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    American Civil War Essay (1916 words)

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    Writing about recordedhistory should be a relatively easy task to accomplish. Recorded history is based on facts. Regardless of what timeperiod one may write about, one will find enough informationabout that time of period. The key is to put everything in alogical and understandable manner.

    This paper will be aboutthe Civil War. I will try, to the best of my knowledge, todiscuss the Norths and Souths positions and Arguments forgoing to war, their initial military strategies and their strengthand weaknesses. The paper will actually be a summary fromchapter 10 of the book Battle Cry of Freedom: The CivilWar Era By: James McPherson, Amateurs Go To War. Before discussing the war itself, one must understand theUnions and the Confederates arguments and reasons forgoing to war.

    Lets start at the beginning, when the Southwas first showing animosity for the North, which eventuallyled to sessionist ideas by the South. The Compromise of1850 was drafted in response to the threat of a SouthernConvention, because of Zachary Taylors decision to carveout two huge territories in the Far West and to admit them inthe union as free states. Henry Clay drafted the compromise,which includes eight parts. The first pair would admitCalifornia as a State and organize the remainder of theMexican cession without any restriction or condition on thesubject of slavery. The second pair of resolutions settled theboundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico in favorof the latter and compensated Texas by federal assumptionof debts contracted during its existence as an IndependentRepublic.

    Clays third pair of resolutions called for abolitionof the slave trade in the District of Columbia but a guaranteeof slavery itself in the District. As if these six proposalsyielded more to the North then to the South, Clays final pairof resolutions tipped the balance Southward by denyingcongressional power over the interstate slave trade andcalling for a stronger law to enable slave holders to recovertheir property when they fled to free states Battle Cry offreedom: The Civil War Era, McPherson James, (p. 70-71). The Northerners hated the fugitive slave law, because in thepast it was never enforced and it never gave a trial by jury toany runaway slaves. The only testimony heard was that ofthe slaveholder and he usually recovered his slave. Not onlythat, but the slaveholder was compensated $10 for winningthe trial because of all the trouble he had to go through inrecovering his property.

    Because of the passage of thecompromise, the North had to enforce the law which ithated. As the United States expanded westward, two newterritories were carved out and the issue of slavery aroseagain. The U. S. government let the two new territoriesdecide themselves whether or not to permit slavery.

    Since itwas up to the people to decide the slavery issue, Northernabolitionists enticed anti-slavery supporters to move into thenew regions and vote to make Kansas and Nebraska freestates. Southern pro-slavery supporters did exactly as theNorth did to make Kansas and Nebraska slave states. Thetwo sides clashed with one another over this issue and therewas literally a Civil War in Kansas. One particular situationthat occurred in Kansas was the sacking of the city ofLawrence. Pro slavery advocates of the city of LeCompton,Kansas set up a group or a posse that went to theanti-slavery city of Lawrence, Kansas, ransacked, burnedand literally destroyed the city. In response to this attack bythe Southerners the Northerners took revenge.

    John Brown,a radical abolitionist, decided to do a similar thing to theSoutherners. He planned an attack on LeCompton, Kansas. Enroute to LeCompton he encountered about five proslavery supporters, and without remorse, hacked them todeath at Potawattamie Creek in Kansas. The entire countrywas slowly being divided into two parts and even congresscould not do anything to resolve the problems.

    Politicalparties were splitting along North/South lines and evenviolence was a common occurrence in congress. The laststraw, which eventually split the Union, was the election of1860. On the eve of the election, Southerners had alreadyagreed that if a republican wins the election, they wouldleave the Union. Well, history shows that Lincoln, arepublican, was elected and the south truly did leave theUnion. During the four months, prior to President Lincolnsinauguration, President James Buchanan did nothing todiscourage secession. It may be even concluded that he wassympathetic to the Southern cause.

    South Carolina was thefirst state to secede from the Union, and by February 1861seven more southern states followed South Carolinasexample. Finally, when Lincoln took the office, all of thefederal arsenals in the south have been overrun byConfederate forces. In Fort Sumter, South Carolina, federaltroops were literally surrounded and their supplies eventuallyran out. Lincoln made a decision to send an unarmed supplyship to the harbor of Fort Sumter.

    Lincolns reasoning wasthat if the South fires on an unarmed supply ship, it would bean act of war. If it doesnt it would mean that the South isbluffing and it really does not want to secede. Well, on April12, 1861 Confederate troops fired on the unarmed supplyship at Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. The Northsprimary reasons for going to war was to keep the countrytogether. The South was fighting for state sovereignty, theright of secession and interpreting the constitution the waythey wanted to, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,James McPherson, (p.

    310). Slavery was not the reason theCivil War began. Lincoln had argued that it wasunconstitutional for any state or states to secede from theUnion, which is why keeping the Union together, as onecountry, was the Norths most important cause for war. TheSouth was fighting for the sacred right of self government,Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, JamesMcPherson, (p. 310).

    The South felt that it was fighting forthe same reasons that the founding fathers had fought for inthe war for Independence. According to southernersseceding from the Union, all they wanted was to be leftalone, and not to be bothered by the North. After Davisspeech to the Confederate Congress he included the phraseAll we ask is to be let alone, which inturn specified themost immediate, tangible Confederate war aim: defense frominvasion. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, JamesMcPherson, (p. 310).

