Specific Advantages of the North over the South that Had Helped the Union Prepare for the War

The Northern and Southern States had distinct differences that could not have been realized until the break of war in 1861. Within days after the fall of Fort Sumter, four additional states joined the Confederacy. These included Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The joining of these four states was an indication that clear battle lines had been drawn. The battle between the North and the South was massive, whereas the strengths of each side were used in full. The Northern states created a union, and on the paper it seemed to have outweighed the Confederacy in many ways (Fahs, 2003). Considering the population from both sides, 21 million people lived in the Northern 23 states and the population of the Southern states was 9 million (Fahs, 2003). At a first glance, it would seem that the North would have quite an advantage in the war. However, a closer look at the structure of either side reveals great differences in terms of army, economy, and other avenues.

Preparing for a war is not a one-day activity. The civil war between the North and South began around three months after the fall of Fort Sumter, a point when the Union and the Confederate troops felt it was necessary to meet again at the First Battle of Bull Run in Virginia. Nevertheless, at this point, people still considered the war as a light matter. Some of them came to observe, some even brought packed lunch as if they had come to some picnic. This did not last long as the two sides finally clashed to show their military might. Soon, this became a war of the army and the navy. Thus, it was no longer the direct involvement of civilians as before. Every advantage of each side had aт impact on the war’s progress (Fahs, 2003). Both the North and the South were expected to pull their resources together for the sake of achieving success. Looking at the war between the North and the South, one consider such factors as population and labor force, railways, and the unfamiliarity of land as well as the strong navy and fleet. In this regard, the Northern states had an advantage, especially in the terms of population. Therefore, the Northern region’s advantages were the Southern states’ main disadvantages during the Civil War in the United States.

High Population

The high population in the Northern states proved vital to their force, production, and processing activities. Before and during the war, more population was required to provide the workforce for making weapons, working at factories and farms. In other words, sufficient workforce was quite important in helping the region maintain its industrialization track while at war. In deducing the positive impact of the population, one must note that such a high population was steered by a union of states. Both the North and the South employed the work of slaves at their farms. However, after the fall of Fort Sumter, these regions could not share resources, including human force needed for farming. The Northern region enjoyed large population and slavery services during the war. Nevertheless, slavery in these states was scaled by religion. The war between the North and the South needed great preparation in terms of labor at farms and factories. Despite going to war, the regions expected a continuation of farming activities and the operation of factories. Therefore, their continual work was dependent on the size of the population and workforce. Unlike the South with its mere 9 million of population, the Union boasted the population of 21 million people, so locals and slaves were a good source of labor force. In this regard, the North was stable and it assured smooth operations in terms of production and procession during the warring period.

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During the civil war between the North and the South, it was clear that the two economies would face serious damage. At the beginning of the war, the South was predominantly agricultural, and this region was highly dependent on selling staple food to the world market. Consequently, the South needed a significant workforce to work at farms as well as in the processing industries. Nevertheless, the region simply had not enough population to satisfy all labor requirements (Fahs, 2003). Therefore, during the war period, the South was rendered less effective because a great part of the nation’s work force remained in the North, thus reducing the industrial effectiveness of the South. The latter might have been superior in other areas; however, the labor force of the former was its great advantage over the enemy.

In the North, many factories also produced firearms. As opposed to the South, where much of the available labor was required in the agriculture, the North had diverted some of its workforce to join the firearms production. Due to the sufficient labor population of the Northern states, the production of firearms in this region was much higher than that of the South. Historically, for 3,200 firearms produced by the North, the South could only manage to make 100 (Kantor, 2001). As one can see, the high labor force has played a major role in strengthening the North’s war effort. The war also derailed the level of industrialization in these regions (Kantor, 2001). However, the population of the North was able to achieve industrialization as opposed to the South. The industrialization of all Northern states positively impacted the urbanization and immigration into this region (Mountjoy & McNeese, 2009). In the harsh conditions of the civil war, immigrants still found moving to the North more appealing since they could settle in urbanized settlements there.

