Discussion:
SHWI Debate: American Civil War Probable Results
(too old to reply)
Robert A. Woodward
2005-11-12 07:51:29 UTC
Permalink
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.

Starting, say, May 1, 1861, there should be a range of possible
results of the American Civil War. At one end of the spectrum, we
find CSA victory; at the other end, we find the CSA collapsing
before the end of 1861 (e.g., Battle of Bull Run is a complete CSA
disaster, a train used in the panic evacuation of Richmond derails
and kills Jefferson Davis and others, etc.). Assuming the results
form a bell curve, with very low probability results on both ends,
and more probable (or perhaps many similar results) forming a bulge
in the middle, where on this curve would we find the transition
between CSA victory and defeat? And where on it would the actual
historical result be?

It is my belief that CSA victory is a low probability. One way that
it could win would be a knock out blow (which means capturing
Lincoln, not just the city of Washington). The most obvious (and
perhaps the only real) chance at a knockout is organizing a
successful pursuit immediately after 1st Bull Run (which probably
means that the battle is a quicker win for CSA than in OTL). A
pursuit that carries all the way into the District of Columbia.
After the fortress ring was built around Washington, the knockout
blow should be impossible. The city would have to be taken by siege
and I don't think the CSA could do it.

The CSA leadership had great hopes of European intervention. I see
this as mostly wishful thinking on their part. While the UK had the
capability to intervene (though mobilizing enough ground troops to
make a difference would be a pain), there would have to be
considerable domestic opposition to helping a bunch of slave
owners. So, to balance the risks, what would it gain? The CSA as a
dedicated market? Those states already were.

On the other hand, the Trent affair had a chance to be dangerous.
However, I will note that even if it wasn't defused and the UK
attacked the USA, that if the UK limited itself to a several months
long spanking of the US Navy, it wouldn't be very useful to the CSA.

Without the knock out blow or a gift from Perfidious Albion, the
CSA must then win a long war. Considering the extensive material
disadvantages they faced without any countervailing advantages
(IMHO, the CSA generals were not better on average than the Union
ones and, because of the better cohesion of the northern rail
net[1], the CSA didn't enjoy effective interior lines either),
winning a long war straight up looks very unlikely. Thus a CSA
victory would require exhausting the Union's national will (or,
perhaps Lincoln's will) while avoiding final defeat, i.e., running
out the clock. Just how close were they to doing this before Davis
replaced J.E. Johnston with Hood? After the Republican victory in
the November 1864 elections, the clock appears to have at least two
more years on it.

How probable is a quicker Union victory? It did take them four
years to subdue the CSA; a long time compared to a number of
Napoleon's compaigns. OTOH, the physical scale of the conflict was
greater than any of Napoleon's compaigns (except possibly the
invasion of Russia, but he lost that). The only real comparisons
among conflicts before the ACW would be the Alexander's conquest of
the Persian Empire (larger area, but he needed a decade to do it),
the initial conquests of the Islamic caliphate (an ever larger
area, about a century), the Mongol conquests (much larger area, 2-3
generations), the conquistadors versus the Aztecs and Incas (one of
those really weird historical results), and the contemporary T'ai
P'ing rebellion in China (which, IIRC, controlled less area than
the CSA, but took more than a decade to be defeated).

There are ways for the Union to win faster. For example, if
McCellan had the stomach of an army commander, he would have
captured Richmond before J.E. Johnston and, later, Lee would
assemble the forces that would fight the Seven Days. Also, some
commentators believe that Atlanta was more important than complete
control of the Mississippi River; more effort advancing in that
direction would have resulted in an earlier capture of Atlanta.

And there are ways to delay the victory as well. Something as
simple as killing Grant off early for example. Or have someone
better than Bragg in command of the Army of Tennessee.

[1] For example, there is the saga of Longstreet's Corps
transferring from Virginia to the Chickamuga battlefield. Because
of a lack of direct connections (the one good route was cut off by
Union armies), it turned into a 9 day tour of the deep South. In
addition, the Union had a monopoly on sea movement as well. Rivers
weren't much help to the CSA either [2].

[2] Note that the Mississippi River, the Ohio river, and the
tributaries of the Ohio work for the Union since it controls the
choke point at Cairo, Illinois.
--
Robert Woodward <***@drizzle.com>
<http://www.drizzle.com/~robertaw>
douglas.hoffx@xgmail.com
2005-11-12 16:06:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
Starting, say, May 1, 1861, there should be a range of possible
results of the American Civil War. At one end of the spectrum, we
find CSA victory; at the other end, we find the CSA collapsing
before the end of 1861 (e.g., Battle of Bull Run is a complete CSA
disaster, a train used in the panic evacuation of Richmond derails
and kills Jefferson Davis and others, etc.). Assuming the results
form a bell curve, with very low probability results on both ends,
and more probable (or perhaps many similar results) forming a bulge
in the middle, where on this curve would we find the transition
between CSA victory and defeat? And where on it would the actual
historical result be?
It is my belief that CSA victory is a low probability. One way that
it could win would be a knock out blow (which means capturing
Lincoln, not just the city of Washington). The most obvious (and
perhaps the only real) chance at a knockout is organizing a
successful pursuit immediately after 1st Bull Run (which probably
means that the battle is a quicker win for CSA than in OTL). A
pursuit that carries all the way into the District of Columbia.
After the fortress ring was built around Washington, the knockout
blow should be impossible. The city would have to be taken by siege
and I don't think the CSA could do it.
I don't think the CSA could win via knockout blow. The capture of DC
and/or Lincoln does not end the Union war effort - Hamlin, the Cabinet
and the Congress can carry on the war from elsewhere. A terrible
morale hit to the Union, to be sure, but the material and moral
reserves are still there. I think the CSA is in for war throughout
Lincoln's first term and its only hope is the election of a Peace
(truce and negotiations on the basis of separation) or crypto-Peace
(truce and negotiations without preconditions) candidate in 1864. this
means breaking Union morale by fending off the Grant/Sherman offensives
in the west as effectively as they fended off the McClellan/etc
offensives in the East.

[snip unlikelihood of foreign intervention which I basically agree
with]
Post by Robert A. Woodward
Without the knock out blow or a gift from Perfidious Albion, the
CSA must then win a long war. Considering the extensive material
disadvantages they faced without any countervailing advantages
(IMHO, the CSA generals were not better on average than the Union
ones and, because of the better cohesion of the northern rail
net[1], the CSA didn't enjoy effective interior lines either),
winning a long war straight up looks very unlikely. Thus a CSA
victory would require exhausting the Union's national will (or,
perhaps Lincoln's will) while avoiding final defeat, i.e., running
out the clock. Just how close were they to doing this before Davis
replaced J.E. Johnston with Hood? After the Republican victory in
the November 1864 elections, the clock appears to have at least two
more years on it.
I don't think the Confederates even came close to running out the clock
in 1864. Lincoln won fairly handily and remember McClellan was a War
Democrat. so basically, the peace position was going to lose either
way & the Confederates had not come close to breaking Union morale to
the point where a major party was prepared to openly advocate disunion.
Although Lincoln thought losing the election would end the war effort,
I dont think that is a proven case.
Post by Robert A. Woodward
How probable is a quicker Union victory? It did take them four
years to subdue the CSA; a long time compared to a number of
Napoleon's compaigns.
I think the way it happened was fairly improbable - the idea that the
North, with its vastly superior reserves of manpower and materiel
should take 4 years to get to Appamattox seems unlikely. it is a lesson
that war is not just a materiel contest - without the ability to deploy
superior resources effectively, the advantage can be nullified.
Post by Robert A. Woodward
OTOH, the physical scale of the conflict was
greater than any of Napoleon's compaigns (except possibly the
invasion of Russia, but he lost that). The only real comparisons
among conflicts before the ACW would be the Alexander's conquest of
the Persian Empire (larger area, but he needed a decade to do it),
the initial conquests of the Islamic caliphate (an ever larger
area, about a century), the Mongol conquests (much larger area, 2-3
generations), the conquistadors versus the Aztecs and Incas (one of
those really weird historical results), and the contemporary T'ai
P'ing rebellion in China (which, IIRC, controlled less area than
the CSA, but took more than a decade to be defeated).
AFAIK, the actual enemy territory under control by the Union forces was
not vast at the end of the war. they had moved through a lot, but as
far as establishing actual control, I do believe much of that came
after Lee's surrender. (Texas, for example) the thing that held up the
Union war effort was not so much the physical size of the CSA, but the
Union's inability to break its armies in the main theater.

[snippagio]

Doug
prestorjon
2005-11-13 02:21:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I don't think the CSA could win via knockout blow. The capture of DC
and/or Lincoln does not end the Union war effort - Hamlin, the Cabinet
and the Congress can carry on the war from elsewhere. A terrible
morale hit to the Union, to be sure, but the material and moral
reserves are still there.
I think people here consistently underestimate the importance of moral
blows. While it's true that the US government COULD move elsewhere and
continue the war the question is WOULD they. Would the American people
really have the stomach for an all out war if the capitol got captured?
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I don't think the Confederates even came close to running out the clock
in 1864. Lincoln won fairly handily and remember McClellan was a War
Democrat. so basically, the peace position was going to lose either
way & the Confederates had not come close to breaking Union morale to
the point where a major party was prepared to openly advocate disunion.
Although Lincoln thought losing the election would end the war effort,
I dont think that is a proven case.
After the victories in late fall turned the war around and after they
made it easier for soldiers to vote. I'll stand by the assesment of
the politico's on the ground at the time. Lincoln was pessimistic
enough to be preparing himself for having to win the war before next
march.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I think the way it happened was fairly improbable - the idea that the
North, with its vastly superior reserves of manpower and materiel
should take 4 years to get to Appamattox seems unlikely. it is a lesson
that war is not just a materiel contest - without the ability to deploy
superior resources effectively, the advantage can be nullified.
I also think that people tend to underestimate how big a task the Union
actually faced in 1861.
douglas.hoffx@xgmail.com
2005-11-13 15:42:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by prestorjon
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I don't think the CSA could win via knockout blow. The capture of DC
and/or Lincoln does not end the Union war effort - Hamlin, the Cabinet
and the Congress can carry on the war from elsewhere. A terrible
morale hit to the Union, to be sure, but the material and moral
reserves are still there.
I think people here consistently underestimate the importance of moral
blows. While it's true that the US government COULD move elsewhere and
continue the war the question is WOULD they. Would the American people
really have the stomach for an all out war if the capitol got captured?
as was noted downthread, the Union suffered great setbacks OTL and kept
increasing the war effort. the capture of the capitol is more
dramatic, but is not a knock-out blow to morale. note that the US did
not surrender during the War of 1812 after the British burned the
capitol.
Post by prestorjon
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I don't think the Confederates even came close to running out the clock
in 1864. Lincoln won fairly handily and remember McClellan was a War
Democrat. so basically, the peace position was going to lose either
way & the Confederates had not come close to breaking Union morale to
the point where a major party was prepared to openly advocate disunion.
Although Lincoln thought losing the election would end the war effort,
I dont think that is a proven case.
After the victories in late fall turned the war around and after they
made it easier for soldiers to vote. I'll stand by the assesment of
the politico's on the ground at the time. Lincoln was pessimistic
enough to be preparing himself for having to win the war before next
march.
I have the distinct feeling that Ol' Abe, in saying that a Democratic
administration couldn't continue the war, overestimated the strength of
the Peace faction in the Democratic Party. I think it would be
_harder_ for a Democratic president to win the war, given the divisions
within the party, but I don't see it as a done deal. And reversing the
EP would be a terrible thing for the Union war effort.
Post by prestorjon
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I think the way it happened was fairly improbable - the idea that the
North, with its vastly superior reserves of manpower and materiel
should take 4 years to get to Appamattox seems unlikely. it is a lesson
that war is not just a materiel contest - without the ability to deploy
superior resources effectively, the advantage can be nullified.
I also think that people tend to underestimate how big a task the Union
actually faced in 1861.
Oh, I am not saying that the Union should have necessarily conquered
the whole CSA a lot quicker, but they couldn't even take Richmond and
whip one smaller rebel army for several years. given competent Union
commanders from the outset, the US forces take Richmond by mid-1862,
with the Confederate government fleeing back to Mongomery. The
remainder of the war is the closing of the ring.

