American Civil War Paper Essay

I. Introduction

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The American Civil War is a great armed conflict fought  in American soil[1]. The conflicting sides for this armed conflict are the Confederate[2] and the Union[3] Armies. The Union consists of the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. While the Confederate forces comprise of the states of  South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina (Brainy Encyclopedia.com).

  This war was an offshoot of the issue as to whether if Slavery[4] should be condoned or not. The Union forces, led by Abraham Lincoln, the U.S President during that era and the Republicans maintained the belief that slavery should be abolished – They were not very keen in ending this instantly because they were aware of the great opposition they are going to face if such an undertaking was done directly. Hence they proposed that slavery be confined only in states in which they were currently subsisting, at the same time they recommended that slavery should not be legalized on  the new states which they just acquired[5]. The 11 states that form the Confederate states, heavily relied on slavery to support their economy. They use slave labor to practically do all the things required to maintain plantation operations more particularly in planting crops, most especially cotton. The main point of conflict  between the North and the South prior to armed combat was whether if slavery should be permitted in the newly acquired territories from Mexico after the U.S – Mexican War, which comprise of  New Mexico, a section of California, and the state of Utah. One of the primary concerns of Anti-slavery plotters would be the problem they would be facing if slavery would be allowed. The continuance of  slavery as a trend would mean that they would be unable to earn wages as regular employees (Microsoft Encarta 2007). No one on his right mind would hire workers from other sectors if the labor could be secured for free. It goes without saying that the Southern States, whose industries depended heavily on maintaining plantations deeply resented and bitterly opposed such measures being done by their detractors to abolish slavery. The Southern States heavily depended on slaves to maintain their thriving industry, slaves were utilized by the thousands on these States, which means that the Southern States would be the ones heavily affected by such proposition from their contemporaries (Max Energy Limited 2007).

            It could be discerned that the ploy being used by the Union forces to “confine” slavery to the states in which it was being utilized would ultimately lead to the abolition of slavery. The said ploy would lead indirectly to the indirect abolition of slavery because if the proposal of confinement is to be implemented, slaves could then contrive to escape to other states that no longer adheres to the concept of slavery and live their lives as free men. When these slaves have successfully crossed the boundaries to another state, they are no longer constrained to return to their masters, since they would immediately enjoy legal protection once they made their escape successful[6].

            It appears that both the Union and the Confederate forces believe that the confinement of slavery to the present states would be the cause of the eventual abolition of Slavery. The Union forces never counted on the possibility that the Southern states would resort to secession from the Union to safeguard their interests . The Union forces, it appears were greatly mistaken on this belief because the South was more than willing to maintain its status quo concerning the maintenance of slavery as their primary source of labor – and that they are more than willing to shed blood to assure the maintenance of the privileges they enjoyed was beyond the expectations of the Union forces from the North.

II. Factors which affected the outcome of the war          in favor of the Union forces
There are a lot of factors that affected the outcome of the war as a whole. The variables that were  seen by historians would be: The advantages enjoyed by the Union in terms of Population[7], The industrialized economy of the Union States[8], the control over vast expanse of transportation routes by virtue of the North’s possession of the majority of Railroad routes and its control over 80% of the shipyards, and marine vessels, the acquisition of support from the border states, and the emancipated slaves, the outbreak of diseases in Southern territories, the appearance of able Military leaders who mercilessly pressed the North’s numerical superiority and the uncanny ability of Lincoln to marshal and motivate the Union forces to fight for “democracy” proved to be insurmountable odds which the South cannot overcome (Burns, K. 2007).

            The First factor, the variable which concerns the importance of population was in itself a major determining factor in the war being fought itself. In warfare, the numerical superiority of fighting units are advantages which could spell out victory if utilized in the correct manner. A larger population means that the combat forces could be increased substantially without putting much strain in the state or country in need of a fighting unit. A substantially huge population also ensures that the industries of the state in combat could still continue its normal operations since it still has substantial manpower to effect this.

