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Trial by Fire: The American Civil War and the Utility of Force Background North Vs South Federals Vs Confederates Slavery and Lincoln election the triggers State rights the main issue War breaks out – April 12, 1861 after Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina

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Presentation Transcript
background
Background
  • North Vs South

Federals Vs Confederates

  • Slavery and Lincoln election the triggers
  • State rights the main issue
  • War breaks out – April 12, 1861 after Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina
  • Conflict continues until 1865
what was the south s strategy in the civil war did it have any prospect of success
What Was the South's Strategy in the Civil War?Did it have any prospect of success?
  • In the Civil War, political strategy control military strategy.
  • Southern military strategy: defensive war until the Union tired of the conflict. But the South can only win by not losing.
  • Northern military strategy: use the pressure of a blockade and a campaign to control the Mississippi River to seceded states to return to the Union, Anaconda Plan.
  • Emergence of “offensive-defensive” strategy in the South: offensive manoeuvres for defensive strategic results.
  • Union’s material superiority over the Confederacy and April 1861 blockade of the Confederate ports
  • Confederate’s advantage: would not be the invader, huge territory difficult to occupy, long coastline difficult to blockade, Mexico border.
a foreign power intervention
A foreign power intervention?
  • The Confederacy principal goal in foreign relations was to obtain diplomatic recognition and material assistance from European countries, but recognition was problematic
  • Try to economically blackmail Britain: hope an embargo on cotton exports in 1861 would force Britain to intervene : “King’s Cotton illusion” but the cotton exports were big enough to supply the mills
  • September 1862, Lincoln passed the “Emancipation Proclamation” to free the slaves, and reduced the chances for the South to be morally supported by European nations
robert e lee a great commander
Robert E. Lee: A Great Commander?

The Argument For

Background

  • Son of a Revolutionary hero
  • West Point – no demerits
  • Corps of engineers in Mexican War – proved efficient and innovative
  • Harper’s Ferry – put down John Brown
  • Asked to lead Northern Armies

Points to competent, experienced professional soldier

slide6
Leadership Quality
  • “Uncle Robert”
  • Superb relationship T.J. (Stonewall) Jackson and other Generals

Victories

  • Command of Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862
  • Beat McClellan back to Harrison’s Landing
  • 2nd Bull Run in August 1862 – Turned to invading Maryland to deal knock out blow to the North, and to hopefully convince Europe to support the Southern cause
  • Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and many other victories in battle
  • Later aim was to defend Richmond and wear down North with small victories. Success shown in New York riots
the argument against
The Argument Against

Correct Strategy?

  • Was invading the North necessary?
  • Was Washington the centre of Gravity?
  • Did the South need to fight a conventional war?

Tactics

  • Losses – Gettysburg etc… Was attacking the best tactic?
  • New technology led to heavy losses in battle. Perhaps avoiding attacks would have been best given his lack of numbers
  • Helped by enemy – McClelland’s failure to exploit captured orders in Maryland
  • Grant’s view – Just a man
did the north win by industrial might alone
Did the North win by Industrial Might Alone?

Evidence shows Northern industrial superiority

  • North had 4/5 of the Nations factories
  • Shipbuilding almost entirely in the North
  • North held 21,000 out of a total 30,000 miles of railroad
  • The North spent $2,300,000,000 to the South’s $1,000,000,000
  • The North had a larger population – more workers
  • The North had the majority of the resources
  • Why Lee thought the North won
however
However…
  • Did this matter?
  • Crushing the North was impossible, so why bother?
  • The North would only win if the South gave up
  • The lack of European intervention surely a factor
  • Despite economic superiority, still had to invade and occupy

Was the Northern victory down to industrial power, or down to the South allowing this power to be used to its full potential by fighting a conventional war?

the impact of the naval war to the defeat of the south
The Impact of the Naval War to the Defeat of the South
  • The Ironclads – Virginia Vs Monitor
  • Vicksburg – Grant’s use of naval power
  • Cotton supplies – would Britain join the war?
  • The blockade (The Anaconda Plan)– economic impact
slide14

The Blockade

Fleet supports Grant at Vicksburg

how much impact
How Much Impact?
  • Prediction in 1864 that the South would surrender in 5 months due to severe economic hardship
  • Combined with the invasions of Grant, Sherman and other Generals. May not have succeeded on its own
slide16
Sherman’s Conduct of the March Through Georgia: Confirmation of the American View of the Utility of Violence?
slide17

Sherman’s Campaign

  • Following a long campaign, General Sherman takes Atlanta on 2nd September 1864
  • As a result, Sherman’s communication lines were subject to threat from the Confederates. However, after his victory Sherman believed the Confederate army to be so weak that the Union army could afford to ignore the enemy threat
  • 16th November 1864, Sherman embarks on a march towards Savannah on the coast, expecting little resistance
slide19
Sherman designed this march to be not only destructive toward enemy resources, but to deliberately inflict terror upon the enemy’s minds by means or barbarity and cruelty with the intention of fatally diminishing the moral of the people
  • This was achieved when Sherman burnt everything of value in Atlanta. On arrival at Savannah on 21st December 1864, a 50 mile wide, 250 mile long trail of destruction lay behind him, including ruined buildings, railways, livestock and provisions
slide20
Any consideration towards the implications of the brutality of the march on postwar relations were sacrificed in favor of the immediate and complete victory over the South and as a result, the population of Georgia was left in a state of despair.

Sherman saw his method as a quick and efficient way to win the war, and does seems to be consistent with a preceding American tendency resolve matters by use of brute force rather than compassion.