Doug
Mike Ralls
2005-11-13 20:25:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
whip one smaller rebel army for several years. given competent Union
commanders from the outset, the US forces take Richmond by mid-1862,
with the Confederate government fleeing back to Mongomery. The
remainder of the war is the closing of the ring.
I've been toying with a "Quick ACW" TL for a while now. I was thinking
of having my POD be Connecticut-born Nathaniel Lyon not dieing at the
Battle of Wilson Creek.

Who's Nathaniel Lyon you ask? Well during the twelve weeks before he
was killed Nathaniel went from a captain commanding the federal troops
at the St. Louis Arsenal to a brigadier general (!) commanding the
federal troops in Missouri. That's a pretty incredible achievement and
I was thinking of having him be one of those natural genius for war. He
keeps advancing in the ranks at the same pace and ends up in control of
the Army of the Potomac in either late '61 or early '62 after which he
quickly captures Richmond. The CSA government flees, Lincoln orders the
Emancipation Proclamation if the CSA doesn't surrender. Jefferson
refuses so the war continues another year in which the slave-powers of
the South are crushed, but without as much physical damage as OTL.

End result is an end to slavery and a re-united Union in 1863 at the
cost of "only" 200,000 dead. How would greatly reduced casualties
(about 1/3rd of OTL), much less physical destruction, and a Lincoln that
serves until 1869, affect how America developed over the next generation?

--
Mike Ralls
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-13 20:40:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Ralls
Post by ***@xgmail.com
whip one smaller rebel army for several years. given competent Union
commanders from the outset, the US forces take Richmond by mid-1862,
with the Confederate government fleeing back to Mongomery. The
remainder of the war is the closing of the ring.
I've been toying with a "Quick ACW" TL for a while now. I was thinking
of having my POD be Connecticut-born Nathaniel Lyon not dieing at the
Battle of Wilson Creek.
Who's Nathaniel Lyon you ask? Well during the twelve weeks before he
was killed Nathaniel went from a captain commanding the federal troops
at the St. Louis Arsenal to a brigadier general (!) commanding the
federal troops in Missouri. That's a pretty incredible achievement and
I was thinking of having him be one of those natural genius for war. He
keeps advancing in the ranks at the same pace and ends up in control of
the Army of the Potomac in either late '61 or early '62 after which he
quickly captures Richmond. The CSA government flees, Lincoln orders the
Emancipation Proclamation if the CSA doesn't surrender. Jefferson
refuses so the war continues another year in which the slave-powers of
the South are crushed, but without as much physical damage as OTL.
End result is an end to slavery and a re-united Union in 1863 at the
cost of "only" 200,000 dead. How would greatly reduced casualties
(about 1/3rd of OTL), much less physical destruction, and a Lincoln that
serves until 1869, affect how America developed over the next generation?
--
Mike Ralls
The guerilla option is one that would appeal to the Nathan Bedford
Forrests of the South but not to the gentry that formed the government
and the commands in the army. Clauswitz and Jomini the paper gods of
the military on both sides decried the wastefulness and inefficiency of
the guerilla. But think what 10-12 years of bounties on the heads of
"patriots" and the kind of retribution warfare conducted in Missouri
carried out on a 12 state theater would have done for the future of the
United States.
Dilbert Firestorm
2005-11-14 02:35:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jack Linthicum
Post by Mike Ralls
Post by ***@xgmail.com
whip one smaller rebel army for several years. given competent Union
commanders from the outset, the US forces take Richmond by mid-1862,
with the Confederate government fleeing back to Mongomery. The
remainder of the war is the closing of the ring.
I've been toying with a "Quick ACW" TL for a while now. I was thinking
of having my POD be Connecticut-born Nathaniel Lyon not dieing at the
Battle of Wilson Creek.
Who's Nathaniel Lyon you ask? Well during the twelve weeks before he
was killed Nathaniel went from a captain commanding the federal troops
at the St. Louis Arsenal to a brigadier general (!) commanding the
federal troops in Missouri. That's a pretty incredible achievement and
I was thinking of having him be one of those natural genius for war. He
keeps advancing in the ranks at the same pace and ends up in control of
the Army of the Potomac in either late '61 or early '62 after which he
quickly captures Richmond. The CSA government flees, Lincoln orders the
Emancipation Proclamation if the CSA doesn't surrender. Jefferson
refuses so the war continues another year in which the slave-powers of
the South are crushed, but without as much physical damage as OTL.
End result is an end to slavery and a re-united Union in 1863 at the
cost of "only" 200,000 dead. How would greatly reduced casualties
(about 1/3rd of OTL), much less physical destruction, and a Lincoln that
serves until 1869, affect how America developed over the next generation?
--
Mike Ralls
The guerilla option is one that would appeal to the Nathan Bedford
Forrests of the South but not to the gentry that formed the government
and the commands in the army. Clauswitz and Jomini the paper gods of
the military on both sides decried the wastefulness and inefficiency of
the guerilla. But think what 10-12 years of bounties on the heads of
"patriots" and the kind of retribution warfare conducted in Missouri
carried out on a 12 state theater would have done for the future of the
United States.
I believe Gen. Longstreet was doing something similar with the hit & run
tactics that so frustrated Grant & Sherman.
Mike Stone
2005-11-14 13:36:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jack Linthicum
The guerilla option is one that would appeal to the Nathan Bedford
Forrests of the South but not to the gentry that formed the government
and the commands in the army. Clauswitz and Jomini the paper gods of
the military on both sides decried the wastefulness and inefficiency of
the guerilla. But think what 10-12 years of bounties on the heads of
"patriots" and the kind of retribution warfare conducted in Missouri
carried out on a 12 state theater would have done for the future of the
United States.
It certainly _could_ have been damaging, but that isn't inevitable.

The Boer War was a guerilla war for most of the last two years, and that
phase of it got very ugly at times. Yet in less than a decade,
reconcilication had reached the point where former Boer commandos like Smuts
and Botha were running S Africa as a British dominion, and the
irreconcilables like De Wet were pretty well marginalised. While of course
America needn't automatically follow the same path, this suggests to me that
the guerilla option doesn't _have_ to be as catastrophic as some writers on
the ACW have assumed. I get the impression that when (for whatever reason)
people _want_ to be reconciled, or feel they need to, they can manage it in
the most unpromising circumstances.


--


Mike Stone - Peterborough, England

European Ideal:
Italian cook, English policeman, German engineer, French lover
Everything organised by the Swiss.

European reality:
English cook, German policeman, French engineer, Swiss lover
Everything organised by the Italians.
Nicholas Smid
2005-11-19 09:43:09 UTC
Permalink
(snip)
Post by Jack Linthicum
The guerilla option is one that would appeal to the Nathan Bedford
Forrests of the South but not to the gentry that formed the government
and the commands in the army. Clauswitz and Jomini the paper gods of
the military on both sides decried the wastefulness and inefficiency of
the guerilla. But think what 10-12 years of bounties on the heads of
"patriots" and the kind of retribution warfare conducted in Missouri
carried out on a 12 state theater would have done for the future of the
United States.
The most likely outcome of such a war would be that after a year or so the
Union army gets sick of being shot at and the gloves come off big time. Also
they rase alot of Black militia units locally, since I expect the newly
freed slaves would be copping it big time from the, ah, 'Patriots' officers
picked from the more radical end of the abolisionist movement and basically
a hunting licence, alot of men with guns and generations of scores to
settle, if I was a white southerner I'd head west as fast as I could get my
family on a wagon.
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-19 11:20:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tzintzuntzan
(snip)
Post by Jack Linthicum
The guerilla option is one that would appeal to the Nathan Bedford
Forrests of the South but not to the gentry that formed the government
and the commands in the army. Clauswitz and Jomini the paper gods of
the military on both sides decried the wastefulness and inefficiency of
the guerilla. But think what 10-12 years of bounties on the heads of
"patriots" and the kind of retribution warfare conducted in Missouri
carried out on a 12 state theater would have done for the future of the
United States.
The most likely outcome of such a war would be that after a year or so the
Union army gets sick of being shot at and the gloves come off big time. Also
they rase alot of Black militia units locally, since I expect the newly
freed slaves would be copping it big time from the, ah, 'Patriots' officers
picked from the more radical end of the abolisionist movement and basically
a hunting licence, alot of men with guns and generations of scores to
settle, if I was a white southerner I'd head west as fast as I could get my
family on a wagon.
For anyone who would like to know what an American guerilla war was
like in this time try Michael Fellman's Inside War: The Guerilla
Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War. Those families in
wagons would have gotten as far as the first checkpoint before all of
their goods were confiscated, the men shot, and the women raped
"Chapter 5 Women as Victims and Participants".
Mike Stone
2005-11-19 11:33:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tzintzuntzan
(snip)
Post by Jack Linthicum
The guerilla option is one that would appeal to the Nathan Bedford
Forrests of the South but not to the gentry that formed the government
and the commands in the army. Clauswitz and Jomini the paper gods of
the military on both sides decried the wastefulness and inefficiency of
the guerilla. But think what 10-12 years of bounties on the heads of
"patriots" and the kind of retribution warfare conducted in Missouri
carried out on a 12 state theater would have done for the future of the
United States.
The most likely outcome of such a war would be that after a year or so the
Union army gets sick of being shot at and the gloves come off big time. Also
they rase alot of Black militia units locally, since I expect the newly
freed slaves would be copping it big time from the, ah, 'Patriots' officers
picked from the more radical end of the abolisionist movement and basically
a hunting licence, alot of men with guns and generations of scores to
settle, if I was a white southerner I'd head west as fast as I could get my
family on a wagon.
Why?

