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Civil War Causes Essay

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Civil War Take-Home Writing Assessment

The Civil War, one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history, was a vicious battle between the Union and Confederate states regarding the issue of slavery and constitutional power. After a four-year struggle, the Union won the war due to several advantages that were crucial to their success. The Union victory has often been categorized as a result of their drastically greater population compared to the Confederate army. However, many technological and strategic assets played a far greater role in determining the Confederacy’s defeat in the Civil War. The main advantages that shaped the Union’s success were their vast population, technological developments, and their strategical endeavors which strained both Northern and Southern society towards the conclusion of the war.

The Union had several technological advantages over the South, specifically regarding their industrial system, superior transportation, and efficient communication. The North was much more self-sufficient than the South, who relied primarily on imports rather than develop an industrial economy. The Union manufactured uniforms, bullets, and ammunition as well as developing the coal industry to provide fuel for railroads, which in turn benefitted the Northern economy and provided for all necessary supplies for warfare which was inaccessible to the Confederacy. The South faltered significantly in the war as a result of their inadequate industry, shown especially at the Battle of Gettysburg. General Lee was dangerously low on supplies and attempted to boost Southern morale with a victory against the Union. However, his attempt resulted in a crippling loss for the South and secured their defeat in the Civil War. Had the South been more sufficiently prepared and supplied for battle, their armies would likely have been more comfortable and had a higher morale, which may have secured a greater chance of success for the Confederacy. Furthermore, the North had a vast and well-connected railroad system which allowed for a much faster and more efficient transportation of soldiers and supplies. The South had very few railroads, and most were very small and local, connecting a few towns. This made transportation much slower and less efficient compared to the North. Also, the invention of the telegram allowed Northern Generals complete and updated knowledge of their progress in the war to best guide their strategic endeavors, while Southerners did not make use of this invention and were at a consequent disadvantage. Overall, The Union’s technological advantages played a greatly significant role in determining their success over the South.

The strategies and tactics of the Union were also a primary cause of their victory, specifically Grant’s “total warfare”, the use of the anaconda plan, and the fact that the Northern armies burned and pilfered the territory they conquered rather than continuing to occupy it. The South was extremely ineffective against these strategies, especially after suffering major losses from mid to late war. The anaconda plan was essentially to divide and conquer the South by cutting off major waterways, etc. This plan was a success, since the Union took over the Tennessee River separating four confederate states from the rest. However, the strategy that the South was the most vulnerable to was Grant’s total warfare. Grant and other generals torched towns, land, crops, and livestock once they had taken the supplies they needed to move forward and waged war against the entire South, including civilians. Grant was known to be somewhat ruthless, bombing towns while severing their access to food and necessary supplies until they surrendered. These tactics were very effective in the fact that they negated the Northern disadvantage of having to attack the South and hold their territory, since they just destroyed the land so the South could not use it. Dividing the South also took advantage of their lack of unity and any form of communication or transportation of assistance, since Southern states did not want to contribute to the war effort unless it directly impacted them, and a few states could not hold out against the destructive union army. Had different strategies been implemented, the true weaknesses of the South may not have been targeted and the North may have eventually lost the war. These strategies had the most detrimental impact on both Northern and Southern society. Northerners suffered tremendous losses in battle as a result of Grant’s belief in the expendability of soldiers. In order to end the war as succinctly as possible, he decided to overwhelm the South with his significantly larger army which inevitably resulted in a far greater number of casualties on both sides, especially the North. In the Spotsylvania Courthouse Battle alone, Grant lost twelve thousand soldiers and thousands more in all proceeding conflicts which was a tremendous strain on Northern society since so much of the population was diminished in the war. The South was in rubble following the Civil War as a direct result of Grant’s total warfare as well as Sherman’s march to the sea. The society of the South was left drastically strained as a result of the destruction of their land and all that was valuable to their economy. This act was meant to destroy the morale of the Confederacy so that they would no longer rebel against the Union, which appeared to have worked effectively due to the damage that it caused. Overall, the strategy of the Union played a pivotal role in their success in the Civil War.

The Union’s population was four times greater than that of the South excluding their slave population. This proved to be an effective strategical advantage for the North, particularly towards the conclusion of the war during which General Grant decided to overwhelm the South with their far larger army. The Spotsylvania Courthouse battle in particular



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