Confederate States

 

This page provides background to the situation in the Confederate States during the Civil War

 

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Union and Confederacy Statistics
Union
Confederacy
Population: 22,300,000 9,100,000 (3.5 million slaves)
Factories: 110,000 18,000
Shipping (tonnage): 4,600,000 290,000
Workers: 1,300,000 110,000
Cotton Production: 43,000 bales 5,344,000 bales
Wheat and Corn Production: 698,000,000 bushels 314,000,000 bushels
Data from: Davidson et al. Nation of Nations, p. 562

 

The View from the Confederacy

The Confederate States of America (CSA) consisted of eleven states that seceded from the Union before or after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and 1861. They were: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

Together, they formed a government with a constitution under president Jefferson Davis. Originally, the capital was located in Montgomery, Alabama, but was moved to Richmond, Virginia after that state joined the CSA.

During the war, the CSA desperately hoped for military aid from European powers. If England or France recognized the CSA as a sovereign power, they might lend military aid. Otherwise, the industry and manufacturing was dominated by the USA. The USA used its many manufacturing plants to make weapons, ammunition, and other supplies essential for the maintenance of a war. The CSA thought that England would have to support them based on their need for cotton, but instead, it began looking for other means to obtain cotton. This threatened to cripple the agrarian Confederate economy which exported at least 1/2 of its cotton to England. Cotton was so important to the Confederate economy, that their currency was backed by it. In addition, the people of England thought the “institution” of slavery was an abomination, and were willing to forego cotton, and a host of other possible consequences, to stay neutral.

The Confederacy had a host of problems once the Civil War began, even after the initial victory at Bull Run in 1861. The CSA’s lack of manpower and industrial and manufacturing plants eventually sealed their fate. The lack of industrial plants in the CSA precluded them from fixing up breeched railroad lines in a timely manner. In addition, by 1862, Union forces controlled much of the vast southern river system, making Confederate movements difficult and blockading ports. After the fall of Vicksburg in 1863, the western portion of the Confederacy was virtually useless, and the ports at the Gulf of Mexico were under Union control. Union forces threatened to starve parts of the CSA because the CSA could no longer import or export.

By 1865, life in the Confederacy was very difficult. Large sections had been destroyed by Union forces, as virtually every battle (with just a few exceptions) took place on southern soil. The once great Confederate Army was systematically crushed by relentless Union forces in Virginia. Most of Georgia and much of South Carolina was destroyed during Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864, and by 1865, many large southern cities were captured, besieged, or abandoned. On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederacy. For many Southerners, the end came as a relief.