The Civil War Outcome - Why the North Won

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The Civil War Outcome - Why The North Won

Question:
Was the outcome of the Civil War determined by the nature of Northern and Southern societies or by what occurred on the battlefield?

Reason For The Northern Victory

The available resources of The North and South determined the outcome of The Civil War. The North’s superior industry and manpower paved the way for modernization and the ultimate victory. The South was destined for defeat due to insufficient resources to compete with the North. Once The North decided to fully utilize their industrial advantage, The South was doomed.

Northern and southern leadership differed greatly – The North had better leadership in nearly every area, significantly that of the president! Abraham Lincoln proved to be a far better military leader than his counterpart, Jefferson Davis. In addition, the northern generals Grant and Sherman adopted new tactics for waging war. They implemented strategies designed to decimate The South’s ability and desire to fight. Until this time, The South’s philosophy of conservatism allowed The Confederacy to hold off The Union for four years. When these changes occurred, the southern leadership was unable to adapt and remained rigid in their outdated tactics.

The final reason (at least in my report) for The South’s defeat was their resistance to support a centralized authority/government. This occurred both on an individual and state level. The states placed their rights and interests above that of the confederacy, making it impossible for their government to properly function.

Industry and Manpower – The Road to Modernization

The North held an overwhelming industrial advantage compared to the south. It’s estimated that in 1860, The North had 110,000 manufacturing facilities manned by 1,300,000 workers, compared to the south with only 18,000 facilities and 110,000 workers.[i] Railroads were vital for transportation of goods, especially supplies for the war effort. He again, The North commanded the majority of the rail lines: approximately 70% of the 31,256 total miles.[ii]

The population of The North was also much greater than the south. An 1860 census states the Union population at 20,275,000, nearly four times the white southern population of 5,500,000. Even if the black population of The South is counted at 3,654,000, The North still has far more than twice this combined amount.[iii]

This industry and manpower literally paved the road to modernization in The North. In 1861, approximately 36% of The North’s population was urban, compared to less than 10% in The South.[iv] These urban regions provided a centralized population for enormous and diverse industrial development. Another significant factor that accelerated the modernization process was the actual war itself! “Modernizing trends that had begun in the prewar period came to unexpectedly rapid fruition in a way that both compounded the North's advantage in the conflict.” [v]

The North had an existing infrastructure of roads and bridges that were not prevalent in The South. Transportation in The North was expanding, improving and becoming more efficient. This reduced the price of goods being sold and opened new markets/territories for growth. The North’s war effort was better supported by their ability to transport supplies.

Midwest agriculture was also on the rise and mechanization was advancing the process of producing food. Communication and education played a vital role in The North’s ability to produce inexpensive newspapers, books and pamphlets. This helped the pubic relations campaign by rallying support for the northern war effort.

The South in contrast, was predominantly agricultural and slavery greatly reduced the need for modernization. The South was also less developed economically, socially and politically. When the need for rapid modernization occurred, The South was simply too far behind to achieve any effective results...
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