Military Strategies of a Confederate Kentucky and Missouri


Let's just say that Kentucky and Missouri join the Confederate States regardless of the POD involved whether if it's an early Civil War in the 1850s where the United States fires the first shots or they're more lucky with these states in 1861. Now what would the military offensives for both states look like for the Union and the Confederacy respectively.

Geography - The most important thing to look at when assessing what both sides would do in Kentucky and Missouri is their boundaries and rivers. Both states are very close to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio which for the Confederates given them the opportunity to conduct raids there as well use them as shields to protect their cities across the Mississippi and other rivers. For the Americans, having a Confederate-controlled Kentucky and Missouri would be not only very dangerous but they would have to launch major offensives there to retake them as well as install loyalist military governments there similar to what we saw with West Virginia and to an extent Tennessee. For the Unionist shadow governments of Kentucky and Missouri respectively, Joshua Speed or Cassius M. Clay would be the governor for the former and Hamilton Rowan Gamble as the governor for the latter. A Confederate-held Kentucky and Missouri also means that some Union generals such as Ulysses S. Grant for instance would be slightly moved to another town like Evansville, Indiana.

The Confederates defending Kentucky and Missouri in 1861 would be very hard pressed and rather precarious especially with the Union's ironclads and the fact that Louisville and St. Louis are very close to the enemy states. For 1853 or so, it's slightly easier since there are no ironclads but the Union Army would inevitably go into those states and attempt to capture both states' major cities. Missouri's size makes it rather vulnerable to being easily invaded and taken over by the Union and the best-case scenario is that the Confederates do hold onto half of the state thus leading it to be partitioned into two new states controlled by both sides. Kentucky is luckier though and the Confederates might hold onto the entire state as opposed to being partitioned.

Strategic Value - Kentucky and Missouri would undoubtedly be very important for the Confederates as it would give them access to the Ohio River and two prominent riverfront cities in the form of Louisville and St. Louis respectively assuming if they managed to hold onto one of them or both when the Union starts to rise up in the second year of the conflict. Their importance to the Confederate military would be second only to Virginia the home of the capital Richmond and a state that borders Union-controlled Maryland. For the Americans, getting Kentucky and Missouri under their control would be an important priority as it would allow them to invade and take over Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and of course the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

For the alternate Army of Mississippi/Army of Tennessee, they'd would be based in Kentucky or Missouri and they would glad to have these states under their jurisdiction especially natives of either state such as Albert Sidney Johnston, John C. Breckinridge, John Hunt Morgan and John Bell Hood. For the Army of the Tennessee or whatever it's called, they would have a major problem on their hands.

Population - Kentucky's population in the 1860 census was 1.15 million making it the 9th most populous state in the Union with 919,484 whites, 10,654 free blacks and 225,483 slaves (19.5 percent of the state's population). Missouri also had a similar total population with around 1 million whites, 3,752 free blacks and 114,931 black slaves making it the 8th most populous state.

For 1850, Kentucky had 982,405 people (761,413 whites, 10,011 free blacks and 210,981 black slaves) and Missouri had 682,044 people (592,004 whites, 2,618 free blacks and 87,422 black slaves) a bit less than their 1860 sizes but they were already growing. Kentucky's slave population in 1850 was 21.4 percent which was similar to Tennessee's 23.8 percent and as for Missouri it had 12.8 percent arguably one of the lowest in the slaveholding states surpassed only by Delaware (2.5 percent) and Maryland (15.5 percent) both of which stay in the Union for this scenario.

The South/Confederate States had about 8 million whites and 4.4 million blacks (free and slave) compared to the North/United States' 19.2 million whites and 329,732 free blacks in 1860 (when you count Maryland and Delaware and exclude Missouri and Kentucky). For 1850, the South has around 3.9 million whites and 2.8 million blacks (free and slave) while the North had 13.3 million whites and 196,055 free blacks which if you add in Maryland and Delaware it would be around 13.7 million whites and 288,851 free blacks. The South with Kentucky and Missouri would have 5.2 million whites and and 2.9 million blacks (free and slave) while the North with Maryland and Kentucky would again have 13.7 million whites and 288,851 free blacks.

In terms of population for the states in the Confederacy, Kentucky would be the 3rd most populous state in 1850 and 1860 surpassing the likes of Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Arkansas and Florida and as for Missouri it would be the 7th most populous state in 1850 and the 2nd most populous state in 1860. The only state that would ever surpass Kentucky and Missouri as far as population went would be Virginia which had 1.19 million in 1850 and 1.59 million in 1860. Adding in Kentucky and Missouri, the South/Confederacy would have a total population of 5.5 million in the 1850s and 10 million in the 1860s giving them extra white manpower to fight the North/Union. More accurately the South/Confederate States' white male 18-45 military age population with Kentucky and Missouri would be 1.3 million compared to it's actual size of 1.06 million in 1860 in contrast to the North/United States' 4 million (4.1 million when you include Maryland and Delaware) and for the numbers in 1850 it's a bit lower than that.

