Sunday, June 10, 2018

No One Said There Was Going to Be a Test!

Here's an interesting couple of propositions. Let me know what you think, give some reasons for your positions, and be prepared to defend those positions.

Proposition 1) The South could have won the War Between the States had they not tried to invade the Union, that is, if they had stayed on the defensive and let the North tire of the bloodshed and hope for the Democrats to defeat Lincoln in 1864. Possible?

Proposition 2) Given a Southern victory, slavery would have been abolished in all Southern governed territories by no later than the turn of the century. Given the importance of agriculture in the South, is this realistic?


I have opinions on both propositions, after I read yours, I'll give you mine.


  1. I think there is an argument to be made that the War was one of this countries biggest many killed or maimed and families torn apart? 500,000? one million? more? in a country with a total population of 20 million or less? (I'm too lazy to Google actual numbers) If the south had simply been allowed to secede I suspect slavery would have ended well before the turn of the century and probably without the "virtual slavery" which existed in the south right up to the 1960's. THe south would probably have eventually rejoined the union without the War and animosity between the North and the South which still exists to some degree today would have been avoided.

    Or not.

  2. 1. I suspect not. The reason that Lee invaded the North (Both times) was to win the war before the North's Industrial and demographic advantage would make it impossible.
    2. Maybe. Assuming the North modified the Constitution (as they did anyway) therefore making Dred Scott moot, and the South did not re-institute the importation of slaves(which would have been a source of ostracism for much of the civilized world) --there would have been a good deal of attrition of the slave population; which might well have led to a gradual transition to agricultural labor by "Free" men. I use the quotes because it would have likely devolved into, at best, share cropping if not outright feudalism.
    Interesting questions those!!

  3. 1.) After 1st Manassas the federals had their blood up. Feelings changed from "Who really gives a damn? Let 'em go to Hell their own way!" to something more like "We can't let those hicks think they can get away with that!" Maybe if the South had aggressively followed The Great Skedaddle and taken Washington City right then, it could have won. But the simple fact of population and manufacturing capability made a northern victory a done deal from the start.

    2.) Slavery was already becoming economically unsupportable in the upper south. With greater mechanization of agriculture slavery would have died a natural economic death.

  4. Interesting, scifi suppositions of society past.
    For the first part, one would have had to change the animosities between the free'ers and the slavers. And the understanding of forms of slavery. Just because you have self determination, does not mean you are free to live your life the way you want. There are limits. Not everyone can live in the Buchanan house in Monticello. One of the larger plantations. Someone has to cook, and trim the yard.
    The second, this was the start of the age of innovation. Machines were helping man, and destroying the social fabric of life. You no longer had gleaning of the fields, you had monsterious contraptions doing the plowing and the picking, utilizing fewer people in the fields.those folks were abandoned, entire families were shed from the fields, uneducated, they fell back to conclaves, of similar people's. That's not free at all, but managed. Unfortunately, the north, found a way to shrink the surplus of people. Same as in Europe in the same time period.
    Those millions of brothers dying set the next revolution, and we have not gotten to global warming yet.
    You see, historically, I have a problem with Lincoln and Jefferson. Why did they choose war over negotiation. What was the rush, were they forced, and by who? The military on both sides was unprepared, the South could have probably survived if the battles were delayed a year.

  5. I believe that the probability of a Southern victory was near zero under any circumstances. Had the South attempted to outlast the Union with a purely defensive strategy ashore they would still have been unable to contend with the Anaconda Strategy of the Union that had effectively isolated the South from the rest of the world. The Southern economy was largely based on the ability to export cotton and tobacco to the European market and then to use the money from those sales to buy, and import, many of the products they were unable to produce in the South.

    I believe that even IF the South had prevailed militarily they would still have been destroyed economically. Most of the developed world had already reaped the benefits of the Age of Industrialization and come to the conclusion that slavery no longer made economic sense. The result was that other nations had banned the slave trade and the Royal Navy, among others, were effectively enforcing that ban. That would have made it nearly impossible to bring in new slaves, and would therefore made the existing slaves ever more valuable. However, the value of Southern agricultural products had fallen sharply during the course of the war. Egyptian cotton production had grown and could largely supply European demand. The onus of slavery alone made Southern products less acceptable in Europe. And the costs of the war had largely exhausted Southern capital resources. I suspect that the end result would have been a region that would have been an economic disaster area. Largely unable to compete in the European market place, and lacking the capital to invest in mechanical equipment, Southerners would also be faced with a rapidly declining slave population based on normal attrition and the numbers of slaves escaping by means of the Underground Railroad.

