Anaconda Plan

The Anaconda Plan was the Union’s strategic plan aimed at strangling the rebellion, squeezing the very breath out of the rowdy upstarts.

A fine concoction developed by the intelligent General Winfield Scott and presented to his commander, President Lincoln.

This strategic plan would have ended the Civil War before it had begun, if it had worked. The plan was to be revisited by General Ulysses S. Grant and General Sherman three years later with a different attitude.

General Scott’s original Anaconda Plan was one of diplomatic and military encounters; most Union commanders however disliked this plan and referred to it as too complacent.

Complacent or not the plan, if allowed full implementation and support from the Northern military leaders and general populace, would have saved a great many lives. Men would have been sent home after the rebellion was squashed to their families, their jobs. This was not the case.

Anaconda Plan

The Anaconda Plan drawn in 1861

The North as well as the South smelled blood and blood was what they would receive. General Winfield Scott’s attempt at a near peaceful resolution of the slavery crises ended in defeat and was scrapped. President Lincoln met with Scott in closed quarters after the initial plan was seen as a failure to discuss the new developments. Blockades and economic sanctions would not be enough of a detour to stave off the Southern slavery issue.

A book that takes a look at the Civil War using maps is Civil War, The: The Story of the War with Maps

The idea was simple enough, in theory. The Union would set up a naval blockade of a few key Southern ports and would essentially strangle the Rebels and end the rebellion quickly. This was a good plan but it was never given the opportunity to be put into action. Scott’s idea was to place 60,000 Union troops in gunboats and sail down the Mississippi River and cut off any amassing Southern forces before they could gather strength. The Union leaders saw this as semi-passive in theory and action and proposed to kill the plan immediately. President Lincoln was torn in his thoughts and after a great many weeks contemplating he decided to not use the plan against the South.

The plan was scrapped and the fighting erupted and would continue until many men were killed in defense of human rights. The promising diplomatic solution that never really stood a chance as both sides wanted to fight too hard, too fast.

In the summer of 1864, the Anaconda Plan was revisited as combined forces of General Grant and General Sherman looked to put an end to the war altogether. The plan was eerily reminiscent of Scott’s initial draft yet it had in it warfare that the North and South required. That was the major difference in Scott’s plan and the eventual tactical maneuver set forth by the two top Union generals of the war.

In the end, the plan was a success after it was deployed against the Southern states of Tennessee and Virginia. Squeezing the Rebels into a bottleneck and culminating with the famous March to the Sea by General Sherman and eventual surrendering of the Confederate army and nation.

The original plan was a failure, as it was never given the support it required. In the end, the framework of the plan helped bring an end to the Civil War.

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