The historic United States Civil War, which commenced with the attack of Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861, and climaxed when the South admitted defeat in April 1865, is regarded as one of the deadliest internal conflicts in the history of the country.
The battle left about six hundred thousand men dead and massive destruction of infrastructure took place. Eleven Southern states who were fighting for the abolition of slave trade wanted to withdraw from the greater United States of America. Therefore, under the leadership of Jefferson Davies, the Southern states formed the Confederate States of America in order to engage in battle with the North (the Union). The bloody conflict literally divided the country into two sections. At the end of the war, the Union forces were declared the victors because of a number of strengths and advantages they had over their opponents.
From the time the battle started, the North had clear merits. To say it plainly, the Union had enormous quantities of almost everything that their opponents were lacking (Tulloch, 154). The Union had vast resources that the South lacked any means of even acquiring. To begin with, the Union forces, under General William Tecumseh Sherman, had better leaders as well as an established government structure. As a result, they did not have to spend a lot of time in trying to establish a governing authority, as did the ill-prepared Southerners. In terms of manpower, the North was boasting of a significantly larger number of people. At that time, the U.S.
had a population of about thirty-one million people and only about nine million of the people were residing in the breakaway states. This made the Union to have huge strengths in terms of the number of troops, which they threw in the combat with the Confederacy. During the war, the Union had at least three times the number of soldiers their opponents had. They had the objective of eliminating the Southerners through the shear use of more numbers of troops in the battlefield. The Northern states had enormous quantities of land that they used for cultivating food crops. This assisted them in feeding their soldiers as well as providing funds for their manufacturing industries that were also provisioning the soldiers. On the other hand, the Confederacy mainly concentrated on growing staple crops such as cotton, believing that the flourishing industry alone was able to sustain them all through the bloody battle. As the war was ensuing, the lack of sufficient food made it hard to feed the soldiers as well as the population who were largely dependant on the staple crops.
The South made the fatal mistake of not venturing into industrial production where good money to finance the war could have been made with the production of the staple foods. The South was able to cultivate vast quantities of the staple crops and since they lacked the industries, the North bought them and used them in their industries. In turn, they sold the finished products to the South.
In addition, since the South was mainly dependant on agricultural products, its soldiers could leave the battlefield every spring to harvest their ready crops since their families and themselves could risk starving if they were unable to do this. On the other hand, the Union forces had no analogous responsibilities and they were committed to the war. This economic superiority of the North gave them a greater boost during the war. In terms of communication, the Union was better placed, and it proved to be an important strength during the war years. The Union controlled the means of transportation at that time. Of the thirty thousand miles of railroads, the Union enjoyed the control of twenty thousand of them.
The North was capable of transporting the requirements of the war both cheaply and conveniently, to almost everywhere they were required in the battlefield (Griess, 2). Consequently, the morale of the army was also increased since they could get supplies in time. In addition, their well-trained naval forces blocked the ports of the Southerners, which further impeded their communication and transport. The Confederacy, however, with its insufficient production of about 4% of the country’s locomotives and limited control of the railroad, it stood inferior as compared to its enemies. In addition, the South did not embrace the new method of using telegraph as a means of communication. Telegraph communication enabled instant communication in the North while the South did not have adequate funds to embrace this new technology.
In conclusion, the American Civil War was a trying moment for both the South and the North. However, its outcome was apparent from the start since the confederacy was ill equipped for such a war. Nonetheless, as devastating as the war was, the opposing states grew closer together and the United States of America became truly united. Although the Union won the war, it managed to settle the differences it had with the Confederacy.
Griess, Thomas E. American Civil War. New York: Square One Publishers, 2008.
Print. Tulloch, Hugh. The debate on the American Civil War era. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1999.