Winning Wars in a Republic

Emerging Civil War welcomes back JoAnna M. McDonald, and this short post “sets the stage” for a full discussion in the following days about Lincoln and his challenges with a republic at war.

While the North and South had different social systems which created some governmental dissimilarities, both were republics. With this in mind and before tackling any complicated Civil War topics, we need to review how a government of the people, by the people and for the people, successfully executes a war.

A republic is a form of government made up of the citizens, policymakers, and the military.  The citizens vote for politicians to represent the will of the people. When political circumstances devolve and the people desire (or understand the need) to go to war, the President, in coordination with Congress, declares war and provides the fundamental tools to the military to execute the war.  As the military carries out the will of the people and resists their enemies’ military force, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, implements political-military policies. If the Commander-in-Chief is more strategically savvy than the military, then he/she may make strategic or tactical decisions even to relieving senior commanders.  On the other hand, when the Commander-in-Chief finds competent military leaders, he/she may form a close working relationship with them and may well work in concert with senior officers in winning the conflict and bringing about a lasting peace.  

To be continued…    

JoAnna M. McDonald, Ph.D., has been a historian, writer, and public speaker for twenty years, specializing in strategic studies and strategic leadership.  Currently, she is in an interim position as an environmental and historic preservation specialist. Other experiences include: working as a military history researcher for the History Channel’s Vietnam in HD and World War II in HD, and working as a civilian for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force—Predator program, and for the U.S. Army at the Army Heritage and Education Center (Military History Institute), U.S. Army War College.

Author of eleven books on the Civil War and WWII, as well as numerous journal and newsletter articles regarding U.S. Marine Corps history, JoAnna’s next book is R. E. Lee’s Grand Strategy & Strategic Leadership: Caught in a Paradoxical Paradigm (Savas Beatie, 2020).

10 Responses to Winning Wars in a Republic

  1. Had the federal government abided by our Constitution, there would not have been a war that took the lives of 700 plus thousand American lives. The government our founding fathers gave us was overthrown with Lincoln stating that he wasn’t going to let a piece of paper stopping him from waging a unconstitutional war to maintain the union.

    1. This reminds me of that scene in Jurassic Park where Laura Dern conducts on-the-ground research into what would become a very large coprolite.

    2. That is correct.

      U.S. President Abraham Lincoln ordered 75,000 United States troops to invade the Confederate States of America, simply to retake a fort.

      There were not even any hostages involved—the Confederate troops, under the leadership of P.G.T. Beauregard, permitted the Union troops to evacuate Fort Sumter, and sail back home to Union territory, when they could have so easily taken them as prisoners of war.

      There were not even any human casualties, on either side, in the Battle of Fort Sumter—one Union horse died.

      Abraham Lincoln was a dictator—just like Adolf Hitler.

      The only significant difference between Adolf Hitler and Abraham Lincoln was that Adolf Hitler lost the war he started, and Abraham Lincoln won the war he started.

      History is biased because history is written by the victors—not the vanquished.

  2. What good is a government that doesn’t abide by their own constitution? It led to tyranny.

    1. Have you been able to come up with that date when slavery would have died its natural death if only it had been left alone?

      1. Abraham Lincoln did not order 75,000 United States troops to invade the Confederate States to free any slaves.

        Abraham Lincoln was a white supremacist who had clearly stated, at least twice, that he had no intention of abolishing slavery where it already existed.

        Even Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation never freed a single slave. It was only a piece of war propaganda that Lincoln drafted in early 1863, when the Union was losing the war. It ordered the abolition of slavery in the Confederate States, only (what Lincoln called the “Rebellious States”)—where Lincoln had no authority. And it exempted the slave states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—as a reward for remaining in the United States—even though Lincoln had ordered the imprisonment of the state legislators of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, in 1861, to prevent them from voting for, or against, secession.

        If the Confederate States would have won its war for independence from the United States, slavery would have been abolished in the Confederate States—for the same reason it had been abolished in all but four of the United States.

        The only thing that ever freed any slaves, in practice—anywhere—was Industrial-Age machinery that made slavery obsolete.

        The only reason slavery was abolished in the Northern United States, first, was that machines for processing New World crops—such as cotton and tobacco—were invented before machines for harvesting New World crops were invented.

        As the machines for harvesting New World crops were developed—making slavery obsolete in the Southern states, too—slavery would have been abolished in the Confederate States, as well, had the Confederate States won its war for independence.

        The war between the Confederate States and the United States was never “about slavery.” The war between the Confederate States and the United States was always about U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s determination to force the Confederate States (which had already been permitted to secede and form their own nation, without a fight, by U.S. President James Buchanan) back into the United States—by any means necessary.

        Abraham Lincoln waged a needless war that needlessly cost the lives of up to a million Americans, of all races and ethnicities.

        History is biased because history is written by the victors—not the vanquished.

        The history of the United States, in regards to the Confederate States, is filled with lies because the United States has been the victor since 1865.

  3. You are asking a speculative question. Slavery died out in western cultures without hundreds of thousands of people being killed. From your question, it appears that you do not believe that people that strive for independence by democratically elect representative’s and for a new nation.

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