What if.... Lincoln never called for 75,000 volunteers?

Rusk County Avengers

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Just an interesting question that occurred to me to me today. What if Lincoln didn't call for volunteers? Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas might not have ever seceded. This thought occurred after going back in a book and seeing some quoted "buyers remorse" with some Arkansans who had voted for secession in the heat of the moment (their words not mine) and I think it interesting.

Only the seven original States of the CSA, without Virginia's Tredegar Works, Harpers Ferry Arsenal, the Little Rock Arsenal, and tens of thousands of men not joining the CSA when Lincoln called on them to force it back into the Union. No Lee, no Jackson, no Forrest, and so many others for the Confederacy I find it interesting.

Also would the Antebellum US Army have been able to occupy places in the CSA and maintain there was no such thing? I'm curious what others think.
 

Yankee Brooke

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It would have been interesting. I think the army might still have grown with non-border state volunteers. Maybe not nearly as large as it did, but could they have gotten to 20K-30K? Maybe.

Cuts the number of ports and places needing occupation in half, at least. Especially with the NC ports still in the Union.

Also like you mentioned, that pretty much eliminates many of the best commanders in the Confederate Army. No Joe Johnston, no A.P. Hill, Jackson, Lee(and all his sons/nephews), Stuart...would they have remained in the US Army?

The war is a lot shorter, I think. Without those commanders and the tens of thousands of troops, plus the manufacturing from Virginia/Richmond? I don't think the Confederacy had much chance at all.
 

Pat Answer

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Not calling for means to suppress a rebellion against Federal authority, especially after Fort Sumter, would basically mean recognizing the independent status of the Confederacy. This wouldn’t have flown among those in the North determined to preserve the Union (of course including Lincoln who saw such as his God-given responsibility since taking the oath of office), and who responded to his call for 75,000 men by coming in closer to 95,000. And that’s the real issue: no single event, decision, or (mis)calculation can really be considered in isolation from the bottom line that as of Feb 4, 1861, there were two diametrically and irreconcilably opposed views of the political situation.
 

Pat Answer

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It would have been interesting. I think the army might still have grown with non-border state volunteers. Maybe not nearly as large as it did, but could they have gotten to 20K-30K? Maybe.

Cuts the number of ports and places needing occupation in half, at least. Especially with the NC ports still in the Union.

Also like you mentioned, that pretty much eliminates many of the best commanders in the Confederate Army. No Joe Johnston, no A.P. Hill, Jackson, Lee(and all his sons/nephews), Stuart...would they have remained in the US Army?

The war is a lot shorter, I think. Without those commanders and the tens of thousands of troops, plus the manufacturing from Virginia/Richmond? I don't think the Confederacy had much chance at all.
Following on from my post - what army and what war? The upper South doesn’t secede because the lower South has not been compelled to remain in the Union at all. So the Confederacy doesn’t need “much chance” - it’s existence is not contested!
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Lincoln and the Union having the manpower to invade the CSA would kind of be out of the question without the call. They would have had to play a purely defensive role with the tiny 16,000 man, officer heavy Antebellum US Army, such as manning the forts they still possessed in Florida, maybe placing troops at key areas commerce wise, like fortifying the rivers. Also some Northern States had been quietly getting their militias supplied and ready, so maybe Lincoln could have quietly called some into Federal service without a big call from all States to suppress the CSA.

Another action could have been to build up the navy and just blockade the South. Blockade it with a growing navy, suppress commerce with seceded States, and adopt defensive works along the borders but trying to avoid an all out war.

Such things could have forced the CSA to give it up as I doubt Davis wanted to fire another first shot after Sumter. Of course it could have also legitimized secession to some and maybe made foreign intervention a bigger factor on the CSA's behalf....
 

Rusk County Avengers

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I guess a follow up on my last post would be to say Lincoln would be building up the navy, fortifying the US side of the borders, and saying they weren't going to allow secession, but not be the aggressor, and thus try to force the CSA into looking like a pack of mad fanatics being cut off and given time to come to their senses. From a political standpoint.
 

Pat Answer

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Lincoln and the Union having the manpower to invade the CSA would kind of be out of the question without the call. They would have had to play a purely defensive role with the tiny 16,000 man, officer heavy Antebellum US Army, such as manning the forts they still possessed in Florida, maybe placing troops at key areas commerce wise, like fortifying the rivers. Also some Northern States had been quietly getting their militias supplied and ready, so maybe Lincoln could have quietly called some into Federal service without a big call from all States to suppress the CSA.

Another action could have been to build up the navy and just blockade the South. Blockade it with a growing navy, suppress commerce with seceded States, and adopt defensive works along the borders but trying to avoid an all out war.

