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Northern Strategy During the American Civil War - Tactics and Techniques Used by the Federal Government That Turned the Tide of the War

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Northern Strategy in the Civil War:

Tactics and techniques used by the Federal government that turned the tide of the war

Research Paper

HIST 101

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The Federal government of the United States was faced with an enormous challenge following the firing of rebel cannon upon Ft. Sumter, SC, in April of 1864. How would a still relatively new government respond to an internal revolt? The Union army (Federal government) used several different methods, known in today's military as Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP's).

The Federal government was faced with the daunting choice of allowing the Confederate's to simply leave the Union, or to try and re-unite the country by military force. Of course the Federal's and President Lincoln could not simply let the country split into two. President Lincoln ordered his top military leaders to come up with a tactical plan to conquer the rebels and bring the Confederacy back into the Union.

One of President Lincoln's top military leaders, General Winfield Scott, proposed a plan, called the Anaconda Plan, based upon three primary missions (procedures). First, a naval blockade of the Southern seaports, second to gain complete control of the Mississippi river, and third, the capture and surrender of Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America.1

By blockading the Confederate ports, President Lincoln and General Scott hoped to deprive the rebel government of their main income supply, the export of cotton and other mainly southern type agriculture products to Europe, mainly Great Britain. The Confederacy was receiving payment not only in the form of cash for their exports, but in weapons and ammunition as well. The goal of the second part of the plan was to essentially isolate the western states of the Confederacy from the main military and logistical centers of the new nation. And finally, the

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third piece, the capture and surrender of Richmond of course speaks for itself. If the Confederate capital could be taken, then it stood to reason that the rest of the Confederate states would fall soon thereafter, or simply give up.

Another strategy was proposed by William Seward, the Secretary of State, and perhaps one of, if not the most trusted advisor to President Lincoln. His thoughts are sometimes referred to as ""the border strategy." The notion here was to establish "borders" around the periphery of the Confederacy, assure the Southerners of the goodwill of the North toward them, and wait for pro-Union sentiment in the South to manifest itself and lead to a negotiated peace." 2 If the Federal government could simply make the noose around the neck of the Confederate government tight enough, the prevailing thought was that the rebels would grow tired of the insurrection, and simply give up.

One of the TTP's was relatively new and unknown at the time it was first used. The Union navy was the first side to field a submarine. Submarines had been used in warfare prior to this point; in fact the American colonies used them against the British in the War for Independence. However, the Union submarines were different. They were the first to use air for both breathing and filtration. Although the Confederate navy also used submarines throughout the war, the Union navy was the only side to use mechanical power. Most submarines were powered by physical strength alone using oars. The Union navy designed a way to power their submarines, still using muscle power, but instead turning a propeller powered by a hand turned crank.

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The Union navy, along with the Confederate navy also introduced the first truly armored naval vessels, know as Ironclads. This was the first time in history that a naval vessel had been outfitted to be almost completely covered from the waterline above. Although many ships had in the past been upgraded with defensive armor, the Union ship, U.S.S. Monitor, was the first of its kind. Based upon a previous ship, the Monitor was a flat bottomed iron hulled boat with further iron platting laid on top. 3 Another new facet of the ironclads was their rotating gun turrets.

Previously, fighting naval vessels were only equipped with side facing/firing cannons. The main reason for this innovation was the fact that many Civil War naval battles were fought along the coastal waters, and inland on rivers, in particular, the Mississippi River. Because of the fact that most of the battles took place in shallow water, maneuvering was not an easy task, and as such, engineers designed the new rotating turrets.

The Union army was numerically more powerful than the Confederates. At the beginning of hostilities, the Confederate army had almost as many men enlisted as the Union. By the start of 1862 however, almost eight months into the war, the Union army numbered well over 500,000 men. The Confederates, on the other hand, only

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