The war for southern independence was surely to be fought in Virginia, but it also had the largest Southern military-aged white population, with infrastructure, resources and supplies required to sustain a war. The Davis Administration's policy was that, "It must be held at all hazards. The naming of Richmond as the new capital took place on May 30, , and the last two sessions of the Provisional Congress were held in the new capital.
The Permanent Confederate Congress and President were elected in the states and army camps on November 6, The Second Congress met there in two sessions, from May 2, , to March 18, As war dragged on, Richmond became crowded with training and transfers, logistics and hospitals.
Prices rose dramatically despite government efforts at price regulation. A movement in Congress led by Henry S. Foote of Tennessee argued for moving the capital from Richmond. At the approach of Federal armies in mid, the government's archives were readied for removal. As the Wilderness Campaign progressed, Congress authorized Davis to remove the executive department and call Congress to session elsewhere in and again in Shortly before the end of the war, the Confederate government evacuated Richmond, planning to relocate farther south.
Unionism was widespread in the Confederacy, especially in the mountain regions of Appalachia and the Ozarks. Union forces captured parts of coastal North Carolina, and at first were welcomed by local unionists. That changed as the occupiers became perceived as oppressive, callous, radical and favorable to the Freedmen.
Occupiers engaged in pillaging, freeing of slaves, and eviction of those refusing to take or reneging on the loyalty oaths, as ex-Unionists began to support the Confederate cause. Support for the Confederacy was perhaps weakest in Texas; Claude Elliott estimates that only a third of the population actively supported the Confederacy. Many unionists supported the Confederacy after the war began, but many others clung to their unionism throughout the war, especially in the northern counties, the German districts, and the Mexican areas. Campbell states, "In spite of terrible losses and hardships, most Texans continued throughout the war to support the Confederacy as they had supported secession".
In Texas local officials harassed unionists and engaged in large-scale massacres against unionists and Germans. In Cooke County suspected unionists were arrested; 25 were lynched without trial and 40 more were hanged after a summary trial. Draft resistance was widespread especially among Texans of German or Mexican descent; many of the latter went to Mexico. Potential draftees went into hiding, Confederate officials hunted them down, and many were shot. Civil liberties were of small concern in North and South. Lincoln and Davis both took a hard line against dissent.
Neely explores how the Confederacy became a virtual police state with guards and patrols all about, and a domestic passport system whereby everyone needed official permission each time they wanted to travel. Over 4, suspected unionists were imprisoned without trial. During the four years of its existence under trial by war, the Confederate States of America asserted its independence and appointed dozens of diplomatic agents abroad. None were ever officially recognized by a foreign government. The United States government regarded the southern states as being in rebellion and so refused any formal recognition of their status.
Even before Fort Sumter , U. Secretary of State William H. Seward instructed Adams that if the British government seemed inclined to recognize the Confederacy, or even waver in that regard, it was to receive a sharp warning, with a strong hint of war:. The United States government never declared war on those "kindred and countrymen" in the Confederacy, but conducted its military efforts beginning with a presidential proclamation issued April 15, Mid-war parleys between the two sides occurred without formal political recognition, though the laws of war predominantly governed military relationships on both sides of uniformed conflict.
Staten M. Rall (Author of True Blue Confederate)
On the part of the Confederacy, immediately following Fort Sumter the Confederate Congress proclaimed that "war exists between the Confederate States and the Government of the United States, and the States and Territories thereof". A state of war was not to formally exist between the Confederacy and those states and territories in the United States allowing slavery, although Confederate Rangers were compensated for destruction they could effect there throughout the war.
White , 74 U. Stephens, its former Vice-President, both wrote postwar arguments in favor of secession's legality and the international legitimacy of the Government of the Confederate States of America, most notably Davis' The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Once war with the United States began, the Confederacy pinned its hopes for survival on military intervention by Great Britain and France.
The Confederates who had believed that " cotton is king " — that is, that Britain had to support the Confederacy to obtain cotton — proved mistaken. The British had stocks to last over a year and had been developing alternative sources of cotton, most notably India and Egypt.
They were not about to go to war with the U. Mason went to London and John Slidell traveled to Paris. They were unofficially interviewed, but neither secured official recognition for the Confederacy. In late the seizure of two senior Confederate diplomats aboard a British ship by the U. Queen Victoria insisted on giving the Americans an exit route and Lincoln took it, releasing the two diplomats. Tensions cooled, and the Confederacy gained no advantage.
In recent years most historians argue that the risk of actual war over the Trent Affair was small, because it would have hurt both sides. William Ewart Gladstone , the British Chancellor of the Exchequer finance minister, in office — , whose family wealth was based on slavery, was the key Minister calling for intervention to help the Confederacy achieve independence.
He failed to convince prime minister Palmerston. War would have meant higher taxes in Britain, another invasion of Canada, and full-scale worldwide attacks on the British merchant fleet. Outright recognition would have meant certain war with the United States; in mid fears of race war as had transpired in the Haitian Revolution of — led to the British considering intervention for humanitarian reasons. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not lead to interracial violence, let alone a bloodbath, but it did give the friends of the Union strong talking points in the arguments that raged across Britain.
The money went to buy ironclad warships, as well as military supplies that came in with blockade runners. The British investors' goal was to get highly profitable cotton. Several European nations maintained diplomats in place who had been appointed to the U. Those nations recognized the Union and Confederate sides as belligerents. In the Confederacy expelled European diplomatic missions for advising their resident subjects to refuse to serve in the Confederate army.
