The Collapse of the Confederacy

In explaining Union victory and Confederate defeat, James McPherson once pointed out, historians tend to emphasize either internal factors (why the Confederacy lost) or external factors (why the Union won).  I happen to think that the management of the Union war effort exploited potential fissures in Confederate society: without the pressure of Union success in 1863/64, those fissures would have been present but would not have had the effect they did.  Think of it as driving a wedge into pre-existing cracks.

Next week I’m going to take a closer look at those fissures and why they widened.  My argument is that in fighting a war for independence the Confederacy challenged the very principles which it was supposed to protect.  In short, it became not only a divisive but counterproductive experience.  I’ll detail my reasoning in several posts, but I wanted to give you a head’s up so that you are prepared to compare the reality of the Confederate experience with the concept of the Confederacy.