Anaconda Plan and Civil War
|Civil War Anaconda Plan Map
|Civil War Anaconda Plan
|US Anaconda Plan
|Union Anaconda Plan
The Civil War Anaconda Plan was U.S. General-in-Chief Winfield Scott's plan to defeat the Confederacy: blockade the southern and eastern coasts, seize
control of the Mississippi River in order to break the Confederacy in two, and then strike from all sides at
once. The British had implemented a similar plan during the War of 1812. Andrew Jackson, however, defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans, thus ending
all British attempts to control the Mississippi River. When Scott and President Abraham Lincoln released the details of this plan, politicians and journalists scoffed
at its complexity and duration. However, events of the American Civil War proved Scott's plan sound.
The lower Mississippi River valley was the most critical theater of the
American Civil War. The Mississippi River served as the major interstate highway of nineteenth-century
America. The river enabled people to transport goods from St. Louis and Pittsburgh through New Orleans to the world. Rivers
were extremely valuable as transportation networks, but beginning in the 1840s, railroad construction linked major cities
that were unconnected by water. Both sides realized the significance of these transportation networks and knew they must control
them to win the war.
Early in the war, Union General Winfield Scott envisioned a broad sweeping plan to crush the rebellion. His strategy, known as the "Anaconda Plan," reflected the importance
of the Mississippi River in the overall strategy of the war. Scott's plan called for blockading the southern coast and a drive
down the Mississippi River to cut the Confederacy in two.
Regional economic and cultural diversity controlled national politics.
Over the years, compromises maintained a delicate balance in Congress between free and slave states. With the passage of the
Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which allowed territories to decide whether to become free or slave states,
the spirit of compromise was lost. Southerners feared this change would forever rob them of their way of life.
Agriculture was the foundation of the economy of America, but its practice varied between the North and the
South. The South was dependent on a plantation economy for its livelihood, but it also
relied on northern factories for everything it needed to grow, refine, and market its crops. Northerners forged the plows
that broke southern earth, northerners built the steamboats that shipped southern crops, and northerners purchased the final
The election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860 changed the lives of all Americans almost overnight and the nation itself forever. Lincoln's belief
that "a house divided against itself cannot stand," created a sense of crisis in the South and brought the issues that divided
the nation into sharp focus.
South Carolina seceded from the Union soon after the election and was joined
by other states to form the Confederate States of America before Lincoln took office. War erupted when Confederate troops
fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.
Following these opening shots, both the North and South quickly raised troops, organized armies, and began to develop strategies
|American Civil War Anaconda Plan
|Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas
The Mississippi River became a focus in the war plans of both sides. "The Father of Waters" had moved lumber,
wheat, corn, and meat from the Midwest, cotton and tobacco from the upper south to New Orleans, and European goods upriver.
Control of the Mississippi and the rivers that flow into it would allow the North to move troops and supplies deep into the
South while crippling the Confederacy's ability to survive. The South needed to protect itself, especially the rich farmland
of the Mississippi River valley, from northern invasion. The Mississippi, carrier of commerce, became the bearer of dreams
as a divided nation struggled with itself over its future.
|The Battle of Shiloh
|Thure de Thulstrup
With Missouri securely under Union control by the fall of 1861, both sides
massed troops—the North along the Ohio River and the South across Tennessee. Newly commissioned Union General Ulysses
S. Grant was stationed in Cairo, Illinois, to watch southern troops in Tennessee. Each side waited and watched, careful not
to tip the balance in Kentucky toward the other.
On September 1, 1861, Confederate General Leonidas Polk seized the Kentucky
river towns of Hickman and Columbus. He began erecting fortifications at Columbus to defend the river as part of a Confederate
defense line that stretched across southern Kentucky from Columbus to Cumberland Gap. Grant quickly countered by occupying
Paducah and Smithland. The watching and waiting was over.
|Water Battery at Fort Donelson
|Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tennessee
Late in 1861, Union land and naval forces launched a key element of the Anaconda
Plan by simultaneously heading south from Paducah, Kentucky, and north from the Gulf of Mexico to wrest control of the lower
Mississippi River valley from the Confederates. The initial engagement at Belmont, Missouri, provided valuable experience
for Grant who became the most important Union general of the war.
