Why the North Won the Civil War by David Donald: Reflection on the economic, military, diplomatic, political, and social reasons the South lost.

Essay by hdgoneCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 2004

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Why the North Won the Civil War

Historians have argued inconclusively for years over the prime reason for Confederate defeat in the Civil War. The book Why the North Won the Civil War outlines five of the most agreed upon causes of Southern defeat, each written by a highly esteemed American historian. The author of each essay does acknowledge and discuss the views of the other authors. However, each author also goes on to explain their botheration and disagreement with their opposition. The purpose of this essay is to summarize each of the five arguments presented by Richard N. Current, T. Harry Williams, Norman A. Graebner, David Herbert Donald, and David M. Potter. Each author gives his insight on one of the following five reasons: economic, military, diplomatic, social, and political, respectively.

The essay entitled "The Military Leadership of the North and South" by Harry Willams points out the military leadership weaknesses displayed by Union and Confederate forces.

Williams opens his essay by stressing and explaining the importance of leaders during a time of war. He states that "...it is the general who is the decisive factor in battle." (p.39). This is an accepted belief among many great leaders of the past. A successful leader must be able to demonstrate confidence and morale even in times of weakness, as well as capable of being wary and level-headed in times of strength. Marshal Saxe entertains the interesting fact that the North's commanders were considerably younger than those of the South. However, age cannot be unquestionably attributed to Union victory. Generals of both sides, despite age or experience, displayed similar faults. The Confederate leaders were unexperienced in commanding and administering large armies. Nevertheless, the West Pointers had received military education that had emphasized administration and technique. As for strategy, many adopted the...