Beyond the issue of weapons, the British genuinely believed the Confederates would win. They believed that if a colony wished to be independent it was, as a practical matter, impossible to force the people to remain a colony. They had the experience of the American Revolution and also understood the Haitian Revolution. And they believed Jomini who, after all, wrote the state of the art book.
There was simply no prior experience of a war conducted with railroads available; based on the knowledge they had they were correct. The Confederates did have interior lines with their advantages. And based on the same knowledge Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were correct too. I think you were the guy who questioned my argument that railroads were the sole reason the Union won the war.
And I have to agree. Railroads were important but there were other reasons too. Lincoln was a total unknown both to the Confederates and to the British and even to many of his own fellow Republicans. And I think Lee's decision to bring the war to the Yankees and march into the north which ended at Gettysburg was also a real mistake, not just a fog of war miscalculation but a misunderstanding of the mind of the Union.
Dixie Betrayed How the South Really Lost the Civil War
A lot of Union Generals were at heart Peace Democrats whose heart was not into invading the Confederacy. But when it came to defending the Union they were far more willing to be aggressive. Were British weapons better than the American made ones? Well, yes and no. A soldier armed with either one was pretty well equipped. The British didn't have any revolvers as good as the Colts, however. Most British revolvers of the period are clumsy things compared to the Colt products.
And the British didn't have anything to compare to the Spencer repeating rifle. No-one else in the world could either. Was Lee's decision to bring the war North a mistake? In retrospect it was. To be a good soldier you have to know history. Lee was a good soldier, so we can assume he knew his history.
He came close, VERY close several times, but something always seemed to go wrong at the last minute or something was lacking. I should say that when military men talk of detstroying an army they don't mean actual physical destruction, as in killing everyone on the opposite side, they mean destroying it as a fighting force.
Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War - David J. Eicher
He came close to destroying Pope at Second Manassas, but lack of a sizable reserve thwarted him. You let those people get away! I tell you what to do but you won't do it! Go after them and damage them as much as you can. Then Gettysburg. What can we say? His great biographer Douglas Southall Freeman once said he could tell you what Lee was doing at any given moment from to , but he could never tell you what was on Lee's mind.
But the poet and author Steven Vincent Benet said that if Lee had written such a book, everyone in the South would have bought a copy, even if they had to starve to do so. You know, sometimes someone on the outside looking in can see things others can't. Quite profound, don't you think? He came close,. I agree with this and the rest of your speculation. But it raises the question of how did Lee propose to destroy the Union Army as a fighting force?
If wounding and killing Union solders would do that Lee certainly succeeded. Union casualties were far higher than Confederate casualties. But the wounding and killing was not sufficient because Lincoln was able to replace the men lost on the battle field. Lee had to destroy the Union's will to win and to undermine the populations willingness to support the war. If he could invade the north and devastate the civilian population that would undermine Lincoln's support in the country and that could well lead to a Confederate victory. This is the explanation I have read of Lee's thinking about Gettysburg.
In my view his thinking was correct and this seems consistent with your own beliefs. Finally, I think the Confederates could have won the war. The Americans won the Revolution when there were far greater forces against them than the Confederates faced. For the Union to win it had to occupy and subdue a hugh hostile territory; for the Confederates to win all they had to do was to avoid losing. I believe they failed to organize themselves to win, failed at what military people call logistics.
They became unable to get adequate food to their soldiers. They never set up the civilian bureaucracy they needed to win and their failure to maintain their railroads was a big part of that. I have to agree with you that this statement is profound.
But in focusing on the military legends it distracts us from what Sherman called "The hard hand of war. And the south had to live with economic devastation that would not be over for many, many years. As you point out Lee never wrote his memoirs and never shared his own personal thoughts. But his actions during the war were clear. His job was to win battles and he did that over and over and over. He certainly wanted to win battles and he wanted the Confederacy to prevail. That is what he worked for. THAT's destruction of an army. A more recent example would be the destruction of Paulus' Sixth Army by the Russians at Stalingrad in It's what happened to Lee eventually at Appomattox in Bad news for the Confederacy, for in his own quiet way Lincoln was the most implacable enemy they had.
I think the Confederates could have won the war as well, but this is Monday-morning quarterbacking on my part. When Stonewall Jackson's manuverings and victories in the Shenandoah Valley revealed the Lincoln administration's sensitivity about the safety of Washington DC, someone on the Confederate side should have realized the opportunity. Capturing it would have been pointless, it was too well fortified. Humiliating the Lincoln administration would have been good enough. Like I say, it's just Monday morning quarterbacking which I really don't like.
Maybe someone on the Confederate side DID see the opportunity but wasn't listened too. We'll never know. Fascinating discussion! Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account. Connect with us! Sign up for our email newsletter.
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- How The South Really Really Lost The Civil War.
Order Ascending Order Descending. John WR. Member since August, 3, posts. The rebel states sought to preserve a primarily agricultural economy based heavily on unpaid involuntary labor. The Confederates have been lionized as noble warriors who fought for an honorable cause with little chance of succeeding. But historian Eicher reveals a calamity of political conspiracy, discord, and dysfunction.
Drawing on previously unexplored sources, Eicher shows how President Jefferson Davis viciously fought with the Confederate House and Senate, governors, and his own cabinet. Confederate senators threatened each other with physical violence; some were brutal drunks, others, hopeless idealists. Appearing almost Christ-like in subsequent Southern iconography, he found near-instant admiration among many Northern Democratic Party members following the surrender at Appomattox.
Only four days after Lee accepted Ulysses S. His status in the South, meanwhile, only increased after his death in , especially through the efforts of former Confederate general Jubal A.