Moving along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, Union forces seized Forts
Henry and Donelson, opening the pathway for invasion of the Deep South. Continuing their
advance, the Federals gained victory in the bloody battle at Shiloh in April, at Corinth in May, and having forced the surrender of Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River, seized Memphis
by early June.
Entering the mouth of the Mississippi River, the ships of the West Gulf Blockading
Squadron, commanded by Union Flag Officer David Glasgow Farragut, fought past Confederate Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Left
defenseless, New Orleans, the largest city in the Confederacy, surrendered in late April. Moving steadily upriver, Farragut
captured Baton Rouge and Natchez and steamed on to Vicksburg.
|Gunboats on the Mississippi River
|Chicago Historical Society
Responding to Farragut's demand for surrender, Confederate Lt. Col. James
L. Autrey (post commander at Vicksburg) answered, "Mississippians don't know, and refuse to learn, how to surrender to an
enemy." Shelling the city until late July, Union ships and gunboats were unable to force surrender of Vicksburg. Sickness
and rapidly falling waters forced the Federals to withdraw to deeper water below Baton Rouge.
Upriver, Federal inactivity in and around Memphis during the summer enabled
Confederate forces to counterattack to regain lost portions of the lower Mississippi River valley. These efforts ended in
failure at Iuka and Corinth, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge. General Ulysses S. Grant then directed his forces in a two-pronged
advance on Vicksburg. One wing marched south from LaGrange and Grand Junction, Tennessee, into north Mississippi while the
other wing, under General William T. Sherman, pushed rapidly downriver from Memphis to seize Vicksburg. Cavalry under Confederate
General Earl Van Dorn sacked Grant's supply base at Holly Springs, Mississippi, and troopers under General Nathan Bedford
Forrest cut Union supply lines in Tennessee forcing the northerners back to Memphis.
|Anaconda Plan Map
|Official Anaconda Plan Map
|Vicksburg National Military Park
On Christmas Eve, the flotilla carrying Sherman's troops arrived near Vicksburg.
A warning of his approach interrupted a festive gathering at the Balfour House. Declaring, "This ball is at an end. The enemy
is coming down river," Confederate General Martin Luther Smith, the garrison commander, ordered his troops to man their batteries.
Landing north of the city near the mouth of Chickasaw Bayou, Sherman ordered his troops forward saying, "We will lose 5,000 men before we take Vicksburg, and may as well lose them here as anywhere else." As his soldiers
were hurled back with bloody loss, his words proved prophetic.
Unable to take Vicksburg
Union forces began 1863 by moving up
the Arkansas River and capturing the Confederate garrison at Arkansas Post. After a series of ill-fated bayou expeditions
during the winter months, Grant boldly launched his army on a march through the northeastern corner of Louisiana from
Milliken's Bend in search of a favorable point to cross the Mississippi River below Vicksburg. Union gunboats and transports
battled their way past Confederate shore batteries at Vicksburg and rendezvoused with Grant. In the largest amphibious landing
in American military history up to that time, the Union commander hurled his army across the river at Bruinsburg and pushed
inland. Continued below...
Recommended Reading: Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened
the Mississippi (Civil War America).
Description: When Confederate troops surrendered Vicksburg on July 4, 1863--the day after the Union victory at Gettysburg--a
crucial port and rail depot for the South was lost. By implementing the Federal's Anaconda Plan and capturing Vicksburg,
the Union gained total control of the Mississippi River and the Confederate territory was
split in two. In a thorough yet concise study of the longest single military campaign of the Civil War, Michael B. Ballard
brings new depth to our understanding of the Vicksburg campaign
by considering its human as well as its military aspects. Continued below.
soldiers' attitudes, guerrilla warfare, and the effects of the campaign and siege on civilians in and around Vicksburg.
He also analyzes the leadership and interaction of such key figures as U. S. Grant, William T. Sherman, John Pemberton, and
Joseph E. Johnston, among others. Blending strategy and tactics with the human element, Ballard reminds us that while Gettysburg has become the focal point of the history and memory of the Civil War, the outcome at Vicksburg was met with as much celebration and relief in the North as was the Gettysburg victory, and he argues that it should be viewed as equally important today.