    I believe that in either case the South was doomed to decades of distress, either by purely economic catastrophe, or by the depredations of the hoard of carpetbaggers that were soon to invade.

    1. " That would have made it nearly impossible to bring in new slaves, and would therefore made the existing slaves ever more valuable. "

      The Confederate Constitution forbade the importation of slaves. And for its brief existence, was rigorous in enforcing that prohibition.

      As to quelling the slave trade, the English were up against attitudes like this:
      “We want three things: powder, ball and brandy; and we have three things to sell: men, women and children." African Chief

      The British diplomat Wilmot, explained to King Gelele: "England has been doing her utmost to stop the slave trade in this country. Much money has been spent, and many lives sacrificed to obtain this desirable end, but hitherto without success. I have come to ask you to put an end to this traffic and to enter into some treaty with me."

      Gelele refused: "If white men came to buy, why should I not sell?" Wilmot asked how much money he needed. "No money will induce me...I am not like the kings of Lagos and Benin. There are only two kings in Africa, Ashanti and Dahomey: I am King of all the Blacks. Nothing will compensate me for the loss of the slave trade." Gelele also told Burton, "If I cannot sell my captives taken in war, I must kill them, and surely the English would not like that."

      The Trans-Atlantic trade may have ended, but the Arab slavers just switched back to the older Trans-Saharan trade, a trade which had existed for about 400 years before the Trans-Atlantic trade began and continues to this day.

      "I believe that in either case the South was doomed to decades of distress, either by purely economic catastrophe, or by the depredations of the hoard of carpetbaggers that were soon to invade."

      Yep. It wasn't until the 1960s that SC was back to the same GDP as in 1860 thanks to Reconstruction and the policies of the federal government.

  6. #1) I'm with Captain Steve and Joe Lovell. In that regard, I think there are many parallels between Lee and Admiral Yamamoto. I think Lee's judgment at Gettysburg was clouded in part because he knew he was running out of time. If the South had not fired on Fort Sumter, I think it likely they would have eventually fired on something else. I also agree with Dave. Whether the South had simply tried to outlast the Union, or achieved military victory early on, both would have resulted in a slow, agonizing death lasting decades.

    #)I don't believe government in the South (state and CSA) would have abolished slavery. Industrialization and economics would have choked it out.

    1. "If the South had not fired on Fort Sumter, I think it likely they would have eventually fired on something else. "

      You mean like maybe on the troops that Lincoln was sending to invade SC after he reprovisioned Sumter? He had been offered, several times over, the chance to remove the federal troops from SC territory (Sumter), and had refused. Lincoln needed the revenue from the tariffs and duties on goods flowing through southern ports.

    2. Yes. Should be re-written "....eventually been provoked into firing on something else." Because of the reason you stated.

    3. The "troops Lincoln was sending to invade SC" were just troops to hold Ft. Sumter,. Unless you've other sources I've not seen, that number couldn't have have held the red light district of Charlestown on a Saturday night. Ft. Sumter being the last Federal property not to be unlawfully seized by the Confederates. None of the articles of cession said anything about them being temporary or annullable, any more than Russia's cession of Alaska is undoable at whim. Once Confederatesd fired on a Federal fort, it was on, and once Union blood was spilled at First Bullrun, it wasn't going to be over until it was over, barring the election of a closet copperhead like McMclellan.

      The South never had a chance, and reading through the writings of their leadership during the years leading up to the war, I've never been so struck by such a disconnect from reality. I'd suggest Baghdad Bob, but these clowns really sniffed their own farts and believed it. The Anaconda Strategy would've squeezed the life out of them whether any land battles were fought or not. Partly by choice, they were under-industrialized and overly-dependent upon cash crops. That continued after the war until the advent of cheap power PLUS air conditioning. Relatively few European immigrants sought out the heat and humidity of the south, the lack of industry, and most certainly not (perceived) tense racial relations. Who would, really?

      I don't think a divided US would've led to a better South any quicker than what we've seen. Cultures/hatreds/bad feelings were just too deeply ingrained on all sides. It wasn't just "free" blacks that alarmed many southern whites, it was simply the idea of black equality in any measure that sat badly, plus the fear of black retribution. Even though "their" blacks were kindly treated (always), everyone knew of other's who weren't. And they weren't always sure of their own. As it was, there was no "Haiti" in the offing, but it was a possibility that Southern whites surely feared.

  7. If the South had prevailed, I think slavery would have continued for much longer than then the turn of the century, as with the mechanization of cotton picking, the South would have been able to produce more cotton, as well as indigo. The trip from England to South Carolina was much shorter and easier then the trip to India, and indigo was a valuable commodity in the late 1800's until the mid-1900's when synthetic dyes were developed. The South, with it's ready supply of slaves to work the fields, and that could be trained/transitioned to work as spinners, how to dye, and as weavers on looms to create cloth, not just to pick the raw cotton, could have very well imported the equipment to spin thread and make cloth just like the North did from England. There are certainly lots of rivers to provide power in the South...places like what are now Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina all have multiple rivers flowing through them that could have been used to power industrial manufacturing plants similar to what did happen in the North in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The South was also a huge exporter of rice, and, again, much easier to get rice from South Carolina to England then from India, China or Japan as everything was brought by boat from wherever. I don't think the Suez Canal had yet been dug, so everything by boat from the Far East had to go around the Horn of Africa, which was certainly a hazardous journey and would add to costs.

    The other point about slavery I recall was that by the late 1800's, there were enough slaves already here in America, that the slave owners were able to breed their own, instead of having to go buy new ones all the time. And the slave trade is still an on-going trade in the Middle East and Africa to this day, so if they had wanted/needed fresh blood, so to say, they could have gotten it without too much difficulty, as the Royal Navy couldn't be everywhere.

    One advantage of the Civil War was the increased interest in settling the West. If the South had not lost the war, would so many Southerner's have migrated west? Or would they have stayed home, and re-built and expanded. Farming in the South had to be easier then fighting Indians and learning how to ranch in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or Colorado.

    Interesting to consider how just changing one domino can affect the rest of the picture. If the South had won, maybe they would be the larger exporter to the North of all sorts of food stuffs and at a much earlier date, items like tea, coffee, citrus, vegetables, whiskey, wines, etc, then even California is now. Agriculture takes manpower, even with the help of machinery, you still need hands to do work also. That is why, to this day, there are so many Mexicans who go North every year and follow the crops as they ripen and are ready to pick.

  8. Prop 1: very possible. Defense is always said to be the easier and stronger position than offense, at least in war. If the South could have endured, it could have broken the North's will to continue.

    Prop 2: The cotton gin would have made labor far less important. What would have happened to the slave population then is anyone's guess.

  9. All good points as listed above. But here's more than my two cents worth.

    The causes of the 'Civil War' were much more than mere slavery, going more into the North's total economic strangulation of the South over manufacturing and northern raw materials, while the South was desperately trying to evade the North's high export tariffs on southern cotton and other agricultural items (profitable only in bulk) and evade the North's control over importation of foreign manufactured goods. And lots of bad political blood between the Democrats (predominately Southern) and the new Republican party (predominately Northern), with blood already shed on both sides of the 'border' and in the hallowed halls of Congress itself. By the time the War actually rolled around, it was going to happen no matter what.

    So, #1. If the South took the high road would there have been no war? No. And surprisingly it would not have been Lincoln that caused it, for all his faults I do not believe he would have been the active aggressor, occupation of Fort Sumter notwithstanding. The pressure by the northern populace, the ones that used simple statements like 'stop slavery' and such to get Lincoln elected in the first place would force the issue. There would have been an economic-based naval blockade, which would have resulted in Southern forces being forced to shoot rather than be strangled. Which would have been the excuse for the North to go ground offensive (after building up their troop strength, of course.) Or it would have been something happening in one of the western (for that time) regions, bad blood spilling from Kansas into the rest of both nations, which the North would have used as an excuse to go for it. Hell, just control over the Mississippi river traffic would have done it, as the South would have taxed and tariffed the crap out of goods and materials coming down the Miss from Northern states through New Orleans, and the business grumblings from the North would have built up and exploded. And that's just from the northern perspective.

    From the Southern perspective, more crazy men like John Brown swooping into Southern Territory would have inflamed Southern Blood. And the bad blood from Kansas might have equally pushed Southern sentiment over into active war.

    It was going to happen. One way or another. The mental and economic walls that had built up over the previous 60 years were holding in too much resentment, anger, frustration. The South's more laid back politics clashed heavily with the much more densely populated Norths 'in your face' nanny statist attitudes. By 1858, the die was cast. The drums of war were already sounding, on both sides.

    As to #2, Slavery was already dying a slow death in the South. Southern sentiment was turning against it by the non-slave owners, and economically, new machinery and new methods of cultivation would have doomed it, not the least because of the rise in the white population (one of the main reasons for slavery was lack of access to manpower.) Deeper issues exist on this subject, but slavery was ending, one way or another. Reconstruction done post Lincoln's death just made the transition bad for everyone, and stirred up resentments that screw us up to this day, mainly due to race-baiting jerks from the north like a certain tax-cheating 'reverend' who shall remain nameless, or another 'reverend' who spends all his time not administering to his flock...

    Now that is an interesting question. Would a Lincoln-led Reconstruction been as much of a crusterfruck as the retribution-full non-Lincoln-led Reconstruction turned out to be? Hmmmm.

  10. Beans - who never wears loose t-shirts or sandals or does not shave for days at a timeJune 10, 2018 at 1:13 PM

    Oh, and Blogfather? Nice attempt to say you're going to be away from the computer for the day mowing the yard or hanging with your wife instead of doing your darned job and monitoring the comments every 15 minutes. Admit it. You are shirking your web-duties today, aren't you...

    My blog father, the slacker. What next, sandals with socks, untucked floppy t-shirt 2 sizes too big, a 'Duck Dynasty' beard? Slacker...


    1. I thought I'd disabled all of those cameras...

    2. Speaking as a is never a bad idea to take a day and hang out with your wife...even if it means working on her garden, or taking her to your tractor show. Never, ever a bad idea. Just saying...

  11. easy one....Lincoln never would have abided a divided Union Only one way it was going to end

  12. To number 1, No. The South needed to win quickly, or not at all, as the weaker power. Once the North had a year or two to mobilize fully, Southern defeat was inevitable. An offensive strategy to shock the North to the negotiation table was their only chance. To number 2, Maybe. Economically slavery was dying. But by making it an element of their national consciousness in the war, the South may have clung to it in defiance of rational self interest, as a cultural marker; the way Canadians feel for their crappy national health service.

  13. Damn, I’m still trying to work out the effect an AC-130 would’ve had at the Alamo.

    Given personal experience, Slavery is alive, well and practiced in the US. Well-hidden, but present.

    1. Well, as long as the Mexicans didn't have Soviet/Russian material support, it would have been a slaughter, just from the gatlings. The 40's would have trashed any horses and the 105 would play merry hell with any artillery caissons and ammo wagons left over from the Bofors working over the artillery trains.

      Not to mention being able to take the fight back to Santa Ana's headquarters, and to any materials stores within reasonable reach and ammo levels of the Attack Herc.

      A flight of Apaches would be fun, too. Or one of A-10s. Brrrrrrt….

    2. My vote's for the humble M77 DPICM. Not much by itself, but the fact that they arrive in the tens of thousands via, say, a couple M270 MLRS... Against massed infantry in the open...

      Sure, it's not as glamorous as an A10 flyby, but otoh you don't have to do anything as wild as LAND when you're done time-travelling and borking history... I mean, I guess you could time-travel TWICE, but that's just a bridge too far.

  14. Oh....and the Demmies still support. Illegal immegration anyone.

    1. Illegal immigration, low-cost wage slaves, entrapment by pension plans. Dems always have 'company towns' of one form or another. It's why the structure of any democratic-run organization resembles a plantation. (Actually got this from one of my ex-bosses, in explanation for the really crappy way the democratic-controlled city I live in runs.)

      The Demo plantation affects all surrounding areas, slowly poisoning them too, unlit they become host plantations and spread the infection further.

      Also, most child-slavery/pedophilia rings are... Democrat.

      Most actual slaves over here in the USA (yes, actual human slaves) are held by Democratic 'masters.' Especially 'masters' from certain areas of the world where slavery is practices openly, such as Africa.

      Slavery, modern slavery, not Roman style slavery or 'Viking' style slavery (both examples of where the slaves actually had rights and in some instances more rights than the normal 'free' person. 'Viking' slaves could protest at 'Things' over poor living conditions or bad treatment by masters, and win in the court of the Thing. Somewhat the same in most timeperiods of Rome, though slave rights degraded once Imperial Rome came into being and large scale 'factory farms' came into being.)

  15. That's it. Now OldAFSarge has done it. Making us do his job for him... What? You thought we'd fall for your Tom Sawyer act?

    Well, okay.

    But I'm declaring a Revolt! Revolt I say. We'll unite under the banner of the Little Rhode Island Chowder and Marching Society and... keep commenting at your beck and call... master... er, Sergeant!

    1. Some of is ARE pretty revolting...

    2. Beans, don't make me stop this car.

      FWIW, what some call "chowder" in Little Rhody is no more than clam soup. I don't mind it, but I won't call it chowder. That's made in Maine, the real stuff. (Don't even get me started on that red stuff some call "chowder.")


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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