America 1789 -1900


What did the South do in 1861?

1 year ago


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1 Answer

Mariyum Iqbal

Hello Kayli.

In 1861 years of sectional tension had built up between the North and South.


In 1860 the succession process had started with South Carolina succeeding in December 1860 (arguably as a result of Lincoln's election in November 1860) and 6 other deep south states. However, the shift in succession from 1860 to 1861, is that in 1860 the upper South did not see the election as the end of the United States, as only a few states succeed. However by February 1861 the entire Deep South succeed, which defiantly meant war. (The exact reason behind succession is disputed and another question entirely).


On the 4th of February 1861 the Confederate States of America ( Jefferson DAVIS elected president. This had a similar Constitution to the U.S with 4 changes:

it protected states’ rights

guaranteed slavery

referenced God

prohibited protective tariffs

Moderate Republicans proposed the Crittenden Compromise but was rejected.

On March 4th 1861 Lincoln was inaugurated.

Fort Sumner April 1861

South Carolina needs control of the south or it seems this new ‘nation state’ can’t control its own territory ( = momentum dying out) 

Surrendering gives legitimacy to secession but was under manned and low on supplies

Reinforcing with artillery seen as aggressive = Upper South States might then secede

Lincoln orders the navy to resupply + tells South Carolina it's not men/ weapons but food/ water 

South Carolina order surrender before shipment Maj. Robert refuses 

South Caronia fires first shot + Confederate win 

Bull Run July 186

Lincoln’s orders Union Army went to seize Richmond (Confederate capital)

Seemed union win but south held ground + reinforcement in afternoon =  counteroffensive defeated Union.


  • Union attacking but south on defensive (pick the ground of fight - higher ground)
  • disproportionate (compared to overall pop of US) number of Union leading officers generals + army (stationed in west) came from the south 
  • South officers were much more aggressive - sought combat + willing to go on offensive even when odds were against them 
  • extraordinary victories esp. under Lee in 1861-3
  • Ability to move quickly over the ground (psychological as they lacked numbers) 
  • Most battles fought on Southern land so had experience ( long term - most of land fought over same 1000^2 miles so gained knowledge so advantage dissipated )

  • very smaller army (but most of north never knew this always exaggerated number of southern troops) AND played on by grant as he is willing to lose men as same pace as south knowing for south this is a bigger sacrifice 
  • Strategic leadership - Davis been to west point and army leader but post bull run failed to organised high command from the battle antaglised some general, he remembered slights (took things personally)

Think you can help?

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