The Union had numerically superior numbers in comparison to that which was held by the 11 Southern states to oppose the Northern army. The Union population was said to be composed of 22 million strong, While the South  have an estimated population of  9 million in 1861; of the said population estimates, about 3.5 million were slaves and about 5.5 million were whites (Foote, S. 2007).  Hence if analyzed numerically, it would be 22 million strong against 5.5 million, Statistically proportioned this would translate to 4 union soldiers  against 1 confederate soldier.  War analysts even commented that this numerical superiority alone was more than enough to finish the south off. The Confederate forces indirectly added up to the losses they have suffered due to numerical superiority of their adversary by engaging the opponent head on instead of employing Guerilla tactics[9]. The Confederates cannot afford to face the Union army head on because they could not easily replace the manpower they keep on losing on each and every confrontation they have with the enemy.

            The Second Variable to be considered would be the Industrialized economy of the Union States. The Industrialized economy of the Union States allowed it to maximize its capability to produce more arms and supplies in contrast to Southern states. The industrialized economy of the North is the exact anti-Thesis of the South’s, since the Southern States are dependent only on finances coming from agricultural industries unlike the Union states economy which could source their funds from a multitude of sectors. Hence the Union could efficiently gather and harness funds from different sources without straining their economy (Foote, S. 2007).

            The third variable to be considered would be the exclusive control by the Union over the vast expanse of transportation routes by virtue of the Northern army’s possession of the majority of Railroad routes and its control over 80% of the shipyards, and marine vessels. This allowed Union forces to have a cheaper and more convenient means of transporting troops and supplies to various strategic locations, in contrast to Confederate forces who are had a hard time trying to avoid enemy lines[10] in transporting the supplies which their troops badly need to defend their territory (Max Energy,  2007).

            The fourth variable would be the support which the Union got from the border states, and the emancipated slaves. The Union, aside from its superiority in numbers was able to utilize the aid of emancipated slaves, which joined their ranks by the thousands. This swelled the Union army ranks without adding up to the War expenses being shouldered by the Union forces. The newly liberated slaves fought with intensity in these wars because they have a lot to gain if the Union won – they would be freed forevermore from the stigma of slavery. The aid being given by border states also proved instrumental because these states are the territories which surround the rebels from the south. The support that they have given to the Union forces mean secure forages made by supply lines to strategic locations near enemy frontlines to sustain war operations being conducted by the North (www.achitt.com.).

            Another factor which contributed to the loss of the Southern forces would be the outbreak of diseases. It appears that more than half of the Union and Confederate casualties were claimed by disease outbreaks. The Union because of its numerically superior forces could cope more ably than the Confederates with regards to the loss of manpower. It was said that out of the 360,000 Northern soldiers, 2/3 of perished from illnesses such as diarrhea, dysentery, measles, typhoid and Malaria. The Confederate loss was estimated to have been proportionately the same as that of the Northern forces (Microsoft Encarta, 2007).

            The appearance of able military leaders in the side of the North is also another factor which came in handy to help the Union defeat the Confederates.  General Ulysses Grant proved to be more than a match for any Confederate General even for the likes of General Lee of the Confederacy. He was primarily responsible for cutting the forces of the Confederacy into two by securing  a  win over Vicksburg, a strategically located city in the state of Mississippi (The White House, 2007). Another Noted General in the person of  William Sherman was also instrumental in the defeat of the South. General Sherman was responsible for greatly depleting the food supply of the Southern rebel forces. He directly dealt a tragic blow to the Confederacy when he thought of  invading and burning food granaries in Atlanta Georgia[11] (www.civilwarhome.com. 2005)

            The final variable which had a significant effect in increasing the chances of the Union army in defeating the Confederacy was the able leadership of the Union’s President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln, proved to be a great and clever statesman who could analyze situations. He was well aware of the fact that the union armies could somehow cut off a significant number of  their losses if they would be able to enlist the aid of other entities, his wisdom was apparent when he issued the Emancipation declaration which freed all slaves from their bondage on January 1, 1861. This proved to be a decisive factor in the favor of the North since emancipated slaves enlisted by the thousand to help aid the Union win the war.  His will to fight for what is morally right lends strength and inspiration to the forces being marshaled by the Union (www.whitehouse.gov 2007).

