Essay on The American Civil War By Robert G. Tanner

Essay on The American Civil War By Robert G. Tanner

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When one thinks about the American Civil War (1861-1864), the question at hand begs questioning: what could the Confederacy have done to win the war? Ideally, according to Robert G. Tanner in his book Retreat to Victory? the idea that the south might have won had it used a different strategy might be impossible to answer. That being said, Tanner argues amongst many theories which have developed over what the Confederacy could have done to win the Civil War, the strategy commonly referred to as Fabian would not be a prosperous endeavor for the Confederacy due to the southern geography, people and through the Confederacy’s generals.
The ideas presented in Tanner’s book deserve recognition on the basis that the author’s thesis is addressing a hypothetical supposition. However, the thesis here is unconventional, as Tanner doesn’t introduce any innovative ideas, rather Tanner asserts how other historians’ bases are false. Countless historians, Tanner included, propose a central problem exists as a result of the Civil War: how did the Confederate States of America lose the war, and, if so, how could victory have been achieved? Tanner submits that something known as a Fabian strategy cannot be attributed to how the Confederacy might have won the war because of how this strategy exhausted popular support for the war.
Before beginning, it might be prudent to explain what Fabian warfare is and to what benefit could it have done for the Confederacy. The origins of the stratagem known as Fabian range back to the Second Punic Wars, when the Roman commander Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus instituted a policy of avoiding battle rather than be lured into a direct clash, utilizing guerilla tactics and scorched-earth warfare to defeat “the gre...


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... when he could have taken the approach addressing the root of the problems: the Confederate high command.
To conclude, Tanner’s book Retreat to Victory? looks at the hypothetical response to how the Confederacy could have won the Civil War. By looking at the geography of the southern half of the United States, the slaves and the generals of the Confederacy, Tanner is able to show through evidence and historical examples why a Fabian strategy could not have given the Confederacy the victory they so desired. Although Tanner’s thesis does seem unorthodox due to how the author doesn’t introduce any new, revolutionary ideas on how the Confederacy could have won the war, Tanner’s analysis is well done because the author allows the reader to suppose what could have changed United States history while at the same time showing the audience why the case presented cannot be.

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