were luck that the Netherlands was willing to help finance the Rebels.
Nations has history has shown will definitely vomit their military forces into a civil war but only when they fell there is a favorable win vs risk factor.
Leftyhunter
 
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wausaubob

Major
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If the Confederacy had remained on the defensive, it might have preserved communication between the two sides, and allowed an armistice short of total victory.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
los angeles ca

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
If the Confederacy had remained on the defensive, it might have preserved communication between the two sides, and allowed an armistice short of total victory.
Or more likely would of economically collapsed from the blockade and or slaves fleeing to freedom.
So far no poster has cited examples of conventional war's won on the defense. Victory in conventional warfare is achieved only on the offensive.
Leftyhunter
 
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jackt62

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The definition of "defensive" war becomes somewhat blurry when it comes to talking about Confederate war aims. Yes, they wanted their independence and supposedly wished to be "left alone." But that's not the whole story. The southern states always maintained that the Confederacy consisted not only of the 11 seceded states, but also Kentucky and Missouri, whose insurgent governments were accepted as member states of the Confederacy. Additionally, the Confederacy laid claim to parts of United States territories, specifically New Mexico, Arizona, and Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Lastly, the Confederacy believed that much of Maryland was waiting to be "liberated" and reverted to southern rule. Given these claims, the Confederacy spent much blood and treasure in mounting offensive campaigns to obtain sovereignty over these lands, while at the same time mounting various defensive and/or offensive-defensive campaigns to protect the original 11 states. It's no wonder that the proliferation of war aims and strategies to achieve them did little to ensure the survival of the Confederacy as an independent nation.
 

uaskme

Sergeant Major
Joined
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Location
SE Tennessee
The definition of "defensive" war becomes somewhat blurry when it comes to talking about Confederate war aims. Yes, they wanted their independence and supposedly wished to be "left alone." But that's not the whole story. The southern states always maintained that the Confederacy consisted not only of the 11 seceded states, but also Kentucky and Missouri, whose insurgent governments were accepted as member states of the Confederacy. Additionally, the Confederacy laid claim to parts of United States territories, specifically New Mexico, Arizona, and Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Lastly, the Confederacy believed that much of Maryland was waiting to be "liberated" and reverted to southern rule. Given these claims, the Confederacy spent much blood and treasure in mounting offensive campaigns to obtain sovereignty over these lands, while at the same time mounting various defensive and/or offensive-defensive campaigns to protect the original 11 states. It's no wonder that the proliferation of war aims and strategies to achieve them did little to ensure the survival of the Confederacy as an independent nation.
They wanted those western territories for a reason. That reason was one of the main purposes of secession. They also needed KY. It was a bread basket. KY also like MO had many who sympathized with the South. MO had Industrial capability. Both pledged Independence. Many were against Union Occupation. Bragg went to KY to liberate them. Sympathetic Kentuckians wanted Bragg to force Federals out, then they would join. Bragg needed them to join and help him to force them out. He didn’t have the numbers to do it. However, the campaign was successful. Bragg brought back many wagons of food and material. However, the loss of MO and KY was huge to the South.
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
They wanted those western territories for a reason. That reason was one of the main purposes of secession. They also needed KY. It was a bread basket. KY also like MO had many who sympathized with the South. MO had Industrial capability. Both pledged Independence. Many were against Union Occupation. Bragg went to KY to liberate them. Sympathetic Kentuckians wanted Bragg to force Federals out, then they would join. Bragg needed them to join and help him to force them out. He didn’t have the numbers to do it. However, the campaign was successful. Bragg brought back many wagons of food and material. However, the loss of MO and KY was huge to the South.
One would think that if the vast majority of folks in Kentucky and Missouri were pro Confederate then said states would of been Confederate. Certainly Dyer's Compendium does not reflect that the majority of white men in either state flocked to the Confederacy more then the Union.
The figures I have seen from the Missouri Historical Society is approximately 30k Confederate vs 110k Union. Per Historian Steve Freeling Kentucky is 25k Confederate vs 50 k Union. Both figures exclude USCT,guerrillas and Militia.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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los angeles ca
They wanted those western territories for a reason. That reason was one of the main purposes of secession. They also needed KY. It was a bread basket. KY also like MO had many who sympathized with the South. MO had Industrial capability. Both pledged Independence. Many were against Union Occupation. Bragg went to KY to liberate them. Sympathetic Kentuckians wanted Bragg to force Federals out, then they would join. Bragg needed them to join and help him to force them out. He didn’t have the numbers to do it. However, the campaign was successful. Bragg brought back many wagons of food and material. However, the loss of MO and KY was huge to the South.
A successful military campaign is not defined by stealing food but seizing and holding enemy territory. I never heard of winning a war by stealing food.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
The definition of "defensive" war becomes somewhat blurry when it comes to talking about Confederate war aims. Yes, they wanted their independence and supposedly wished to be "left alone." But that's not the whole story. The southern states always maintained that the Confederacy consisted not only of the 11 seceded states, but also Kentucky and Missouri, whose insurgent governments were accepted as member states of the Confederacy. Additionally, the Confederacy laid claim to parts of United States territories, specifically New Mexico, Arizona, and Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Lastly, the Confederacy believed that much of Maryland was waiting to be "liberated" and reverted to southern rule. Given these claims, the Confederacy spent much blood and treasure in mounting offensive campaigns to obtain sovereignty over these lands, while at the same time mounting various defensive and/or offensive-defensive campaigns to protect the original 11 states. It's no wonder that the proliferation of war aims and strategies to achieve them did little to ensure the survival of the Confederacy as an independent nation.
To be fair to Davis I don't know how he could of planned to do significantly better then what actually happened to the Confederacy.
The analogy would be some young punks think it's funny to kick a sleeping dirty drunk in the gutter and said drunk may be slow and inebriated but he's stronger then he looks and can take a punch and although he miss a lot of punches said drunks punch's really cause damage when they land.
Leftyhunter
 
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