Why did the Civil War last so long?
The Civil War lasted from 1861-1865. Many people thought it would be a shorter conflict. One reason why the Civil War lasted four years is that the South had better military generals than the North had. Many of the military schools were located in the South, and the generals tended to fight on the side that their home state had supported. For example, Robert E. Lee, who some people regarded as the best American general at that time, stated he would fight on the...
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The Civil War is unique when compared to other wars and conflicts that the United States has been involved in. I would argue two main reasons why the war lasted as long as it did.
The first reason is that the war matched old-school fighting tactics with new-age technology. Never before had soldiers been able to shoot with such accuracy and range. The minie ball, a newly invented type of bullet, wreaked havoc among injured soldiers, leaving a wake of injuries that could not be properly treated in the 1860's. As a result, many soldiers died from infection. The massive numbers of injuries and deaths caused the war to drag out as both sides were devastated by major battles.
The second reason for the length of the war has more to do with the strategies (and blunders) of the Union army. For starters, General George McClelland squandered early opportunities to capture Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia by showing hesitancy on the battlefield. After years of fighting, the Confederacy was forced to surrender because they ran out of supplies (food, ammunition, etc.). Confederate port cities faced Union naval blockades throughout the war, which were intended to keep out the crucial supplies needed by the Confederates. While the plan ultimately worked, it proved a long and costly one.