We had good success again last turn, but not total success. The previous turn we took Fredricksburg. We never planned to hold the location for any length of time as we do not have sufficient forces to both hold Fredricksburg AND protect Washington. And protecting Washington is goal #1. But our enemy doesn't know our plans and our hope was that they would react, as they should, to the taking an important city in their rear, both a base of supply and a location from which we can threaten Richmond.
We left a rearguard to destroy the depot, which they did. At the same time, Butler succeeded in retreating towards Washington, but did not make it all the way. Meanwhile, Hooker retreated towards Ft. Monroe, taking Williams and adding power to the forces threatening both Richmond and Norfolk.
Speaking of Norfolk, we still have not succeeding in taking the city. But we have superior forces and will assault this turn.
But most importantly, the enemy retreated from the valley, leaving Harpers Ferry ungarrisoned and very few forces in Winchester. This was the move we were hoping for in response to the taking of Fredricksburg. Jackson is now south of Manassas, still a major concern, but no longer guarding the valley.
So here is a look at our plans region by region.
Winter approaches, so our options for raiding are lessening. But we have the forces in place to make a major dent in the rail lines supporting Richmond, the valley and Manassas. Cavalry have been sent to four rail lines to raid in the next few weeks.
Because of their move out of the valley, the main approach available to the enemy to Washington is through Alexandria. Because of our move against Fredricksburg, we are not in a position to defend multiple regions nor take a weakly defended Manassas. Therefore, we have decided to be defensive. McClellan's corps has been ordered to Alexandria to reinforce McDowell in Alexandria to guard against an enemy concetration towards DC. At the same time, Butler, still on the river, has been ordered to DC to rest and reinforce.
Attacking Norfolk etc:
We have 3-4x the forces of the enemy, so we have ordered an assault of Norfolk. We want to take the city before the enemy can try to reinforce. We are taking one major risk. We have a covering force in Suffolk protecting the approaches to Norfolk. But we are dispatching a relatively large element of this force, 75%, to destroy the depot in Garysburg. This is not meant to be a long term garisson of the city, but simply a raid to destroy more rail and supply infrastructure.
If we had sufficient forces, we'd like to occupy Harpers Ferry and Winchester. But bottom line is we don't. And as tempting as it is, we've decided to take Harpers Ferry and concentrate our forces in that area before moving further down the valley. After all, Jackson may return.
At the same time, we are sending forces west to open to B&O rail line to allow more rapid transportation of forces between east and west. Open rail lines are important and, as hard as we work to destroy the enemy rail infrastructure, we need to work hard to maximize ours.
Another opportunity has presented itself, but almost because there are no better options. Mansfield is in a position to take Edenton, with some supporting forces, which will open yet another potential base for future actions, provide more supplies and, perhaps most importantly, give some of the Union forces in the area a place to resupply and reinforce.
Finally, out in West Virginia, we have very few good options due to winter. We are simply going to concentrate our forces, under the coming leadership of Porter, in preparation for the Spring campaign season.