Overcoming Confederate resistance at Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, and Big Black River Bridge,
Federal troops captured the capital of Mississippi and reached Vicksburg. Failing to take the city by storm, Grant's forces
encircled the city and laid siege. Cut off from the outside world, the citizens and soldiers of Vicksburg, many of whom sought
refuge in caves, withstood the constant bombardment of Union guns for forty-seven days. On July 4, 1863, the city surrendered
to Grant. Ironically, a Confederate attack on Helena, Arkansas, intended to ease the pressure on Vicksburg, was bloodily repulsed
on the same day.
|The Bombardment of Port Hudson
When Port Hudson, Louisiana, the last remaining Confederate stronghold on
the Mississippi River, fell five days later, the Confederacy was split in two and President Abraham Lincoln declared, "The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea."
To strengthen their hold on the Mississippi River, Union troops moved quickly
from Vicksburg to drive Confederate forces that had assembled near Jackson from the state. Strategic points along the river
were garrisoned by black troops, most of whom had been slaves just weeks before joining the Union army. With the Mississippi
River secured, northern armies advanced deep into the interiors of Mississippi and Louisiana in 1864. In Mississippi, Sherman
advanced across the state from Vicksburg to Meridian, first demonstrating his concept of total war which he later used more
effectively in Georgia and the Carolinas. West of the Mississippi River, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks advanced up the
Red River of Louisiana along with naval forces under Union Admiral David Dixon Porter and was defeated at Mansfield by Confederate
General Richard Taylor (President Zachary Taylor's son) and forced to withdraw. A Union army from Little Rock, moving to join Banks, was also soundly defeated near Camden,
Arkansas, and forced to retreat. The lower Mississippi River valley was the scene of no major military operations for the
remainder of the war.
A key element of this Union success was the use of a powerful new weapon:
black soldiers. In September 1862, President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation which would free slaves in those areas still in active rebellion against the government on January 1, 1863. The decree expanded
the war aims from preservation of the Union to include the abolition of slavery.
|Vicksburg National Military Park
The proclamation paved the way for blacks to formally enlist in the Union
forces. The first major action of blacks in uniform was at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on May 23, 1863, when the First and Third
Native Guards stormed the Confederate defenses, suffering severe losses. Two weeks later, black troops successfully defended
Grant's supply base at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, against a determined attack by Confederate infantry. These engagements
firmly answered the question of whether the freedmen would fight. For the remainder of the war, black soldiers fought on fields
of battle across the land and garrisoned strategic posts along the Mississippi River. Approximately 180,000 blacks served in the United States military during the Civil War, and several
received the Medal of Honor.
The fall of the Mississippi River into Union hands was disastrous for the
Confederacy. A permanent southern nation would never exist. Divided in two and cut off from vital supplies, the Confederacy
was doomed in the coils of the Anaconda. Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman's efforts in the West made Union victory inevitable.
The United States now had military leaders whose experience in the Western Theater had given them the vision and will to lead
to ultimate victory.
The military effort along the Thousand-Mile Front now shifted east to concentrate
on a hundred-mile front from The Wilderness past Richmond to Petersburg and finally to Appomattox. The Civil War changed not only the South but the nation. War ravaged the South,
and destroyed railroads, factories, and homes. The end of the Civil War brought an uneasy peace, and was followed by one of
the most traumatic periods in American history—Reconstruction.
As a result of operations on the high seas, on rivers, and in bays and
harbors, the Navy was a decisive factor in the Civil War's outcome. The Union Navy blockaded some three thousand miles of
Confederate coast from Virginia to Texas in a mammoth effort to Cut off supplies, destroy the Southern economy, and discourage
foreign intervention. See also American Civil War: Union and Confederate Navies.
(Related reading below.)
Sources: National Park Service; Department of the Interior; Library of Congress;
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Autobiography of Winfield Scott.
Recommended Reading: TRIUMPH AND DEFEAT: The Vicksburg Campaign, Volume
2 (Hardcover). Description: The study of
the Civil War in the Western Theater is more popular now than ever, and the center of that interest is the months-long Vicksburg
Campaign, which is the subject of National Park Historian Terrence J. Winschel's new book Triumph and Defeat: The Vicksburg
Campaign, Vol 2. Following the popular success of his earlier book of the same name, Winschel offers ten new chapters of insights
into what has been declared by many to have been the most decisive campaign of the Civil War. Designed to appeal to both general
readers and serious students, Winschel's essays cover a wide range of topics, including military operations, naval engagements,
leading personalities, and even a specific family caught up in the nightmarish 47-day siege that nearly cost them their lives.
