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Civil War Questions Answered

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05/01/08

Chapter 12 Discussion Questions

1. By early 1864 most Confederate Southerners had probably given up hopes of winning the Civil War (1861-65) by conquering Union armies. The Confederacy had a real chance, though, of winning the war simply by not being beaten. In spring 1864 this strategy required two things: first, Confederate general Robert E. Lee's army in Virginia had to defend its capital, Richmond, and keep Union general Ulysses S. Grant's forces at bay; and second, the South's other major army, led by Joseph E. Johnston in north Georgia, had to keep William T. Sherman's Union forces from driving south and capturing Atlanta, the Confederacy's second-most important city.

This win-by-not-losing strategy involved a time element as well. If Lee and Johnston could hold their respective fields through early November, then war-weary Northerners might vote U.S. president Abraham Lincoln out of office. The Democratic candidate, in turn, might seek an armistice with the Confederacy and end the war. (http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2713).

2. Grant saw the war as a whole. Until that time most Union generals had viewed the conflict in terms of separate theaters; no one placed much premium on cooperative effort. As a result, the outnumbered Confederate forces had been able to shift troops from one place to another, shoring up one threatened point by diverting strength from quiet sectors. Grant was less interested in occupying "strategic points" than with destroying the enemy's main forces. He believed that when no armies remained to defend them, the strategic points would fall as a matter of course. Important cities like Richmond and Atlanta were useful chiefly because the main Confederate armies would fight for them, and in the course of fighting they could be destroyed. Grant also expected to combine destruction of Southern armies with destruction of Southern war resources. (http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/grimsley1/dialogue/postcolonialism/lee/virginia.htm)

The Anaconda Plan was proposed in 1861 by Union General Winfield Scott to win the American Civil War with minimal loss of life, enveloping the Confederacy by blockade at sea and control of the Mississippi River. The name "Anaconda" is taken from the way an anaconda constricts its prey.

Scott's plan involved two 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 off the southeastern states from the West. Scott considered this an "envelopment" rather than an "invasion", although it would require armies and fleets of river gunboats to accomplish it.

Lincoln called for a blockade of the South on April 19, 1861, six days after the fall of Fort Sumter (and a few weeks before Scott's letter). The blockade itself, thought to be an impossible task against

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