Comparative resources: Union and Confederate States 1861

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Map Code: Ax02212

Based on comparative resources, the American Civil War was a mismatch, its conclusion forgone. The actual armed forces were roughly equal in strength at the outbreak of war, but the North could call upon a fighting age male population over four times that of the South. Even more stark were the Union’s truly monumental advantages in industrial production and matériel. This meant that Southern hopes depended on a quick and decisive military victory – or obtaining recognition and support from foreign powers. In practice, its adherence to slavery guaranteed diplomatic isolation. The conceit that the loss of ‘King Cotton’ would bring Europe to its knees, and force the North to negotiate, proved illusory. The Union’s superior naval power enabled adoption of the Anaconda Plan, blockading Southern ports from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. An attritional war could only have one victor, despite the brilliance of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

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