written and deeply researched, these fresh chapters offer balanced and comprehensive analysis written with the authority that
only someone who has served as Vicksburg's Chief Historian since 1978 can produce. Bolstered by photographs, illustrations, and numerous outstanding
original maps, this second volume in the Triumph and Defeat series will stand as a lasting contribution to the study of the
Civil War. About the author: Winschel is author of many books, including Triumph and Defeat:
The Vicksburg Campaign (1998, 2004), Vicksburg is the Key: The Struggle for the Mississippi
River (2003), Vicksburg: Fall of the Confederate Gibraltar
(1999), and The Civil War Diary of a Common Soldier (2000). Terry is also a popular speaker on the Civil War Round Table circuit
and has made frequent appearances on the History Channel. He lives in Vicksburg,
where he works as the battlefield's chief historian.
American Civil War: Union and Confederate Navies
American Civil War and the Union and Confederate Navies: Assessment
Reading: Naval Strategies of the Civil War: Confederate Innovations and Federal Opportunism. Description: One of the most overlooked aspects of the American Civil War is the
naval strategy played out by the U.S. Navy and the fledgling Confederate Navy, which may make this the first book to compare
and contrast the strategic concepts of the Southern Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory against his Northern counterpart,
Gideon Welles. Both men had to accomplish much and were given great latitude in achieving their goals. Mallory's vision of
seapower emphasized technological innovation and individual competence as he sought to match quality against the Union Navy's
(quantity) numerical superiority. Welles had to deal with more bureaucratic structure and to some degree a national strategy
dictated by the White House. Continued below...
The naval blockade
of the South was one of his first tasks - for which he had but few ships available - and although he followed the national
strategy, he did not limit himself to it when opportunities arose. Mallory's dedication to ironclads is well known, but he
also defined the roles of commerce raiders, submarines, and naval mines. Welles's contributions to the Union effort were rooted
in his organizational skills and his willingness to cooperate with the other military departments of his government. This
led to successes through combined army and naval units in several campaigns on and around the Mississippi River.
Reading: Civil War Navies, 1855-1883 (The
U.S. Navy Warship Series) (Hardcover).
Description: Civil War Warships, 1855-1883 is the second in the five-volume US Navy Warships encyclopedia set. This valuable
reference lists the ships of the U.S. Navy and Confederate Navy during the Civil War and the years immediately following -
a significant period in the evolution of warships, the use of steam propulsion, and the development of ordnance. Civil War
Warships provides a wealth and variety of material not found in other books on the subject and will save the reader the effort
needed to track down information in multiple sources. Continued below…
size and time and place of construction are listed along with particulars of naval service. The author provides historical
details that include actions fought, damage sustained, prizes taken, ships sunk, and dates in and out of commission as well
as information about when the ship left the Navy, names used in other services, and its ultimate fate. 140 photographs, including
one of the Confederate cruiser Alabama recently uncovered by the author further contribute to this
indispensable volume. This definitive record of Civil War ships updates the author's previous work and will find a lasting
place among naval reference works.
Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862. Review: The bloody and decisive
two-day battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862) changed the entire course of the American Civil
War. The stunning Northern victory thrust Union commander Ulysses S. Grant into the national spotlight, claimed the life of
Confederate commander Albert S. Johnston, and forever buried the notion that the Civil War would be a short conflict. The
conflagration at Shiloh had its roots in the strong Union advance during the winter of 1861-1862 that resulted in the capture
of Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. Continued below…
The offensive collapsed General
Albert S. Johnston advanced line in Kentucky and forced him to withdraw all the way to northern Mississippi.
Anxious to attack the enemy, Johnston began concentrating Southern forces at Corinth,
a major railroad center just below the Tennessee border.
His bold plan called for his Army of the Mississippi to march north and destroy General Grant's
Army of the Tennessee before it could link up with another
Union army on the way to join him. On the morning of April 6, Johnston boasted to his subordinates,
"Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee!" They
nearly did so. Johnston's sweeping attack hit the unsuspecting Federal camps at Pittsburg Landing
and routed the enemy from position after position as they fell back toward the Tennessee River.
