[color="#008080"]Early October 1861: Turn 13[/color]
Two Steps from Hell, I love to put these guys on while playing any strategy game. Really sets the epic mood needed to command armies of thousands as they march to battle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs0rCxizB5A
Have you ever had a bad day? A day where nothing seems to go right. Maybe the bad day started when you slept through your alarm, you follow it up by stubbing your toe getting into the bathroom, later you find out that the milk has gone bad the hard way, maybe you also lose your keys, and that all before you even get out the door. Well, you could say the men in Wharton’s brigade just had a very bad day. The 4,200 men of said brigade were probably tasked with chasing down some of those Damn Yankee cavalry in Falmouth. They diligently performed their appointed task all the way into Falmouth, they continued chasing that cavalry on into Alexandria, and ended (literally) in battle against an entire Union army. Yes, those boys in gray had an epically bad day and for many of them it was also their last day. The expected blow from the 10 NM hit was softened when that brigade was killed/captured almost to a man; 3 NM up for USA and 3 NM down for the CSA. The people rejoiced and there was much rejoicing.
Elsewhere Santa Fe sees the backside of a retreating CSA army, Fayetteville is threatened by Lyon’s army, Grant sieges Island 10, Union cavalry siege Lewisburg, WV, and mounted volunteer brigands are chased away from the siege of Ft Kearney. Runaway slaves enlist in the USN, four elite brigades answer the call from Abe Lincoln, and additional volunteers form up at Camp Dick Robinson. The divisional formation is now available and generals across the nation start forming the seething mass of loose units into cohesive fighting units. Agitators are countered in Baltimore while demonstrations in two more regions continue apace.
Most of Tennessee and West Virginia is bogged down in mud. The mud affects Grant at Island 10, but doesn’t really pose any hindrance there and actually helps.
The lesson here folks is be very careful about when you target a specific unit as you never know when it’ll run home to daddy and then you’ll be sorry. I don’t know if my two cav regiments and horse battery were targeted intentionally or if Arrow accidently dragged his brigade over them or not. Regardless of the why, one of those extremely large nine element Virginian brigades is pretty much gone. The report text says all were killed or captured, but the brigade still has 2 (out of a possible 154) hits remaining. Even if they successfully withdraw without further loss, that brigade has some MAJOR work needed before it is fit to fight again. In addition to the NM change, 10 WS was captured and eventually put to good use.
My cavalry units weren’t able to bring Arrow’s cavalry unit to battle in Falmouth last turn, but they inadvertently acted as bait to lure in a much bigger prize. Over the past couple turns, starting with catching Jackson in Leesburg, I’ve inflicted ~6,500 casualties in Virginia for the price of ~1,175 casualties, bagged a cavalry regiment plus Wharton’s Bde, and gained 4 NM from those battles. Basically, I have gotten the effects of a large battlefield win without having risked a general engagement with one of Arrow’s two armies. And lastly, General Hunter got a point in his defensive rating. I still have too many lame duck generals, but two of them are slightly less lame duck than the others, so hooray for blind luck in bringing Wharton’s Bde to almost complete destruction.
Maybe I’m feeling overconfident from a couple good wins in the East, but McDowell is going on the offensive this turn! Yeah, I think it’s crazy too. But I have identified a weakness in Arrow’s defensive positioning that I hope to exploit and for better or for worse, McDowell’s the man in charge. I’ve been in strength at Leesburg multiple times and Arrow has never reacted by strengthening Winchester. I’ve also never directly threatened Winchester, so it just has a single militia unit twiddling its thumbs. I didn’t think I had the manpower in the past to take Winchester and hold a supply and possible retreat path open while still holding Alexandria; but between the new builds and the divisional formations that has changed. It’s possible that without the need to defend Manassas from a possible suicidal attack and with the introduction of the divisional formations, Arrow will restructure his defensive lines. But 2K strongly entrenched is major overkill for Manassas against poor Union leadership, so I don’t know if he was thinking defensively so much as keeping a strong force consolidated in order to attack. Regardless, I’m doubting Arrow will put enough in Winchester to stop me. If all goes as planned, I should have an army sitting on Arrow’s supply lines to Harper’s Ferry with a strongly entrenched force in good defensive terrain at Leesburg. Hopefully this doesn’t blow up in my face because . . . well McDowell’s leading an offense and that right there is the stuff of Union nightmares and CSA dreams.
To help hold Leesburg, I am postponing any naval operations and am bringing Hooker’s division down from Philly. Hooker’s the best general I have in the East and he’ll have the seniority to lead any possible defense of Leesburg. He also has a handpicked division with the finest soldiers the North has to offer. Joining him will be most of my blocking forces at Montgomery & Chambers as well as odds and ends from Alexandria, Fredericktown, and new builds. Meanwhile, Banks will move down from raising loyalty in Baltimore to take over the defense of Alexandria. Banks is a terrible leader, but defensively he’s not much worse than most of my generals and he’ll provide enough CP to really cut down on my over CP penalty. I won’t be giving him an army though as for some reason Gen Fremont thinks he deserves one first and I’m not willing to take a NM hit just to give Banks an army.