    Slavery was not the major issue orcause for going to war. Slavery handicapped Confederateforeign policy. The first Southern commissioners to Britainreported in May 1861 that The public mind here is entirelyopposed to the government of the Confederate States ofAmerica on the question of slavery. The sincerity anduniversality of this feeling embarrass the government indealing with the question of our recognition. The Northinitially stated that the war was not about slavery.

    Lincolneven mentioned that he had no purpose, directly orindirectly, to interfere with slavery in the states where itexists, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, JamesMcPherson, (p. 312). The Constitution protected and willcontinue to protect slavery where it existed. As was statedearlier, the North fought the war to keep the Union together,because of the fact that secession was unconstitutional.

    Militarily, both the North and the South were not preparedfor this war. Although the North was the manufacturing partof the country, it had to somehow change its peacetimeeconomy to a wartime economy. Most of the arms thatbelonged to the North were very old and outdated. It hadold muskets and cannons that dated back to the war of1812. Northern leadership was crippled as well. Most of thepristine military academies were in the South, and most ofthe graduates of those military academies served in theconfederate armies.

    Many of the Norths military leaderswere veterans of the war of 1812. Many of the Northsleaders were in there 60s and beyond. The army hadnothing resembling a general staff, no strategic plans, noprogram for mobilization, Battle Cry of Freedom: The CivilWar Era, James McPherson, (p. 312). The Northern navywas in better shape then the army.

    Although 373 of theNavys 1,554 officers and a few of its 7600 seamen left togo with the south, the large merchant marine from which anexpanded navy would draw experienced officers and sailorswas overwhelmingly northern. Battle Cry of Freedom: TheCivil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 313). TheNortherners military strategy was to basically cut theSoutherners lines of communications, to slowly choke theConfederate army to surrender. The navy did a good jobfollowing this strategy.

    The North set up blockades, whichthe navy carried out to the best of its ability. TheConfederates had quite possibly the best leadership in thewar. Although to win, it needed more then best leadership. The South had primarily an agrarian economy.

    This factalone was a major obstacle for the South during the war. The South had the men, leadership, and even someammunition when the war began. The South had to find theresources, employ those resources, and finally put thoseresources together. The confederacy had only one-ninth theindustrial capacity of the Union.

    Northern states hadmanufactured 97% of the countrys firearms in 1860, 94%of its cloth, 93% of its pig iron, and more then 90% of itsboots and shoes. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,James McPherson, (p. 318). When it came to the Navy, theConfederates had no navy. Although lacking materialresources, they used tugboats, revenue cutters, and riversteamboats to be converted into gunboats for harbor patrol.

    Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, JamesMcPherson, (p. 314). The Confederates also came up withthe idea of the first submarine. The Confederacy sent intoaction the worlds first combat submarine, the C. S. S.

    Hunley, which sank three times in trials, drowning the creweach time, before sinking a blockade ship off Charleston in1864, while going down itself for the fourth and last time. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, JamesMcPherson, (p. 314). The Confederacy was also the first tointroduce torpedoes/land mines.

    Even though theseinnovations were developed during the war, they did notprove substantial enough to win the war. Jefferson Davisstrategy was to take a defensive position rather then anoffensive one. The basic war aim of the confederacy, likethat of the United States in the revolution was to defend anew nation from conquest. . Battle Cry of Freedom: TheCivil War Era, James McPherson, (p.

    314). Davis reasonedjust as Washington did during the revolution, that retreatingagainst a stronger enemy is not bad all the time. It gave timeto regroup your forces and build a counterattack against theenemy. Although the south did try this tactic at the beginningof the war, they didnt follow this strategy at the end of thewar. The south had the temperament that they could easilywhip the Yankees and that they should take the war tothem. The idea of waiting for blows, instead of inflictingthem, is altogether unsuited to the genius of our people,declared the Richmond Examiner.

    Battle Cry of Freedom:The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 337). Inconclusion, the lack of adequate resources proved to be thedevastating factor for the Confederacy. Although theConfederacy had the excellent leadership at the beginning ofthe war, later, southern public opinion showed that thepeople in the South were sick of taking the defensiveposition and wanted to attack the North. Because of thisstrategy, the Confederacy lost many soldiers in battles whiletrying to fight in the North.

    The Souths last ditch effort at theend of the war was a promise of freedom for any slave thatfights against the Union. Even though the North had inferiorleadership, its manufacturing capabilities surpassed that ofthe South. At first the North did not have many men enlistedin an army. However, later on the North had voluntaryregiments of men fighting for the Union. The Norths majorlines of communication were never destroyed and the Unionarmy was always well supplied.

    In conclusion the North wonbecause it had superior resources and industry to sustain thewar effort to its conclusion. William L. Yancey and A. Dudley Mann to Robert Toombs, May 21, 1861, in JamesD. Richardson, comp.

    , A Compilation of the Messages andPapers of the Confederacy, 2 vols. (Nashville, 1906), II, 37.5 1 History

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