Such things could have forced the CSA to give it up as I doubt Davis wanted to fire another first shot after Sumter. Of course it could have also legitimized secession to some and maybe made foreign intervention a bigger factor on the CSA's behalf....
The bolded is the point...
I always end up coming back to the realization of how “zero-sum” the situation really was.
 

thomas aagaard

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Not calling up men = recognizing the CSA...
Since the 15.000 man army was not at full strength and 25% of it was surrendered by the traitor Twiggs in Texas... he had no military options without a massive expansion of the army.

And it would be telling the brits, and French and even Mexico that you can attack the US with no reaction.
 

Drew

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In my humble opinion, that would have been a dereliction of his constitutionally bound duty to preserve, protect and defend it so help him God and grounds for impeachment.

The Constitution doesn't address the issue of secession, only a process through which new states would be recognized and welcomed to the Union.

The former issue was decided in wholescale War, the Constitution had nothing to do with it.
 

JerseyBart

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The Constitution doesn't address the issue of secession, only a process through which new states would be recognized and welcomed to the Union.

The former issue was decided in wholescale War, the Constitution had nothing to do with it.
United States soldiers in a United States fort were fired upon. He was the Commander in Chief of the United States military. Doing nothing about it would be a dereliction of his constitutionally bound duty.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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25% of it was surrendered by the traitor Twiggs in Texas

Those troops when surrendered, march north color and all. Texas later went back on the proceedings and ordered them be taken prisoner, but they were already gone. For the most part. If they had all been made prisoner its likely one Colonel Robert E. Lee would have been in a Texas prison.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Let me put it like this for thought.

1. The call infuriated 4 more States into secession, but if it hadn't happened they would have remained in the Union, and thus more apt to play defense of their borders. (also smuggling most likely....) Those States remaining could have enabled the US Army, albeit small) to fort up places like Memphis, Chattanooga, Washington Ark., Charlotte and Wilmington NC, closing off all rail lines South. In doing so the CSA would've been apt to do something to anger those not seceded 4 States....

2. The Blockade, was a joke in 1861, but it didn't take long for it to be effective. By blockading the CS coast, smaller without NC and Virginia the US would be showing they ain't letting go.

3. The CSA wouldn't take kindly to a blockade and rail centers like Chattanooga and Memphis being closed off with the CSA losing the benefits of them. A situation much like Leonidas Polk's violation of Kentucky's declared neutrality in 61, could just as easily happened in Tennessee if it didn't secede, which it did because of Lincoln's Call for Volunteers. Sure the US could've lost one or a couple of these vital to the Deep South rail centers, and that could've played into turning Tennessee, and North Carolina into calling up their own militias to aid the US effort. Let them stand up to the CSA on their own instead of the US Government telling them too.

My hypothesis is not that Lincoln give up the original seven seceded States, but not instead of resorting to force and outright invasion use cunning to maneuver the CSA back into the Union. A less is more attitude. Heck even if Britain and France jumped to help a seemingly all belligerent and solely guilty party in the CSA, it could've convinced the other 4 to stay true to the Union.

Closing this post, there's no need to debate secession here, and I never meant to suggest Lincoln would've been derelicting his duty to the Constitution. Just a suggestion that maybe less could've been more. More scalpel than sledge hammer to win the war.
 

Pat Answer

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Oh I hear you, it’s always an intriguing question: what else could have been done? Certainly Winfield Scott thought “more scalpel than sledge hammer” was the trick - that was the basis of his original Anaconda Plan. But even in order to “just” seal off the Confederacy by land as well as sea, a large army would still be required to watch the long border. Where would it come from?
 

DanSBHawk

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1. The call infuriated 4 more States into secession, but if it hadn't happened they would have remained in the Union...
Why assume this? The Virginia secession convention was working on a pro-slavery Constitutional amendment at the time of Sumter.

If they had completed that amendment proposal, and it turned out to be too extreme for the free states to accept, then Virginia and the others would have still seceded and went with the slave states. Those 4 states only hesitated to secede because they thought they could work out a deal.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Why assume this? The Virginia secession convention was working on a pro-slavery Constitutional amendment at the time of Sumter.

If they had completed that amendment proposal, and it turned out to be too extreme for the free states to accept, then Virginia and the others would have still seceded and went with the slave states. Those 4 states only hesitated to secede because they thought they could work out a deal.

Well in Virginia's case one look at the county map on which ones voted for secession versus who did before Lincoln's call for volunteers. Arkansas was against secession in their vote till then, and even after the call North Carolina barely voted for secession. Tennessee, I honestly don't remember the stats.
 

Rebforever

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United States soldiers in a United States fort were fired upon. He was the Commander in Chief of the United States military. Doing nothing about it would be a dereliction of his constitutionally bound duty.
What Constitutional law gives the states the right to attack other states? There was no shooting until the war flotilla arrived at the gates of South Carolina!
 
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