Some state governments in northern Mexico negotiated local agreements to cover trade on the Texas border. But the Holy See never released a formal statement supporting or recognizing the Confederacy. In his report to Richmond, Mann claimed a great diplomatic achievement for himself, asserting the letter was "a positive recognition of our Government". Benjamin told Mann it was "a mere inferential recognition, unconnected with political action or the regular establishment of diplomatic relations" and thus did not assign it the weight of formal recognition.
Nevertheless, the Confederacy was seen internationally as a serious attempt at nationhood, and European governments sent military observers, both official and unofficial, to assess whether there had been a de facto establishment of independence. Importantly in , the Frenchman Charles Girard 's Seven months in the rebel states during the North American War testified "this government Many persons will doubtless highly disapprove of some of their customs and habits in the wilder portion of the country; but I think no generous man, whatever may be his political opinions, can do otherwise than admire the courage, energy, and patriotism of the whole population, and the skill of its leaders, in this struggle against great odds.
And I am also of opinion that many will agree with me in thinking that a people in which all ranks and both sexes display a unanimity and a heroism which can never have been surpassed in the history of the world, is destined, sooner or later, to become a great and independent nation. Roebuck and John A. There would be no help from the Europeans. By December Davis considered sacrificing slavery in order to enlist recognition and aid from Paris and London; he secretly sent Duncan F.
Kenner to Europe with a message that the war was fought solely for "the vindication of our rights to self-government and independence" and that "no sacrifice is too great, save that of honor". The message stated that if the French or British governments made their recognition conditional on anything at all, the Confederacy would consent to such terms. European leaders all saw that the Confederacy was on the verge of total defeat.
The great majority of young white men voluntarily joined Confederate national or state military units. Perman says historians are of two minds on why millions of men seemed so eager to fight, suffer and die over four years:. Some historians emphasize that Civil War soldiers were driven by political ideology, holding firm beliefs about the importance of liberty, Union, or state rights, or about the need to protect or to destroy slavery.
Others point to less overtly political reasons to fight, such as the defense of one's home and family, or the honor and brotherhood to be preserved when fighting alongside other men. Most historians agree that, no matter what he thought about when he went into the war, the experience of combat affected him profoundly and sometimes affected his reasons for continuing to fight. Civil War historian E. Merton Coulter noted that for those who would secure its independence, "The Confederacy was unfortunate in its failure to work out a general strategy for the whole war". Aggressive strategy called for offensive force concentration.
Defensive strategy sought dispersal to meet demands of locally minded governors. The controlling philosophy evolved into a combination "dispersal with a defensive concentration around Richmond". The Davis administration considered the war purely defensive, a "simple demand that the people of the United States would cease to war upon us".
McPherson is a critic of Lee's offensive strategy: "Lee pursued a faulty military strategy that ensured Confederate defeat". As the Confederate government lost control of territory in campaign after campaign, it was said that "the vast size of the Confederacy would make its conquest impossible". The enemy would be struck down by the same elements which so often debilitated or destroyed visitors and transplants in the South. Heat exhaustion, sunstroke, endemic diseases such as malaria and typhoid would match the destructive effectiveness of the Moscow winter on the invading armies of Napoleon.
Early in the war both sides believed that one great battle would decide the conflict; the Confederates won a great victory at the First Battle of Bull Run , also known as First Manassas the name used by Confederate forces. It drove the Confederate people "insane with joy"; the public demanded a forward movement to capture Washington, relocate the Confederate capital there, and admit Maryland to the Confederacy. Davis did not countermand it. Following the Confederate incursion halted at the Battle of Antietam in October , generals proposed concentrating forces from state commands to re-invade the north.
Nothing came of it. But the troops there remained in place during the Gettysburg Campaign. The eleven states of the Confederacy were outnumbered by the North about four to one in white men of military age. It was overmatched far more in military equipment, industrial facilities, railroads for transport, and wagons supplying the front.
Confederate military policy innovated to slow the invaders, but at heavy cost to the Southern infrastructure. The Confederates burned bridges, laid land mines in the roads, and made harbors inlets and inland waterways unusable with sunken mines called "torpedoes" at the time.
Coulter reports:. As Federals occupied the South, objections by loyal Confederate concerning Ranger horse-stealing and indiscriminate scorched earth tactics behind Union lines led to Congress abolishing the Ranger service two years later. The Confederacy relied on external sources for war materials. The first came from trade with the enemy. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to success in the 19th-century warfare of mass armies was the Confederacy's lack of manpower, and sufficient numbers of disciplined, equipped troops in the field at the point of contact with the enemy.
During the winter of —63, Lee observed that none of his famous victories had resulted in the destruction of the opposing army. He lacked reserve troops to exploit an advantage on the battlefield as Napoleon had done. Lee explained, "More than once have most promising opportunities been lost for want of men to take advantage of them, and victory itself had been made to put on the appearance of defeat, because our diminished and exhausted troops have been unable to renew a successful struggle against fresh numbers of the enemy. The Confederate military leadership included many veterans from the United States Army and United States Navy who had resigned their Federal commissions and had won appointment to senior positions in the Confederate armed forces.
Lee and Jefferson Davis , but some such as Leonidas Polk who graduated from West Point but did not serve in the Army had little or no experience. Navy Jack — light blue cross; also square canton , white fly. The Confederate officer corps consisted of men from both slave-owning and non-slave-owning families.
The Confederacy appointed junior and field grade officers by election from the enlisted ranks. Although no Army service academy was established for the Confederacy, some colleges such as The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute maintained cadet corps that trained Confederate military leadership. A naval academy was established at Drewry's Bluff , Virginia  in , but no midshipmen graduated before the Confederacy's end.
