The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

One Special Young Man

Was the Union up to the job? Could it carry out the Anaconda Plan?

Not in 1861. The Regular U.S. Army was still small, and the U.S. Navy was almost puny. But in terms of sheer, raw potential, the Union could field all the men and build all the ships it would ever need. By contrast, the Confederacy could throw men into the fight more quickly, and perhaps gain some early victories, but it could never match the industrial power of the North.

Jefferson Davis and his number-one military adviser Robert E. Lee knew this quite well. Both men knew that the Confederacy had to act with lightning speed if it were to have any chance. Therefore, the provisional Confederate government decided to move the capital of the Confederate States from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia. This had the effect of making Richmond a “forward” capital, aimed at the heart of its foes. It also meant that the two opposing capitals would be 110 miles apart.


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