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…

-Jack

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

Last time, the Union managed to chase the Confederates back south, and the relative lines finally look even again. Can you believe that the first major battle of the war, 1st Bull Run, didn’t even happen yet in the real war?

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

JUL 20, 1861

And picking up where we left off last week, the Department of the West is yet again facing an attack in St. Louis.

These are the same bozos that stood around and got shelled relentlessly last week (I suppose only yesterday in game-time). Let’s see if they put up a fight this time.

JUL 20, 1861

1:07 PM

Here’s the starting situation.

We have a pretty nice defensive position here, long sightlines over the most likely path of advance for the rebels. I’ll send out some skirmishers to make sure they don’t try to slip behind me, but otherwise I’m staying put.

2:24 PM

I found them at the ford to the north. My skirmishers are distracting the hell out of them, but I’ll pull them back once there’s a chance. No point in fighting outside of my fortifications.

4:02 PM

The rebels have begun approaching the line. I don’t know if they didn’t expect me here, but they don’t look formed up for a fight.

4:35 PM

A rebel brigade approached the line then began to back off after taking heavy fire.

4:36 PM

It was a ruse! Now the full weight of their army is charging down on us.

4:42 PM

The enemy cavalry reached my guns and routed both batteries, but were themselves turned back by my right brigade. The left brigade is currently in a firefight with the enemy’s larger brigade, while their smaller brigade charged into my right.

Thankfully, the melee on the right spat out the Confederate brigade, which is beating a disorderly retreat. It was by the skin of our teeth, but we managed to hold them back a third time.

JUL 23, 1861

Unfortunately the relieving Union fleet to St. Louis was in worse condition than I had realized.

Perhaps they didn’t have enough coal or other provisions to keep them effective. I’m going to pull them back and reassess. Meanwhile, the Department of the West is sitting in town and will need to be relieved. I’ll swap in the green Army of the Tennessee to take over for the Department, which is need of some R&R.

Anyway, last time we got interrupted in the middle of a tour of the war front, so let’s review.

In the east, the Army of New York now has the two invading Confederate armies pinned in Maryland. I intend to let them sit there for some time before I hit them. This has freed up the Army of Northeastern Virginia to seize Winchester, a town with important strategic importance in northwestern Virginia due to the important manufactory there.

Further west, the Army of Pennsylvania is now posted in Columbus, Ohio. the idea is for them to build up supply depots and shore up the logistical lines between east and west, and to keep an eye on West Virginia. The Army of New York is giving me much more flexibility now with where I can send my armies, the presence of Scott’s army here makes the gap between west and east much safer.

And of course, we can’t forget the Army of Indiana, further entrenching in Cincinnati, facing off against Confederate forces several times their size. Everyone in the area is suffering from general attrition, though both the Union and Confederacy are building supply depots to support the large presence.

Lastly, the front of the far west is currently seeing a bit of a kerfuffle around St. Louis. The total amount of men in the area isn’t very high, but three important battles have been fought in the town in the last few days. The Army of the Tennessee is on its way to relieve the beleaguered Department of the West, who have fought admirably in the recent engagements.

JUL 31, 1861

After several days of inaction, the dastards in the Confederate Hampton Division showed back up and scared McDowell’s men out of Winchester. Otherwise, there hasn’t really been anything to report. July came in with massive, coordinated operations by the south to attempt to push deep into Union weak points, and settled into a quiet rhythm of repositioning towards the end.

I hope the rebels remain quiet through August, I need the breathing room to arm my armies, not to mention mustering up new units since so many of mine have suffered from expiring contracts.

AUG 3, 1861

The damn Hampton Division is still moving around western Virginia and disrupting my attempts to move into Virginia. 

So, as means of a distraction, I think I’ll finally let the shoe drop on the Confederate armies still huddled in Maryland.

AUG 4, 1861

At last, we’ve arrived. Rebels, hand over your asses for summary kicking.

AUG 4, 1861

12:14 PM

Here’s our starting situation.

We have a lot of ground to cover, but hey, at least we don’t have to fight over a major river crossing. I’m sending my first and third divisions to the left, and my second to the right, with my cavalry regiments running ahead to scout out. I figure that approaching from two angles will at least present a weakness to me that I can expose.

1:25 PM

I found them on the left approach, they look pretty well dug-in. 

This doesn’t really change my plan at all, my second division is still going to swing to the right. It looks like most, if not all, of the enemy army is here, which means that their left (my right) is going to be weak. When they react and start to pull back to defend the objective, that’s when I’ll hit them from the left as well, and hopefully destroy the enemy.

2:20 PM

My cavalry that came across the enemy line scampered off into the nearby woods and are currently waiting for the rest of my first and third divisions to show up. Meanwhile, on the right flank…

The other cavalry regiment reached their original objective, and there’s no enemy in sight. Time for a bit of covert reconnaissance.

That’s them at the bottom of the wooded section there.

3:53 PM

Hmmmmmmmm…

Interesting.

Sure would be a shame if a whole Union division crept through these woods and set up a defensive position in your rear, eh Mr. (Confederate Commanding General) Johnston?

7:21 PM

We’ve begun setting up a line of breastworks in the woods behind them. Once we make some progress, I intend to send some skirmishers to capture the objective. By then, it’ll be too late for them to react.

7:52 PM

The enemy is moving in the woods, so I decided to go ahead and grab the objective before our defenses were up. The important thing is to seize it tonight. I don’t think the enemy knows that I have a full division back here, in any case.

8:19 PM

They definitely know something’s up now. It looks like they’re forming a few brigades up to go take a look at what I’m doing back here, but they only have 41 minutes before nightfall.

AUG 5, 1861

6:00 AM

The enemy was unable to untangle itself from the trap I laid for it last night, so here’s what the starting situation looks like on Day 2.

They’re caught between three of my divisions at once. My goal for the morning is to see if I can drive my center division towards my right, which is guarding the objective. In doing so, hopefully we’ll force the rebels into being sandwiched between my lines, at which point, they’ll collapse.

6:16 AM

I’m swinging my left around their flank, pushing my center into the confused mass in the forest, and readying my right to repel an attack. Many of the Confederate units are already wavering because of the envelopment, even without taking casualties.

7:26 AM

After an hour of hard fighting, I pulled what remained of the right back to the objective. Most of the division caught heavy fire and retreated on their own, though they’re not so badly banged up that they won’t be able to reform. Similarly, the left suffered a similar setback, though we inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels in the process.

Both sides have a number of troops fleeing in disarray, in every direction. Some of my routing units ran through the Confederate lines in the center, and similarly, some rebel lines passed through Union lines. It’s utter chaos.


8:06 AM

Much of both armies have now routed, with many of the running units taking few casualties before retreating, thanks to the largely green nature of both forces.

Fortunately for the Union, we had a Colonel Burns in the 1st Division to bolster the left, he was the only commander that managed to keep his brigade steady (to be fair to everyone’s favorite Hero of Little Round Top, Chamberlain was ordered to charge, which never goes over well with green troops).

Unfortunately for the Union, Burns was hit in the fighting, but thanks to his efforts, the left held. The fighting everywhere is winding down, as most of the units have already taken off. I can’t say for certain what the Confederates have left, but most of the Union’s broken brigades halted and are attempting to reform. The battle certainly isn’t over yet, but it has reached a lull.

8:44 AM

What’s left of the rebel army is sweeping down on what’s left of my center.

My battle plan was clearly flawed, I didn’t account for exactly how poorly green troops perform. I hope we can hold.

—-

We couldn’t.