The soldiers of the Confederate armed forces consisted mainly of white males aged between 16 and The median year of birth was , so half the soldiers were 23 or older by A majority of those in uniform would not re-enlist following their one-year commitment, so on April 16, , the Confederate Congress enacted the first mass conscription on the North American continent.
The Character of Lee
Congress followed a year later on March 3, , with the Enrollment Act. Rather than a universal draft, the initial program was a selective service with physical, religious, professional and industrial exemptions. These were narrowed as the war progressed. Initially substitutes were permitted, but by December these were disallowed. In September the age limit was increased from 35 to 45 and by February , all men under 18 and over 45 were conscripted to form a reserve for state defense inside state borders.
By March , the Superintendent of Conscription reported that all across the Confederacy, every officer in constituted authority, man and woman, "engaged in opposing the enrolling officer in the execution of his duties". Many thousands of slaves served as laborers, cooks, and pioneers. Some freed blacks and men of color served in local state militia units of the Confederacy, primarily in Louisiana and South Carolina, but their officers deployed them for "local defense, not combat". In early , the Confederate Congress, influenced by the public support by General Lee, approved the recruitment of black infantry units.
Contrary to Lee's and Davis's recommendations, the Congress refused "to guarantee the freedom of black volunteers". No more than two hundred black combat troops were ever raised. The immediate onset of war meant that it was fought by the "Provisional" or "Volunteer Army".
State governors resisted concentrating a national effort. Several wanted a strong state army for self-defense. Others feared large "Provisional" armies answering only to Davis. It was important to raise troops; it was just as important to provide capable officers to command them. With few exceptions the Confederacy secured excellent general officers.
Efficiency in the lower officers was "greater than could have been reasonably expected". As with the Federals, political appointees could be indifferent. Otherwise, the officer corps was governor-appointed or elected by unit enlisted. Promotion to fill vacancies was made internally regardless of merit, even if better officers were immediately available. Anticipating the need for more "duration" men, in January Congress provided for company level recruiters to return home for two months, but their efforts met little success on the heels of Confederate battlefield defeats in February.
States responded by passing their own draft laws. The veteran Confederate army of early was mostly twelve-month volunteers with terms about to expire. Enlisted reorganization elections disintegrated the army for two months. Officers pleaded with the ranks to re-enlist, but a majority did not. Those remaining elected majors and colonels whose performance led to officer review boards in October.
The boards caused a "rapid and widespread" thinning out of incompetent officers. Troops thereafter would elect only second lieutenants. In early , the popular press suggested the Confederacy required a million men under arms. But veteran soldiers were not re-enlisting, and earlier secessionist volunteers did not reappear to serve in war. One Macon, Georgia , newspaper asked how two million brave fighting men of the South were about to be overcome by four million northerners who were said to be cowards.
The Confederacy passed the first American law of national conscription on April 16, The white males of the Confederate States from 18 to 35 were declared members of the Confederate army for three years, and all men then enlisted were extended to a three-year term. They would serve only in units and under officers of their state. Those under 18 and over 35 could substitute for conscripts, in September those from 35 to 45 became conscripts.
All principals benefiting earlier were made eligible for service. By February , the age bracket was made 17 to 50, those under eighteen and over forty-five to be limited to in-state duty. Confederate conscription was not universal; it was a selective service. The First Conscription Act of April exempted occupations related to transportation, communication, industry, ministers, teaching and physical fitness.
The Second Conscription Act of October expanded exemptions in industry, agriculture and conscientious objection. Exemption fraud proliferated in medical examinations, army furloughs, churches, schools, apothecaries and newspapers. Rich men's sons were appointed to the socially outcast "overseer" occupation, but the measure was received in the country with "universal odium". The legislative vehicle was the controversial Twenty Negro Law that specifically exempted one white overseer or owner for every plantation with at least 20 slaves.
Backpedalling six months later, Congress provided overseers under 45 could be exempted only if they held the occupation before the first Conscription Act. Gabriel J. Rains , Conscription Bureau chief, April — May Gideon J. Pillow , military recruiter under Bragg, then J. Johnston . The Conscription Act of February "radically changed the whole system" of selection. It abolished industrial exemptions, placing detail authority in President Davis. As the shame of conscription was greater than a felony conviction, the system brought in "about as many volunteers as it did conscripts. Still there was shirking.
It had a checkered career of "contention, opposition and futility". Armies appointed alternative military "recruiters" to bring in the out-of-uniform 17—year-old conscripts and deserters. Nearly officers were tasked with the job. By late , Lee was calling for more troops. All exemptions were abolished. These regiments were assigned to recruit conscripts ages 17—50, recover deserters, and repel enemy cavalry raids.
The service retained men who had lost but one arm or a leg in home guards. Ultimately, conscription was a failure, and its main value was in goading men to volunteer. The survival of the Confederacy depended on a strong base of civilians and soldiers devoted to victory. The soldiers performed well, though increasing numbers deserted in the last year of fighting, and the Confederacy never succeeded in replacing casualties as the Union could. The civilians, although enthusiastic in —62, seem to have lost faith in the future of the Confederacy by , and instead looked to protect their homes and communities.
As Rable explains, "This contraction of civic vision was more than a crabbed libertarianism ; it represented an increasingly widespread disillusionment with the Confederate experiment. In January, President James Buchanan had attempted to resupply the garrison with the steamship, Star of the West , but Confederate artillery drove it away. In March, President Lincoln notified South Carolina Governor Pickens that without Confederate resistance to the resupply there would be no military reinforcement without further notice, but Lincoln prepared to force resupply if it were not allowed.
