Daniel has a bachelor's degree in background from CSUF. While loving all elements of history, there’s constantly those unique moments in history.

You are watching: What advantage did the south have over the north at the beginning of the civil war?


Union victory was not inescapable

The Lost reason tradition is a popular myth of the American Civil war that believes that the southern was never ever able to success the war. However, it is frequently accepted among modern-day historians that the South had actually a very an excellent chance at winning, especially at the beginning of the war, early out to numerous advantages. This post will examine exactly how the physiological, geographic, and also leadership advantages of the South confirmed to have actually a really decisive roll in the war. There to be nothing inevitable around the phibìc winning the war, the Confederacy's many advantages proved that the American Civil battle would it is in a long, bloody battle that the Union would need to fight tremendously hard come win.

The emotional Advantage

The South had actually exponential benefits going right into the war, many of i beg your pardon became evident in the first couple of campaigns. The an initial and most well seen advantage at the start of the war was the mental advantage; the Southerner's residence was being invaded and also they necessary to protect themselves, your families, and their method of life. A Confederate soldier was asked why he is fighting against the Union soldiers and also simply replied, "because they room down here". The southern saw the battle as an act of northern aggression as well as a battle of independence, and their fight against the Union was essential to protect their homes from the invading North. It appears as the Confederacy continued to obtain momentum with each victory as they much more or less dominated the battlefield and also came reasonably close come marching top top Washington. Even after Gettysburg, i beg your pardon many cite as the turning point in the battle (but is the subject of historic debate), moral among Southern troops remained high prior to it progressively dwindled with each new Union victory. Yet for the very first years of the battle the southern seemed almost unstoppable and their confidence to be proven with numerous victories.


The Confederates had the perspective that their reason in the battle was right, and that the battle was one of north Aggression. This sentiment deserve to still it is in seen and felt this particular day in several of the southerly states.


The Shenandoah Valley, circled in red, verified to it is in a really effective natural defense as numerous Union troops were forced into the deadly funnel wherein they met their death from strong fortified Confederate positions throughout the valley.

The geographical Advantage

The second advantage the Confederacy had against the Union was the geography of the South. The see of the southern says not only provided natural defenses but additionally an economic advantage. Mountains, swamps, and also rivers identified the geography of the southern states, i m sorry proved quickly defensible and also gave the phibìc great challenge in advancing throughout the terrain. Also, the south was one agricultural society due come the climate and also fertile lands. Cash crops such together tobacco and cotton prospered in the southern plantations and with noodle in such high need due come the industry world and the farming textile industries, the crop became a money tree for southerly society. Cotton was additionally used as a diplomatic device as at this time about two-thirds the the world's cotton come from the American South. The Confederacy would actually use this diplomatic advantage in trying to get the support of the British, which consequently would gain the support of the French. However, the blockade the Union implemented on southern ports follow me with continuous Union pressure brought about the two countries to hesitate their allegiance until the North won multiple campaigns and also basically secured a Union win in 1865 at which suggest the two countries saw no allude in acquiring involved. Had actually they known the Confederacy and also joined the war on your behalf, the united States may be really different today.


The Shenandoah valley was a prime example of the location of the American south as the sink was surrounding by substantial ridges and noted a strong natural defense because that the Confederacy.

The leadership Advantage

Lastly, the South had the advantage of solid leadership. Numerous Southern political and military leaders were graduates the the armed forces academy at West Point, and veterans of battles such as the Mexican-American War. If the Union struggled because that the first few years of the battle to find solid leaders who would struggle the enemy and avoid politics involvement, Jefferson Davis verified to be a really efficient leader in politics while Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson to be bringing an excellent military victories to the Confederacy without suspicion or political aspirations. Meanwhile Union leaders together as general McClellan, exhibited negative tactical decisions and also were much more interested in politics and their future careers rather than fighting the war they to be in. Till the Lincoln might figure out how to arrange the generalship the his Union army, Ulysses S. Approve being his saving grace in turning the Union army roughly in 1864, the Confederate army would simply encounter win after success all while your soldiers and also leaders room gaining beneficial combat experience. Back the Confederacy had a solid core of leaders at the start of the war, management would prove come be problem in the later years. The main problem developed between Davis' and also Lee's belief on exactly how to success the war. Davis supported for win by not losing, i beg your pardon entailed the Confederacy defending the southern until the north had tired their will certainly to hit and resolved for peace. Top top the various other hand, Lee advocated for win by victory, or shedding by not winning, which intended that success was just attainable by completely defeating the Union and capturing Washington. Lee would certainly be can not to attain this sort of success as his accident in the war proved devastating as the southern did not have the manpower to change their casualties.