A series of tactical blunders allowed this to happen, I was too aggressive with my army that divided. Fortunately, the enemy is badly damaged as well, particularly their artillery battalions.

I will end this diary here. Next time, we’ll follow the aftermath of this battle, and see if we can dislodge the rebels from Maryland on another assault, this time, perhaps better planned.

-Jack

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

Last time, the Union escaped a Confederate raid on DC by the skin of its teeth. This time around, we have three armies on the move: two in the east to hunt down the Confederate Hampton Division, lurking somewhere in western Pennsylvania, cut off, wounded, but still dangerous. 

The other army is the Department of the West. Probably forgot about them, huh?

JUL 6, 1861

In the East, the Army of Pennsylvania and the Army of Frederick are turning north to chase down and hopefully destroy the Hampton Division. The Army of Pennsylvania has fought several hard-won battles recently, and is not in great condition. The Army of Frederick, on the other hand, is a leaner but better equipped unit. The goal is to first surround the likely enemy position, then pin them with one army while the other comes in for the kill.

They’re somewhere up there in that red.

In western Illinois, we’re making our play at St. Louis.

We’ve left the city in rebel hands long enough. Backing my small army up is a small fleet to dissuade reinforcements. The fleet is lagging behind, but it’s important we attack quickly while the enemy is focused elsewhere to not give them a chance to turn and focus on us.

But later in the day, we first find the Hampton Division.

They’re suffering from low supplies. Now is the time to hit them.

JUL 8, 1861

As soon as we reached them, they ran.

Doubtless, they’re not in any condition to fight. This time, I’m going to stay on their tails to make sure they go back south and not further north.

South of DC, the situation is better than it had been. The armies that McDowell’s Army of Northeastern Virginia had routed aren’t able to flee across the Potomac back into Virginia, it seems. Now, they sit idly, running out of supplies as McDowell watches comfortably near DC, and our fleet in the bay keeps them from trying to slip away.

Out west, the Department of the West walked into St. Louis without a fight a few days ago. Now, a small Confederate fleet sits in the river, but they can’t do much to us. We also have our fleet on the way, and it will likely be a Union victory.

Things, for the moment, seem to be stabilizing. Can’t wait for that thought to bite me in the ass.

JUL 9, 1861

The Confederate army in Missouri that initially retreated turned around, and is now attacking the re-occupying Union army. A fight it is, then!

JUL 9, 1861

12:13 PM

Here’s the starting situation.

We have a pretty dang good position; the enemy is going to have to come down one of those two roads to get to us, we have heavy guns, and rifles to boot. Things look good for us; now to sit and wait.

1:38 PM

We didn’t have to wait as long as I thought we would, they just showed up about a mile away, coming down the left road. We still have plenty of time before they arrive, so I’ll move both brigades to the left side of the trench.

2:05 PM

The rebels are finally getting close enough for my guns to fire on them. It looks like they may try to just march straight into my line.

2:48 PM

The rebels have begun forming up inside the range of my guns, and have just wheeled their guns up. Right now, we’re sending skirmishers back and forth to harass, but nothing has really happened quite yet.

3:37 PM

I’ll give the AI this: it knows when to try to flank. I pulled my guns back and pivoted my left to face them, but it hasn’t distracted them from their overall mission of flanking me.

3:46 PM

They came straight at us, but it looks like we might *barely* be pushing them back.

3:57 PM

Success! My left battery held out for long enough to distract two enemy brigades so my center could repel the assault, and then turned to face the left. The enemy is now pulling back entirely. This was close, it could have easily gone the other way.

Tactically speaking, this battle is a minor blip on the radar, but strategically? This opens up a whole new front of the war, and reclaims much needed industry and tax revenue from St. Louis.

JUL 13, 1861

Somewhat hilariously, the Hampton Division escaped back south, but on their path to Frederick, the Army of Frederick found the Hampton division again, and *again* put them to rout immediately.

JUL 14, 1861

Now that the crisis of early July is over, let’s review the summary page.

Casualties are spiking, the first Battle of Cumberland put a major dent in both forces. Notably, morale in Confederate armies is down. I’m assuming this is due to the fact that the Hampton Division is just now recuperating somewhere in Virginia, and there are at least five rebel armies that I can see that are suffering from low supply; two south of DC, and three on the south bank of the Ohio, facing Cincinnati. If I wasn’t stretched quite so thin, it’d be a great time to attack. Fortunately, I have an ace up my sleeve that I haven’t mentioned for some time.

The recently formed Army of New York is currently making its way toward Philadelphia. The men only have muskets and aren’t well-trained yet, but they have heavy guns, and more importantly, they should be able to sit and hold an important location to free my better equipped and better experienced men up for action elsewhere. Once I get to order more rifles, they’ll be a key part of the force that will strike down into Virginia. 

JUL 16, 1861

After a blissful week of no fighting, the Confederate Army of Central Kentucky appeared out of nowhere to attack the Department of the West in St. Louis. They quietly snuck across southern Illinois for this gambit; now we’ll have to see if we can hold the city again.

JUL 16, 1861

Here’s the starting situation.

Neither side owns the objective, and I’m going to guess they’ll get to it first. No matter, I have bigger guns and likely better armed men. I’ll approach the objective across the open fields so they can’t ambush me and then shell the bejesus out of them.

12:30 PM

Looks like they’re holed up on the objective.

I don’t think they know where I am yet… I think I’ll swing left and set up in the trees so my guns can get to work.

3:30 PM

Somehow, I still don’t think they’ve seen me.

We’re quietly positioning ourselves as best as we can, and they haven’t reacted at all. Guess they’re in for a nasty surprise soon.

4:52 PM

We opened fire on them, and still nothing. I can’t believe they’re just letting this happen. Maybe they don’t care about my guns at all? I’m content to shell them until they leave. With my fleet coming in and the newly formed Army of the Tennessee on the way as well, time is on my side.

7:08 PM

Over the last few hours, we’ve been shelling them with no reaction, still. In the last 20 minutes, I sent my flanking skirmishers in to harass, and they haven’t responded there either. I definitely outrange them, but are they all just cowering in foxholes? The lack of response is very strange.

JUL 17, 1861

5:00 AM

As far as I know, they didn’t move all night. Here’s where we’re at in the morning.

I’m sending my skirmishers to capture the supply line in case this goes on any longer, and I moved most of my men up into some trenches.The downside of the morning is that I can’t see them anymore, but I’m pretty certain they’re still there.

5:48 AM

Hm.

They pulled back behind the hill, leaving the objective wide open. Tired of getting shelled? I’d certainly be. But what’s their plan now? Attack my men that advanced to capture the objective? Doesn’t make sense to me.

8:01 AM

We moved up to reinforce the point, still nothing from them. I suppose now I’ll just wait and see.

9:30 AM

I pushed some skirmishers up. What do you think the enemy did?

If you guessed “let their artillery batteries be sniped from the hill,” congratulations! 

11:04 AM

My skirmishers pulled back, nearly being out of ammo. One of the Confederate batteries returned fire, but they weren’t able to touch the skirmishers at all. Very strange battle indeed.

12:27 PM

All at once, the enemy sprung to life.

I’m not sure what their play is, but they certainly figured out *some* plan of action.

1:01 PM

Ah, there was no plan. The enemy army moving like that was the equivalent of my cat standing up just so flop over a foot away. Only a slight readjustment. Okay then.

1:16 PM

I spoke too soon. Now it looks as though they’re throwing everything into an attack on my center.

2:10 PM

Or… not? They stopped again, with their guns in range of my right. 

Real brain-genius maneuvers here. Just when I thought they were going to throw us out, they do this. Real strange.

