Population wise, the North had a considerable advantage over the South. Being as how Slavery was abolished, and African Americans were allowed to join the Armed Forces, this also gave the United States a boost. The population of the North was around 18.5 million, whilst the size of the population of the South was a mere 5.5 million free men, along with another 3.5 million enslaved. This obviously had adverse affects on the enlistment strengths of the Union and the Confederacy. At peak, the United States had an enlistment strength of 2,672,341, whilst the Confederacy had numbers between a minimum of 750,000, to a maximum of 1,227,890. The reason for the unsure demographics is that near the end of the war, records of enlistment were either incomplete or destroyed. In total, the Union outnumbered the Confederacy at least three to one, militarily wise. 2. Missed opportunities
At many stages, events on the battlefield might have gone differently. Historians stress different moments when the Confederacy was either unlucky or missed opportunities to strike at Union troops. Confederate forces might have been more pro-active after First Manassas. The Trent Affair could have brought Britain into the war on the Confederate side (two Confederate diplomats were removed from a British ship, due to a contraband of war. This angered Parliament, and almost brought the United Kingdom to side with the South). Had Stonewall Jackson acted as expected in June-July 1862 Lee might have triumphed even more spectacularly in the Seven Days battles. Who knows what would have happened had Lee’s battle orders not fallen into Union hands in Maryland in September 1862? The Confederacy again had more chances in 1863. Given more inspiring generalship for the Union general Ulysses S. Grant might have failed to capture Vicksburg during the Siege of Vicksburg.
Lee might have done better at Gettysburg, especially if Stonewall Jackson had not been killed at Chancellorsville. There were still good opportunities for the Confederacy in 1864. Lincoln’s re-election in November 1864 very much depended on (belated) military success. The alternative was a victory for the Democrat party, parts of which were committed to peace, which would have resulted in the continued existence of the Confederacy, albeit the majority of the blow in a peace treaty may of fell on the South, as did the Treaty of Versailles on the German Empire in 1918. Perhaps President Davis might have taken up General Cleburne’s proposal to redress the South’s manpower shortage by conscripting slaves, as did the United States, who had about 178,975 African American soldiers, and 3,530 Native American soldiers. As shown, the Confederacy was not inevitably a ‘Lost Cause’, but had many a chance to blow the Union off its feet, yet it either failed to take the opportunity, or fell to ill planning 3. Industry and Economy
The economy of the United States was in transition on the eve of the Civil War, whereas the South retained a mainly-agricultural economy throughout much of the war, producing two-thirds of the worlds cotton supply in 1860. However, the CSA (Confederate States of America) had little manufacturing capability, with 9,000 factories compared to the North’s 101,000, and 111,000 factory workers compared to 1.1 million for the US. The South contained about 29 percent of the railroad tracks, and only 13 percent of the nation’s banks. The South did experiment with using slave labour in manufacturing, but for the most part it was satisfied with the agricultural economy. By contrast, the US was well on its way towards a commercial and manufacturing economy, which had a direct impact on its war making ability, as by 1860, one year before the secession of the southern states began, 90 percent of the United States’ manufacturing output came from northern states.
The North produced 17 times more cotton and woollen textiles than the South, 30 times more leather goods, 20 times more pig iron, and 32 times more firearms, producing 3,200 firearms to every 100 firearms that were produced in the South, a ratio of 32:1. Only about 40 percent of the Northern population was employed in agriculture by 1860, whereas there was 84 percent employed in the agriculture sector in the South. Not only that, but the United States prevented the Confederacy from trading with economically powerful countries such as the British Empire or France by enacting the “Union Blockade”, whereby the US Navy enacted the closure of 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of Atlantic and Gulf coastline, including 12 major ports, notably New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Many attempts to run the blockade were successful, but ships fast enough to evade the U.S. Navy’s vessels could only carry a small fraction of the supplies required by the CSA. These blockade runners were mostly operated by the British, making use of neutral ports such as Havana, Cuba, the Bahamas and Bermuda. 4. Supplies and Transportation
The North was less dependent on Europe than the South was for supplies. There should be little doubt that the South was able to manufacture supplies needed to fight the war, but never in amounts it needed. Industry in the North was a bit larger than it was in the South and was thus able to out produce that of the South. But being able to out produce the South was all well and good unless the South could get the supplies to its troops in the field faster. It then became important to capture major railroad junctions and thus cut off the South’s ability to move supplies in a timely fashion. At the same time the capture of major railroad junctions helped to speed up the supplying of Union troops in the field. It also doesn’t help that the South had merely 1,700 Miles of Railroad compared to the Union’s 20,000 Miles of Railroad. The reason for the US’ superiority in railroads is that the railroads were mainly built to bridge the gap between the eastern Commonwealth States and the Golden States of the West. This allowed quick transportation of troops, weapons & ammunition, food and other supplies to wider and further distances, much further than anywhere the Confederacy possibly could