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January 1, 1862

Scott's great snake. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1861

Scott's great snake. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1861

Blockade of the Potomac - by Rebels, winter of 1861.

Blockade of the Potomac - by Rebels, winter of 1861.

Blockade of the Potomac. Map showing Union and Rebel batteries January 1862.

Blockade of the Potomac. Map showing Union and Rebel batteries January 1862.

One of the primary strategies employed by Federal forces was the use of blockading fleets along the eastern and Gulf coasts of the United States. Scott’s Great Snake, published at the outset of the Civil War portrays General Winfield Scott’s “Anaconda Plan” to strangle the Southern States. Blockading fleets were also used on inland rivers to assist military operations.

The two versions of Robert Sneden’s Blockade of the Potomac shown here reflect a third method of blockading, namely, the use of Union and Confederate land batteries to deny ship passage along the lower stretches of the Potomac River in January 1862. According to a note on the map, the “Rebels evacuated all their batteries night of 4th March 1862.”

Robert Knox Sneden, (1832–1918) enlisted in the Union Army at the outset of the war and served with the Army of the Potomac in Virginia during the Peninsula Campaign; Seven Days' Battles; and in Washington, D.C., as a topographical engineer on the staff of Maj. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman. Over the course of the war, Sneden’s eyewitness accounts and extremely detailed pen- and- ink watercolor maps, provide a glimpse of life as a Civil War soldier.

Sneden’s original diaries are housed in the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia. Through a joint agreement, more than 300 maps from the diary are available on the Library of Congress web site.

Map Citations

Elliot, J.B. Scott's great snake. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1861 by J.B. Elliott of Cincinnati. [S.l.] 1861. 1 map col. 35 x 44 cm.
Catalog record: http://lccn.loc.gov/99447020

Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Blockade of the Potomac - by Rebels, winter of 1861. [1862-1865]. 1 map : pen-and-ink and watercolor ; 9.5 x 17.5 cm. Robert Knox Sneden Diary (Mss5:1 Sn237:1), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA.
Catalog record: http://www.loc.gov/item/gvhs01.vhs00205/

Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Blockade of the Potomac. Map showing Union and Rebel batteries January 1862. The Rebels evacuated all their batteries night of 4th March 1862. [1862-1865]. 1 map : pen-and-ink and watercolor ; 12.5 x 10.5 cm. Robert Knox Sneden Scrapbook (Mss5:7 Sn237:1), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA.
Catalog record: http://www.loc.gov/item/gvhs01.vhs00066/