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Williams 1

Devyn Williams
Mr. Dreisbach/Mrs. Andrews-Williams
24 August 2013
What Could Have Happened?
1861-65 were very crucial years in American History. Many lives were lost. Many
families were torn apart. During wartime, all the events could have gone differently. However,
there are four that standout in history. They include the failure to reinforce Norfolk Navy Yard,
Britain nearly causing a second war with the United States, General McClellan’s “Quaker Gun”
affair, and Frémont’s Proclamation.
As a result of not willing to give Virginia a reason to secede, President Lincoln held his
command to strengthen the defenses of Norfolk Navy Yard. He finally decided to give the order,
it was too late. The confederate army had already taken over the artillery and the premier ship,
the Merrimac. By losing, the Union’s naval power reduced significantly. Had the President not
hesitated, the Union would have taken the Merrimac and the ammunition, giving them the
necessary weaponry they so desperately needed and could not afford. “Lincoln looked to Chase
for guidance on the complex problem of financing a war at a time when the government was
heavily in debt” (Goodwin 365). However, this would not stop the union from using naval power
in the future.
In April of 1861, President Lincoln declared a blockade on the Confederate coastline.
This caused major issues with two parties; the Confederate States of America and Great Britain.
With the South being one of the prime cotton producers in the world and Britain using that cotton
for its textile industry, the blockade was a recipe for disaster. Deprived of the cotton, “Merchants

Consequently. Any man that will keep the president waiting is egotistic. so is one who takes matters into his own hands without the consent of the president. This made Seward fearful that. this was the difference between a Union and Confederate victory.Williams 2 would lose money. Seward drafted a letter to be given to Lord John Russell.’ then a war between the United States and Britain ‘may ensue. and found to his disbelief.’ caused by the action of Great Britain. the first general-in-chief of the Union Army was relieved of command due to his inability to lead. he would have made bold. Stanton noticed that McClellan was arrogant and this did not sit well with him. Had Lincoln not relieved McClellan from his post. and thousands of workers would lose their jobs” (Goodwin 363). The “Quaker Gun” affair. Britain’s foreign secretary. Furthermore. not our own” (Goodwin 364). “England would back that South simply to feed its own factories” (Goodwin 363). thus. the proud war secretary did not ignore the arrogance of the general-in-chief” (Goodwin 427). which was the “last straw. they did not compare to those on land. that they had already packed up and left. Though the issues at sea were pressing. On the other hand. counterproductive. . “If the vexing issues were not resolved. “Unlike Lincoln. Without a doubt. To combat this. had President Lincoln hesitated to send that letter. This is one of the best decisions made on the part of President Lincoln. and deadly decisions to try and re-establish his reputation. diminishing the moral of the troops and the country they served. was just logs painted black to resemble cannons.” happened when McClellan decided to move his troops to capture the confederates. the heavy artillery that had prevented his command to move. It stated. and Britain decided ‘to fraternize with our domestic enemy. General McClellan. Britain would have looked at the confederacy as its own country. for months. “That will be the last time General McClellan will give either myself or the President the waiting snub” (Goodwin 427).

“Lincoln’s fears about the reaction to Frémont’s proclamation in the border states were justified. had Lincoln not. he did not consult Lincoln. Finally. In retrospect. had Lincoln not acted quickly on Frémont Proclamation. the United States could have been involved in a second war. move lives would have been lost during the war due to his egocentric attitude. . if Seward had not initiated the letter written to Lord Russell. He did this to shift the purpose of the war to emancipation. However. This brought concerns that the shift would cause the Border States to join the Confederacy. Lincoln had to take immediate action. if the President Lincoln reinforced the Norfolk yard. Frémont was removed from his command. Also. the Union would have had better naval power. Frémont declared a proclamation which declared martial law in the state of Missouri.Williams 3 Lastly. without a doubt the Border States would have seceded. Within days frantic letters reached Washington from Unionist in Kentucky” (Goodwin 390). the boarder states would have seceded from the Union. If General McClellan was not removed from his command. In conclusion.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. 2005. .Williams 4 Work Cited Goodwin. Doris Kearns. New York: Simon & Schuster. Print.