Americans have always been independent group of people. We just don't like being told what to do. This is true now as it was in the past, or will be in the future. It all started in the early colonial era (1700) when we really felt ourselves as "Americans". Before that in the 1600's we were just settlers in the new America. In the 1700's we fought with the British to stop the union of France and Spain. We started our own newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazett published by Benjamin Franklin. We opened the first American public library, the first hospital. We started the postal service with Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General.
All was not perfect in the colonies. The English Parliament started raising the taxes on imported items such as sugar, coffee, textiles and wines. We started raising the issue of taxation without representation. The English Parliament went as far as to introduce the Quartering Act, requiring colonists to house British troops and supply them with food. On April 19, 1775 an unordered shot begins the American Revolution.
If the question at hand is what were the events that lead to the secession of South Carolina? Why did I spend two paragraphs on the American Revolution? Because I feel it is important to remind us of what kind of people we Americans are. How we will stand up for ourselves. I will not say we will fight for what is right, one cannot say slavery was right, or every fight we got ourselves into was right, but South Carolina and most of the south felt it was their right to own slaves. After all they had slaves in early colonial America when in 1619 a Dutch ship brought twenty Africans for sale as indentured servants thus marking the beginning of slavery in America.
In 1793 Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and more slave labor was needed to keep up with the vast amount of cotton that could now be produced. Less than forty years latter a growing anti-slavery movement was gaining recognition in the north. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" helped spread the anti-slavery message. Everyday Americans who probably wouldn't have given the anti-slavery movement much thought were now motivated by this book.
The south had growing concerns that the anti-slavery movement was growing and could abolish slavery. After all this was a way of life for the south. Both slave owners and non- slave owners felt this anti-slavery movement was an assault on their long -standing way of life. The south owned slaves for more than two hundred forty years and all of the sudden their way of life was being attacked and criticized. Also let's not forget the slaves were producing for the slave owners and slave owners were doing pretty good off the backs of their slaves, the slave owners didn't want to give that up.
When the election of Abraham Lincoln for presidency was announced on November 1860, South Carolina knew their time was limited with the right to own slaves. President Lincoln was known as an opponent to slavery. The South Carolina legislature perceived him as a threat. Calling a state convention, the delegates voted to remove themselves from the union known as the United States. In December, South Carolina seceded with Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas to follow.
A VERY BLOODY AFFAIR
A short war. That's all the Civil War was supposed to be. The Confederates and the Union both thought the war would be quick. The battle of Shiloh made both sides realize this was not going to happen that way. Both sides never accounted for technology. The war had its effect on both sides and neither side was prepared. They had inexperienced commanders, outdated military strategy, and newly invented weapons.
The new emerging technology made this war different from the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. The commanders were not prepared to fight this war different than the past wars. Most generals knew their strategy from past wars and from textbooks from West Point. Traditional tactics depended heavily on attack by close order formations of infantry. The traditional lining up both sides, pointing your musket at each other, and on command, firing your gun. This worked in the beginning of the war when both sides used Smoothbore muskets, which fired approximately eighty yards and needed twenty-five seconds to reload.
The Union soldiers were the first to be equipped with new rifles that had spiral grooves cut inside the barrels. These rifles put a spin on the bullet, increasing its range and accuracy. The confederates were soon to follow. The Minie ball, improved by James H. Burton, was easier to ram into the rifle barrel, also improving the efficiency of the modern rifles. The new rifles which were faster to reload, more accurate, and shoots further, were still being treated like the old muskets by the generals of both sides. The casualty of a frontal assault became a tremendous slaughter.
The new technology in weaponry exceeded the advancements in medicine. Both sides were overwhelmed with the amount of casualties and wounded men. With the new Minie ball, wounded men were loosing arms and legs due to amputations. President Lincoln established the United States Sanitary Commission. This agency took responsibility of caring for the Union's sick and wounded. One of its missions was to educate the soldiers in hygiene in hopes of reducing disease and infection. Two men for every man who died in combat died of diseases like Typhoid, Pneumonia and even diarrhea. Hospitals were popping up everywhere. Hotels were converted into makeshift hospitals. Hospitals, nurses, and volunteers were in short supply due to this new weaponry.
