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

Last time, the Union pushed south into Kentucky, the first time since the beginning of the war that the Union has had a presence south of the border.

This week, we’re going to be taking a look at the overall strategy we’ll want to use for the coming year, but we may still see some action before campaigning dies down.

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

SEP 27, 1861

Last week’s victory over the Confederates in Kentucky has been a huge win, we’re now much safer here than before. The rebel army is down to roughly 6500 men, less than either of the Union armies that fought them, and they’re likely to lose more before they can fully get away.

After the armies break off contact, I’ll just need to re-solidify my lines in the west. In the east, as you may recall, the armies are now in defensive mode. 

The enemy armies in West Virginia are now, in effect, surrounded on 3 sides. Unfortunately for me, navigating these mountains is a logistical nightmare. There aren’t many great bases of supply, and it’s very easy to become cut off. This, however, is also true for the rebels. That being the case, we’re currently locked in a stalemate; the Confederates, too battered to attack, are nursing their wounds. The Union armies are in better shape, but are at a manpower disadvantage.

This is now the case everywhere, after the battle in Covington. The rebels have been beaten back, but the Union can’t follow up on victories. It’s likely that we’ll have a quiet winter coming up as both sides attempt to replenish.

This doesn’t exactly make for riveting commentary, so I’ll skim along until something notable happens. Currently, we’re waiting on a new policy to pass that will grant us more manpower, which is our top need. The question is whether the rebels will bother us before the policy comes into play.

SEP 28, 1861

I had forgotten about these guys: the Confederates were sending an army to recapture Louisville from my smaller local force. The Army of Indiana quickly redeployed from Covington to Louisville to relieve our forces, using river transports to reach the town before the rebels could arrive via train. Our logistical ability seems superior to the rebels’, which is good to know.

Sure enough, the rebels show up with a few small armies around nightfall. They’re outnumbered by the Union armies, it’s not clear what their plan is, but if they stick around long enough, it would be a good idea for the Army of Indiana to hit them while they’re at a disadvantage.

SEP 30, 1861

A siege of Louisville was prepared overnight. In the morning, I decided to press the enemy and launch an assault.

SEP 29, 1861

7:33 PM

Perhaps due to overeager commanders, the battle started the prior night.

We have a good defensive position, but I’m adopting an aggressive strategy here. My goal is to find and engage the enemy armies before they have a chance to properly form up. This will be less likely to succeed in the morning, so we have to strike now.

SEP 30, 1861

7:00 AM

We were unfortunately unable to find the enemy last night, but then, they couldn’t find us either.

We’re going to send skirmishers out today since we have stronger positions at these crossings. If the skirmishers find the enemy en route, we’ll advance out to them. If the enemy is close and we won’t have time to advance, we’ll hold at the bridges.

7:39 AM

Burton’s Brigade from the first division sent skirmishers out to the town, and they ran into the enemy first.

The men, renowned for being excellent skirmishers, rushed into the buildings at the bridge. With no enemy artillery in sight, the approaching enemy column will have to cross under fire.

If this company of skirmishers can hold out for a few minutes, I’m sending 2 divisions forward to reinforce the bridge.

7:57 AM

The confederate cavalry rushed across the bridge and quickly put my skirmishers to flight. They held for several minutes, but the weight of thousands of Confederate horsemen forced them to flee.

The town is now squarely in Confederate hands, but I now have 3 divisions on the way. Ideally, I’d like to keep them bottled up in this town to ensure my flanks are protected.

8:34 AM

The last 40 minutes have seen an intense firefight break out between Union skirmishers and Confederate cavalry on the outskirts of the town. The rebels don’t seem eager to commit more troops to the fight, but Union brigades are close now, ready to squeeze the town.

8:52 AM

Just as the rebels began to push my skirmishers back, the Union reinforcements arrived.

We caught several Confederate units out of position and have trapped them on our side of the river. If they want to cross back to their side, they’ll need to march through a hail of fire. My right is pushing through the town, directly for the bridges, so soon the enemies will be completely cut off.

