Discussion The United States was inevitably going to win the war

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wausaubob

Major
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Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The basic fact is illustrated in page xvii of the 1860 census report. An immigrant society, like that which existed in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, had a huge preponderance of military age men. https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1860/population/1860a-02.pdf?#
The Confederate political victory of establishing their insurgent nation, and winning the great battles of 1862, slowed immigration in 1861, and 1862, but by 1863, immigration resumed at a normal level and accelerated. https://books.google.com/books?id=cMosAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=statistical+review+of+immigration+1820+to+1910&source=bl&ots=rvZQWiEa3V&sig=x6gyC29Suf_zk6sWzDXKzOC-egQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjQj7eEv8jeAhXoy4MKHQCDDO4Q6AEwCXoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=statistical review of immigration 1820 to 1910&f=false
The United States was drawing on a virtually unlimited manpower pool reaching through Canada, back to Britain, Germany and Scandinavia.
This impacted the early part of the war, when Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa were able to invade and overwhelm the Confederates in the Border States.

But the other factor that made the outcome inevitable was the vast majority of naval and marine merchant capacity was in the northern states. As page 107 of the preliminary report of the 1860 census recorded, https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1860/preliminary-report/1860e-06.pdf?#, this advantage was studiously published to the world in May 1862. Prof. Gallagher noted that there were three ship yards in the south, in Pensacola, a private yard in New Orleans, in Norfolk. There was also a closed shipyard in Memphis, as noted by Bern Anderson. By the first week of June 1862, the US occupied all these places.
What the US administration never admitted, was the concepts of the original blockade plan were never abandoned. Every effort would be made to tighten the blockade, to prevent the Confederates from building ships that could break the blockade, and to make whatever concessions were required by Britain, to keep the English from interfering with the blockade.
And the two factors worked together. Due to immigration, in New York harbor and on the interior rivers, the US had unlimited naval manpower, both for the fighting vessels, and for the transports and colliers that kept the system running.
There was nothing the Confederates could do about these two factors. Even an armistice would not have ended immigration. It continued as the war progressed. So eventually the Northeast, Midwest and Great West would overwhelm the Confederacy.
And with respect to naval power, despite their powerful forts, ironclads and ingenious mines, the US navy had 670 vessels by January 1865. Thus the last and decisive fight of the war, was the combined arms effort to capture Fort Fisher outside of Wilmington, NC. The modern features of this battle, with its amphibious landings and tremendous bombardment, were beyond anything the US could do in 1865.
All the war did was demonstrate, that due to naval power, and rapidly increasing population, the US was an emerging world power.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Plenty of ways it could have gone wrong.

A bigger Victory at 1st Bull run and Washington might have been captured.
Shiloh might have destroyed the union army there. Would have changed the situation a lot.
British involvement,
Lincoln loosing the reelection

All might have resulted in the public support of ht war vaporizing.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

Sergeant Major
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I think the "Union Victory was inevitable" argument is a bit, demeaning and ignores a lot of facts. The Union had to overcome a lot to win, and while numbers were in the Union's favor, that never has and never will mean a surefire thing. Just as the Union overcame a lot for victory, the Confederacy overcame enough to become a real threat. I mean there's all these instances:

As @thomas aagaard pointed out
First Manassas, (number superiority didn't do the Union any good, and may have been a hindrance with all things considered)
Shiloh, British involment, and elections

But also:
Sharpsburg/Antietam, and Gettysburg (if a Confederate victory happened it would have ruinous)
The Peninsula Campaign
The Union economy almost collapsing in 1862
The Red River Campaign, (would have been ruinous with just a Confederate attack, not even a victory at New Orleans during election year after the string of Union defeats there would have had consequences for the election)
Atlanta, (Davis's replacing Johnston with Hood did the Union a favor, a long siege of Atlanta would have been unfavorable and with all factors I personally think it could have lasted two, maybe three months at a bad time)
and so many other things made Union victory hang in the balance

Numbers don't always mean winning is a sure fire thing, just look at the cruisers the Confederacy had running amok on the high seas. The numbers show they didn't stand a chance, but with the right strategy and goals they brought the US wailing industry to its knees, and crippled, for the time being, the entire merchant fleet of the Union because after a few burned ships, the presence of just one ship against 30 or 40, and hundreds of US merchant vessels drove the insurance rates up so high that that was enough to bring it to a near standstill in 1863 and into 1864. (I've always found it funny and ironic as can be how many Yankee sailors and merchantmen flocked to the protection of the British flag on several levels because of one or two British built Confederate ships.)

The Union had the numbers on it's side during the war, but like all wars when the guns started firing that didn't mean a thing. It kinda demeans the great sacrifice of life and treasure by the Union. The Confederacy proved to be a tough nut to crack, numbers or no numbers.
 

wausaubob

Major
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Location
Denver, CO
"Inevitable" is surely too strong a word. "Highly likely," yes. The key was that the U.S. could win if it fought it out to a conclusion, which it did. It was not inevitable that it would persevere.
It was not inevitable that they would win in 4 years. But the war would have been renewed on different terms. The imbalance was growing. In a matter of years, the US would have added Nebraska, Colorado and Nevada.
The Midwest was fighting the war and growing at the same time.
 
