Comparing & Union and Confederacy
After South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, war was inevitable. Eventually 11 southern states seceded to form the Confederacy, all of which permitted slavery.
Virginia's northwestern counties broke away from the state to remain in the Union as the new state of West Virginia. The border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri also remained in the Union. In total, the Union consisted of 20 states in America's north and west coast.
The subject of slavery was single biggest difference between the two sides and the one that sparked the war.
The majority of people in the Union states believed that the enslavement of men, women, and children should be outlawed in America. Abolitionists in the Union were working to build support for ending slavery in America.
On the other hand, the Confederacy was founded upon the belief in white supremacy and supported enslavement. While the majority of Southerners did personally not own slaves, most believed their state had the right to determine if it was legal to own human beings and treat them like property.
In March 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said that the Confederacy's "foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition."
Economically, people in the Union were more likely to live in cities and work in industry. Railroads and improvements in mechanics as well as early factories, helped states in the Union to achieve economic success in the mid-1800s.
The Confederacy had its economic base in agriculture and was not nearly as industrialized as the Union. Most of the Confederacy was rural, with both small farms and large slave labor plantations. There was much fewer places of industry, less rail lines, and smaller population centers.
The population of the Union was about 22 million, including about 500,000 enslaved people in the border states. The Confederacy's population included about 5.5 million free people and 3.5 million enslaved African Americans.
The larger population for the Union provided a much larger military force. Over 2 million men would serve in the Union army throughout the war while the South would muster between 750,000 and 1 million troops.
After a string of less successful generals, General Ulysses S. Grant would emerge as a prominent military leader as the commander of the Union Army. His efforts were backed by President Abraham Lincoln, and both men pledged allegiance to the Union capital of Washington, D.C.
General Robert E. Lee would take fame as the commanding General of the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia. He served under Confederate President Jefferson Davis, both of whom looked to Richmond, Virginia, as their capital.
In terms of military styles, Lee and Grant differed. When Grant took command of the Union army, he capitalized on its superior size to overwhelm the enemy. Union General William T. Sherman used a similar strategy to bring destruction to much of the South.
Lee needed to be more strategic, since he had the smaller force. However, he also needed only to defend his territory, as opposed to Union forces that needed to invade and conquer the Confederacy. He had several accomplished generals on his side, including Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart.