Discussion The South's Defensive War

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uaskme

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
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

Yankees had the numbers to military control those states. They wanted to be independent. Majorities in all upper south states were unionist. Influence can change perception.

Maryland a good example. One of the first battles of the war was when Yankees paraded thru Baltimore. Federals stole the ballot boxes, militarily took the State. First state to enter Reconstruction. Same thing happened in West VA. If Lincoln could of gotten troops into East TN, they would of take it.
 
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Stone in the wall

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
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.
Most of the Confederate support in Maryland would have been found in the eastern parts. Little did the 2nd corps know that on the way to Washington they were marching right past Uncle Toms Cabin (Riley-Bolten House) in Washington county.
 

lurid

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
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 agree, but I tried to introduce a different approach or different theory than the traditional redundant theories that are so prevalent on the internet. There are some statements that I truly agree with in this thread, but they all seem to omit things that I feel are relevant to analyze the CW on a strategic level. Again, I truly believe wholeheartedly that the Confederates should have lasted way longer than what they did. I used modern armies as a reference to compare and contrast them with the Confederates and it appears the Confederates did not last that long and the former faced a way more technologically advanced foe.

Now could this have been because of the Union's great strategy in conjunction with the Confederates vast array of military blunders? I do believe that was the combo that caused the Confederate's demise early. In a perfect world, the Confederates had the right ingredients for a successful rebellion, not saying they would have won but they certainly could have made some noise. But they didn't even remotely bog down the Union, not even for a second. Four years was rather a short time for an army who was dug in, knew the terrain, and had an analogous net of sympathizers, supporters and actives. It's mind boggling that Confederates had some tactical success here and there but failed woefully on a operational and strategic level. And I believe that the reason it took 4 years is that is how long it took to cut off 750,000 miles of terrain and to take swaths of territory. From a contemporary standpoint, the Confederates would have lasted 4 weeks, not a moment longer.
 
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jackt62

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
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
The main criticism I would make of Davis is that he really wanted to be Commander-in-Chief of the CSA, rather than President, and acted accordingly. But I'm not sure if his military ability would have warranted him holding that position either.
 

jackt62

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
They wanted those western territories for a reason.
Which reinforces the reason for the states to secede in the first place. The need to expand the domain of slavery was part of the rationale for vigorously defending slavery as an institution. Even though those western territories were ill-suited for the type of staple crops that relied heavily on slave labor, southerners were constantly seeking to enlarge their territory, either in the territories or in Central America and the Carribean islands.
 

uaskme

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Which reinforces the reason for the states to secede in the first place. The need to expand the domain of slavery was part of the rationale for vigorously defending slavery as an institution. Even though those western territories were ill-suited for the type of staple crops that relied heavily on slave labor, southerners were constantly seeking to enlarge their territory, either in the territories or in Central America and the Carribean islands.
How many cotton patches equalled a silver mine? TRR to California. RR would of been built with Slave Labor.
 
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connecticut yankee

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 2, 2017
I feel the question of Confederate offensive vs. defensive military strategegy is a valid one and there has been some very good discussion on this thread. However, I also believe that the Confederate military and government officials knew from the start that military victory to conclude and win the war was not really attainable, a long-shot at best.

IMHO the overall strategy that the Confederacy developed to win was to prolongue the war long enough so that either northern sentiment changed to "Enuff! Let's call a truce" OR France and England step in and recognize the Confederacy and lend it's support to southern war efforts. The former had a serious chance of happening up until Lincoln's reelection in November 1864. The latter had a serious chance of happening up until January 1, 1863 when the Emmancipation Proclamation took effect. When neither happened, the Confederacy was doomed, military strategy notwithstanding.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
The main criticism I would make of Davis is that he really wanted to be Commander-in-Chief of the CSA, rather than President, and acted accordingly. But I'm not sure if his military ability would have warranted him holding that position either.
Highly doubtful due to Davis's fragile health that Davis would of physically survived field command. Per Cooper's biography "Jefferson Davis American" Davis was often incapacitated due to neuroglia.
I don't know if any Commander in Chief could of won Confederate Independence.
Of course we will never know.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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los angeles ca
Yankees had the numbers to military control those states. They wanted to be independent. Majorities in all upper south states were unionist. Influence can change perception.

