Civil War Strategy in the North The Anaconda Plan



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Civil War Strategy in the North

The Anaconda Plan


  • Blockade Southern ports on the Atlantic

  • Isolate the Confederacy from European aid and trade

  • Cut off flow of supplies, equipment, money, food, and cotton

  • Exhaust Southern resources, forcing surrender

  • Control the Mississippi with Union gunboats

  • Divide the eastern part of the Confederacy from the western part

  • Capture New Orleans, Vicksburg, & Memphis

  • Cut off shipping to and from interior



The plan will take time, but it will defeat the South with the least amount of bloodshed.”

- General Winfield Scott
Questions to Consider:


  1. From the list above, list the three most critical characteristics/aspects of the North’s Anaconda Plan. Explain your reasoning.



  1. Considering the method snakes use to kill their prey, why did the North call their strategy the Anaconda Plan?




  1. Looking at your Civil War Battles Timeline (#38), during which battles do you see the Anaconda Plan at work? Was the North’s plan successful in those specific battles? Were they successful overall?

Civil War Strategy in the South

In Reality…




  • Troops often went on the offensive, attacking enemy lines and suffering enormous losses




  • In 1862 and 1863, Southern offensive battles resulted in 20,000 more deaths than the Union – these were losses the South could not afford



In theory…

  • Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy modeled their strategy after George Washington and other American colonists fighting in the Revolutionary War




  • Generals picked their battles carefully in order to avoid devastating losses (lives, resources, morale, etc.)




  • Defensive Warfare: wanted to force the Union to spend its resources until it became tired of the war and agreed to negotiate

The idea of waiting for blows, instead of inflicting them, is altogether unsuited to the genius



of our people.”

-The Richmond Examiner, 1861


Questions to Consider:


  1. List two of the most important aspects (in your opinion) of the Southern strategy during the Civil War. Explain your reasoning.


  1. How was the Confederacy’s strategy different from reality? Why do you think the Confederate military could not stick to their original plans?


  1. Looking at your Civil War Battles Timeline (#39), during which battles do you see this strategy at work?



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