A frequently, and sometimes hotly, discussed subject; the outcome of the American Civil War has fascinated historians for generations. Some argue that the North's economic advantages proved too much for the South, others that Southern strategy was faulty, offensive when it should have been defensive, and vice-versa. Internal division in the South is often referred to, and complaints made against Davis' somewhat makeshift, inexperienced, government. Doubts are sometimes raised over the commitment of Southerners to a cause many of them were half-hearted about. Many historians have argued that the South lost the will to fight long before defeat was inevitable. However, many of these criticisms could easily be applied to the North, had the
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Some historians deem the very nature of the Confederacy doomed to defeat. Ideologically handicapped by the doctrine of States' Rights, the Southern war effort was frequently hampered by the parochial and inward-looking political culture which prevailed in many states. When Lee's army was fighting to defend Richmond during the last days of the war, desperate for rations, Governor Vance of North Carolina was congratulating himself on stockpiling 92,000 uniforms and 150,000lbs of bacon, to be used solely by North Carolinian troops. Doubt has also been cast over the determination of its leaders to the cause. Jefferson Davis was a reluctant secessionist, Stephens was heard to remark that Lincoln was 'not a bad man', and even fire-eating Robert Toombs voted against the firing on Fort Sumter. Much of the criticism of the Confederate government could be equally well applied to the Union. Peace Democrats north of the border harassed Lincoln; opposition was loud in many quarters following the suspension of habeas corpus, and it appeared for a while that Lincoln would not win the 1864 election. However, the government of the Union was more united, and more effective.
Most historians agree that Lincoln was a greater leader than Davis, although at the start of the war it appeared that the opposite was true. The more experienced Davis soon built up a sound army, commanded by excellent