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"For Want of a Nail: An Evaluation of the Confederate..." Topic

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1,010 hits since 10 Dec 2016
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2016 12:23 p.m. PST

…Ironclad's Construction History, Service History, Tactical & Strategic Employment.

"He is not impressed with the necessity of building ships." John N. Maffit entered those prophetic words in his diary following a meeting with Jefferson Davis shortly after the civil war began. Future Captain of the commerce raider CSS Florida , Maffit was one of the first United States naval officers to resign his commission and offer his services to the South. Those ten words make a fitting epitaph for the Confederate States Navy, and with it, the Southern cause.

In 1861, the Union Army mustered only 16,000 men. Worse, most of the regular Army troops were scattered in small garrisons throughout the western territories. In light of the North's initially weak position, General Winfield Scott proposed a gigantic siege of the Confederacy. First, the navy would establish a blockade of the Southern coast. Then, in joint operations the army and the navy would seize control of the Mississippi River splitting the Confederacy in two. This strategy would not only weaken the South but also give the North time to mobilize its enormous resources. Northern forces would then utilize the inland waterways and other natural invasion routes in simultaneous and concentric campaigns to further subdivide and eventually crush the South. His goal was to gain time to raise, train and equip overwhelming Union force and to minimize casualties in hope of a more amicable restoration. Much derided in the Northern press, Scott's "Anaconda" plan proved not only sound but also remarkably prescient. The carnage of the various "on to Richmond" campaigns in 1861, 1862 and 1863 awoke the leaders North and South to the impact of the rifled musket on the modern battlefield. After three years of great expectation and repeatedly dashed hopes, President Lincoln finally found a leader in General Grant with the ability and determination to successfully execute Scott's much maligned strategy.

For the Confederacy, the only chance of survival lay in a protracted conflict with eventual recognition by and assistance from England and/or France. Given the superiority of weapons available over tactics in use at the time, a decisive land battle leading to quick victory was highly unlikely. Strategic defensive on land, wearing down the resolve of the North and gaining recognition from Europe was, consequently, the best hope for Southern victory. As John Keegan observes in Fields of Battle :

Given the Confederacy's strong natural frontiers, enormous size, and intermittent connection with the national communications system, there were the best of reasons for standing on the defensive, guarding the key points of northern Virginia, the head of the Mississippi, New Orleans, and the Cumberland or Tennessee rivers, while building up a navy to protect the coastline and interrupt blockade, and, at the same time pressing by sober diplomacy for recognition abroad…"
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Hussar123 Inactive Member20 Dec 2016 5:43 p.m. PST

Good read!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Dec 2016 12:07 p.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)


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