Straight Arrow wrote:Excellent point Cardinal Ape.
It has been added to Points to Know.
When I was trying to learn the game, I remember being confused about this point. The dash in the rules is just a spacing device, but it really does look like a negative number.
And being a negative makes sense. Why would anyone do something as stupid as embargoing your main cash earner at the start of a war?
Is trying to blackmailing the rest of the world into helping you such a good idea?
Far better if the South had acted on a suggestion raised in their congress to purchase the cotton crop of 1861 for script or bonds. The bales could have shipped overseas before the blockade was effective.
The result? A mountain of hard cash in European banks that would have inspired confidence in the gray back and primed the pump for overseas bond purchases.
In my opinion, the embargo was one of the dumbest things the CSA did.
Yes excellent point. Davis was an outstanding asset for the South in whipping an army together (with Cooper and Lee) out of nothing early on, vs the fumbling amateur Lincoln (but a calculated and steady learner as time would show). But Davis badly miscalculated the effect that denying "King Cotton" to Europe would have. He also sent over diplomats to Europe who were in over their heads and therefore ineffectual.
If he was too aggressive with the Euros, he was too passive aggressive with the gathering Yankee behemoth to the north. But he didn't mix well with intellectual equals, although he was always a true friend indeed to cover your back if you had his support. What was lacking in the South was a round table of intellectual equals, headed by Davis, to deal with specific points like the embargo. Instead you had a very techy President attempting to coerce and cajole the states into supporting higher aims--a workaholic suffering migraines attempting to do the impossible. Really it was the worst of possible jobs to end up with, given the inbuilt oxymoron of "States rights" vs a centralized federal command that was attempting to fight a war of liberation against the Lincoln tyranny of rule by force--submit or be crushed, to the point of burning down civilian farms and crops--scorched earth--which can surely be considered "war crimes." But Abe was getting pretty desperate by '64.
Davis, confronted by intellectual equals in his office arguing for an immediate all-out assault on the North, would have had to realize the inevitable early on and show the North he meant business with repeated invasions. Most of the best generals in the previous federal Army had gone South, and were leading men with superb élan. Green, both sides were green, as Lincoln said to McDowell, but the South had the best generals immediately in play. Lee was ready to do this in a heartbeat; the other variant was Longstreet's war of defensive attrition. War is politics by other means and Davis needed to understand this but was overwhelmed with the minutiae of a new presidential office and fractious state governors. The moment was lost. Lee was a far better politician than Davis I submit, in understanding this about the war--hence his two northern invasions, which he pushed for himself.
It was an inbuilt dilemma that finally undid things. The wonder of it all is that they fought so hard and for so long--no other nation in modern history has seen such a high percentage of their men killed and maimed in a drawn-out war--no, not even Britain, France, Russia or Germany in WW I. The flower of enlistable men was cut down defending their new country, and some (like myself) would argue that the US lost a chivalrous (if perhaps misguided in ways) part of their national spirit in pursuing total war against one's own people.
It was decimation
, no other word for it. Furthermore, the Franco-Prussian War fought 15 years later, did not see either side stoop to the depths that Lincoln went to in giving Sheridan and Sherman carteblanche
to pursue a complete scorched earth policy, pitilessly visited upon southern non-combatant civilians
. The casualty figures for the South were horrendous. The precedent of "total war" was a pernicious doctrine unleashed; and therefore note Sheridan was sent out West after the war to visit genocide upon First Nation peoples, having learned his trade in the Shenandoah.
Lincoln's final victory was Pyrrhic. A very Yankee outcome: "NN had to be destroyed in order to save it."
I wandered off-topic, and I am sure this point of view will not be popular for some here, but there you have it.