The Confederacy entered the war with solid leaders who were so efficient it seemed that they would win the war until 1863, and also even after Gettysburg there was still the possibility of a southern victory.


In conclusion, the South had many benefits which proved that north victory would certainly be extremely difficult. The geography gave the Confederacy organic defenses the hampered Union movement, while cotton offered the South great economic and diplomatic leverage. Overall, the Southern perspective of defending their method of life and also their residences from the "Northern invaders" showed that there was nothing inevitable around Northern victory in the American civil War. These advantages would prove devastating versus the Union as they tried, there is no much early success, to regain the joined States and would cost the country plenty of lives by producing a variety of casualties the surpasses that of any type of war the United states has dealt with to date.

Questions & Answers

Question: What economic advantages did the North have actually over the south in hold together States' history?

Answer: The Union had actually the power of industry and made a lot native textiles, however the South's enslavement drove the farming economy the the South and also providing noodle for the North's textiles. However, even with the lose of their main supply of noodle for textiles, the Union's power of industry enabled them to store the economy reasonably stable and keep production going. Usually the North's economic climate was secure enough and industrially strong enough to outproduce the dying southerly economy.


Daniel White (author) top top June 08, 2018:

I'd say they every were, together was shown in the Confederacy's initial winning streak of fight after battle. The South appeared to have all their advantages at the appropriate time as soon as the war started, which take it the Union a few years to overcome when the Union forged out their own advantages. Also, these were all in the start of the war because towards the finish of the war the South's moral was dropping together their casualties continued to rise without guys replacing those lost on the battlefield, the Union marched into and began destroying some that the geographic advantages (the "scorched earth" policy), and also the South's leaders to be being defeated, especially Stonewall Jackson once he was eliminated by his own guys on accident.

bob ~ above June 06, 2018:

Which to be an benefit for the southern at the start of the civil War?

CJ Kelly indigenous the PNW on might 29, 2016:

Great hub. I constantly thought it was the mindset of the Confederate soldier (both officer & grunt). That's the only thing the really sustained them after 1863. It's impressive they it s long as lengthy as they did. The Union overcame enormous geography early in the War. They take it Vicksburg, brand-new Orleans and also controlled the Mississippi by 1863.

Really good job. Common everywhere.

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Daniel White (author) on might 28, 2016:

While the phibìc did have a very prosperous industrial culture emerging, the South's cotton sector was quiet invaluable due to the fact that it sustained not only the North's industry but the world's, particularly in the farming textile industry. Together for European countries supporting the Confederacy, enslavement was not an issue. France had actually their understanding in the South due to the fact that of Napoleon III's interest in Mexico, and also was even close to sending out French troops to support the southern through Mexico. Also, the Haitian change still left bitterness feelings end the independence of slaves for the French. Britain's attention was economical, largely with the textile and also cotton industry which was sustained by the South's slaves, and also even still supported slavery until 1862 once the African servant Trade treaty Act suppressed the Atlantic slave Trade for good. Many thanks for her comments and insight!

Howard Schneider indigenous Parsippany, brand-new Jersey on might 27, 2016:

Very exciting Hub about the benefits the Confederacy had during the civil War. I think the psychological and geographical benefits of defending your home ground were the many key. It is true noodle was a very solid commodity for them yet the North's in its entirety industrial wealth complicated far outweighed the cotton industry. The is true that some in Europe might have thought the idea of supporting the south to it is in a sound one, however in the end they could not support a culture that to be supporting enslavement as method of life. Fantastic job, Daniel.