Confederate President Davis, in cabinet, decided to seize Fort Sumter before the relief fleet arrived, and on April 12, , General Beauregard forced its surrender. Following Sumter, Lincoln directed states to provide 75, troops for three months to recapture the Charleston Harbor forts and all other federal property. At all three, Confederate forces could not follow up their victory due to inadequate supply and shortages of fresh troops to exploit their successes. Both North and South began training up armies for major fighting the next year.
McClellan 's forces gained possession of much of northwestern Virginia in mid, concentrating on towns and roads; the interior was too large to control and became the center of guerrilla activity. Lee was defeated at Cheat Mountain in September and no serious Confederate advance in western Virginia occurred until the next year. It took over plantations and the abandoned slaves.
Federals there began a war-long policy of burning grain supplies up rivers into the interior wherever they could not occupy. The victories of were followed by a series of defeats east and west in early To restore the Union by military force, the Federal strategy was to 1 secure the Mississippi River, 2 seize or close Confederate ports, and 3 march on Richmond.
To secure independence, the Confederate intent was to 1 repel the invader on all fronts, costing him blood and treasure, and 2 carry the war into the North by two offensives in time to affect the mid-term elections. Much of northwestern Virginia was under Federal control. Following the repulse of Confederate counter-attack at the Battle of Shiloh , Tennessee, permanent Federal occupation expanded west, south and east.
Confederates withdrew from northern Mississippi and northern Alabama. It had to concede extensive agricultural resources that had supported the Union's sea-supplied logistics base. Along the Confederacy's shores, Union forces had closed ports and made garrisoned lodgments on every coastal Confederate state except Alabama and Texas. During the Civil War fleets of armored warships were deployed for the first time in sustained blockades at sea. After some success against the Union blockade, in March the ironclad CSS Virginia was forced into port and burned by Confederates at their retreat.
Despite several attempts mounted from their port cities, CSA naval forces were unable to break the Union blockade. On the other hand, four new English-built commerce raiders served the Confederacy, and several fast blockade runners were sold in Confederate ports. They were converted into commerce-raiding cruisers, and manned by their British crews. In the east, Union forces could not close on Richmond.
Both armies then turned to winter quarters to recruit and train for the coming spring. In an attempt to seize the initiative, reprovision, protect farms in mid-growing season and influence U. Congressional elections, two major Confederate incursions into Union territory had been launched in August and September Loring pushed Federal forces from Charleston, Virginia , and the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia, but lacking re-inforcements Loring abandoned his position and by November the region was back in Federal control.
The failed Middle Tennessee campaign was ended January 2, , at the inconclusive Battle of Stones River Murfreesboro , both sides losing the largest percentage of casualties suffered during the war. It was followed by another strategic withdrawal by Confederate forces. Without an effective answer to Federal gunboats, river transport and supply, the Confederacy lost the Mississippi River following the capture of Vicksburg , Mississippi, and Port Hudson in July, ending Southern access to the trans-Mississippi West.
Robert E. Lee's strike into Pennsylvania was repulsed at Gettysburg , Pennsylvania despite Pickett's famous charge and other acts of valor. Southern newspapers assessed the campaign as "The Confederates did not gain a victory, neither did the enemy. September and November left Confederates yielding Chattanooga , Tennessee, the gateway to the lower south. In April , the C. Congress authorized a uniformed Volunteer Navy, many of whom were British. In December, the Battle of Nashville ended Confederate operations in the western theater.
Large numbers of families relocated to safer places, usually remote rural areas, bringing along household slaves if they had any. Mary Massey argues these elite exiles introduced an element of defeatism into the southern outlook. The first three months of saw the Federal Carolinas Campaign , devastating a wide swath of the remaining Confederate heartland.
The Confederacy controlled no ports, harbors or navigable rivers. Railroads were captured or had ceased operating. Its major food producing regions had been war-ravaged or occupied. Its administration survived in only three pockets of territory holding one-third its population.
Its armies were defeated or disbanding. At the February Hampton Roads Conference with Lincoln, senior Confederate officials rejected his invitation to restore the Union with compensation for emancipated slaves. The Confederacy's last remaining blockade-running port, Wilmington, North Carolina , was lost. When the Union broke through Lee's lines at Petersburg, Richmond fell immediately. Some high officials escaped to Europe, but President Davis was captured May 10; all remaining Confederate land forces surrendered by June Army took control of the Confederate areas without post-surrender insurgency or guerrilla warfare against them, but peace was subsequently marred by a great deal of local violence, feuding and revenge killings.
Historian Gary Gallagher concluded that the Confederacy capitulated in early because northern armies crushed "organized southern military resistance". The Confederacy's population, soldier and civilian, had suffered material hardship and social disruption. They had expended and extracted a profusion of blood and treasure until collapse; "the end had come". When the war ended over 14, Confederates petitioned President Johnson for a pardon; he was generous in giving them out. There was a great deal of discussion in about bringing treason trials, especially against Jefferson Davis. There was no consensus in President Johnson's cabinet and there were no treason trials against anyone.
In the case of Davis there was a strong possibility of acquittal which would have been humiliating for the government. Davis was indicted for treason but never tried; he was released from prison on bail in May The amnesty of December 25, , by President Johnson eliminated any possibility of Jefferson Davis or anyone else associated with the Confederacy standing trial for treason. Henry Wirz , the commandant of a notorious prisoner-of-war camp near Andersonville, Georgia , was tried and convicted by a military court, and executed on November 10, The charges against him involved conspiracy and cruelty, not treason.
The priorities were: to guarantee that Confederate nationalism and slavery were ended, to ratify and enforce the Thirteenth Amendment which outlawed slavery; the Fourteenth which guaranteed dual U. By , the Compromise of ended Reconstruction in the former Confederate states. Federal troops were withdrawn from the South, where conservative white Southern Democrats had already regained political control of state governments, often through extreme violence and fraud to suppress black voting.
