Discussion in '"What if..." Discussions' started by General, Jun 22, 2012.
Do you think the Confederacy might of won with the assisstance of foreign nations?
European nations sold what ever weapons the CSA could afford to buy. They would not ship directly to the CSA but to French and British Colonies in the Carribibeen from there it was up to the blockade runners to ship them to the CSA. The CSS Alabama was in essence an all British ship with a CSA flag after the CW the UK aggreed to pay over 15 millon dollars to the US Govt quite a sum in those days. The CSA cause was not popular with the British and French people . Many European men immigrated to the USA and joined the Union army very few joined the CSA. European countries needed food imports from the USA yes they needed cotton but they could buy it from Egypt and Guatamala. The US had a big navy it just didn't make sense to go to war far afield for what advatage?
Another BIG reason for at least the British Empire not wanting to assist the struggling Confederacy was the issue of wheat.
During the 3 years of 1860, 1861, and 1862, England's crops were a failure, and in one of the years the entire European crop was a failure while the US enjoyed bumper crops.
In 1861 the British crop was 40,000,000 bushels below the average. In 1862 Britian imported 32,000,000 bushels of American wheat. For the preceding 10 years the United States sent 20,000,000 bushels annually to foreign countries, while in the second year of the war, the total exportation reached 60,000,000. This does not include corn, which reached 7,385,717 cwt. in 1859.
"Exports of wheat, wheat flour and corn from New York amounted from 9 million bushels annually to 57 million, Philadelphia limped along on a mere 5 million, Boston had 2," (for a total of 64 million bushels). To spread the wheat on its way, the first floating elevators were used at the Brooklyn Atlantic Dock. These elevators could remove 5 thousand bushels per hour, weigh, bag, and reload from canal boats to steamers.
Lard and meat exports to Britian broke all records in 1861 - 2 million hogs. "Nothing like this has ever happened before." wrote Cinncinnati's trade annalist. "It shows ....that there is now secured a market for our pork in Great Britian and on the Continent of such magnitued that ....the amount consumed heretofore in the Southern States sinks into comparative insignificance."
So did Northern wheat prevent British recognition of the Confederacy? It most likely contributed. The United States, Russia, Prussia, and France were the leading foreign granaries for Great Britian, and in its hour of need, only one country responded. A conservative view was stated by a leading English Liberal, William E. Forster, debating the celebrated Roebuck motion in Parliament for recognition of the Confederacy. "He believed his amendment was proposed with a motive and view to peace, and in truth, unless the harvest was better than it promised, the suffereings of the countrymen of the honorable member would be great indeed if they were deprived of the American crop of this year. He would never allow commercial consideration to prevent his engaging in a just war, but when they were asked by the honorable and learned member for Sheffield to go to war for merely selfish purposes, to procure cotton, it was allowable to ask, "What would be the cost of the war in corn?"
While the need for grain would not have prevented England from defending herself from a war of aggression by the United States, it was doubtless one important factor in preventing aggressive demonstrations in England for the Confederacy against the United States.
1. War for the Union 1862-1863 Allen Nevins, pg. 489, pg. 489-490.
2. Social and Industrial Conditions in the North During the Civil War, Emerson David Fite pg.17, 19 & 21.
3. The Economic Impact of the American Civil War, Ralph Andreano.
4. Gotham A History of New York City to 1898, Burrows and Wallace, pg. 873.
Source for the above (9/17/2004):
Yes, I do, but I don't think Southern independence would have lasted for many reasons. One being that I don't think the North would have left the South alone, and foreign countries would eventually stop coming to the South's aide.
The colossal mistake the Confederacy made was not that they sought foreign aid; the colossal mistake was waiting until after secession was declared. They never had any clue as to why Great Britain would never declare war on the U.S. in the 1860's. The British, besides food shortages, had other reasons. It's as if the Confederacy only saw their side of the issue and never anticipated why Britain, especially, would remain neutral.
