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"What if the Union won the first Battle of Bull Run?" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2022 8:39 p.m. PST

"How would this affect the war? How would it affect the post war America and it's place in the world?…"

From here


link


Armand

HMS Exeter22 Nov 2022 8:04 a.m. PST

It would have made no difference. The Union forces were as ill prepared to follow up a win as the Confederates.

Within days both sides would have cobbled together field forces to glower back and forth at one another over the ground between the Occoquan and the Potomac.

Until one side could field a force capable of complete dominance over the entire theater a conclusion of the conflict would be out of reach.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2022 10:46 a.m. PST

Agreed. Only a full scale horrendous trauma could undo slavery.

Marcus Brutus22 Nov 2022 12:54 p.m. PST

In fact, had the North won quickly it is almost certain that we would not have seen the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution that ended slavery. It means a much slower march to emancipation but I wonder if the net result might have produced a longer term better outcome because there wouldn't haven't been a Jim Crow reaction that basically delayed the fruits of the Civil War for a century.

Marcus Brutus22 Nov 2022 12:59 p.m. PST

The end of slavery required the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

The end of slavery through force required the death of hundreds of thousands. I think an early victory by the North in the Civil War would have ended the expansion of slavery. Slavery would have been limited to the current states where it already existed. One wonders if over time there would have been a gradual weakening of slavery until it could be legislated away by overwhelming Congressional approval.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2022 2:55 p.m. PST

Thanks.

Armand

Au pas de Charge22 Nov 2022 5:01 p.m. PST

The Union underestimated just how fanatical the Confederate leaders were. They considered themselves the real Americans. As one ACW historian mentioned, this was wasn't rebellion, it was counter-rebellion.

Conversely, the Confederacy didn't properly rate Lincoln's resolve.

The end of slavery through force required the death of hundreds of thousands.

Are you implying that the Union is solely responsible for the violence of the ACW?

I think an early victory by the North in the Civil War would have ended the expansion of slavery. Slavery would have been limited to the current states where it already existed. One wonders if over time there would have been a gradual weakening of slavery until it could be legislated away by overwhelming Congressional approval.

I doubt it, the South was dedicated to expanding slavery.

Also the Corwin Amendment might very well have gotten passed and would've made slavery a permanent and guaranteed feature in the US Constitution.

Perhaps, eventually, economics would've eventually made slavery obsolete.

donlowry22 Nov 2022 5:54 p.m. PST

For one thing, it would have made McDowell a hero, so he would not have been superseded by McClellan. Which might well have meant there would be a drive farther into Virginia before winter.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2022 8:09 p.m. PST

Marcus I think It would still have been about money and profits first, Slaves might be freed and still live like slaves.

42flanker22 Nov 2022 10:24 p.m. PST

I was under the impression that the South was dedicated to the preservation of slavery rather its expansion per se. Hence the controversy over slavery in the trans- Mississippi and the bloodshed in the border states, which was more about countering abolition in Congress. Slave labour was peculiarly suited to the agriculture of the southern states. I don't think anyone envisaged swathes of plantations in Kansas or Missouri.
I wonder- apart from economics, as the frontier 'filled up', wouldn't demographics eventually have decided the case?

How long would McDowell have lasted after a victory at Manassass and did he have skills equal to Mclellan in creating an Army of the Potomac?

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2022 3:25 a.m. PST

"The end of slavery required the deaths of hundreds of thousands."

I disagree with the premise of this statement. Every country in the world accepted that slavery was the natural order of things in 1800. By 1900 the majority had ended the practice peacefully. Only one fought a war over it, which is enough to question if it was the proximate cause of the war. So, odds are it would have eventually ended peacefully with a Union victory at Bull Run.

McDowell had a solid plan that only failed because the Valley army got to the battlefield and Jackson got in his way. It is conceivable that McDowell could have captured Richmond. The question then becomes, would the south have surrendered at that point? I doubt it would, but if deprived of Virginia's resources the Confederacy could not have held on as long as they did.

Murvihill23 Nov 2022 5:09 a.m. PST

The immediate result would have been, as mentioned the same chaos after the battle and neither side able to capitolize on the victory.
Longer term, I think the strongest effect would have been on foreign relations. Would the UK have been willing to support the Confederacy after they lost their first big battle?
Also, recruiting may have slowed in the south.

Au pas de Charge23 Nov 2022 7:30 a.m. PST

I was under the impression that the South was dedicated to the preservation of slavery rather its expansion per se.

They were dedicated to both.

Hence the controversy over slavery in the trans- Mississippi and the bloodshed in the border states, which was more about countering abolition in Congress.

Slave States wanted this border business eliminated, expansion of slavery allowed and reintroduction of the Slave trade. Not to mention the admittance to the Union of Foreign slave owning countries, like Cuba, to add Senators and Congressmen to the slave owning side of the US government equation.


I wonder- apart from economics, as the frontier 'filled up', wouldn't demographics eventually have decided the case?

Not sure what you mean many Southern slave owning elites probably thought having the law on their side would be more important than demographic shifts. Remember that the Confederacy was a pull away from Demographics, from majorities and from democracy.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2022 7:45 a.m. PST

Back to the topic. Exeter had it about right. A victory by either side would have been equally meaningless. Both were equally unprepared with no ability to follow up. Maybe if a Jackson or other officer who became important later had died, that might have made some differences latter in the war.

A Union victory would have left McDowell in charge longer, not sure how that would have turned out.

Of possible more interest, a Confederate victory at Shiloh and the effect on Grants career.

donlowry23 Nov 2022 8:52 a.m. PST

The rich/elites who owned slaves and controlled the Southern states wanted the right to expand into the territories for the simple reason that growing cotton soon exhausted the soil, so that more (new) land was needed. Also, something for the next (larger) generation.

I doubt if many of them wanted to reopen the importation of more slaves from Africa, as that would lower the value of the slaves they already had. (Supply and demand.)

As for McDowell's ability to put an army together, he created the army that fought at Bull Run. As for his ability to plan and execute a battle, I don't see that he did any worse than McClellan. (Which, admittedly, isn't saying a great deal.)

Michael May23 Nov 2022 10:25 a.m. PST

General Jackson would have become known as General Thomas J. "Leadfoot" Jackson.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Nov 2022 5:36 a.m. PST

I think the most direct change of a Union victory would have been to the morale of the respective armies. In real life the loss at 1st Bull Run was followed by a string of other defeats for the Army of the Potomac that led to a feeling that they could not win against the Army of Northern Virginia and that Confederate generals (especially Lee after he took command) were better than Union generals. This Confederate confidence and Union lack of confidence had a considerable impact on the early course of the war. This feeling wasn't dispelled until Gettysburg. A victory at Bull Run might have changed the whole dynamic in the east.

donlowry24 Nov 2022 9:38 a.m. PST

Good point.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2022 2:57 p.m. PST

Agree…


Armand

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