Confederate veterans had been temporarily disenfranchised by Reconstruction policy. The prewar South had many rich areas; the war left the entire region economically devastated by military action, ruined infrastructure, and exhausted resources. Continuing to be dependent on an agricultural economy and resisting investment in infrastructure, the region remained dominated by the planter elite into the 20th century. After the Democratic-dominated legislatures worked to secure their control by passing new constitutions and amendments at the turn of the 20th century that disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites.
This exclusion of blacks from the political system, and great weakening of the Republican Party, was generally maintained until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of The Solid South of the early 20th century was built on white Democratic control of politics. The region did not achieve national levels of prosperity until long after World War II. In Texas v. In this case, the court held that the Constitution did not permit a state to unilaterally secede from the United States. Further, that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null ", under the Constitution.
Furthermore, it decided one of the "central constitutional questions" of the Civil War: The Union is perpetual and indestructible, as a matter of constitutional law. In declaring that no state could leave the Union, "except through revolution or through consent of the States", it was "explicitly repudiating the position of the Confederate states that the United States was a voluntary compact between sovereign states".
Historian Frank Lawrence Owsley argued that the Confederacy "died of states' rights". Georgia's governor Joseph Brown warned of a secret conspiracy by Jefferson Davis to destroy states' rights and individual liberty. The first conscription act in North America authorizing Davis to draft soldiers was said to be the "essence of military despotism". Pendleton Murrah , governor of Texas. Stephens feared losing the very form of republican government. Allowing President Davis to threaten "arbitrary arrests" to draft hundreds of governor-appointed "bomb-proof" bureaucrats conferred "more power than the English Parliament had ever bestowed on the king.
History proved the dangers of such unchecked authority. As Rable concludes, "For Stephens, the essence of patriotism, the heart of the Confederate cause, rested on an unyielding commitment to traditional rights" without considerations of military necessity, pragmatism or compromise. In governor Pendleton Murrah of Texas determined that state troops were required for defense against Plains Indians and Union forces that might attack from Kansas. He refused to send his soldiers to the East. Vance's faith in states' rights drove him into repeated, stubborn opposition to the Davis administration.
Despite political differences within the Confederacy, no national political parties were formed because they were seen as illegitimate. The mid-term elections became mere expressions of futile and frustrated dissatisfaction. According to historian David M. Potter, this lack of a functioning two-party system caused "real and direct damage" to the Confederate war effort since it prevented the formulation of any effective alternatives to the conduct of the war by the Davis administration.
The enemies of President Davis proposed that the Confederacy "died of Davis". He was unfavorably compared to George Washington by critics such as Edward Alfred Pollard , editor of the most influential newspaper the Richmond Examiner. He unwittingly caused much internal dissension from early on. His ill health and temporary bouts of blindness disabled him for days at a time. Coulter says Davis was heroic and his will was indomitable.
But his "tenacity, determination, and will power" stirred up lasting opposition of enemies Davis could not shake. He failed to overcome "petty leaders of the states" who made the term "Confederacy" into a label for tyranny and oppression, denying the " Stars and Bars " from becoming a symbol of larger patriotic service and sacrifice. Instead of campaigning to develop nationalism and gain support for his administration, he rarely courted public opinion, assuming an aloofness, "almost like an Adams".
Escott argues that Davis was unable to mobilize Confederate nationalism in support of his government effectively, and especially failed to appeal to the small farmers who comprised the bulk of the population. In addition to the problems caused by states rights, Escott also emphasizes that the widespread opposition to any strong central government combined with the vast difference in wealth between the slave-owning class and the small farmers created insolvable dilemmas when the Confederate survival presupposed a strong central government backed by a united populace.
The prewar claim that white solidarity was necessary to provide a unified Southern voice in Washington no longer held. Davis failed to build a network of supporters who would speak up when he came under criticism, and he repeatedly alienated governors and other state-based leaders by demanding centralized control of the war effort. Davis was not an efficient administrator. He attended to too many details. He protected his friends after their failures were obvious. He spent too much time on military affairs versus his civic responsibilities. Coulter concludes he was not the ideal leader for the Southern Revolution, but he showed "fewer weaknesses than any other" contemporary character available for the role.
Lee 's assessment of Davis as President was, "I knew of none that could have done as well. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong.
They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation , and the idea of a Government built upon it — when the "storm came and the wind blew, it fell. Alexander H. Stephens , speech to the The Savannah Theatre. March 21, The Confederate States of America openly held and advocated white supremacist beliefs, and worried that Abraham Lincoln's election would lead to an undermining of white supremacy and an abolishment of slavery throughout the South.
The Southern leaders met in Montgomery, Alabama, to write their constitution. Much of the Confederate States Constitution replicated the United States Constitution verbatim, but it contained several explicit protections of the institution of slavery including provisions for the recognition and protection of slavery in any territory of the Confederacy. It maintained the ban on international slave-trading while protecting the existing internal trade of slaves among slaveholding states. In certain areas, the Confederate Constitution gave greater powers to the states or curtailed the powers of the central government more than the U.
Constitution of the time did, but in other areas, the states lost rights they had under the U. Although the Confederate Constitution, like the U. Constitution, contained a commerce clause , the Confederate version prohibited the central government from using revenues collected in one state for funding internal improvements in another state.
The Confederate Constitution's equivalent to the U. Constitution's general welfare clause prohibited protective tariffs but allowed tariffs for providing domestic revenue , and spoke of "carry[ing] on the Government of the Confederate States" rather than providing for the "general welfare". State legislatures had the power to impeach officials of the Confederate government in some cases. On the other hand, the Confederate Constitution contained a Necessary and Proper Clause and a Supremacy Clause that essentially duplicated the respective clauses of the U.
