How much did the loss of Vicksburg hurt the western Confederacy?

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
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#11
Indeed, but it seems that's now more apparent to us than it was to them.
You can only say that if Midwestern farmers ignored the railroads and persisted in trading down the Mississippi with New Orleans. Did they? I've yet to see the evidence. Clearly, before Vicksburg fell, the Midwest had to use the railroads. Did they switch back to river traffic south after Vicksburg fell, or did they continue to use the railroads east?

Or is the "them" referring to Winfield Scott who was 70 years old when he came up with the Anaconda Plan and may not have understood how those newfangled railroads were going to alter traditional trade networks.
 
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Jan 2018
390
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
#12
You can only say that if Midwestern farmers ignored the railroads and persisted in trading down the Mississippi with New Orleans. Did they? I've yet to see the evidence. Clearly, before Vicksburg fell, the Midwest had to use the railroads. Did they switch back to river traffic south after Vicksburg fell, or did they continue to use the railroads east?
The people of the Old Northwest were eager to have river open and were happy when it was. Make of that what you will.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,715
Sydney
#13
IT made plain who was winning , opened the Mississippi to the Western Union states , isolated the far west into strategic irrelevance
coupled with the simultaneous Gettysburg victory , it was like both barrels of a shotgun in the confederate inwards
 
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#14
Vicksburg was a bigger loss than Gettysburg. It opened up the the virtual unprotected Deep South to federal armies. Luckily Sherman was component enough to take advantage of the opening.
 

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#15
There are two aspects being discussed. There's the spatial element - control of the Mississippi River that split the Confederacy in two and may or may not have opened up Northern trade. There's also the tactical element - loss of a major Confederate army. I don't see anyone arguing that the loss of Pemberton's army did not hurt the South. It certainly did. But what if Pemberton had surrendered somewhere else, maybe Corinth, so that Vicksburg remained in Southern hands? Grant/Sherman could still have moved their army to Chattanooga to concentrate on Bragg/Johnston. I'm still not convinced the spatial element is as important as some people say it is. I'll acknowledge the psychological impact of being split in two, but I'm still looking for evidence of the physical impact.
 
Oct 2015
839
Virginia
#16
Could "physical impact" mean strategic mobility ? How about that opening navigation of the river gave the Federals the ability to move troops rapidly from Cairo to the Gulf? They could move up the Arkansas River and occupy Arkansas, up the Red River to Texas & western Louisiana (with less happy results). Use the River as a base for raids into central Mississippi (Meridian, Yazoo) and for operation against Mobile? Somebody already said it released 5 divisions or so to join operations in Tennessee and Georgia.
Are there statistics somewhere showing how much grain, beef and pork came East from the Trans-Mississippi, or how much much was shipped from the Mid-West thru New Orleans (vs railroads) in 1860? Did Mid-Western governors pressure the administration to open trade on the River? Dis Southern governors pressure Davis to hold it?
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,715
Sydney
#17
A large part pf Pemberton army broke their parole and rejoined the fighting , this led to the North cancelling the agreement
the fate of the war prisoners became hostage to this bad faith , with the South reaching new levels of abuse
 
Oct 2015
839
Virginia
#18
A large part pf Pemberton army broke their parole and rejoined the fighting , this led to the North cancelling the agreement
the fate of the war prisoners became hostage to this bad faith , with the South reaching new levels of abuse
On 30 July 1863, president Lincoln issued General Order 252 which suspended the Dix-Hill Cartel (which set up the prisoner parole-exchange system) until the Confederates agreed to treat black prisoners the same as others. The Confederates refused to do so, and large scale prisoner exchanges ended in August 1863.

The issue with the Vicksburg-Port Hudson POWs was more one of administrative disagreement than bad faith (there was controversy over who had been "paroled in the field" and cited as exchanged). There was also the fact that exchanged Federal prisoners rarely returned to the Army as their enlistments had usually expired, while Confederate soldiers more often did (if they could be kept from going home) as they had been conscripted "for the duration of the war".
 
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#19
I know this was the theory at the beginning of the war (Anaconda Plan), but is there any evidence that Northern products were traded through New Orleans in 1864 and early '65? I suspect Winfield Scott in 1861 over estimated the importance of the Mississippi River and under estimated the value of railroads at linking the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard. My sense is that the North did not try to control the entire Mississippi. They instead used roving patrols to deter and foil any Southern attempts to cross the river. But with much of the river banks uncontrolled, it was too dangerous for Northern trade to venture down the river unprotected.

The one piece of evidence I have found of the value of Vicksburg was in the price of salt in Mississippi and Alabama in 1864. This region imported salt from Louisiana, but without Vicksburg, Alabama was cut off from their salt source which meant they could not preserve meat, a major product of that region that was especially important to the Confederate armies. Salt was also necessary in the curing of leather.
The Anaconda Plan remained the overall Union war strategy. With the fall of Vicksburg, the Union gained control of the Mississippi and cut the Confederacy off from the outside world. In addition, Grant and Sherman were able to move their forces east once the Confederacy abandoned the west.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,080
Dispargum
#20
The Anaconda Plan remained the overall Union war strategy.
Certainly with hindsight we can see similarities between how the North fought the war and Scott's Anaconda Plan. I have never read of any Northern leader consciously or deliberately following Scott's plan. Which raises the question, 'Did Northern leaders deliberately carry out Scott's Anaconda Plan, or did Northern leaders forget Scott's plan but carry it out unconsciously anyway?' It has to do with the push-pull nature of strategy. By push I mean a general's decision to attack at a certain point. Pull refers to an advance that is sucked forward into a vacuum caused by the lack of opposition. An example of push would be Burnside's decision to cross the Rappahanock at Fredricksburg whether there was an enemy army there or not. An example of pull would be Kentucky and Tennessee in the spring of '62 where simultaneously Buell was advancing from Louisville to Nashville, Grant advanced from Paducah to Pittsburg Landing, and Pope advanced from Cairo to Memphis. Grant advanced the farthest and fastest because he encountered the least opposition. Opposition isn't just enemy armies. It's also terrain. It's easiest to advance along rivers because they are uncutable supply lines.

So, did Scott come up with a plan that the other generals strictly followed, or did the other generals carry out their own plans, but Scott had correctly predicted which plans would succeed?