Why Did the North Win the U.S. Civil War?

Well. I’m waiting.

Industrial capacity.

More people, greater industrial capacity.

The question should be: “Why did it take the North, with its obvious industrial and population advantages, 4 1/2 years to put down the Southern uprising?”

My vote: The South got lucky and had their two best generals rise to command early in the war, while the North had to wait for 3 years until competent commanders took to the field in overall command positions. And don’t say that the North was plagued by bad generals due to political apointments, because the South had just as many bad generals whose only qualifications were familial connections or ther fact that they had political clout in their home state.

North = 18 million…South = 8 million free/ 4 million slave

North = 234 million…South = 74 million

North = 100,000…South = 21,000

Factory Production(yearly):
North = $1,500 million…South = $155 million

Railroad Mileage:
North = 20,000…South = 9,000

North concentrated in Corn, wheat and oats.
South concentrated in Cotton, tobacco and rice.

[li]Superior Industrial Capacity[/li][li]Greater Population[/li][li]Vastly Superior Economic Base[/li][li]Superior Logistical Support[/li][li]Technological Superiority. ( Including repeating rifles, early machine guns, armored trains, observation balloons, & advanced ironclads).[/li][li]An effective Naval blockade of Southern ports against merchant shipping.[/li][li]Inept Confederate Economic policies.[/li][li]Failure of the Confederacy to gain foreign allies.[/li][/list=1]

… and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…

I hadn’t heard that one before. Could you elaborate?

Here’s one: If those lazy-ass Southerners had just picked their own damned cotton, none of this would have happened in the first place.

Death of General Jackson, one of the most brilliant military commanders ever

compounded by deciding battle of Gettysburg lost because of newfangled rifles by North.

In responce to AcidKid:

  1. Stonewall was a great general, but he wasn’t perfect. He won some fights outnumbered 2 or even 3 to 1, but by the end of the war the Army of the Potomac was outnumbering the Army of Northern Virginia by closer to 7 or 8 to 1 odds. Don’t expect Stonewall to play savior. Like I stated before, the Confederacy shouldn’t have gotten as far along as they did. It is a credit to Lee and Stonewall that they won so much with so little.

  2. the Union was starting to get repeating rifles by July 1863, but not in a quantity that it could be said to have any impact on the outcome of the battle at Gettysburg. The fights for the Round Tops on the 2nd and Pickett’s charge on the 3rd all saw the Union forces engaged armed mainly with rifled muskets, just like eveybody else.

If you wanted to argue that Stonewall would have taken the high ground around Cemetary Ridge in Gettysburg where Ewell and Early, commanding his old forces, did not, then go right ahead. But trying to blame Lee’s tactical failure (yes, Lee failed, and knew it, and even tred to resign because of it) on a technological gap that did not exist at that place and time, then you’re wrong.

I would venture to say the group fighting for independence had more heart in the fight than the group trying to keep the rebellious forces in with them.

While technically true, only the ironclads had a material effect on the war.
The repeating rifle did not make it into service in numbers sufficient to decide a battle until the South was already in full retreat–they just made some of the retreats go faster.
The first use of the Gatling gun against people, rather than targets, was in a riot in New Orleans following the war.
Armored trains were not necessary to the war effort as the Union rail lines were (generally) out of reach of Confederate raiders.
While observation balloons were used during a couple of sieges, I am unaware of any battle that was decided by information they provided.

The actual technology that the Union used for victory was in the the manufacturing processes that overwhelmed those of the Confedrates, so that not only did the Union have more factories, their factories were more efficient and proficient at producing war materiel.

(OTOH, your notice of the Federal control of the seas was a very valid point missed by the posters who preceded you.)

Having Matthew Broderick AND Denzel Washington fighting on their side helped the Union enormously.

There are several contributing factors to why the Confederacy failed. Of course, the industrialized North had superior numbers and the means to replenish supplies etc. The blockade of Southern ports etc.

All of these things were responsible, but I think the biggest factor is the fact that the Confederacy was not “a union” so to speak. The Southern states identified themselves as separate entities. As a result, there was internal conflict between the states and it’s citizens.

