As you could probably surmise from Soundoff's most recent entry, there was not much action during the Early June turn. Of course there is the update and some of the changes worth explaining before I dig all the way into my thought process through this new turn.
There were a few changes in the 1.03 update which had a bit greater impact on our game than I thought.
1. I did not receive Carl Shurz cavalry until the Late May turn and so Wood's advance on Harper's Ferry went a little differently than it has been recorded already. Additionally, there was rain and mud slowing Wood down enough that he was never able to reach Winchester in this re-start. As you will see in a moment, far different from before, Wood's command is actually now well rested and dug in deeply in the hills around Harper's Ferry.
2. Volunteer brigades in 1.03 have arrived sooner, availing myself of more men to get the operation against Norfolk moving a little faster and with a stronger force. I do not get into detail about that in this particular turn, but it is something you readers will notice in future updates.
3. Overall, I received many dozens more conscript companies in this 1.03 restart than I did in the original five turns of 1.02. However, both Soundoff and I agreed not to change any of our production orders to take advantage of that change. Of course, it would have ruined the continuity of this AAR.
4. The replay feature is back!!!! I was so excited about it being back, however had completely gotten used to it not being around that I have completely forgotten to use it through the first 5 turns of this restart. Well enough, though since nothing has required it thus far. I will make certain to check the replay closely after each turn from here on out.
With that -- first things first.
You can see, I've managed to retain slightly more National Morale in this particular iteration of our contest. VP totals haven't changed too much and Soundoff still holds a significant advantage.
I will tell you, it is a disheartening VP defecit at present time. Soundoff is outgaining my by 9 VP's per turn right now. If I am to gain back the advantage in VP, it should be a slow but grinding win for me. I MUST get the offensive on Norfolk moving. While I have decided not to include a detailed report from Deleware this turn....I should at least divulge the reason:
In arranging the gathering, one of my commands didn't march fast enough and was still 1 day away from Wilmington at the beginning of this turn. It has thrown a bit of a wrench in things...but we will soldier on. All that said....I want to get moving against Norfolk and SOON.
And we're back:
Another change from the old 1.02 version of our game....the casualties thus far. They are reduced significantly for both Soundoff and myself. His initial attack on Ft. Sumter resulted in some 148 troops killed or wounded in the 1.03 restart as opposed to 350 before. Also Wood's earlier advance through Fredericktown, Harper's Ferry and Winchester....never really happened, so all of the casualties caused by that earlier action were never truly replicated this second time around.
Foreign help is roughly the same. So, overall we're JUST about right back where we left off. I think my total combat power is a little stronger than in the 1.02 turns.
So, taking things in here in the Northeastern Virginia theater, there was one thing which consumed most of my thought.
1. What the hell am I going to do??
This is that part of Ageod's brilliant game where it's "gloves off", we're done warming up, fighters are in the ring.
It's a part of the game that, as the Union player, I have always struggled with because there is always the opportunity to attack, but never really any good reason to. The way this always works (at least in my experience), is for the Confederate player to just dig in as deep as possible in Manassas, making a frontal assault too scary a prospect even to consider and steal the initiative that way.
Some one has to blink and someone has to deliver the first shot. I ALWAYS want to be that guy. I began considering all the different and creative ways in which I might be able to score a victory by moving McDowell's army, in parts, all around the Northern Virginia countryside, but I always came back to what I see as a stark reality; Anywhere I go, Soundoff will see me and I will have split my army right in front of him. It's just not a smart move at all.
Taking that tack and subduing my natural aggression, I began considering ways in which I might anticipate some kind of offensive by Soundoff. "Should I move a part of my army to Leesburg to block that avenue of attack??".
"Should I split part of the army away to help Wood in Harper's Ferry??"
ASIDE: I truly felt good about thinking defensively for once.
