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Population, Industry, And Generals – How The Confederacy Survived To 1865

2560 words - 10 pages

The Civil War was an unusual war- and the odds were very bleak for the Confederacy at the start, yet they won most of the conflicts early on. The reason the confederates were not immediately beaten is largely due to the impressive tactical genius that they brought to the battlefield which allowed them to outmaneuver and slow Union forces until they finally ran out of money, soldiers, and supplies. The Civil War had almost the same number of casualties as all other wars in US history combined (McPherson and Bruce vi-vii). The Confederacy faced impossible odds, with almost all of the Union’s industry having been in the North even prior to the secession. The Confederate forces were about equal in size to those of the Union at the start, but a year or two into the war, the Confederates were against forces much, much more vast than their own.
At the start of the war the Union was more stable economically, industrially, and possessed a much more elaborate and sturdy infrastructure than the Confederacy. The two were very different, as the Confederacy was a slave-driven, agricultural country whose main source of income was in foreign trade, and which lacked almost any industry. However, the Union was very different, “Nine tenths of the country’s manufacturing was situated in the North, which also had two-thirds of the railway mileage…” (Catton 62). There could be almost no better situation for the Union to be in when the war hit, and had it been much earlier or later the Confederates might have won, “But, the war came precisely when the industrial revolution was making itself felt on the farm” (Catton 394). After the war began, the Union was virtually unaffected economically, but the Confederacy started to plunge into debt as soon as the second year had passed, “In the Confederacy, a dollar in 1863 was one-seventh of the value of a dollar in 1861” their economy was inflating at an incredible rate, and as it worsened, so did morale (McPherson 440). The Union, which had been undergoing an economic boom, was relatively unaffected, and “The Northern economy held together reasonably well through the war” (McPherson 442). To illustrate just how huge this difference in resources was in 1860, refer to the attached graph (see Appendix A). The Union not only had a strong industry, but had a fully developed and stable system of currency, as well as a National Bank to regulate it. The Confederacy had to fight the large and well-established Union while simultaneously organizing a fledgling nation, but unlike the Revolution their enemies were on the same continent as them, and even shared a border.
The war affected the day-to-day lives of people in the Confederacy more than those of people living in the Union. There was, for example, a shortage of salt, “There were salt shortages, this made meat difficult to preserve,” this had a dramatic impact upon how people felt- as the war had now made it difficult for some people to get (or sell) meat that has now...

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