American Civil War: How the South could have won

They could have used the Fabien Strategy

The Fabien strategy, named after the Roman general who invented it, avoids fighting pitched battles and frontal assaults wherever necessary. The focus is to wear an opponent down through attrition and skirmishes that are designed to disrupt supply lines and lessen morale. Southern generals like Robert E Lee are praised for their tactical genius, and he was called the American Napoleon, but his battles were bloody affairs. The Confederacy simply could not sustain the same amount of casualties as the Union so taking this pressure off could have secured a Southern victory.
They didn’t have to win, just not lose

With the Union armies invading from the North, the Confederacy had the geographical advantage. With public opinion in the North wavering, calls for a ceasefire from groups like the Copperheads and The Peace Movement were putting pressure on the government. If the South could have capitalised on this and bought the Union to the negotiating table, perhaps favourable terms for a ceasefire could have been drawn up.

They could have enlisted International aid

Although not officially recognised as a sovereign country by the rest of the world, the Confederacy did have strong international ties. It produced over 80 per cent of the world’s cotton and wanted to increase demand by hoarding it just before the naval blockade by the Union was set up. Enlisting the military support of mighty powers like Great Britain and France could have helped threaten the Union’s ability to trade and demand peace negotiations.

Employed competent leaders

The South is seen as having the better military commanders during the war but this mainly stems from what is called the Lost Cause, championed by the South after the war. Essentially it romanticized the southern military and portrayed General Lee as the perfect military general and strategist. While Lee was a very capable leader, men like Generals Hood and Bragg are seen as just being incompetent as military commanders compared to the North’s leaders like Grant and Sherman. If the South wanted any chance of victory, it would need to shake up its command structure.

Gained the technological edge

With balloons, steam powered ironclads and rapid-firing guns becoming more popular, both sides sought to gain the technological advantage over the other. The South even hit upon the idea to build a helicopter, almost 100 years before they would be used by the US in Vietnam. Using a steam engine to drive two enormous Archimedean screws, the device was intended to fly above the battlefield raining destruction down on the Union from above. Lack of funds grounded the project but if it had been built there it might have given the Southern military the edge it needed.

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