What if... Virginia Chose Neutrality?

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wausaubob

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Virginia neutrality would not have to last too long though. The US fleet could have been recalled, Harper's Ferry emptied, and the vessels could have towed out of the Norfolk naval based to Philadelphia and New York.
 

archieclement

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Virginia neutrality would not have to last too long though. The US fleet could have been recalled, Harper's Ferry emptied, and the vessels could have towed out of the Norfolk naval based to Philadelphia and New York.
I agree both Missouri's and Kentucky's neutrality was violated, one by the north, one by the south........hard to not to see one side or the other seeking an advantage by violating Virginia's as well.
 
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Carronade

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I believe had Virginia chosen neutrality, North Carolina may have followed Virginia's lead, and without those two key states the Confederate States of America either collapses without a war or they fight a short (5 to 8 month) war. The C.S.A. just simply can not survive without Virginia and North Carolina. Both those states provided a huge amount of man power, resources, and material the C.S.A. could ill afford not to have.

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William

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The ability to carry on a war only becomes relevant if the Union first comes up with an effective strategy for war.

If the United States government accepts the neutrality of Virginia, North Carolina (agree with you on that), Kentucky, and any other border states which choose to remain neutral, the Union has very limited options. They could impose the blockade and try to secure key points along the coast like Port Royal, Pensacola, Ship Island, etc. as bases for further operations. Perhaps they could "starve out" the Confederacy by cutting off exports (cotton) and imports, but that would likely be a prolonged process, uncertain of result, and hardly likely to inspire ongoing popular support. Use of the Mississippi would depend on the attitudes of Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas. And any effective action would likely push the neutral states into outright opposition and secession.

If they were going to allow states to remain neutral, what about Maryland? The federal government could be in the odd position of not being able to bring troops to its own capital.

If states could opt out of Lincoln's call for troops, how would that affect recruiting in the north? States or individuals who remained loyal to the United States might still be reluctant to commit troops/themselves to war once it became clear that they didn't have to.

A buffer zone of neutral states might be the best defense for the seceded seven.
 
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CSA Today

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The ability to carry on a war only becomes relevant if the Union first comes up with an effective strategy for war.

If the United States government accepts the neutrality of Virginia, North Carolina (agree with you on that), Kentucky, and any other border states which choose to remain neutral, the Union has very limited options. They could impose the blockade and try to secure key points along the coast like Port Royal, Pensacola, Ship Island, etc. as bases for further operations. Perhaps they could 'starve out" the Confederacy by cutting off exports (cotton) and imports, but that would likely be a prolonged process, uncertain of result, and hardly likely to inspire ongoing popular support. Use of the Mississippi would depend on the attitudes of Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas. And any effective action would likely push the neutral states into outright opposition and secession.

If they were going to allow states to remain neutral, what about Maryland? The federal government could be in the odd position of not being able to bring troops to its own capital.

If states could opt out of Lincoln's call for troops, how would that affect recruiting in the north? States or individuals who remained loyal to the United States might still be reluctant to commit troops/themselves to war once it became clear that they didn't have to.

A buffer zone of neutral states might be the best defense for the seceded seven.
Possibly as long as the Lincoln government respected neutrality, but 1st Manassas would have put an end to that illusion.
 

WJC

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If the United States government accepts the neutrality of Virginia, North Carolina
The Lincoln Administration did respect the neutrality of Kentucky. The state's neutrality position only unraveled when rebel General Gideon Pillow invaded her territory, seizing Columbus September 4, 1861.
Like much of the early events in the crisis, there was a 'stare down' contest, a 'game of chicken' to see who would make the first move. That is basically what happened in Kentucky and perhaps would have happened in Virginia and North Carolina. Would the result have been the same? We'll never know....
 
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byron ed

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Possibly as long as the Lincoln government respected neutrality, but 1st Manassas would have put an end to that illusion.
The "Lincoln government"? (the "so called" US government you referred to earlier?).

Well it wasn't Lincoln's call at that point, he didn't have that kind of power yet. The US Congress, including the remaining Union slave state representation of the middle South, were the ones to decide to respect Virginia's neutrality or not. And 1st Manassas wouldn't have happened if Virginia's neutrality had been accepted, so what's the point there?

On second thought, I'll just go ahead and plug in the usual 105 percent Confederate response (to every thread, every topic, all the time).
 
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Carronade

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Well materially the CSA is gravely weakened without its major industrial state. However it also means that the union has no overland access to the south east of the Mississippi unless it marches through either of those states, which would probably prompt both to join the south. Which might not matter militarily if neither state is prepared and the union has tooled up so to speak beforehand. Would Lincoln consider this if both states sought to stay neutral as it could have quite an impact on northern military plans.

One other possible point is that there are various level of neutrality. Virginia, or elements in it may swing towards either side. Thinking possibly there of some pro-south elements seeking to breach the blockade via stuff imported to Virginia and then being transported 'over the border' to N Carolina say.
Excellent point about the blockade. If the Union remained willing to respect the neutrality of Virginia, Kentucky, and by implication any other state that chose to declare it, blockade would be one of the few options left to pressure the seceded states, but it would be far from airtight with a thousand-mile border of sympathetic slave states.
 

CSA Today

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The "Lincoln government"? (the "so called" US government you referred to earlier?).

Well it wasn't Lincoln's call at that point, he didn't have that kind of power yet. The US Congress, including the remaining Union slave state representation of the middle South, were the ones to decide to respect Virginia's neutrality or not. And 1st Manassas wouldn't have happened if Virginia's neutrality had been accepted, so what's the point there?