Britain was dumbfounded how the Confederacy would protect some of their states, even early in the war, without inland naval power. Britain ask questions that the Confederacy should have asked before secession. But then, how do Americans accept the fact that Britain had the answers to questions not even asked or truly considered by the Confederacy.
That makes sense
But after they won the war they could regain strength, build a better navy, and overall become self-effiecent. I believe if this happened they would eventually be able to not depend on foreign assisstance.
The South would have find to something besides cotton and a few ports to offer. Double or triple their iron/shipping industry, other ag products etc.. But the issue of the day would still have been slavery. The Europeans would have eventually decreased or ended their support without a quick resolution of the issue.
All in all it was just bad for business.
Yes but if the North had been whipped once wouldn't it be a long time before they came back for more?
Yes, but eventually they would have come back to fight, and who knows, the south may have eventually decided to rejoin the Union even if the North had left them alone. I honestly believe a reconciliation would have eventually taken place even if the South had won her independenace.
Just a minor adjustment, but what we know as corn, the Brits called maize. What we call wheat, the Brits called corn. Sometimes old terms have meanings.
One of the reasons the Brits didn't pitch in on the side of the Confederacy was King Corn. Several crop failures in Europe made them very dependent on wheat imports from the north. Upsetting that flow was not something they were prepared to do.
Of what good could cotton do if there was no bread?
A famous Chicago politician once summed up his credo as "Don't make no waves. Don't back no losers." That could sum up the European powers as well. They were not about to stick their necks out and support the Confederacy unless and until the Confederacy could show that they could win. That was something the South was never able to do. So your question really is moot.
Actually Corn /Maize whatever is a red herring. Britain did have a war plan for naval combat with the USA, and had given Admiral Milne the vessels to commence his initial dispositions. BUT and it is an enormous but, and not fully appreciated even now by Americans, Napoleon III had 100, 000 men camped in and around Cherbourg, and his generals made no secret that they "wanted to see the Imperial Drum Majors swinging their batons in the Old Kent Road". His navy was almost in a position to challenge the Royal Navy and was superior in numbers in 1861/2. Therefore the Admiralty had to be looking over it's shoulder. The threat was seen as real and it was there.
There was little or no regular army in Britain as most of it was in India and other places maintaining" peace", only the semi trained militia, and the "household troops" together with some County Regiments. Indeed it was this percieved weakness which led shortly to the formation of the Volunteer Detachments - direct forebears of the Territorial Army.
Much is also made of the presence of Russian vessels in US waters, in fact they were there by direct instruction of the Tsar to keep them out of the way of a marauding RN should a European war break out.
It's a question of risk vs reward. It would be a huge expense to provide, from Europe, the CSA with the amount of military presence needed. What is it that the CSA could give in return to make that risk worthwhile?
Very good question: the immediate answer in the short term would be cotton to relieve the very real problems in the North West of England, in the long term of course the importance of this would diminish with the growing import of Egyptian and Indian cotton. In the long term I'm not sure.
This would depend on what you mean by assistance. The Confederacy could have used additional arms and equipment, but what the Confederacy really needed for victory was more soldiers. A certain amount of Union soldiers would have had to secure the Canadian border if Great Britain aided the Confederacy and this would have negated some of the superiority in the number of soldiers the Union exercised. If France helped the Confederacy I doubt this would have been of enough help to enable the Confederacy to win. France probably would have not sent enough troops to have made much a difference. Either France or Great Britain could have possibly broken the Union blockade. But if the incoming arms and supplies would have tipped the scale in the favor of the Confederacy is open to question. Early in the war the Union did partly rely on European rifles and if this supply of rifles was cut off, then the outcome of the war could have been altered.
That has always been my feeling.
"Civil Wars", now there's a misnomer if there ever was one, always end unsatisfactorily in the long run, and lead to on going resentments, jealousy and undercurrents of ill feeling at all levels, even here it took a century or more for final stability to come. It probably helped that England was looking outward to empire. For a country that looks inward and navel gazes it must take even longer.
If push came to shove ,I suppose the French Army of Mexico could have marched through the South to get at the Union, that was around 35,000 strong, and it's troops were experienced . However that would have left Maximilian reliant upon Spanish infantry and Royal Marines largely to control Mexico.