Without much fanfare, I received the message that the enemy was retreating, bringing an end to the most boring battle of the campaign.

If you read the fine print there, none of my men even died from the battle. Real strange.

JUL 20, 1861

I’ll close on this day for the AAR as a brief review of what’s happened lately. Firstly, I ended up bringing the Army of New York down to DC to entrench opposite the Confederate armies in southern Maryland. This was intended as a measure to free McDowell’s men for further action, but I noticed the Army of Northeastern Virginia had lost nearly six thousand men.

Turns out, those original 3-month contracts are expiring, wreaking havoc on my original units. This really puts a damper on things, but I’m in good shape here still.

I was continuing my tour of the war front when this popped up:

We’ll have to wait for next time to wrap up the tour. First, the Department of the West has to throw off another Confederate attempt to dislodge them from St. Louis.

-Jack

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

Last time, both sides suffered a severe blow in the western mountains of Maryland, with the total casualties from the Battle of Cumberland coming to nearly fourteen thousand men.

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

This time, we are going to try to track down Hampton’s Division, which escaped up north somewhere, and we’ll again see the Army of Northeastern Virginia stepping in as the last line of defense between the rebels and DC.

But first, the rebels are looking to stall the Army of Pennsylvania as it slowly trundles north in pursuit of the Confederate Hampton Division.

JUL 5, 1861

5:11 PM

Here’s our starting situation.

We have less than four hours of fighting time left, but as we saw last time, that’s more than enough time for formed armies to inflict massive casualties on each other. I’m sending my army in two prongs towards the objective, one deploying to the left, approaching from the “front,” as my right will follow the road and hopefully hit their flank. I don’t intend to throw them back entirely tonight, because while time is of the essence, I can’t afford another battle like 1st Cumberland.

5:36 PM

I found at least part of the Confederate line, they’ve set up on the path I had sent my right divisions toward.

7:58 PM

As the hour grows late, the Union army has moved closer to the Confederate lines, but the Confederates have remained stationary on their defensive line..

My left divisions have strangely discovered that the objective, a crossroads over a creek, is entirely undefended.

These divisions are going to continue forward onto the objective and begin setting up breastworks facing the enemy lines. It’s a huge blunder that they left the objective wide open, and I plan to punish them for it.

8:10 PM

The Confederate army seems to have finally realized their situation, and are waking up. Only a single brigade has stepped out from behind their line, and are immediately engaged by skirmishers and Union guns, the better part of a mile away.

JUL 6, 1861

5:00 AM

Nothing notable happened other than the mild skirmish above. The real interesting developments happened overnight. Here are the starting positions for Day 2 of the 2nd Battle of Cumberland.

The Confederate forces now not only have to attack, but are also immediately bombarded from prepared positions. The Union position is strong on July 6th.

5:15 AM

The Confederate army has shifted to attack the defensive line on the left, the main obstacle between them and the objective at the crossroads.

5:26 AM

The other Union divisions have abandoned their defensive positions and are now pushing forward to choke the Confederate advance.

5:44 AM

I pulled the center division back after they disrupted the Confederate line, they began to swing hard down on the middle and there’s no reason to engage them there.

6:34 AM

After we pulled back, the Confederates launched several assaults across the Union lines and were pushed back, but we’ve only seen limited engagements so far. The ball is in their court, and it’s unclear whether they want to commit to really throwing us back.

7:00 AM

As the sun rises, the rebels are beginning to pull back. They bloodied my center, but got the worst of it. I ordered my left to advance and attack their slowly retreating brigades.

Soon after, the Confederates began to retreat en masse.

The final casualty count is somewhat disappointing in that it was so even, but we came out handily on top, especially considering the count against our overall numbers.

Unfortunately all this battle managed to do was slow our pursuit of the elusive Hampton Division, weakened but still formidable, somewhere up north.

They’re cut off from supply, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause massive amounts of chaos. Scott’s weary Army of Pennsylvania, even after finishing their second battle in just a few days, is directed north to hunt the enemy down.

Off in Cincinnati, the situation remains grim.

The Army of Indiana continues to entrench, but is essentially out of food, and nearly out of ammunition. A supply depot is being built to increase the local stores, but it won’t be finished for at least a few weeks. The Army of the Tennessee is now at roughly half strength, with some eight thousand men mustered, but they are all green, and armed with standard Springfield muskets.

JUL 6, 1861

And unfortunately…

We are lesser, but we must attack. We have no choice, but to attack. We don’t have superior local forces, and time is against us.

JUL 6, 1861

6:41 PM

Here’s our starting situation.

We have to attack superior forces defending a very defensible position, but our infantry brigades are (relatively) experienced, and are armed with long-range rifles. If we force them off of the objective with our superior firepower, we might have a chance at this.

8:39 PM

As my men advanced, they found the enemy, just about 20 minutes shy of sundown, covering down on one of the minor creeks between us and Bull Run.

I plan to keep my distance tonight and let my long-range guns do the work in the morning.

JUL 7, 1861

5:00 AM

In the morning, both armies found themselves entrenched, staring at the opponent over a large no-man’s land.

Immediately, we came into contact with their skirmishers. Further back, their defenses loom. The fact that they aren’t bearing down on us is actually a huge advantage, leaving us the initiative to outmaneuver them is the best chance we have.

5:20 AM

The skirmishers retreated after taking heavy casualties and inflicting none on our own defenses. Our main advantage lies in the superior skill and equipment of the Union brigades, as we can see here.

Now, we’re beginning to push towards the rebels to see how they react.

5:55 AM

We took the creek and have begun setting up more defenses closer to the Confederate line. I saw dust clouds in the distance, beyond the objective, so I suspect there’s a larger force coming to crush me. However, a defense with layers, like an onion, or an ogre? That might be able to stop them in their tracks.

If they want to do me the courtesy of attacking on ground that I choose, I don’t see any reason to stop them from doing so.

That horse got killed so hard he’s floating.

6:13 AM

As the sun starts to break the horizon, we can see a column of rebels marching right toward us. It looks to be maybe about a division. I can repel a division at a time, I hope they don’t commit further.

6:49 AM

The Confederate division was easily pushed back, they attempted to charge the Union line and suffered over two thousand casualties for their trouble. Sadly, we lost Joe Hooker, brigade commander under Runyon in the Shield of DC division, the guys with the sharp black and red uniforms. He will be missed, as his experience helped bolster his largely inexperienced men.

Now, we’re pulling back to the original line of defense with its superior fortifications. The rebels look to be cooking up another attack, but we have enough time to reposition.

7:15 AM

More columns are coming down the road now, but our army is safely entrenched again. If it keeps up like this, it’ll be a bloodbath for the Confederates.

More worrying is my right flank, a couple of large brigades are bearing down on us that we don’t have the men  or defenses to counter easily.

7:48 AM

They launched a three-pronged attack on my lines; weaker thrusts at my left and right, and a sledgehammer down on my center.

The battle is heating up now,if we break this assault I doubt they’ll be able to come back at us for several hours at least, if it doesn’t break them entirely. However, the sheer weight of their numbers could easily overpower me. So far, we’ve inflicted massive casualties on them, over four thousand just in the first few hours of the day, but will that be enough?

8:19 AM

The attack on my right fell apart after only moderate resistance, but even after several brigades were churned through the meat grinder that is the center, they’re still sending more.

Worse, an enemy brigade looped around my right and got behind me, and is currently attempting to smash into the rear of my left. Only a single brigade half the size of theirs is in the way.

8:32 AM

Never mind all that, we managed to sandwich the flanking Confederate brigade and send them running.

Meanwhile, along the center, the attack is finally petering out. I’m unsure if they’re pulling back to reorganize or if they’re giving up yet. In either case, we’re going to sit tight and watch, the trench is the best place for us to be right now.

Just before 9 AM, the picture becomes clearer; they’re pulling back at least to the objective, if not retiring entirely.

We’re sending out skirmishers to see if we can kill those batteries before they can join the rest of the army in its flight.

11:15 AM

By this time, the enemy army had clearly given up. Our skirmishers harassed their errant batteries and pursued their slower brigades. 

The relative silence is eerie.

Eventually, I get the message: they withdrew.

A miraculous victory, to say the least. McDowell’s army pulled off an incredible feat here, and DC would be toast if they hadn’t won so thoroughly.

With that fortunate win, I’ll end things here for now so I can take a breath. As always, thanks for sticking along with me on this long journey through the war. Maybe someday, we’ll all see the end of it, but for now, it seems a long way off.

-Jack

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

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

Last time, the Army of Indiana managed to fend off a massive Confederate attack into Ohio. This time around, we have a problem in Virginia.

JUL 1, 1861

First however, we have a problem back in the Union.

Our prisoner camp is overflowing. That’s not good optics, and will cause the South to hate us more. I set to upgrading the camp’s infrastructure, while pardoning the prisoners currently in the camp. Some may re-enlist, but I don’t want to weaken the Union cause by increasing anti-Union sentiment for when we begin to push south, it’ll make it more difficult.

But on to more pressing matters.

The Confederate Hampton “Division” (there’s way too many guys there for a division, Hampton!) is still sitting on Cumberland, Maryland, opening a front that leaves open the crucial steel mills of Pittsburgh. If they get any further, they could seriously inflict damage on my ability to continue to arm my forces, they need to be dealt with immediately. Scott’s Army of Pennsylvania is being recalled from Winchester, and is being tossed aboard trains to bring the fight to the Hampton Division.

Tangentially, remember Patterson’s Army of Frederick?

I had sent them on an expedition into West Virginia as a diversionary measure, in which they succeeded at drawing the ire of a larger army, but in the end, the only material gain from the invasion was that single prisoner.

Now, presumably much to the chagrin of those soldiers, who only just reached the safety of Wheeling a few days ago, they’re being ordered back down to seize Grafton again. Now that the Hampton Division is occupying Cumberland, this is the perfect opportunity for the Army of Frederick to press the advantage here, with no enemy armies in sight.

Further to the west, the victorious Army of Indiana, the army that managed to fight off the strong Confederate thrust at Cincinnati, is holding its ground. Some of the Confederate forces peeled off, but there is still a sizable presence in the area.

Zooming further out, here’s the situation in the “western theater” of the war.

Since we gave up St. Louis, we haven’t seen any action on the far western front, both armies have entrenched and are eyeing each other warily. Meanwhile, in northern Indiana, the recently formed Army of the Tennessee is slowly marching towards Indianapolis. Currently, it’s only mustered about 2000 men out of the eventual 17000, and is largely ineffective as a combat unit. I’m placing them in Indianapolis so they have a decent base to supply from, and it will be easy to deploy to the front once they’re at full strength.

JUL 2, 1861

The Army of Pennsylvania has arrived at Cumberland from the south. Both sides have begun digging in and skirmishing with each other. Scott only arrived at around 7:30 PM, we will launch an assault in the morning.

Or… I meant to launch the attack in the morning, but the game decided I began the assault at 7:33 the night before.

JUL 2, 1861

7:33 PM

Here’s the starting situation.

The enemy is entrenched somewhere around Winchester (Cumberland-ster? Reusing battle maps can make things confusing sometimes), and attacking at night will at least give us the ability to gain some ground and perhaps probe their defenses before we engage fully tomorrow. I’m sending my cavalry division to the left of the town, they’ll have a decent vantage point in the hills. The rest of the army I’m marching towards the stream that separates us from the town, if we can get there tonight, they’ll provide a decent base for an attack.

8:12 PM 

The army column is approaching the stream, no sign of the Confederates yet.

We’re deploying forward skirmishers to look around, see if we can track the rebels down. We outnumber them by a large margin, but the mentality of having more men can lead to mistakes, and I want to make sure they don’t catch us with our pants down.

8:24 PM

My skirmishers found Hampton’s Division in the middle of town, it appears as they’re still setting up their lines as well. There won’t be a battle tonight.

The end of the Union column. The hill my pointer is highlighting is the hill my skirmishers are camped on, several miles down the road.

JUL 3, 1861

5:00 AM

Here’s the situation in the morning.

The Confederate lines are, puzzlingly, pointed to the west, while I’m approaching from the south. My skirmishers may have confused the enemy as to what angle I was coming from, but now I can flank their entire army… hopefully. I’m ordering a general assault forward, my left two infantry divisions up the hill, my rightmost towards the town, and I’m swinging my cavalry wide, trying to find the end of their line, at which point we can start harassing the opposite flank.

5:34 AM

My first division, the Division of New York (so named for the home state of most of the units in the division), is the first up the hill. Their guns have begun shelling the Confederate left from close range, the Confederates haven’t yet been able to respond.

6:01 AM

We’re shoving back their left, they’re pulling back where possible but we’ve heavily disrupted their plans, clearly.

6:13 AM

A Confederate force of cavalry attempted to rush my artillery, but were stopped by my reinforcing units.

On the right, my forces have been slowly advancing through town. The Confederates have largely been pulling back before offering any resistance, and are setting up on the opposite end of town.

On my far left, however, my cavalry flanking maneuver ran into some enemy units, are are going to pull back and regroup.

6:32 AM

We’re forcing them further back off the hill, and have managed to claim both objectives, the hill and the town itself.

My cavalry weren’t able to retreat, but have managed to form a strange quasi-square formation that has discouraged the Confederates from jumping on them, so that’s fine, I suppose.

Overall, here’s how the map looks now.

What you’re seeing here is the early steps of a double envelopment of the Confederate left, hopefully. Those brigades at the top of the hill will swing around and hit the middle of the Confederate line, hopefully killing or capturing those units.

6:33 AM

As I reloaded into this game’s save, my closest unit to the Confederate line in town completely disappeared, apparently captured. I’m chalking this up to the load exploding the buildings they were in. In any case, I’m now down 2900 men I wasn’t before. This is a real blow.

6:50 AM

That situation in town has really put a damper on the whole operation, not to mention the fact that my cavalry are breaking from their attack.

The Confederates seem to be pulling back in relatively good order, but there’s some units walking in any which direction, it seems like confusion reigns on both sides here.

This unit walked right into range of my brigade and ignored them for the first few volleys. Did someone switch on the Orb of Confusion?

7:00 AM

This has been pretty terrible so far. Total casualties between the two sides amounts to over six thousand, and we’ve only been fighting for 2 hours. We’ve lost a whole brigade due to what I can assume is the computer planting bombs in the town when I loaded the save, and my cavalry have all taken to flight. The flanking action I embarked on was successfully delayed. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Confederates *must* be forced to retreat, I would likely withdraw myself. They can’t be allowed further north.

I have, however, seized the objectives. Maybe now that they’re regrouping, they’ll retreat? I hope?

7:18 AM

They have elected not to retreat.

This is a mess, a total mess. We’ve managed to form something approaching a cohesive line to repel the attacking formations, but more are on the way. The rebels, however, seem to be nearly as disorganized as the Union is at the moment. We can still swing this our way, I believe. I hope.

7:29 AM

Well, look at that.

