Anaconda Plan – The Union Blockade

On April 19, 1861, Southern Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter, a Union controlled fort. This was in response to the Union attempting to resupply the fort, which the Confederacy viewed as an act of war. In response to the bombing of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln declared that all the ports of the Southern states that seceded would be blocked from trade, blockading them with the Union Navy. This would called the Anaconda Plan, or Scott’s Anaconda Plan. At first this included all the states from South Carolina to Texas, but when North Carolina and Virginia seceded, their ports were also added. 

The points of the Plan were to 

  1. Blockade Southern Ports On The Atlantic
  2. Isolate Confederacy From European Aid
  3. Cut Off Supplies Of Money, Food, Equipment, And Cotton
  4. Exhaust Southern Resources, Forcing Surrender
  5. Control The Mississippi River Using Union Gunboats
  6. Divide The Eastern Confederacy From The Western Confederacy
  7. Capture New Orleans, Memphis, And Vicksburg
  8. Cut Off Shipping To And From The Interior

The Anaconda Plan to this day remains a hot button topic to many historians as they debate the effectiveness and the necessity of the plan in winning the war. Not many historians, if any, truly and seriously believe that the Anaconda Plan was the main reason for victory or that it was 100% ineffective. The main question to historians regarding the Anaconda Plan was whether or not it was necessary and if the South would have been able to survive if the blockade was not in place. Considering approximately 75% of blockade runners were successful, it is not entirely unlikely that the South would’ve lasted longer had the Plan not been implemented, at least in my opinion as a student of American history.

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