The Civil War: A North vs South Overview
There were many differences between the North and the South that affected the outcome of the Civil War.
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The Northern side in the Civil War had 22 states with 22 million people. The Confederate States of America was comprised of 11 states with only 9 million people.
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The transcript is for your convenience
So, if you’re just looking at numbers alone, the North has over twice as many people, and exactly twice as many states. So, the North did greatly outnumber the South as far as state and population numbers go.
The North contained most of the United States coal, iron, and copper, as well as 92% of the industry. So, as far as weapons were concerned, the South was basically stuck with what it had whenever the war began. The South didn’t have the means, either material-wise or industrialization-wise, to be able to create a whole lot more in bulk for ammunition or for weapons. So, the North had a big advantage there. They had the coal, iron, and copper deposits. They were able to use that to create more weapons and more ammunition as they needed them because they had 92% of the industry in that area already.
The Union had more than twice as many railroad tracks as the Confederacy, and a vastly larger navy. So, the Union had twice as many railroad tracks. That meant that the Union was going to be able to be twice as connected. There were going to be able to get to more places quickly, they will be able to transport troops, transport supplies, food, more weapons, ammunition, all of that was going to be able to be transported a lot quicker into more places in the North than in the South. The South was going to be slower about getting to transport those things because they didn’t have as many railroad tracks to get them there.
Now, when the war began, the South had no organized army or navy. At first, the troops were strictly volunteers, but eventually, the Confederate States of America established a draft to bolster the ranks. So, to say that they had a vastly larger navy – the North over the South – was a bit of an overstatement, because the South didn’t really have an organized navy. It had some ships, but it wasn’t an organized navy, and there wasn’t an organized army. So, the South had to overcome that. Now, at first, they had strictly volunteers as soldiers, but eventually, they did have a draft established to bolster the ranks. They didn’t have as many soldiers as they needed, so they had to institute a draft to get more of them.
So, most importantly, perhaps, for the Union, they had a huge advantage in troops. So, we knew already that the North had over twice as many people, but that was also going to mean the North had more troops to actually go and fight the war. Most of the Northern troops were either volunteers, like the South, or had been conscripted, starting in 1963. And conscripted is just another word for drafted. So, in 1863, the North also started drafting people. However, it was permissible to pay a fee to get out of drafted service, or a substitution could be sent in your place.
So, this was a way to get around the draft for people who really didn’t want to go, or to save people from having to go if they really shouldn’t be, or you felt that they were too young, or really needed to be at home. So, if a young 18-year-old kid had been drafted, and his dad didn’t want him to go, his dad could be his substitution, or the family could pay a fee to keep that 18-year-old son from having to actually go and serve. So, in one way or another, they were still going to help the cause. They were going to pay money, which could help feed troops, clothe troops, bring them more ammunition, more supplies. Or, someone else would be sent in the drafted person’s place.
So, they did have a bit of compromise there. You were able to get around actually having to go if you had the money or you had someone who would go in your place. The North generally had between two and three times as many troops as the South during the war, and this isn’t surprising since they had over twice as many people living in the North, they were going to have two to three times as many people serving in the Northern army. So, the Union’s biggest advantage was probably its number of troops.
Now, the Confederacy may had been at a disadvantage in a lot of ways, but the Confederacy did have some advantages. They were fighting on their own soil, and so, they already had interior lines of defense, as well as knowledge of the terrain. So, Northerners were used to a certain climate. They were used to their terrain. So, going and fighting in the South was going to be different to them. And the South already had lines of defense in place, where the North was having to build them as they move down.
So, the South did have some advantages there since the war was being fought there. Now, in the end, there was also going to be more devastation to the South, because more land was going to get damaged, more homes are going to be destroyed, there was going to be a lot more damage in the South, because the war was fought there. But during the war, this was an advantage to the South. On the whole, the Confederate commanders were more experienced and talented.
So, the North may have had more troops, but the South had commanders who had had more experience in battle, and were more talented at commanding their troops,
at commanding the smaller number of troops that they had. And finally, the Confederacy had a psychological advantage. They were fighting for a tangible reason: to preserve their lives and property. While the North had to motivate its troops with a notion of preserving the Union.
So, the South was fighting to keep its way of life. They were trying to keep slavery intact, they were trying to keep their property, their slaves, and they were trying to keep their plantations able to run by keeping those slaves. So, they knew if they lost the war, and slavery was outlawed, then their way of life would be completely over. So, they had something really tangible to fight for, where the North was just fighting to keep the Union together. “The South left us, we have to go back and get them, keep the Union together.”
Now, most Northerners did want to free the slaves, and they did have other
reasons for fighting, but it wasn’t as concrete a reason as the South had. Every person in the South pretty much was used to a farming or plantation way of life. They were used to having slaves, and they didn’t want that taken away from them. So, they were fighting to keep something, where the North was just kind of fighting to put something back together, to keep the Union together. However, the South was really only able to survive so long, because it fought a very defensive war.
So, they did have those interior lines of defense, they had those commanders who were more experienced and talented and new, what would work best for the South with its smaller number of troops. And so, the South was able to make the Civil War last a lot longer than the North originally thought that it would last, and that’s because it fought a very defensive war. So, there were a lot of key differences between the North and the South during Civil War that affected the eventual outcome. The North had way more people, which meant way more troops, usually two to three times as many troops. The North had most of the coal, iron, and copper, and 92% of the industry.
So, they were able to create more ammunition, create more weapons as they needed it, where the South was kind of stuck with what they had, unless they stole it from the North. And so, they didn’t have that advantage. The North also had more railroad tracks to actually transport goods, transport soldiers, transport food, clothing, more ammunition and weapons, and they had twice as many railroad tracks to do this, where the South was going to be moving things at a slower pace. And then, of course, troops, the sheer number of troops that the North had, outnumbering the South, ended up being one of the biggest contributing factors to the Civil War.
And so, the North and South were very different, and they had to work hard in different ways during this war. So, the North had to try to overcome the fact that the South was fighting on its own soil. The South had to try to overcome the fact that they were vastly outnumbered.
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