Naval wars took a major change during the civil war. On March 8 1862 the Confederates unveiled a ship that would change naval warfare forever, making wooden hull ship obsolete. The Confederates placed two layers of steel plate over the hull of the "Merrimack", positioned ten guns along its side and added a ram on her bow. This unsinkable ship in its first battle, in the harbor of Hampton Roads attacked five Union ships. The "Merrimack" renamed the "Virginia" sank one Union ship, blew up another ship, and made a third run aground. No shots could penetrate her armor. The ironic thing was the Merrimack was left to sink after the Union navy cut holes into it.
The "Virginia's" glory did not last long. She was a frigate that was abandoned by the Union navy, and modified with steel by the Confederates navy. She was a slow ship powered by two old engines. It took half an hour just to turn her around. Three months prior from the attack at Hampton Roads harbor the Union navy was building an iron clad ship of their own, the "Monitor". Designed by John Ericsson, this ship was built from scratch in only three months. This ship featured a revolving turret, had two eleven inch guns and was powered by an auxiliary steam engine. She was twice as fast as the "Virginia" and much more maneuverable.
On March 9, the day after the victory of the "Virginia" at Hampton Roads harbor, the "Virginia's" short-lived rein of the seas was over. The "Monitor" arrived from Brooklyn and blasted away at the "Virginia". The battle ended in a draw, but it changed naval warfare forever by making wooden fleets obsolete.
President Lincoln always stated the Civil War was about the secession of the states. Lincoln ran on the platform that he would not abolish slavery, just not let the expansion of slavery spread. Lincoln had no intention of freeing the slaves, in fact at the start of the war Lincoln was sending back all the escaped slaves to their owners. As the war lasted longer and longer, pressure was placed on him to make the war more about the abolishment of slavery.
Lincoln grew furious with the war, in its first year there were huge fatalities, lost opportunities in battle after battle, and commanders who seemed timid. Lincoln had to relieve McClellan of command, twice. Abraham Lincoln even stated "If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time". This shows the frustration Lincoln was having trying to win this war. The frustration was not only on the battlefield, but also in the political arena.
The Peace Democrats, who were gaining popularity in the north, were putting pressure on Lincoln to end the war and put every thing back to status quo as before the war. After all, the Civil War was about stopping the secession, and if the war was ended it worked. In a reply to an editorial in the "New York Tribune" Abraham Lincoln stated "If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves I would do it, if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could do it by freeing some slaves and leaving others alone, I would also do that." It was obvious Lincoln's goal was still the secession.
Abolitionists were now main stream and had gained respect in the north. The Abolitionists were also putting pressure on Lincoln. The war was now about a year old and had thousands of dead and wounded soldiers. Civil liberties were infringed upon and people were jailed without trial. The first income tax was imposed to help finance the war. The Abolitionists were loosing patience with their uncommitted president, and knew the war had to be more than secession, it had to be about ending slavery in the United States forever. The toll of this war was to great for anything else but total abolishment of slavery.
Abraham Lincoln knew he had to be careful how he approached the anti-slavery movement in the Union. The Border States that were loyal to him did not want the abolishment of slavery. Lincoln could not afford to loose the Border States to the Confederates. Lincoln tried to convince the Border States to accept his plan that would financially compensate them for the loss of their slaves. The Border States rejected Lincoln's plan, even after Lincoln warned that the sentiment of the country favored emancipation, and it would eventually come.
Lincoln also had to take into account the views of foreign governments. At first the British and French government decided to keep out of the conflict. In 1861 Britain declared her neutrality against protests from the United States, other governments soon followed. Lincoln worried the foreign governments would eventually recognize the Confederacy States. Lincoln knew if he supported the emancipation that it would be difficult for the British to support the Confederacy. On September 22, 1862 the President announced the "Emancipation Proclamation."
The economic conditions worsened with each day the Civil War continued. The south's sale of cotton was decreasing with each day that passes. The British had built up a surplus of cotton before the war began. Egypt and India were fast to fill the void of the south's cotton. Southerners were illegally selling their cotton to Northerners. The economic conditions were so bad for both sides that there was illegal trading going on daily between the north and south.
