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Essay/Term paper: Civil war

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American Civil War

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Writing about recorded

history should be a relatively easy task to accomplish.

Recorded history is based on facts. Regardless of what time

period one may write about, one will find enough information

about that time of period. The key is to put everything in a

logical and understandable manner. This paper will be about

the Civil War. I will try, to the best of my knowledge, to

discuss the North"s and South"s positions and Arguments for

going to war, their initial military strategies and their strength

and weaknesses. The paper will actually be a summary from

chapter 10 of the book Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil

War Era By: James McPherson, "Amateurs Go To War".

Before discussing the war itself, one must understand the

Union"s and the Confederate"s arguments and reasons for

going to war. Let"s start at the beginning, when the South

was first showing animosity for the North, which eventually

led to sessionist ideas by the South. The Compromise of

1850 was drafted in response to the threat of a Southern

Convention, because of Zachary Taylors decision to carve

out two huge territories in the Far West and to admit them in

the union as free states. Henry Clay drafted the compromise,

which includes eight parts. "The first pair would admit

California as a State and organize the remainder of the

Mexican cession without "any restriction or condition on the

subject of slavery". The second pair of resolutions settled the

boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico in favor

of the latter and compensated Texas by federal assumption

of debts contracted during its existence as an Independent

Republic. Clay"s third pair of resolutions called for abolition

of the slave trade in the District of Columbia but a guarantee

of slavery itself in the District. As if these six proposals

yielded more to the North then to the South, Clay"s final pair

of resolutions tipped the balance Southward by denying

congressional power over the interstate slave trade and

calling for a stronger law to enable slave holders to recover

their property when they fled to free states" Battle Cry of

freedom: The Civil War Era, McPherson James, (p.70-71).

The Northerners hated the fugitive slave law, because in the

past it was never enforced and it never gave a trial by jury to

any runaway slaves. The only testimony heard was that of

the slaveholder and he usually recovered his slave. Not only

that, but the slaveholder was compensated $10 for winning

the trial because of all the trouble he had to go through in

recovering his property. Because of the passage of the

compromise, the North had to enforce the law which it

hated. As the United States expanded westward, two new

territories were carved out and the issue of slavery arose

again. The U.S. government let the two new territories

decide themselves whether or not to permit slavery. Since it

was up to the people to decide the slavery issue, Northern

abolitionists enticed anti-slavery supporters to move into the

new regions and vote to make Kansas and Nebraska free

states. Southern pro-slavery supporters did exactly as the

North did to make Kansas and Nebraska slave states. The

two sides clashed with one another over this issue and there

was literally a Civil War in Kansas. One particular situation

that occurred in Kansas was the sacking of the city of

Lawrence. Pro slavery advocates of the city of LeCompton,

Kansas set up a group or a posse that went to the

anti-slavery city of Lawrence, Kansas, ransacked, burned

and literally destroyed the city. In response to this attack by

the Southerners the Northerners took revenge. John Brown,

a radical abolitionist, decided to do a similar thing to the

Southerners. He planned an attack on LeCompton, Kansas.

Enroute to LeCompton he encountered about five pro

slavery supporters, and without remorse, hacked them to

death at Potawattamie Creek in Kansas. The entire country

was slowly being divided into two parts and even congress

could not do anything to resolve the problems. Political

parties were splitting along North/South lines and even

violence was a common occurrence in congress. The last

straw, which eventually split the Union, was the election of

1860. On the eve of the election, Southerners had already

agreed that if a republican wins the election, they would

leave the Union. Well, history shows that Lincoln, a

republican, was elected and the south truly did leave the

Union. During the four months, prior to President Lincoln"s

inauguration, President James Buchanan did nothing to

discourage secession. It may be even concluded that he was

sympathetic to the Southern cause. South Carolina was the

first state to secede from the Union, and by February 1861

seven more southern states followed South Carolina"s

example. Finally, when Lincoln took the office, all of the

federal arsenals in the south have been overrun by

Confederate forces. In Fort Sumter, South Carolina, federal

troops were literally surrounded and their supplies eventually

ran out. Lincoln made a decision to send an unarmed supply

ship to the harbor of Fort Sumter. Lincoln"s reasoning was

that if the South fires on an unarmed supply ship, it would be

an act of war. If it doesn"t it would mean that the South is

bluffing and it really does not want to secede. Well, on April

12, 1861 Confederate troops fired on the unarmed supply

ship at Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. The North"s

primary reasons for going to war was to keep the country

together. The South was fighting for "state sovereignty, the

right of secession and interpreting the constitution the way

they wanted to," Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,

James McPherson, (p. 310). Slavery was not the reason the

Civil War began. Lincoln had argued that it was

unconstitutional for any state or states to secede from the

Union, which is why keeping the Union together, as one

country, was the North"s most important cause for war. The

South was fighting for the "sacred right of self government",

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James

McPherson, (p. 310). The South felt that it was fighting for

the same reasons that the founding fathers had fought for in

the war for Independence. According to southerners

seceding from the Union, all they wanted was to be left

alone, and not to be bothered by the North. After Davis"

