UNION STRATEGY DURING THE CIVIL WAR
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
The South eventually seceded which left Lincoln facing the possibility of fighting an offensive war, thus forcing the Confederacy back into the Union. Meaning simply that more troops had to be organized than the South, or to have superior numbers for invasion. This meant plainly that Lincoln had to recruit, organize, train, feed, clothe and arm about 3 to 4 men for every soldier the South had mustered, or approximately 1.5 to 2.5 million men. A mission of this sort was frightening since the whole country had a mere 16,000 soldiers at the time the war began.
In order to win the North had to accumulate enough men and supplies to invade and prevail over a territory that was almost the size of Western Europe. As a political appointee, he had the unbelievable task of holding a country together. His chore was to hold together the Republicans, Democrats, abolitionists, slavery proponents, the Unionists, and the secessionists to a degree that no other president had ever envisioned. Almost single handedly, his mission was to keep the South from seceding from the Union. Aside from this sizeable feat he had to be tough as well as humble. Lincoln also had to involve himself in a strategy to keep the European countries such as England and France from becoming involved in the internal conflict. All this simply to achieve his goal of reuniting all states under one government.
Lincoln felt that the Union would have to maintain the loyalty of the Border States largely for political reasons. His belief was, because half of the voters in the North were Democrats and supported the war, he would have to saunter lightly on the slave issue or lose their support.
Seemingly, the Border States had a large number of pro-confederate supporters, upon which he felt that any quick action in support of the anti-slave matter would very possibly allow three of the four Border States to secede from the Union. Delaware, the most northerly state, because of it location, would possibly be the easiest to keep in the Union.
Kentucky embodied the greatest challenge for Lincoln, owing to its political structure as well as its population. Kentucky had a secessionist governor and a Unionist legislature. With this foremost in his mind, Lincoln handled this situation with a compliant attitude. Lincoln, as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis, declared Kentucky's respect as to neutrality. Also Lincoln, because of a very slim division between secession and anti-slavery in the state, didn’t want to take any chances of Kentucky seceding from the Union. Kentucky as well as Missouri and Maryland had many Confederate supporters, which Lincoln did not want to irritate.
Lincoln succeeded in his venture of securing the Border States from seceding from the Union. His ability of handling each situation properly was a milestone. He also succeeded in securing the western counties of Virginia for the Union, which eventually became West Virginia. Consequently, the Ohio River would be in the hands of the Unionists. With this venture the North could not be invaded by the southern troops. Securing this region meant that troops and supplies would be kept out of the hands of the Southerners.
A weakening of the Western portion of the Confederacy by removing Missouri from the possible debacle maintained a fragile advantage in the East. The reason for keeping Maryland and Delaware from not joining the Confederacy was simply to keep Washington out of reach of the Confederates.
The North had a greater number of miles of railroads and telegraph lines than the South, thus allowing Union troops to travel quicker and communicate more efficiently between their stations of command and battle. The Unionists had a greater naval capacity, which included commercial and private vessels in which to transport their troops along interior waterways. Another advantage was to control the open sea and repulse an attack anywhere on the eastern coastline of the Confederacy. The North had a greater capacity of manufacture and agriculture ability; and could without difficulty feed, clothe and arm its troops much more so than the South could.
Unionist General Winfield Scott developed a proposed plan: (1) the blockade of the Southern seaports; (2) a complete control of the Mississippi River; (3) the capture of Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. Step number one was projected to prevent the South from its export of its chief crop, cotton, to Europe in exchange for arms and supplies to support their war effort. Step number two was an attempt to split the Confederacy in half by isolating the western states of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas from the eastern section of the Confederacy. The third step was to eventually capture Richmond, thus cutting off all Southern intelligence concerning the war.
Lincoln thought Scott’s “Anaconda Plan” had value, but many cabinet members disagreed. The Northern press ridiculed the plan, referring it to as an attempt to “squeeze the South to military death.“
Although Scott’s plan was not adopted in its entirety, a similar plan was developed by Lincoln and approved by Grant. Blockading of the entire Confederate eastern coast was the first plan executed. Grant was eventually able to have power over the entire Mississippi River, thus overtaking Memphis and New Orleans, and the capture of Vicksburg in 1863. With the South being “squeezed,” the eventual fall of Richmond was evident
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