III. Factors that might have helped the South win the war.

            The South might have won the war if these two ideas were followed. The First thing which might have shifted the favor on the side of the South would be the fact that the South was in the defensive and should have stayed in that way. If it did not “overstretch” its forces when it initiated head-on attacks then it would have been able to prepare a tougher line of defense as well as render heavier damages which might lead to their secession from the Union. The Southern forces might have won the war if they have stayed on the defensive, since they are not inclined or obligated to invade. If this idea was followed instead of opting to actually invade the North the story might have been different.  The repeated failures encountered by the North when they face the Southern forces initially would have eventually lead to the North’s acquiescence over the preferred status of the Southern States – that of being Independent ( Microsoft Encarta, 2007).

            The second strategy or variable  which might have helped  the South win the war would have the usage of Guerilla Tactics. The usage of Guerilla Tactics over the numerically superior forces of the Union forces could have produced devastating casualties on the Union forces and minimal losses on the Confederates. The element of surprise and ambush would have made a difference in this war considering that  ambush strategies are ideal war measures when one is on the defensive, which in this case rings true in the situation of the Confederate forces. Ambush operations might have increased decisive battles in favor of the Confederates and could have dealt heavier damages to the enemy lines ( Max Energy Limited. 2007).

IV. Conclusion

            The American civil war was won by the Union army mainly because of the superiority of Numbers they keep as combat ready  troops, as well as the appearance of a number of influential people. The losses suffered by both groups were astronomical. Experts put the rough estimates at between 600,000 to 800,000 people. This is the total loss estimated for both groups.  Ironically, the number of casualties suffered on this war is greater by far than the casualties suffered in any other war, including the most destructive war that took place – World War II.

            The Economical losses was also considerable in this battle. The South was almost extensively crippled economically and took a long time to recover. In contrast, the economy of the North improved and was ironically promoted by this destructive war. The only great war which ever took place in American soil (McPherson, J. 2007).

V. Bibligraphy

McPherson, J. (2007). “The American Civil War: The War and social Upheaval”.

Retrieved October 11, 2007.

http://histclo.com/essay/war/war-cwa.html

Microsoft Encarta (2007). “The American Civil War”. Retrieved October 12, 2007.

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761567354/Civil_War.html

Max Energy Limited (2007). “The American Civil War”. Retrieved October 11, 2007.

               http://www.solarnavigator.net/history/american_civil_war.htm

Achitt.com Article (2005).“The American Civil War”. Retrieved October 12, 2007.

               http://www.achitt.com/article/American_Civil_War

The Whitehouse (2007). “The Biography of Ulysses Grant”.

               Retrieved October 13, 2007

               http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ug18.html

The Whitehouse (2007).”The Biography of Abraham Lincoln”.

              Retrieved October 13, 2007.

              http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/al16.html

Civil War Home (2005).“The American Civil War Overview”.

              Retrieved October 13, 2007

              http://www.civilwarhome.com/vicksburg.htm

[1] There has been no other war of this magnitude fought in the United States.
[2]  The Confederacy is composed of the 11 Southern states.
[3] The Union is composed of the remaining U.S  States.
[4] Slavery is the subjugation of a human person against his will to perform whatever  tasks which his owner or master wants him to do.
[5] These states were acquired after the U.S – Mexican War. These territories were acquired by the U.S from Mexico after the war between these two countries.
[6] When a slave manages to escape to a state where slavery is not condoned, the slave becomes automatically protected by virtue of the law. The former master of the slave would no longer have the authority to force him to return to his plantation and continue working as a slave.
[7] The population inversely affects the number of fighting troops which the Union could send to “fight of “ the Confederates.
[8] An industrialized economy would result to a more efficient way of  procuring arms, finances as well as transportation in favor of the Union forces.
[9] Guerilla Tactics is a strategy employed by numerically inferior forces against a larger force wherein  the usage of ambush ad stealth is required. Direct confrontation is avoided to lessen casualties, the element of ambush is used to maximize adversary casualties and lessen  losses of the ambushing party.
[10] The States forming the Confederacy did not focus on the development of technological innovations like railroads, they only focused on planting crops and other agricultural endeavors. This proved to be a mistake on their part especially during the war since they have difficulty to transport supplies to their fighting units.
[11] He was said to have uttered a statement saying that He will make the state of  “Georgia Howl”.

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