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

ED. Note: If you missed the start of this AAR, don’t worry! You can catch up from the beginning here.

MAY 27, 1861

Last time, the Union army repulsed a Confederate rush at DC, but now face two separate battles around Maryland. The first battle will deal with the Army of Frederick (Maryland), the former Department of Pennsylvania. Due to some sneaky maneuvering, the rebs snuck behind our boys who were camped in Virginia, and now stand between us and safety.

MAY 27, 1861

6:00 AM

Sure, we may have to attack across miles of enemy ground, and sure, we may be outnumbered, and sure, we have less guns than them, and sure, we have green troops, but we have something they don’t: a winning attitude.

I decide to play it slow at first, I’m going to advance to the creek and see how the situation looks before advancing further, of course deploying forward skirmishers to see what’s going on ahead.

7:10 AM

Well, my skirmishers advanced to Winchester itself, and the town’s empty. Kind of eerie. If I was them, I’d have set up cannons to make the approach through town difficult, but there’s literally no sign of them anywhere. I’m guessing they’re guarding the ford near the objective, perhaps?

8:18 AM


They must be sitting on the objective itself. I’m surprised they aren’t covering this crossing at all. I suppose they outnumber me by enough they feel confident in holding up there. My plan is to probe the area with skirmishers and find the weak point. If they’re as clustered as I imagine them to be, the numbers might actually not help them much.

Especially because my guns have quite a long range, the battery in the screenshot below has a range of over a mile! I doubt the rebels have anything quite that long.

I just hope they don’t decide to attack me before I get set up, but so far, they seem content to remain entirely hidden.

Even in the 1860’s northern Virginia has problems with traffic.

9:30 AM

Aha! Found them. Clustered up, just like I figured. I don’t blame them, it is a very nice position.

While my army is stuck in traffic in town, the rebels seem content to sit back and wait, which is bold, I’ll say.

After a few minutes, some of my scouts find the enemy right.

Looks like a single battery and brigade, unsupported by anything in the near vicinity. There’s our weak point.

As a fun way to harass them a bit, I captured both supply routes (the now blue arrows) around their location. If the battle lasts another day and they don’t capture any supply routes back out, they won’t be resupplied overnight. I doubt it’ll last that long, but I’d like to hedge my bets.

11:13 AM

No engagements yet. I’m getting much closer to them now, I’ve even managed to sneak a division up to the enemy left, just across where the supply route is.

I don’t think they saw me, at least. They seem unbothered in any case, but won’t be for long, I’m setting some of my guns up over there too.

11:23 AM

All at once, the enemy army decided to move. Maybe they caught sight of my division? In any case, ALL of them are moving. Yikes!

11:45 AM

Right around now is when things are starting to heat up. My skirmishers caught one of their batteries unaware and have it pinned, other skirmishers are moving forward to harass the enemy at the river crossing. My guns are even starting to get in on the action.

12:02 PM

My biggest enemy right now is my own army. They weren’t fast enough to take full advantage of the enemy’s flat-footedness, and they’re beginning to consolidate.

12:11 PM

But maybe not fast enough?

I’ve now got them surrounded, albeit mostly with skirmishers. If I was facing an experienced army, I’d likely be toast, but this is the early war, neither side’s troops have seen combat yet, and now the enemy’s greenhorns are caught in the Semi-Circle of Death™ (patent pending).

12:46 PM

Reinforcements! My division I had sent on the long walk around the enemy’s original position is finally arriving.

At this point, the enemy’s numerical advantage doesn’t matter when there’s so many bottled up in that patch of woods, they’re mostly surrounded. My guys hardly have to aim to hit them.

After about an hour and a half of brutal combat in the woods, the enemy decides to retreat.

Unfortunately, due to our lack of cavalry, we weren’t able to punish the retreat as much as we might’ve been able to, but I’m still chalking this one up as a big win. We were outnumbered by about 10k men, and still managed to put their army to flight.

Back on the campaign map, I’m directing Patterson’s Army of Frederick to execute a tactical skedaddle back across the Potomac before anyone else can show up and threaten them. The Army of Pennsylvania led by Gen. Scott that was sitting up at the north end of West Virginia is being emergency deployed back to DC now as additional reinforcements. Once the Army of Frederick has time to recuperate, I’ll send them west to take the Army of Pennsylvania’s place watching excursions from the mountains.