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The railway remained the main mode of transportation for both individual and commercial operations in the USA. Thus, the North and the South relied heavily on railroads in their trade activities. Consequently, a well-developed network of railway lines would have had a positive impact on the war efforts of the warring sides. The South, being a predominantly agricultural region that sold staple food to the world market, relied greatly on railway as the mode of transportation. However, with 70% of the nation’s railways in the North, its war effort was much more efficient than that of the South (Kantor, 2001). The South’s war preparation had to consider the ways of trading with the world market. Based on the fact that neither of the warring sides was well placed to dictate the duration of the war, the South’s preparation for the war had to the cover expansion of its modes of transport.

Possessing the greatest part of the nation’s railways, the North had a significant advantage in its war against the South since this enabled the region to boost its trade. Moreover, this region was quite capable of trading with other regions without involving the South (Kantor, 2001). In 1860, the North was on the track towards building commercial and manufacturing economy. This kind of economy was heavily anchored on the reliable mode of transportation such as railway. Since the majority of rail lines was in the North, before the war, the South had freedom to access other parts of the continent while passing through the states that constituted the Northern region (Kantor, 2001). The South had a massive preparation for war the, but it also was engaged in seeking new routes to transport it products to the global market without.

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Invading Unfamiliar Land

The war between the North and the South was marked by conquering territories and taking control over them. The level of invasion was a major factor when it came to taking stock of achievements. During the war, the warring sides had both common and unfamiliar land marks. The unfamiliar land marks covered deep or interior sections into an enemy territory. The Northern states used their army and sophisticated weapons to expand their territories. As opposed to the South, the North used its fleet and naval forces quite efficiently to conquer territories by capturing them from both land and water. At the same time, the South had regions or territories that it valued significantly, based on the resources in such regions. The Northerners’ army invaded such areas and proved its superiority in most cases since it had more soldiers. Therefore, the Northern territories expanded since many new areas had been captured or invaded. At some point during the war, the Southerners’ army was forced to retreat many times, thus allowing the North more space to move ahead with new conquests of territories. 

Strong Navy and Fleet

The war between the North and South was waged on both land and water. This implied the both sides needed to be at their best to achieve victory. Before the war, both regions had a common navy. With the navy remaining in the North after the war began, it was clear that the South was bound to be inferior in any battles that would require the use of fleet since it had none. Therefore, the South was faced with an uphill task of building a fresh effective navy to counter its enemy from the North (Cartmell, 2003). At this moment, the North already had built a politicized navy ready to serve its interest. Moreover, massive resources had been pumped into building it. As much this was possible, based on the personnel ability in the South, it was important to remember the essence of time and the environment of war. Creating a strong navy in the wartime rendered the South to more ground fighting as opposed to the North whose navy was efficient.

The manpower advantage of the Northern states translated to one of the most effective navies during the war. The commercial manufacturing activities in the North created stability. Furthermore, this stability was based on the fact that the region had many factories and railways to transport goods and conduct trade, so all of this ensured that the region was financed properly. Consequently, the navy, which enjoyed sophisticated and new weapons in great quantities, experienced this proper financing (Hazen, 199). Since the region had inherited a stable navy from the states that had joined the union, one would not exclude the financial power, needed to keep the navy operating efficiently.


The civil war between the North and the South revealed the advantages that every side held prior to the war. Both regions required enough resources and room to maintain their economic activities both locally and internationally. However, the resources held by the North, such as railways in some cases, had left the South without the convenient movement of both people and goods. The South was reduced to some landlocked region so they had little room to move beyond their territories. The higher population a region had, the more effective it was during the war. Thus, since many free states had joined the North in the civil war, this region had the advantage over the South. This factor further led to the efficiency in industrialization and army, thus proving to be a force that would bring victory to the Northern states.

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