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dlavin

Sergeant Major
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North Balt Co., MD
Confederate battle wins aside, I guess I agree it was "inevitable" the North would win due to the items listed above. But those Union repulses did place a lot of doubt in the minds of the Northern public and politicians. The Union was the "favorite" in this case to use sports betting lingo, however the underdog was winning and kept it close a lot longer than the favorite would have liked.
 
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wausaubob

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After about 15 months of maneuvering, the US had control of the west, in what is now Arizona and New Mexico. Connor and the Californians linked up to Nevada and then linked Utah into the system.
Thus by July of 1862, the US had the west, it had the Mississippi as far down as Memphis, and possessed most of the coast of Virginia and North Carolina.
They would have hung on to those positions, even if there had been an armistice. From those positions, the US, even if they had been temporarily thwarted.
 

wausaubob

Major
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Location
Denver, CO
Those two considerations were enough. But on top that, the Confederacy was a slave society and the slaves were leaving. Free workers and free families in the US were not going to give up their jobs and their farms to go work or fight in the south, as noted by William Freehling.
 

wausaubob

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Give General Lee credit. First he knew how dangerous McClellan's position on the James/York peninsula was and he spent lives freely to embarrass General McClellan. But Lee also knew that the Confederates had to avoid fighting in the zone of the navigable rivers on the Atlantic coast. Early in the war, with a few exceptions, the Atlantic coast of the Confederacy was open to capture.
 
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wausaubob

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The Confederacy could definitely form brilliant land armies. They were determined fighters. But the US was fighting with one hand and growing with the other. Many white southerners in Kentucky and Tennessee saw that, and left to look for work and land as the war broke out.
Thus the 9M people, and 3.9M slaves in the south, never was the true measure. The western counties of Virginia left the war early, and the non secessionist areas of Tennessee left as well.
Sooner or later the US generals and naval officers were going to realize they had insurmountable advantage in combined arms. Then there would be actions like those in Mobile and at Fort Fisher and the Confederacy would be totally isolated.
 

wausaubob

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Confederate battle wins aside, I guess I agree it was "inevitable" the North would win due to the items listed above. But those Union repulses did place a lot of doubt in the minds of the Northern public and politicians. The Union was the "favorite" in this case to use sports betting lingo, however the underdog was winning and kept it close a lot longer than the favorite would have liked.
There was undoubtedly a lot of panic in the north, for about 8 months. But the situation improved by November of 1861, and stabilized in February of 1862. By July of 1863, foreign observers knew it was only a matter of time.
 
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wausaubob

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As illustrated in pages xxi through xxvi, https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1860/population/1860a-02.pdf?# the fundamental reason the British could not afford to fight with the US, was that after 1844, the British and US populations were related by family and money. Such a fight would antagonize families that were connected across the ocean and by money sent home during the 1850's. Further the second greatest source of immigration to the US was Germany, and Queen Victoria's non British associations were in Germany.
 

dlavin

Sergeant Major
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Location
North Balt Co., MD
There was undoubtedly a lot of panic in the north, for about 8 months. But the situation improved by November of 1861, and stabilized in February of 1862. By July of 1863, foreign observers knew it was only a matter of time.
Agree, the opinion could greatly vary depending on when during the war one applies the statement. By mid-1863 the "inevitability" of the war's result could be seen by some.

Not sure I totally agree with the dates that by late 1861/spring 1862 the result was obvious. What events are you referencing during that period? I surely could be missing something and would appreciate any insight.
 

wausaubob

Major
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Location
Denver, CO
The political will to win in four years was contingent. But by July of 1863, the US could have suspended the war, gone back to growth and development, and by 1870, the Confederacy would have been facing all three sections of the US, the far west, the Midwest and the Northeast.
 
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wausaubob

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The panic ended in November. By then the US had Hatteras Inlet, Port Royal and Ship Island and the telegraph wire had reached California. The situation in the border states had improved, and it was clear that the US would survive as a cohesive mass, even if lost the war.
By February 1862 Grant had broken through in Tennessee, and Farragut was secretly assembling a flotilla to challenge the forts in the delta.
There was a good deal of distracting news in December, January and February to hide the fact the US navy was going to attempt to capture New Orleans from the Gulf, and had sufficient strength to make the attempt.
 

Dead Parrott

Corporal
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Jul 30, 2019
Militarily, the Union would have eventually prevailed, IF and that was the big question, IF the political will was there to press it to a conclusion...
Agreed.

There were only three ways for the CSA to win:

1. the Border States join the CSA
2. Foreign interference\intervention
3. the USA loses the will to keep fighting

The above are not mutually exclusive. #3 might even be dependent on either #1 or #2 happening.

I the real world, none of them happened, the USA eventually found its best generals, and the CSA was doomed.
 
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