For those interested in the American Civil War

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Virgil, May 25, 2011.

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  1. Thanks. ................
  2. The thing I found surprising about the American Civil War was how near the UK came to openly allying with the Confederates. It's another of those great historical what ifs, had we sided with the South would it have changed the outcome?
  3. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    it wasnt just us thinking about it, for us it was more of a commercial thing as the blockade runners were smuggling cotton out and uk arms back in. they were the first to trey transatlantic paddle steaming and there is a wreck of one just out from liverpool apparently where they cant decide if it was sabotaged by union agents.

    more bully boy tactics by the union though just like the take over of the rest of the continent.
  4. Did we though. Quite a good programme on R4 a few weeks ago about the subject. Liverpool scallies were quite pro the confederates but Manchester sided with the emancipation struggle. An often neglected result of the blockade was the Lancashire cotton famine when it is estimated at least 50,000 posobly a lot more died in destitution and this was 1860's England.
  5. Strong Point, apparantly 3/4 of all British cotton workers were laid off or on short time by 1862 ('Battle Cry of Freedom' by James McPherson) so the commercial incentive for British support for the South was there. The same book has an amusing editorial quote from 'The Times' "[The destruction of] the American Colossus means riddance of a nightmare ... Excepting a few gentlemen of republican tendencies, we all expect, we nearly all wish, success to the Confederate cause". Aside from sheer commerlism it seems that Gladstone and Palmerston saw the Confederates as some form of 'freedom-fighters' against Yankee opression. My personal view is that, purely from a selfish Anglocentric view, the world would be a worse place today had the South been victorious. I don't think the qualities that made America so powerful in the 20th century, such as the willingness to accept the 'huddled masses' and put them to work and the egalitarian 'Amercian Dream' attitude, were necessarily present in the SOuth in the concentration that they were in the North.
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  6. Rather interesting excerpt from the first article I thought;

    It was a story that played out on campuses across the North: junior officers, those who risked their lives commanding units the front lines, were more likely to be graduates of, or wartime dropouts from, America’s roughly 200 or so civilian colleges. Sixteen thousand young men were enrolled in the nation’s colleges when war broke out and, if Hamilton College’s record is any measure, most would soon be wearing blue (or gray – 11 Hamilton alumni served with the Confederate army). Of the 226 Hamilton alumni who served in the war, more than a third came from the four classes from 1861 to 1864. A startlingly high proportion did not live to see their 25th birthday.

    The role of college graduates is an often-underappreciated aspect of the war. Better known are the West Pointers: it was, after all, one of history’s first conflicts in which the bulk of the top commanders on both sides had been professionally trained at public military institutions, including men like Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet and William Tecumseh Sherman. In the South, these men were supplemented in the officers corps by graduates of military academies like Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel. As Jefferson Davis boasted to an English visitor in 1861, “[W]e are the only people in the world where gentlemen go to a military academy who do not intend to follow the profession of arms.”

    Things were different in the North. Though a higher percentage of men pursued higher education than in the South, the vast majority went to institutions like Hamilton: four-year residential liberal arts institutions, with a strong sense of religious vocation even when, as in Hamilton’s case, they lacked denominational affiliation, and with curricula centered on the study of Greek and Latin, along with a smattering of mathematics, geography and the physical sciences.

    It was not, seemingly, an education well-designed to equip young men with the knowledge they would need to command other, less educated, young men to fight and die. Instead, graduates of these civilian colleges would have to learn the practical arts of war and the habits of command the hard way, through battlefield experience. (Although their counterparts who trained at the military academies would often have to unlearn the lessons they had been taught in Napoleonic strategy and tactics, which proved unsuitable to a war fought with the new rifled muskets.)

    Just FYI, Hamilton College's first-year curriculum;

    First Term;
    Livy - The Histories
    Xenophon - Anabasis
    Rhetoric - Elecution

    Second Term
    Livy cont'd

    Third Term;
    Xenophon - Memorabilia
  7. Aside from wounded Brit National pride, at being defeated in the War of Independence, you might want to remember why folk emigrated to America in the first place, and why the States seceded: it was because the original pilgrims profoundly disliked the kind of attitude that the South perpetuated, and which was inherited from Britain as the American nation prospered, attracting commercial migrants looking for profit (rather than migrants of principle)

    Not so surprising that Brit editors should feel that way.

    Despite that, English influence was key to ending the slave trade (as history knows it. anyway: we'll not explore here the forcible employment of Slavs, Africans , Asians etc. in the contemporary sex trade in the Western world).
  8. Let's not forget that of all places in the US--then and now--the greatest concentration of English, Scots and Welsh descendents are/were in the American South. Hence the reputation for backwardness, illiteracy, etc...

    Virgil, running and ducking...running and ducking...
  9. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    another thing was that almost as soon as independance was achieved they started on canada and lost (something they surprisingly havent been tempted to try again considering there is oil up there) and we were still upset over that and also the initial support for the french earlier in the century.

    as the british military was an extension of uk manufacturing plc its not surprising if we nearly went with the south. its probably only because of wilberforce that we didnt.
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  10. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    as featured as an aside during the gangs of new york the north conducted its own kind of slavery with indentured service and promises of citizenship in return for military service, so a lot of irish and russian immigrants got off the boat and straight onto a train headed south to the front. Dying for an ideal they didnt really understand and indeed even now I think the whole country is mixed up as to just what america was meant to be. Indeed the popular belief of the founding fathers forming a democracy where all man was created equal is just a myth, in reality they liked power and wanted to keep it thank you very much and where very scornfull of the masses. they wanted a capitalist version of communism really and have been striving towards a powerfull world elite ever since. There was an excellent feature on it somewhere, I'll have to try and remember what it was.

    Meanwhile 'America a citizens guide to democracy in action' by john stewart is a good read/listen. the audio book on torrent is funny and factual.
  11. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    It could have been a game changer. The Royal Navy (back in the days when we had one) was more than strong enough to drive the North's ships back into port and then blockade those ports.

    The South (which was always strapped for resources) could then have freely traded cotton, etc, for its needs. For example, it could have brought rails, railway engines and wagons - thus boosting its strategic mobility. Similarly it could have brought telegraph wire and posts to improve its internal communication network. That would have improved the ability of its armies to operate on interior lines.

  12. I'd correct you by replacing "Russian" immigrants with Germans. Not many Russians immigrating in large numbers in the 1800s. The Germans--arguably unlike most Irish--in the US did understand and were concerned about what was going on. They were pro-abolitionist (anti-slavery), pro-Union & were among the strongest supporters of Lincoln's administration.

    The founding fathers theory you're putting forth is an offshoot of a thesis thought up by an American historian named Charles Beard. He wrote "An Economic Analysis of the Constitution of the United States" where he put forth the notion that it was in part written up as a protection and promotion of the (land owning) class who wrote it. Incredibly influential stuff still somewhat in vogue when I was growing up, not so much now in the U.S.

    I've got a copy of the Jon Stewart book on audio. I'll give it a listen the next long trip I take.
  13. We are all right on so many different levels. Rather like the English civil war more came out of it than seemingly went into it. Now any one out there have a whitworth rifle for sale cheapish?....Please.
  14. "My personal view is that, purely from a selfish Anglocentric view, the world would be a worse place today had the South been victorious."

    And if New Amsterdam was still so, no civil war and apartheid.