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The Confederate States of America: What if History?
What if history?
This hub started off as a reply to question on what America would be like if the Confederate States of America achieved their independence in the American Civil War. We can never be sure what would have happened if one thing or another changed in history, but it can never hurt to imagine what might have been.
How could the Union have lost?
The Battle of Gettysburg was a pivotal battle in the Civil War. The Union army stopped the advance of the Confederate forces, and probably saved the capital from being invaded. If the Union forces at Gettysburg had fallen it is highly likely that the Confederates would have been able to force the Union to recognize their secession and ended the Civil War on terms more favorable to the South.
There are several ways the Battle of Gettysburg could have gone wrong for the Union. General Lee launched the largest artillery barrage ever seen on American soil. If some of the Union forces had been held in reserve, or had they not finished deploying before the barrage they would have been decimated which would have greatly weakened the Union defense.
Another part of the battle that could have turned the Union victory in to defeat was a cavalry battle that took place behind the Federal lines. Major General J.E.B. Stuart led a confederate cavalry charge against Gen. Gregg and George Armstrong Custer. Had the Confederates successfully driven off the Union cavalry they would have been able to support Picketts Charge which may have changed the outcome of the battle.
If either of these events changed Gettysburg and allowed Lee to be victorious the Confederate States of America could have become a permanent piece of America. The Union would consist of the Northern States and their industrial might, while the South would have been an agricultural society.
The world would be a very different place if the Confederate states were successful. American expansion would have been halted or extremely slowed. Without the Southern states the Union would have lost many natural resources, as well the means to transport goods out of the country. The Mississippi river would have fallen under the control of the Confederate States if they had New Orleans and this would have proved disastrous for the Union.
The USA would never have been able to fight in the wars it did at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. This means that the Spanish would have retained some of their overseas empire rather than lose it to the USA. The World Wars might have seen the Union and Confederacy on different sides of the war. There would probably have been more territorial wars in North America between the Union, Confederacy, Canada, and Mexico.
The Union contained the majority of the industry in America, but there were several important Southern cities before the Civil War. After the Civil War the Confederates industrial capacity would have been expanded. Cities like Atlanta would become especially important because of their railroad hubs, but new cities would have sprung up along the Mississippi to control trade and maximize easy travel routes.
Socially the South would have retained white domination. Slavery would have been phased out as technology made slaves less profitable, but African-Americans would probably have been banned from civil society. Poverty in the south would be rampant, with income distribution extremely uneven long before the north. Otherwise the south would have maintained many of the nationalist, militarist, American-Christian views that it acquired anyway, the only difference being that the southerners would be smug about being the winners.