The Confederate Constitution also incorporated each of the 12 amendments to the U. Constitution that had been ratified up to that point. The Confederate Constitution did not specifically include a provision allowing states to secede; the Preamble spoke of each state "acting in its sovereign and independent character" but also of the formation of a "permanent federal government".
During the debates on drafting the Confederate Constitution, one proposal would have allowed states to secede from the Confederacy. The proposal was tabled with only the South Carolina delegates voting in favor of considering the motion. In contrast with the language of the United States Constitution, the Confederate Constitution overtly asked God's blessing " The Montgomery Convention to establish the Confederacy and its executive met on February 4, Each state as a sovereignty had one vote, with the same delegation size as it held in the U.
Congress, and generally 41 to 50 members attended.
One name was placed in nomination for president, one for vice president. Both were elected unanimously, 6—0. Jefferson Davis was elected provisional president. His U. Senate resignation speech greatly impressed with its clear rationale for secession and his pleading for a peaceful departure from the Union to independence. Although he had made it known that he wanted to be commander-in-chief of the Confederate armies, when elected, he assumed the office of Provisional President.
Three candidates for provisional Vice President were under consideration the night before the February 9 election. All were from Georgia, and the various delegations meeting in different places determined two would not do, so Alexander H. Stephens was elected unanimously provisional Vice President, though with some privately held reservations.
Stephens was inaugurated February 11, Davis February They were inaugurated on February 22, Historian E. Coulter observed, "No president of the U. Lincoln inherited an established government of long standing. The creation of the Confederacy was accomplished by men who saw themselves as fundamentally conservative.
Although they referred to their "Revolution", it was in their eyes more a counter-revolution against changes away from their understanding of U. In Davis' inauguration speech, he explained the Confederacy was not a French-like revolution, but a transfer of rule. The Permanent Constitution provided for a President of the Confederate States of America, elected to serve a six-year term but without the possibility of re-election. Unlike the United States Constitution, the Confederate Constitution gave the president the ability to subject a bill to a line item veto , a power also held by some state governors.
The Confederate Congress could overturn either the general or the line item vetoes with the same two-thirds votes required in the U. In addition, appropriations not specifically requested by the executive branch required passage by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress. The only person to serve as president was Jefferson Davis , due to the Confederacy being defeated before the completion of his term. The only two "formal, national, functioning, civilian administrative bodies" in the Civil War South were the Jefferson Davis administration and the Confederate Congresses.
It had one vote per state in a unicameral assembly. The Permanent Confederate Congress was elected and began its first session February 18, The Permanent Congress for the Confederacy followed the United States forms with a bicameral legislature. The Senate had two per state, twenty-six Senators. The House numbered representatives apportioned by free and slave populations within each state. Two Congresses sat in six sessions until March 18, The political influences of the civilian, soldier vote and appointed representatives reflected divisions of political geography of a diverse South.
These in turn changed over time relative to Union occupation and disruption, the war impact on local economy, and the course of the war. Without political parties, key candidate identification related to adopting secession before or after Lincoln's call for volunteers to retake Federal property. Previous party affiliation played a part in voter selection, predominantly secessionist Democrat or unionist Whig. The absence of political parties made individual roll call voting all the more important, as the Confederate "freedom of roll-call voting [was] unprecedented in American legislative history.
For the first year, the unicameral Provisional Confederate Congress functioned as the Confederacy's legislative branch. Jesse J. Finley Florida District. Henry R. Jackson Georgia District. Andrew Magrath South Carolina District. The Confederate Constitution outlined a judicial branch of the government, but the ongoing war and resistance from states-rights advocates, particularly on the question of whether it would have appellate jurisdiction over the state courts, prevented the creation or seating of the "Supreme Court of the Confederate States;" the state courts generally continued to operate as they had done, simply recognizing the Confederate States as the national government.
Confederate district courts began reopening in early , handling many of the same type cases as had been done before. Prize cases, in which Union ships were captured by the Confederate Navy or raiders and sold through court proceedings, were heard until the blockade of southern ports made this impossible.
After a Sequestration Act was passed by the Confederate Congress, the Confederate district courts heard many cases in which enemy aliens typically Northern absentee landlords owning property in the South had their property sequestered seized by Confederate Receivers.
When the matter came before the Confederate court, the property owner could not appear because he was unable to travel across the front lines between Union and Confederate forces. Thus, the District Attorney won the case by default, the property was typically sold, and the money used to further the Southern war effort. This prevented their clients' property from being sold until a supreme court could be constituted to hear the appeal, which never occurred. John H. Reagan Postmaster General.
Jefferson Davis , 5 cent The 1st stamp , George Washington 20 cent, When the Confederacy was formed and its seceding states broke from the Union, it was at once confronted with the arduous task of providing its citizens with a mail delivery system, and, in the midst of the American Civil War , the newly formed Confederacy created and established the Confederate Post Office.
One of the first undertakings in establishing the Post Office was the appointment of John H. Reagan to the position of Postmaster General, by Jefferson Davis in , making him the first Postmaster General of the Confederate Post Office as well as a member of Davis' presidential cabinet. Through Reagan's resourcefulness and remarkable industry, he had his department assembled, organized and in operation before the other Presidential cabinet members had their departments fully operational.
When the war began, the US Post Office still delivered mail from the secessionist states for a brief period of time. Mail that was postmarked after the date of a state's admission into the Confederacy through May 31, , and bearing US postage was still delivered. Later, mail that crossed lines had to be sent by 'Flag of Truce' and was allowed to pass at only two specific points.
