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

Rusk County Avengers

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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?

You wouldn't need very many. They had roughly 16,000 and you could have plenty dispersing them to key points. Maybe 2,000 in Memphis, (need artillery), 2,000 in Chattanooga (just fortify the rail depot and plant a battery backed up by a couple companies on a mountain), maybe 1,200 in North Carolina at Charlotte and Wilmington. Do that the rail lines are completely cut off, and the Mississippi at Memphis with enough artillery.

Excepting Arkansas, in places like Tennessee there was something of a disdain of Southerners from the Deep South. I would think that would have opened an opportunity to purposely, (but very secretly) turn a blind eye to Confederates from Alabama and Mississippi raiding into Tennessee to hit Union targets and violate the State, to tick off Tennessee into calling up their militia to combat them, thus more troops. If the theoretical tricking the CSA into violating those States borders worked, after two or three months Lincoln probably could've got away with calling up 75,000 volunteers politically in the Upper South.

Heck given its proximity to Tennessee, and how it was incredibly dependent on rail trade north of it, after a couple weeks US troops probably could've occupied Corinth before CS militias and volunteers could be made into an effective fighting force, (a lot harder without those 4 Upper South States), claiming the people wanted them to in the newspapers, and forcing your 1st Manassas there from behind fortifications with nothing but Regulars and ticked off Tennessee militia.

The entire key would be to keep the CSA looking like the aggressor at all times. But at the end of the day its a "what if" after all.
 

DanSBHawk

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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.
The states who hesitated to secede believed they were going to get another appeasement by the free states. That changed when the shooting started.
 

Pat Answer

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You wouldn't need very many. They had roughly 16,000 and you could have plenty dispersing them to key points. Maybe 2,000 in Memphis, (need artillery), 2,000 in Chattanooga (just fortify the rail depot and plant a battery backed up by a couple companies on a mountain), maybe 1,200 in North Carolina at Charlotte and Wilmington. Do that the rail lines are completely cut off, and the Mississippi at Memphis with enough artillery.

Excepting Arkansas, in places like Tennessee there was something of a disdain of Southerners from the Deep South. I would think that would have opened an opportunity to purposely, (but very secretly) turn a blind eye to Confederates from Alabama and Mississippi raiding into Tennessee to hit Union targets and violate the State, to tick off Tennessee into calling up their militia to combat them, thus more troops. If the theoretical tricking the CSA into violating those States borders worked, after two or three months Lincoln probably could've got away with calling up 75,000 volunteers politically in the Upper South.

Heck given its proximity to Tennessee, and how it was incredibly dependent on rail trade north of it, after a couple weeks US troops probably could've occupied Corinth before CS militias and volunteers could be made into an effective fighting force, (a lot harder without those 4 Upper South States), claiming the people wanted them to in the newspapers, and forcing your 1st Manassas there from behind fortifications with nothing but Regulars and ticked off Tennessee militia.

The entire key would be to keep the CSA looking like the aggressor at all times. But at the end of the day its a "what if" after all.

What if - the Confederates very sensibly refuse to do anything to antagonize the upper South and go for Fort Pickens instead?
 

Rusk County Avengers

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What if - the Confederates very sensibly refuse to do anything to antagonize the upper South and go for Fort Pickens instead?

Technically they did anyway lol! Well I suppose in such circumstances, the fight would be best left to the propagandists types with newspapers.

But even after that, the CSA would have to strike at the 4 Border States quickly, because if it turned into a staring contest across the border, the almost all volunteer at that point CS Army would melt away from the stagnation, and with the blockade so would their economy. The CSA would have almost no choice but to attack Memphis and stay on the offensive, and thus be aggressive.
 

Pat Answer

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You bring up a point, though, which, in my worth-two-cents opinion, is still the key to the whole thing.
I doubt any contemporaries were fooled about what was at stake, bottom line: is the CSA an independent nation or not? That wasn’t going to go away until someone caved. We Americans (North and South, then as now) are not the most patient of humans, but we are among the more stubborn, especially when convinced we are in the right, however defined. The propagandists of the press corps ultimately only reflect us back to ourselves.
The call for volunteers - and the response - was the result of what some described as Confederate aggression already.
 

thomas aagaard

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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.
No they did not.
The deal was that they would be allowed to do so. But only about half got out before the fighting started.
Also their artillery and all the stores where captured.

The US army as it was in January 1861 would have been run over in less an hour of fighting by the Danish army. If both had by some magic been place on a natural field and told to fight it out.

It was a policing force where having 100men in the same place was unusual and there was almost never done any battalion level drill... It was simply not trained for fighting an enemy equipped and trained to European standards. Because that was not the job it had to do in peacetime.

