Other than a fierce battle at Chattanooga, I faced light opposition in the west. Only Indian irregulars and a couple militia garrisons (Ft. Smith, Little Rock) oppose me in Missouri; keeping my men in supply is the main challenge Curtis faces in the Transmississippi. Both the depots at Ft. Smith and Little Rock were destroyed by the fleeing rebels:
The plan out here now is to run some supply ships from Cairo, past Memphis, and into the Arkansas River, to give my three divisions out there some logistical support. Land units can draw supply from any adjacent supply-laden water transport, and thats what I aim to do, rather than rely on the shaky overland depot chain thru Missouri. The imminent fall of Memphis makes this supply plan feasible, I think.
I'm not real keen on expending the resources to recreate the depots in Arkansas the rebels blew up in their retreat. I'd just as soon scoop up the strategic towns of Little Rock and Madison (which they appear to be giving me), garrison them vs Indians, then transfer those 3 divisions to Grant for the drive on Vicksburg. I don't really see the strategic necessity for taking Panther and points further south into the wilds of Arkansas. Maybe I'll build up a cavalry force for a campaign to take Tucson, but I think that should wrap things up for the Transmississippi.
Further east in Grant's department, we place Memphis back under siege, and Sheridan scores a big victory at Corinth. Meanwhile, in Buell's mid-Tennessee sector, Thomas manages to hold on barely at Chattanooga, as the rebels throw practically everything they have in the area at him:
First, the battle of Corinth. I organized a division under the new arrival Sheridan to spearhead the assault, and on his very first assignment he did splendidly:
We wiped out several elements there, and picked up 5 Morale in the process. It seems there was not only a militia guarding the place, but also one of those very large CSA Mississippi brigades; he must have had the misfortune of buying it, and then having it form up there. Heintzelman and Sheridan apparantly killed it before it had a chance to mature. Not a bad bit of luck on my part!
This somewhat offset the loss in the east at Harpers Ferry, where we lost 14 (!!!) Morale over several battles.
Upon reflection, comparing these battles, I think the moral of this story (about Morale) is: NEVER DEFEND TO THE BITTER END. The game scores Morale (and VPs, for that matter) gains/losses heavily on elements destroyed outright; so, if you defend to the bitter end, say, in a city under siege, you are giving your opponent a HUGE opportunity to score big against you. NEVER defend in a city and accept siege if you are not SURE you can relieve the city. Better to retreat, let the city go, preserve your army, and build up for a counter-attack if you really want that city back. Otherwise, you face the danger of taking a shellacking in VPs and Morale.
More good news...Sheridan is up for promotion as a result! AND he gained an experience star! Glory shined on Hentzelman as well, he moved up in senority and got an experience star too (both leaders increased their defense bonus by one...woohoo!). Sheridan will be made a corps commander, replacing Hallack, ASAP. wOOt!
Now we move to Buell's army in central Tennessee, where I just got done ignoring
the sage advice I gave above, by putting Thomas in a place where he could not retreat from and risked total annialation.
Unlike poor Banks, Thomas held out...barely. Only one militia element was lost, hence no National Morale was lost in any of these battles. Which were actually fought outside the city of Chattanooga (not a siege/assault like Harpers Ferry). Nevertheless, due to ZOC and surrounding enemy territory, it was a no retreat situation, which is why we went thru six battles...and at the end, Thomas held on but was left with a VERY battered division:
Towards the end there, both sides ran out of ammo, leading to a drastic drop off in casualties. Thus Thomas held Chattanooga. By the hair on his chinny chin chin.
The big question: Do I stay or do I go now? Check out this close up of the situation:
As things stand, Thomas is temporarily almost out of ammo (very little, only 8 crates or 5% of capacity left). HOWEVER I hold Chattanooga and the supply depot there, which has 26 crates. It'll produce 3 crates, giving me 29 to draw from. Plus I have gunboats nearby with ammo stores, so I should be able to draw some ammo from them too I think (right?). Thomas expends 30 crates per battle (so the tooltip tells me) so I should be resupplied for at least one full battle next turn.
Beauregard looks to be totally out of ammo too. However, he does NOT have a nearby supply source to draw on; Knoxville is cut off by my gunboats, and that leave Atlanta 4 spaces away as the closest depot. On top of that I had Thomas cut the rails, so getting more ammo up in those Knoxville mountains will be problematic for the Confederates.
That means if Beauregard wants to attack Thomas next turn, it'll have to be a bayonet charge.
I could also try to relieve Thomas with Buell. Buell is 16 days march away; 14 if he force marchs (40% chance)...
OTOH, I have to worry about him sending fresh reinforcements (with ammo) coming in. Which he could do, I think; Forrest is nearby with 3 cavalry units. He might be able to beat Thomas, in his weakened condition.
Naw, staying is too risky. We already lost too much National Morale these past few turns, I can't see putting more at risk. And I don't feel like relying on Buell, of all people, to move fast. And on top of that, Chattanooga is not even a Strategic city in this scenario.
So... I'm now going to obey my NO BITTER END rule above, and get while the getting is good...I'm going to pull Thomas out. Interestingly, if you notice above, that ZOC that prevented Thomas from retreating in battle is now gone. I guess Beauregard running out of ammo did that. It looks like I can now move in any direction, including across the river to safety. Which I will do.
Naturally, I'm going to blow the depot before I go. Probably detaching a sacrificial rear guard to do so, so as not now slow up the main body.
One final irony...when he threw everything at Chattanooga, that included Johnson's brigade, which was guarding Knoxville last turn. And now Knoxville seems to be unoccupied! Nelson's brigade in the Gap in just 3 days march from taking Knoxville w/o a fight....which if you recall was practically a inland Gibralter just a few turns ago.