Compare and Contrast Union and Confederacy in Civil War
The challenges that the Union and the Confederacy faced during the Civil War were very different. Critical weaknesses that seemed unfit for war, plagued the opposing American forces, and would serve to be a continuous obstacle that would need to be conquered by patriotism of the people, for their opposing views. To allow for both sides to be competitive, the efforts put forth had to mold to the varied needs of the armies by both the civilian population and their militaries.
To the people in the south the similarity to the colonists in the Revolutionary War, was assimilated to their separatist cause in the Civil War and would be their drive to compete with the dominating Northern states. This mindset started the Confederacy in the Civil War, despite many disadvantages, with the confidence in defeating Union forces, before becoming overwhelmed and being defeated after four well fought years. The original seceding states of the Confederacy consisted of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.
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The people of these states saw themselves extremely different than that of the northern states both politically and culturally, and felt continuous pressure from the population dominating in the northern states to conform to northern ideals. It seemed the only and best option to keep the southern way of life was to become an independent Confederate nation. That idea to become a separate nation was not a sudden idea when Lincoln came into office; it was simply not recognized by previous presidents, which would allow for the issue to hit its climax when he was elected.
By the time Lincoln came into office, talks of revolution were already at its tipping point, but as stated by Lincoln, “Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came. ” Feeling sympathy and the same operation as the seceding states Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee joined the Confederate forces demanding to be an independent nation.
As soon as Lincoln was sworn in, his address to the nation was in attempt to create peace, reassuring the rebellious southern states that their way of life would not change and the president has no legal right to issue any enforcement to take away their freedoms or customs. He also gave warning in affect stating if an action was to start civil war it must be of a southern militant deed to warrant an assault from the Federal Army. The south did not adhere to Lincolns warning because southern independence was Jefferson Davis’, and his followers’ priority.
The first Confederate assault came on April 13th and 14th 1861 when Jefferson Davis ordered an attack on Ft. Sumter. On April 15th Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to enlist in the armed forces for 90 days. The response from Lincoln’s call to action in the Northern public to fill the volunteer spots was overwhelming. Large numbers of young men from every northern state volunteered to keep the nation whole. Lincoln believed that with the overwhelming population difference between the north and south that the rebel army of the south would be crushed in a matter of days.
The first battle of the war demonstrated just how confident the Federal Government was in their efforts to crush the Confederate army. Lincoln ordered General Irvin McDowell to lead the first attack on the Confederate army in the summer of 1861, in what has been come to be known as Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). McDowell led 35,000 new, eager Union troops against less than 20,000 Confederates. The Federal Government was so confident in their expected victory they invited the troop’s friends and families watch the Union army defeat the rebel Confederates.
Soon after the Union army arrived, and opened up fire on the smaller rebel army, unexpected Confederate reinforcements came around the side of the Union’s main force. The Confederate reinforcements lead by Stone Wall Jackson did not show their flags and wore very similar uniforms as the Union army, which in turn fooled McDowell’s forces and leading them to believe that they were Union reinforcements.
It was well believed until Jackson’s forces began unloading rounds on the Union army stopping McDowell’s forces from advancing, holding the line like “a stone wall. As the new Union recruits witnessed battle for the first time and felt the lack of preparation, they were quick to retreat back to Washington DC. The Southern victory and the tens of thousands of lives lost proved to the Union that this war was not going to be easily won. The southern states although far less populated and without initial means to manufacture war supplies did have the strengths to be very competitive.
Strong, experienced Confederate leadership in their practiced military, and the overall will power to protect their way of life would prove to be their reatest assets. Jefferson Davis became the president of the Confederacy and was a model leader. He developed a distinguished political career with many years served in the senate, he was a West Point graduate, the former Secretary of War, and a veteran of the Mexican American War. He was the ideal candidate for a president in war times. He had the advantage of having General Robert E. Lee commanding his army after Joseph Johnston was injured in The Battle of Bull run. Robert E.
Lee due to strong respect, character and performance in the Mexican American war was Lincoln’s first choice as the Union general but Lee’s patriotism to his home state of Virginia would ultimately lead him to be commander of the Confederacy. Over one third of Federal Army’s officers would join Lee in fighting with the Confederate army. The Northern states did not prove to have the same strengths in leadership. Lincoln’s political career consisted of one uneventful term in the House of Representatives.
The extent of his military background was a short time spent as head of a small militia that moved Native Americans out of Illinois in 1832. He was tall, gangly, and had some feminine characteristics that did not allow for him to have the strong presence that Jefferson Davis had. A strong military general was hard for Lincoln to find that could win battles, multiple would become general to soon be replaced. The public in the North would also not have the same drive to defeat the south.
For the northern population, battles would not be fought on their home land, and if the war was lost the way of life for the Union would not change. This would serve to be one of the largest challenges to overcome for the Union military. It would not be until General Grant would start proving his strong ability to win battles for Lincoln in the west and replace McClellan as commander for his army that the war would start to be in Union favor. Grant used the strengths the north had and used them to exploit the south’s weakness.
The Union army was more equipped with men, weapons, and transportation via rail road. Grant was relentless on his attacks on the south and would find a knack for putting his soldiers in harm’s way to ensure victory, because he had more expendable men and he knew the south did not have that luxury. Eventually he would order raids on key southern cities, demoralizing southern civilians, and soldiers alike. The most famous of which was General Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” where he made his way through Atlanta leaving the city in ruins, and marched to Savannah to capture it and claim it for the Union.
After the heart of the south was conquered by Union forces, Confederate troops felt the war hit too close to home and the young southern soldiers wanted to go home to protect their families. The troops were running out of food, supplies, and after hundreds of thousands of troops died, the war was soon coming to an end. General Lee felt the struggle to be futile and the advances of the north to have taken too many lives. He noticed the families left by the young men supporting the Confederacy were not able to support themselves and starving; hope was next to gone and defeat was very near.
General Lee’s last forces were in Petersburg just a few miles outside Richmond, the capital of the Confederate Army, which was abandoned on April 2nd 1865 surrounded by General Grant’s army. On April 3rd Richmond was captured by the Union. Lee was pursued by Grant until, on April 9th 1865, Lee finally surrendered. Two weeks after Lee’s surrender the rest of the Confederate forces followed. With Lee’s surrender, he expected to be killed alongside his troops for treason, but Grant, whom had great respect for Lee, graciously accepted his surrender and told Lee and his tired troops to go home and plant crops to make it through winter.
Lincoln and Grant alike, recognized that the Northern cause was simply to keep the nation whole, and that though the southern part of the country rose up and fought to separate, they were still part of the same country and did not lose track of what they were fighting for. The efforts the Confederate and the Union armies had to put forth and the tolls the nation had to pay were more costly than anyone could have predicted.
Through their efforts the Confederate forces overcame lack of supplies, troops, food, and transportation for four years. The sheer will power, labors, efforts, and lives that the military and southern civilians sacrificed defeated the Union’s expectations. The Union however would overcome their weak military leadership and prove to be victorious by overwhelming the south with their much larger military, and their ability to manufacture and supply their troops with all necessary means to win a war.