9:15 AM

We took the bridge but were just as quickly repulsed. The rebels on our side of the bridge are all on the run, and the far side seems to be ready to leave. This might be the end of the battle, though the rebels may try another push soon. 

After another round of pushes at the bridge, the rebels finally ran.

Not a stunning victory by any means, but a victory nonetheless.

While that victory is all well and good, there is something alarming I noticed back east in Virginia.

It may look like there’s only one enemy army in Winchester, but there are actually two. There are a total of about forty thousand men sitting in the town, certainly enough to threaten the security of my lines here. Between the Army of New York and the Army of Frederick, we have a nearly equivalent force, but we’re spread thin. If the rebels attack quickly, we might not have time to support the attacked flank. Will need to keep a close eye on this front for the future.

OCT 2, 1861

October is, so far, uneventful. The only thing of note is that a small rebel army from West Virginia boarded ships and darted into Ohio.

We chased them down, and they’re now running for the border. They raided a single town, but couldn’t do more than that. We’ll need to set up a better defensive line to ensure these attacks don’t become regular.


Perhaps we could see if we can take West Virginia, and close this avenue of attack?

But before we can plan a new operation, the rebels are launching another attack to try to force us out of Louisville.

I hadn’t intended to open up a new front here, as I only wanted to distract them from Cincinnati originally, but Louisville is an important city for the Confederacy. If we can hold it, it will be a big blow to the South’s economy, not to mention a great stage for an invasion into the south when spring comes.

Though… we are outnumbered two to one…

OCT 3, 1861

7:00 AM

The battle today is a meeting engagement, though the Union will be taking the objective first.

We started out in a fairly decent position. I’m sending my cavalry across the bridge to scout for the enemy, and am rushing my division with rifles to the town; my goal is to secure the bridge, which will hopefully turn any Confederate attack into a high casualty affair.

7:35 AM

We spotted the enemy approaching the town from the southwest. 

They’re still a ways out, thankfully, which means we have time to set up in town.

8:35 AM

As more Union brigades near the town, the Confederate columns are now fully coming into view. There are two columns, one coming from the south, one from the west.

My artillery has begun firing on the southern column in an attempt to take out the enemy batteries before they can set up.

In town, the newly arrived troops are setting up breastworks to act as additional lines of defense if necessary.

We’re turning the town into quite the hard point, let’s see if it can withstand the initial rebel attacks.

9:03 AM

Around 8:50, an enemy brigade approached the town, but was forced back after a few minutes of taking heavy casualties.

The town is serving as a very strong position, both with the buildings providing excellent cover and the fact that the brigades on the Union side of the river are able to fire on the attackers. Any attack that isn’t supported by artillery will be costly, and the rebel artillery that I can see is currently tied up in traffic.

We also deployed a unit of skirmishers to flank around the river, and hopefully neutralize their battery entirely.

9:12 AM

The situation in town is becoming a bit more dire as the second Confederate attack looks to be much stronger than the first.

I’m hoping we can hold a bit longer, but am prepared to pull back Corcoran’s brigade to the east side of the river.

9:43 AM

The second attack failed spectacularly, with almost a thousand casualties on the rebel’s side.

Unfortunately, the third wave is coming towards us now. We’ve taken remarkably few casualties to the point where I think it may be safer for us to say on the west side of the river, as retreating would make us vulnerable. I’m bringing more brigades to the river to fire across at any attackers, this will hopefully overcome the mass of bodies coming our way.

10:10 AM

Corcoran was overwhelmed and outflanked across the bridge, so I had to pull him back. As I predicted, his brigade suffered worse losses running from the enemy than from fighting, but they’re still in pretty good shape.

10:30 AM

The rebels attempted to press the attack across the bridge but were quickly shut down by our entrenched brigades.

They may retreat for the day to plan another attack in the future. This town (half of the town, really) cost them over 2000 casualties, and they aren’t able to hold onto it.


Sure enough, they broke and ran soon after.

This battle has highlighted the importance of eliminating enemy artillery batteries. Without those, the rebels had to feed men into a woodchipper to even attempt removing us from the town.

With that pleasant mental image, I’ll close here this week. Tag along with us next week as we try to keep things quiet for the winter.


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