Union General-in-Chief Winfield Scott brought a military strategic plan to the table for President Abraham Lincoln that would crush the rebellion of Southern states. Scott’s “boa-constrictor” plan would build a “Blockade” of Southern ports; a strong thrust down the Mississippi Valley with a large force, and the establishment of a line of strong Federal positions there would isolate the disorganized Confederate nation “and bring it to terms.”

Scott presented it to President Abraham Lincoln proposing that 60,000 troops move down the Mississippi with gunboats until they had secured the river from Cairo, Ill., to the Gulf, which, in concert with an effective blockade, would seal off the South. Then, he believed, Union troops should stop, waiting for Southern Union sympathizers to turn on their Confederate governors and compel them to surrender. It was his belief that sympathy for secession was not as strong as it appeared and that isolation and pressure would make the “fire-eaters” back down and allow calmer heads to take control.

The plan was not very favorable among the nation who wanted war rather than diplomacy. It was the press that actually renamed Scott’s “boa-constrictor” plan after a different constricting snake, the anaconda. The Anaconda Plan was drawn up to end the Civil War in favor of the Union. The plan was adopted in 1862, involving 4 main parts:

  • Blockade the coast of the South to prevent the export of cotton, tobacco, and other cash crops from the South and to keep them from importing much needed war supplies.
  • Divide the South by controlling the Mississippi River to cut the South off from the west.
  • Divide the South by capturing the Tennessee River Valley and marching through Georgia to the coast.
  • Capture Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America.

The plan was carried through and the first three parts were the most decisive factors of the war.