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The Union basically followed a strategy devised by the highest ranking general in the army in 1961, Winfield Scott. A hero in the Mexican War, Scott was too old to serve in the Civil War, but before he retired, he devised the Anaconda Plan: a method to slowly strangle the Confederate states. Simply put, Union troops and the Federal Navy would blockade the South's port cities along the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mississippi River. Additionally, Union troops would move down the Mississippi River, and capture all garrisons along the way. Eventually, the seceding states would be surrounded, except for in the Western theatre (Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana), which would effectively be cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. Opponents of the plan who wanted a quick victory, initially (and correctly) thought that it would be a slow process. However, the plan--named after the anaconda snake which slowly suffocates its prey--worked perfectly, though it did take three years for the plan to work--and another year to defeat Robert E. Lee's stubborn army in Virginia.
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