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 Posted: Sun Feb 12th, 2012 12:44 pm
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Texas Defender
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Gettysburger-

  You have correctly stated some of the reasons that the Confederacy lost the war. The Confederacy consisted of eleven states whose people were jealous of their liberties and often mistrusted the national authority. After all, they didn't want to escape an old tyranny (as they saw it) and give birth to a new one. Many were more concerned with what they thought was good for their state than what was in the best interests of their new nation as a whole. Thus, for a nation in crisis, their system had inherent flaws.

  One great disadvantage that the Confederacy had was a serious lack of standardization. You mentioned railroads for example. However, here you missed the mark in stating that most of the railroad miles were in the southern states. Actually, in 1860, only 28% of the miles were in Confederate states. That percentage became less and less as during the war, the northern states added more and more miles and developed a truly efficient railway system, thus increasing their inherent advantage.

  This article gives the raw numbers on railroads (Scroll down to the paragraph beginning: "A widespread belief in a short war").

American Civil War: West's Encyclopedia of American Law (Full Article) from An

  The article also points out the disparity in resources at the command of the two secions. The lack of standardizaion in the south worked against the Confederacy not only in the area of railroads, but also in weapons, ammunition, shipbuilding, and every kind of equipment imaginable. The north had the industrial base (86% of manufacturing establishments in 1860), and expanded it, while the southerners could: "Hardly make a pair of shoes" as General Sherman once said.

  You are on the mark when you mention the importance of control of the Mississippi River. This gave the northerners much greater mobility to move troops and supplies up and down the river and into its tributaries, further increasing their advantage.  Mobility confers the initiative, and this they exploited.

  Often overlooked in my view was the importance of the Battle of New Orleans in early 1862. This introduced blue water federal ships to the river, which acted in concert with the brown water types coming south. The capture of Vicksburg a year later stifled the Confederates and shut off needed natural resources that previously came from west of the river.

  All of this led to the deterioration of the Confederates' position in the western theater and made northern victory there inevitable in my view. This in turn: "Hollowed out" the Confederacy and weakened it to the point where it could no longer maintain the stalemate in the east. Eventually, it ran out of resources, and out of time.

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