Essay on Civil War: Total War and it's Impact on society

Submitted By bear323
Words: 852
Pages: 4

It is important to note that when the phrase “total war” is applied to the U.S. Civil War it has a total opposite meaning than when it is used to describe 20th-century conflicts. In the more recent case, total war indicates the use of air power and strategic bombing to disable an enemy’s infrastructure, such as roads, power plants, and so forth. But the total war policy also indicates to target whole cities and the civilian populations within them. This kind of total war brings out the extensive use of lethal force, as indicated by the number of non-combatant deaths during World War II. However, in the Civil War, we can see that both sides selected the targets of lethal violence with fairly high precision. Actors on both sides committed inhumane acts and sometimes violated the rules of war, but when you compare the Civil War to other conflicts, civilians here suffered little direct physical harm. Although many of the Civil War’s participants viewed the conflict as a total war, they did so largely because, for the South at least, the war demanded that all of the nation’s resources be devoted to fighting the war. However, the North and the South consumed and destroyed each other’s vital resources, leaving the citizens left behind to suffer as a result. The strategy of logistical demolition practiced by Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman late in the war was consistent with just war theory.This concept of total devastation to government and food supplies played a key role in the American Civil War. It had its effects on both the Union and the Confederate states. Southern agriculture failed to uphold the standards that needed to be met in order to supply food for the Confederate Army. More importantly the South had an inefficiently designed transportation system that only linked the plantation territories to port cities because they relied heavily on imported goods. But the North’s transportation was connected to more highly populated food-producing areas, making their’s more efficient. There was some railroad construction during the war though it didn’t necessarily fix the issue of connecting the railroads. The new railroads only improved the movement of troops and did not do much more for the supply of food and necessities needed to fight a war, such as tents, horses, uniforms, etc. The war was supposed to be short, so they say. But as time lagged on, resources were being cut off and it was a fight to even survive a night for most troops on both sides. When passing through towns civilians provided medical care, food and shelter for wounded soldiers. The war effort of the civil war expanded to those of all ages and genders, since at the very least families had to sacrifice the breadwinners of their family to war and learn to survive by themselves. In addition, there were riots in almost every state throughout the war where soldiers from both sides would pillage villages and towns for food, clothes, and shelter with little or no compassion for the people living there. In a political sense the Civil War had become a total war, as well. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a direct attack on the Southern institution of slavery. Though Lincoln considered…