With families already struggling, Jefferson Davis's plan to impose an income tax and requiring farmers to turn over ten present of their crops to the confederate did not go over well. Inflation skyrocketed in the south. One bar of soap took a major part of a solders monthly pay, cotton rose to six times the pre-war level. Coffee, tobacco, bread and other food items were too costly to obtain.
Jefferson Davis needed money to fund the war. Davis did not have the same banking systems in the south that Lincoln had in the north. Jefferson Davis relied heavily on southerners to finance the war. The southerner paid for the war with the taxes, farmers giving ten percent of their crops. This was still not enough to fund the war. Jefferson Davis started printing more money. Davis printed so much of his money that he de-valued the confederate dollar where it was virtually worthless. In fact he printed the money so fast that Counterfeiter were caught because the quality of their work was better than the confederates.
The average southern family had hard times during the war. Inflation was at a never before seen high. The basic bread, coffee, and meats were too costly for the average family. Confederate army quartermasters took food and animals, paying in worthless promissory notes. Most men of the families were Confederate solders whom were not paid in months. The woman of the desperate families revolted and stormed the Confederate capital and other cities. Only with the threat of violence from the confederate army did the crowds recede.
While the confederates seemed they were wining on the battlefield, they seemed they were losing on the home front. Many white Southerners were growing impatient with the results of the war.
The Universe of Battle
The Civil War is three years old and although Abraham Lincoln just announced in January the Emancipation Proclamation, most people always knew the war had to be about the abolishment of slavery. So how could the people it effected most sit back and just watch? I'm sure if giving a chance from the beginning, African Americans would had help win the Civil War in the time frame Lincoln first thought it would take. Frederick Douglass once wrote "Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S. Let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship." Can you imagine going to war because Hawaii wanted to secede from the United States and become an independent kingdom again? If you were in the armed services or you were drafted you would fight because you were given an order and you believe in your country. Now imagine Iraq invades United States and is taking people as slave laborers. You and I would fight until you are dead or until you won. Why? Because the outcome would effects you directly.
Blacks in the Civil War were eager to fight for their cause. While white men were growing impatient with the war and large numbers of men deserted from both sides. With the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation many white men now felt they were now fighting a war that will make getting a job afterwards harder. Democrats argued that free black men would now be fighting over the same jobs the white men had. The war now directly effected whites and blacks, for better or worse.
Black men were paid less than white men in the Union army. The official reason was black men were not suppose to be fighting on the front line. Black men were supposed to be back up and have only a supporting role. Black men were issued outdated muskets, paid less than whites, could not become officers and knew if they were captured by the south they would probably be killed. Even with all the depressing conditions, black men were lining up to become Union solders.
War Is All Hell
Some even today regard General Sherman's Campaign of the Carolinas and his March to the Sea as a sort of horrific crusades. Even some in the North seem to have an aversion to the brand of warfare he practiced. However its results cannot be denied. This "horrific crusades" arguably ended the American Civil War. While Ulyss S. Grant and his army of the Potomac sat bogged down in front of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg, William Tecumseh Sherman literally sloshed through the very heart of the Southern Confederacy. Unlike his colleagues in the Army of the Potomac and other Union armies, who would foolishly attack enemy works, General William Tecumseh Sherman used the strategic turning movement like clockwork, repeatedly dislodging the Confederates. General Sherman practiced what was termed "total war". This term means that the proverbial gloves come off. No structure, or facet of the enemies society is off limits. William Tecumseh Sherman believed that war was not only between armies but societies. The very societies that sent its sons off to war would, if shown the horrors of war first hand, demand its end. This belief, and the things he did to carry it out on the state of South Carolina in the Campaign of the Carolinas would earn William Tecumseh Sherman the distinction of being easily the most hated man in the history of South Carolina.
