Why Did the South Lose the Civil War Essay

1822 Words Jul 30th, 2013 8 Pages
A frequently, and sometimes hotly, discussed subject; the outcome of the American Civil War has fascinated historians for generations. Some argue that the North's economic advantages proved too much for the South, others that Southern strategy was faulty, offensive when it should have been defensive, and vice-versa. Internal division in the South is often referred to, and complaints made against Davis' somewhat makeshift, inexperienced, government. Doubts are sometimes raised over the commitment of Southerners to a cause many of them were half-hearted about. Many historians have argued that the South lost the will to fight long before defeat was inevitable. However, many of these criticisms could easily be applied to the North, had the …show more content…
The Union blockade did not take full effect for many months, allowing the Southerners time to export their cotton harvest, and reap the financial benefits. Alexander Stephens had a plan at the start of the war that he estimated would net around $800M for the Confederacy, providing a sound financial base for the war effort. Although somewhat optimistic, and affected by practical difficulties, it is fair to say that the cotton crop would have been far better exported than stockpiled or burnt. Secondly, the Confederate government displayed an unwillingness to tax her citizens, preferring instead to print money, and suffer the rampant inflation that resulted. The Union financed its war effort mainly from taxation and bonds, while 60% of Southern funds came from unbacked paper money. The problems associated with this are clear to see: prices rose 100-fold over the four years of war, wiping out southerners' savings, and devastating the economy. The government's reaction to this, the third mistake, was to impress public goods for military use. However, rather than curbing inflation, this merely acted as a disincentive to supply, making essential items increasingly scarce. This, coupled with the poor infrastructure and parochialism of some State governors, meant that the army went hungry in a nation with the capacity to produce plenty of food. Finally, it is argued that the Confederate government should have done more to improve infrastructure and…