If a white Southerner is willing to do that (ie settle in a Territory still
under US rule) then presumably he is willing to give up on independence -
indeed, implicitly he _has_ done so. In which case, what stops him and those
like him making terms with the North, agreeing to reaccept the Union in
return for no Black suffrage and a rather minimalist interpretation of Black
freedom - sort of an American "Treaty of Vereeniging"?

This, I suspect, was in the back of Lee's mind when he dismissed the notion
of guerrilla warfare in 1865. It would be unpleasant, and would _still_
probably end in the South having to accept reunion. So why not accept that
now and confine further violence, if any, to the precise _terms_ of that
reunion?


--


Mike Stone - Peterborough, England

"To be good is noble.

To teach others to be good is yet nobler - and far less trouble."

Mark Twain
Kris Overstreet
2005-11-17 00:26:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Ralls
I've been toying with a "Quick ACW" TL for a while now. I was thinking
of having my POD be Connecticut-born Nathaniel Lyon not dieing at the
Battle of Wilson Creek.
Who's Nathaniel Lyon you ask? Well during the twelve weeks before he
was killed Nathaniel went from a captain commanding the federal troops
at the St. Louis Arsenal to a brigadier general (!) commanding the
federal troops in Missouri. That's a pretty incredible achievement and
I was thinking of having him be one of those natural genius for war.
Er... Lyon got killed at Wilson's Creek for a REASON.

Lyon had three notable attributes: (1) he was a rabid abolitionist;
(2) he was utterly ruthless; and (3) he was a military idiot.

Redneck
Mike Ralls
2005-11-18 20:18:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kris Overstreet
Er... Lyon got killed at Wilson's Creek for a REASON.
Lyon had three notable attributes: (1) he was a rabid abolitionist;
(2) he was utterly ruthless; and (3) he was a military idiot.
How'd he go from a captain to a brigadier general that quickly then?
And what are some examples of his stupid military decisions?

--
Mike Ralls
Kris Overstreet
2005-11-20 17:09:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Ralls
Post by Kris Overstreet
Er... Lyon got killed at Wilson's Creek for a REASON.
Lyon had three notable attributes: (1) he was a rabid abolitionist;
(2) he was utterly ruthless; and (3) he was a military idiot.
How'd he go from a captain to a brigadier general that quickly then?
He went from captain to brigadier general because he was a captain in
the -regular Army.- A lot of regular army captains and even
lieutenants became brigadier generals in the volunteer service in
1861.

More importantly, Captain Nathaniel Lyon took it upon his own
authority to arrest en masse several hundred pro-Southern militiamen
gathered just outside St. Louis. He held Missouri in the Union through
naked brute force, thereby antagonizing a number of people- most
notably Sterling Price- who had had some Unionist leanings at the
time. Since he had already acted to take control of the situation,
Lyon was promoted to brigadier by Lincoln, who had to promote
-somebody-.
Post by Mike Ralls
And what are some examples of his stupid military decisions?
They center mostly on the one actual stand-up battle he fought-
Wilson's Creek, the battle which killed him.

First: pursuing an army nearly twice the size of his own over 200
miles from his own base of supply.

Second: attacking with 90-day militiamen about to reach the end of
their enlistment.

Third: not doing basic scouting of the enemy position. (This would
have revealed that Price had been reinforced by Ben McCulloch's army
of over 5,000 men, giving Price nearly a 3-1 advantage in manpower.)

Fourth: dividing his force in the presence of a superior enemy. (The
fact that his flanking force was commanded by Franz Siegel can be
excused; at that point he had not gained his reputation as one of the
worst Union generals of the war.)

Any one, or even two, of these decisions could have been turned into
genius, as Lee and Grant proved themselves on certain occasions. Lyon,
however, compounded one error atop another, setting himself up for
disaster.

(Another error was Lyon's decision to parade captive Missouri
militiamen through St. Louis after his capture of Camp Jackson in May
1861. The parade triggered murderous riots that lasted for days.)

Redneck
Rich Rostrom
2005-11-23 00:43:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kris Overstreet
Second: attacking with 90-day militiamen about to reach the end of
their enlistment.
Some of those 90-day troops had passed the end of
their enlistments; one Iowa regiment agreed to
stick aroung because the general was going to have
a fight.
--
| The shocking lack of a fleet of modern luxury |
| dirigibles is only one of a great many things that |
| are seriously wrong with this here world. |
| -- blogger "Coop" at Positive Ape Index |
Wesley Taylor
2005-11-13 05:19:09 UTC
Permalink
I agree that a knockout blow is very unlikely. The Union response to
most of the disasters of 1861-3 tends to point to a response of
redoubling of efforts in that era. The CSA would have needed to create
an uninterupted string of disasters covering several years to create
such a response.

As for intervention, that was clearly not going to happen without the
Union accepting the spit. The debates in the British government make
this clear.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Robert A. Woodward
How probable is a quicker Union victory? It did take them four
years to subdue the CSA; a long time compared to a number of
Napoleon's compaigns.
I think the way it happened was fairly improbable - the idea that the
North, with its vastly superior reserves of manpower and materiel
should take 4 years to get to Appamattox seems unlikely. it is a lesson
that war is not just a materiel contest - without the ability to deploy
superior resources effectively, the advantage can be nullified.
Several early battles could have gone the other way and greatly
accellerated the demise of the CSA. Chancellorsville is a prime
example. A Union victory there could have lead to the fall of Richmond
in 1863. The Penninsula Campaign is another nexus of alternates mostly
stemming from the possibility of teh Union actually attacking
aggressively at some point. The fall of Richmond in 1862 was a real
possibility.

What happens after the fall of Richmond is problematic. If the CSA
government survives, where does it go. And so on.
Robert A. Woodward
2005-11-13 08:09:26 UTC
Permalink
In article
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
<snip>
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Robert A. Woodward
It is my belief that CSA victory is a low probability. One way that
it could win would be a knock out blow (which means capturing
Lincoln, not just the city of Washington). The most obvious (and
perhaps the only real) chance at a knockout is organizing a
successful pursuit immediately after 1st Bull Run (which probably
means that the battle is a quicker win for CSA than in OTL). A
pursuit that carries all the way into the District of Columbia.
After the fortress ring was built around Washington, the knockout
blow should be impossible. The city would have to be taken by siege
and I don't think the CSA could do it.
I don't think the CSA could win via knockout blow. The capture of DC
and/or Lincoln does not end the Union war effort - Hamlin, the Cabinet
and the Congress can carry on the war from elsewhere. A terrible
morale hit to the Union, to be sure, but the material and moral
reserves are still there.
I was thinking that much of the cabinet was captured with
Washington DC. Lincoln on the loose can reconstitute an executive.
Hamlin could try, but I was wondering how far he could go if
Lincoln was still alive, but a prisoner. With both and most of the
cabinet in CSA hands, who is going to be the focus of the
government? If Congress was in session, much of it is captured as
well. If not in session, it will take weeks to assemble them
somewhere.
--
Robert Woodward <***@drizzle.com>
<http://www.drizzle.com/~robertaw>
Mike Stone
2005-11-13 09:22:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert A. Woodward
In article
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Robert A. Woodward
It is my belief that CSA victory is a low probability. One way that
it could win would be a knock out blow (which means capturing
Lincoln, not just the city of Washington). The most obvious (and
perhaps the only real) chance at a knockout is organizing a
successful pursuit immediately after 1st Bull Run (which probably
means that the battle is a quicker win for CSA than in OTL). A
pursuit that carries all the way into the District of Columbia.
After the fortress ring was built around Washington, the knockout
blow should be impossible. The city would have to be taken by siege
and I don't think the CSA could do it.
Trouble is, they couldn't just march directly into DC. The Potomac is wide
at that point, and the small number of bridges easy to defend. They could
cause trouble by bringing up artillery and firing across the river, but
while that would do damage it wouldn't cause the city to fall.

The only way to attack Washington would be from the landward side, after
crossing the Potomac higher up - say around Harpers Ferry, as Lee did after
_Second_ Manassas. But this would take a lot longer, and give the Federals
plenty of time to pull themselves together. Even if the city did fall,
Lincoln, Congress etc would ahve plenty of opportunity to get away. It would
have been like when the capital fell to the British in 1814 - annoying and
humiliating, but not much more - and almost certainly _very_ temporary.
Post by Robert A. Woodward
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I don't think the CSA could win via knockout blow. The capture of DC
and/or Lincoln does not end the Union war effort - Hamlin, the Cabinet
and the Congress can carry on the war from elsewhere. A terrible
morale hit to the Union, to be sure, but the material and moral
reserves are still there.
I was thinking that much of the cabinet was captured with
Washington DC. Lincoln on the loose can reconstitute an executive.
Hamlin could try, but I was wondering how far he could go if
Lincoln was still alive, but a prisoner. With both and most of the
cabinet in CSA hands, who is going to be the focus of the
government? If Congress was in session, much of it is captured as
well. If not in session, it will take weeks to assemble them
somewhere.
Congress was in session at the time of First Bull Run, but as discussed
above it would have ample time to get away. The only Congressmen likely to
be captured were those morons who had ridden out to the battlefield to wath
the "sport". I don't recall offhand who those were, but am inclined to doubt
whether they'd be any great loss to the Union. <g>

The best chance for capturing Lincoln would imho have been in _April_, had
the Maryland secessionists been more effective and managed, perhaps with
Virginian help, to grab the city before northern troops could arrive. But at
that time Congress was _not_ in session, having dispersed in March after
counting the electoral votes. The new one did not meet until July 4.

I don't know where Hamlin was at the time, but if he were taken with
Lincoln, then the President of the Senate, Solomon Foot of Vermont, would
be almost certain to claim the Acting Presidency. Anyone know anything about
him?
--


Mike Stone - Peterborough, England

European Ideal:
Italian cook, English policeman, German engineer, French lover
Everything organised by the Swiss.

European reality:
English cook, German policeman, French engineer, Swiss lover
Everything organised by the Italians.
Mike Ralls
2005-11-13 20:13:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I think the way it happened was fairly improbable - the idea that the
North, with its vastly superior reserves of manpower and materiel
should take 4 years to get to Appamattox seems unlikely.
So what is the "seven" [1] result? That is, given the starting
conditions in 1861 how long ~should~ the ACW last?

[1] If you roll two dice, the number you are most likely to get is 7,
although it is vastly more probable that you'll get any other number BUT
seven because the combined odds of a more unlikely number are greater
than the odds for the highest probability number.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
AFAIK, the actual enemy territory under control by the Union forces was
not vast at the end of the war. they had moved through a lot, but as
far as establishing actual control, I do believe much of that came
after Lee's surrender. (Texas, for example) the thing that held up the
Union war effort was not so much the physical size of the CSA, but the
Union's inability to break its armies in the main theater.
This would seem to suggest that having four long years of brutal war in
which very large numbers of white southern men died produced the
condition in which they would more readily lay down their arms and
accept the loss. A quick defeat in the East results in more guerrilla
attacks?