I began to think about how long it might take Soundoff to get his troops from region to region along different routes of invasion:
1. Beauregard to Leesburg, then across the Potomac to Montgomery, Maryland:
-- Even if Bory were to succeed at a forced march, by my estimation, it would take him 12 days to reach Leesburg, meaning I could easily react and potentially capitalize.
2. Bearegard to Leesburg, then across the Potomac to Fredericktown:
-- Same reason as with #1
3. Beauregard to Falmouth, then across the Potomac to Port Tobacco, Maryland:
-- Same reason as with #1 and #2
I think you probably get the idea. Joe Johnson would have no easier time moving swiftly, the same going for G.W. Smith in Winchester.
All that into consideration and I think I can be confident remaining right about where I am. I elect to keep McDowell's army in Alexandria and change its posture to "defend". I'm quite certain Soundoff will not attack me directly here, but there is always that chance he has something waiting in the wings to reinforce Bory. We shall see here.
The Harper's Ferry problem:
So, as I mentioned a moment ago, Wood's troops are doing MUCH better in this 1.03 restart. It's a good thing for sure, but looking at the forces arrayed on the map, I am immediately drawn to concern over Wood's fate. He has very good troops in the Washington Brigade and I was able to get him some unlocked artillery from Washington (which Soundoff allowed with the 1.03 changes), but the Confederates currently stationed in the Shennendoah Valley outnumber Wood's troops by roughly 2 to 1.
Wood is in some pretty big trouble and will need to be reinforced.
Enter Brig. Gen. C.P. Stone and his brand new command of Maryland volunteers. In the 1.02 turns, these troops were supposed to counter-attack Harper's Ferry (taken by G.W. Smith), but are now simply available to reinforce Wood's command. Joining Gen. Stone will be Brig Gen. Albion Paris Howe.
Howe is ordered to take command of two regiments of mounted volunteers and counterattack a group of Confederate cavalry which has managed to successfully insert themselves behind Wood's position, threatening to cut his connection to Washington. I'm hoping Howe's soldiers can catch Soundoff's cavalry before they have a chance to cut the rails in Fredericktown. Short of that, simply forcing them back across the Potomac River will suffice. Howe is given orders to intercept the enemy and attack, but with caution. There are a LOT of large Confederate commands nearby and if Howe manages to chase those troopers all the way back to say, Winchester, he could be quite surprised at what he finds.
The rest of Stone's troops, numbering some 2,700 infantry and 12 guns, will board trains and rail to Harper's Ferry, with orders to aid in its defense. In the meantime, Wood is ordered to defend, but retreat if pressed too hard.
There has been considerable effort spent by Soundoff upon securing Harper's Ferry thus far in the game. It at least seems as though he wants to hold and keep it. While, I don't consider it QUITE as necessary an objective, I do realize it will put the safety of Washington D.C. in jeopardy and for that reason, it's at least worth fighting for. I suspect Soundoff will launch Joe Johnson and G.W. Smith aggressively at Wood's command, hoping to overwhelm him there. I hope to achieve some surprise with Stone's troops. If I can successfully keep Soundoff's cavalry from cutting the rails in Fredericktown, I will consider the turn solid victory.
To the heavyweight bout between McDowell and Beauregard....methinks Soundoff will save his energy this turn as well.
West Virginia is quite a bit less tricky. Most of the commands on the map are either locked in place or are too weak to do any real aggressive campaigning. I suspect the case is the same for Soundoff, although he does have an imposing force under Floyd in Clarksburg, WV.
One of my gunboat squadrons was slow in moving this last turn and has yet to arrive and block the Ohio River crossing immediately northeast of Parkersburg (another 1.03 change).
Arriving at General Patterson's understrength command. There is always the knowledge it will simply be useless unless Patterson is replaced. I however, taking into account my principles, cannot abide a "gamey switch" and so will stick with Patterson until he gives an historically justifiable reason to be replaced.
