What if the South Had Won the Civil War? Part 1

About what might have happened if the South had on the American Civil War, an alternate history of the United States.

WHAT IF . . . ?

What If the South Had Won the Civil War?

What Really Happened: Due to irreconcilable differences between North and South over the issues of states' rights and slavery, the American Civil War erupted on Apr. 12, 1861, with the firing on Fort Sumter. Although numerically inferior and lacking adequate supplies and transportation, the South held its own during the first years of the conflict. But in 1864, with Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman in charge of the Union forces, the tide turned. In a relentless war of attrition, the Northern armies swept through the South, and on Apr. 9 and 26, 1865, the last Confederate armies surrendered.

But What If ... the South had won the Civil War?

Here Is What Might Have Happened: America would have split into three separate republics, whose courses would converge a century later. This assumption was made by MacKinlay Kantor, prizewinning author of Andersonville and longtime student of the Civil War. In an article published by Look magazine on Nov. 22, 1960, Kantor speculated on how a Southern victory might have occurred, and then proceeded to chronicle a revised history of America through 1960.

On May 12, 1863, General Grant was killed in Mississippi when his horse bolted and threw him. Grant's death snapped the backbone of the Union Army of the Tennessee. His replacement, John McClernand, was a self-inflated politician with little military skill who seemed powerless to prevent Southern armies from bleeding the North dry. By the time command was transferred to General Sherman, the North was unable to rally. After losing 12,000 men during a month-long campaign on the banks of the Mississippi, Sherman made a desperate attempt to capture Vicksburg on June 26. The attack was disastrous. By June 29 Sherman was dead, and on the following day the remnants of the Army of the Tennessee surrendered. Less than a week later, a determined and decisive Robert E. Lee out-flanked and outmaneuvered Union forces at Gettysburg, and after a three-day Confederate assault, the Union Army of the Potomac no longer existed.

All hell broke loose in the North at the news of Sherman's defeat and Lee's stunning victory. The major eastern cities were terrorized by violent gangs, who seized federal offices and slaughtered scores of free blacks. Enraged mobs even attacked the White House, jeopardizing Abraham Lincoln's life. The President and his family were at last persuaded to leave Washington, and they set out for Richmond just before J. E. B. "Jeb" Stuart's cavalry entered the capital. With Lincoln gone and the government in turmoil, looting and rioting paralyzed Washington despite Confederate officers' attempts to restore order.

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