--
Mike Ralls
douglas.hoffx@xgmail.com
2005-11-13 23:40:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Ralls
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I think the way it happened was fairly improbable - the idea that the
North, with its vastly superior reserves of manpower and materiel
should take 4 years to get to Appamattox seems unlikely.
So what is the "seven" [1] result? That is, given the starting
conditions in 1861 how long ~should~ the ACW last?
[1] If you roll two dice, the number you are most likely to get is 7,
although it is vastly more probable that you'll get any other number BUT
seven because the combined odds of a more unlikely number are greater
than the odds for the highest probability number.
top of my head, and given the following:

(1) the Union has superior industrial and transportation resources and
a much larger population from which to draw troops;

(2) a significant % of the South's political and industrial
infrastructure is within fairly close proximity to the main Union
staging area (northern VA)

(3) outside the main theater of combat, the river systems of the west
provide a natural highway for invading armies and their logistical
tails; and

(4) a significant % of the Southern population can be counted on to be
friendly to an invading army (slaves, back-country Unionists),
assisting in operations against guerillas who would harass Union supply
trains.

counterbalance it with the natural problems of organizing and equipping
a large army for a country that never really had one before and made no
pre-war prepation for it. I would say that the "seven" outcome is that
the war is over by late 1863, given leadership of the Grant/Sherman
quality from the get-go.
Post by Mike Ralls
Post by ***@xgmail.com
AFAIK, the actual enemy territory under control by the Union forces was
not vast at the end of the war. they had moved through a lot, but as
far as establishing actual control, I do believe much of that came
after Lee's surrender. (Texas, for example) the thing that held up the
Union war effort was not so much the physical size of the CSA, but the
Union's inability to break its armies in the main theater.
This would seem to suggest that having four long years of brutal war in
which very large numbers of white southern men died produced the
condition in which they would more readily lay down their arms and
accept the loss. A quick defeat in the East results in more guerrilla
attacks?
dunno. I think a quick defeat in the East, followed by the Richmond
govt fleeing, would probably be followed by the formation of more
conventional armies to parry the Union advance deep into the interior
of the CSA. there would probably be guerilla raids against Union
supply lines, but as was noted elsewhere in the thread, Jomini and
Clauswitz were the ruling authorities here.

I do think that if the Union advance became inexorable through
alt1862-63 - city after city falls to Union forces, and Confederate
armies are repeatedly rebuffed in their attempts to stop the Union
advance - defeat may be seen as inevitable, and the chronic deserters
in the Confederate forces may decide to stay home rather than come back
to the colors.

the thing about OTL is that for years Union armies were beaten and
retreated North. thus, the terrible sacrifices that Confederate
soldiers made had immediate payoffs for their side, and under such
circumstances it would be easy to imagine a day in which the Union just
decides not to send the armies south again.

with Grant, even when the Union forces are beaten back, they stay in
the field, regroup and start moving again. In such a context, it is
tougher to see massive Confederate casualties as being worthwhile, and
easier to see demoralization setting in.

Doug
Tzintzuntzan
2005-11-17 01:47:40 UTC
Permalink
***@xgmail.com wrote:

I would say that the "seven" outcome is that
Post by ***@xgmail.com
the war is over by late 1863, given leadership of the Grant/Sherman
quality from the get-go.
I don't think Grant/Sherman quality is likely from the start. After
all,
this was an era when the POTUS was _expected_ to appoint old
friends and cronies to top military posts as a matter of loyalty, and
to give all the rest for political reasons. And when the volunteer
companies were allowed to elect their officers. Not to mention
troops being tied down for Indian duty.

Of course, all this applies to the CSA as well, which is why
Lee and Forrest were wasted until 1862 and dimwits like
Gideon Pillow commanded in the West. It all cancels out,
except that mistakes hurt the offense more.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Mike Ralls
This would seem to suggest that having four long years of brutal war in
which very large numbers of white southern men died produced the
condition in which they would more readily lay down their arms and
accept the loss. A quick defeat in the East results in more guerrilla
attacks?
dunno. I think a quick defeat in the East, followed by the Richmond
govt fleeing, would probably be followed by the formation of more
conventional armies to parry the Union advance deep into the interior
of the CSA. there would probably be guerilla raids against Union
supply lines, but as was noted elsewhere in the thread, Jomini and
Clauswitz were the ruling authorities here.
Well, there was a lot of guerilla warfare OTL, but only as a
secondary tactic. I doubt the CSA would try it as the main
strategy, simply because guerilla warfare is for those who
don't mind losing all their property in the war. A guerilla
strategy would mean the destruction of every plantation
and the escape or death of most slaves, and why do that
unless it's already happened?

Of course, there was some post-ACW guerilla warfare in
the South for precisely this reason, although it was often
mixed up with settling old grudges (Hatfields and McCoys,
the James gang...)
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I do think that if the Union advance became inexorable through
alt1862-63 - city after city falls to Union forces, and Confederate
armies are repeatedly rebuffed in their attempts to stop the Union
advance - defeat may be seen as inevitable, and the chronic deserters
in the Confederate forces may decide to stay home rather than come back
to the colors.
I'm confused here -- when did "chronic deserters" from the CSA army
ever come back to the colors in OTL?
douglas.hoffx@xgmail.com
2005-11-17 02:54:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I would say that the "seven" outcome is that
Post by ***@xgmail.com
the war is over by late 1863, given leadership of the Grant/Sherman
quality from the get-go.
I don't think Grant/Sherman quality is likely from the start. After
all,
this was an era when the POTUS was _expected_ to appoint old
friends and cronies to top military posts as a matter of loyalty, and
to give all the rest for political reasons. And when the volunteer
companies were allowed to elect their officers. Not to mention
troops being tied down for Indian duty.
well, I was unaware that the top generals in the OTL eastern theater
were Lincoln cronies ...

<BOP OFF>

"Doing a heck of a job, Little Macky!"

<BOP ON>
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Of course, all this applies to the CSA as well, which is why
Lee and Forrest were wasted until 1862 and dimwits like
Gideon Pillow commanded in the West. It all cancels out,
except that mistakes hurt the offense more.
and I would say that the offensive is just tougher for amateur armies
to manage, generally. so if the Union and Confeds are "all green
together" the Confeds are going to have the advantage since they can
stay on the defensive.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Mike Ralls
This would seem to suggest that having four long years of brutal war in
which very large numbers of white southern men died produced the
condition in which they would more readily lay down their arms and
accept the loss. A quick defeat in the East results in more guerrilla
attacks?
dunno. I think a quick defeat in the East, followed by the Richmond
govt fleeing, would probably be followed by the formation of more
conventional armies to parry the Union advance deep into the interior
of the CSA. there would probably be guerilla raids against Union
supply lines, but as was noted elsewhere in the thread, Jomini and
Clauswitz were the ruling authorities here.
Well, there was a lot of guerilla warfare OTL, but only as a
secondary tactic. I doubt the CSA would try it as the main
strategy, simply because guerilla warfare is for those who
don't mind losing all their property in the war. A guerilla
strategy would mean the destruction of every plantation
and the escape or death of most slaves, and why do that
unless it's already happened?
one could ask that of any scorched earth policy, but it does happen.
and I can only see it as a secondary strategy, too.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I do think that if the Union advance became inexorable through
alt1862-63 - city after city falls to Union forces, and Confederate
armies are repeatedly rebuffed in their attempts to stop the Union
advance - defeat may be seen as inevitable, and the chronic deserters
in the Confederate forces may decide to stay home rather than come back
to the colors.
I'm confused here -- when did "chronic deserters" from the CSA army
ever come back to the colors in OTL?
AFAIK, a lot of the desertion problem in the Confederate forces is
attributed to men who went AWOL for various reasons, but came back. at
least until the end, then many simply voted with their feet.

Doug
Tzintzuntzan
2005-11-17 03:30:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I would say that the "seven" outcome is that
Post by ***@xgmail.com
the war is over by late 1863, given leadership of the Grant/Sherman
quality from the get-go.
I don't think Grant/Sherman quality is likely from the start. After
all,
this was an era when the POTUS was _expected_ to appoint old
friends and cronies to top military posts as a matter of loyalty, and
to give all the rest for political reasons. And when the volunteer
companies were allowed to elect their officers. Not to mention
troops being tied down for Indian duty.
well, I was unaware that the top generals in the OTL eastern theater
were Lincoln cronies ...
I was thinking of something less extreme -- like the incompetent but
necessary-for-political-reasons generals (Ben Butler, Nathaniel
Banks), personal friends of Lincoln promoted to general (Banks
again), officers who couldn't serve in certain theaters unless they
got a friend-of-a-friend to ask Lincoln for it (George Crook), etc.
Again, just the spoils system, and not something created or
worsened by Lincoln (Davis was much worse about sticking his
personal peeves into appointments).

At the highest level, IIRC McClellan had worked with Lincoln
in his days as a railroad lawyer. But the two of them hadn't
liked each other much, so that doesn't count.

(snip)
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I do think that if the Union advance became inexorable through
alt1862-63 - city after city falls to Union forces, and Confederate
armies are repeatedly rebuffed in their attempts to stop the Union
advance - defeat may be seen as inevitable, and the chronic deserters
in the Confederate forces may decide to stay home rather than come back
to the colors.
I'm confused here -- when did "chronic deserters" from the CSA army
ever come back to the colors in OTL?
AFAIK, a lot of the desertion problem in the Confederate forces is
attributed to men who went AWOL for various reasons, but came back.
I've never heard that, but I can believe it. Although desertion
probably
helped the quality of CSA troops; the best ones stayed.

at
Post by ***@xgmail.com
least until the end, then many simply voted with their feet.
Anyone have statistics on desertion rates throughout the war?
(Were CSA records even kept reliably enough to know?)
Rich Rostrom
2005-11-17 22:17:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
well, I was unaware that the top generals in the OTL
eastern theater were Lincoln cronies ...
There's a chap in s.h.war.us-civil-war who claimed (and then
documented) the extent to which just about _every_ senior
officer in the Union army had and used political connections.
This included such apparently apolitical professionals as
Edwin V. Sumner.

Grant was sponsored by Rep. Elihu Washburne; Sherman had the
patronage of Sen. Ewing of Ohio; McClellan was a leading
supporter of Stephen Douglas; etc.
I was thinking of something less extreme -- like the incompetent but
necessary-for-political-reasons generals (Ben Butler, Nathaniel
Banks),
On both sides of the war and in all theaters, the ranks of
command up to the top were supplemented with men who had no
military background, but were prominent and well-regarded
for other reasons.

Many of them had militia commissions from state governments,
and moved into the national armies on that basis. Some were
out-and-out bunglers. Some were effective organizers (Butler
was a superb military administrator). Some were effective
field commanders (Sterling Price, "Black Jack" Logan, Samuel
Curtis). Some were merely adequate (Sickles, Breckinridge,
Barksdale, Fremont, Hampton, T.C. Hindman, Lew Wallace).