To that end; I then begin looking at exactly what to do with him and I'm stuck. He's not in a great position to do much of anything for anyone sitting where he is now. He has a sizeable force under his command with more than sufficient supply and I certainly wouldn't want 4,700 fighting men to go to waste. Obviously I want to send him somewhere, but the trick is....where??
There is the mountanous region of Pendleton, WV, leading around behind Soundoff's troops in the Shennendoah Valley, but Patterson's troops would be distancing themselves too much from the front line of either nearby theater of war (West Virginia and Northern Virginia).
Understanding that at least SOME kind of pressure should be put on Soundoff's troops in the Valley, I elect to move Patterson south to Hampshire, WV. From this position, he will be able to threaten Soundoff's troops as well as support Wood's defense of Harper's Ferry in the future (if Wood can hold back what I believe to be a fierce attack coming).
There is really little other action in this theater for the coming turn. I'm not positive, but as I mentioned before, I think Soundoff's troops in Clarksburg might be locked for this turn again. In any case, I don't think he has confidence that he can attack me with any real effectiveness. It's pretty much wait and see here.
[color="#008080"]REBELS ON THE WATER:
Also not much change in the Mississippi theater of war...except one thing; Soundoff's dang gunboat armada along the river south of Morell's position around Charleston, Missouri.
That is certainly an imposing threat. Granted, I was able to move Foote's gunboat fleet down to Cairo from St. Louis, but just look at the power comparison.
Let me tell you, in calculating the best estimate for the strength of Soundoff's gunboat fleet, I took a LOT of time gathering what information there is available to me (within this PBEM game) to understand what "gunboat squadron" means. Using information from my own gunboat squadrons (assuming that Confederate gunboats couldn't possibly be much better or worse), I basically came up with a total Rebel river force numbering some 16 fighting ships, 2,000 men and 96 cannon, all under the able command of one Admiral George N. Hollins.
That is close to three times the strength of my own gunboat fleet. There are two things which jump to the top of my mind when I see this:
1. I may need to accelerate plans for the construction of my own river fleet. Soundoff appears to have done so already. I don't remember so many gunboats being under my control the last time I played this game as the Confederates.
2. I sure as hell HOPE Soundoff can't see what I've got in Cape Gerardeau guarding the connection between Charleston and Cairo. If he can....he'll know he can attack with confidence.
With my ownership of Charleston, Missouri...I don't THINK Soundoff can see what I have hiding outside Cairo, but considering the area I'm operating in (quite pro-Confederate), I have to assume Soundoff can see my fleet. Cape, MO - west across the Mississippi River from Cairo - has a Confederate loyalty rating of 95%. Sure enough...that means Soundoff can see anything in the neighboring river region, including my fleet.
Knowing this - and again taking a second to get past the dread - I elect to advance Foote's fleet southeast to the Mississippi Confluent. Depending upon how Soundoff attacks (if he does) Foote's gunboats could serve as a deterrent and delay Hollins force. There is always the chance Foote scrapes out a victory, however unlikely, I believe the effort at least it will have meant Soundoff was forced to fight for every inch of ground he wanted.
Elsewhere, I have elected to show you just what kind of army I'm putting together for this theater of war. There is a rather meager force situation in Cairo at the moment, under Milroy's able command, but I am planning to more than quadruple its number in the next 4 turns. There are brigades being assembled in Cairo itself, plus some cavalry. Several more units are being raised in northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.
So far, I have decided to focus on building 20lber's and 12lber's as far as guns. I think having a unit of 20lb. parrots available for use in open terrain will be worth the expense. They are also very good cannon on the attack when compared to other calibre guns.
I will need to raise more troops for this army, but I certainly believe this to be a good start.
Here's to hoping Soundoff elects not to attack and I get lucky this turn.
[color="#008080"]EASY SAILING IN MISSOURI:
Here is an area of the conflict where little has changed, if not for some rather alarming developments in Kansas, but I'll get to that in a moment.
