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Later stages of the Civil War - 1863

The American Civil War's later stages saw the North's Anaconda Plan squeezing the South. Key victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863 strengthened the Union's control. Ulysses S. Grant's leadership led to the capture of Tennessee, setting the stage for the war's final year.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] All right, so we've been talking about the later stages of the American Civil War, and in the last videos, we talked about the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address, which happened in November of 1863 as Abraham Lincoln went to the site of the Battle of Gettysburg to dedicate the cemetery that was being built there to hold the battlefield dead, which numbered in the thousands. In the next few videos, I'd like to take you through the last stages of the Civil War starting with late 1863. If you think back to the very beginning of the war, the North strategy was called the Anaconda Plan. The Anaconda is a kind of snake that squeezes its victims, so the plan of the North was gonna be to squeeze the South by completely surrounding it and then not allowing anything to get in or out. So, the South would have no choice but to surrender as they ran out of supplies. So, the Anaconda Plan is going fairly well in this late period of the war. So, now you recall that they were going to blockade the Atlantic Ocean so that the South couldn't ship any of its cotton or receive any supplies from Europe, so that's not happening, and, to take control of the Mississippi River, which goes here, doo, doo, doo. So, the other reason why Abraham Lincoln was so happy after the North won the Battle of Gettysburg is because Ulysses S. Grant had just taken Vicksburg, which meant that the Union had control of the Mississippi River, so you can see that the plan to surround the South is going pretty well. This blockade extended all the way down around Florida. The last real area here that the Union needs to control is this sort of middle region here. You know that these are the border states, so there's still slavery allowed in places like Kentucky and Tennessee and Maryland, and another thing that's kind of hard to see from this map is that there are mountains here. This is the Appalachian Mountain Range, and so this is gonna be a difficult area to strategize through. So, thanks to this mountain range, there are two real main theaters of war during the Civil War. There's the Eastern Theater of the war, which is over here, and that includes a lot of the battles that are gonna take place in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia, and through Georgia, so kind of the tidewater Piedmont region of the East is one of the main areas where battle takes place during this Civil War. But the other theater is this Western Theater, and that includes the Mississippi River and these key border states of Kentucky and Tennessee. When last we left off with the Battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee, who's the commander of the Armies for the Confederacy had made an attempt to invade the North and got as far as southern Pennsylvania where the Union troops led by General George Meade turned the Confederates away and so now, they're headed back to Virginia. There's gonna be some really fierce fighting here in this northern part of Virginia known as the Wilderness Campaign as Lee retreats to Richmond. That's the Eastern Theater, and I'll draw the blue line that's gonna be following them here as well. Now in the Western Theater of the war, Ulysses S. Grant has just provided a major victory by taking Vicksburg, and now controlling all of the Mississippi River. Abraham Lincoln has been looking for a great general to lead his armies, Now, Lee has been the commander of the Confederate armies this entire time, but the Union army has had a multitude of commanders from Winfield Scott to George McClellan, but in Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln finally finds his general. So, after the victory at the Siege of Vicksburg, Grant goes up into Tennessee and finally captures Tennessee. He takes Chattanooga and firmly puts Tennessee in control of the Union. So, look how well the Anaconda strategy is going now. We've got Tennessee, we're almost there. After taking Chattanooga, Lincoln makes Grant the commander of all the Union armies. He is the General in Chief, and it's going to be Grant who ultimately leads the Union to victory and when he meets up with Lee, as he will do once he heads to Richmond and then later Appomattox, he's going to be the one who really ends the war by forcing Lee's surrender. But we'll get to that. So that's 1863, the period at which Grant becomes Commander of the Armies, Lee is turned away from his second invasion of the north and flees to Richmond, and the stage is set for the final year, and little bit more of the war, which we'll get to in the next video.