They’ve neatly put a division right into the weird jaws of my army. I had intended merely to shore up my defenses by using their breastworks, but I won’t complain when handed this situation.. Here’s payback for Mansfield’s Brigade, that exploded or whatever back in town.

An honest to god cavalry charge that broke my brigade. You don’t see this happen too often.

8:10 AM

The last forty minutes were an absolutely brutal affair, several units routing on both sides, walking into an utter maelstrom.

Fortunately, that trap the Confederates walked into dealt them a powerful blow, and they’ve been losing ground since then.

Oh thank god.

A… “Major” victory, huh.

Feels more like I got my nose broken. The Army of Pennsylvania will not be combat effective for some time after this, but at least the Confederates should run back south now.

Before I go any further, I’ll offer a brief diversion. You may have noticed the units in the last battle had relatively short ranges, that’s due to their usage of the Springfield Musket, rather than the Springfield Rifle-Musket (if I refer to rifled units, they’re typically using this). The game fully models to production of weapons, and unfortunately, the best I can do for much of my army at the moment is equip them with muskets, rather than rifles. For those readers that don’t know, what makes a rifled musket better than a musket is that muskets are essentially just tubes that explode a bullet out the end, which makes them not very accurate. But rifling a weapon means that the barrel will be shaped in a way as to spin the bullet, so that it will more reliably fire in the direction it’s pointing. In practice, this means that rifles have both better range and accuracy than muskets.

All this to say that I ordered more rifle muskets for my army, 15k to be exact, but they won’t arrive for another two months:

Which means that the armies who don’t already have the improved rifles won’t see them for some time, unless we get lucky and capture enough Confederate rifles we can use against them.

JUL 4, 1861

The rebels are again launching a river invasion of Maryland.

That’s nearly forty thousand men. No rest for the weary soldiers of the Union.

Further westward in Virginia and Maryland, the Army of Pennsylvania is catching its collective breath from that nasty battle. The Army of Frederick sits on Grafton, again trying to capture the city, and may have to be pulled off again to hunt down the Hampton Division, which disappeared somewhere into the mountains of western Pennsylvania.

On the Ohio-Kentucky border, both sides are entrenching opposite sides of the river, the victorious Union forces shoring up their defenses but licking their not insignificant wounds. The Army of the Tennessee is still gathering men, and will likely not be combat effective for some time.

Lastly, the Department of the West still sits in southern Illinois, watching the Confederate army sitting in the Department’s old barracks in St. Louis. This has been by far the most quiet front, but taking back the city and the river is critical for the long-term economic health of the Union for the war.

On this note, before we plunge back into battle in Maryland, I’ll end this AAR here. Thanks as always to all you readers out there, hope you catch us next time!

-Jack

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

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

Last time, we left the Union facing yet another combo of direct assaults, one large force rushing into Maryland in the east, the other attacking a vastly outnumbered Union army in Ohio.

JUN 26, 1861

Fortunately for the Union, McClellan’s Army of the Ohio was able to dart back across the river before the reinforcing rebel army could catch up. Unfortunately for the Union, our army is still vastly outnumbered.

Back east, McDowell’s forces cut and ran in the face of overwhelming Confederate numerical superiority. This is a bummer, but at least the army will survive to fight another day. The Army of Pennsylvania is coming over from DC to back McDowell up, I’m now planning on swapping their positions and having Scott’s Army of Pennsylvania stay in western Maryland, while keeping McDowell in DC.

I also made to move the Army of Indiana in the west to- what’s that?

JUN 27, 1861

Huh. Okay, cool! Sure. I’ll leave that fleet there for now, clearly they have a handle on things. Let’s go back and look at the developments on land-

… Okay, now I’m going back to look at what’s going on in the west.

JUN 28, 1861

The situation on the Ohio-Kentucky border is a mess.

The two Union armies have begun skirmishing with the Confederate Army of Alabama, the small army McClellan’s Army of the Ohio fought before. We have a majority of troops on the Ohio side of the river, but that other Confederate army is just looming there, menacingly. Before they can jump to the Army of Alabama’s rescue, we’re going to see if we can finish what we started… two AARs ago?

JUN 28, 1861

6:31 PM

We outnumber the rebels significantly, so this may be a very short account.

6:32 PM

Thrilling stuff.

In seriousness, the AI is now smart enough (as of the 1.07 patch, the one I’m playing this campaign on) to disengage from battles it knows it can’t win, so I consider it a good thing that I didn’t get a cheap victory here.

I’ve had about enough of this Lorena character.

As anticlimactic as that was, this honestly works out for the best. As you can see below, the remaining enemy army is quite large. They’re currently at 18000 men, and will be at 33000 when at full strength, nearly twice as many men between both of my local armies. Cool!

Out of a desire to create a unit that could potentially withstand the assault without running immediately due to the number difference, I took drastic measures.

The Army of the Ohio is no more, replaced by the single, stronger Army of Indiana. McClellan will get his shot at command another day.

Meanwhile, back on the policy side of things, we finally accrued enough subsidies to purchase something good: 

Cast Artillery! We’ll now be able to produce more effective guns with which to fight the rebels. Most of ours right now are hilariously howitzers, which will be historically more effective in about 50 years. Certainly good now, but we need something with a bit more range. My next project target will likely be larger artillery units, so as to take advantage of these bigger guns.

JUN 29, 1861

The rebel army that was heading for Maryland has pivoted entirely, thanks to the Army of Frederick swooping down into West Virginia.

This relieves some serious pressure off of DC, but is bad news for Patterson’s Army of Frederick, as they’re sorely outnumbered by the incoming Hampton Legion. Currently, they’re locked in fisticuffs with the severely weakened Army of Northern Virginia (remember those schmucks from the 2nd AAR?). I’ll engage them now, hopefully rout them, and pull back north to Wheeling. My overall plan wasn’t a success, but I’ve also avoided outright disaster so far.

—-

The enemy retreated right away again, being that it was 1300 against over 9000 10000. Chalk another one up for the good guys!

Wow, one whole guy captured? Somebody call Abe, the war’s over!

Looking at the high national morale of the Union (the 100 next to the heart at the top) and the arrow on the slider clearly favoring the blue Union, it’d be easy to think that I’m steamrolling them. That’s not really true. Take a look at the latest overview panel here.

While I have the Confederates handily beat in the naval game, they’re fielding far more troops than I am, and have high support in their states, even if the overall morale is lower. High support essentially equates to more available troops, and a better functioning economy under the stresses of war. Speaking of economy, note the bottom of the panel: they’re even with me in trade warfare somehow, meaning that I’m losing a lot of money due to their activities, and their overall economic strength is close to mine, meaning they’re likely pretty industrialized.

In essence, this means that while I’ve been able to counter and riposte the opening Confederate strikes, things are still just heating up, the presence of multiple Confederate armies that have more than 30k men should be proof enough of that.

Anyway, tangent over, let’s see what’s happening back on the map.

——

With the battle wrapped up so quickly, Patterson’s men packed up their gear (and their one prisoner I assume) and headed back up north to Wheeling.

Not sure where the big army that was moving west went, perhaps it sees that I’m shoving off and isn’t too interested in pursuing further?

JUL 1, 1861

July does not start well for the Union.

The giant army that had been chasing Patterson turned north, and has nothing between them and Canada at the moment.

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, the Confederates brought a second army up the river, bringing their total forces in the area to likely near 30k effective men.

I’m immediately sending Scott’s Army of Pennsylvania to counter the Hampton Division currently sitting in Cumberland, Maryland.

Out west, the largely green Army of Indiana faces the combined threat of multiple rebel armies.