Mail sent from the South to the North states was received, opened and inspected at Fortress Monroe on the Virginia coast before being passed on into the U. Mail sent from the North to the South passed at City Point , also in Virginia, where it was also inspected before being sent on. With the chaos of the war, a working postal system was more important than ever for the Confederacy. The Civil War had divided family members and friends and consequently letter writing increased dramatically across the entire divided nation, especially to and from the men who were away serving in an army.
Mail delivery was also important for the Confederacy for a myriad of business and military reasons. Because of the Union blockade, basic supplies were always in demand and so getting mailed correspondence out of the country to suppliers was imperative to the successful operation of the Confederacy. Volumes of material have been written about the Blockade runners who evaded Union ships on blockade patrol, usually at night, and who moved cargo and mail in and out of the Confederate States throughout the course of the war.
Of particular interest to students and historians of the American Civil War is Prisoner of War mail and Blockade mail as these items were often involved with a variety of military and other war time activities. The postal history of the Confederacy along with surviving Confederate mail has helped historians document the various people, places and events that were involved in the American Civil War as it unfolded.
The Confederacy actively used the army to arrest people suspected of loyalty to the United States. Historian Mark Neely found 4, names of men arrested and estimated a much larger total. The Confederate citizen was not any freer than the Union citizen — and perhaps no less likely to be arrested by military authorities. In fact, the Confederate citizen may have been in some ways less free than his Northern counterpart. For example, freedom to travel within the Confederate states was severely limited by a domestic passport system. Across the South, widespread rumors alarmed the whites by predicting the slaves were planning some sort of insurrection.
Patrols were stepped up. The slaves did become increasingly independent, and resistant to punishment, but historians agree there were no insurrections. In the invaded areas, insubordination was more the norm than loyalty to the old master; Bell Wiley says, "It was not disloyalty, but the lure of freedom. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation , an executive order of the U. The long-term effect was that the Confederacy could not preserve the institution of slavery, and lost the use of the core element of its plantation labor force. Slaves were legally freed by the Proclamation, and became free by escaping to federal lines, or by advances of federal troops.
Many freed slaves served as volunteers in the federal army as teamsters, cooks, laundresses and laborers, and eventually as soldiers. Their owners never received compensation. Most whites were subsistence farmers who traded their surpluses locally. The plantations of the South, with white ownership and an enslaved labor force, produced substantial wealth from cash crops. It supplied two-thirds of the world's cotton, which was in high demand for textiles, along with tobacco, sugar, and naval stores such as turpentine.
These raw materials were exported to factories in Europe and the Northeast. Planters reinvested their profits in more slaves and fresh land, for cotton and tobacco depleted the soil. There was little manufacturing or mining; shipping was controlled by outsiders. The plantations that enslaved over three million black people were the principal source of wealth.
Most were concentrated in " black belt " plantation areas because few white families in the poor regions owned slaves. For decades there had been widespread fear of slave revolts. During the war extra men were assigned to "home guard" patrol duty and governors sought to keep militia units at home for protection. Historian William Barney reports, "no major slave revolts erupted during the Civil War.
Slave labor was applied in industry in a limited way in the Upper South and in a few port cities. One reason for the regional lag in industrial development was top-heavy income distribution. Mass production requires mass markets, and slaves living in small cabins, using self-made tools and outfitted with one suit of work clothes each year of inferior fabric, did not generate consumer demand to sustain local manufactures of any description in the same way a mechanized family farm of free labor did in the North.
The Southern economy was "pre-capitalist" in that slaves were put to work in the largest revenue-producing enterprises, not free labor market. That labor system as practiced in the American South encompassed paternalism, whether abusive or indulgent, and that meant labor management considerations apart from productivity. But the Southern economy was pre-capitalist in its overwhelming reliance on the agriculture of cash crops to produce wealth, while the great majority of farmers fed themselves and supplied a small local market.
Southern cities and industries grew faster than ever before, but the thrust of the rest of the country's exponential growth elsewhere was toward urban industrial development along transportation systems of canals and railroads. The South was following the dominant currents of the American economic mainstream, but at a "great distance" as it lagged in the all-weather modes of transportation that brought cheaper, speedier freight shipment and forged new, expanding inter-regional markets.
A third count of southern pre-capitalist economy relates to the cultural setting. The South and southerners did not adopt a work ethic , nor the habits of thrift that marked the rest of the country. It had access to the tools of capitalism, but it did not adopt its culture. The Southern Cause as a national economy in the Confederacy was grounded in "slavery and race, planters and patricians, plain folk and folk culture, cotton and plantations".
The Confederacy started its existence as an agrarian economy with exports, to a world market, of cotton, and, to a lesser extent, tobacco and sugarcane. Local food production included grains, hogs, cattle, and gardens. The cash came from exports but the Southern people spontaneously stopped exports in early to hasten the impact of " King Cotton ". When the blockade was announced, commercial shipping practically ended the ships could not get insurance , and only a trickle of supplies came via blockade runners. The cutoff of exports was an economic disaster for the South, rendering useless its most valuable properties, its plantations and their enslaved workers.
Many planters kept growing cotton, which piled up everywhere, but most turned to food production. All across the region, the lack of repair and maintenance wasted away the physical assets. The main industrial areas were border cities such as Baltimore, Wheeling, Louisville and St. Louis, that were never under Confederate control.