As far as slaves are concerned, there would be those that successfully escape to Indiana, Illinois or Ohio for instance or behind Union lines where they become contraband. For any remaining Unionists especially in 1861, they would form militias to fight the Confederate-controlled governments or escape to the North to avoid capture and execution.

Cities - Louisville and St. Louis would be extremely important for the Confederates as they are thriving riverside cities and gives them access to extra resources and industry.

Louisville was already a thriving slave market that sold slaves to the Lower South (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas) and it's population was 68,033 in 1860 which was comprised of 61,213 whites, 4,902 black slaves and 1,917 free blacks and 43,194 in 1850 comprised of 36,225 whites, 5,432 black slaves and 1,538 free blacks which made it the 14th/12th largest city in the Union.

St. Louis on the other hand had their population of 160,773 in 1860 specifically consisting of 157,476 whites (which was increasingly becoming dominated by Irish and German immigrants over the native white Southern majority), 1,755 free blacks and 1,542 black slaves and 77,860 in 1850 divided into 73,806 whites (of which 67% were Southerners and 43% were Irish and Germans), 1,308 free blacks and 2,656 black slaves which would make it the 8th largest city in those years. The largest city of the South that had a 100,000+ population in both 1850 and 1860 was New Orleans, Louisiana which had 116,375 in the former year (89,459 whites, 9,905 free blacks and 17,011 black slaves) and 168,675 (149,063 whites, 10,939 free blacks and 14,484 black slaves). The top 10 largest cities in the Confederate States with Missouri and Kentucky would be 1. New Orleans (116,375 in 1850 and 168,675 in 1860), 2. St. Louis (77,860 in 1850 and 160,773 in 1860), 3. Louisville (43,194 in 1850 and 68,033 in 1860), 4. Charleston (42,985 in 1850 and 40,522 in 1860), 5. Richmond (27,570 in 1850 and 37,910 in 1860), 6. Mobile (20,515 in 1850 and 29,258 in 1860), 7. Memphis or Savannah (22,623 in 1860 and 15,312 in 1850), 8. Petersburg or Norfolk (18,266 in 1850 and 14,326 in 1860), 9. Wheeling or Augusta (11,435 in 1850 and 12,493 in 1860) and 10. Nashville or Newport (10,165 in 1850 and 10,046 in 1860). Louisville and St Louis would be as important as New Orleans when it comes to population, shipbuilding and fortifications from a Union naval invasion.

From the Union's perspective, a Confederate-controlled Louisville and St. Louis would be high priority targets and they would try to take it by land and by sea. They'd also install a military ruler akin to Benjamin F. Butler just like what they did with New Orleans if they do capture those cities.

Now that we've got the basics of what the strategies of the Union and the Confederacy would look like if Missouri and Kentucky had seceded we'll look what both of these states would look like in this scenario:

Kentucky - The state's overall role as a Confederate state in an 1861 Civil War or an 1853 Civil War would resemble Tennessee in OTL. In fact, both states actually share a ton of similarities: Both of their names have a Native American origin (Ken-tah-nen and Tanasi), Both have fertile and grassy western and central regions while their eastern region is mountainous and rocky, Both are the birthplace of iconic music (Bluegrass, Country and R&B), Both have tons of rivers (In fact they even share the Cumberland River), Both were admitted as states in the Union during the 1790s (1792 and 1796), Both are the home of famous American politicians that founded major parties (Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson), Both have cities named after historical figures (Louisville is named King Louis XVI a French monarch and Nashville is named in honor of Francis Nash one of the founders of the city), Both create iconic alcoholic beverages (Bourbon whiskey and Jack Daniels) and both have similar percentage of slaves in 1850 (21.4 and 23.8). The strongest support in the state for the Confederacy would be located in the central and western regions where plantation slavery is common (though it works differently here than in the rest of the South) while the eastern region would be divided between Unionists and Confederates similar to it's neighbor. The governor of Kentucky would be Beriah Magoffin (OTL's leader of the state in 1861-1862) or Lazarus W. Powell if it's an early war. In short, Kentucky being a Confederate state would have a lot of battles fought there on par with Virginia.

Missouri - Given how adjacent it is to Illinois and the Mississippi River there will definitely be many battles fought there just like Virginia and Kentucky. The region of Little Dixie and native born Southerners in St. Louis would be the most supportive of the Confederacy while everywhere else would be incredibly divided at least for 1861. It would also be where the majority of the Civil War's westernmost battles would be fought between the Union and the Confederacy. In the case of 1861 scenario, the Jayhawks from Kansas and other Unionist militias would use a Confederate-controlled Missouri as a stomping ground to launch raids and other violent attacks there. The governor of Missouri would be either Claribone Fox Jackson (who tried to get his state to secede in OTL but failed because of the Unionist legislature and Nathaniel Lyon) or Sterling Price (who was himself governor from 1853 to 1857 and the leader of the Missouri State Guard). The Missouri State Guard would still exist for the 1861 scenario but for 1853 they wouldn't exist.

1850 United States Census
1860 United States Census
NCPedia: Free African-American Population 1790-1860

* The total populations of the North/United States and the South/Confederate States are based on my calculations taken from the 1850 and 1860 censuses.