Meanwhile a division in Morgantown will move up the rail lines in order to support operations against Harper’s Ferry. And two cavalry regiments have taken Clarksburg, south of Morgantown, and are sieging Lewisburg. Oh and the now unlocked coastal battery will start making its way to support operations along the Mississippi. I’ve decided to get an armored frigate and will probably order 1-2 more in future turns as well as a monitor or two. They’re expensive, but can really be worth it. Especially if Arrow decides to bring his river fleet out of the Mississippi and tries to interdict any naval landings I might conduct later. After all, he’s already brought his ironclad & gunboats to try and kill a dinky little brig unit. Another sharpshooter, some more batteries, an infantry brigade, and some more transports complete the purchases in this theater.
I scouted both Fts Henry & Donelson this past turn and immediately regretted not having attacked Donelson this past turn. Grant would not have run into a buzzsaw at Donelson. Still, it was the right decision even if this time it would have worked out. I couldn't have known there wouldn't be any movement there and I've learned the hard way that Grant unsupported by other forces can get into entirely too much trouble. My gunboat reports that the situation at Donelson went unchanged and that there are 1-2 infantry units with another 4 batteries at Henry. I’m also seeing some cavalry, a militia unit, and a single battery at Humbolt. Arrow can’t have too much else in the area to have countered a move to Donelson. What with what I’ve seen of Arrow’s builds in Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, etc and the dearth of brigs in the blockade boxes, 8 batteries are a pretty stiff price to pay for the CSA. Still Grant landed without issue and now personally leads a strong division with a second weaker one under Milroy. I’ve sent the other two generals I had with my force back along with the transports for another load of men. I’m going to need a couple more transports in the future if I want to drop more men off at once. But for now my 1.5 divisions will assault the fort with little worry of outside interfere thanks to a blocking force of timberclads to my south and muddy weather further slowing down movement into the swampy morass that is Island 10.
I’m getting a single infantry brigade and two of those transports I mentioned earlier. That should allow me to move more than 2 understrength divisions plus support at a single time. And they should be ready in Cairo to start supporting Grant this coming turn.
My prediction of Arrow’s course of action was pretty spot on as at least some of the former Springfield defenders are at Ft Wayne. And no one consolidated at Cass, MO. Now my force is formed into 3 divisions of varying strength and won’t be picked apart in detail. However, I forgot the basic tenet of reconnaissance, never lose sight of the enemy. I didn’t detail any of my cavalry to move to where I could get eyes on the two possible routes.
I’m seeing a stronger than expected presence in Fayetteville. But I suspect that Arrow split his forces into small groups and sent them on independently to Fayetteville. Looking at the playback it doesn’t appear that the extra defenders came in from anywhere else than the remnants of Springfield. And there was a gaggle of units instead of one coherent force moving towards Ft Wayne before I lost sight of them. I say remnants, because at least as of this past run through, many of Arrow’s units still evidenced battle losses that hadn’t been replaced yet.
I’m going to pull up here in order to await some reinforcements, regain lost cohesion, and fully stock my wagons up on ammo. The unknown strength of the force at Ft Wayne troubles me. If I’m right, there shouldn’t be too much there. In which case I should be able to safely attack next turn with the fire of a thousand suns; I don’t think that Arrow has a strong enough SPF. If I’m wrong, then it’s possible that what I’m seeing in Fayetteville are reinforcing units brought up from the Red River and I could be leading my force into a loss. Another reason for a delay here is that although the captured depot really upped marginal supply levels, it only replaced some of the ammo used in battle. So I’m still only at 63% for ammo after the last battle for Springfield. I don’t like the prospect of fighting without a full ammo loadout. Barring the presence of major CSA reinforcements, in the next turn or so I expect three tough divisions to fall upon Fayetteville.
A unit of CSA mounted volunteers burned Ft Riley a couple turns ago and then moved on to Ft Kearney were the fort was promptly brought under siege. Mud at the wrong time pretty much stopped any Union response in its tracks. But with clear weather and dry ground, one of my cavalry regiments was able to bring those volunteers to battle and chased them off with light casualties all around. I also have the Oregon cavalry unit operating out there and that should hopefully end any stockade burning shenanigans for now. We’re straying into the FW Theater here, but an artillery battery and three experienced infantry regiments are closing in on Denver. They should all arrive in the next couple of weeks where they’ll stay to guard against any CSA deep raid aimed at the gold field of Colorado.
Well, Shelby’s fast movement sure is a sight to see. Shelby’s entire force made it all the way back to Mesilla in one turn. Mud in this region would have really helped me but alas Mother Nature is not an ally this time around. The ammo for my Tucson force is just about down to nothing and what’s present in Mora isn’t enough to give all my units enough ammo for a single battle. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of ammo in two locked supply wagons. I’m going to cross my fingers and send out my fast movers to pick up ammo from the wagon at Mora. Hopefully Shelby sits for a turn and replaces battle losses, giving me time to pick up ammo and dash back before he comes calling a 2nd time. Two more turns until all of my locked forces become available, I just need to hold out for a little bit longer. At least Carson was active as my force should fight better within a divisional formation.
Very costly turn for the South. The total NM change is only 4 NM instead of the full 10 NM that was expected. And it’s hard to beat that kind of a casualty ratio. CSA power dropped for the 2nd straight turn and is down a full 8 points from a month ago.