Why the North Won the American Civil War Essay

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Why the North Won the American Civil War

Union officer William Tecumseh Sherman observed to a Southern friend that, "In all history, no nation of mere agriculturists ever made successful war against a nation of mechanics. . . .You are bound to fail." While Sherman's statement proved to be correct, its flaw is in its assumption of a decided victory for the North and failure to account for the long years of difficult fighting it took the Union to secure victory. Unquestionably, the war was won and lost on the battlefield, but there were many factors that swayed the war effort in favor of the North and impeded the South's ability to stage a successful campaign.
The advantages of the Union going into the war are numerous. The system of
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With no navy to mount a defense, the Southern government was forced to control production of cotton and raise taxes, which only furthered the disillusionment of its population (Perman, 224). Poor Southerners in particular began to see the war as benefiting a section of society that did not include them, as they were not slave owners. They were the very people forced to make the most sacrifices for the war and the government's control of their ability to produce led to bread riots (Perman, 219). Moreover, as enlistment numbers in the Confederate army dwindled, the government had no option but to turn to forced conscription and impressments of slaves, which Southerners viewed as the impounding of personal property (Perman, 221). The realities of war created a conflict that Southerners did not foresee when they had created an aloof central government.
Furthermore, the South had little preexisting industry and lacked an infrastructure for dispersing goods (Perman, 14). From an early point in the war the Union army cut off railways and blockaded Southern ports, and roads in the South were primitive. Farmers were forced to contend with government controls on production and marauding thieves who would take whatever they could from them. With no means of transporting goods and no slave labor, Southerners could barely produce enough to feed their families and even if they were…