Why Was the "Union
The Strategy and Tactics of Northern
Victory and Southern Defeat
Once it became apparent that the formation of a Southern Confederacy would be challenged militarily by the United States, the majority of European military analysts, most Southerners, and not a few citizens of the states remaining in the Union became convinced that the Rebels would win any war between the two sections. Yet, four years later the capital of the Confederacy was occupied by Yankee troops, much of the South lay in ruins and the superb soldiers of the Confederate States Army were either dead, deserted or paroled prisoners of war. The question of how the North won and why the South lost has been one of the most prominent and fascinating topics in American studies since the Richmond Examiner's editor Edward Pollard's The Lost Cause was published in 1866, and accused Jefferson Davis of being the single most important factor in Confederate defeat. Subsequent books over the next thirteen decades have offered stimulating, often controversial reasons for the outcome of the War Between the States and few historians have fully agreed on the most important factor that decisively influenced the final outcome. The authors feel that this question of why one side won and the other side lost might be discussed more profitably within the context of three inter-related questions. How did the Union achieve military dominance over the Confederacy? To what extant did the match-up of military commanders influence this outcome? Did the Confederacy really have a realistic chance to maintain its independence?
The first question, "why did the North win?" is a paradox of simplicity and complexness. First, it must be emphasized that the North won a complete, definitive military victory over the adversary that was as all-encompassing as the Allied victory over the Axis in World War II. The Lincoln