Johnston's sudden death in the Peach Orchard, however, coupled
with stubborn Federal resistance, widespread confusion, and Grant's dogged determination to hold the field, saved the Union
army from destruction. The arrival of General Don C. Buell's reinforcements that night turned the tide of battle. The next
day, Grant seized the initiative and attacked the Confederates, driving them from the field. Shiloh
was one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war, with nearly 24,000 men killed, wounded, and missing. Edward Cunningham,
a young Ph.D. candidate studying under the legendary T. Harry Williams at Louisiana
State University, researched and wrote Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 in 1966. Although it remained unpublished, many Shiloh
experts and park rangers consider it to be the best overall examination of the battle ever written. Indeed, Shiloh
historiography is just now catching up with Cunningham, who was decades ahead of modern scholarship. Western Civil War historians
Gary D. Joiner and Timothy B. Smith have resurrected Cunningham's beautifully written and deeply researched manuscript from
its undeserved obscurity. Fully edited and richly annotated with updated citations and observations, original maps, and a
complete order of battle and table of losses, Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 will
be welcomed by everyone who enjoys battle history at its finest. Edward Cunningham, Ph.D., studied under T. Harry Williams
at Louisiana State
University. He was the author of The Port Hudson Campaign: 1862-1863
(LSU, 1963). Dr. Cunningham died in 1997. Gary D. Joiner, Ph.D. is the author of One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The
Red River Campaign of 1864, winner of the 2004 Albert Castel Award and the 2005 A. M. Pate, Jr., Award, and Through the Howling
Wilderness: The 1864 Red River Campaign and Union Failure in the West. He lives in Shreveport,
Louisiana. About the Author: Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D., is author of Champion Hill:
Decisive Battle for Vicksburg (winner of the 2004 Mississippi
Institute of Arts and Letters Non-fiction Award), The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield, and This Great
Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park. A former ranger at Shiloh,
Tim teaches history at the University of Tennessee.
River Gunboats of the American Civil War 1861-65
(New Vanguard). Description: At the start of the American Civil War, neither side had warships
on the Mississippi River. In the first few months, moreover, both sides scrambled to gather
a flotilla, converting existing riverboats for naval use. These ships were transformed into powerful naval weapons despite
a lack of resources, trained manpower and suitable vessels. Continued below...
The creation of a river fleet was a miracle of ingenuity, improvisation and logistics, particularly
for the South. This title describes their design, development and operation throughout the American Civil War.
Submarine Warfare in the Civil War. Description: Many people have heard
of the Hunley, the experimental Confederate submarine that sank the USS Housatonic in a daring nighttime operation. Less well
known, however, is that the Hunley was not alone under the waters of America
during the Civil War. Both the Union and Confederacy built a wide and incredible array of
vessels that could maneuver underwater, and many were put to use patrolling enemy waters. Continued below...
In Submarine Warfare in the Civil War, Mark Ragan, who spent years mining
factory records and log books, brings this little-known history to the surface. The hardcover edition, Union and Confederate Submarine
Warfare in the Civil War, was published to wide acclaim in 1999. For this new paperback edition, Ragan has revised and updated
the text to include the full story of the Hunley's recovery and restoration.
Reading: Confederate Blockade Runner 1861-65
(New Vanguard) (Paperback). Description: The lifeblood of the Confederacy, the
blockade runners of the Civil War usually began life as regular fast steam-powered merchant ships. They were adapted
for the high-speed dashes through the Union blockade which closed off all the major Southern ports, and for much of the war
they brought much-needed food, clothing and weaponry to the Confederacy.
This book traces their operational history, including the development of purpose-built blockade running
ships, and examines their engines, crews and tactics. It describes their wartime exploits, demonstrating their operational
and mechanical performance, whilst examining what life was like on these vessels through accounts of conditions on board when
they sailed into action.
Confederate Ironclad 1861-65 (New Vanguard). Description: The creation
of a Confederate ironclad fleet was a miracle of ingenuity, improvisation and logistics. Surrounded by a superior enemy fleet,
Confederate designers adapted existing vessels or created new ones from the keel up with the sole purpose of breaking the
naval stranglehold on the nascent country. Her ironclads were built in remote cornfields, on small inland rivers or in naval
yards within sight of the enemy. Continued below...
The result was an unorthodox but remarkable
collection of vessels, which were able to contest the rivers and coastal waters of the South for five years. This title explains
how these vessels worked, how they were constructed, how they were manned and how they fought.