Lincoln’s vs. Davis’ Administrations During the War

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 2
Words: 279
Reading time:
< 1 min

The respective circumstances of the administrations of Lincoln and Davis were dissimilar in many ways. The confederacy had a limited military capacity because only ten percent of the white American population lived in the Southern states. Although many Southerners predicted victory for the South, as Davis had served as Secretary of War, Lincoln had several advantages, including “greater manpower and industrial strength”. The confederate government was also hurriedly assembled, and therefore, it was troubled with divisions over secession and slaveholding. Davis also had dysfunctional relationships with a host of army generals and the Congress as the war progressed. His popular support also declined after defeats in Tennessee and Georgia.

Lincoln, as a war president, faced the problems of military nature. Initially, he had philosophical differences with federal generals who advocated for ‘soft war’ over the destruction of enemy forces. He could not understand commanders who matched his expectations, and as a result, the army lacked a unified command at the early stages of the war. As Solonick writes, Lincoln’s choices for generals were not very competent. At the time, three Federal corps operated independently and there was a need to create one command.

Lincoln succeeded in resolving his problems because, unlike Davis, he was flexible. Although he lacked a military background, he immersed himself in combat strategy and was stayed abreast of advances in weaponry. He sought for the right of generals to command troops. As a political measure, his Emancipation Proclamation also increased his military force as black soldiers could be drafted. Davis, on the other hand, was rigid and had a poor working relationship with his generals.