Neither government could afford to spurn such men - they
needed all the talent they could find. The handful of West
Pointers was not enough, and not all of them were useful.

There were very few who were both out-and-out incompetent
_and_ politically untouchable: Franz Sigel, maybe.
personal friends of Lincoln promoted to general (Banks
again), officers who couldn't serve in certain theaters unless they
got a friend-of-a-friend to ask Lincoln for it (George Crook), etc.
Again, just the spoils system, and not something created or
worsened by Lincoln (Davis was much worse about sticking his
personal peeves into appointments).
At the highest level, IIRC McClellan had worked with Lincoln
in his days as a railroad lawyer. But the two of them hadn't
liked each other much, so that doesn't count.
As mentioned above, McClellan was a Douglas partisan. He
provided a private train for a Douglas whistlestop campaign
in 1858 that mutated into the debates with Lincoln.
--
| The shocking lack of a fleet of modern luxury |
| dirigibles is only one of a great many things that |
| are seriously wrong with this here world. |
| -- blogger "Coop" at Positive Ape Index |
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-17 11:11:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I would say that the "seven" outcome is that
Post by ***@xgmail.com
the war is over by late 1863, given leadership of the Grant/Sherman
quality from the get-go.
I don't think Grant/Sherman quality is likely from the start. After
all,
this was an era when the POTUS was _expected_ to appoint old
friends and cronies to top military posts as a matter of loyalty, and
to give all the rest for political reasons. And when the volunteer
companies were allowed to elect their officers. Not to mention
troops being tied down for Indian duty.
well, I was unaware that the top generals in the OTL eastern theater
were Lincoln cronies ...
<BOP OFF>
"Doing a heck of a job, Little Macky!"
<BOP ON>
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Of course, all this applies to the CSA as well, which is why
Lee and Forrest were wasted until 1862 and dimwits like
Gideon Pillow commanded in the West. It all cancels out,
except that mistakes hurt the offense more.
and I would say that the offensive is just tougher for amateur armies
to manage, generally. so if the Union and Confeds are "all green
together" the Confeds are going to have the advantage since they can
stay on the defensive.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by Mike Ralls
This would seem to suggest that having four long years of brutal war in
which very large numbers of white southern men died produced the
condition in which they would more readily lay down their arms and
accept the loss. A quick defeat in the East results in more guerrilla
attacks?
dunno. I think a quick defeat in the East, followed by the Richmond
govt fleeing, would probably be followed by the formation of more
conventional armies to parry the Union advance deep into the interior
of the CSA. there would probably be guerilla raids against Union
supply lines, but as was noted elsewhere in the thread, Jomini and
Clauswitz were the ruling authorities here.
Well, there was a lot of guerilla warfare OTL, but only as a
secondary tactic. I doubt the CSA would try it as the main
strategy, simply because guerilla warfare is for those who
don't mind losing all their property in the war. A guerilla
strategy would mean the destruction of every plantation
and the escape or death of most slaves, and why do that
unless it's already happened?
one could ask that of any scorched earth policy, but it does happen.
and I can only see it as a secondary strategy, too.
Post by ***@xgmail.com
Post by ***@xgmail.com
I do think that if the Union advance became inexorable through
alt1862-63 - city after city falls to Union forces, and Confederate
armies are repeatedly rebuffed in their attempts to stop the Union
advance - defeat may be seen as inevitable, and the chronic deserters
in the Confederate forces may decide to stay home rather than come back
to the colors.
I'm confused here -- when did "chronic deserters" from the CSA army
ever come back to the colors in OTL?
AFAIK, a lot of the desertion problem in the Confederate forces is
attributed to men who went AWOL for various reasons, but came back. at
least until the end, then many simply voted with their feet.
Doug
My great-grandfather did that, from an Indiana regiment. He eventually
got in touch with another Indiana regiment but it cost his widow a big
hole in his pension.
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-12 16:20:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
Starting, say, May 1, 1861, there should be a range of possible
results of the American Civil War. At one end of the spectrum, we
find CSA victory; at the other end, we find the CSA collapsing
before the end of 1861 (e.g., Battle of Bull Run is a complete CSA
disaster, a train used in the panic evacuation of Richmond derails
and kills Jefferson Davis and others, etc.). Assuming the results
form a bell curve, with very low probability results on both ends,
and more probable (or perhaps many similar results) forming a bulge
in the middle, where on this curve would we find the transition
between CSA victory and defeat? And where on it would the actual
historical result be?
It is my belief that CSA victory is a low probability. One way that
it could win would be a knock out blow (which means capturing
Lincoln, not just the city of Washington). The most obvious (and
perhaps the only real) chance at a knockout is organizing a
successful pursuit immediately after 1st Bull Run (which probably
means that the battle is a quicker win for CSA than in OTL). A
pursuit that carries all the way into the District of Columbia.
After the fortress ring was built around Washington, the knockout
blow should be impossible. The city would have to be taken by siege
and I don't think the CSA could do it.
The CSA leadership had great hopes of European intervention. I see
this as mostly wishful thinking on their part. While the UK had the
capability to intervene (though mobilizing enough ground troops to
make a difference would be a pain), there would have to be
considerable domestic opposition to helping a bunch of slave
owners. So, to balance the risks, what would it gain? The CSA as a
dedicated market? Those states already were.
On the other hand, the Trent affair had a chance to be dangerous.
However, I will note that even if it wasn't defused and the UK
attacked the USA, that if the UK limited itself to a several months
long spanking of the US Navy, it wouldn't be very useful to the CSA.
Without the knock out blow or a gift from Perfidious Albion, the
CSA must then win a long war. Considering the extensive material
disadvantages they faced without any countervailing advantages
(IMHO, the CSA generals were not better on average than the Union
ones and, because of the better cohesion of the northern rail
net[1], the CSA didn't enjoy effective interior lines either),
winning a long war straight up looks very unlikely. Thus a CSA
victory would require exhausting the Union's national will (or,
perhaps Lincoln's will) while avoiding final defeat, i.e., running
out the clock. Just how close were they to doing this before Davis
replaced J.E. Johnston with Hood? After the Republican victory in
the November 1864 elections, the clock appears to have at least two
more years on it.
How probable is a quicker Union victory? It did take them four
years to subdue the CSA; a long time compared to a number of
Napoleon's compaigns. OTOH, the physical scale of the conflict was
greater than any of Napoleon's compaigns (except possibly the
invasion of Russia, but he lost that). The only real comparisons
among conflicts before the ACW would be the Alexander's conquest of
the Persian Empire (larger area, but he needed a decade to do it),
the initial conquests of the Islamic caliphate (an ever larger
area, about a century), the Mongol conquests (much larger area, 2-3
generations), the conquistadors versus the Aztecs and Incas (one of
those really weird historical results), and the contemporary T'ai
P'ing rebellion in China (which, IIRC, controlled less area than
the CSA, but took more than a decade to be defeated).
There are ways for the Union to win faster. For example, if
McCellan had the stomach of an army commander, he would have
captured Richmond before J.E. Johnston and, later, Lee would
assemble the forces that would fight the Seven Days. Also, some
commentators believe that Atlanta was more important than complete
control of the Mississippi River; more effort advancing in that
direction would have resulted in an earlier capture of Atlanta.
And there are ways to delay the victory as well. Something as
simple as killing Grant off early for example. Or have someone
better than Bragg in command of the Army of Tennessee.
[1] For example, there is the saga of Longstreet's Corps
transferring from Virginia to the Chickamuga battlefield. Because
of a lack of direct connections (the one good route was cut off by
Union armies), it turned into a 9 day tour of the deep South. In
addition, the Union had a monopoly on sea movement as well. Rivers
weren't much help to the CSA either [2].
[2] Note that the Mississippi River, the Ohio river, and the
tributaries of the Ohio work for the Union since it controls the
choke point at Cairo, Illinois.
--
<http://www.drizzle.com/~robertaw>
Offer several requirements for a quick CSA victory would be a more
certain victory at First Bull Run with at least a division in reserve
to take advantage of the Northern rout.

If the South had concentrated on being a nation instead of trying to
conquer the North they would have had better press with England and
France.

If anyone with a sense of victory rather than a fear of defeat had been
in command of the North in the earliest years then Richmond would have
been taken. The further consequences of this lie with whether the CSA
would go to a guerilla war or surrender.
I offer Missouri as an example of the former, what happened in 1865 as
an example of the latter.

Once the North severed the Mississippi and sent Lee back South in
defeat, July 1863, for all intents the war was over. None of the
leaders in the South were wise enough or brave enough to realize that
fact.
David Tenner
2005-11-12 19:29:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert A. Woodward
Thus a CSA
victory would require exhausting the Union's national will (or,
perhaps Lincoln's will) while avoiding final defeat, i.e., running
out the clock. Just how close were they to doing this before Davis
replaced J.E. Johnston with Hood? After the Republican victory in
the November 1864 elections, the clock appears to have at least two
more years on it.
On a couple of occasions, I have argued that the idea that the Confederacy
could have "run out the clock" if Johnston or Hood had held Atlanta is a
myth, because (1) even if this leads to the election of McClellan, he will
never accept peace without reunion, and (2) Lincoln could probably take
Richmond before McClellan is inaugurated. See

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/c517b640389a2ba2
http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/699e46267085ab61

In the latter post, I quote something by William W. Freehling which I
think needs to be emphasized time and again because it is relevant not
just to the ACW: "war weariness, by itself, seldom ends wars. Some
politically viable basis for terminating the combat must exist or
combatants will trudge on wearily, until one annihilates the other."
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Mike Stone
2005-11-12 20:32:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Tenner
Post by Robert A. Woodward
Thus a CSA
victory would require exhausting the Union's national will (or,
perhaps Lincoln's will) while avoiding final defeat, i.e., running
out the clock. Just how close were they to doing this before Davis
replaced J.E. Johnston with Hood? After the Republican victory in
the November 1864 elections, the clock appears to have at least two
more years on it.
On a couple of occasions, I have argued that the idea that the Confederacy
could have "run out the clock" if Johnston or Hood had held Atlanta is a
myth, because (1) even if this leads to the election of McClellan, he will
never accept peace without reunion, and (2) Lincoln could probably take
Richmond before McClellan is inaugurated. See
http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/c517b640389a2ba2
http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/699e46267085ab61
In the latter post, I quote something by William W. Freehling which I
think needs to be emphasized time and again because it is relevant not
just to the ACW: "war weariness, by itself, seldom ends wars. Some
politically viable basis for terminating the combat must exist or
combatants will trudge on wearily, until one annihilates the other."
Or to put it another way, it is difficult to arrange for just _one_ party
to get weary. This is something to which _both_ are prone, and the weaker
one is likely to get weary before the stronger.
--


Mike Stone - Peterborough, England

European Ideal:
Italian cook, English policeman, German engineer, French lover
Everything organised by the Swiss.