On second thought, I'll just go ahead and plug in the usual 105 percent Confederate response (to every thread, every topic, all the time).
The Lincoln regime is probably my favorite. :wink:
 
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uaskme

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Scott and Seward wanted Lincoln to keep the border South in the Union. VA like TN and NC had majority Unionist sentiments. In the end, starting the War became more important to Lincoln.

Keeping KY was huge for the Union. If KY had of produced troop numbers for the South like TN and VA did, would of made a huge difference. VA would of had the same effect. With VA in the Union the distance to ATL and the lower South would of been much shorter. Federals had to eventually go South by the West, to effectively cut ANVs supply Chain. Been much harder if KY had of become Rebel. Much of it in ATL and Confederates Industrial Complex in Alabama and Georgia.
 

wbull1

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I think one of the following would happen. Either Southern sympathizers would work to form a rebelling counter-government al a Missouri and Kentucky. Taking all bets on whether Davis or Lincoln moves troops int VA in that scenario. The other possibility that I see is that the state manages not to split, and someone moves an army in that 'cancels' the state's neutrality.

I think the real question is, whatever happens to the states, does Lee remain in the army and does he accept a battlefield command while his state tries to sit out the war?

A Confederate-sympathizing Governor in Missouri did try to swing the state into the CSA by seizing the state arsenal. His effort failed, but the state had its own civil war during the national conflict. I think Robert E. Lee asked to be sent to the west. I don't recall the reference for that so I could be wrong, but he might have spent the war out there.
 
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wbull1

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I agree both Missouri's and Kentucky's neutrality was violated, one by the north, one by the south........hard to not to see one side or the other seeking an advantage by violating Virginia's as well.
How did the North violate Missouri's "neutrality?" The state legislature and most citizens were unionists. As I recall, the Governor tried to force the state in the Confederacy against the will of most of the people.
 

archieclement

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How did the North violate Missouri's "neutrality?" The state legislature and most citizens were unionists. As I recall, the Governor tried to force the state in the Confederacy against the will of most of the people.
Lol except the little fact there was no overt act to force the state into the Confederacy at all......the only overt act actually came from Capt Lyon even though he had been advised it wasnt the legal option to pursue...…
 

wbull1

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Lol except the little fact there was no overt act to force the state into the Confederacy at all......the only overt act actually came from Capt Lyon even though he had been advised it wasnt the legal option to pursue...…

I agree. The attempt to take over the state armory was not overt because it was prevented. LOL. There is a law against attempted murder. Failure to complete the murder does not make the attempt legal. LOL
 
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WJC

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Scott and Seward wanted Lincoln to keep the border South in the Union. VA like TN and NC had majority Unionist sentiments. In the end, starting the War became more important to Lincoln.
This sounds like a factual assessment, something that might be found in notes of a Cabinet or other official meeting and source?. Can you provide more detail?
As it stands, it provides an image like:
Seward: "Mr. President, I've been talking to General Scott. We believe you must keep the Border States in the Union."​
Lincoln: "Is that your opinion, General Scott?"​
Scott: "Yes, sir, it is. Keeping those Border States in the Union is vital!"​
Lincoln: Nonsense! No time for that: I want to start a bloody, costly, devastating war right now!"​
Makes for bad drama, particularly when we know Lincoln not only stated the importance of the Border States numerous times, but met with many individuals to convince them to use their influence to prevent the Border States from seceding.
 

John S. Carter

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There would be a significant amount of negotiation. As long as Virginia allows the Treasury officers to collect the tariff, I think Lincoln decides to go around. Obviously there is some risk to the blockade effort if that happens, so there is plenty to argue about.
How could Virginia remain neutral due to the state being in the area were both armies would transfer though? Kentucky was in a the ideal location to remain out of the conflict.Lincoln was politically wise not to do anything which may have encouraged the state to join the Confederacy.Remember he did not make any moves as to slavery until he was certain that he had taken the necessary actions,control of the newspapers and removal of habeas corpus.How could the Richmond government prevent the state from being invaded by either the Union or the Confederacy?The historical ,social,and political from the Declaration of Indepence and then the Constitution was such that it would have been impossible for Virginia to have remained in the Union and not to have joined her sisters.
 
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archieclement

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I agree. The attempt to take over the state armory was not overt because it was prevented. LOL. There is a law against attempted murder. Failure to complete the murder does not make the attempt legal. LOL
Except there is no evidence of attempted murder at all, Camp Jackson was scheduled to muster out at the end of the week, there is no evidence of a plan to conduct at attack at all, The paroles were judged non binding as the attack wasnt justified. Emmitt MacDonald didnt accept the parole, went to court and won.

Why also the union offered amnesty later to those who joined the MSG to lay down their arms and return, because the call of the MSG was a legal action by a sitting elected state government in response to an unjustified attack.

Its amazing how badass those 600 must have been, considering there around 12k Union troops around STl, the weapons had been removed from the arsenal anyway, no one seems to stop to even consider how unrealistic and ludicrous it was for them to have been some imminent threat...… The fact that Camp Jackson was about to disband and Harneys return was imminent and Lyon would miss some deluded opportunity for glory seems far more likely......

Its rather funny, Lyon admits the weapons had been removed from the arsenal...so there was nothing left to threaten and Union forces had been reinforced then even arming the home guard had been allowed, so Lyon had multiple times the force at Camp Jackson to counter any move, which there is no evidence of at all.....

But never let the facts get in the way of a good yarn Lyon later spins

However perhaps you were confused with the actual murder at Camp Jackson when union troops fired indiscriminately into a crowd killing women and children.
 
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