Essay about Union Strategy For Winning The Civil Wa

Submitted By dnl0616
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Union Strategy For Winning The Civil War Soldiers and officers are the basic ingredients of all armies. Their strategic dispositions, how they are deployed, what grand strategy directs their movements largely determine the outcome of wars. It is not easy to reconstitute the general air of confusion and uncertainty in which the initial Union strategy took shape. There was a sharp division in the Cabinet and in the army as well over the appropriate strategy to pursue in attempting to subdue the South. At least three grand strategies were proposed. The first, the one favored by William Seward, the secretary of state and the most influential man in the Cabinet, was what Welles called "the border strategy." The notion here was to establish "borders" around the periphery of the Confederacy, assure the Southerners of the goodwill of the North toward them, and wait for pro-Union sentiment in the South to manifest itself and lead to a negotiated peace. This strategy virtually conceded the slavery issue in favor of restoring the Union.
 The strategy proposed by Welles likewise rested on the assumption that there were large numbers of Unionists in the South, simply waiting for indications of Northern support to declare themselves. "Instead of halting on the borders, building entrenchments, and repelling indiscriminately and treating as Rebels--enemies--all, Union as well as disunion, men . . . we should," Welles wrote,". . . penetrate their territory, nourish and protect the Union sentiment, and create and strengthen a national feeling counter to Secession.. . . Instead of holding back, we should be aggressive and enter their territory," Welles added. Both strategies were based on an overestimation of the strength of Union sentiment. Moreover, Welles's strategy ignored the fact that invasion of an enemy's territory invariably arouses the most intense hostility on the part of those invaded.
 A third "strategy," one almost indistinguishable in its practical effect from that of Welles, was based on the assumption that only an overwhelming display of superior force demonstrated by an invasion of the South at every vulnerable point could force the Confederacy back into the Union. It was this latter policy that was, on the whole, followed, but the emotional predisposition to the first strategy on the part of many Northerners in and out of the army frequently blunted the effect of the invasion strategy and in the most important theater of the war--Virginia--rendered it a nullity. General Scott himself was for what Welles termed "a defensive policy." As one general put it to Welles: "We must erect our batteries on the eminences in the vicinity of Washington and establish our military lines; frontiers between the belligerents, as between the countries of Continental Europe, are requisite."
 As the third strategy became clearly the strategy that Lincoln was determined to pursue--aggressive penetration of the South--the inevitable next question was how was that strategy to be best effected. One needs, first of all, to have reference to the map of the South which constitutes the endpapers of this volume. There it is seen that the South had two major lines of vulnerability: several thousand miles of virtually undefended seacoast running from Norfolk, Virginia, around the tip of Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans and, in the West, almost a thousand miles of the Mississippi River, stretching from St. Louis to New Orleans, which constituted a line of access into the Deep South and, for the Southerners, an obstacle separating them from their trans-Mississippi allies--Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. Moreover, the Ohio River entered the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois, and fifty miles to the east of that conjunction, the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers emptied into the Ohio, coming from a southeasterly direction parallel to each other and roughly parallel to the Mississippi. The…