1861 was, overall, evenly balanced. On the battlefield, the Confederacy had triumphed at the First Battle of Bull Run but failed to exploit their victory. Meanwhile, the Union’s ‘Anaconda Plan’, a full naval blockade, was devastating southern trade and, consequently, its ability to finance a long war. In spring 1862, the Union advanced on three fronts. In the west, they achieved conspicuous success. Victories at Forts Henry and Donelson were followed by the capture of Memphis and New Orleans: only the fortress of Vicksburg stood in the way of northern control of the Mississippi. At sea, the South innovated with a submarine and ironclad ship, but the blockade largely held. In the east, the northern advance on Richmond was decisively repulsed at the Battle of Seven Days. Confederate General Robert E. Lee counterattacked, defeating the Union at Bull Run once more, but was ultimately checked at the bloodbath of Antietam.
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