Maryland a good example. One of the first battles of the war was when Yankees paraded thru Baltimore. Federals stole the ballot boxes, militarily took the State. First state to enter Reconstruction. Same thing happened in West VA. If Lincoln could of gotten troops into East TN, they would of take it.
The majority of counterinsurgency forces in Missouri were residents of Missouri. Most the out of state regiments were withdrawn by middle 1862. If the majority of 110k Union troops from Missouri would of deserted you would have a stronger argument.
Leftyhunter
 
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OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
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


True enough but, it is also true that Luck is what you make it, i.e., luck is after the fact, and whether it is good or bad, is more a matter of good sense and deep intelligence rather than lck itself.

I had a post several years ago, wherein I admitted that it was possible that Mason and Slidell were the best and brightest available to the confederacy and, if so, it revealed a vitl difference between the avg. of political skills required for their jobs, of the Revolutionary era and that of those of the ante-belum south.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
I agree, but I tried to introduce a different approach or different theory than the traditional redundant theories that are so prevalent on the internet. There are some statements that I truly agree with in this thread, but they all seem to omit things that I feel are relevant to analyze the CW on a strategic level. Again, I truly believe wholeheartedly that the Confederates should have lasted way longer than what they did. I used modern armies as a reference to compare and contrast them with the Confederates and it appears the Confederates did not last that long and the former faced a way more technologically advanced foe.

Now could this have been because of the Union's great strategy in conjunction with the Confederates vast array of military blunders? I do believe that was the combo that caused the Confederate's demise early. In a perfect world, the Confederates had the right ingredients for a successful rebellion, not saying they would have won but they certainly could have made some noise. But they didn't even remotely bog down the Union, not even for a second. Four years was rather a short time for an army who was dug in, knew the terrain, and had an analogous net of sympathizers, supporters and actives. It's mind boggling that Confederates had some tactical success here and there but failed woefully on a operational and strategic level. And I believe that the reason it took 4 years is that is how long it took to cut off 750,000 miles of terrain and to take swaths of territory. From a contemporary standpoint, the Confederates would have lasted 4 weeks, not a moment longer.




While I agree that the confedercy could have fought a bettermilitary fight for southern independence, but, I doubt that by itself it could probably have not extended the war by more than year. As the extent of the war broadened over time, so too did the material and manpower resources of the North were brought to bear on the confederate armies.


As the war expanded, it soon developed that the social and economic resources of the United States at the time, were insufficient to expand its war making powers. The shortfall, was made up by foreign trade with Europe. Which means European business men were making money from the war on the North's side, i.e., it developed that as the war lasted Europe had a vested interest in Union success, no matter the poitiical and social views of their leaders. In this respect, we can see the baneful effects of the blockade, and lack of political skills of southern representatives, both in the confederate Congress and Europe to achieve any meaningful redress.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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Location
los angeles ca
True enough but, it is also true that Luck is what you make it, i.e., luck is after the fact, and whether it is good or bad, is more a matter of good sense and deep intelligence rather than lck itself.

I had a post several years ago, wherein I admitted that it was possible that Mason and Slidell were the best and brightest available to the confederacy and, if so, it revealed a vitl difference between the avg. of political skills required for their jobs, of the Revolutionary era and that of those of the ante-belum south.
Based on the changed geo political situation or real politic of the early 1860s vs the early 1780s not sure even a brilliant diplomat working for the Confederacy could of obtained diplomatic relations with any nation.
By 1857 France and the UK were military allies who had by 1861 concluded aware against Czarist Russia. The issue of who should own the Indian Subcontinent was long over. Neither France nor the UK had anything to gain from recognizing the Confederacy. Both nations had vital trade links with the Union especially for grain.
Both nations had mass layoffs due to the Union blockade in cotton but neither nation was enthusiastic about a naval war to break the blockade . Spain certainly wasn't enthusiastic about going to war for the Confederacy since secessionists openly salivated over Cuba.
Just not a great environment for a Confederate diplomat to work under.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
While I agree that the confedercy could have fought a bettermilitary fight for southern independence, but, I doubt that by itself it could probably have not extended the war by more than year. As the extent of the war broadened over time, so too did the material and manpower resources of the North were brought to bear on the confederate armies.