The government did set up munitions factories in the Deep South. Combined with captured munitions and those coming via blockade runners, the armies were kept minimally supplied with weapons. The soldiers suffered from reduced rations, lack of medicines, and the growing shortages of uniforms, shoes and boots. Shortages were much worse for civilians, and the prices of necessities steadily rose. The lack of adequate financial resources led the Confederacy to finance the war through printing money, which led to high inflation. The Confederacy underwent an economic revolution by centralization and standardization, but it was too little too late as its economy was systematically strangled by blockade and raids.
In peacetime, the South's extensive and connected systems of navigable rivers and coastal access allowed for cheap and easy transportation of agricultural products. The railroad system in the South had developed as a supplement to the navigable rivers to enhance the all-weather shipment of cash crops to market. Railroads tied plantation areas to the nearest river or seaport and so made supply more dependable, lowered costs and increased profits.
In the event of invasion, the vast geography of the Confederacy made logistics difficult for the Union. Wherever Union armies invaded, they assigned many of their soldiers to garrison captured areas and to protect rail lines. At the onset of the Civil War the South had a rail network disjointed and plagued by changes in track gauge as well as lack of interchange.
Locomotives and freight cars had fixed axles and could not use tracks of different gauges widths. Railroads of different gauges leading to the same city required all freight to be off-loaded onto wagons for transport to the connecting railroad station, where it had to await freight cars and a locomotive before proceeding. Due to this design limitation, the relatively primitive railroads of the Confederacy were unable to overcome the Union naval blockade of the South's crucial intra-coastal and river routes. The Confederacy had no plan to expand, protect or encourage its railroads.
Southerners' refusal to export the cotton crop in left railroads bereft of their main source of income. In the early years of the war the Confederate government had a hands-off approach to the railroads.
Confederate battle flag: Separating the myths from facts
Only in mid did the Confederate government initiate a national policy, and it was confined solely to aiding the war effort. In contrast, the U. Congress had authorized military administration of Union-controlled railroad and telegraph systems in January , imposed a standard gauge, and built railroads into the South using that gauge.
Confederate armies successfully reoccupying territory could not be resupplied directly by rail as they advanced. The C. Congress formally authorized military administration of railroads in February In the last year before the end of the war, the Confederate railroad system stood permanently on the verge of collapse. There was no new equipment and raids on both sides systematically destroyed key bridges, as well as locomotives and freight cars.
Spare parts were cannibalized; feeder lines were torn up to get replacement rails for trunk lines, and rolling stock wore out through heavy use. The Confederate army experienced a persistent shortage of horses and mules, and requisitioned them with dubious promissory notes given to local farmers and breeders. Union forces paid in real money and found ready sellers in the South. Both armies needed horses for cavalry and for artillery. The supply was undermined by an unprecedented epidemic of glanders , a fatal disease that baffled veterinarians.
The Confederate armies and farmers experienced a growing shortage of horses and mules, which hurt the Southern economy and the war effort. The South lost half of its 2. Army horses were used up by hard work, malnourishment, disease and battle wounds; they had a life expectancy of about seven months.
Much of it was signed by Treasurer Edward C. Inflation became rampant as the paper money depreciated and eventually became worthless. The state governments and some localities printed their own paper money, adding to the runaway inflation. The Confederate government initially wanted to finance its war mostly through tariffs on imports, export taxes, and voluntary donations of gold. After the spontaneous imposition of an embargo on cotton sales to Europe in , these sources of revenue dried up and the Confederacy increasingly turned to issuing debt and printing money to pay for war expenses.
The Confederate States politicians were worried about angering the general population with hard taxes. A tax increase might disillusion many Southerners, so the Confederacy resorted to printing more money. As a result, inflation increased and remained a problem for the southern states throughout the rest of the war.
During all of these facilities produced small amounts of gold coinage, and the latter half dollars as well. Since the mints used the current dies on hand, all appear to be U. However, by comparing slight differences in the dies specialists can distinguish O half dollars that were minted either under the authority of the U. Unlike the gold coins, this issue was produced in significant numbers over 2. This made one of the great rarities of American numismatics.
A lack of silver and gold precluded further coinage. The Confederacy apparently also experimented with issuing one cent coins, although only 12 were produced by a jeweler in Philadelphia, who was afraid to send them to the South. Like the half dollars, copies were later made as souvenirs. US coinage was hoarded and did not have any general circulation. Confederate money was paper and postage stamps. By mid, the Union naval blockade virtually shut down the export of cotton and the import of manufactured goods. Food that formerly came overland was cut off.
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Women had charge of making do. They cut back on purchases, brought out old spinning wheels and enlarged their gardens with flax and peas to provide clothing and food. They used ersatz substitutes when possible, but there was no real coffee and it was hard to develop a taste for the okra or chicory substitutes used. The households were severely hurt by inflation in the cost of everyday items like flour and the shortages of food, fodder for the animals, and medical supplies for the wounded.
State governments pleaded with planters to grow less cotton and more food. Most refused. When cotton prices soared in Europe, expectations were that Europe would soon intervene to break the blockade and make them rich. The Georgia legislature imposed cotton quotas, making it a crime to grow an excess.
But food shortages only worsened, especially in the towns. The overall decline in food supplies, made worse by the inadequate transportation system, led to serious shortages and high prices in urban areas. For more information visit www. Rall was born in San Luis Obispo, California in His two grandmothers are direct descendants of Confederate soldiers, one from Alabama , and one from South Carolina.
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His father's family emigrated from Germany to Iowa in the 's and married into families that provided soldiers for the Union. True Blue Confederate is a child of this legacy. Over the last twenty years, Staten has immersed himself in Confederate lore, family histories and military knowledge, which endeared him to share a new version of a soldier's struggle. Creativity is plentiful for Staten and he is a commissioned artist, songwriter, musician, and writer. He lives in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
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