This Week in the Civil War - #822
On May 4, 1864 Grant’s Anaconda Plan was unleashed on the Confederacy. The 122,000 man, Union Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River into northern Virginia, while approximately 40,000 men under Union General Benjamin Butler assembled in transports at Hampton Roads and moved up the James River to attack Richmond from the south. At Chattanooga, Tennessee Union General William Tecumseh Sherman with 98,000 men moved against Atlanta, Georgia. Confederate forces scrambled to meet this threat to the Confederate homeland. Lee could muster only 66,000 men to confront the larger Army of the Potomac; he would have to use the geography of northern Virginia to his advantage. Confederate forces guarding Richmond would have to contend with Butler, while Joe Johnston’s Confederates would have to confront Sherman’s larger force in Georgia.