Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Did the South have a chance?
Union war material lost on the battlefield could be replaced within a day. The South had to make do with captured material at times.
The North had 20,000 of railroads to move goods and passengers. The South had only 9000.
A train trip from Chicago to New York took about four days. A trip from New Orleans to Richmond could take two weeks and several train changes due to different track gauges. Also, about 91% of the US railroad equipment was held in the North. (It was little wonder that the South resorted to stealing locomotives in order to keep things going.)
The North’s population was 22,000,000. The South’s was 9,000,000. This allowed the Union to field armies of 100,000 without straining the population while the South had shortages almost from the start.
Despite the horrific causalities, the North could refill its ranks despite occasionally resorting to a draft. In the South, one soldier killed or wounded was a giant blow to an army.
The North had a seafaring tradition and held most of the yards needed to build up a navy. The South seized one yard and did not hold that very long.
All the sea faring expertise was in New England, not New Orleans. There were ports in the South, just not the dry docks needed to maintain ships.
The North was changing almost daily with the influx of immigrants. The South was in a kind of stasis with its agricultural, slaveholding system.
The North was looking forward, the South backward.
The North had ready reserves of gold and specie to finance the war. The South’s economy was tied up in cotton and slaves, with losing either causing a collapse.
This despite the introduction of “greenbacks” and a temporary income tax.
It seemed that the South was doomed from the start. Without a large population, resources, industrial might, and the ability to transport goods (without resorting to blockade runners), the South might have had a chance, perhaps if they were organized enough to press the attack after First Manassas.
No. Despite early success and some amazing innovations, the South was not destined to win.
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