Term Paper: Civil War in American History

Pages: 4 (1405 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Politically, the North and South were at an impasse. Sadly, it was the states on the border that were caught in the middle. Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky did not participate in this early secession, and their loyalties were severely tested throughout the campaign. Ultimately, they would side with the South, but these states on the border benefited economically and politically from their proximity to the North, and so, they had different views than the southerners of the Deep South, who immediately withdrew from the Union, no matter their readiness for war.

Economically, the North was simply larger than the South, and as the North continued to expand westward, it gained more territory, more people, and more economic advantage. For example, the silver mines of Nevada greatly enhanced the U.S. Treasury at a time when expenditures were extremely high because of the war. When Nevada entered the Union in 1864, many said it was solely because of her silver reserves, but she also entered as an anti-slavery state, keeping the balance of the Union complete, as it continued to teeter around Missouri. Obviously, the South was not in a position to add new territory, and so again, the North was at the advantage, and the South suffered.

Militarily, the two sides were more evenly matched, especially at the beginning of the war, when the South was at her strongest. The South enjoyed some of the greatest generals of the war, including Robert E. Lee, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and James Longstreet, to name only a few. Early in the war, the South won decisive victories at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, and later at Chickamauga, but throughout the conflict they failed to capitalize on them. By the time they moved as far North as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, their supplies were depleted, they were tired and hungry, and they were far from home and familiar territory. In addition, because of its' munitions factories and superior production, the North simply had more guns, cannon, and ammunition available. The superior transportation infrastructure in the North also helped convey men and equipment where it was needed more effectively. Railroads had not spread in the South as much as they had in the North, and the South was at a disadvantage in transportation, too. Thus, the northern military had a great advantage in men and materials, and the longer the war waged; the more the North's advantage grew. There were a finite number of men available to fight in the South, while the North had a nearly inexhaustible supply, as they would hire immigrants fresh off the boats to fight, in addition to patriotic northerners who joined the cause, and a draft that President Lincoln instituted.

In conclusion, the North won the Civil War for a variety of compelling reasons. The North was simply better prepared, better funded, and better outfitted. The North had economic and industrial advantage over the South, and they used these advantages strategically and methodically to wear down the South until the end was inevitable. The South had less industry, less economic stability, less population, and less transportation available. They had devoted troops and leaders, but they were eventually decimated by the longevity of the war. The North prevailed not because of superior military, although that certainly helped, the North was simply better equipped and prepared on all counts, and it showed in the conclusion of the war, when the South was literally brought to its knees, and their way of life changed forever. As historian Woodworth notes, "For their part, white Southerners remained bitterly resentful of their defeat and even more so of the changes that Reconstruction had attempted to produce in their society" (Woodworth 19). The Civil War bitterly divided the country, and traces of that bitterness remain even today. The North won, and the South lost, but both sides will never forget the tragic loss of thousands of lives, and the outcome that is still healing today.

References

Woodworth, Steven E. Cultures in Conflict -- The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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