speech to the Confederate Congress he included the phrase

"All we ask is to be let alone", which inturn specified the

most immediate, tangible Confederate war aim: defense from

invasion." Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James

McPherson, (p. 310). Slavery was not the major issue or

cause for going to war. Slavery handicapped Confederate

foreign policy. "The first Southern commissioners to Britain

reported in May 1861 that "The public mind here is entirely

opposed to the government of the Confederate States of

America on the question of slavery….The sincerity and

universality of this feeling embarrass the government in

dealing with the question of our recognition. The North

initially stated that the war was not about slavery. Lincoln

even mentioned "that he had no purpose, directly or

indirectly, to interfere with slavery in the states where it

exists," Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James

McPherson, (p. 312). The Constitution protected and will

continue to protect slavery where it existed. As was stated

earlier, 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 prepared

for this war. Although the North was the manufacturing part

of the country, it had to somehow change its peacetime

economy to a wartime economy. Most of the arms that

belonged to the North were very old and outdated. It had

old muskets and cannons that dated back to the war of

1812. Northern leadership was crippled as well. Most of the

pristine military academies were in the South, and most of

the graduates of those military academies served in the

confederate armies. Many of the North"s military leaders

were veterans of the war of 1812. Many of the North"s

leaders were in there 60"s and beyond. "The army had

nothing resembling a general staff, no strategic plans, no

program for mobilization," Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil

War Era, James McPherson, (p. 312). The Northern navy

was in better shape then the army. "Although 373 of the

Navy"s 1,554 officers and a few of its 7600 seamen left to

go with the south, the large merchant marine from which an

expanded navy would draw experienced officers and sailors

was overwhelmingly northern." Battle Cry of Freedom: The

Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 313). The

Northerners military strategy was to basically cut the

Southerners lines of communications, to slowly choke the

Confederate army to surrender. The navy did a good job

following this strategy. The North set up blockades, which

the navy carried out to the best of its ability. The

Confederates had quite possibly the best leadership in the

war. Although to win, it needed more then best leadership.

The South had primarily an agrarian economy. This fact

alone was a major obstacle for the South during the war.

The South had the men, leadership, and even some

ammunition when the war began. The South had to find the

resources, employ those resources, and finally put those

resources together. "The confederacy had only one-ninth the

industrial capacity of the Union. Northern states had

manufactured 97% of the country"s firearms in 1860, 94%

of its cloth, 93% of its pig iron, and more then 90% of its

boots and shoes. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,

James McPherson, (p. 318). When it came to the Navy, the

Confederates had no navy. Although lacking material

resources, "they used tugboats, revenue cutters, and river

steamboats to be converted into gunboats for harbor patrol.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James

McPherson, (p. 314). The Confederates also came up with

the idea of the first submarine. "The Confederacy sent into

action the world"s first combat submarine, the C.S.S.

Hunley, which sank three times in trials, drowning the crew

each time, before sinking a blockade ship off Charleston in

1864, while going down itself for the fourth and last time."

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James

McPherson, (p. 314). The Confederacy was also the first to

introduce "torpedoes"/land mines. Even though these

innovations were developed during the war, they did not

prove substantial enough to win the war. Jefferson Davis"

strategy was to take a defensive position rather then an

offensive one. "The basic war aim of the confederacy, like

that of the United States in the revolution was to defend a

new nation from conquest. ." Battle Cry of Freedom: The

Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 314). Davis reasoned

just as Washington did during the revolution, that retreating

against a stronger enemy is not bad all the time. It gave time

to regroup your forces and build a counterattack against the

enemy. Although the south did try this tactic at the beginning

of the war, they didn"t follow this strategy at the end of the

war. The south had the temperament that they could easily

"whip the Yankees" and that they should take the war to

them. "The idea of waiting for blows, instead of inflicting

them, 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). In

conclusion, the lack of adequate resources proved to be the

devastating factor for the Confederacy. Although the

Confederacy had the excellent leadership at the beginning of

the war, later, southern public opinion showed that the

people in the South were sick of taking the defensive

position and wanted to attack the North. Because of this

strategy, the Confederacy lost many soldiers in battles while

trying to fight in the North. The South"s last ditch effort at the

end of the war was a promise of freedom for any slave that

fights against the Union. Even though the North had inferior

leadership, its manufacturing capabilities surpassed that of

the South. At first the North did not have many men enlisted

in an army. However, later on the North had voluntary

regiments of men fighting for the Union. The North"s major

lines of communication were never destroyed and the Union

army was always well supplied. In conclusion the North won

because it had superior resources and industry to sustain the

war effort to its conclusion. William L. Yancey and A.

Dudley Mann to Robert Toombs, May 21, 1861, in James

D. Richardson, comp., A Compilation of the Messages and

Papers of the Confederacy, 2 vols. (Nashville, 1906), II, 37.

5 1  

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