A token plan (cont.)

This post lays out the scraps of information cited by historians in their references to an Anaconda Plan or strategy. When you see Anaconda plan or strategy footnoted, is this what you expect to see in the look-up? Or has the author fobbed off a token of his "respect" for you as a reader?

[1] This first item is occasionally cited in conjunction with either of the next two. The letter on which this endorsement appears was sent two days after McClellan assumed command in Ohio. Scott is calling Lincoln's attention to McClellan's incompetence as a planner. The last two sentences contain material construed to be Anaconda related.


MAY 2, 1861.

As at the date of this letter General McClellan knew nothing of the intended call for two years' volunteers, he must have had the idea of composing his enormous columns of three-months' men for operating against Nashville and Richmond-that is, of men whose term of service would expire by the time he had collected and organized them. That such was his idea appears from a prior letter, in which, although, the Ohio quota is but about 10,000 men the general speaks, I think of having 30,000 and wants arms, &c., for 80,000. Second. A march upon Richmond from the Ohio would probably insure the revolt of Western Virginia, which if left alone will soon be five out of seven for the Union. Third. The general eschews water transportation by the Ohio and Mississippi in favor of long, tedious and break-down (of men, horses, and wagons) marches. Fourth. His plan is to subdue the seceded States by piece-meal instead of enveloping them all (nearly) at once by a cordon of posts on the Mississippi to its mouth from its junction with the Ohio, and by blockading ships of war on the sea-board. For the cordon a number of men equal to one of the general's columns would probably suffice, and the transportation of men and all supplies by water is about a fifth of the land cost, besides the immense saving in time.
Respectfully submitted to the President.


[2] This second item is referenced by itself or in conjunction with another of these three when the Anaconda is mentioned. The relevant content is in the third paragraph only.

Washington, May 3, 1861.
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding Ohio Volunteers, Cincinnati, Ohio:

SIR: I have read and carefully considered your plan for a campaign, and now send you confidentially my own views, supported by certain facts of which you should be advised.

First. It is the design of the Government to raise 25,000 additional regular troops, and 60,000 volunteers for three years. It will be inexpedient either to rely on the three-months' volunteers for extensive operations or to put in their hands the best class of arms we have in store. The term of service would expire by the commencement of a regular campaign and the [items?] not lost be returned mostly in a damaged condition. Hence I must stronly urge upon you to confine yourself strictly to the quota of three-months' men called for by the War Department.

Second. We rely greatly on the sure operation of a complete blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf ports soon to commence. In connection with such blockade we propose a powerful movement down the Mississippi to the ocean, with a cordon of posts at proper points and capture of Forts Jackson and Saint Philip; the object being to clear out and keep open this great line of communication in connection with the strict blockade of the sea-board, so as to envelop the insurgent States and bring them to terms with less bloodshed thany be any other plan. I suppose there will be needed from twelve to twenty steam gun-boats, and a sufficient number of steam transports (say forty) to carry all the personnel (say 60,000 men) and material of the expedition; most of the gun-boats to be in advance to open the way, and the remainder to follow and protect the rear of the expedition, &c. This army, in which it is not improbable you may be invited to take an important part, should be composed of our best regulars for the advance and of three-years' volunteers, all well officered, and with four months and a half of instruction in camps prior to (say) November 10. In the progress down the river all the enemy's batteries on its banks we of course would turn and capture, leaving a sufficient number of posts with complete garrisons to keep the river open behind the expedition. Finally, it will be necessary that New Orleans should be strongly occupied and securely held until the present difficulties are composed.

Third. A word now as to the greatest obstacle in the way of this plan- the great danger now pressing upon us-the impatience of our patriotic and loyal Union friends. They will urge instant vigorous action, regardless, I fear, of consequences-that is, unwilling to wait for the slow instruction of (say) twelve or fifteen camps, for the rise of rivers, and the return of frosts to kill the virus of malighant fevers below Memphis. I fer this; but impress right views, on every proper occasion, upon the brave men who are hastering to the support of their Government. Lose no time, while necessary preparations for the great expedition are in progress, in organizing, drilling, and disciplining your three-months' men, many of whom, it is hoped, will be ultimately found enrolled under the call for three-years' volunteers. Should an urgent and immediate occasion arise meantime for their services, they will be the more effective. I commend these views to your consideration, and shall be happy to hear the result.

With great respect, your, truly,

[3] This last item is referenced independently or in tandem with one of the others above. Anaconda content appears in the last paragraph.

