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

Last time, the Union accidentally launched a two-pronged invasion of Kentucky, beating back a large Confederate attack on Louisville. 

This week, I don’t have any immediate plans, actually! Winter will be coming on soon, and I’m more concerned about long-term strategy than short-term tactics. However…

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

OCT 2, 1861

I had completely forgotten about this!

I sent the Army of Pennsylvania southwest from their post watching the rebels in West Virginia as the Confederate armies of Alabama and Northern Virginia (badly broken from earlier battles) decided to convene east of Cincinnati. We’ll start off with kicking these jerks out of Ohio so Major General Scott can return the Army of Pennsylvania to its post. To battle!

OCT 2, 1861

7:00 AM

Here’s our starting situation.

We’ll have to be on the offensive today as the rebels are tucked away in that little pocket at the edge of the map. It’s a great position, though we’ll see how the rebels decide to hold it. I’m sending three divisions up first: my cavalry division to scout, Col. Stone’s 2nd Division to be the main attacking force, and Brigadier General McClellan (ugh) with his 5th Division to support with his heavy artillery, the other divisions will follow behind. I expect to run into the rebels along that river near the objective, but I suppose we’ll see.

8:11 AM

Well, we’ve found the rebels sitting on the objective. Perhaps sitting is the wrong word. Milling about the objective?

I would describe whatever this is as “milling about.” In any case, it doesn’t look like they’ve set up any kind of defenses to speak of outside the fences that are already there. This is good news, as it means we can form up on the rebel side of the bridge and assault on ground wide enough that we can flank them.

10:12 AM

The army has begun to form up on the rebel’s side of the river; the Confederate army has opened up on Union forces, with Union artillery, now settled into place around the farm, responding in kind. This is, however, the early war, and the guns aren’t enough to punish troops merely for existing in the open.

Instead, the lines face each other in the fall morning, in an engagement that will be a footnote in the greater war, but one I mean to execute perfectly. I want my army to emerge intact in the Spring of 1862, intact and ready to fight. It’s important we take as few casualties as necessary.

11:16 AM

Col. Stone’s 2nd Division moves toward the enemy, supported by artillery fire at the bridge-crossing.

My hope is to hold the enemy in place as my other divisions move up. The enemy force is slightly larger than the 2nd Division, but the massive batteries of the Army have begun to unlimber and join the barrage, making up for the numerical difference easily.

12:23 PM

My men advance quickly, and rapidly overwhelm an enemy brigade, sent out to perhaps slow us down, but largely failing to do so.

Before long, we’ll likely run these Confederate rookies off the field.

12:42 PM

Our weak yet mobile cavalry, earlier sent to flank the enemy by way of the woods, has drastically extended the Confederate line. 

It will likely not be long before the enemy collapses.

12:56 PM

The sheer weight of advancing Union forces is proving too much for the rebel defenders, who are rapidly folding in on themselves.

Soon enough after, the enemy put to flight, resulting in perhaps the most devastating rebel defeat of the war.

The Army of Pennsylvania easily defeated the Army of Alabama in the engagement, inflicting over 50% casualties on the foe. I;m very pleased with such a victory. It hasn’t won us much in the grand scheme, but one fewer rebel force able to pose a threat is always welcome.

OCT 17, 1861

The month of October has passed largely without incident since the battles at the beginning of the month, it seems the enemy is as eager to fight as I am… that is to say, not eager at all.

The reason for this update is that our forts at the eastern and northern roads into West Virginia have finished construction, and are now able to at the very least delay enemy advances down these routes.

OCT 21, 1861

Today, I’ve ordered what’s likely the last major offensive of 1861.

Currently, two enemy armies totalling about 30,000 men are camped in the mountains of West Virginia. I’m beginning a two-pronged assault to take ground and force these armies to either retreat or fight two-hardened Union armies. The rebels have certainly seen the worse end of the recent battles, with the Union thoroughly thrashing the Confederate armies unfortunate enough to cross their paths.

