The Civil War Connections Blog

Keep Up The Morale, Discredit Your Enemy

In the midst of a war between brothers, morale is a key component that cannot be neglected.  The 20th and 21st centuries have laid witness to the effects of low morale, both on and off the battlefield, in conflicts ranging from Vietnam to the War on Terror.  When the public begins to doubt the probability of success, the overall goal of a conflict can be forgotten, or questioned, as can the role of political leaders whose inked signatures begin to appear responsible for the casualties of war.  The Union and Confederacy were well aware of the necessity to keep citizens and soldiers hopeful, regardless of the number of battles won or lost for their side.

The following excerpts demonstrate efforts to perk up the public; a challenge for both the Confederacy and the Union in January of 1862.  The article from the Savannah Republican can only be described as spunky and strategic as the author utilizes a creative way to demonstrate Southern superiority and Northern shortcomings.  It was no secret that the CSA had more fiscal problems than the Union; secession eliminated a key market for Confederate goods as well as access to an organized army and navy.  To shift attention away from these integral circumstances, the Republican author focuses on the fiscal damage that Confederate forces caused the Union…even when their casualties were meager.  With some “interesting” math, the death of a Confederate is boasted as a puncture in the Union’s purse; even failures provide success.

The author of the Times, however, must walk a tight rope in early 1862 while finding a way to keep his readers on the bright side.  Through the use of American exceptionalism, the author reminds his readers of the “perfection” that characterizes the United States (aka the Union).  Not only can the Union of the New York Times defeat the Confederacy, but with the development of the ironclad take on whatever nation dares threaten it.  For all of you ironclad buffs, you can read the Times article in full at http://www.nytimes.com/1862/01/29/news/iron-clad-men-of-war.html?pagewanted=1 .

 

How Much Gunpowder, Iron, and Silver Does It Take to Kill Southerners

January 29, 1862

Savannah (Ga.) Republican

 A calculation not long since appeared in the papers, showing that every confederate killed by the Licolnites during the first six months of this unholy war, cost the Lincoln government one hundred thousand dollars!

Additional facts corroborate this statement, and give us some other points of interest concerning the battle of Port Royal.  The Cost to the Federal government in fitting out the armament engaged in that action, and set down by a writer in the northern papers, who seemed to know what he was about, at $4,800,000.  Let us put it, for convenience sake, in round numbers, at five millions.

Recently, the federal “Ordinance Report of the amount of ammunition expended” on that occasion, has appeared, and we gather from it the following details:

The amount of gunpowder consumed was 22, 800 lbs.

The number of shot and shell of all sizes projected by that amount of powder was 2,594.

The weight of sizes of all these missiles being given, shows that the weight of iron hurled against our unfortunate batteries in that action was little, if any, short of 200,000 lbs.

Now, the number of men on our side killed or mortally wounded by all this expenditure on them, has never been rated higher than fifty—indeed, sixty-five or seventy in killed, wounded, and missing is the highest figure that has been mentioned.  Let us set down our loss at fifty men, and a comparison of facts will give the following result: that every Confederate soldier killed in that battle cost the federal government upwards of four hundred and fifty-seven pounds of cannon powder and fifty-two shot and shell of large size, weighing in the aggregate four thousand pounds, and brought to the field of action and discharged at a preparatory cost of one hundred thousand dollars. 

 

Iron-Clad Men-of-War

January 29, 1862

New York Times

 The arguments against armor-cased ships for war purposes have been virtually exhausted. and the fact still remains that France and England continue rivaling each other in the construction of such vessels with all the assiduky and resources at their disposal. In England, especially, the opposition to iron-sides has been peculiarly strenuous and uncompromising; yet the Warrior is completed, and pronounced an unequivocal triumph, and half a dozen consorts to her are being pressed forward with all possible dispatch. The British Government is not composed of idiots; and if they, with an intimate knowledge of what can be achieved by Armstrong guns, still go on spending millions sterling on the building of this class of naval fortresses, surely we cannot be far wrong if we risk a few million dollars in similar experiments.

No one supposes that iron-clad ships are absolutely impregnable… There is little doubt that the rebels have several vessels which they have covered with railroad and plate iron, and armed with rifled cannon of heavy calibre, and which they are keeping snugly hidden in port, with intent, when finished, to make a dash at one or other of the expeditions which shall sail from the North, in imperfectly protected transports, for operations on the Southern coast. What would be the fate of a fleet of merchant-steamers suddenly pounced upon by a squadron of these comparatively invulnerable craft? They would inevitably be riddled and sunk in spite of their convoy of old-fashioned men-of-war; and even the men-of-war themselves would be lucky if they escaped receiving a disabling shell or two through their great tempting timber hulls.

… What we immediately want for the suppression of the rebels at sea and coastward, are gunboats of light draft, cased in two and a half or three inch armor, and furnished with from two to ten long-range rifled, cannon, fit for firing either solid shot, shell, or canister as occasion may require. Perhaps it might be as well to call home the Wabash or Roanoke, and put enough metal on one of them to make her a match for the Merrimac — said to have been invested with some sort of coat of mail at Norfolk…

When we do commence in earnest the reorganization of our navy on the iron-plate system, we ought to be able to distance rivalry in the same way as we surpassed European nations in the models and armaments of our wooden walls half a century ago. We can if we try. The idea of armor-cased ships originated with an American inventor, though the French Emperor was the first to bring that invention to practical results. It was NAPOLEON who first put an iron-cased ship under the fire of modern artillery; yet it is a fact that the first experiments in this plan of maritime defense were made by Commodore STEVENS. Not being sustained by his own Government, as he should have been, he communicated the effects of his experiments to scientific men in Paris and London. The thick-headed prejudiced Admiralty Board of England treated him as a clever but in visionary; but in France his suggestions fell upon more fruitful ground — as was shown during the Crimean War, at the bombardment of Kinburn, and more lately, by the big scare experienced by John Bull at the appearance in the Straits of Dover of La Gloire. As the idea was American, so should be its development to perfection. It is essential to the safety of our coasts and commerce that we should be able to hold our own upon the seas with any nation or league of nations that may take it into their heads to go war with us; and to insure this, we must have as good, and better ships, than they. We have the mechanical and scientific skill to do as much, and we cannot set about the work too soon after we have got things in order for chastising the rebels…