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Most Southerners actually thought they could just say, "Well, it's been a nice country, but gotta go," and the North would wave a peaceful goodbye. Although three-quarters of the soldiers from the South owned no slaves, they were still ready to fight for those who did. Southerners figured that Northern businessmen would want to hold on to Northern middleman profits from the cotton trade and the millions of dollars owed to them by the South. The South believed that a need for what they called King Cotton (1860) would force the British to come to their aid. They found out that money talks, but not as loud as a cause does. For the North, saving the Union and opposing slavery were causes worth fighting for.

Five border slave states chose to stay with the Union — luckily for the North, because borderstate people, manufacturing, and horses would have added more than a third to Southern Confederate strength. As it was, the North had more than twice as many people as the South, three times as much money, and ten times as many factories.

Those figures didn't mean that the North was sure to win though; Britain had that kind of advantage over the colonies, and the Revolution still triumphed. As in the Revolutionary War, the South didn't really have to win; it just had to not lose. The North was forced to attack the South on the South's own soil; the South mostly fought from behind prepared defenses with short internal lines of supply and communications. The Union Navy blockaded Southern ports, but the South had enough food and weapons to last a few years.

The hotheads of South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter, the key to Charleston harbor held by the Union, thereby rousing Northerners into feeling that their nation's flag was under attack. Lincoln asked for 75,000 volunteers.

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