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

Last time, the Union army suffered its first defeat at the hands of stubborn Confederate defenders stuck against the Chesapeake Bay. With nowhere to run, they routed the inexperienced Union Army of New York.

AUG 5, 1861

Fortunately, though we took one in the face last time with the failed assault on the Confederates, the Army of the New York managed to largely retreat in good order, and they’re now re-entrenching, shaken, but now somewhat hardened, between Annapolis and Washington.

I’ll give them time to recuperate before trying another attack.

AUG 6, 1861

The Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi over to St. Louis to relieve the beleaguered Defenders (formerly Department) of the West, who are now going to take a break from fighting to go assert control over rail and supply lines to the west.

AUG 7, 1861

That Hampton Division is at it again.

This time, they’re threatening Pittsburgh, but are first taking Wheeling. I’m sending both the Army of Northeastern Virginia and the Army of Frederick to shoo them away, hopefully. Both are undermanned now that the initial contracts are up, their units are largely under half strength, some under a third.

AUG 9, 1861

The notable Defenders of the West have made themselves quite useful over the last few days, re-capturing towns in southern Indiana and Illinois that the Confederates had grabbed. Now that their job is completed, I spotted an opportunity.

Louisville sure looks wide open to me. If I threaten the town, maybe the rebels will back down off of Cincinnati, god knows the Army of Indiana could use the breather.

AUG 12, 1861

The gambit paid off, the Defenders of the West were able to pull out in the nick of time as a thirty thousand man army steamed down the river to obliterate them. 

I can’t exploit the opening in Cincinnati as the Army of Indiana is, frankly, too weak to mount an attack, but we’ve at least ensured that the rebels won’t attack for some time longer.

AUG 13, 1861

August 13th starts off with a bang.

Simultaneously, a battle rages in the Mississppi as the refitted and repaired Lake Michigan Squadron attacks the Confederate Mississippi Squadron, and the Army of the Tennessee looks to repel an attack by the Confederates, once again seeking to retake the key city of St. Louis.

AUG 13, 1861

6:27 AM

Here’s the starting situation.

We have a strong defensive position, the left locked down with a division holding fences and a trench protecting the flanks, and the right has a full line of trenches.

The downside is that this army hasn’t yet received artillery pieces, they’re still on the way. Worse, we only have muskets as well. Even worse than that, this army is only now facing battle for the first time. Still, we significantly outnumber the enemy, which hopefully counts for something.

6:28 AM

Oh, never mind.

Five captured soldiers? Not bad, I suppose.

Now that we have a second, let’s review the summary of the war so far.

We’re still in a favorable position, I’d say, though not as much as I’d like, and worse than before. We’re only four months into the war, and we’ve suffered significant losses in manpower and in finance. The Confederates have it worse than us, but that could change.

They are also, notably, fielding fifty thousand more men than I am, which is an alarming number, to say the least. Sure, they’re probably having more trouble arming them with anything decent than I am, but manpower counts for a lot. Besides, I’m more concerned with the strategic implications of fifty thousand men I can’t match running around unopposed. Though of course, I’m already struggling to keep *my* armies supplied, I imagine it’s again, far worse for them.

AUG 14, 1861

After a day of battle on the river, the Union fleet utterly vanquished the Confederate fleet.

The Mississippi is now indisputably in the hands of the Union. It was a small battle, but very crucial towards the overall war effort.

AUG 14, 1861

The rebels swung back towards St. Louis, again outnumbered. Will they stick to their assault this time?


Another five men captured.

That’s all. If they come at us a few hundred more times, we’ll have their whole army in prisoner camps.

AUG 16, 1861

The damnable Hampton Division stayed still in Wheeling, so they’re now sandwiched between Scott’s Army of Pennsylvania and the two armies from the east, McDowell’s Army of Northeastern Virginia and Patterson’s Army of Frederick. Both of the latter are under-strength, but are hardened and well-equipped.

AUG 18, 1861

The Confederate Army of Tennessee, having chased the Defenders of the West out of Louisville, followed them into the undefended state of Indiana. 

The Army of Indiana, stationed in St. Louis, is being sent to go chase them down, being relieved by the Defenders of the West, who have been reinforced with a half-strength infantry brigade, which on its own doubles the size of the army.

Later in the day, the slices of bread on the sandwich of the Hampton Division have finally come together (sorry for that metaphor).

The opposing armies first engaged in an entrenched skirmish, but I’m ordering an assault. I want those rebels kicked back down south, I don’t want to risk having three armies’ attention focused here for longer than the time it’ll take to rout the enemy.

AUG 18, 1861

8:51 AM

Here’s the starting situation for the battle.

Neither side holds the objective, but based on the Confederate supply routes, they will almost certainly have to come down the road towards Willow Garden. The larger of my armies, the Army of Pennsylvania, is entrenched there, with Sherman’s division borrowed from McDowell to bolster the right flank. The rest of McDowell’s Army of Northeastern Virginia will take the mountain, while Patterson’s Army of Frederick will swing around the mountain and seize the objective, then entrench once they arrive.