South Carolina had had the distinction of both starting the war (the firing on Fort Sumter) and being the first state to secede from the Union (which all but started the war). To William Tecumeh Sherman it was this small, but cocky state that had brought forth the 4 years of hardship with the American Civil War. South Carolina would have to pay and as General Sherman hoped the 1861 occupation of Fort Sumter by Major Anderson would do, "show South Carolina for the first time in her existence she cannot do as she pleases".
General Ulysses S. Grant told Sherman that his mission was "...inflicting all the damage you can against their War resources." The destruction of the Southern war machine played a key role in Lincoln's "divide and conquer" strategy. Atlanta lay as Sherman's prize with the Appalachian Mountains and the Confederate Army as its protector. Sherman declared Atlanta to be a military encampment and ordered the civilians to leave the city. From September to November, Sherman's forces were on the defensive guarding the city. The Confederate forces tried several unsuccessful attacks but their efforts were futile. The Confederates then began marching northward, hoping to destroy Sherman's supply line. Sherman wanted to split the Confederacy, and began planning his March to the Sea. In November 1864, Sherman began his infamous March to the Sea. Prior to leaving Atlanta, he set fire to munitions factories, railroad yards, clothing mills, and other targets that could be resourceful to the Confederacy. Sherman never intended to burn the whole city, but the fire got out of hand and spread throughout the city.
The Confederates were also doing there best to tear up railroad tracks. Sherman made up his mind that he would waste his army trying to defend such a long line of communication and thus decided that he would cut his own lines and head through Georgia destroying everything in his path. He believed, and was correct that this would bring a faster end to the war.
On the 15th of November Sherman began his march through Georgia. His army was divided into two wings commanded by Major-Generals O.O. Howard and H.W. Slocum with a combined force of sixty-two thousand men. Atlanta was burned on the 14th of November. Each day the men would march from 10 to 15 miles a day. The foraging parties were sent out on the flanks to gather food and forage. These foraging parties were so successful that instead of eating army rations, they roasted pigs, chickens, and sweet potatoes. The union soldiers were in remarkably good physical condition that allowed them to make great distances. Sherman's army also consisted of backwoodsmen who knew how to improvise in rough country and freemen who knew the terrain. The Confederates mistakenly believed the union army would find the march impossible. On December 23, 1864, Sherman sent a telegram to Lincoln stating that he was presenting him the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift. Following his victory at Savannah, Sherman's troops battled the troops of General Joe Johnston through South Carolina and North Carolina. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865 and General Joe Johnston surrendered to Sherman on April 17, 1865 at Raleigh, North Carolina.
Sherman recognized that a nation could succeed militarily by destroying the opposing side's ability to wage war, and that an army could conduct better campaigns for this purpose by maneuvering its forces against an enemy's economic infrastructure in addition to engaging belligerent troops. The general's reputation as a contemporary commander stems from his belief in total war, which is the concept that armed conflict involves a struggle not only between competing military forces but also between the societies of the competing states. His great military prestige is really based upon his visionary strategic and operational concepts and his army's striking execution of those ideas. In this sense, Sherman is regarded as the first commander of the modern era.
To question if Sherman's tactics were too harsh, or if innocent people suffered because of it I believe Sherman said it best "War is Cruelty and you cannot refine it." Just like the tough decision President Truman to make, to drop the Atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ultimately ended the Second World War, thus saving more lives than if the war had continued. Sherman's tough decision ultimately ended the Civil War, thus saving more lives if that war had continued.
Sherman thought he was carrying out Lincoln's wish to heal the wounds of war by offering more generous terms than Grant had offered Lee. However, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, embittered by Lincoln's murder, which he suspected had been inspired by the Confederate government, refused to approve the terms. On April 26 Johnston had to surrender his 37,000 men on the same conditions as those agreed on by Lee when he surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House.
The war also set the South back at least a generation in industry and agriculture. Factories and farms were devastated by the invading armies. The labor system fell into chaos. Not until the 20th century did the South recover fully from the economic effects of the war. In contrast, the North forged ahead with the building of a modern industrial state.
