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What were the strengths of the North and the South at the beginning of the Civil War?  Define Northern and Southern Strategy at the onset of the war.  Were there any time that either North or South deviated from their plan?  If so, what were the results?

The North had more men and better infrastructure.  The South had a larger proportion of military officers and a potential alliance with Great Britain.

The North's plan was to take the southern capital of Richmond as quickly as possible.  The South planned primarily to fight a defensive war until the North gave up or until they could make an alliance that would force the North to face the impossible task of defeating both the south and Great Britain.

The South tried to move the war north on two occasions.  The first resulted in the Battle of Antietam, the second in the Battle of Gettysburg.  Both were very painful losses for the South.  The north expanded its assault on Richmond by opening a western front, taking the Mississippi River valley and eventually marching on the deep South.  This proved a success as it forced the South to take troops from defending Richmond to fight this second front.

Britain never formed an alliance with the South, so that limited their chances.  Their final strategy was to hold out until after the 1864 elections to see if Lincoln would lose and a more amenable President would end the war by granting Southern independence.  When Lincoln won, the South held out for only a few more months.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

U.S. History

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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