9:28 AM

As I sent my cavalry division forward to scout, I caught a glimpse of Confederate cavalry trying to beat me to the objective.

I’m lucky that I saw them. I’m sending one of McDowell’s divisions that had been held in reserve to go stand guard over the creek.

9:43 AM

Good lord, they’re all walking over the creek there?

I should have expected this, the AI loves taking off-road shortcuts. Fortunately, I have the hill, so maybe my guns can swing around in time to hit them while they’re jumbled up.

10:07 AM

It looks like they used a ford off to the side to swing some more cavalry around. My army that was racing to the objective is now largely on its own, with only one brigade in place so far.

I’m ordering my left to come down the road as fast as it can, as it looks like we’ve been wholly outflanked.

A lone brigade in the Army of Frederick, commanded by Col. Wright, took massive casualties after a close-up volley from Confederate shotguns.

Fortunately, their divisional commander, Col. Thomas, is nearby, and kept them in line, but this is already a mess.

10:27 AM

It looks like we both caught each other before we were ready, the units coming down the road from the left ran into Confederates who were trying to march towards the objective.

It’s fierce fighting over here, and my guns haven’t been able to reach the crest of the hill yet to start going to work on the rebels.

10:39 AM

Wright’s brigade took off after a devastating cavalry charge, but reinforcing brigades have begun to arrive and are scaring the cavalry off after both sides taking significant casualties.

11:08 AM

Our luck is changing. As reinforcements appeared on the right, enemy brigades appeared from both directions, but only one group attacked, the other veered off to support the main army on the road.

On the left, my main force was pushed back after the initial scuffle, but our line has reformed and we’re pushing back towards the core of their army.

We still hold the hill as well, and our guns are pulverizing the largely helpless Confederates, who are too distracted by the battle on either side to climb the steep slope to attack my guns.

We accidentally stumbled into having most of the army bottled up on the road between the lake and the hill.

We’re still working on bringing up our reserve divisions, but we are hammering them hard.

11:30 AM

The rebels are in a terrible position. Left without much choice, some of their brigades have begun trying to climb the hill to silence my guns.

It’s magnificent, but it’s not war.

The Confederates are throwing everything they have at my main force to stop it collapsing on them entirely.

What had started out so messily has turned into an utter catastrophe for the Confederate army, their units losing hundreds of men on desperate rushes to hold back the Union tide. Victory is close for the Union, the only question is how costly it will be for the Confederates?

The rebels ran soon after, losing a significant amount of their army on the retreat to Union cavalry.

This was an important strategic victory, as it has removed the threat of any invasions through West Virginia for the near future, as well as put a large dent in the Hampton Division, which has proven to be a thorn in my side for the last 2 months at least.

AUG 21, 1861

The damned Confederate Army of Tennessee snuck up on the Army of Indiana, forcing it out of Cincinnati. I have reinforcements on the way, but we may lose the key city and port for a short time, which will still deal a significant blow to our efficiency.

What followed was a few days of the two Union armies around Cincinnati, the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Indiana, dancing around the larger Confederate forces.

Both are still angling for a position where they can join to attack the Confederates.

Elsewhere, however…

AUG 24, 1861

The month looks to close as violently as July opened. Fortunately for Scott, his army handily outnumbers the two revel armies, though every army here is somewhat seasoned now, and will be ready for a fight.

AUG 24, 1861

7:30 AM

Here’s our starting situation.

We have a nice long trench along a mountain overlooking the objective with my cavalry way out in front to act as skirmishers. The rebels are going to have to come to me this time, and I don’t intend to make myself easy to get to.

9:33 AM

The first sign of the enemy is a single artillery battery coming out of the woods like some kind of swamp thing.

I assume the rest of the army isn’t far behind, but it’s a bit odd for artillery to either be at the front of a column or to be on its own. I’m keeping my distance for now, but watching closely.

9:47 AM

Hmm… still just them?

Time to hit those guns.

10:08 AM

After a brief back and forth, the cavalry routed the guns easily.

Off to the left, one of the other cavalry regiments spotted what I believe is their main force.

They’re just slowly trundling along for now, and I’m content to leave them to it, though I’ll be keeping a close eye to ensure they take the path I want them to take.

11:38 AM

The end of the rebel column left another battery exposed. Don’t mind if I do.

Back at the objective, an enemy cavalry regiment has begun to approach the creek.

I’m sending out a brigade to meet them at the creek, but I plan to l;argely sit back and let my guns do the work here,

12:16 PM

The rebel line appeared ahead of the objective, and they quickly formed up and began to approach the creek.

12:30 PM

The rebel attack petered out after the single push; as usual, attacking defenders in the era of rifled muskets has proven to be a bad idea.

1:10 PM

Around this time the Confederates broke.

We haven’t received official word of the retreat yet, but it’s clearly happening.


And eventually…

I’ll wrap up this diary here, join us next time as we follow the maneuvers around Cincinnati…


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