Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
The first Union general to implement the ‘Anaconda Plan’ was Winfield Scott. He was one of many working with President Abraham Lincoln attempting to come up with an idea to end the war quickly and with as little bloodshed as possible. Scott believed that the plan that would become the Anaconda Plan was the right way to go.
Scott’s plan was to wrap about the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River to cut the Southern states off. It would bring the South to its knees as it would be unable to get supplies and would be completely cutoff from the rest of the world. It would be squeezed like how an anaconda would squeeze its victims.
When Scott proposed the plan to surround the South and squeeze it, it was not accepted well as it was deemed too passive. Lincoln and those around him wanted the war to end quickly which meant more aggressive acts aimed toward the Confederate states. Aside from being too passive, it would also require more manpower than the Union had at the time. The number of miles that would have to be covered reached into the thousands. Time and men were not on the North’s side at that time.
In addition to that, the Anaconda Plan could bring the rest of the world reaching out the South in sympathy. With the North virtually strangling the South, Europe could come to their support and tipping the tide of the war. The plan was more than a way to end the war. It could have severe world political repercussions.
As the war progressed, leadership began to look more favorably on the plan and adopted it in the aggressive format they wanted which included Sherman’s march to the sea. The intent was to combine that with taking the Mississippi and the Cumberland rivers to begin squeezing the South and end the war before more blood was shed. The main objective was to move via land while implementing a limited version of the plan to enforce the stranglehold. It proved successful.
The question then becomes whether or not it would have been successful if it had been implemented earlier in the war.