The war generated spending on a scale dwarfing that of any earlier period in American history. In 1860, the federal budget was $63 million; in 1865, federal government expenditures totaled nearly $1.3 billiona 200-fold increase that did not include the money spent by the Confederate government. An estimate in 1879 placed war-related costs to that date for the United States at $6.1 billion, including pension payments that would continue for many years. Figures for the Confederacy are very unreliable, but one estimate places expenditures through 1863 at $2 billion. After 1863, records for Confederate expenditures are not available. Whatever the total figure, there is no doubt that expenditures and indebtedness grew to a size that were not imaginable before the war.
The war also caused wide-scale economic destruction to the South. The Confederate states lost two-thirds of their wealth during the war. The loss of slave property through emancipation accounted for much of this, but the economic infrastructure in the South was also severely damaged in other ways. Railroads and industries in the South were in shambles, more than one-half of all farm machinery was destroyed, and 40 percent of all livestock had been killed. In contrast, the Northern economy thrived during the war. Two numbers convey a sense of the economic cost to the respective sections: between 1860 and 1870, Northern wealth increased by 50 percent; during that same decade, Southern wealth decreased by 60 perce
There was much change brought about by the Civil War, and many people and
companies played very big roles throughout this enormous growth of our country. The
U.S. basically erupted economically during this time, and the tremendous augmentation
of railways only instigated this bursting of the economy.
Ensuing the Civil War, the economic growth in the nation was astounding. But
this only came about after much hardship in certain areas. The war caused wide-scale
economic destruction to the South. The Confederate states lost about two-thirds of
their wealth during the war. The loss of slave property throughout emancipation
accounted for a lot of this, but the economic foundation of the South was also severely
damaged in other ways. Railroads and industries in the South were in shambles. More
than half of the farm machinery was destroyed and forty percent of all the livestock had
been killed. In contrast, the Northern economy thrived during the war. During 1860
and 1870, the Northern wealth increased by about fifty percent, yet during the same
period, Southern wealth decreased by almost sixty percent. This just shows part of the
effects of the war on the economy. The war also set the South back at least a
generation in industry and agriculture. Factories and farms were devastated by the
invading armies. The labor system fell into chaos. Not until the 20th century did the
South ever fully recover from the economic effects of the war. In contrast again, the
North forged ahead with the building of a modern industrial state. As proof of the
growing economy after the civil war, the nation's population almost tripled, while farm
production and the increased need of manufacturing also experienced monumental
growth. The U.S. witnessed an abundant industrial revolution during this time and
continually grew into the world's preeminent economic power. Huge corporations were
formed, which began a domination over the economy during the late 19th century. This
new way of business brought about many changes with it. Entrepreneurs who had
worked on simple things for small businesses in the past began devoting their work to
the inventions of mass production and distribution. As the larger companies continued
buying out the smaller ones, the result was even larger, and more powerful firms. If
there was more than one large company in one industry, they would join forces in
attempts of domination over their entire industries. This new form of large and growing
businesses and monopolies effectively transformed the nation's economy and social
order, and was the spark of organized labor movements. The civil war served as an
igniter to an explosion in economic growth. Products such as copper, railroad track,
cotton, woolen textiles, and pig iron, all showed tremendous growth in the first few
years after the Civil War. Due to the fact that the war was largely unmechanized and
confined to the use of rifles, bayonets, sabers, artillery, and ammunition, which
consumed little iron, production declined largely due to war-time conditions and loss of
markets in the south. As usual, there was extreme war-time inflation, helping those
who owned property and making profits, while the entrepreneurs contributed to "the
immediate post-war period of speculation." The National Bank quickly formed a sound
currency, but it had an equivocal effect on the economy. Railways were encouraged by
the government, both financially and verbally. Foreign competitors were hampered due
to post-war tariffs, which also limited and discouraged the export of American goods.
As previously stated, railroads played an important in the growth of our nation
and, especially, in the economic growth after the Civil War. There was intense public
demand for a transcontinental rail connection. This demand actually began earlier in
the century, about 1836, by the American statesmen John Plumbe and Robert John
Walker. The public demand was increased by the gold rush of 1849 and by fear that
the Northwest would be annexed to Canada. This urgency for a transcontinental line
resulted in the beginning of construction by the Union Pacific Railroad during the
American Civil War. This came at the same time when railroad building in the East and
the Middle West came to a standstill. In 1862, extensive federal land grants were
made directly to the Union Pacific and several other railroad companies. The total
mileage of railroads increase from 30,600 in 1862 to an incredible 199,000 by 1900.
