Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) AAR Diary, Part Two

APR 15, 1861

War were declared. We pick up from last time’s Diary with a Union army barely fit to fight, and a bunch of angry rebels heading our way. Things are fine. They’re fine.

I started things out by immediately throwing a large army together in Pennsylvania. They’re going to take some time to assemble and even longer to train, but it’s important to get the ball rolling immediately.

Similarly, I added a few extra brigades to the Army of Northeastern Virginia, which I’ll be sending forth into northern Virginia as soon as they’re ready. Units in the game have their “readiness” measured by the multicolored bar on the little pop-up for them, this represents their ability to carry out actions. Anything below the light yellow on the bar means they can’t go into enemy territory, which hampers my ability to go after the rebels right away. I guess I’ll direct my attention elsewhere for the time being.

That elsewhere I mentioned would be the Chesapeake Bay. The Union only has a small fleet at the moment, as you can see in the above screenshot. Letting the Confederates control the bay is a Bad idea, so I’ve directed one of my two fleets that popped up near Boston to come block the entrance, as well as directed a bunch of my unassigned ships to a brand new fleet, based out of Baltimore.

21 whole ships! They’re not ready yet, but the rebels won’t be much of a match for this fleet when it’s ready. In general, the Confederates tend to not have a very large navy due to the historical lack of industry required to build fleets. That being said, they can definitely harass Union ports if left unchecked, and could even launch some invasions across the Bay into Maryland if I’m not careful. So, I’ll do my best to hit them fast and then set up blockades on their ports, which will reduce the Confederacy’s overall income.

The last thing I do before I unpause is add a few extra brigades to the scattered armies and upgrade their equipment. The Union really is quite impressive for its ability to summon vast amounts of weaponry, even the newly raised 38k strong army in Pennsylvania has standard issue muskets at this point. Of course, they’re not rifles, which would be better, but at least they’re not the hodgepodge mix of muskets units start with by default, which are hardly better than slingshots.

APR 19, 1861

After arriving at the mouth of the Chesapeake, our fleet finds itself vastly outnumbering the local Confederate fleet. I ordered the fleet to assault the enemy to gain control of the Bay.

The fighting was intense, but it wasn’t close. The Confederate fleet largely consisted of refitted civilian ships, while the Union has actual warships.

APR 23, 1861

Unfortunately, things look worse out west. The Confederates seem to have drafted a brown-water navy, something I haven’t seen them do before, which is cutting supplies to the army in St. Louis. Left without much choice, I pulled them back across the Mississippi before they starved.

I did notice something else interesting as I waited for both militaries to start “waking up;” as you’ll be able to see in the screenshot below this paragraph, the Confederates opted to keep Montgomery, Alabama as the capital, rather than moving it to Richmond, Virginia, as it was historically. In practice, this means it’ll be tougher to force the rebels to surrender because Richmond is practically spitting distance from DC, compared to Montgomery. In real life, it takes about 2-3 hours by car to drive between Richmond and DC; it’s really quite close.

I’ve also gone and raised a small fleet in Chicago, it’ll be a little bit of time before they’re able to do anything, but I’m not just going to let that Confederate fleet own the Mississippi unopposed. 

To demonstrate how powerful a tool blockades are, here’s the blockade I’ve begun setting up in the Bay:

There’s 4 whole ports in that image that are suffering losses due to the blockade, both in terms of moving resources around (necessary for building equipment/ supplying the army and other buildings) and cutting off a significant amount of trade in money (can be exchanged for goods and services).

MAY 8, 1861

I noticed that the Department of the West started suffering attrition as a result of supply loss again, which was confusing. They were in Union territory, sitting on a town, after all. So I opened some map filters to see what the problem was.

Well. That’s not good.

I’m deploying McClellan to go see what’s going on over there, and hopefully root out any stray armies.

MAY 13, 1861

It’s my birthday, and to celebrate, I’m finally deploying the Army of Northeastern Virginia against those dastardly, bastardly rebels.

MAY 14, 1861

At last! An engagement. I feel optimistic, though both sides’ lack of guns will make this an interesting affair.

8:30 AM

The rebels hold the objective for the map, Mclean’s farm, across the Bull Run. The battle map, for the record, is the map of the First Bull Run, it’s not near Alexandria. I should know, as I used to live in an area covered by this map.

The army will come down the road towards Centreville, and advance to the crossing. My troops have rifles and more guns, so I’m confident about our ability to push them back. However, this is everyone’s first battle, and troops love to run in their first battles.

My scouts found them, entrenched on the opposite side of Bull Run. The good news this means that they’re not going to hit me before I’m ready. The bad news is that we have to assault fortifications. I can’t believe we’re doing Fredericksburg in 1861.

10:55 AM

My army is finally arriving, as my forward scouts are scooting around the Confederate’s flanks to see what skirmishing can be done.

Over the course of the next hour, the Union army creeps closer, we’re preparing an assault on their right.

And while it’s not the original plan, Sherman’s skirmishers are actually doing a great job interrupting the Confederate left.

1:04 PM

A certain Colonel Grant has shown presidential levels of drive, and pushed the cavalry back from the Confederate right practically on his own.

Other commanders are following him across the stream, the rebel line will likely fold soon.

And fold it did.

I will end this Diary here, as it’s been a bit of a behemoth. As this is the early war, I’ve had to explain a lot of the macro level of things, but they’ll get a bit more dense and action-oriented moving forward. 

Thanks for sticking around to the end here, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, etc. about this campaign, feel free to reach out on the Discord, or ping me on Twitter.

-Jack

P.S. I’ll do my best to keep this running weekly or at least biweekly, but I am moving soon, flying across the country for a wedding, and having to deal with other things. If you don’t see this every week, sorry! I promise that this is a column I am passionate about and want to continue.

P.P.S. If you want to read the next installment of this series, you can read it here.

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