Why the Confederacy Lost the War
Many historians have tried to offer their ideology on the outcome of the Civil War. McPherson in his “American Victory, American Defeat” writes about what other historians have decreed their answers to why the Confederacy lost. He tells us the reasons that could not be the explanation for the loss, and explains the internal reasons but leaves the true cause of the loss untold. Freehling explains the defeat by discussing what could have been and then gives reasons to negate some of the cases that he states for the outcome of the Confederacy. Both McPherson and Freehling both agreed that there were other factors besides battles that needed to be looked at.
Each author agreed that the battles were not the only reason for the fall and death of the Confederacy. While battles were being fought on the battlefields, the home fronts were had their own battles to fight. McPherson discusses what he calls as the “internal conflict” thesis, which blames the uneasiness among the southerners. The government was being blamed. Southerners were opposing conscription, taxes, and habeus corpus. McPherson points out that these could not have been reasons for the loss. The same thing was happening in the North. Therefore this internal conflict with the home front government does not have a plausible role in why the South lost the war. If the North was fighting the same type of opposition at home, then shouldn’t the war have ended in a stalemate? Also, the non-slaveholding whites and the slaves were feeling alienated. Rich slaveholders who wanted to keep slave labor alive were fighting the war. The two alienated groups were fighting a war on the wrong side. The non-slaveholders opposed secession. The United States could protect them from the rich plantation owners, the taxes, and the inflation due to a new nation that was not able to survive when it had nothing to start with. Again, though, McPherson says that this could not be the reason either because the same was true during the Revolution, but the fight for independence in the 18th Century was a successful fight. So why couldn’t this fight be one?
Freehling looks at the economical factors of the Confederacy during the war to explain that the home front was not able to withstand the hard times so therefore it flowed into the cause on the battlefield. With many of the plantation owners gone, the wives were left to control the plantation and the slaves. These slaves ran away leaving the fields unworked and soldiers and families hungry. Also the railroads were being destroyed in the west and by Sherman’s March to Sea. Already plagued with low sources of food, the ability to move food to troops was virtually impossible. Freehling believes that military outcomes formed social outcomes (Freehling, 221). I...