What were the main military challenges Lincoln faced during the Civil War?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

President Lincoln faced several military challenges during the Civil War. The first challenge he faced keeping Washington, D.C. in the Union. Since Virginia had seceded, he needed Maryland to remain in the Union. If Maryland had seceded from the Union, Washington, D.C. would have been in the Confederacy. He arrested all the lawmakers in Maryland who supported Maryland seceding from the Union. Thus, Maryland remained in the Union.

President Lincoln had a difficult time finding good military leaders to lead the Union army. Most of the military schools were in the South. Many generals chose to fight for their home state. Thus, the South had better generals than the North had during the Civil War.

President Lincoln had to deal with his generals who were very cautious. General McClellan was very hesitant to move his army. After the South retreated at Antietam, General McClellan didn’t pursue the Confederate army. An opportunity was lost to possibly defeat the South at this point in time. Eventually, President Lincoln replaced General McClellan.

In order for the Union to win the war, the Union was going to have to invade the South and defeat them in battles that would occur in the South. The southern generals and soldiers knew the land in the South better than the Union generals and soldiers did. This gave the South an advantage. Additionally, while the South only had to fight a defensive war, President Lincoln didn’t have this luxury. The Union had to defeat the South in battles that would take place in the South.

President Lincoln faced several military challenges during the Civil War.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were a number of military challenges that faced President Lincoln over the course of the Civil War.  Among these challenges were:

The simple fact that the North had to invade the South to win.  The North could not simply fight a defensive war like the South could have done.  Instead, it needed to invade and subdue the South.  Mounting a successful invasion and conquest is always much more difficult than defending against one.

Lack of a solid officer corps.  The South had been a much more martial society before the war.  This meant that many of the best officers in the antebellum US Army were Southerners and went with the Confederacy when the South seceded.  The greatest example of this is Robert E. Lee.

Difficulty in finding generals who would carry out his strategy.  One of the best-known problems that Lincoln had in the war was finding competent generals at the highest level.  The most famous example of a general who failed Lincoln was General George McClellan.  His unwillingness and inability to pursue the strategy that Lincoln wanted was a major difficulty for Lincoln in the war.  Lincoln would not solve this problem until he found General Ulysses S. Grant and installed him as the main commander for the rest of the war.