These rail lines bound the country together and so received generous government
support. Federal land grants for railroads amounted to some 129 million acres and
received financial aid from federal, state, and local governments as well. In full, the
railroad companies received almost 707 million dollars in cash and 335 million dollars
in land. The rails of the Union Pacific, in the west, and those of the Central Pacific
railroad, in the east, were joined in Promontory, Utah in 1869 completing the first
coast-to-coast transcontinental connection. The Union Pacific consisted of a large
number of ex-soldiers and Irish immigrants as laborers who saw water shortage, terrible
weather, and various Indian attacks. Known as "Hell-on-wheels," these workers worked
very hastily and quickly leaving much work to be re-done later. On the other hand, the
Central Pacific was owned by a quartet of Sacramento shopkeepers. The crew
consisted of mainly Chinese immigrants. Thousands of Chinese immigrants flooded
the U.S. in search of gold at first and then railroad jobs. Most workers were single,
males who intended to make plenty of money and then return to China where they
could afford to get married and buy land. There drive to achieve their dream pushed
them harder than the ordinary American worker, and landed them in very dangerous
working conditions with low pay. Many of these Chinese immigrants were injured and
often even saw death. Know as "Robber Barons," due to the questionable financial
practices of the railroad men, the building of these railroad companies included
shameless profiteering through construction companies controlled by insiders.
Looking backward, anyone must marvel at the fact that the war lasted four years. All the advantages seemed to favor the North. In 1860 the 22 states that would remain in the Union (three more would come in before 1865) had a combined population of 22 million. The 11 states that made up the Confederacy could count only 9 million inhabitants, including almost 4 million black slaves. Most of the factories capable of producing war materials were located in the North, and the section was well equipped with railroads. It had a merchant marine and could maintain worldwide commerce. The South, on the other hand, was a region of farms. Although these farms produced products that Europe wanted, particularly cotton, the South had few ships, and its principal ports were soon closed.
Much has been made of the superiority of Southern commanders. Although Lee was more than a match for every opponent except Grant, Grant overcame the Confederate general by force of numbers and determination of will. Neither side had another corps commander equal to Stonewall Jackson, but Jackson was killed before the war was half over. In the West, the Union commanders clearly outmatched their opposites. No Confederate leader could stand comparison with Grant, Sherman, or Thomas. In naval operations, Foote, Farragut, and Porter had no Confederate rivals.
Little distinction can be made between Northern and Southern morale. Desertion was common on both sides. The North had its Copperheads, its bounty jumpers, and its draft rioters, and millions of Northerners were weary of the war long before its end. In the South, draft dodging and tax evasion were common, and fortunes were made by profiteers who preferred to run luxuries, instead of war supplies, through the blockade.
The South had two important advantages. First, it did not need to conquer the North. It could win the war simply by defending its soil and by waiting for the North to become so discouraged by repeated failures that it would grant independence. Second, the South could operate with shorter interior lines, thus making better use of its fewer men.
In the long run, Northern superiority in supplies and men was decisive. That Southern armies remained in the field and took a toll from their opponents until the spring of 1865 is a remarkable achievement in determination and fortitude. Lincoln's position on slavery and democracy was equally important in the outcome of the war. The Emancipation Proclamation put an end to Southern hopes of foreign intervention. In the North the majority of the people remained firmly resolved that the Union must be restored.
The Better Angels Of Our Nature
The Civil War is said to be the first true modern war. This conflict brought forth the use of the machine gun (gattling gun), trench warfare, and steel hull ships. It was the first total war, meaning war was not only inflicted on soldiers, but civilians, land and cities as well. The War was also the first to be reported and presented with photography. More important than, perhaps, any of the above characteristics is the role that women played in this terrible four-year conflict
Unlike any war prior, women played an enormous part in the lives of soldiers family and home life, and they had a significant hand in how the war progressed and eventually ended. With the men running off left and right to sign up for the cause, women were left behind to carry out the man's duties at home. As the Civil War progressed, many women of the South had to take on the work of the slaves who had either been freed, or ran away. Both the departures of the men and the slaves transformed the women's lives to more than existences of domesticity.
