The Anaconda Plan Essay

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The Anaconda Plan

At the onset of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln met with his generals to devise a strategy by which the rebellious states of the Confederacy could be brought back into the Union. General Winfield Scott, commanding general of the Union army, proposed a plan of battle that became known as the Anaconda Plan.


General Winfield Scott, commanding general of the Union Army
From the Collections of
The Mariners' Museum
General Scott, a native Virginian, believed that the majority of Southerners desired a complete union with the United States. In order to restore the Union with as little bloodshed as possible, he favored a relatively nonaggressive policy. The primary strategy of Scott's plan was to create a complete
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This being the case, Navy Secretary Gideon Welles feared that the Anaconda Plan would invite foreign nations to extend diplomatic relations to the Confederacy. The blockade also posed the risk of offending other nations attempting to trade with the Confederacy. If the blockade proved only partially successful, it would only serve to infuriate foreign nations.


The Anaconda Plan
From the Collections of
The Mariners' Museum
The United States ultimately adopted the Anaconda Plan, with alterations. The blockade was to remain central to the Union strategy, but land offensives would also be launched in an effort to take the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

The job of creating and maintaining a true blockade of the South fell on the shoulders of Gideon Welles. To meet this new challenge the navy began a massive expansion of its fleet. In the spring of 1861, the navy consisted of 82 largely obsolete ships; by December of that year there would be 264 ships in the navy. By the end of the war, the United States Navy would maintain a force of over 600 ships.


John Bull
From the Collections of
The Mariners' Museum
For both the North and the South, one of the most strategically important coastal regions was Hampton Roads in Virginia, where the wide mouth of the James River poured into the Chesapeake Bay. For the North, Hampton Roads was the…

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