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Civil War Paper

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In the Civil War the military strategies for the North were very good in some situations and not so great in others. At the start of the war, General Winfield Scott proposed the "Anaconda Plan" to defeat the South by imposing a blockade, opening up the Mississippi River and capturing the Confederacy's capital, Richmond (Robotham). Although these events did have an important role in the eventual Union victory, they did not threaten the South's heartland.

The North fared much better in the first year of the war, because it had maintained control over the Border States. The Border States were Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. Keeping these States in the union was a critical part of the North's plan if they wanted to win the war (Robotham). In the begging of the Civil War President Lincoln was very careful not to rub these states the wrong way, because he knew if he did not have these states on his side he would have no chance in winning the war and preserving the Union.

The Union would have to think of a strategy that could overcome the strength of the South's defense. The strategy they thought of was to preserve the territorial and governmental places they had already had in the Union. This meant that they wanted the United States as it was before the war. It was going to take military force if they wanted to try and preserve the nation. Their plan was to defeat the southern armies and arrest their leaders, in order to enable the Unionists (whom Northerners in 1861 assumed to be the silent majority in most Southern states) to regain control and bring the states back into the Union (Ward). This strategy worked well in the Border States with the aid of military force despite the Confederate allegiance of a substantial minority of their citizens. It worked also in Virginia west of the Alleghenies, where Northern troops helped the Unionist majority form the new state of West Virginia.

But elsewhere the silent majority of Unionists remained largely a myth. By 1862, the Union strategy evolved to a second stage (Robotham). It was to get control of Confederate territory. This seemed to have great success in Tennessee and the lower Mississippi Valley; Union arms conquered and occupied fifty thousand square miles of territory in the spring of 1862. During this time McClellan's Army of the Potomac swept up the Virginia peninsula and stood poised to capture Richmond (Ward).

It became clear that so long as Southern armies retained striking power, the Confederacy would remain a viable state. Thus in 1863 the Northern military strategy evolved in to a third phase. This phase called for the destruction of Confederate armies. Ulysses S. Grant captured one whole army at Vicksburg and badly crippled another at Chattanooga; Lee's army limped home to Virginia badly hurt after Gettysburg.

The battle at Shiloh was a good turning point for the Union. The battle of Shiloh



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