The Mood in Marietta, Ohio, at the Beginning of the Civil War
Digital History ID 405
Many Northerners felt confident of a quick victory. In 1861, the Union states had 22.5 million people, compared to just 9 million in the Confederate states (including 3.7 million slaves). Not only did the Union have more manpower, it also had a larger navy, a more developed railroad system, and a stronger manufacturing base. The North had 1.3 million industrial workers, compared to the South's 110,000. Northern factories manufactured nine times as many industrial goods as the South; seventeen times as many cotton and woolen goods; thirty times as many boots and shoes; twenty times as much pig iron; twenty-four times as many railroad locomotives--and 33 times as many firearms.
But Confederates also felt confident. For one thing, the Confederacy had only to wage a defensive war and wait for northern morale to erode. In contrast, the Union had to conquer and control the Confederacy's 750,000 square miles of territory. Further, the Confederate army seemed superior to that of the Union. More Southerners had attended West Point or other military academies, had served as army officers, and had experience using firearms and horses. At the beginning of 1861, the U.S. army consisted of only 16,000 men, most of whom served on the frontier fighting Indians. History, too, seemed to be on the South's side. Before the Civil War, most nations that had fought for independence, including, of course, the United States, had won their struggle. A school textbook epitomized southern confidence: "If one Confederate soldier can whip seven Yankees," it asked, "how many soldiers can whip 49 Yanks?"
In this selection, a resident of Marietta, Ohio reports the mood in his town.
Nothing new here in the way of war items. The people here are wide awake on the subject, and quite a number of companies are drilling, and putting themselves in a state of readiness for anything that may happen. It is not expected, however, that we shall be disturbed, as it is thought eastern Virginia will soon have her hands full without giving much attention to us. It seems now that before long a culmination point will be reached, and the battle opened-- It should and doubtless will, be the prayer of all Christians that it may be speedily terminated and the rebellion crushed.
Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute
Additional information: Frederic Pearce to his father (Marietta, Ohio)
Copyright 2021 Digital History