Washington, May 21, 1861.
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, U. S. Army,
Commanding, &c.:

SIR: Considering that Cumberland, in Maryland, is not withing your command, and is under the immediate consideration of Major-General Patterson and the authorities here (all of us men nearer at hand), we are surprised at your repeated admonitions to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, and myself to occupy that point, and I am still more surprised at your complaint to the Secretary of War against me that you are without instructions or authority and with your hands tied up. In reply, I refer to the communications sent you at the following dates, some of which, at any rate, you have acknowledged:

First. Letter of April 30, on learning you were the major-general of Ohio Volunteers. Second. Copy of letters of commanding officer at Cairo, of May 2, instructing him not to detain provisions. Third. Letter of May 3, giving plan of a campaign. Fourth. Telegram of May 6, in relation to regular officers of your staff. Fifth. Telegram of May 8, order to stop provisions at Cairo, &c. Sixth. Telegramof May 8, in relation to camp at Cairo and intercepting regular companies from Fort Randall. Seventh. Telegram of May 10, in relation to re-enforcing Cairo. Eighth. Copy of letter to Colonel Robert Anderson, May 15, in relation to volunteers in Western Virginia and Kentucky. Ninth. Letter of May 15, sent by Lieutenant L. A. Williams. Tenth. Telegram of May 20, stating that you authority was ample within your military department. Eleventh. General Orders, Nos. 14 and 19, defining the limits of your department, adding thereto Western Pennsylvania and Virginia. Besides which, your communications on the subject of ordnance supplies have been promptly referred to the Ordnance Department and attended to.

It is not conceived what other instructions could have been needed by you. Placed in the command of a wide department, with the quotas of three-months' men under you of several States, it surely was unnecessary to say that you were expected to defend it against all enemies of the United States, and it was not intended that you should make expeditions much beyond its borders without some great object of interest to the Federal Union to be suggested by you and approved here. Indeed, the thee-months' men were called into service mainly for defensive purposes, but permission would readily have been given to you to march into a neighboring State to countenance or to protect the friends of the Union, if you had presented a reasonable case for such interference. It is otherwise in respect to the greater of the long-term volunteers of your department when received, but as yet I am not aware that a single regiment has been presented or organized in your department. Out of these troops you will at the proper time replace the defensive posts occupied by the three-months' men, and hold the remainder in convenient camps of instruction-that is, near to wood, water, and cheap supplies, and to transportation by rail, canal, or river. It is suggested that these rendezvous or camps of instruction should consist of four or eight regiments each, and on ground either porous or slightly rolling. Larger camps soon exhaust the smaller supplies and comforts for too many miles around them. As a greater part of these troops are not expected to take the field much before the return of frost, they will, under good instructors, have ample time for the acquisition of tactical instruction and habits of discipline (obedience), without which they will not be equal to the expedition for which they are intended.
After desiring you to consult freely with the Governors of the States within your department on the best sites for these camps, I will here add a modifications of the expedition toward the Gulf of Mexico, alluded to in a former letter. I propose to organize an amry of regulars and volunteers on the Ohio River of, say 80,000 men, to be divided into two unequal columns, the smaller to proceed by water on the first autumnal swell in the rivers, headed and flanked by gun-boats (propellers of great speed and strength), and the other column to proceed as nearly abreast as practicable by land- of course without the benefit of rail transportation-and receiving at certain points on the river its heavier articles of consumption from the freight boats of the first column. By this means the wagon train the of the land column may no doubt be much diminished, but would still remain, I fear, so large as to constitute a great impediment to the movement. Would 80,000 men be sufficient to conquer its way to New Orleans and clear out the Mississippi to the Gulf? What should be the relative numbers of the two columns, and at how many points besides Louisville, Paducah, Columbus, Hickman, Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans would the two columns be able to hold a close communication with each other? Of course much would depend upon the relations to the United States of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. I ask your views not only on the foregoing points, but also as to the form, draft, tonnage, and armament of the gun-boats or tugs. Cincinnati abounds in the best information on all these heads. Again assuring you that you are likely to bear an important if not be principal part in this great expedition, and of my great confidence in your intelligence, zeal, sciene, and energy, I remain, very truly, yours,


P. S. - Without waiting for the formal order of Secretary of War extending the limits of your department across the Ohio and the Mississippi, you will not hesitate to give any reasonable support (without comprosing your detachments) in your power to the friends of the Union in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri.