What Was the Anaconda Plan?

The Anaconda Plan was a strategy proposed by General-in-Chief Winfield Scott during the Civil War. Scott's plan was an idea for subduing states that had left the Union. Also known as Scott's Great Snake, the Anaconda Plan involved blockading, or "constricting" like an anaconda, the ports in the South and advancing down the Mississippi River.

The plan's idea was to cut the South into two sections and make it easier to take control of the states. Scott called for at least 80,000 men to advance on the Confederacy. Critics of the plan thought that it was too passive since the takeover of the ports did not involve aggressive action.

Critics also argued that the U.S. Navy was not large enough to blockade the ports and enforce it for an extended period of time. The Union would have to train troops to join the blockade and that could take time. Scott's critics wanted a overland campaign that would be aimed at the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia.

A form of Scott's plan was ultimately used and it did help to weaken the Confederacy. Even though Scott's plan was met with ridicule from his critics, the plan used closely resembled his and led to the defeat of the Confederacy.