The North and South of the Civil War Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:56
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The United States Civil War started when civil unrest in the South led to political desires to secede from the Union. During a time of unrest due to slavery, the North and South were divided about which direction the nation should proceed. The North and South each had their own relative strengths and weaknesses such as total population, size of armys, industrial capacity, resources, communication abilities, and military training. In 1860, there were a total of 32 million Americans and only nine million lived in the South (Axelrod, 1998).

Of the nine million living in the South . . . one third of all Southerners were slaves, which automatically disqualified them from military service, although some did fight in the war. . . (Hagen, 2005). The North had the advantage of numbers over the South when it came to figuring the numbers of men that were of combat age. The North had 1,556,000 soldiers serving in the Northern army. The South had 850,000 men serving in the Confederate army, nearly half of the men of the North.

The North had large amounts of industry on which they could rely on for supplies. Northern factories could produce large quantities of guns and ammunition. The South depended mainly on the agriculture industry to sustain life, yet there were some factories and railroads the South used for supplies. In comparison, the North outweighed the South in amount of industry used to sustain the Civil War. Based on the industrial capacity, resources for the North were more plentiful than for the South.

The Southern states were focused on large-scale cultivation of crops such as rice, indigo, tobacco, and cotton (Axelrod, 1998). The focus on agriculture increased the demand for slave labor to work the crops. In the North, industries such as steel and coal were being developed. When time for the Civil War came, the North had the resources of the current industries to produce needed supplies for war. The South only had crops and slave labor, which were not of much use in war. The South did have the advantage of . . . fighting on their own land to defend their way of life. . (Hagen, 2005). Fighting battles closer to home offered obvious benefits in the area of communications in a time when phones and radios were nonexistent. The North had to figure out how to move large numbers of men and supplies into enemy territory, while the South would have to carry less over shorter distances. The North had one communication advantage that ended up working against them, the media. Northern general Winfield Scott had originally wanted to set up naval blockades in the south to surround and isolate the Confederacy. Unfortunately, word of Scotts idea to establish a naval blockade leaked out to Northern newspapers, which criticized him for not having more confidence in the Union troops (Hagen, 2005). The media in the North worked to divide and question all the decisions by Union senior leadership. While the North housed the main government and senior advisors to President Lincoln, the South did have advantages in military training. Southerners, brought up on plantations riding horses and shooting guns most of their lives, felt they would make better soldiers than the shopkeepers and farmers of the North (Hagen, 2005). Many Southerners attended military schools, which meant that the Confederate officers had military training. In fact, President Lincolns senior advisor Northern major general Winfield Scott was from the South, but refused to support the South in succession and felt strongly about defending the flag. At the beginning of the Civil War, the North and South each had advantages and disadvantages that affected strategy into the War. Although the North was clearly advantageous in numbers and industry, the South had military knowledge and home-field advantage.

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