July sure is shaping up to be something already.

JUL 1, 1861

5:26 AM

Here’s how the battlefield looks in the early hours of July 1st.

We’re in a very solid defensive position, with the opportunity to defend several key river crossings. The enemy is most likely either going to come down the road to where my rightmost division is, or approach that fortified bend in the middle of my line. In either case, I’m well positioned enough that we have a fighting chance at this.

5:57 AM

I’ve located the general-ish whereabouts of the Confederate army, dust clouds give them away as advancing from the road my cursor’s pointing at below:

However, the two other armies are approaching still, and could come down a couple of other roads, so I’m not going to leap out of the trenches and pounce, I wouldn’t have time. No sir, this is going to be a day of skirmishing. At least to start.

NOTE: After this point, I played until about 7:30 AM in game time and found the enemy. However, due to a very long and crazy circumstance where a stray cat followed me into my house to avoid a storm and then the power went out a few times, I lost that save. So I know where the enemy is. I cheated kinda. I’ll consider it information I got from spying or something..

Anyway here’s Beans.

Moving on.

6:37 AM

My, ahem, thorough reconnaissance of the enemy led a detachment of skirmishers led by my cavalry to this creek.

All told, I’ll have *maybe* 800-1000 men stationed around the area, the enemy currently has 16000, with about 32000 more on the way. This unit is meant to act as a delaying force.

6:46 AM

While my cavalry was still getting in position, their cavalry rushed across the ford, taking 60 casualties in the process.

7:25 AM

Things are heating up as more of my skirmishers arrive, matched by whole enemy brigades. They haven’t pushed us back yet, but will be able to with a coordinated effort.

7:43 AM

Disaster! After only a few minutes of fighting, they rushed and overtook my cavalry, capturing them!

They threw my skirmishers back violently. By about 8 AM, there weren’t any skirmishers left at the ford. Additionally, another 5000 men appeared on the field in a new Confederate Army. This gambit didn’t pay off for me, I’m going to proceed more cautiously now.

8:26 AM

By this time, my skirmishers have largely pulled back over the ridge that sits in the middle of the map. The few that are still holding steady I’ve pulled back to the next line of rivers or hills to monitor the approach of the enemy’s lines.

9:04 AM

The enemy seems to be coming down the left road. So far, I’m unsure whether they’ll hit the river’s bend or the left first. In any case, I’m pulling the far right back to the objective to be held in reserve.

10:24 AM

The enemy army that showed up first deployed into battle lines when only facing my skirmishers. I think they’re preparing a mass attack.

11:44 AM

They got here *very* quickly. I had hoped to beat them to this railway, my cannons didn’t get the word in time to turn around..

12:00 PM

The cannons got away in time, the enemy hesitated before pouncing. I pulled another battery from the middle of the line to reinforce the flank.

12:34 PM

More brigades in reserve from the other defensive lines have been pulled to reinforce the crossing, it looks like they will try to force my left.

12:40 PM

The mill on the river caught fire as my batteries engaged the approaching brigade. The choke point is paying off so far, it’ll be difficult for them to dislodge me.

1:00 PM

The enemy is now throwing about a division at the bridge. They’re still massing troops in the background, I’m not sure where they’re pointed yet. For now, if we can lock this bridge down, we’ll have some breathing room on this flank for at least an hour.

1:24 PM

We’re holding them back, albeit with some casualties from their battery set up so closely.

We’re trying to force their cannons back to give us immediate artillery dominance in the area. So far, the enemy hasn’t launched another assault. I think the fact that the troops are largely green makes them hesitant to engage further.

1:33 PM

They’re starting to run! Hopefully the failure of this attack gives the enemy second thoughts about continuing to assault my lines.

I also brought the division that was on my extreme right to my now extreme left, setting up in case they try to flank me.

This means my former right is now wide open, but I think it’s unlikely they’ll swing back around. I’ll post some skirmishers to act as scouts, but the battle will likely be over these main three fords.

1:55 PM

After some light skirmishing, both sides pull back slightly from the bridge, the Union to our breastworks, the Confederates back to their main lines a few hundred yards back.

2:20 PM

The Confederate attack looks to be gearing back up; they’re deploying skirmishers to harass the line, but aren’t quite ready to commit yet. I doubt they have the artillery to be able to dislodge me with that alone, but they are shelling me from a greater distance than I can see.

4:33 PM

They’ve begun to commit to this crossing, sending what must be a whole army of men at it.

4:36 PM

Second line of defenses baby!

It’s trench warfare time! Breach that bridge and you’re still gonna have a bad time, Johnny Reb!

5:55 PM

Over the last hour, fighting was mostly reduced to skirmishing, but one of the full brigades that attacked us earlier and is severely damaged is again attacking the line.

If they’re committing units that have suffered strong casualties, does that mean they’re desperate, or does that mean they don’t care about maintaining these units if it forces me off the field?

Meanwhile, off to my right, a cavalry regiment attempted to flank me, but found two units of skirmishers awaiting them.

There won’t be any massive attack on my flank tonight, and even these harassers will likely have to call it quits.

6:38 PM

After nearly 40 minutes of fighting, the Confederate brigade pulled back, with both sides taking heavy losses in the fray.

The Confederate brigade was more experienced than Day’s brigade, but they held out. I’m pulling them back to the second line to recuperate, and pulling up one of the reserves to take their place.

Meanwhile, back on the right…

It looks like they rushed my skirmishers. I have no idea how this is going to play out.

6:49 PM

Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Confederate cavalry routs, ending their attempt for a flanking maneuver this far out.

7:04 PM

Mamma mia, that’s a lot of enemy troops.

The question is whether they’ll attempt an attack before nightfall sets in. The timing of nightfall changes throughout the year, longer in the summer, shorter in the winter. I’m not sure if they have until 8 or 9 to make their play, so I’m going to do what I can to bolster the battered line. We’ve lost a unit of artillery already, and while we still have superior firepower, that may change.

7:12 PM

Artillery off by itself away from the main fighting? Something fishy is going on. I’m sending skirmishers out from one of the two brigades still stationed at what I thought was going to be the lynchpin of my defense, but has ended up being a boring guard post.

7:32 PM

I believe the unit was sent out to support that cavalry regiment’s assault on my right, and didn’t have the courier reach them in time to rescind the order.

I like to imagine the skirmishers leave a big sign behind, saying “Thanks for the guns!” They’re lugging the cannons back to our trenches now.

7:51 PM

Not fast enough though, before we could send the appropriate tema out to grab the guns, an enemy brigade and battery appeared. So much for this area being dead quiet.

Disregard that Confederate general behind my lines, he’s running from where I broke the cavalry regiment. Generals’ staff units can’t be directly targeted, unfortunately, or else I could capture a decent amount of Confederate leadership right here.

8:07 PM

No answer to whether the Confederates will attempt an attack tonight, even at this hour. They’re shuffling their lines to my left, unsure if they’re looking for my flank, preparing for another assault, or beginning a general retreat. By this point in the battle, they’ve suffered over 3000 casualties, over 10% of their forces. I wouldn’t be surprised if they call it quits now.

And yet, they’re still engaging me with limited units on the left.

9:00 PM

Right as the sun finally began to set, the enemy forces started falling back in disarray.

Victory!

This was a difficult fight for both sides, with nasty losses in both camps. While I won, I lost my only cavalry unit in the army, equipped with fast-firing carbines, as well as a fair amount of my guns.

However, the enemy has been repulsed and has suffered greatly for his attempt to attack the Union in Ohio. It may not stop the invasion, but the battle certainly put a temporary halt to their plans, at least.