European reality:
English cook, German policeman, French engineer, Swiss lover
Everything organised by the Italians.
Ejucaided Redneck
2005-11-12 19:38:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
<snippage>

The only scenario I've ever heard that would make a Confederate victory
possible was actually presented to the government when it was still at
Montgomery, by Nathan Bedford Forrest, before he enlisted as a private
in the rebel army.

The south's natural borders, he argued, were easily defended: rivers,
mountains and ridges. Let Texas go, let Kentucky go --neither could be
easily defended-- and heavily fortify the borders. Wait for the north
to invade and inflict some heavy casualties. Afterward the Union
government and people would have no stomach to pursue the war any
further.

Mighta worked, might not've, but it's the nearest to a rational strategy
I've ever seen.

The pure and simple truth
is rarely pure and never
simple."
-- Oscar Wilde
--
http://www.bobsloansampler.com:
Fiction, poetry, essays, MP3s, radio & TV interviews
Chapter 1 of "Home Call: A Novel of Kentucky"
3 Stories from "Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories From Appalachia,"
& two new stories
And new photos
Latest Herald-Leader Column: http://tinyurl.com/adq7q
MISSING MOUNTAINS: http://www.windpub.com/books/missing.htm
Jordan Abel
2005-11-12 20:26:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ejucaided Redneck
The south's natural borders, he argued, were easily defended: rivers,
mountains and ridges. Let Texas go, let Kentucky go --neither could be
Eh? *looks at a map* Kentucky's northern border is a river. Tennessee's
northern border is a parallel.
Ejucaided Redneck
2005-11-13 10:02:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jordan Abel
Post by Ejucaided Redneck
The south's natural borders, he argued, were easily defended: rivers,
mountains and ridges. Let Texas go, let Kentucky go --neither could be
Eh? *looks at a map* Kentucky's northern border is a river. Tennessee's
northern border is a parallel.
Most of Kentucky was not pro-Confederate and it would have been
difficult to hold the state, even with the Ohio.

Tennessee's border may be a parallel, but in a great many areas it's a
very vertical parallel.

--
The Devil made me do it the first time.
Second time I done it on my own.
-- Billy Joe Shaver ("Black Rose")
--
http://www.bobsloansampler.com:
Fiction, poetry, essays, MP3s, radio & TV interviews
Chapter 1 of "Home Call: A Novel of Kentucky"
3 Stories from "Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories From Appalachia,"
& two new stories
And new photos
Latest Herald-Leader Column: http://tinyurl.com/adq7q
MISSING MOUNTAINS: http://www.windpub.com/books/missing.htm
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-13 11:50:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ejucaided Redneck
Post by Jordan Abel
Post by Ejucaided Redneck
The south's natural borders, he argued, were easily defended: rivers,
mountains and ridges. Let Texas go, let Kentucky go --neither could be
Eh? *looks at a map* Kentucky's northern border is a river. Tennessee's
northern border is a parallel.
Most of Kentucky was not pro-Confederate and it would have been
difficult to hold the state, even with the Ohio.
Tennessee's border may be a parallel, but in a great many areas it's a
very vertical parallel.
--
The Devil made me do it the first time.
Second time I done it on my own.
-- Billy Joe Shaver ("Black Rose")
--
Fiction, poetry, essays, MP3s, radio & TV interviews
Chapter 1 of "Home Call: A Novel of Kentucky"
3 Stories from "Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories From Appalachia,"
& two new stories
And new photos
Latest Herald-Leader Column: http://tinyurl.com/adq7q
MISSING MOUNTAINS: http://www.windpub.com/books/missing.htm
Try looking at the original 7 Confederate states from Montgomery on a
map without boundaries. The Appalachians form a natural boundary and in
this time period had many non-Confederate (actually anti-government)
people. The line for Tennessee is not that parallel but the Cumberland
River which joins the Tennessee and eventually the Ohio-Mississippi to
form a natural defense line. How far west Forrest looked would be of
interest, Arkansas and Lousiana give outside access but are targets for
a North looking for outlets for their midwestern produce.

I think the original 7 might have survived, maybe less the
trans-Mississippi states but the addition of Virginia made war
inevitable. Tennessee had not suceded when Forrest made his points and
they were one of the hard sells.
The Horny Goat
2005-11-13 15:33:24 UTC
Permalink
On 13 Nov 2005 03:50:36 -0800, "Jack Linthicum"
Post by Jack Linthicum
I think the original 7 might have survived, maybe less the
trans-Mississippi states but the addition of Virginia made war
inevitable. Tennessee had not suceded when Forrest made his points and
they were one of the hard sells.
Economically this CSA would have even less chance than the one we
know. I don't see this CSA lasting past 1862 or possibly the spring of
1863. They just don't have enough bodies and once the line cracks
anywhere ...
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-12 21:19:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ejucaided Redneck
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
<snippage>
The only scenario I've ever heard that would make a Confederate victory
possible was actually presented to the government when it was still at
Montgomery, by Nathan Bedford Forrest, before he enlisted as a private
in the rebel army.
The south's natural borders, he argued, were easily defended: rivers,
mountains and ridges. Let Texas go, let Kentucky go --neither could be
easily defended-- and heavily fortify the borders. Wait for the north
to invade and inflict some heavy casualties. Afterward the Union
government and people would have no stomach to pursue the war any
further.
Mighta worked, might not've, but it's the nearest to a rational strategy
I've ever seen.
The pure and simple truth
is rarely pure and never
simple."
-- Oscar Wilde
--
Fiction, poetry, essays, MP3s, radio & TV interviews
Chapter 1 of "Home Call: A Novel of Kentucky"
3 Stories from "Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories From Appalachia,"
& two new stories
And new photos
Latest Herald-Leader Column: http://tinyurl.com/adq7q
MISSING MOUNTAINS: http://www.windpub.com/books/missing.htm
Do you have a source or cite for the Nathan Bedford Forrest story?
Might make a different WI if a ferocious general like NBF is named
commander.
Kris Overstreet
2005-11-17 00:29:24 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 12 Nov 2005 14:38:28 -0500, Ejucaided Redneck
Post by Ejucaided Redneck
The south's natural borders, he argued, were easily defended: rivers,
mountains and ridges. Let Texas go, let Kentucky go --neither could be
easily defended-- and heavily fortify the borders.
This was done.

It failed miserably, as witness Ft. Donelson and Vicksburg, to say
nothing of numerous smaller forts which fell into the hands of
superior Union forces.

Redneck
Kris Overstreet
2005-11-14 22:06:13 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 11 Nov 2005 23:51:29 -0800, "Robert A. Woodward"
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
Okay.

CSA Victory; fairly low, but not zero.

USA Slower Victory; zero. If the USA were any slower in its progress,
the electorate would have turned its back on the war, leaving a
crippled, bloody, wrecked but victorious CSA.

USA Faster Victory; low, but greater odds than CSA Victory of any
sort. Richmond falling in 1862 would be the best way to achieve this,
considering the resilience of armies during the period and the massive
resources both sides had in play. (The CSA was industrially poor ONLY
in comparison to the USA, Britain and France; as an independent
nation, it was the fifth most industrialized nation at its peak, if we
give Prussia the benefit of the doubt.) Even if Richmond falls in
1862, however, the war does not end there. The war only ended in 1865
because the CSA's infrastructure had been wholly destroyed; its armies
could no longer stop or even slow the movement of Union forces. I
don't think the war could have been shortened by any more than a year
(Gingrich's last book in his trilogy notwithstanding).

Keys to CSA Victory:

First and foremost, get Davis out of the Presidency. His support of
blatantly incompetent generals in spite of all the facts (Polk and
Bragg were his two worst choices), his ability to lose friends and
antagonize people, and his determination that he'd rather be right
than be victorious went a long way towards losing the war. In my
personal opinion, Davis would have made an average general and a much
better than average secretary of war, but as chief executive he was
awful.

Second, organize a unified strategy. The Confederacy operated,
militarily, not as one nation but as several separate departments.
Only rarely were troops unified in any one place to decisive
advantage. The Union could afford to operate in this manner- in fact
it was to their advantage to do so. The CSA had a finite manpower
pool; its only hope was to produce an overwhelming advantage in one
theater, eliminate the Union forces there, and then reconcentrate in
another theater once the strategic initiative could no longer be
sustained.

Third, follow up successes. Lee gets flak for invading the North, but
one vital point should be remembered; every day his army was in
Maryland or Pennsylvania was a day the Union was NOT getting closer to
Richmond. Other generals, especially Bragg, failed to follow up on
success, instead drawing back, allowing Union forces time to regroup,
assemble superior forces, and brush the CSA armies aside.

In particular, every effort should have been made- exhausted troops be
damned- to follow up the rout after First Bull Run. The fall of
Washington likely would not have ended the war, but losing Maryland
sets the Union cause back a year... and just possibly loses them
Kentucky as well, since Kentucky was having a pivotal election at that
point which eventually tipped it in favor of the Union. Instead of
making a play for Washington, the Confederacy sat still and gave
McClellan all the time he could ever want to build the mightiest
American army of the 19th Century.

Fourth and finally; don't place your trust in static defenses. Forts
are to be captured or surrendered, not to be defended. It is better to
retreat, advance, do ANYTHING, but don't allow yourself to be penned
up and surrounded in earthworks. Land can be regained; troops aren't
so easy, and morale less easy still.

USA Faster Victory:

First, make McClellan chief of staff, or whatever, and keep his hands
off the field armies. He's a damn good organizer, but okay now beats
perfect next month.

Second, forget defending Washington. If your troops are knocking merry
hell out of the Confederates, you won't NEED an entire army tied down
to keep a few Congressmen from wetting the beds at night.

Third, keep grinding. It doesn't matter if you lose five battles;
eventually, battle number six will come around, and after five
victories the Confederates won't be in much shape to do anything other
than run or die. Don't be -stupid- and charge fixed fortifications or
anything like that. Just remember that a campaign does not begin and
end with a single battle.

Fourth and finally, you have an industrial base; put it to good use.
Repeating rifles, especially Spencers and Henries, should be in the
hands of every cavalryman by 1862 and every infantryman by 1863. The
technology was there. The plant was there. The resources were there.
By September 1863 there's really no excuse why any CSA army equipped
with Springfield rifled muskets shouldn't come away from a battle in
Swiss-cheese formation.

One other note, not included in the above.

There are two men whose removal from the Civil War makes Union victory
not a near-certainty but a doubtful proposition at best. Abraham
Lincoln and Ulysses Grant were two extraordinary persons- the greatest
politician and the greatest general of the war. Lincoln combined a
flexibility and amiability that allowed him to do amazing things in
government with an iron will that kept the Union going even when
almost all voices called for an end to the bloodletting.

Grant brought stubbornness to the war- the mindset that his forces
would keep coming, keep coming, and keep coming until something broke.
He also brought Sheridan out of quartermaster and into infantry and
then cavalry command; he resurrected Sherman from his reputation as a
lunatic and molded him into the Union's best strategist. Every one of
the Union's decisive victories- Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg,
Chattanooga, the Overland Campaign, Atlanta, Cedar Creek, and
Petersburg- was won by either Grant or one of his proteges.

