The North faced many problems at the beginning of the war. The first problem was how to keep the border states in the Union. Abraham Lincoln placed Maryland under martial law and even arrested the pro-secessionist mayor of Baltimore in order to keep the state from seceding. If Maryland had seceded, then Washington, DC, would have been surrounded by Confederate territory, thus virtually ending the war. The North, while having far more people than the South, had a shortage of ready-made soldiers. While the young men of the western states (Wisconsin, Illinois, and others) were adept at handling firearms, many men from the urban areas were not. There was also the matter of supplying such a large army. Lincoln's first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, proved to be inept at his job by contracting with corrupt munitions providers. He was replaced and given an ambassadorship. Lincoln replaced him with Edwin Stanton, who would prove to be a much better administrator. Most of Lincoln's best generals left to fight for their home states in the South, leaving him with the likes of John Pope and Ambrose Burnside (among others) to lead the Army of the Potomac.
Another problem lay with the Northern people themselves. They expected a quick war, but the slaughter and unexpected rout at First Bull Run convinced many that this would be a long, grueling war. The Confederacy hoped that the Northern people would get sick of the war, and early on, it seemed as though the Northern people would give up on trying to unite the two regions.