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Old July 24th, 2016, 02:48 PM   #31

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Joined: Jul 2015
From: Kentucky
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I think capturing Washington after first Bull Run would have had a chance at ending the war in favor of the confederacy, but I don't think it would've worked out that way.

1. I think as soon as Washington falls, all 3 border states (MO, KY, and MD) immediately secede and join the confederates. This would absolutely shift the balance of power in the war to a more even footing, but even with those 3 states the confederates were still nowhere close to matching the industrial power of producing war materials. Also, with the East-West running Ohio River as the northern border in the west, the confederate armies in that theater would have had a much easier job in defending KY than they had in defending Tennessee.

2. The loss of DC would be seriously detrimental to northern morale and support for the war. However, in actual history the northern morale hit many, very low points during the war and still weathered the storm to win the war. It would be dishonest to say that they wouldn't be able to roll with the punch of losing DC. DC, after all, was a very small city with the sole function of housing the operations of the federal government. It had little to nil value as far as material production or population. And, since America won the war of 1812 after losing Washington, we have to believe that northern newspapers would build that fact up to bolster flagging spirits.

3. To play the realist, I don't think any man in the confederate military after first bull run could have reorganized that force well enough to march on McDowell's shattered army. All the after battle reports from the confederates mention how chaotic it was to put regiments and brigades back together. Johnston and Beauregard both mention the high level of disorganization after the battle, making a pursuit impossible.

So, I think the Confederacy would have had a much better chance to win had they been able to take DC in '61, but it was simply unrealistic and nothing more than a fantasy... After the winter of '61-'62 the confederates would have had to mount a truly impressive siege to take the capital city, and that's assuming that they didn't have the army of the Potomac snapping at their rear with the defenders of Washington waiting to strike simultaneously with the AotP.

So, Lee would have had to completely destroy the AotP in order to be free to take DC, but Lee could never have destroyed the AotP, but it certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort. With armies being the sheer size that they were in the ACW, a siege was basically the only way to neutralize a large number of men.

That all being said, I don't think the Confederacy ever could've done anything different to win the war. They probably could have had a more competent man as the head executive, but even that wouldn't have made up for their lack of mass food production, railroad mileage, a navy, or industrial production. It was over before it began, so long as the northern people would support the effort, which they mostly did.

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Last edited by MountainMoose; July 24th, 2016 at 02:51 PM.
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Old July 24th, 2016, 04:35 PM   #32
Joined: Oct 2015
From: California
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Originally Posted by notgivenaway View Post
The South had some initial victories, but once they lost at Gettysburg the North ramped up their industry, and Lincoln made them more resolute for victory.

But had they won at Gettysburg, could they still have won?

And what would victory have meant exactly? there is no way the South could have occupied the North wholly, not with lesser troops.And some Northerners could have sought to free many of the slaves, give them arms and then freedom/citizenship after the war. I'm not sure what kind of terms the South coudl have imposed on the North, and with a bigger population and more industry, why a Second Civil War, with more Northerners in arms, backed by former slaves, and possibly with allied support from the British or other anti-slavery European countries, which would surely have led to the South's eventual defeat.
Not without foreign intervention. The South knew this and they tried to hold out just long enough in the hopes that either France of Britain would intervene on their side.
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Old July 25th, 2016, 03:17 AM   #33
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Maybe, if Grant lost at Shiloh, the war was won the the west. With Grant and Sherman out that would only leave Thomas as the only really competent general and he wasn't aggressive enough to win the in west.
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Old July 25th, 2016, 05:13 AM   #34
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By their own power no. But perhaps if the French and British advocates for intervention and enforcing an armistice had gotten the upper hand the South could have remained independent. Just breaking the blockade, allowing trade would have strengthened the South considerable.
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Old July 25th, 2016, 05:53 PM   #35
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Only chance was if the South could of killed Lincoln during the 2nd election, and made it so no blame fell on the South (made it look like an accident?). Then McClellan might have won and sold out the Union like he wanted to.

As Lincoln was in office, he would have gone through generals until he found one that won. If not Grant, then some other general. The Union could afford losses the South couldn't, and even in victory, the South would suffer losses they couldn't sustain. As long as the Union was determined, the greater manpower and industrial resources of the North would have eventually won anyway.
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