Demographics and War

Paul links to an interesting quiz in his post here, which involves naming the largest Confederate “cities”.  What immediately stands out is how small many of those “cities” were.  The largest was New Orleans with 160,000, with fourteen having a population of less than 10,000, and the smallest with 4700.  New York City, with a population of 850,000 in 1860, had far more population than the 25 largest cities of the Confederacy combined .  If New York City had been a Confederate state, it would have had a population larger than the population of five other Confederate states.  It is facts like this which demonstrate the truth of Shelby Foote’s observation that the South never had a chance in the Civil War.

That the South managed to hang on for four years, and came close on a few occasions of  breaking Northern morale and winning the war, is a tribute to the brilliant leadership of many of the Confederate officers and the raw courage of the ragged rebels in the ranks that they led.

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (6)  


  1. Shelby Foote wrote our Lusiad. He has a special significance to me:

  2. His laugh is infectious.

    He says that what makes the South different is the experience of defeat. This is probably true of us Mormons too. I wonder if on some deep level this explains the South and the Mormons’ unusual conservatism. We know that your plans don’t always work out. We know that wishing doesn’t make it so.

  3. […] Almost Chosen People website has a Shelby Foote retrospective […]

  4. It is facts like this which demonstrate the truth of Shelby Foote’s observation that the South never had a chance in the Civil War.

    Interesting. One of the classical conditions for a war to be just is that there is a reasonable chance of victory. Southern jus ad bellum fail?

    On the other hand, things didn’t look too bright for Britain when Churchill rejected Hitler’s peace offer in 1940. Sometimes you just don’t see the end from the beginning.

    But of course, this is irrelevant if you think, as I do, that the Southern cause failed the test of a just war on some of the other prongs.

  5. Adam, I will always believe that Foote’s three volume history of the war is the finest history of the conflict. He has a great novelist’s eye for both the tragedy and the triumph of the human condition and his retelling of the American Illiad is filled with sympathy and understanding for all the participants.

  6. Vader, I have always believed that the requirement of a reasonable chance for victory is the weakest leg of contemporary just war analysis. Only God can truly know the outcome of any war, and history is replete with examples of decided underdogs winning incredible victories in war.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: