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In your opinion what was the true turning point in the war?
   
   
   
   
   
   
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 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 12:34 pm
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Mark
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I'm mostly in full agreement with you csamiller, though I am curious as to why people consider Vicksburg such a strategic point. Actually, I suppose the bigger question is why was control of the Mississippi such a vital Union goal that it kept two armies tied up for two years. People have said that it splits the Confederacy in two. Well, yes, but what was the trans-Mississippi sending east that was so vital before Vicksburg fell? Did it allow mid-western farmers to export their crops easier? Yes, again, but grain was hardly the Union's most important export. Someone once wrote in a book that Vicksburg became a vital strategic point because everyone decided it was one, not because it actually was. I think that comment has some validity. Someone please tell me if I'm missing something.

Mark



 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 12:46 pm
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csamillerp
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i dont think i was for moving troops from west to east or vice versa as much as it was to move troops north to south, south to north, also it had many tributaries that branched from it. The lost of the mississippi was a mortal wound to the confederates. but i also agree with you at the same time. I think Vicksburg was more of a morale issue for the north then a strategic one.



 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 01:33 pm
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I agree csamiller. I think the loss of the Ohio River defense line and then the Tennessee River defense line were devastating to the Confederate cause in the West.

Mark



 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 02:31 pm
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Texas Defender
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Mark-

  Its impossible to overestimate the importance to the Union of controlling rivers in general, and the Mississippi and its tributaries in particular. Wherever rivers could be navigated, Union forces enjoyed huge advantages.

  Control of rivers enabled Union forces to transport men, weapons, equipment, and supplies wherever and whenever they were needed. That gave Union forces a great advantage in mobility. Add to that the employment of Union gunboats to provide fire support, and that gave their side the ability to exert more control over areas adjoining the rivers as far inland as the guns could reach.

  In short, control of rivers acted as a force multiplier for Union forces.  It put the Confederates at an even greater disadvantage than they already were. Their territory could be penetrated and their waterways used pretty much at will by their enemies to exploit the enemy's advantage in mobility.

  You asked what was supplied to the Confederates east of the Mississippi by those west of it. The answer is beef, weapons, horses, and clothing, among other things Texas exported all of this during the war. Texans were able to produce some of these things and provide others through their ability to trade with foreign sources over the border with Mexico, and by blockade running. It was not without reason that Texas was called: "The Storehouse of the Confederacy."

  When the Union forces were able to control the Mississippi from New Orleans to Vicksburg, the ability of Texans to provide this help to the rest of the Confederacy was effectively curtailed. In my view, the combination of the fall of New Orleans in 1862 and Vicksburg in 1863 made military victory for the Union inevitable, if the northern people were willing to carry on the war as long as they had to. The re-election of Mr. Lincoln in 1864 made it clear that they were.

  For those interested in Texas during the Civil War, the HANDBOOK OF TEXAS ONLINE has devoted considerable space to it:

Civil War Texas

Last edited on Thu Jan 19th, 2012 03:00 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Thu Jan 19th, 2012 02:35 pm
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csamillerp
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i think if the south was able to hold vicksburg and other key locations on the miss. river, the war would have been extended but not won by the confederacy. If the south could have taken complete control of the mississippi river then the war would have taken a complete turn. With the mississippi in their control the confederates could have transported troops deep into the north and possibly cut the north in half. If they had done that while also making it to the great lakes then new york and other New england states would have been threatened. The more i think about it the more i see that the mississippi was the key to victory on both sides.



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 03:02 am
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csamillerp wrote: hellcat, that is why i said vicksburg was the backbone, by taking vicksburg the union broke the back of the confederacy, crippling them, richmond and petersburg was the killing blows. I still believe though that antietam was the most important turning point. Without the "victory" at antietam the north would have not been able to issue the Emancipation proclamation while also ending any hope of foriegn intervention for the south.

Ok, I thought you were instead saying Richmond and Petersburg were the turning point.

But on Antietam (Sharpsburg) and the Emancipation I have to disagree. Lincoln had the Emancipation ready well before Antietam (Sharpsburg) and could have issued it back in August. But it wouldn't have carried as much weight without something that could be called a major victory. Or more accurately a major victory in the east. Shiloh had already happened in April, New Orleans had fallen into Federal hands, Grant had taken Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February. You can look at the victories in the western theater and realize that Lincoln could have released the Emancipation just on those alone. But as has been discussed before, too much attention was placed on the Eastern Theater. Lincoln could have just as easily pointed out the victories in the Western Theater saying that the generals in the Eastern Theater were just keeping Lee busy while the generals in the Western Theater gained control of that theater then he'd bring them east to finish the job when he issued the Emacipation, and thus he could have issued it much sooner and put more emphasis on where Federal forces were more succesful.

Instead it began to look like Federal forces in the east could not follow up on a major victory. McClellan claims a strategic  victory at Antietam (Sharpsburg) then he sits on his luarels without following up. He's eventually replaced with Burnside who fails miserably at Fredericksburg. Burnside is eventually replaced with Hooker, who fails at Chancellorsville. It's not until nearly ten months later that the Federal forces claim another major victory in the east when Meade claims a strategic and tactical victory at Gettysburg.