Could anyone other than Lincoln have held Kentucky, Missouri and
Maryland into the Union (except by sheer force)? Could anyone other
than Lincoln de-fang the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the
War? Could anyone other than Lincoln keep nearly half the Democratic
Party in the war effort even during the 1864 elections? I don't think
so- and all of these things were helpful, if not individually vital,
to Union victory.

Without Grant, would there have been joint Army-Navy operations
against Henry and Donelson in winter? Would Sheridan have emerged from
obscurity to become the most ruthless Union cavalry general of the
war? Without Grant, would Sherman have learned to gain control of his
nerves before Halleck made him the next scapegoat? Would anyone but
Grant have attempted the Vicksburg campaign, or marched south instead
of north after the Wilderness? I don't think so.

Subtract Lincoln and Grant, and you go a long way to setting the Union
up to break. This is hardly something the CSA could do for itself, so
I don't give it as a point for CSA victory. Still, these two men were
the next best thing to irreplaceable, just as Washington and Franklin
were the irreplacable men of the Revolution. Without them, things
would likely be much, much worse.

Redneck
James Gassaway
2005-11-15 06:10:12 UTC
Permalink
Nice analysis. Hope you don't mind some comments/questions?
Post by Kris Overstreet
On Fri, 11 Nov 2005 23:51:29 -0800, "Robert A. Woodward"
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
Okay.
CSA Victory; fairly low, but not zero.
USA Slower Victory; zero. If the USA were any slower in its progress,
the electorate would have turned its back on the war, leaving a
crippled, bloody, wrecked but victorious CSA.
USA Faster Victory; low, but greater odds than CSA Victory of any
sort. Richmond falling in 1862 would be the best way to achieve this,
considering the resilience of armies during the period and the massive
resources both sides had in play. (The CSA was industrially poor ONLY
in comparison to the USA, Britain and France; as an independent
nation, it was the fifth most industrialized nation at its peak, if we
give Prussia the benefit of the doubt.) Even if Richmond falls in
1862, however, the war does not end there. The war only ended in 1865
because the CSA's infrastructure had been wholly destroyed; its armies
could no longer stop or even slow the movement of Union forces. I
don't think the war could have been shortened by any more than a year
(Gingrich's last book in his trilogy notwithstanding).
First and foremost, get Davis out of the Presidency. His support of
blatantly incompetent generals in spite of all the facts (Polk and
Bragg were his two worst choices), his ability to lose friends and
antagonize people, and his determination that he'd rather be right
than be victorious went a long way towards losing the war. In my
personal opinion, Davis would have made an average general and a much
better than average secretary of war, but as chief executive he was
awful.
Second, organize a unified strategy. The Confederacy operated,
militarily, not as one nation but as several separate departments.
Only rarely were troops unified in any one place to decisive
advantage. The Union could afford to operate in this manner- in fact
it was to their advantage to do so. The CSA had a finite manpower
pool; its only hope was to produce an overwhelming advantage in one
theater, eliminate the Union forces there, and then reconcentrate in
another theater once the strategic initiative could no longer be
sustained.
But part of the whole reason for the secession was the belief that the
states were independent and _not_ beholden to a central government. As it
is the CSA had to force, coerce and browbeat the individual states into a
more centralized command structure than they wanted to submit to. How is
the CSA going to manage an even more centralized command?
Post by Kris Overstreet
Third, follow up successes. Lee gets flak for invading the North, but
one vital point should be remembered; every day his army was in
Maryland or Pennsylvania was a day the Union was NOT getting closer to
Richmond. Other generals, especially Bragg, failed to follow up on
success, instead drawing back, allowing Union forces time to regroup,
assemble superior forces, and brush the CSA armies aside.
In particular, every effort should have been made- exhausted troops be
damned- to follow up the rout after First Bull Run. The fall of
Washington likely would not have ended the war, but losing Maryland
sets the Union cause back a year... and just possibly loses them
Kentucky as well, since Kentucky was having a pivotal election at that
point which eventually tipped it in favor of the Union. Instead of
making a play for Washington, the Confederacy sat still and gave
McClellan all the time he could ever want to build the mightiest
American army of the 19th Century.
This would have required a complete and radical change in Confederate
strategic thinking. They were approaching the war as a defensive one where
they were defending their homelands from an invader. Conquering Northern
states would have lowered them to the Yankee's level and lost them the moral
high ground in their minds.
Post by Kris Overstreet
Fourth and finally; don't place your trust in static defenses. Forts
are to be captured or surrendered, not to be defended. It is better to
retreat, advance, do ANYTHING, but don't allow yourself to be penned
up and surrounded in earthworks. Land can be regained; troops aren't
so easy, and morale less easy still.
This is (IMHO) somewhat more modern military thinking than can be expected.
The ACW and its bloody battles were part of _why_ we think in terms of
mobile warfare and fire & maneuver. As it is they were already as mobile as
the technology and experience allowed them to be. The capability to move an
army faster than it could walk was only just coming into existence with the
use of the railroad. They hadn't had time yet to fully develop the
doctrines to take advantage of it and train the troops in them. (Insert
cavets about "to the best of my knowledge" and "IMHO". Consider this an
invitation to prove otherwise.)
Post by Kris Overstreet
First, make McClellan chief of staff, or whatever, and keep his hands
off the field armies. He's a damn good organizer, but okay now beats
perfect next month.
Second, forget defending Washington. If your troops are knocking merry
hell out of the Confederates, you won't NEED an entire army tied down
to keep a few Congressmen from wetting the beds at night.
_Never_ going to happen. Losing your capital in this time period _is_
losing the war. If the "rebels" can capture the capital, then they gain a
lot of credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world. That could be the
door that would allow the English and/or the French to recognize the CSA.
Post by Kris Overstreet
Third, keep grinding. It doesn't matter if you lose five battles;
eventually, battle number six will come around, and after five
victories the Confederates won't be in much shape to do anything other
than run or die. Don't be -stupid- and charge fixed fortifications or
anything like that. Just remember that a campaign does not begin and
end with a single battle.
Well, that is what the US eventually did.
Post by Kris Overstreet
Fourth and finally, you have an industrial base; put it to good use.
Repeating rifles, especially Spencers and Henries, should be in the
hands of every cavalryman by 1862 and every infantryman by 1863. The
technology was there. The plant was there. The resources were there.
By September 1863 there's really no excuse why any CSA army equipped
with Springfield rifled muskets shouldn't come away from a battle in
Swiss-cheese formation.
Wasn't the US operating on (or slightly beyond) the ragged edge of bankrupcy
as it was? Could the North have managed the expense of completely
re-equipping their existing forces while replacing their losses?
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."
"Now, quack, damn you!"

Multiversal Mercenaries
You name it, we kill it. Any time, any reality.
Jack Linthicum
2005-11-15 11:08:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Gassaway
Nice analysis. Hope you don't mind some comments/questions?
Post by Kris Overstreet
On Fri, 11 Nov 2005 23:51:29 -0800, "Robert A. Woodward"
Post by Robert A. Woodward
I wonder if there is a newsgroup consensus (or if one can be
established) on the probability of a CSA victory in the American
Civil War, on the chances of a quicker Union victory, and on the
chances of a slower Union victory.
Okay.
CSA Victory; fairly low, but not zero.
USA Slower Victory; zero. If the USA were any slower in its progress,
the electorate would have turned its back on the war, leaving a
crippled, bloody, wrecked but victorious CSA.
USA Faster Victory; low, but greater odds than CSA Victory of any
sort. Richmond falling in 1862 would be the best way to achieve this,
considering the resilience of armies during the period and the massive
resources both sides had in play. (The CSA was industrially poor ONLY
in comparison to the USA, Britain and France; as an independent
nation, it was the fifth most industrialized nation at its peak, if we
give Prussia the benefit of the doubt.) Even if Richmond falls in
1862, however, the war does not end there. The war only ended in 1865
because the CSA's infrastructure had been wholly destroyed; its armies
could no longer stop or even slow the movement of Union forces. I
don't think the war could have been shortened by any more than a year
(Gingrich's last book in his trilogy notwithstanding).
First and foremost, get Davis out of the Presidency. His support of
blatantly incompetent generals in spite of all the facts (Polk and
Bragg were his two worst choices), his ability to lose friends and
antagonize people, and his determination that he'd rather be right
than be victorious went a long way towards losing the war. In my
personal opinion, Davis would have made an average general and a much
better than average secretary of war, but as chief executive he was
awful.
Second, organize a unified strategy. The Confederacy operated,
militarily, not as one nation but as several separate departments.
Only rarely were troops unified in any one place to decisive
advantage. The Union could afford to operate in this manner- in fact
it was to their advantage to do so. The CSA had a finite manpower
pool; its only hope was to produce an overwhelming advantage in one
theater, eliminate the Union forces there, and then reconcentrate in
another theater once the strategic initiative could no longer be
sustained.
But part of the whole reason for the secession was the belief that the
states were independent and _not_ beholden to a central government. As it
is the CSA had to force, coerce and browbeat the individual states into a
more centralized command structure than they wanted to submit to. How is
the CSA going to manage an even more centralized command?
Post by Kris Overstreet
Third, follow up successes. Lee gets flak for invading the North, but
one vital point should be remembered; every day his army was in
Maryland or Pennsylvania was a day the Union was NOT getting closer to
Richmond. Other generals, especially Bragg, failed to follow up on
success, instead drawing back, allowing Union forces time to regroup,
assemble superior forces, and brush the CSA armies aside.
In particular, every effort should have been made- exhausted troops be
damned- to follow up the rout after First Bull Run. The fall of
Washington likely would not have ended the war, but losing Maryland
sets the Union cause back a year... and just possibly loses them
Kentucky as well, since Kentucky was having a pivotal election at that
point which eventually tipped it in favor of the Union. Instead of
making a play for Washington, the Confederacy sat still and gave
McClellan all the time he could ever want to build the mightiest
American army of the 19th Century.
This would have required a complete and radical change in Confederate
strategic thinking. They were approaching the war as a defensive one where
they were defending their homelands from an invader. Conquering Northern
states would have lowered them to the Yankee's level and lost them the moral
high ground in their minds.
Post by Kris Overstreet
Fourth and finally; don't place your trust in static defenses. Forts
are to be captured or surrendered, not to be defended. It is better to
retreat, advance, do ANYTHING, but don't allow yourself to be penned
up and surrounded in earthworks. Land can be regained; troops aren't
so easy, and morale less easy still.
This is (IMHO) somewhat more modern military thinking than can be expected.
The ACW and its bloody battles were part of _why_ we think in terms of
mobile warfare and fire & maneuver. As it is they were already as mobile as
the technology and experience allowed them to be. The capability to move an
army faster than it could walk was only just coming into existence with the
use of the railroad. They hadn't had time yet to fully develop the
doctrines to take advantage of it and train the troops in them. (Insert
cavets about "to the best of my knowledge" and "IMHO". Consider this an
invitation to prove otherwise.)
Post by Kris Overstreet
First, make McClellan chief of staff, or whatever, and keep his hands
off the field armies. He's a damn good organizer, but okay now beats
perfect next month.
Second, forget defending Washington. If your troops are knocking merry
hell out of the Confederates, you won't NEED an entire army tied down
to keep a few Congressmen from wetting the beds at night.
_Never_ going to happen. Losing your capital in this time period _is_
losing the war. If the "rebels" can capture the capital, then they gain a
lot of credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world. That could be the
door that would allow the English and/or the French to recognize the CSA.
Post by Kris Overstreet
Third, keep grinding. It doesn't matter if you lose five battles;
eventually, battle number six will come around, and after five
victories the Confederates won't be in much shape to do anything other
than run or die. Don't be -stupid- and charge fixed fortifications or
anything like that. Just remember that a campaign does not begin and
end with a single battle.
Well, that is what the US eventually did.
Post by Kris Overstreet
Fourth and finally, you have an industrial base; put it to good use.
Repeating rifles, especially Spencers and Henries, should be in the
hands of every cavalryman by 1862 and every infantryman by 1863. The
technology was there. The plant was there. The resources were there.
By September 1863 there's really no excuse why any CSA army equipped
with Springfield rifled muskets shouldn't come away from a battle in
Swiss-cheese formation.
Wasn't the US operating on (or slightly beyond) the ragged edge of bankrupcy
as it was? Could the North have managed the expense of completely
re-equipping their existing forces while replacing their losses?
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."
"Now, quack, damn you!"
Multiversal Mercenaries
You name it, we kill it. Any time, any reality.
Which brings up another variation on the "how would the ACW go", WI the
South had better railroads and railroad planning? They held the center
and several times (Chattanooga?) used railroads to shift troops from
Virginia to the West, WI this was easier?
Kris Overstreet
2005-11-16 18:22:02 UTC
Permalink
On 15 Nov 2005 03:08:30 -0800, "Jack Linthicum"
Post by Jack Linthicum
Which brings up another variation on the "how would the ACW go", WI the
South had better railroads and railroad planning? They held the center
and several times (Chattanooga?) used railroads to shift troops from
Virginia to the West, WI this was easier?
Well, let's presume that in the decade 1840-1850 Southern railroading
didn't grind nearly to a halt as it did in OTL. In 1850-1860 rail
construction was nearly matched North and South; if the same held true
in 1840-1850, with the result that the South's rail net was greatly
expanded and modernized, here are some possible, indeed probable
results:

* Greater gauge standardization. The more railroads you have, the more
the equipment will seek a single standard at which it's cheaper to
make the stuff. South Carolina will likely remain the oddball, but
most of the Confederate rail net will find a single gauge, probably
the same as the Union's.

* More east-west rail links. In particular, completing the rail link
from Montgomery to Meridian which would allow a trans-CSA rail link
after the loss of Tennessee. (In 1862, after the fall of Corinth,
Bragg's army had to shift by rail down to Mobile, by ship across the
bay, then by a different rail up to Atlanta and Chattanooga to launch
the invasion of Kentucky.) Other rail links: a unified north-south
Shenandoah rail line, completed rail lines from Monroe, LA (across
from Vicksburg) to Shreveport or even as far as northeastern Texas,
rail links from Beaumont, TX eastward to Baton Rouge, and rail lines
into Arkansas (which in OTL was virtually railroad-free). In addition,
even more rail lines would exist which might not be strategically
important, but would provide greater access to supplies which in OTL
molded and rotted away for lack of transport.

* More rolling stock. The single biggest handicap in CSA railroading
wasn't the rails themselves, it was the fact that there were no
Confederate engine or even boxcar works. The CSA couldn't really even
maintain what they had, much less build new cars or engines. The more
railroads the CSA has at the beginning of the war, the more trains
they have to begin with... the more troops they can move, the more
troops they can supply, and the longer they can sustain lines of
supply.

The counterpoint to all these advantages is this: every Confederate
railroad becomes a Union supply line once taken. Railroads make it
easier for the CSA to supply troops and move them from point to point,
but they also become open lines of invasion for the Union. In my
opinion this is a net DISADVANTAGE for the CSA- better fewer
railroads, and hence smaller Union armies.

Redneck
Kris Overstreet
2005-11-16 18:07:17 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 14 Nov 2005 22:10:12 -0800, "James Gassaway"
Post by James Gassaway
Post by Kris Overstreet
Second, organize a unified strategy. The Confederacy operated,
militarily, not as one nation but as several separate departments.
Only rarely were troops unified in any one place to decisive
advantage. The Union could afford to operate in this manner- in fact
it was to their advantage to do so. The CSA had a finite manpower
pool; its only hope was to produce an overwhelming advantage in one
theater, eliminate the Union forces there, and then reconcentrate in
another theater once the strategic initiative could no longer be
sustained.
But part of the whole reason for the secession was the belief that the
states were independent and _not_ beholden to a central government. As it
is the CSA had to force, coerce and browbeat the individual states into a
more centralized command structure than they wanted to submit to. How is
the CSA going to manage an even more centralized command?
I'm not referring to state militias. I'm referring to military
departments, set up by the Confederate government (and specifically by
Davis) to organize strictly Confederate (rather than state) forces.
The borders of these departments became so rigid and inviolable that
transfers across said borders became not merely notable but
exceptional. Chattanooga was an exception, not the usual done thing.

Furthermore, Davis failed in the one thing he should have been good
at- setting a unified goal for ALL the departments. To all purposes
each department fought its own war, with no regard for events in any
other department. The only time the Confederates even attempted
unified strategy was in the late summer and fall of 1862, when three
Confederate armies went on the offensive (Lee's, Bragg's, and van
Dorn's). This mass offensive, with inferior resources, would later
work for the Union, but the Confederacy couldn't bring it off with
their inferior manpower and supply chain.

Davis failed to pick any goal and stick to it, militarily. He set up
an inflexible military bureaucracy which hindered rather than helped
the war effort. In order to win, an ATL CSA must be more flexible (or
else must rebel before the unification of the Union rail network).
Post by James Gassaway
Post by Kris Overstreet
In particular, every effort should have been made- exhausted troops be
damned- to follow up the rout after First Bull Run. The fall of
Washington likely would not have ended the war, but losing Maryland
sets the Union cause back a year... and just possibly loses them
Kentucky as well, since Kentucky was having a pivotal election at that
point which eventually tipped it in favor of the Union. Instead of
making a play for Washington, the Confederacy sat still and gave
McClellan all the time he could ever want to build the mightiest
American army of the 19th Century.
This would have required a complete and radical change in Confederate
strategic thinking. They were approaching the war as a defensive one where
they were defending their homelands from an invader. Conquering Northern
states would have lowered them to the Yankee's level and lost them the moral
high ground in their minds.
Well, yes. It was this defensive mindset, in my opinion, which led to
the Confederacy losing the West. It was Lee's offensive,
invasion-oriented mindset which held the Union back from Richmond for
nearly three years.

An inferior force which sits still and allows a superior attacker to
determine the time and place of battle is going to get defeated. The
Confederacy has to attack, put the Union forces off balance, and keep
attacking as long as it can, or else the Union will do what it did in
our history- just trudge right through them.
Post by James Gassaway
Post by Kris Overstreet
Fourth and finally; don't place your trust in static defenses. Forts
are to be captured or surrendered, not to be defended. It is better to
retreat, advance, do ANYTHING, but don't allow yourself to be penned
up and surrounded in earthworks. Land can be regained; troops aren't
so easy, and morale less easy still.
This is (IMHO) somewhat more modern military thinking than can be expected.
Actually, the truth of that statement can be extended back at least as
far as the Thirty Years' War, where sieges of cities led to the
massacre of not just the defending armies, but the men, women and even
children of the cities themselves. I believe Magdeburg is a good
example...
Post by James Gassaway
The ACW and its bloody battles were part of _why_ we think in terms of
mobile warfare and fire & maneuver.
Yes- because the Confederacy made several key BLUNDERS in this regard,
cf. Fort Donelson, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Resaca.
Post by James Gassaway
As it is they were already as mobile as
the technology and experience allowed them to be.
No, they were not. See above.
Post by James Gassaway
The capability to move an
army faster than it could walk was only just coming into existence with the
use of the railroad.
The issue is moving the army AT ALL, at whatever speed. The
Confederates spent too much time sitting on their butternut-clad
butts.
Post by James Gassaway
Post by Kris Overstreet
Second, forget defending Washington. If your troops are knocking merry
hell out of the Confederates, you won't NEED an entire army tied down
to keep a few Congressmen from wetting the beds at night.
_Never_ going to happen. Losing your capital in this time period _is_
losing the war. If the "rebels" can capture the capital, then they gain a
lot of credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world. That could be the
door that would allow the English and/or the French to recognize the CSA.
In 1862 Washington had a garrison of between 20,000 and 50,000 troops-
I forget the exact number. Add to this McDowell's army of about
40,000, which was withheld from McClellan's Peninsular Campaign for
fear that Jackson's 15,000 might assault Washington.

That's anywhere between 50,000 and 90,000 soldiers which could be put
to better use slapping down rebels- especially since the strength of
defensive positions was such that, provided you kept your line of
retreat open, you could stand off as great as 4:1 odds with relative
security. 20,000 men in the Washington defenses could have held off
the entire Army of Northern Virginia at its most powerful, IMO.
Post by James Gassaway
Post by Kris Overstreet
Third, keep grinding. It doesn't matter if you lose five battles;
eventually, battle number six will come around, and after five
victories the Confederates won't be in much shape to do anything other
than run or die. Don't be -stupid- and charge fixed fortifications or
anything like that. Just remember that a campaign does not begin and
end with a single battle.
Well, that is what the US eventually did.
Yes, but it took Grant to realize that you don't need to back off and
lick your wounds every time you burn some powder.
Post by James Gassaway
Post by Kris Overstreet
Fourth and finally, you have an industrial base; put it to good use.
Repeating rifles, especially Spencers and Henries, should be in the
hands of every cavalryman by 1862 and every infantryman by 1863. The
technology was there. The plant was there. The resources were there.
By September 1863 there's really no excuse why any CSA army equipped
with Springfield rifled muskets shouldn't come away from a battle in
Swiss-cheese formation.
Wasn't the US operating on (or slightly beyond) the ragged edge of bankrupcy
as it was? Could the North have managed the expense of completely
re-equipping their existing forces while replacing their losses?
Only in the winter of 1862-63 did the Union approach insolvency. At
this point support for the war was at its nadir, with a number of
defeats in the field, a growing casualty list, and a certain very
unpopular Proclamation just taking effect. Even then, despite
everything, Lincoln found money to continue the expansion of the navy,
fund railroad expansion, complete the new dome of the Capitol, and
resume construction of the Washington Monument.

The US could have bought a few guns.

Redneck
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