Without time and more men Lincoln had no military option.
 

jackt62

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The issue is whether or not Lincoln would forgo his oath of office to defend the United States, thereby acquiescing in the rebellious act of secession by the lower south. Lincoln's failure to act under those circumstances and the assault on Ft. Sumter, could even have been considered as an impeachable offense. In any case, the original call for 75,000 militia was quickly followed by an additional call, and by Congressional action in May 1861 requesting 500,000 volunteers. So even if Lincoln had hesitated in his original call-up, the sense of the nation and Congress would have overwhelmed any presumed lack of action by Lincoln.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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I'm not sure the call was a "do or die" moment. It would certainly seem like it on the surface, but there's always another option. The newspapers whipped people North & South into a frenzy, I'm betting they could've been used to get them to back this hypothetical up North.

Being smart and doing smart things instead of going with the mob, is never a dereliction of an oath. If it works....
 

Pat Answer

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Conversely, the call-up could as well have led to immediate Confederate capitulation without the need for further bloodshed...
Wars happen because the influential on two sides do not consider backing down (whatever that looks like) an option. With secession either being legitimate or illegal, depending on the viewpoint, every subsequent moment is “do or die” really.

I know I’m a broken record at this point so I’ll shut up... LOL
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Conversely, the call-up could as well have led to immediate Confederate capitulation without the need for further bloodshed...
Wars happen because the influential on two sides do not consider backing down (whatever that looks like) an option. With secession either being legitimate or illegal, depending on the viewpoint, every subsequent moment is “do or die” really.

I know I’m a broken record at this point so I’ll shut up... LOL

Oh your opinion is among the most valuable!

If someone thought the call could've led to a capitulation, I'd say that person made one heck of a mistake.
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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The issue is whether or not Lincoln would forgo his oath of office to defend the United States, thereby acquiescing in the rebellious act of secession by the lower south. Lincoln's failure to act under those circumstances and the assault on Ft. Sumter, could even have been considered as an impeachable offense. In any case, the original call for 75,000 militia was quickly followed by an additional call, and by Congressional action in May 1861 requesting 500,000 volunteers. So even if Lincoln had hesitated in his original call-up, the sense of the nation and Congress would have overwhelmed any presumed lack of action by Lincoln.
Agree with your there. The attack on Fort Sumter galvanized the north. I think if Lincoln does nothing he is impeached and removed from office. Then Hannibal Hamlin calls for the troops. I would wager a year of my Army retirement that this is what would have happened.
 

NedBaldwin

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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.
1. Lincoln’s proclamation was an excuse- without it VA, NC, TN and AR would have found another reason to join the CSA. and without Lincoln’s call for aid, DC was very vulnerable. Confederates probably would have taken if he had not called for the help when he did

2. blockade of SC, GA, etc could have been the excuse VA etc would use to act

3- no way was TN or Nc going to call militis to aid US against states further south
 
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NedBaldwin

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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.
The men of the 8th US infantry were taken prisoner and spent a couple years in prison camps in Texas

lee wasn’t in Texas in the spring of 61
 

uaskme

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Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution lays out the powers of Congress, not the Dictator, err, excuse me, the Executive.

No constitutional authority exists for any president to raise Armies, or pay for them, without the formal consent of Congress. Sorry.
Lincoln needed War Powers. He had to start a a war before he could get them. The reason for Ft Sumpter.

Scott advised Lincoln to abandon Ft,. Pickens and Sumpter. Lincoln offered the Southern Unionist 1 fort if VA pledged to stay in the Union. Losing both was untenable. The Radicals would of bolted ftom the Party.

Seward wanted to start a new Political Party. Exclude the Radicals in the North and South, so they could include the Southern and Northern Unionist.

Lincoln originally used the House Divided speech concerning the Republican Party. He knew he had to keep the Republican Party coalesced. The glue that held them together was No Compromise. He had 5 months to figure this out. The Radicals wanted Action.
 

Trooper325

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If he did not? I would suspect that the Confederacy would have raised the 100k soldiers that it called for and would have continued to forcibly take Federal property, imprison and assault Federal troops as it already had been doing for months before Lincoln requested the 75k. I often wonder what would have happened if the South had not started to forcibly take Federal property or request raising an Army of 100k. To me it seems like the request for 75k was a little low in number.
 

uaskme

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Here is a blip from a biography of Walter Lenior, The Making of a Confederate by William L Barney. Walter was a NC Whig and Unionist pre War. This is how the 75K Lincoln’s call up, turned him into a Confederate. Same thing happened in VA, AR and TN.

ACB7A7AB-EC3A-4ED7-87C5-F5722DAE1273.jpeg
 

NedBaldwin

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Just a technical point - the April 15 proclamation was a call for states to send regiments of their existing militia that would total 75,000. It was not a call for volunteers. Lincoln’s call for volunteers came later.


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.
 
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