Could the CSA have won?

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Fiver

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,741
#11
Only hindsight makes things inevitable in history, so Confederate independence was of course a possibility. But the odds were long and the margin for error very small.

This was interesting:
http://www.americancivilwar.asn.au/conf/2003/2003_conf_could_sth_win.pdf
That article does nicely spell out a lot of things, like plenty of revolutions faced worse odds and succeeded. In addition to the advantages the article lists for the Confederacy, I would add that period military technology strongly favored the defense and that the size of Union armies fell far short of what was considered necessary to win. How the North Won, by Hattaway and Jones shows that in the first years of the war the Union succeeded less than half the time on the offense, which made them notably better at it than the Confederates. A common military rule of thumb is you want a 3-to-1 numbers advantage when you are on offense. The Union seldom managed better than half that, a 3-to-2 advantage.

When dealing with strategy, the article provides a good summary, but misses the fact that early in the war, the Confederacy followed an offensive strategy, invading West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arizona territory, as well as attempting to invade Colorado Territory. (Such actions also show Jefferson Davis was lying when he said the Confederacy just wanted to be left alone.)

The article lists three ways the Confederates could have won. The first, destruction of the Union armies, was a pipe dream. Even the most crushing victories of the war did not match Cannae. Foreign intervention was wildly unlikely; foreign powers were only going to recognize the Confederacy if it succeeded on the battlefield. The Davis adminstration's inept diplomacy removed what little chance they had of foreign recognition. The Confederacy's only real chance was outlasting Union will, something they came close to doing in spite of many military and political blunders by Confederate leadership.
 
Jul 2011
5,938
Belgium
#12
Possible? Yes, but highly unlikely.

Of course this wouldn't be with the same victory conditions as a Union victory.

The CSA's goal was to win the war by not losing, at least until a) the CSA gained enough international recognition as an independent nation or b) the Union would just give up.

In that sense, it was possible to achieve victory, BUT:

- The CSA's dependency on slavery made international recognition very difficult.
- The Union must have known the CSA didn't have the material and manpower to hold out indefinitely against the USA. (that should have been pretty visible ever since the affair of the "Quaker guns" pointed at Washington.)
 
Nov 2012
887
Virginia
#13
"You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail." - William T Sherman
Truer words were never spoken, but they fell on deaf ears. Even Mr Texas himself, Sam Houston, tried to talk his countrymen out of going to war with the Union and they kicked him out of office.
 
Likes: Fiver
Feb 2013
1,283
Second City
#15
Perhaps if the CSA had formed and seceded at some point in the 1840s. Otherwise, they could only hope to exhaust Union war effort and ensure with a Copperhead Congress in '62 that might try to end the war via the tightening of purse strings. Which still leaves Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief until March of 1865.
 
Last edited:
Sep 2019
1
Odenville, AL
#16
I think so. What would happen if they did? Well I've scrolled through these comments and people say war with European countries. I disagree. The CSA was Allied with European countries and with Mexico. So now Mexico could have been a safe haven instead of being crime filled. This wouldn't be third world, as other countries relied on the CSA's crops. And slavery? Well slavery would have been abolished by now. For one the CSA President freed his slaves, and I personally think over time they would have freed them and given them rights. And suffrage would be given to all as well due to an ongrowing economy and rising populations, meaning slaves could work without being forced into it and they would no longer he slaves actually, but working class citizens. For women, maybe it would take longer but by now women would have the rights they do today because if all men are in office then nothing changes really. They mostly have the same view point, (yes this is coming from me, a male) when you put a female in office there could be two opposing viewpoints and same views for others, which makes people vote for a difference, the way politics was meant to be. So if the CSA won, I could possibly see success from it.
 
Oct 2011
26,829
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#17
I think so. What would happen if they did? Well I've scrolled through these comments and people say war with European countries. I disagree. The CSA was Allied with European countries and with Mexico. So now Mexico could have been a safe haven instead of being crime filled. This wouldn't be third world, as other countries relied on the CSA's crops. And slavery? Well slavery would have been abolished by now. For one the CSA President freed his slaves, and I personally think over time they would have freed them and given them rights. And suffrage would be given to all as well due to an ongrowing economy and rising populations, meaning slaves could work without being forced into it and they would no longer he slaves actually, but working class citizens. For women, maybe it would take longer but by now women would have the rights they do today because if all men are in office then nothing changes really. They mostly have the same view point, (yes this is coming from me, a male) when you put a female in office there could be two opposing viewpoints and same views for others, which makes people vote for a difference, the way politics was meant to be. So if the CSA won, I could possibly see success from it.
This thread hasn't been active for more than 6 years. It's against the rules of Historum to resurrect so old discussion.

So that I've close it.

Moreover, please note that partisan politics and propaganda of any kind are not permitted [even if historical]. I suggest you to ponder better what you are going to post.
 
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