Lyon's march west from St. Louis went as smoothly as could be expected and Wallace failed to hunt down the rebel militia operating around Rolla. Wallace's troopers, resting in Rolla, have basically fulfilled their mission (from a strategic standpoint). I wanted them to kick the rebs out of Rolla and it would appear that's just what Wallace has done, however I think there could be more things for Wallace to do that could be of use.
Considering this, I decide to send Wallace southwest, on a mission to find and mop up and troops which might still be trying to move between Rolla and Springfield and then turn north to rejoin Lyon's main army.
In the meantime, Lyon's march west to Jefferson City will continue after a few days of rest, however without the fighting men of the 2nd U.S. Regulars, who are ordered to march south and secure Rolla, Missouri for the Union.
Things really seem to be going swimmingly in this part of the country, but there is still an entire summer fighting season to come and plenty of room for maneauvre. I suspect Springfield will be a tough nut to crack (I noticed, but did not include in the screenie, information I uncovered indicating there was a new brigade defending the town). Soundoff appears to be of mind to make things interesting out west anyway. He is moving in such a way as I've yet to see a Confederate player move in this game....
Which brings us to......
[color="#008080"]NOT SO MUCH IN KANSAS:
Some aggressive and alarming moves by Soundoff here. He has launched what appears to be an all out offensive up the Neosho River, putting pretty much all of central Kansas in jeopardy of Confederate attack. Rebel cavalry has taken Forts. Belmont and Baxter, while Rebel militia have taken Fort Scott. Add to that, Sterling Price has moved Northwest to Ft. Wayne and there is some real concern about the long term safety of cities like Lawrence, Mound City and even Leavenworth.
I don't quite know what Soundoff is up to out here (in fact I can't even pose a qualified or reasonable guess), but it is drawing quite a bit of my attention.
Naturally, the initail thought is "Panic - what do I do?!?!?" -- But I always collect myself (good thing about turn based games). There are forces which can effect an appropriate response to this situation and I've also gained more information about the force under Sterling Price.
My cavalry which has scouted those troops is in a good position to counter-attack and there really is only one obvious target for such an operation. The Rebel militia at Fort Scott are slower and while they are a bit better on defense, I think regular U.S. cavalry might be able to run them off without taking too much damage.
The 3rd U.S. Cav. in Tallasi, KS are ordered to double back and ride for Fort Riley, thereby securing that important location.
I had ordered Brig. Gen. Sumner and the 11th U.S. Regular Infantry to join the Union volunteers in Lexington, Missouri, but this situation called for the abilities of a skilled leader. I have elected to send Sumner and the 11th U.S. to join up with the group of Kansas volunteers which have mustered in Leavenworth in reaction to Soundoff's aggressive move north. In all, Sumner will have under his command, some 2,500 troops, including 600 cavalry and 12 guns. This is slightly more than half the size of my estimates for Price's strength in Fort Wayne. It will have to do for now and with the help of my roving cavalry, I suspect I can keep this situation well enough under control.
There really isn't much more to report, except to show how I've decided to invest resources this turn. I have decided to get my artillery construction projects underway and will be building units of Rodman artillery plus 12lbers for my commands in the east, plus those unites of 12lbers I mentioned being build in Michigan earlier. I have also added the recruitment of more sharpshooters in Ohio. They could be of use in either West Virginia or in my Mississippi army.
I went ahead and bought a single replacement unite of cavalry. I expect to be fighting quite a bit with cavalry units this turn and being able to replenish those units quickly will be of significant importance.
I have also elected to go another turn without announcing a blockade. Where I'm kinda kicking myself is the decision not to bring in more money in some way. After sending my completed orders to Soundoff, I thought better of that decision. Ah well.
With that....on to the next turn!!
Is the attack on Harper's Ferry coming??
What do the Confederates have in store for Admiral Foote on the Mississippi River?
What the hell is Soundoff up to in Kansas??