Question of the Week: 8/8-814/22

What’s your favorite “What If” connected to the American Civil War?

28 Responses to Question of the Week: 8/8-814/22

  1. What if President-elect Lincoln had been involved in “a fatal accident” during his train journey from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C. in February 1861? No one person or organization is charged with causing Abraham Lincoln’s death; but no one is absolutely certain that Lincoln died by “accident,” either.
    How might the United States (and how do the Confederate States) respond?

  2. On June 30, 1863, Meade ordered Reynolds to take the 1st Corps to Gettysburg but for some reason Reynolds didn’t receive the order until that evening. What would have happened if the entire 1st Corps was in Gettysburg when Heth came marching down the Pike?

  3. I actually like Sarah Kay Bierle’s from the closing panel: What if the Confederate capital had remained at Montgomery and not moved to Richmond? Here in Virginia, that would change so much.

  4. If “Stonewall” Jackson had not been wounded at Chancellorsville, what role would he have played at Gettysburg?

  5. What if the Confederates held off firing on Sumpter for a couple of days and Doubleday surrendered the fort?

    1. Well, as Major Robert Anderson commanded at Fort Sumter, are you saying the Doubleday “pinch-hit” for Anderson?

      Or are you saying that Doubleday was the ‘relief commander”? Or the “closer”?

  6. What if the Union high command had accepted the Henry and/or the Spencer rifle instead of the muzzleloader as the standard infantry weapon at the beginning of the war?

    1. The Henry was produced in rather small numbers and had a large number of moving parts, making it difficult to maintain in the field. IMO the Spencer was the better weapon but it was 1863 before it was available in numbers.

  7. the best “what if?” question is always followed with another question — “would it have mattered and why?” Chris did this last week with his question on the “halt order” at Dunkirk.

    the second question requires the respondent to challenge prior assumptions, longly held beliefs and do a little critical thinking … this reveals that historical outcomes rarely hinge on singular events or “turning points” as we are fond talking about.

  8. What if the final Emancipation Proclamation did not include the section that African Americans “will be received into the armed service of the United States. . . .”

  9. “What if” the 11 th Corps took Oak Hill (as Howard wanted) before Rodes occupied it.

  10. What if the Confederacy had not fired on Fort Sumter, but had merely prevented the rather weak relief vessels from resupplying the fort?

  11. What if someone wanted to ask Civil War-based “What if” questions, and the bar was closed?

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