The British wheat yield dropped about 7%*. Hardly a "failure". The US also had lower yields, but since their principle "export" market was now a hostile nation they were a war with they had a glut. This lowered grain prices to such an extent that even after adding the shipping costs US grain undercut home produce forcing prices down to a new equilibrium of about 40 s/ qr (down from 45 s/ qr). In recent years prices had gone as high as 80 s/ qr (during the Crimean war) with no major ill effects.
The same happened in many other areas. The US was saddled with a bunch of produce they couldn't sell and so the UK purchased them well under the going rate.
*Also remember that wheat accounts for only half the starch consumption, with the other half being potatoes. With the new equilibrium about 3% of starch consumed in the UK was from the US.
If I may take issue....
The French ability to land troops on a hostile shore is very limited. In 1854-6 the British had to move much of the French/ Algerian army to the Crimea. In 1862 the French had to gut 16 steam battleships for use as troopers in the Mexican campaign. Whilst the RUSI journal was full of speculation it was generally understood that France had no real ability to land an army at Dover.
Moreover, the French are closely allied with the UK at this point. During the ACW the French price for military support of the UK was to be allowed a free hand in Syria and Indochina.
The French navy had 9 modern steam battleships (all bar Bretagne being 90's, she was a 130) and 25 converted to steam. These conversions were rather less complete than RN conversions, and only 4 of these had been built after 1840. Some were old Napoleonic ships with all that implies. The RN had 60 vs the French 34, generally much faster and more capable. By the time the French had Gloire in a fightable state (mid-1861) the RN had 4 armoured frigates at sea.
From 1853 the British policy had been one of centralising the Army at home and in India and launching expeditionary forces from either. British planning figures were for an expeditionary force of five Corps to Canada:
In 1862 there were 65 regular infantry battalions at home or in the American theatre (minus some for home defence duties already counted below, and excluding the Royal Canadian Regt), 13 in the Mediterranean garrisons, and 2 of the 5 in South Africa can be withdrawn. That equates to 80 infantry battalions, far more than HMG proposed using (although several of these will be on rotations and so not really available). On peace establishment the British Army only held logistics for the deployment of 5 Army Corps (60 infantry battalions, 15 cavalry regiments, 30 artillery batteries, 10 horse artillery batteries &c.) at home. A Corps had a peacetime establishment of 16,000 R&F, so 5 Corps = 80,000 which is precisely the number HMG decided to commit to Canada.
There are another 74 battalions (57 in the Eastern colonies, 3 in China, 3 in South Africa, 6 in New Zealand and 4 Guards battalions needed at home, excluding 9 European battalions of the HEIC which were formally incorporated into the Army in Feb '62) that would not be sent to Canada (although ca. 8 battalions would be pulled from India as the British component of an expeditionary Corps against California).
The artillery at home, the Med and in theatre has 10 horse batteries (60x 9 pdr Armstrong rifled guns), 40 field batteries (240x 12 pdr Armstrong rifled guns) and 80 garrison batteries, which may provide siege batteries (4x 40 pdr Armstrong guns) for a battering train and man fortifications. There are 20 horse, 39 field and 31 garrison batteries in India (largely still with smoothbore ordnance). To provide a 5 Corps army would take all the horse and 3/4ths the field artillery available.
The cavalry has 20 regiments at home and 11 in India. It would take 3/4ths the available regiments to provide 5 cavalry brigades for 5 Army Corps.
There are 6 Corps logistics units (Military Train battalions). 1 is deployed to the East (in 1860 supporting the expeditionary Corps to China, by 1862 they've partially redeployed to NZ). 5 are at home to support a 5 Corps overseas expeditionary force.
Of the 36 RE field companies, 32 are available at home, in the Med, SA or in theatre. 15 are required to make up the engineer complement of the expeditionary force. There is only one Corps bridging train on fixed establishment, but plans were to simply equip another 4 by converting 4 field companies.
Separate names with a comma.