What occurred to Civil War farmers that went home to take treatment of the plants and also then came back to fight?


Very few Civil War farmers went house to take treatment of the plants and also then went back to fight. The Amerihave the right to Civil War was much longer and also even more disastrous than basically anyone supposed. At the outcollection of the battle, many kind of eager volunteers signed 90-day papers, evidence of the widespread belief that the war would certainly be brief and almost bloodmuch less. Instead, the struggle stretched virtually 4 full years. Between 1861 and also 1865, the Union and also Confederacy mobilized even more than 3 million guys for the fighting and experienced some 600,000 deaths. The battle remains the bloodiest conflict America has actually ever before combated.

You are watching: Why did the civil war last so long

One of the reasons for the dramatic rise in the length of the war, the size of the armies, and also the magnitude of the casualty rolls was the technical improvements in farming manufacturing that developed in the years leading up to the war. In the eighteenth century, the food needs of the populace at big offered as a vital limit on the amount of manpower that might be mobilized right into the army and also on the length of time those armies could be kept in the area. In those years, a country that diverted a huge proportion of its farming labor pressure to the military and maintained it in the field for months at a time risked deprivation and also starvation on the residence front.

A bevy of technological enhancements that appeared in the initially fifty percent of the eighteenth century—iron and steel plows, seed drills, cultivators and also, the majority of importantly, mechanical reapers and threshers—made it possible to increase the amount of food that can be developed manyfold. By the mid-1800s, 2 guys equipped with a steed and the new farming machinery might develop as a lot grain in a day as twenty males can harvest by hand also utilizing sickles in the late 1700s. With Each Other, these transforms dramatically changed the propercentage of the populace required for farming manufacturing. Three-quarters of American workers labored on farms in 1820; by 1860, fewer than 3 in five operated in farming.

The massive transition in the demographics of food production helps describe just how the Civil War armies can location so many kind of males under arms and save them in the area for years on end. The huge militaries that disputed the expensive battles between 1861 and also 1865 can fight so long in component bereason their members were not required at house to plant and harvest crops: the departments might continue to be on campaign without threatening the larger society via starvation. And the substitution of mechanical benefit and also pet effort for humale muscle meant that farm labor no much longer compelled adult males. Younger kids and also womales can currently percreate many of the tasks that previously demanded male workers. In the southern, the labor of 4 million African-Amerideserve to servants assisted assistance the armies in the field and also freed the white populace to proceed fighting. While neither side offered exemptions to farmers, the South did institute the Twenty-Negro Law, which released a plantation owner or overseer whom managed more than twenty slaves from military service—powerful evidence not just of slavery’s importance in maintaining the Southern economy and also battle effort but of the persistent fears of servant insurrection.

This is not to say that soldiers never returned to their dwellings and also ranches throughout the battle. Furloughs for the troops were not unprevalent, frequently doled out as a reward for service. (In the winter of 1863-1864, a Union Army desperate for reenlistments readily available a 30-day furlough to any kind of soldier willing to authorize on for a secondary three-year term.) But those furloughs seldom synchronized via the agricultural cycle: campaigning season usually ran from the spring to late fall—precisely the months of planting and also harvesting—and also armies found it easiest to grant furloughs as soon as the militaries had actually gotten in winter quarters. Soldiers mostly perceived furloughs as a opportunity to visit loved ones and to escape the stifling discipline of army life for a brief minute.

Many kind of soldiers chosen to leave the ranks and rerevolve home to carry out for their families, officially a resources crime in the eyes of the military mechanism

In the South, the deprivations of battle influenced individual soldiers more acutely. Non-slaveholding white farmers—those who farmed tiny parcels of land for sustenance, as opposed to big planters prospering cash crops—commonly joined the army in the idea that they were deffinishing houses and family members from Yankee intrusion. As the battle dragged on, and Federal troops pushed deeper into the Confederacy seizing crops and blocking transport lines, many of those households endured vigorously from the scarcity of standard gives. When letters arrived from house telling of wives, kids, and also siblings endangered via starvation, many of those rebel soldiers elected to leave the ranks and rerevolve home to administer for their households. Those desertions—officially a funding crime in the eyes of the military system—became more and even more widespcheck out in the last years of the war; historians estimate that as many kind of as one in three Confedeprice soldiers had deserted by the final months of the war. Very few of those deserters changed voluntarily to continue the fight.

For even more information

Burns, Ken. The Civil War. WETA, 2002.

Farmer"s Museum

McPherson, James. For Causage and also Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. Oxford College Press, USA, 1998.


Civil War Preservation Trust. Civil War Key Sources 2009.

McPherchild, James. What They Fought For 1861-1865 Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994.

Special Collections, Musselmale Library, Gettysburg College. The Civil War Era Collection 2002.

St. John de Crèvecoeur, J. Hector and also Albert E. Stone. Letters from an Amerihave the right to Farmer and also Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America New York: Penguin Books Ltd., 1984.

See more: How Long To Leave Feedback On Ebay, How Long Does A Buyer Get To Leave Feedback


Historian Christopher Hamner teaches at George Maboy College, serves as Editor-in-Chief of Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800, and is the writer of Enduring Battle: Amerideserve to Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945.