Probably the most important factor is the fact that the Confederacy was in a defensive war. It was merely a matter of time before its inevitable defeat. One cannot defend a position indefinitely.
If the South had in fact, taken the war to the North instead of forcing them back and then defending it’s position, (like Korea & Vietnam) it is quite possible the outcome would have been different. After the first three years of battle, the soldiers in the Confederate army were simply worn out. Fresh troops had long since expired, most of the remaining troops had been in since the beginning.

Meanwhile, the US had gained it’s momentum, trained it’s military troops and organized it’s forces and taxed the hell out of its citizens, thus overwhelming the South.

damned Yankees… :wink:

I always thought that the South had an advantage because it didn’t HAVE to win the war. All it had to do was last long enough for the North to get tired of figthing. The North, on the other hand, had to win.

That’s the point, the South had no clear objectives other than to defend itself. If the south had an unlimited supply of munitions and manpower they could have held out for longer.

Like you said, "All it had to do… but it could only last so long, right? However long manpower and munitions and morale lasted, after that it’s just a matter of time. As far as the North getting tired of fighting goes…sure, but when you keep fresh troops available, see?

as far as actually winning, that’s a little more tricky. There really wasn’t a winner, I mean what was won? The North kept the South from secession, actual defeat is debatable as well. The South surrendered, (all but Texas).:wink:

It was just too damned costly to continue, it was obvious the South had missed its chance at victory. There was no sense in continuing. Not that there weren’t plenty that wanted to. Most just wanted to go home, what was left of it, hopefully to find family alive and maybe salvage some kind of life.
How long could you defend your house for example? Get as many people, weapons, food, etc. as much as you can put into your house and defend it. Let say the ATF, decides it’s going to confiscate your property and incarcerate or kill the inhabitants if need be. You can’t leave and no one can enter.

Its just a matter of time!

When I talked about the North getting tired of fighting, I wasn’t referring strictly to battle fatigue, I was also including the social and political aspects.

Mothers will get tired of sending their children off to die. People whose homes have been shot up because they had the misfortune to be located near a battle will become angry and wish the war would just go ahead and be over with. Politicians receive complaints about the body count and might try to achieve popularity by campaigning for peace.

Had the South been able to hold out long enough, eventually the North was going to decide that unity is more trouble than it’s worth.

The ATF analogy doesn’t really hold up because pitting the government versus me and my friends isn’t nearly on the same scale as the North vs. South.

It became pretty obvious early on that neither side had the ability to destroy any of the other’s armies. As close as it came was Grant’s capture of a significant Confederate force at Fort Donelson in February 1862, and at Vicksburg in July 1863. Lee’s triumphs at Chancellorsville in May 1863, and at Second Bull Run in August 1862, and Bragg’s victory at Chickamauga did not destroy the opposing Union force. The actual fighting had turned into a straight up slugging match by the summer of 1863. In that setting the economic and industrial potential of the adversaries became decisive, especially with Sherman’s Atlanta and Georgia campaigns that eliminated significant Southers economic and industrial support for the armies and Sheridan’s harrowing of the Shenandoah Valley. The Confederacy could not win, or even stalemate, a long war. The North could not lose a war if it kept up the resolve to fight the thing to the end. This is why the election of 1864 was so important. The election was a clear statement of Northern resolution to win the war and suppress the rebellion.

Since no one responded to Friedo, I’ll go.

Both nations assumed that the war would be short. The Confederacy did not plan economically for more than a year - and actually, a few months. The confederate financier (forget the name) floated two far too small loans, and had only a little specie. After Bull Run, they were nearly broke.

Things got really bad after that. They switched to paper, and started pritint out huge gobs of the stuff. There was hyperinflation not exceeded until Germany in the Great Depression. The lot of the average person got very hard indeed. Plus, soldiers consripted supplies and paid in the worthless paper currency.

The North planned for a longer war (not actually as long as would be needed, but their plans changed before they got in a crunch) and had many more financial resources to draw upon.