Tripax, thank you for a most excellent game. You were a valiant and worthy opponent. I admire the way you shouldered disadvantages to keep the game play historical. And it was a game, until the very last second, where a Northern VP victory remained possible.
I think Teddy Roosevelt has the perfect words for this situation,
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Amen to that.
The surprise ending to our game, came, of all places, in what had been our backwater theater. But, after Memphis fell and Grant had pushed me out of Western Tennessee, there was only one real target left to protect. This allowed the concentration of Southern forces at Corinth. Instead of Grant just hitting a wing corps and center army with overwhelming force, he faced an army and both of its wings in one area. Additionally, Corinth had prepared trenches and a depot, allowing Southern troops the benefit of replacements, higher cohesion recovery and strong defensive lines. Furthermore, I had sent 2 fresh divisions from Nashville to stiffen JJ’s Army of the Mississippi and pulled 2 battered divisions out of line to rebuild at Nashville.
In the end it was a still a close run, involving a real roller coaster ride with three, back to back battles where the Federals lost a critical 15 NM points. And those points were enough to drop the Union’s national moral below the 60 NM defeat level. Still, Tripax went out roaring like a lion, not with a whimper.
I have to say, that I believe, even without the Corinth victory, the South was in pretty good shape and had a chance of winning by points. The CSA was still up by 600 VP, and thanks to a strong river fleet, had control of its inland water ways. Other than Norfolk, the seacoast remained untouched and protected by 8 strong, well dug in, veteran divisions garrisoning NO, Mobile, Charleston and Wilmington.
Thanks to tripax’s endless rain of blows and my refusal to promote Jackson, Longstreet and Hood, the South had a superb crop of 2 star corps commanders. This allowed the creation of interlocking, diamond shaped corps formations in the east that enabled Richmond and a chunk of central VA to be held. By the way Cardinal Ape, thanks for teaching me that particular trick.
Strength wise, the South’s armies remained in good shape. They were well lead, Beauregard’s 6-6-7 and Lee’s 6/6/6 vs McDowell at 2/3/3. In the west it was J Johnston’s 4/6/6 vs Grant’s at 6/7/5. In the ranks, the CSA remained able to field enough troops to hold ground against massive Federal blows. I think due to the power ratio for land forces being much closer than the usual lopsided figures, the Union steamroller was never able to create 3-1 or higher odds. Perhaps this was because of a large different in NM and tripax’s tendency to over garrison his supply lines with swarms of militia. The lack of blue clad boys on the firing line allowed me to field armies that almost always fought from entrenched positions with at least 1-2 odds. It is possible, that their battlefield victories enable the South to gain huge amounts of NM by destroying weakened Federal units during chain or turn after turn battles. Troop shortages also appeared to have prevented the Federals from sending sea born invasion forces.
Except for Western VA, the Valley, Norfolk and Northern VA, Western TN, MO, most of TX and the Far West, the South managed to hold its national territory, as well as Bowling Green, KY. This of course meant until a few turns ago, the majority of the game’s objectives and VP sites were in Southern hands.
Economically, things weren’t so rosy. The blockade was at 60%, and because I didn’t buy a single naval replacement point the entire game; almost all the blockade runners were down to 1 ship units. Inflation was biting at Southern purchasing power at 36%. But, thanks to high NM and the retention of national territory, there was a vast pool of untapped manpower, above 1,000 CS for 1863-64. Thanks to 2 untouched ironworks, there was a surplus stock of 2,879 WS. Early on, I was able to drain much of MO and KY’s force pool. But, due to constant cash shortages, the CSA was never able to take advantage of their abundant store of manpower and war supplies. For the last two years of the war, instead of raising new units, the South spent every dime on replacements.
Theater wise performance: in the East, I think the CSA did a good job defending and holding most of central VA. I have to admit, moving the capital to Atlanta was cheesy and not historical. To top it off, I did a poor job threating DC, and looking back, the 3 lines of fall back positions was overkill.
In the West, I got a lucky break. After a long delay, the Blue grass state came in while I had a strike force sitting on rails at the border and rearing to go. Tripax on the other hand was in the outhouse with his pants down. This one turn advantage, let me use the state's rails to grab and hold most of KY.
In Tennessee, Grant and Lee hung out in the same area giving each other the evil eye for a long time. I was more than happy to use Lee as a scarecrow, as it allowed me to ship Western divisions to the East.
A strong navy from the start, built up with early cottonclads and a solid dose of luck, allowed me to retain control of the Big Muddy and deliver a few hard knocks.
In the TransMississppi, I used the minimum force possible. Tripax did a good job of evicting me from MO, but unluckily for him, he striped the West for manpower to use in the Trans at just the wrong moment. Also, Lyon never was able to evict Magruder from his cozy Fort Smith quarters.
In Texas, tripax again outmaneuvered and outfought me. I ending up holding only Houston and Dallas. Part of the problem was I didn’t send a decent commander to the theater and ended up paying for it in lost battles. I was sure that it would be child’s play to burn the chain of stockades linking the Far West to TX. But, no, tripax was hot on my heels and rushed into the house before I could shut the front door.
In the Far West, I again spent the bare minimum and initially worked hard at creating a lot of havoc. I never did figure out how to use my Pima unit or how to make the native raiding card work. It was very clever of tripax to figure out, after I burned Tucson, that he could recapture the vanished town's victory points by building a stockade. But, I have to say, in my book, I think he devoted far too many militia units to securing his Far West supply.
Costal defense, who knows? It was never tested. But, from Fall 61 on, I kept strong garrisons at NO, Mobile, Charleston and Wilmington. Taylor, my sole trainer, was at Charleston and I sent him a steady stream of existing militia drawn from all over the South for upgrading. Did you know that Copperhead RDC units can be combined with a militia unit and upgraded to regular status? Until this game, I didn’t.
Some of the things I did wrong. In my attack on DC, I failed to understand that, even though I controlled Alexandria, I could not cross the Potomac due to a naval presence. A great opportunity was lost when, because of this, my army failed to march to the sound of the guns and support Jackson’s assault.
Later in the game, I took unnecessary chances in maneuvering in N VA. The Union navy controlled the rivers and my main army could have been easily trapped. But the few times it looked bad, thanks to Cavalry screening and Disinformation cards and a big dose of luck, I was able to escape.
Tripax outmaneuvered and outfought me in the Shenandoah Valley.
Replacement wise, I only bought infantry and artillery and deliberately did not purchase cavalry replacements. Tripax's forces tended to be strong in cavalry. I think this may have led to my forces taking very heavy losses when retreating after battles. Fortunately for me, the South managed to hold many of the battlefields until 1864. But as a result, I didn’t notice the problem until it was too late to do anything about it.
Tripax I really enjoy our game. It was a lot of fun!
And I must say, you sir, are a most excellent and honorable opponent. Don’t be a stranger.
Until our paths cross again.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.