As the war expanded, it soon developed that the social and economic resources of the United States at the time, were insufficient to expand its war making powers. The shortfall, was made up by foreign trade with Europe. Which means European business men were making money from the war on the North's side, i.e., it developed that as the war lasted Europe had a vested interest in Union success, no matter the poitiical and social views of their leaders. In this respect, we can see the baneful effects of the blockade, and lack of political skills of southern representatives, both in the confederate Congress and Europe to achieve any meaningful redress.
To be fair European businesses were making good money over cash and carry arms sales to the Confederacy. Has for those who bought Earlanger bonds in France not so much.
Leftyhunter
 

Saint Jude

First Sergeant
Joined
Oct 15, 2018
Location
Heaven
I've always thought that the only way the Confederates could have won the war was to stay on the defensive.
 
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How about the Confederate invasion of Kentucky that was finally stopped at the battle of Perryville
.

Your statement presumes that Kentucky was on the side of the Union. Kentucky was divided in terms of allegiance - it was divided between Union and Confederate - and was considered a "border state" along with Missouri. As a point of fact - one of the thirteen stars on the Confederate Flag represents the state of Kentucky. Was it possible for the Confederacy to invade itself ?? One could argue that it was the Union Army that invaded Kentucky !!
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Based on the changed geo political situation or real politic of the early 1860s vs the early 1780s not sure even a brilliant diplomat working for the Confederacy could of obtained diplomatic relations with any nation.

Leftyhunter




I agree wholeheartedly, I believe that the reorganization required to successfully defend southern independence, was to all intents and purposes, quite beyond the confederate resources and more importantly, their minds.

To have instituted such measure would, they believed, would have turned the South into a carbon copy of the very gov't they had rejected as being too amalgamated and centralized for true freedom.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
To be fair European businesses were making good money over cash and carry arms sales to the Confederacy. Has for those who bought Earlanger bonds in France not so much.
Leftyhunter



Agreed, but European businessmen made more profits quicker selling their products for Yankee Gold, rather than confederate paper. By 1865, I think Europe wold have had a hard time deciding whether it profited them, more to have the United States as a trading partner than the war torn confederacy.
 
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jackt62

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Your statement presumes that Kentucky was on the side of the Union. Kentucky was divided in terms of allegiance - it was divided between Union and Confederate - and was considered a "border state" along with Missouri. As a point of fact - one of the thirteen stars on the Confederate Flag represents the state of Kentucky. Was it possible for the Confederacy to invade itself ?? One could argue that it was the Union Army that invaded Kentucky !!
Despite efforts by the south to co-opt Kentucky into the Confederacy, Unionist sentiment in that state was roughly 2 to 1 for the Union. Although the state government declared "neutrality" at the war's outset, the occupation of Columbus, Kentucky by General Leonidas Polk in September 1861, immediately tilted that state towards the Union side, on which it remained for the duration of the war. Kentucky's Unionist loyalty was further demonstrated by the abysmal reaction that General Bragg and the AOT received upon its entry into the state; hopes of enlisting thousands of Kentuckians to the Confederate cause proved to be a pipe dream.
 

JKT

Private
Joined
Mar 31, 2017
Davis initial war strategy that they had to defend every inch of southern territory worked against them early in, especially in the West. There was no made to prioritize what could and could not be defended due to political concerns.
I think you right. If you’re going to fight a defensive ba
Davis initial war strategy that they had to defend every inch of southern territory worked against them early in, especially in the West. There was no made to prioritize what could and could not be defended due to political concerns.
I believe you’re on to an important point. If you decide to fight a defensive war and exact large casualties from a larger offense (ie the Union), you should pick a much smaller area to defend. Unfortunately Davis wanted to defend the entire Confederacy with a paucity of troop strength. Then there’s Lee, for the most part, very aggressive on the offense. Like him or not, Johnston was a master of defensive warfare, as in the north Georgia campaign. But he was not liked by (and relieved of command) by Davis. Also, a better concept, instead of defending the capital of Richmond, only a days ride from DC & the Union might, would have been defending a “smaller” Confederacy, perhaps with a more interior capital. Also it’s the Army you need to isolate, neutralize or destroy, not the “seat” of government. Grant & Lincoln got this; Davis, not so much. But, as said, woulda-coulda-shoulda “Monday morning QB’s” abound after 1865!
 
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