Lt. Gen. McDowell will take the seasoned Army of Northeastern Virginia south from Wheeling with the goal of capturing the crossroads of Groveton. Seizing the railroad there will effectively prevent any major Confederate offensives over the winter, at least in this theater.

As alone, they would be outnumbered, Maj. Gen. Scott’s veteran Army of Pennsylvania will march east to meet the rebel armies encamped on the road. Though they’ll be outnumbered, Scott’s force is a more experienced army than the two that face him on the road, as this army is primarily composed of units that saw combat since June. The Army’s goals are to engage the rebels long enough to allow the Army of Northeastern Virginia to capture Groveton. If McDowell can capture the town and swing west fast enough to catch the enemy, great! If not, if they’ve retreated south, then we’ve at least solidified our lines for the winter months.

OCT 22, 1861

Scott quickly came into contact with the rebel armies. The opposing forces set up trenchworks to begin a protracted siege. The Army of Pennsylvania, while outnumbered, has a much larger amount of artillery, and will likely perform well against the enemy while entrenched.

Gen. McDowell is still pushing south, though he hasn’t reached Groveton yet. Hopefully, he’ll enter town within 2 days and capture it within a week, that’s the longest I expect the battle to the west to maintain for.

OCT 23, 1861

Surprisingly, the next engagement isn’t fought in West Virginia. Instead, the rebels saw fit to unleash a haymaker blow toward the Union army in Louisville, Kentucky.

We’re very outnumbered, but we’ll stand here. Holding Louisville will allow us easy access across the river in spring, not to mention the fact that it denies the rebels the tax base.

So: in the name of boring strategic aims: to battle!

OCT 23, 1861

11:18 AM

Here’s our starting position.

Neither side initially controls the objective, but I look to be closer, if the reinforcement  paths are to be trusted. I hope to quickly seize the objective and dig in on my side of the river. Covering the chokepoint of a river crossing will quickly equalize the strength of our forces.

12:56 AM

I’ve only now sighted the enemy, a single unit of cavalry approaching the objective from across the river. 

This is only the very forward tip of the spear today, but my men are luckily mostly in position, and we should be able to drive off any attacks easily.

1:07 PM

The Confederate cavalry has multiplied, multiple small regiments of horse are now riding single-file towards the unit of skirmishers that Col. Burton, 1st Brigade, 1st Division (1/1 for future nomenclature) sent out.

We’ll likely be able to repulse these first attacks without much difficulty, though I would like to know where the main rebel army is and when to expect them. I currently have a few divisions held in reserve with other crossings guarded; everyone’s also entrenching. Would like to know I’m in the right spot.

1:29 PM

The battle at the ford heated up, Col. Burton’s brigade reaching the ford at the same time as a roughly equivalent force of cavalry.

We’re driving them back, Burton’s unit is accounting well for itself. The only real action on the field is still the skirmish, but there’s still roughly 19000 Confederate soldiers out there somewhere. Where are they?

1:45 PM

The last few minutes have gone very poorly for the Union. A massive Confederate cavalry charge of over a thousand horsemen rolled directly into my center, routing Burton and another reinforcing brigade within only a few minutes. The last remaining brigade in good order on their side of the river broke shortly after, though they managed to mostly get away.

2:04 PM

The enemy has quickly moved into my old position to prepare an assault. My men haven’t yet finished building makeshift barricades, but still hold a strong position, regardless of the routed units.

\\Meanwhile, my left has come into contact for what I’m assuming is the vanguard of the infantry column. My reserves are moving to shore up the line here, we can easily hold the crossing for another hour at least, and we can also lose this position safely. Despite our current disadvantage, it’s still anybody’s game.

2:30 PM

The left holds handily, the whole enemy column is currently held up on the road.

The right, however, is in a tricky situation. The enemy cavalry charged right into our defenses and while we repelled them, our troops are out of their position and more waves of rebels are moving in.


I called a retreat once the enemy pushed across the river, the brigades that remianed were beaten back harshly.

I made the tactical blunder of having not enough information on the enemy, and got promptly socked in the face for it.

I’ll close here for this week. If the rebels follow up on their victory, the campaigning season might not be over yet.


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