Things aren’t looking so good out west either. My scouts reported back that there’s FOUR whole Confederate armies lurking around Kentucky. I’m incredibly outnumbered over there, and I hope they don’t realize how much trouble I’m in.

I’m also reaching the limit of my recruiting pool at the moment. The overall manpower of the state grows over time, but I’m left now with only 18k men that are available to be assigned to new units or to reinforce old ones. I don’t have the ability to really raise anything else to challenge these armies at the moment, so maybe I’ll kick up a stir back east to draw their attention there. At the very least, it’s better guarded than the west.

MAY 29, 1861

McDowell’s Army of Northeastern Virginia arrived last night, just in time by the looks of it. The Confederates launched an assault to take the fort that hasn’t quite succeeded yet.

We’ll have to go save them, and kick the Confederates off the peninsula.

MAY 29, 1861

7:00 AM

We have to attack, of course, but fortunately we’re on familiar ground.

Good ol’ Manassas! The rebels also seem to still be a ways off, which will give us some room to set up first. These odds are much better than in that last battle, but I don’t want to get too cocky about things.

The army is swinging wide through Centreville, capturing a supply route and offering good sight-lines. It’ll be difficult for them to sneak up on us from here.

11:07 AM

After hours of hiking around the map, we’ve finally spotted their army, situated firmly on the heights around the objective. Fine, we’ll keep an eye on them as we close in.

1:55 PM

The army is almost wholly in formation, and the rebels haven’t really moved.

Not really sure what’s going on there.

2:24 PM

We’ve begun throwing up breastworks in the field in front of their lines. Some of our longer-range guns have started shelling them, though we don’t have many, and at this range they’re more of an annoyance than an effective weapon.

4:14 PM

We’ve finished our breastworks and have moved our most experienced division (now with new uniforms and the divisional name “Shield of DC” (note: give me a shout if you want to name any units or have uniform ideas!)) into the woods to our right.

5:10 PM


It seems a feuding enemy officer has gotten tired of being bombarded for four hours, and is now moving forward.

Can’t say I much blame them, but…

As you can see here, sometimes officers of units will get fed up with their orders if they disagree with them and go and do something stupid. Most of the time, this manifests in changing the range at which their unit engages the enemy, but other times, they’ll march on two enemy divisions supported by artillery alone.

MAY 30, 1861

6:00 AM

Nothing occurred last night after that single attack. Here’s the starting situation the following morning:

I built trenches on the hill to the right, which overlooks the objective. My artillery there is in range, and can fire on them easily. I also moved Grant’s division (I promoted both him and Sherman as they had much better stats than the previous divisional commanders) into the woods, and Sherman’s division is again behind breastworks, but much closer to the enemy. I hope my superior artillery will force them to attack again, at which point my defenses and superior weapons (most of this army is kitted with rifles rather than muskets) should repulse them.

6:41 AM

After a few minutes of skirmishing, I’m moving the right half of my army up. The enemy pulled their line back out of range of my artillery, so I’ll just follow.

Interestingly, the center looks kind of weak. There are some skirmishers from both sides duking it out in there, but the enemy looks to be getting slowly pushed back. If I can separate their army, it’ll be easier for my left to collapse on them and hopefully rout the whole army.

6:59 AM

Grant’s division  managed to shove the enemy skirmishers out of the woods, giving my brigades a chance to advance and take the far edge of the woods, which is incidentally also letting them capture the objective. The enemy is advancing a brigade at least to try to push us out, but we have cover now.

7:17 AM

Things are heating up on the objective, two large enemy brigades have committed to the attack, but neither have yet come close enough to fire on my troops… while I can fire on them.

In the next few minutes, one of their brigades closed on us, but not for long before they were repulsed.

7:56 AM

Over the course of the hour, they started funneling more and more troops into the objective to try to force us out, but none of their attempts have succeeded yet.

Just after 8:00 AM, they broke.

Four remarkable tactical victories in a row, with this army involved in three of them!

I will close this installment of the AAR here, as my brain and hands need to recover from the hectic nature of these battles. Next time, I’m looking forward to consolidating the eastern defenses, and maybe we can do something about the massing Confederates in the west.


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