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The Anaconda Plan

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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 naval blockade of the Southern states. Named for the South American snake that kills its prey by strangulation, Scott's plan was to strangle the South into submission by cutting its supply lines to the outside world. The plan was sound, but ambitious. For the plan to succeed, it would be necessary to blockade more than 3,500 miles of coast from Virginia to Mexico and up the Mississippi from New Orleans to New Madrid Bend. And the Anaconda Plan could only succeed over time: the South would not starve overnight, so patience was an essential part of Scott's strategy.

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, USA
From the Collections of
The Mariners' Museum
By adopting the Anaconda Plan, Lincoln ran the risk of committing diplomatic suicide. Sin...
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