On the Eve of the Civil War

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On the Eve of the Civil War

After the opening shots at fort Sumter, it was obvious that the conflict between the North and the South would no longer be solved in the halls of congress. In this activity, you will be examining information from the beginning of the Civil War and making some judgements about each side at the beginning of the war. After you complete this activity, you should have a solid idea about the status of each side of the conflict prior to the four long years of war.

Examine the information below dealing with the North and the South.

UNION (North)


  • 23 states (including 4 border states)

  • 22.35 million people, 4 million eligible for military

  • 110,000 factories, 1.2 million labor force in industry, 92% of nation’s manufacturing output

  • 106 million acres of farmland, 11.3 million head of cattle, 3.8 million horses, 123 million bushels of wheat, 0 bales of cotton

  • over 90% of the nation’s industry was in the North

  • almost 75% of the nation’s RR mileage - 21,500 miles - and 96% of the railroad equipment

  • 92% of manufactured goods - value $2 billion

  • over 75% of the nation’s wealth - banking, shipping, manufacturing - almost $200 million in bank deposits (80 of the nation's capital)

  • $2.27 billion in arms, 97% of firearms production

  • control of the navy and merchant marine, shipbuilding in New England

  • 11 states

  • 9 million people (almost 4 million slaves), 1 million eligible for military

  • 18,000 factories, 111,000 labor force in industry, 8% of nation’s manufacturing output

  • 57 million acres of farmland, 10.6 million head of cattle, 2.1 million horses, 40 million bushels of wheat, 5 million bales of cotton

  • little industry since society was mostly agrarian

  • about 25% of the nation's RR railroad mileage - 8,500 miles

  • 8% of manufactured goods - value $156 million

  • most money tied up in land and slaves – around $50 million in bank deposits (about 20% of the nation's capital)

  • $73 million in arms

  • President Lincoln - Lawyer, little national political experience, no military experience except for the Black Hawk War in Illinois

  • Generals - Most were West Point graduates, experience from the Mexican War - but nowhere near as skilled as those in the South

  • President Davis - U.S. Senator, former Secretary of War, military experience in the Mexican War, committed to the South

  • Generals - Mostly West Point and Virginia Military Institute graduates, strong leaders, experience from the Mexican War

What are the advantages of each side … if any? Describe how the advantages may help the side. There may be some not listed above ..

UNION (North)


On the map to the right, label the Southern states with an S and Northern states with an N. Label the border states with a B. (Border states were states that had slavery but did not secede from the Union – you can find them in 16-1.)
Does either side have a geographic advantage? Why or why not? (Think about rivers and mountains too)

Read “Choosing Sides” in your textbook on pages 482-483. What specific advantages did the Union have by keeping the border states? (Identify at least three (3) advantages)

If you were President Abraham Lincoln (and his generals), what strategy would you adopt to fighting the war? Why? What weak points does the South have? Outline your plan below.

If you were President Jefferson Davis (and his generals), what strategy would you adopt to fighting the war? Why? What weak points does the North have? Outline your plan below.

Look on page 484 of Creating America. What were the actual military plans for each side?
North -
South -

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