Civil War Paper
Civil War Paper
The Civil War in the mid- 19th century between the Northern troops and Southern troops in the United States left more than 600,000 Americans dead on both sides of the conflict. The catastrophe serves as an important event that influenced the future of America. While the Northern troops triumphed over their Southern rivals, more soldiers were lost on the Northern side. However, the North believed that the loss of their soldiers was worth the sacrifice since they achieved what they were fighting for: the freedom of slaves and the preservation of the Union. On the other hand, the South was not content with the outcome of the war and almost regretted having surrendered to the North. The South glorified the cause by turning their generals into mythical heroes and looked pensively back at the era before the American Civil War.
A renowned Historian Shelby Foote while discussing the event stated that any comprehension of the United States had to be based on a comprehension of the American Civil War. He further stated that the war defined the American people as the people they are today inclusive of both the good and bad traits. According to him, in order to understand the character of the American people in the 20th century, one has to learn about the American Civil War in the mid-19th century, as it was the forming point of the Americans (Cook, 2007). This assertion brings forth several questions concerning the war and its outcome. This paper seeks to provide insight into the meaning of the statement by Shelby Foote while discussing the implications of the war on the United States.
The assertion by the historian Shelby Foote implies that it is necessary for one to understand the events of the American Civil War before placing judgment on the character of an American or even before choosing to become a citizen. According to him, this catastrophe defines Americans in that it is what made them what they are today thus; it is what makes them Americans. In order to understand the American people, it would be imperative to learn the history of the country. This would provide an understanding of the events that the people have gone through, what they have lost and what they have gained to become what they are today. In my opinion, Foote in his statement that the war defines the United States as a nation based on the experiences and lessons learned. The United States was based on the principle that all men are created equal. The leaders understood that as the united nation they stood strong but would fall if they were divided. Thus, to understand the principles and ethics on which the nation was built upon, one has to understand the history of the country and the events that influenced the formation of the country into what it is today.
The American Civil War was one of the most defining events in the history of America overshadowing other historical events in the magnitude of the effect on the lives of the American people. The war defined the United States as a nation based on freedom and Independence. If a different outcome had been achieved in the war, it is possible that the country would have stood divided by the free and the slaves. The war resulted in the unification of the people giving freedom to the oppressed. It defined the United States as a country that provided equitable freedom for all by restricting slavery within its territories. As a result of the war, slavery was abolished in the United States securing the freedom and equal rights to the African Americans in the country. The Civil War further influenced the role of women in society by ensuring equal rights to women several decades later after facing more obstacles.
The catastrophe has had the most significant effect of both positive and negative aspects of the lives of Americans. This event led to the unification of the states to form the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world. A strong central federal government was established making the North a financial giant while diminishing the economy of the South. The war affected the economy and the powers of the government and president. Lessons learned from the civil war are still being utilized in current times. Leading military academies still study tactics and strategies used and practiced during the civil war to gain an advantage over the rivals such as the West Pointe strategy.
Looking back at the civil war and the advantages held by each side, one might wonder why the outcome of the war favored the North. Both sides had the potential for winning the war even though both the North and South remained oblivious to the long-term effect of the conflict. The Southern generals like Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were brilliant in war strategies, they had the will to fight and it was easier for them to fight a defensive war. At the end of the war, the South had lost fewer men than the North. The brilliance of the generals of the South and the fewer number of deaths on the Southern side would suggest that the South had an advantage over the North.
The victory of the Union was influenced by several factors and the North gained the advantage over their rivals for some reasons. The market revolution involvement in the war favored the North more than it favored the South. The North was well developed with industry, manufacturing sector and a variety of agricultural supplies. The availability of railroad lines provided an essential mode of transport for supplies, food and troops to the war zones. The Union had more bank deposits to support the war efforts of $200 million as compared to the $47 million held by the Confederacy (Olsen, 2007).
The North had an ample amount of supplies for their troops including food, weapons and horses, unlike the South. The North had an advantage of better weaponry and industry over their rivals. While the South used weapons used during the Mexican Revolution, the North acquired newer weapons giving them an advantage. The troops in the Northern army were of a much greater number than their rivals. While the North had 22 million soldiers in their ranks, the South had only nine and a half million soldiers many of whom were slaves. The North had enough men to provide reinforcement when their men were lost in the battle, unlike the South. Lincoln had widespread political support than Davis, which provided him with the infrastructure to garner support and to spread propaganda (Davis, 1999). Many soldiers in the Southern army fled the war due to demoralization and lack of enthusiasm.
The war took place in the territory of the South, which worked against the Southern army. The North stole the supplies from the South from conquered cities and destroyed property. The South suffered a big blow in both morale and leadership on the death of General Stonewall Jackson and the North gained an advantage. The winning strategies of the Northern generals Sherman and Grant gave the North victory in the capture of several major cities in the South including Atlanta, Mobile, New Orleans and Richmond (Teaching the Civil War, 2010).
To better understand the American culture and pride in the 20th and 21st centuries, one must first gain knowledge of both the positive and negative aspects of the Civil War. The losses and gains from the war had a significant influence on the people of America and it defined them as a society. The victory of the North resulted in the formation of a centralized government under one president that led to the economic prosperity of the United States. While the North secured a better economy than the South, the centralized government ensured equitable growth for all the states in the country.
Historians ponder on the fate of the country had the South secured more supplies and troops. If the South had gained an advantage over the North, the victory could have been to the South. They had brilliant leaders who proved to be great generals in the field of battle. With this victory, many things might have changed and the United States might not have become what they are today. The American people might have acquired a different experience and could have become of different nature based on their experiences in the war. Thus, it is necessary to appreciate the history of the United States and the Civil War that shaped the future of the great nation.
Cook, R. (2007). Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965. LSU Press.
Davis, W. (Ed.). (1999). Civil War Journal: The Legacies. Thomas Nelson Inc.
Heidler, D. S., & Heidler, J. T. (2002). Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History. WW Norton & Co Inc.
McPherson, J. M. (2008). The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union. Vintage.
Olsen, C. J. (2007). The American Civil War: a hands-on history. Macmillan.
Wakelyn, J. L. (2002). Confederates against the Confederacy: Essays on Leadership and Loyalty. Greenwood Publishing Group.