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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Essay on Civil War - Union vs. Confederacy
At the start of the war, the strategy of the Union for defeating the Confederacy was divided into three. The first was to take advantage of their superiority in number by engaging in three simultaneous overland assaults at the same time. General George McClellan thought that they could overwhelm the army of the Confederacy by engaging in three simultaneous assaults at different locations. Second, conduct of a blockade of the southern ports in order to suffocate the forces of the Confederacy. The Union thought that defeating the Confederacy despite their superiority in number was very difficult. They knew that the Confederacy needed only to fight a defensive war. In order to ensure the immediate defeat of the Confederacy they needed to cut its supplies. A blockade will paralyze the Confederacy’s army since they would not be able to get the supplies needed to win the war. The third strategy is the use the naval forces and superiority in technology to overwhelm the Confederacy.
On the other hand, the Confederacy thought that there was no necessity to defeat the Union. They only had to fight a defensive war and wait until the Union realizes that it cannot defeat the Confederacy.
It had not been easy to discern the result of the between the Union and Confederacy. Insofar as these parties, both of them had distinct advantages which can be used to win the war. On paper, the Northern States had far superior numbers than the Southern States. Yet, the Southern States were not only fighting for their means of livelihood. With the help of their able military leaders, the Southern States also fought for their families and friends.
For the Union, they thought that they had an advantage over the Confederacy. First, the Union population clearly outnumber the population of the Confederacy. The Union had a population of 22 million which was greater compared to the 9 million of the Confederacy which already includes the 3.5 million slave population. Moreover, the Union was in a better position insofar as logistics is concerned which helped them better supply the needs of their armies sent to war because of the nature of their economy. Since their economy was based on the manufacture of goods they could produce whatever was needed to win the war. They could produce the guns and weapons, the boots, and clothes for its army. Because they control the locomotives they could also easily transport its army and weapons from one place to another.
On the other hand, the Confederacy which constituted the Southern States relied on agriculture. They could supply the food needed by its armies. However transporting the food and the soldiers to the battleground presented a serious logistics problem. There was also the problem of sourcing the boots, weapons and the clothes for its army. This means that they could not produce what was necessary to aid their armies in the war. According to James A. Rawley, “the Southern States suffered all the disadvantages that the industrial states might have overcome.” Instead, the Confederacy had to trade with foreign countries to procure whatever they need for the war. When the Union was able to conduct a successful blockade of the Southern ports during the civil war the Confederacy was unable to procure the supplies for their army. Consequently, the South had to surrender not because they were beaten militarily but their economy was paralyzed as a result of the operations of the Union.
On the other hand, the Southern States did have several advantages over the Northern States. Despite their lack of supplies, they had better military leaders compared to the Union. Before the civil war broke out most of the best military leaders came from the South. For instance, when the Southern states seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy, the military leaders such as General Stonewall Jackson and General Robert E. Lee accepted positions in the Confederacy.
Moreover, the Southern States had the advantage of familiarity over the terrain. Since the Northern States were invading the Southern States, the Southern States were fighting close to their home. They were also fighting not only for the continuation of the slavery but they were trying to defend their wife, children, relatives and friends from the invaders. On the other hand, the armies in the North were only fighting to preserve the Union. Compared to the Union, the Confederacy had greater reason to fight the invaders. These two factors made the winner of the war more difficult to determine from the military standpoint.
The American Civil War was a bloody battle. It led to the loss of lives and destruction of property. Yet, the battle had to be waged since without it perhaps slavery would still have continued in the United States until today. The defeat of the Confederacy after the American Civil War led to the abolition of slavery. At present, there have been a number of changes in the American society. Slavery and discrimination are no longer recognized of the contemporary society. Equality is now a virtue that everybody understands and aims to protect. Thus, looking back, the American Civil War was instrumental in changing the American society.
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