I’ll end this behemoth of an installment here, but catch us next time to see how the developments in the east unfold…

-Jack

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

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

MAY 29, 1861

Last time, we left things off with two victories against the Confederates, who tried to flank around the Union armies into Maryland. This time around, there’s no looming conflict hanging over us, this is more a time for maneuvering. 

McDowell’s troops have certainly earned a breather. They’ve punched above their weight and have inflicted heavy casualties on the armies facing them, but they’ve taken quite a few casualties themselves. Rather than attempt to pursue the rebels with them, we’ll give them a break for now.

Instead, we’ll direct our attention to the coast of South Carolina. One of our fleets has found two fresh Confederate fleets, and one largely disabled.

Well, don’t mind if I do.

Over the course of the next day, the rebels lost both fleets, with the Union fleet hardly scuffed. 

As you can see from the Navy Tonnage field, the sea is pretty much Union turf now.

JUN 2, 1861

We’re getting close to summer, peak campaigning weather. In the east, all’s been quiet since the battles of a few days ago. In the west, however, one of the Confederate armies in Kentucky is attempting to drive into Ohio. McClellan’s Department of the Ohio is close, and is sent to intercept.

In a first for the war, the Union army both outnumbers and outguns the rebels. Hopefully, we can force them back across the river.

JUN 2, 1861

5:28 PM

The battle starts in the later afternoon with neither side in possession of the objective.

The Union army is sent directly to the point and reaches it with no sight of the enemy.

6:33 PM

See those dust clouds? A neat way you can scout for the enemy on the map. Rain and other adverse weather conditions practically makes the clouds nonexistent, but on a dry day like this one, we can see them marching right at us.

6:45 PM

We’ve caught sight of them, and it’s quickly turned into a race for the ford.

Neither side has opened fire yet, as everyone is too busy hoofing it to the river.

Meanwhile, I’m engaging in a sneaky flank with my other division.

6:52 PM

I hadn’t realized that the Confederates had some more experienced soldiers here, denoted by the single star over their unit icons. My troops are all still green, but are so far golding up under fire.

7:01 PM

The men have flanked the ford, hopefully pushing the enemy over the edge- oh hell.

The rebels rushed my brigade. Things are suddenly looking much dicier.

7:06 PM

After a very brief but violent melee, two rebel brigades are running, we’ve taken the field, barely.

The rebels were unfortunately able to get away mostly intact due to the green nature of the Union soldiers, but it’s a victory nonetheless.

JUN 3, 1861

The retreating army decided to re-camp on the Union side of the river.

JUN 6, 1861

Hm.

For whatever reason, looks like they can’t fight each other. They’ve been standing on top of each other for 3 days. I’ll pull back McClellan to see if they leave.

Back east, I’ve re-ordered the forces to better account for Confederate thrusts.

To the north of West Virginia, I’ve posted the Army of Frederick.

Along the Potomac, the Army of Northeastern Virginia guards Frederick, while the Army of Pennsylvania now sits in DC itself. 

When they catch their breath from all that hiking, I’m going to order them to construct a fort on the Virginia side of the river, which will at least slow any future Confederate surprise attacks.

Since action is currently so slow on the map, it’s time for a diversion to everyone’s favorite thing, the bureaucratic side of the war!

Above is the economy panel, the lines represent our overall economic state. I’ve increased funding to agriculture, as it appears that there isn’t enough forage for the Union’s horses. Every army with cavalry is currently suffering. I suppose that the South controls most of the oat and hay factories, or something to that effect. I also noticed that the CSA’s finances took a bit of a blow lately, I’m not sure whether to chalk that up to my blockades or some major expenditures on their side of the house.

Meanwhile, in the policy tab, we finished up our early policies covering the economic and industrial subsidies, and we’re now pushing for the Militia Act II; this will extend soldiers’ contracts to 12 months rather than 3, giving us a chance to train and use veterans rather than quickly losing them.

Lastly, let’s take a quick look at the war overview.

As we can see here, the Union is clearly ahead, though the difference in total men fielded is alarming. I have a feeling the South may be gearing up for a knockout blow.

JUN 18, 1861

It’s been a pretty quiet month so far. Nothing interesting to report for the last few weeks except that the militia contracts have been extended to 12 months, and we have a new railroad!

Sure is a railroad.

I also created two new armies, one meant to support the eastern theater, one the west.

The eastern Army of New York is quite large, boasting 35k men, while the western Army of the Tennessee is smaller, with only 17k men. I plan for both to train for some time before sending them off to the “front,” especially due to the fact that they lack rifles; all have muskets.

It will also be some time before these units can muster, but it’s good to get them on the way early. With how slow the war has been in the last few months, and having been able to see the Confederates building something up in the South, I think we’re in for a rough fall. Not sure how the summer will play out quite yet.

JUN 25, 1861

I rebooted the game and that seemed to fix the rebels’ situation on the river, they seem to now be back in their ships, moseying away. I intend to let them leave, as long as I get to hold Covington.

My current plan is to mostly hold position, with the exception of the new Army of the Tennessee. When it’s finished mustering, I’m going to send them to the southeast to take Charleston. 

Taking Charleston and Grafton will officially split West Virginia off into its own state, and it will also effectively advance the Union lines to a point where the Confederates can no longer sneak directly into the industrial underbelly of the Union, something they’ve already tried before and will likely try again.

Trouble is brewing back on the eastern front however, I just spotted a large army making its way directly for DC.

Fortunately, the large Army of Pennsylvania is still sitting in the city, reorganizing before marching into Virginia proper. I’m not sure if they intend to come into the city or encamp and wait for me to come to them, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

——

They turned westward, clearly gunning for McDowell’s much smaller force. I’m opting to leave them entrenched for now, as they will be a hard target regardless of the difference in numbers.

This also gives me a great opportunity to begin Operation West Virginia.

Patterson’s Army of Frederick will head down into the mountains and seize Grafton from the Confederates while they’re busy attacking McDowell. If McDowell can hold them for a few days, Patterson’s army here can swing in from the west and offer support, not to mention Scott’s Army of Pennsylvania in the east, though the larger army may take some time to redeploy.

Ah, beans. Looks like they’re executing offensives on both major fronts at once. I’m running McClellan back across the river as fast as possible, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to beat the rebels there.

The Army of Indiana is on its way to reinforce, but I have no idea if they’ll be there fast enough to help, and that’s not even taking into account the inexperience of the army, or its shoddier equipment. 

Things are fine. 

In fact, they’re so fine that I’ll leave things for here this week.

Join us next time as we fight off the CSA’s dual thrust, and maybe even survive it!

-Jack

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

Hm. 

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

Oh?

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.

-Jack

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

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

MAY 14, 1861

After the Union victory at Alexandria, Gen. McDowell’s Army of Northeastern Virginia is too disorganized to continue to pursue the fleeing Confederate army. This is to be expected, early war formations with green troops and inexperienced commanders aren’t great at continuing to operate after a battle.

The Union army being on the Virginia side of the Potomac, however, will offer DC some breathing room, as well as providing a beachhead into a greater Virginia invasion at some point. At the moment, letting McDowell’s troops entrench in place is a small but important victory.

Elsewhere, things are going less positively. In Indiana, a Confederate army has begun making its way north from Kentucky, and the local Union army currently has an army of exactly one guy, the commander. The units are still being mustered, hopefully soon enough to blunt the oncoming assault, but likely not. We may have to pull a unit from further east to cut them off.

