Free «Northern Strategy during the Civil War» Essay Sample

Northern Strategy during the Civil War


Strategy, in some cases, can be defined simply as the art of the general. It is important to note that the Webster dictionary subsequently defines strategy as the art and science of carrying out a military campaign in long-term and large scale elements. It is well demarcated from tactics mostly in scope. Nevertheless, both tactics and strategy are founded on the main beliefs of war which are the primary truths governing the aspect of war prosecution (McPherson 24). To comprehend why various military leaders performed as they did during the Civil War in the North, it is a necessary to consider the tactics and strategy they applied at the period. This research paper will have the sole objective to look into the American history and specifically the northern strategy during the Civil War. These involve the methodologies and approaches the northern bloc applied during the Civil War.

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Northern Strategy

The North came up with a very complex strategy so as to conquer the confederacy with minimal bloodshed possible. The plan, known as the Anaconda Plan, was composed of three parts, namely;

  • The western campaign
  • The eastern campaign
  • Naval blockade of the Southern coast

It is significant to note hereby that the plan was appropriately named ANACONDA for the reason that the North was attempting to press the South and thus split it so that it does not display a front that was united. Before the plan was worked out, the initiators had two things in mind; suppose this plan worked, the Civil War would be over with the North as a winner (Mitchell 142). Otherwise, the war would last even longer than expected and be even bloodier than expected.

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The western campaign of this plan called Anaconda commenced when in 1862, Grant took control of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and confronted Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. Through this, he anticipated that he would gain control of the Mississippi thus subsequently cut off supplies delivery in addition to cutting off Arkansas and Texas from the entire Confederacy (Mitchell 143).

The eastern fragment of the Anaconda strategy can be described to have commenced with the Battle of the First Bull Run; this is supposed to have been the key conflict of the Civil War. It is worth noting that the battle began out in favor of the Union; nevertheless, back-ups soon emanated for the Confederates through the command of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. The retreat of the North was shambolic, and they poured back into Washington D.C., with the city waiting for the Confederate Army to hunt them. Nevertheless, the troops of the Confederates were disorganized; thus, they were unable to take advantage of the prospect they were handed by the Union Army to capture Washington D.C (Mitchell 144).

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Another part of the Anaconda strategy involved a naval blockade. In 1861, on the 19th of April, President Lincoln declared a blockade of the Southern states from South Carolina up to Texas. Gradually, he protracted the blockade to cover Virginia as well as North Carolina.

The objective of the whole procedure of blockades involved disuniting the lifeline of the Confederacy's with Europe. At the commencement of the battle, the idea of the blockade seemed to be unproductive; however, as time passed by, President Lincoln reinforced the blockade by the use of more ships. The key limitation of the blockade was whether England would identify it as a lawful barricade as there existed the question whether it was sufficiently operational to be endorsed. For the Union, fortunately, England did support the blockades advocated for by the Union, and it remained effective as long as the war was on.

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During 1861-1862, the ships of the Federals captured numerous Confederate forts alongside the Southern coast including North Carolina, Fort Hatteras, Port Royal, South Carolina, Roanoke Island, New Bern and Fort Macon, North Carolina, Fort Pulaski, Georgia, and Pensacola, Florida. Also, in 1862, Admiral David Farragut commanded the Union fleet that captured New Orleans. Later, Farragut correspondingly assisted General Ulysses S. Grant in seizing Vicksburg; however, his supreme triumph in the battle involved his conquest at Mobile Bay off the coast of Alabama.

One of the explanations as to why the blockade strategy was so effective was that the Confederacy lacked navy, and it never established an operative one. The Confederacy included very little industry, and they had slight funds for making them. The Confederacy attempted to procure certain ships from the Great Britain; however, the Union blockade strategy was operational in averting these ships from getting through. The few ships they had added up to a total of twenty that seemed to be a success story before they were demolished. Regardless of these achievements, the Confederacy was still ruled (Simson 134).

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Technology and the Civil War

The Civil War was characterized by technological modernizations that altered the general nature of the battle. The other main tactics on land took into consideration logistics. The key changes on land dealt with logistics as well as communications. Logistics in this case refers to the art of military supply. By 1860, there existed approximately 30, 000 miles (48000 kilometers) of rail road track in the northern states mostly. The railroads enabled the army to get the supplies not necessarily from the local cities and farms; this implied that the troops could operate for extensive periods of time without the fear of starvation. Additionally, soldiers could be swiftly transported across the country in a few days without marching. Thirdly, the telegraph was something noticeable that changed the tactics of the Civil War (Woodworth 85).

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In addition, it is worth noting that Richmond as well as Washington, the capitals of the divergent sides, could stay in touch with commanders and war leaders in the battle field. The telegraphs greatly assisted in passing orders as well as updating intelligence. Research shows that President Lincoln frequently used the telegraph as well as his chief general who was known as Halleck. Field Commanders such as Grant also used telegraphs to pass information to the army in the battle field.

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