Skip to comments.Could the South Have Won the War?
Posted on 03/17/2015 8:14:26 AM PDT by iowamark
By March 1865, it was obvious to all but the most die-hard Confederates that the South was going to lose the war. Whether that loss was inevitable is an unanswerable question, but considering various what if scenarios has long been a popular exercise among historians, novelists and Civil War buffs...
Perhaps the most common scenario centers on the actions of Gen. Robert E. Lee...
What many fail to recognize is that Northerners were just as committed to winning as the Southerners. Some saw it as a war to free the slaves, while others fought to ensure that their republican form of government survived. Northerners believed that America was the worlds last great hope for democracy, and if the South destroyed the Union by force, that light of liberty might be extinguished forever. Lincoln once said the North must prove that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves.
The South may have been fighting to preserve a way of life and to protect its perceived constitutional rights, but so was the North. If the Southern people kept fighting even after the devastating defeats at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chattanooga, why should we not believe the North would have kept on fighting even if the Confederates had won Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chattanooga? The fact is that both sides were equally brave and equally dedicated to their cause. Commitment and morale being the same, the stronger side prevailed.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com ...
Yes, Guns of the South is a great book.
A better one, also by Turtledove, is “How Few Remain”, which sets up a scenariom where Lee wins at Antietam/Sharpsburg because his orders aren’t intercepted. Resulting in Southern independence but also a second war in the 1870s when the CSA annexes Norther Mexico to provide a path to the Pacific.
The follow-on books to that (North and South fighting on opposite sides of WWI and II) arent as good, but still a decent enough hypothetical extrapolation.
I absolutely agree that slavery was doomed for economic reasons. That’s why westward expansion would have been an issue between a theoretical Confederate States of America and USA. In addition, I think the union encouraging slaves to flee north would have become a trigger point because the thousands of lost slaves would have been blamed for any economic downturn in the South. It wouldn’t have necessarily been the reason why the South would have struggled economically but it would have been a sufficient boogeyman to rile people up with.
Dysentery can fill graveyards, but that doesn’t mean it can govern.
No way the south would have operated independently. Even without abolitionists in the US, slavery was ending around the globe. The basis for the southern economy was ending and adaptation was nowhere to be found.
My opinion is borne out, BTW, by the actual historical facts. The North did not crumble when casualties started to mount. The North in fact did gain the upper hand precisely when the war became a war of attrition following Grant’s assumption of command of the Union Army.
Conversely, Union generals and leadership in the east faltered because of all the political appointments to hold everything together. The able and good generals like Grant and and Sherman rose in the west due to their ability and accomplishments because it was less political in that theater.
Had The South put more into a guerilla war with the likes of John Mosby it could have been a lot nastier. Though it’s difficult to see how the South could have prevailed over yankee logistics.
If the South won independence, they would have had the west, NM, AZ and Maybe even SoCal to expand.
And they probably would have expanded South as well, taking over Mexico.
Who knows what Mexico and South America would be like today
Harry Turtledove says yes.
No. The South lacked the resoruces, the international support, the economic wherewithal, and most of all the leadership to win.
Had Lee won at Gettysburg he would have been in position to attack DC. That threat alone may have prompted the Union to negotiate a peace treaty. A defeat in DC almost certainly would have resulted in a final peace, or at least a years long peace between wars.
You are south hating bigot. Let me tell what the North would be with out the South, A FULLY COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP.
Win Gettysburg? That was never in the cards Longstreet knew it and spoke up about it. Lee knew but the pressure to end the war was to great on him. The war was always about who could pour the most resources for the greater length of time.
Applying your excellent points to today, does anyone expect any quarter from “The Left” if the shooting starts?
So, arguably, isn’t increased control of State Legislatures after the last election more important than the similarly improved control of the more corrupt federal legislature?
Who said,”We lost?”
Very good point. As history after the Civil War shows (thinking especially of Vietnam here), the best way for a technologically and industrially inferior power to fight against a superior one is to get away from large armies fighting set battles and turn the conflict into a guerilla war. That might have been a way for the South to win, but the dictates of military honor of the time probably would not have allowed the Southerners to truly consider widespread use of that strategy.
Almost certanly not. Had Lee won at Gettysburg he would still have been in the middle of Union territory. He would have used up much of his ammunition with no line of supply back South. He would have had tens of thousands of wounded to care for. And D.C. was ringed with forts and had a garrision as large as, if not larger than his remaining army. All Lee could do, win or lose, was go home.
During the war’s early years even Lincoln felt the North was to lose. The South made a few blunders that allowed the North to continue into the South. From an objective viewpoint the North was the superior tactician even if the two sides were nearly equal otherwise.
Exactly. It was NEVER a ‘Civil War’ (to overthrow the govt of another). Once the South lost, the idea of States’ Rights (9th and 10th) died as well.
But, history is written by the victors and the Left sure knows how to twist words into different meanings; 180 to their original (IE: Liberals).
“Revenge would have consisted of depositing freed slaves in the neighborhoods of abolitionists.”
Had both sides been able to predict the future, they would have shipped the slaves back to Africa, as Lincoln preferred.
The blacks ultimately “won” the CW, with the outcome being “gibmedat” and affirmative action and layer upon layer of social programs that prop up a violent, criminal culture.
Coming to a shopping center or public space, near you.
... Great Britain had allied with the Confederacy
... The Confederate leadership had pressed its advantage while McClellan sat on his duff
... if Albert Sydney Johnston hadn't caught a ball at Shiloh
... If Lee had heeded Longstreet's recommendation to seize the Round Tops at Gettysburg and protect the Confederate flank
Similarly, the Union could have cut the war short if ...
... Meade had pursued Lee's retreat after Gettysburg
... Lincoln had transfered Grant from Tennessee to the Potomac right after "Little Mac's" disastrous Peninsular Campaign
But then again, IF my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.
The South could never have DEFEATED the North, but the former could have established a hard-won precedent for secession and established itself as a sovereign nation. IF ...
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