. n 105). The total value of goods manufactured in the state of New York alone was over four times that of the entire Confederacy. The Northern states produced 96 percent of the locomotives in the country, and, as for firearms, more of them were made in one Connecticut county than in all the Southern factories combined (“Civil War,” Encyclopedia Americana). The Confederacy had made one fatal mistake: believing that its thriving cotton industry alone would be enough to sustain itself throughout the war.Southerners saw no need to venture into the uncharted industrial territories when good money could be made with cotton.
What they failed to realize was that the cotton boom had done more for the North than it had done for the South. Southerners could grow vast amounts of cotton, but due to the lack of mills, they could do nothing with it. Consequently, the cotton was sold to the Northerners who would use it in their factories to produce wools and linens, which were in turn sold back to the South. This cycle stimulated industrial growth in the Union and stagnated it in the Confederate states (Catton, Reflections 144).
Southern plantation owners erred in believing that the growing textile industries of England and France were highly dependent on their cotton, and that, in the event of war, those countries would come to their rescue (“Civil War,” World Book). They believed that the North would then be forced to acquiesce to the “perfect” Southern society. They were wrong. During the war years, the economical superiority of the Union, which had been so eminent before the war, was cemented.The Civil War gave an even bigger boost to the already growing factories in the North. The troops needed arms and warm clothes on a constant basis, and Northern Industry was glad to provide them. By 1862, the Union could boast of its capacity to manufacture almost all of its own war materials using its own resources (Brinkley et al.
415). The South, on the other hand, was fatally dependent on outside resources for its war needs.Dixie was not only lagging far behind in the factories. It had also chosen to disregard two other all-important areas in which the North had chosen to thrive: transportation and communication. . .
.the Railroad, the Locomotive, and the Telegraph- -iron, steam, and lightning-these three mighty genii of civilization . . . will know no lasting pause until the whole vast line of railway shall completed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. (Furnas 357) During the antebellum years, the North American populace especially had shown a great desire for an effective mode of transportation.
For a long time, canals had been used to transport people and goods across large amounts of land which were accessible by water, but, with continuing growth and expansion, these canals were becoming obsolete and a symbol of frustration to many Northerners.They simply needed a way to transport freight and passengers across terrains where waterways did not exist (Brinkley et al. 256-59). The first glimmer of hope came as Americas first primitive locomotive, powered by a vertical wood-fired boiler, puffed out of Charleston hauling a cannon and gun crew firing salutes (Catton, Glory Road 237). Ironically enough, this revolution had begun in the South, but there it would not prosper. The Railroading industry quickly blossomed in the North, where it provided a much needed alternative to canals, but could never quite get a foothold in the South. Much of this can be accredited to the fact that Northern engineers were experienced in the field of ironworking and had no problem constructing vast amounts of intricate rail lines, while Southerners, still fledglings in the field, simply hobbled.This hobbling was quite unmistakable at the outbreak of the Civil War.
The Union, with its some 22,000 miles of track, was able to transport weaponry, clothes, food, soldiers, and whatever supplies were needed to almost any location in the entire theater. Overall, this greatly aided the Northern war effort and worked to increase the morale of the troops. The South, on the other hand, could not boast such logistical prowess. With its meager production of only four percent of the nation”s locomotives and its scant 9,000 miles of track, the Confederacy stood in painful awareness of its inferiority (Randall and Donald 8). Trackage figures alone, though, do not tell the entire story of the weakness of the South”s railroad”s system.Another obstacle arose in the problem of track gauge. The gauge, or width of track, frequently varied from rail to rail in the South. Therefore, goods would often have to be taken off one train and transferred to another before moving on to their final destination.
Any perishable goods had to be stored in warehouses if there were any delays, and this was not an uncommon occurrence. There also existed a problem in the fact that there were large gaps between many crucial parts of the South, which required suppliers to make detours over long distances or to carry goods between rails by wagon (Catton, The Coming Fury 434). As the war progressed, the Confederate railroad system steadily deteriorated, and, by the end of the struggle, it had all but collapsed.Communication, or rather lack thereof, was another impediment to Southern economical growth. The telegraph had burst into American life in 1844, when Samuel Morse first transmitted, from the Supreme Court chamber in the capitol to Alfred Vail in Baltimore, his famous words “What hath God wrought!” (Brinkley et al. 314).
The advent of this fresh form of communication greatly facilitated the operation of the railroad lines in the North. Telegraph lines ran along the tracks, connecting one station to the next and aiding the scheduling of the trains.Moreover, the telegraph provided instant communication between distant cities, tying the nation together like never before. Yet, ironically, it also buttressed the growing schism between the two diverging societies (314). The South, unimpressed by this new modern technology and not having the money to experiment, chose not to delve very deeply into its development. Pity, they would learn to regret it.
By 1860, the North had laid over 90 percent of the nation”s some 50,000 miles of telegraph wire. Morse”s telegraph had become an ideal answer to the problems of long-distance communication, with its latest triumph of land taking shape in the form of the Pacific telegraph, which ran from New York to San Francisco and used 3,595 miles of wire (Brinkley et al. 315).The North, as with all telegraph lines, embraced its relatively low cost and ease of construction.
The Pacific telegraph brought the agricultural Northwest together with the more industrious Northeast and the blossoming West, forming an alliance which would prove to break the back of the ever-weakening South (324-25). The Civil War was a trying time for both the Union and the Confederacy alike, but the question of its outcome was obvious from the start. The North was guaranteed a decisive victory over the ill-equipped South. Northerners, prepared to endure the deprivation of war, were startled to find that they were experiencing an enormous industrial boom even after the first year of war. Indeed, the only Northern industry that suffered from the war was the carrying trade (Catton, Reflections 144).To the South, however, the war was a draining and debilitating leech, sucking the land dry of any semblance of economical formidability. No financial staple was left untouched; all were subject to diminishment and exhaustion. This agrarian South, with its traditional values and beliefs, decided not to cultivate two crops which would prove quite crucial in the outcome of the Civil War.
Those crops were industry and progress, and without them the South was doomed to defeat. A wise man he was, that Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.A wise man indeed. Appendices (Note: appendices taken from Brinkley et al. 315-17, 415) Works Cited Angle, Paul M. A Pictorial History of the Civil War Years.
Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967.Brinkley, Alan, et al. American History: A Survey. New York: McGraw, 1991. Catton, Bruce. The Army of the Potomac: Glory Road.Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1952.
—. The Coming Fury. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1961. Vol 2 of The Centennial History of the Civil War. 3 vols. n.
d.—. Reflections on the Civil War. Ed. John Leekley.
1st ed.Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1981. Civil War. Encyclopedia Americana. 1987 ed. Civil War.
World Book Encyclopedia.1981 ed. Cotton. World Book Encyclopedia. 1981 ed. Furnas, J.C.
The Americans: A Social History of the United States 1587-1914.New York: Putnam, 1969. Jones, Donald C. Telephone Interview. 28 Feb.
1993. Industrial Revolution. World Book Encyclopedia.1981 ed. Paludan, Philip Shaw. A Peoples Contest.
New York: Harper, 1988. Randall, J.G., and David Herbert Donald.The Civil War and Reconstruction. Lexington, Massachusetts: Heath, 1969.