Discuss whether tactical, as opposed to material factors were most decisive in the American Civil War.

Essay by abesrahamHigh School, 11th grade April 2009

download word file, 8 pages 0.0

Downloaded 24 times

There were numerous tactical and material factors that were decisive in the outcome of the American Civil War, however it was the material factors that were ultimately responsible for the Confederacy's defeat. Whilst the different tactics and strategies of the North and South had a significant effect on the war, it was ultimately the North's superior resources and management of these resources that were most decisive in their victory.

Both the tactics of the "offensive-defensive" strategy adopted by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the Southern armies, and the various strategies and tactics implemented by the Union army, had a significant effect on the end result of the war. The "offensive-defensive" strategy adopted by the Confederates involved defending the Confederate homeland, by placing conventional armies in a defensive position, aimed at protecting as much territory as possible. However, if the opportunity presented itself, the Confederate forces would go on the offensive and bring the fight to the Union army.

This strategy has been severely criticised by historians as being too aggressive. Historians Grade WcWhiney and Perry Jamieson argue that Lee's implementation of this strategy extracted a hideous price in battlefield casualties, and that "...the South literally bled itself to death." Other strategies have been put forward by historians that they believe the South would have been better suited to, such as guerrilla warfare. The theme of this argument is that the South should have exploited its expansive territory to pursue a strategy of manoeuvre designed to avoid costly blood-letting. However for social and political reasons, as well as for geographical and military ones, a "retreat to victory" was never an option for the Confederacy. Such a strategy would have led to loss of territory to the hated invader, the idea of which would have been unthinkable to Southerners. Indeed, the...