Lincoln’s War: How Lincoln Bled the Union

Updated on October 18, 2018
ata1515 profile image

ata1515 is a student of history, focusing on the modern, medieval, and ancient histories of Europe.

On the Brink of Disaster

Abraham Lincoln is considered the father of the modern United States. Having shepherded the Union through the Civil War and into a world free of slavery, Lincoln is idealized as a liberator and protector, but did Lincoln’s policies actually extend the length of the war and result in the unnecessary death of thousands?

Before the First Battle of Bull Run General Winfield Scott comprised a plan to defeat the Confederacy without throwing lives away in a war of attrition against the confederates. Called the Anaconda Plan by it‘s opponents, General Scott rightfully predicted that the Confederacy would not easily fold, and that only by depriving the South of its capability to wage war would the Civil War end.

The concept of the Anaconda Plan would eventually end the Civil War, but not before the loss of hundreds of thousands of American lives.

Lincoln’s Political Machine

Outbreak of War

When the Southern states seceded the Union was ill prepared for war. Lack of basic military supplies, soldiers, and direction led to great numbers of men being called upon to volunteer, but not being turned into soldiers. For its part, the south was not in much better shape for fielding trained soldiers, but they had the arms and the leadership at the outbreak of the war.

Lincoln desired a quick end to the war. Some of his advisors promoted the idea of victory in a single battle, one great struggle, and then mopping up. This conflicted with Scotts two year plan.

The Anaconda Plan called for a blockade supported by a land and naval invasion of the Mississippi. It called for raising troops for a term of two years, to arm the north while containing the south, and to proceed to invading when the Union was entrenched and prepared. Lincoln did not do this.

The First Battle of Bull Run

On July 21, 1861, Union forces advanced into Virginia to meet the Rebel armies. Both sides were relatively untrained and led by inexperienced officers, and at the end the day the confederate armies were successful in driving the Union from the battlefield with limited casualties.

The First Battle of Bull Run crushed Lincoln’s dreams of a swift war. Disorganized Union regiments fled the field back to the capital, and it became painfully obvious that the war would not be settled in a simple manner.

General Winfield Scott

Ending the War

General Winfield Scott correctly antipicated that the war would require far more men, time, and planning than his contemporaries. His plan to crush the Confederacy slowly was adapted to the Union war plan largely unintentionally as the Union continued to mill out soldiers and weapons with its superior industrial capability.

The Anaconda Plan was never officially adopted, but was effectively carried out through independent actions. Along the Mississipi armies advanced south, taking forts and cutting the Confederacy in half, while the Union Navy cut off a good deal of supplies to the Confederacy.

Lincoln, while a great statesmen, was caught up in public sentiment and a desire to end the war swiftly. This led to early engagements that cost the Union thousands of lives. Had Lincoln adopted the Anaconda Plan early in the war many lives could have been saved.

Sources

Dougherty, Kevin. Strangling the Confederacy: Coastal Operations of the American Civil War. Philadelphia: Casemate, 2012.

Ketchum, Henry. The Life of Abraham Lincoln. U.S.: Popular Classics Publishing, 2012.

Reed, Rowena, and John D. Milligan. Combined Operations in the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

"Combined Operations in the Civil War." The Annals of Iowa 45 (1981), 648-649.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.17077/0003-4827.8778


Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Hxprof 

        10 months ago from Clearwater, Florida

        Good piece, and I agree with your conclusion that adopting Scott's plan would likely have shortened the war.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)