The so-called total war strategy by the Union came into full play when President Lincoln appointed US Grant to be the general in chief with the title of Lieutenant General. Instead of trying to defeat the Confederate armies, Grant was determined to deny the enemy armies the supplies it required to conduct warfare. The more accurate term used today to describe Grant's strategy is a war of exhaustion. All possible supplies which were owned by private Southern individuals were either confiscated or destroyed. This disabled Southern armies to function properly. In addition to that, Grant had enough troops, more than any general in chief before him, to sacrifice the lives of his soldiers in harmful and unnecessary frontal assaults in the 1864 Overland campaign. Many people north and south found this to be intolerable.
The total war strategy used by the North to defeat the south was called the Anaconda Plan, and was planned and implemented by U.S. General Winfield Scott. It started with a complete blockade of the Confederate coast, with the objective of preventing the export of cotton, and the import of munitions and other supplies. It was closed out by Union forces waging a burnt earth policy towards the south, destroying railroads, burning towns and crops in an attempt to cripple the south economicly. was successful during the war, but caused incredible hardships on the southerners for the next 30 years during reconstruction.
U.S. Army General William Sherman the man who conducted the total war campaign during the Civil war (this campaign also known as "the march to the sea") is now, even though he is dead, being accused of war crimes for his actions.
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