What Was a Main Military Strategy of the North?

Blog Written by JOHN COTTON / Fact-checked by LOGAN MILLER

what was a main military strategy of the north

What was a main military strategy of the North? The well-known “Anaconda Plan”, put forward by Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, is the North’s strategy in the civil war.

This battle plan, however, was only one of the many strategies utilized in fighting the war.

The Anaconda Plan was actually part of a larger blueprint. This Northern strategy in the civil war was the execution of five major goals.

The war’s historical impact makes civil war plans such an important discussion today. Read the following sections for more on the topic.

Northern Strategies During the Civil War


The Union’s strategy for winning the war was not to act all at once but to execute its plan in bouts and spread it out throughout the four-year war. As mentioned earlier, the battle plan featured five main goals.

  • The first goal, known as the famous Anaconda Plan or Scott’s Snake, was to block entry across all coasts of the Southern area.

By doing so, foreign aid and reinforcement cannot enter the area and provide help. Additionally, it also affected exports and the coming of supplies.

  • The second goal was to hurt the South by incapacitating its resources. This involved controlling the Mississippi River, which was the major waterway of the South.

The movement left a devastating impact on the South’s economy, forcing the states into a position where surrendering was a must.

The first two goals were successfully executed by the earlier half of the year 1864. At this point, the South was significantly weakened. However, the North didn’t stop at this.

  • Its third goal involved capturing the South’s capital, Richmond, in order to disrupt the command’s line of communication.
  • Similarly, the fourth goal involved capturing more southern areas in order to weaken civilian morale.
  • Lastly, the fifth goal was to maximize the number advantage of the North and engage the enemy anywhere possible. It effectively shattered the spirits of the Confederate Army.

The Anaconda Plan


Likely due to its memorable name, the Anaconda Plan—a significant aspect of the first goal—is the most well-known portion of the North American civil war strategies. It involved the naval Northeners’ blockade efforts to completely isolate the Confederate littoral.

This definition implies that, similar to how anacondas kill their prey, the plan’s goal was to surround the South and suffocate it before consuming it whole. With the naval blockade, aid and resources were unable to enter the South.

Having been cut off from the rest of the world has suffocated the South, rendering it weak against the advances of the North.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of military strategies did the South execute during the American Civil War?

Initially, the South’s primary strategy was to defend itself until the North lost interest in its war efforts. This defensive stance, however, did not stand a chance against the aggressive strategies of the north in the civil war.

Confederate leaders first settled with executing a cordon defense where the focus was solely on defending the border. This was defeated by the more organized anaconda plan of the Union leaders.

By the time the South decided to switch to a more offensive strategy, they were already far outnumbered by the Northern troops.

What military advantage did the North have?

The North had geographical advantages that played in their favor, giving them access to a more extensive and efficient transportation network, as well as more farms for food. As such, they could transport supplies and move troops much faster.

Another advantage the North had was the more powerful navy, as they virtually claimed a monopoly on the seas. This had an important effect in their strategy, allowing them to block Southern ports effortlessly.


Asking the question of ‘what was a main military strategy of the north has now led us to this topic of discussion. Hopefully, the article above has helped shed light on this important event in American history.

Knowledge of military strategies also proves to be an important learning point when applied to leadership and management in the present time. So, this article surely offers up a jam-packed read to you readers!

Finally, as much the topic of military strategies piqued your interest, don’t forget to also appreciate its historical aspect, especially because it marked an important event—the end of the era of slavery.

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