After some deliberating, I sent McClellan’s Army of the Ohio west to intercept, and am bringing Scott’s Army of Pennsylvania down to Pittsburgh in case the Confederates try to punch through the mountains of (future) West Virginia into Ohio. Scott’s army is quite large, and I’m hoping the Confederates don’t press them quite yet; armies will gain both experience and “training” when stationary, training being a measure of overall quality. Right now, most soldiers are largely untrained, with few exceptions. I don’t want to throw this relatively large (30k+) army into combat before they’re fully ready.

As an aside before I unpause and let the game play, here’s the current overview of the war.

Nothing too crazy yet, considering we’ve only had the one battle. I don’t think naval casualties are counted in the casualty field, but I could be wrong. In any case, things are still looking pretty even at the moment. I’ve been creating new units where possible, but currently the Union army only has 3 month contracts, meaning I can lose experienced soldiers only after a short period of time. The units don’t disappear, but their experience does, and if not enough soldiers re-sign, the units can also grow smaller.

MAY 18, 1861

That enemy force got suddenly much larger, then disappeared. Not on my map anymore, who knows where they are, other than a vague “somewhere in the south of Indiana, probably.”

But before I can worry about that too much, this pops up:

Hm. This might not go well. I’m outnumbered by a full 10k men, and if I lose, DC will be wide open. Here goes nothing!

MAY 18, 1861

4:20 PM

Good news, I start on top of the objective for the map. I entrenched my troops along a creek, and I’m sending out my smallest division’s infantry to scout ahead and hopefully delay the enemy somewhat.

5:02 PM

We’ve spotted the enemy, a bit closer than I hoped but that’s not so terrible a thing. I’m setting my skirmishers up in the woods on their approach to whittle them down.

6:32 PM

The Confederates seem as though they’re stopping their advance for the evening. There’s not much time left for fighting in the day, perhaps they just want to shell my skirmishers?

MAY 19, 1861

6:00 AM

Here’s the starting situation for the day:

I extended my fortifications somewhat, as just before night fell, I caught a couple of cavalry units off to the left. I don’t want to be caught unawares, so now I have two brigades watching the stream to my left. I plan to send out skirmishers to keep an eye on them; hopefully they come right down that main road, where all my guns happen to be facing. I don’t have many, but the guns I do have are fairly high caliber, so I expect them to do serious damage to any advance.

7:15 AM

We’ve spotted the lead elements of their army. They don’t seem to have shifted much from their positions the night before. I’m sending out a small unit of skirmishers to harass their cavalry. Cavalry tend to not have very long range weapons, and I’m thinking they don’t just rush my skirmishers, given that their unit probably wouldn’t maintain cohesion in a charge, being so green.

Those dinky blue dots next to Jost are my skirmishers. They’re a bit tricky to see, so I’ll try to point them out when relevant.

11:06 AM

I pulled my skirmishers back after they repulsed two separate cavalry regiments over the span of about an hour, but I haven’t seen any enemy movement since then. It’s got me nervous, frankly, so I’m sending more skirmishers out to take a look.

11:19 AM

Good lord. They’re coming through the woods.

Union skirmishers just at the right edge of the woods there.

Fortunately, I can see them coming, but I didn’t expect them to not take the road.

12:15 PM

My skirmishers ran off, and I can hardly blame them, being outnumbered significantly. They did quite a bit of damage to the rebels, however.

1:31 PM

Somewhat bizarrely, they’re heading off to the top of the screen in the screenshot below. Are they trying for a miles-long flanking maneuver?

I don’t think they’ve given up yet, but this change in direction is odd, to say the least.

2:52 PM

They’ve started advancing across the nice, big open field with no cover in view of my guns. How kind of them.

Not sure where the rest of the army is, but I’m watching the roads that could lead them around to my rear, so I’m not so worried about being flanked. For now, the question is whether they’ll commit to this attack, something that I wouldn’t do if I were them. But then, I also wouldn’t secede from the United States to keep the institution of chattel slavery intact, so comme-ci comme-ca I suppose.

3:27 PM

They are decidedly *not* me. A single brigade marched right up to the trenchline and started shooting at my artillery. Col. Grant, who somehow has managed to be relevant in both battles in a row, advanced forward from the trench to engage the enemy and sent them falling back.

3:49 PM 

MY GOD THEY’RE GOING FOR THE LONG FLANK.

5:31 PM

I sent a division to cover the road on the right, but now they’re sending men to my left. I can’t tell if their movements are brilliant or plain dumb. Maybe a bit of both? I certainly haven’t been able to anticipate these moves.

6:07 PM

Maybe it was a feint? There’s at least a division or more massing on my left now. I sent most of my guns to cover the right, so if it was a feint, well played, AI. Fortunately for me, I have defenses overlooking the stream crossing.

6:48 PM

With only a few minutes left of daylight, the rebs committed a brigade to rush my defenses. Unfortunately for them, I just managed to pivot my guns back to the left.

That advancing enemy brigade took 500 casualties in the few minutes between that screenshot and 7:00, when the day ended. Yet the Confederates stayed on, beginning Day 3 of this battle.

MAY 20, 1861

6:00 AM

Day 3 is going to be rough. This is the situation at 6:00 AM.

I haven’t been able to convince the rebels to quit yet, even after inflicting 1500 casualties on them. My hope today is to hold the left. I’m not expecting a major attack on my right, but I left some guns and my smaller division over there, just in case. 

6:09 AM

An enemy cavalry regiment charged my guns, they were only repulsed at the last second. The morning light is giving the battlefield an eerie glow.

6:38 AM

After enemy charges along the whole trenchline, the first wave was repulsed, but it looks like they’re preparing a second wave of attack. We inflicted heavy casualties on them, but I’m not sure it was enough.

We may be able to continue to hold, but I’m not sure for how long. Our trenches have been doing a fantastic job of keeping the left intact, but if they keep charging us, the cover won’t do much to make up for the overwhelming numbers the rebs have.

6:44 AM

The rebs decided they had enough and are turning around! That major attack caused over 1100 Confederate casualties, I suppose that was enough for them.

All of their guns, huh? Nice.

MAY 18, 1861

A fun quirk of this game is that since battles can last multiple days, when you finish and jump back to the campaign map, the battle will still rage on for multiple days. 

Just behind that newspaper, the two armies are still fighting and will be for a couple days. I’ll take advantage of the knowledge that I win that fight and deploy Gen. Scott’s massive Army of Pennsylvania to the top of West Virginia.

I’ve found West Virginia to be pretty significant strategically in my campaigns I’ve played so far, as leaving it in the hands of the South means they can walk right into Ohio or Pennsylvania, whereas holding it as the Union means you can have a backdoor into southern Virginia, cutting up one of the richest and most important states in the Confederacy, even without the capital there. 

My last campaign was decided almost entirely in the mountains of West Virginia, with the bad roads and winter attrition doing almost as much work to collapse the Confederate army as I did. Even though I won that time around, it’s brutal stuff, and I’d rather not leave campaigning in the mountains for winter.

Back east, I’m sending Patterson’s Department of Pennsylvania (soon to be renamed, I don’t care for “Department” as a unit name) down to Winchester to seize the town and local depot. 

MAY 27, 1861

After a few days of little action, two enemy armies jumped on me with little warning. The first forded the Potomac and is besieging Fort Washington, just south of DC. The other snuck behind the army I sent to capture Winchester, and now has them cut off. Outnumbered on both ends, with the fate of the capital in the balance of both battles…. Seems like a good place to leave off for this time.

Talk about a cliffhanger, huh?

As always, thanks for sticking with me to the end here, and if you want to know more about the campaign, give me a shout on Discord or Twitter.

-Jack

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.