In 1861, the United States of America entered into what would be four long years of civil war. On one side was the Union, led by President Abraham Lincoln; on the other was the Confederacy, led by President Jefferson Davis. In many ways, these two men were quite similar. However, in regard to their role as commander-in-chief during the war, they were very different.
Of the two, Davis was more knowledge about military matters, having served as a soldier in the Black Hawk War and the Mexican War. However, it was Lincoln that had the advantage as commander-in-chief.
When the war began, the Union army was not adequate enough for what needed to be done. Despite this, there were other factors that benefited the Union. Unlike the Confederacy, which as stated had a population of just 9 million, the Union had a population of 22 million. Therefore, Lincoln had a larger source of potential soldiers to fight in the war. More importantly, the Union had a great deal of industrial, financial, and transportation resources at their disposal.1 Thirdly, there was Lincoln himself, who was a natural when it came to the issue of military strategy.
Finally, there was the unique ability Lincoln had for combining both military and political aspects in his leadership of the war.
From the start to the end of the war, he demonstrated an understanding of the fact that “mobilizing an effective military force was similar to forming a political coalition, that political goals were akin to grand strategy.”2 As a result of this understanding, he was able to maintain an edge over Davis throughout the war, both militarily and politically.
... strength of their economies and political systems. Lincoln and Davis Mobilize Both the southern and northern political leaders ended up defying expectations. ... This was one of the worst Union defeats. By the end of 1862, military struggle in the East had settled ... from private citizens whatever they deemed essential for the war effort. The Confederate government also nationalized railroads and shipping ...
1. Shi, David Emory & Tindall, George Brown. (2007).
America: A Narrative History – Volume
One. (7th ed.).
New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
2. Abraham Lincoln. (n.d.).
The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Retrieved
December 8, 2008, from http://www.answers.com/topic/abraham-lincoln.