Women saw the War as an opportunity to be leaders in the fight for abolition and equality. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were organizers of the National Women's Loyalty League, which called for a constitutional amendment to end slavery. They fought for the woman's right to vote, argued against differences in pay between men and women in manufacturing jobs, and fought for the absolute right to be nurses in the effort to ease the pain that this War was inflicting. In addition to all this, women went as far as to be spies and soldiers for both sides. Knowing that women were not able by law to enlist as soldiers, some disguised themselves as men and served in both the Union and Confederate Armies. Many who did this were able to avoid getting caught, and served until either getting wounded or until the War's end. Other women decided that being a spy was the best way to serve, and there were dozens of Southern, female spies in Washington DC, as well as one Northerner being in the Confederate White House.
Probably the most significant role of women was nursing. Thousands of women at the War's outset left their homes to take care of dying soldiers. At first, many men were angered by this new role. Before the civil war, it was thought that hospital work was for lower class individuals, and preferably, male individuals. Nursing was considered an improper occupation. Men felt that it was unlady-like for women to care for naked and enlisted men. As the war raged on, however, and casualties were coming in at ever increasing numbers, demand for women nurses skyrocketed, and even those doctors who protested so loudly against women being in the operating rooms with them had to silence themselves. The United States Sanitary Commission, organized by the women of the North, ran kitchens, distributed medical supplies and inspected army camps to insure a standard of cleanliness. Over 3,000 Union women became unpaid nurses during the conflict, and Dorthea Dix, appointed head of the nursing corps, went unpaid for the entire four years at her post. Southern nurses were equally as vital to their cause setting up the largest, most efficient hospital on either side in Richmond, Virginia.
The Civil War is too often spoke of as a man's war, fighting on the battlefields or serving on ship in the navy. Men ran the shows in both Washington and Richmond, recruited the soldiers, and organized the supply lines and military operations. It was the women, however, who were the lifelines of the Union and Confederacy. It was the women who tended the wounded tirelessly, ensured sanitary conditions and fought for causes that men were unable and possibly unwilling to fight for. The women's role in the Civil War is just as significant as the man's role, and any discussion of the War in general should not leave this fact out.
At the outbreak of the war, women eagerly formed charity associations. They felt a desire to do something in the war, and since most of them couldn't fight, they did what they could in their hometown. Ladies' aid associations sprang up all over the country. The first priority of the associations, was sewing. In Charlottesville, the women gathered at the town hall every morning and sewed all day, ceasing only to pray. Even though the women were exhausted, they were proud that they could do something for their country. Lucy Wood said, "Our needles are now our weapons." During the summer months, the women were sewing. In the winter months they switched to knitting for the cold winter months. The women knitted socks, gloves, and comfortors. many ladies' aid associations shifted from sewing to healing. Some ladies' aid associations collected medicine and bandages, others made hospitals out of old hotels or houses.
The women put on plays, concerts, and fairs to raise money to buy materials. They raised money to buy material for flags, bandages, and sheets. They also raised money for anything the soldier might need, from scissors, to Bibles, to underwear. At the end of the Civil War, no woman emerged unchanged. Most felt more confident about themselves and their gender. Through helping their country, many saw what they could do to help themselves and gained independence. The men also benefited when woman became more self-assured. The women supported the men. When the women became stronger, the men became stronger.
The Better Angels of our Nature
In several categories the North was far superior to the South and therefore won the war. Some examples are the economies, financial and industrial capacity, the leadership, and the manpower potential of the North and South. This includes the character and ability of the soldiers.
In 1861, when the Civil War first began, the North had almost every advantage. There were twenty-three states in the Union while there was only eleven in the Confederacy. This is also true in real and personal property value. The North had more property, capital and incorporated banks. The North also had more value of products annually manufactured, more than ten to one. The seceded states had a much less than proportional share of the national income. The South contained only about a third of the total railroad mileage and practically none of the registered shipping.