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 09:10 am
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I think Vicksburg was pretty important for a few things. It was a symbol of Confederate defiance on the Mississippi River. It was considered by some to be impregnable..."the South's Gibralter." It was also important in getting goods and supplies shipped from West to East in the Confederacy.

The Mississippi was very important to the country before the war. I think it was probably one of the reasons we went to war with each other. Gaining control over it along with the Tennessee River really doomed the Confederacy in the west. As was mentioned the North used the rivers to resupply their troops along with reinforcing armies. WHen Vicksburg fell the same day as Gettysburg was decided, it really spread doom across the south.  It also obviously made it much harder in moving supplies out of Texas to the eastern Confederacy.

Last edited on Fri Jan 20th, 2012 09:11 am by BHR62



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 12:07 pm
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Exactly BHR62.



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 12:25 pm
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Gettysburger
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I might add President Lincoln's reelection in 1864 as
a final turning point.

Shelby Foote proclaimed "the North fought the war with one
hand tied behind it's back."

If you agree with his point,
It might be argued then if the war's outcome was ever in
question?

thom



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 12:47 pm
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csamillerp
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hellcat, if Lee had won at antietam then the british would have recognized the confederacy, england was already about to take the matter to council and was only waiting for Lee to defeat the union armies on northern soil. You said it yourself the attention was on the eastern theatre, if that is true then the eastern theatre would have been a political type of war, which is why lincoln micromanaged the aotp.



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 02:51 pm
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HankC
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as pointed out, Vicksburg is a *huge* plus for the Union but not necessarily as large a minus for the Confederacy.

Therafter, the CSA is not really tremendously hampered by Union control of the river, but the Union has a new highway from Kerro to New Orleans.



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 02:54 pm
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immediately after the falls of Forts Henry, Donelson and Nashville, the US brown-water navy steamed upriver on the Tennessee all the way to Muscle Shoals in Alabama, demonstrating their abilty to do so and the CSA's inability to prevent it...



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 03:07 pm
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Gettysburger wrote: I might add President Lincoln's reelection in 1864 as
a final turning point.

Shelby Foote proclaimed "the North fought the war with one
hand tied behind it's back."

If you agree with his point,
It might be argued then if the war's outcome was ever in
question?

thom


Foote is correct but not in the way he meant.
 
The US was hampered in that for every foot ( ahem!) of southern territory it occupies it is also collectiing, feeding, clothing, sheltering and generally organizing the thousands of slaves freeing themselves.
 
Many officers are entangled in the various claims against the refugees from slave-owners both loyal and not. Depending on the moment in time, and whether the 1st or 2nd confiscation act, or the Emanciapation Proclamation is in effect, determines the status of the refugees.
 
men and resources are used to protect and provide for the refugees rather than in combat.
 
This is part of the large 'hand tied behind their back' that the north had to deal with in controlling vast swaths of the South...



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 03:08 pm
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csamillerp
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you just said what ive been thinking. Vicksburg alone does not give the confederacy control of the miss. it may mildly hamper union transports and gunboats while passing but did it have enough value to sacrafice 29,000 confederates that could have been used for other things? the confederacy couldnt have had any hope of controlling the miss at that time so why diligently hold it?



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 05:17 pm
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Mark
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That's an excellent point Hank. I never thought about it that way. For good or ill, the Federals used a lot of the USCT to manage the escaping slaves and garrison supply depots.

Mark



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 07:26 pm
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csamillerp wrote: you just said what ive been thinking. Vicksburg alone does not give the confederacy control of the miss. it may mildly hamper union transports and gunboats while passing but did it have enough value to sacrafice 29,000 confederates that could have been used for other things? the confederacy couldnt have had any hope of controlling the miss at that time so why diligently hold it?

Vicksburg was a huge thorn to Union control of the Mississippi.  Its location was where the river curves making ships slow down.  The first time the navy tried to sail past it they were turned away by the heavy fire from Vicksburg batteries.  Grant tried to fix the problem by digging a canal around it.  But soldiers and freed slaves were dropping like flies from disease.   He had no choice but to take Vicksburg out. 

I think Vicksburg meant a lot to the Confederacy.  Was it worth sacrificing a 29,000 man army....very hard call.  I understand why they did it....but like you said they could have used those troops elsewhere.   Or they might have felt that Vicksburg was impregnable and Grant would beat his army to death assaulting it.



 Posted: Fri Jan 20th, 2012 08:22 pm
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thats a good point but when did the confederacy ever win against a siege by the union? except for charleston



 Posted: Sat Jan 21st, 2012 03:51 am
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Fort Fisher, December 23 to 27 1864. The First Battle of Fort Fisher is also considered a siege and it was a Confederate victory.



 Posted: Sun Jan 22nd, 2012 03:13 am
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thats right i forgot about that hellcat thanks



 Posted: Sun Jan 22nd, 2012 05:51 am
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Welcome.



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