When the Confederacy needed financing for their war effort almost 60 percent was derived from the issue of paper money, about 30 percent from the sale of bonds, and less than 5 percent from taxation, the remaining 5 percent was from miscellaneous sources. By Contrast, the Union financing for the war was, 13 percent was raised by paper money. 62 percent by bonds and 21 percent by taxes. 4 percent was raised by other means. Thus the Confederacy relied much more upon government notes and much less upon taxation and borrowing as the Union did. The Confederacy's economy suffered greatly during wartime compared to the North's economy that flourishes under wartime conditions. War invigorated the northern economy by stimulating a leading form of northern economic activity, namely industrial production. In the South war paralyzed the chief form of economic activity, which was the cultivation of cotton. The North was increasing its industry and turning out rifles, cannons and other essentials, the South only had the raw product of cotton.
The South had a cash crop of great value, and yet, in the midst of war, Southerners reduced their planting, burned some of the bales they had on hand, and discouraged shipments abroad. Instead of making the best use of this resource, the Davis government deliberately did all in its power to make it useless. Due to some misconception, not only of Davis, but basically the whole South believed that cotton, or the lack of it would win the war for the South. The South's strategy was twisted, because they were hoping that without cotton, the British and the French would come to the Confederacy's aid. This proved to be a big mistake because without cotton, the United States would suffer the closing of its textile mills and, more important, would have no export crop sufficient for obtaining indispensable foreign exchange. So the South wasn't able to trade their cotton for war material, and because of this they were always behind the North in production.
The war also caused wide-scale economic destruction to the South. The Confederate states lost two-thirds of their wealth during the war. The loss of slave property through emancipation accounted for much of this, but the economic infrastructure in the South was also severely damaged in other ways. Railroads and industries in the South were in shambles, more than one-half of all farm machinery was destroyed, and 40 percent of all livestock had been killed. In contrast, the Northern economy thrived during the war. Two numbers convey a sense of the economic cost to the respective sections: between 1860 and 1870, Northern wealth increased by 50 percent; during that same decade, Southern wealth decreased by 60 percent.
The food shortages resulted mostly from a breakdown in distribution. Manufactured goods could be obtained only by running the blockade or smuggling through the lines. Inflation rose in the south and the Confederate dollar became almost worthless due to Davis over printing of it. Basic life needs like food, bread, flour and clothing were going up in price. While the civilian
morale of the North stayed good because everyone was making money, in the South, the economy was very desperately in need of help. The Southern civilian morale deteriorated even before the military morale deteriorated, the economic one collapsed.
Much has been made of the superiority of Southern commanders. Although Lee was more than a match for every opponent except Grant, Grant overcame the Confederate general by force of numbers and determination of will. Neither side had another corps commander equal to Stonewall Jackson, but Jackson was killed before the war was half over. In the West, the Union commanders clearly outmatched their opposites. No Confederate leader could stand comparison with Grant, Sherman, or Thomas. In naval operations, Foote, Farragut, and Porter had no Confederate rivals. The leadership and the strategies of the generals were a factor in the North winning the war. The Civil War was a fight mainly fought between men, who at one point in time trained together at West Point Academy. Of the sixty biggest battles, West Point graduates commanded both armies in fifty-five, and in the remaining five a West Pointer commanded was one of the opposing armies. The South was spending too much time on the defensive strategy, while they should have been working on the offensive. The South's strategy to guard the perimeter of their lands, which was called a cordon defense, did not work as well as they planed.
Another important question that can be asked is why the South lost the war? In fact, there were many times that both North and South faced the same problems, such as the elective system. However, the North was able to maintain its path and straighten these problems out quickly, while the South couldn't. Together with the lack of proper leadership, lack of war material, and men with poor attitudes, the South really didn't stand a chance. So even if the North made mistakes, they were able to compensate, while the South usually flustered even more.
PBS documentary film The Civil War By Ken Burns 1990
The Civil War student Guide by Ken Burns 1990 EPM Publications
Battle Cry Of Freedom by James M. McPherson 1988 Oxford University press