[color="#008080"]MORE FIGHTING AROUND HARPERS:
Well, the result of this particular series of engagements certainly doesn't come as a surprise, but I must say I was a little shocked to see such a strong mobile Confederate force so early in the game. Having played on the CSA side, I remember a few small units available in Charleston, S.C., but I don't remember any Virginia troops being unlocked by late May. At any rate Harper's Ferry is again in Rebel hands and T. Wood's command is in far less than fighting shape. Good defensive terrain and moderate entrenchments are about all my troops had to their advantage.
I was, however encouraged to find the 27th Pennsylvania (I believe I referred to them as the 26th Penn. in my last report mistakenly) gained another level of experience during the course of the fighting. Also, I was pleased to hear Gen. Wood had received even further praise for his actions on the field. Wood is now just one point away from earning a promotion!!
[color="#008080"]REVVING UP THE MILITARY ENGINE:
There were a few things I felt were worth noting on this screen as I take you through my thought process during the Early June turn. The very first thing I noticed as I looked over the Objectives Screen was the rather dramatic change in Relative Military Power between myself and Soundoff. I know that number was at 77 during the Late May turn and now it has dropped to 66. I suspect much of my more recent naval investment and some of my production out west might be having an impact. That will certainly continue (more details on that to come, of course).
At this point, Soundoff has lost roughly 10 times the number of fighting men I have. Naturally this is bound to change as the game goes on, but I have absolutely no problem carrying such an advantage as far into the contest as possible. I doubt Soundoff is all too concerned, however I can imagine it's something he has doubtless noticed. I have also managed to capture 800 Confederate troops.
Foreign Intervention continues to bounce up and down and moved back in Soundoff's favor this last turn. I have also officially lost my advantage in overall Victory Points as well as per-turn VP's. I'm now quite certain it would take more than just Harper's Ferry and Winchester to bring that number back where I want it. Due to various events I also noticed my National Morale increased to 87.
[color="#008080"]STRUGGLE FOR HARPER'S FERRY:
It is obvious Soundoff values possession of Harper's Ferry quite highly. I suppose there are few questions as to why he would desire to keep the small river town under his government's control. There is a lot of supply generated by the city, enough to feed a sizeable army and it is essentially the northern gateway to Washington. If Soundoff can take a firm hold of Harper's Ferry, he can threaten vital rail lines in Maryland and southern Pennsylvania as well as the Capitol itself. I can say, with confidence, it would be worth putting up a good fight to keep Harper's under my own control.
With that in mind, I've decided to send the newly formed Maryland Volunteers under Gen. C.P. Stone from Washington to relieve Wood's tired troops. Sadly, Stone is inactive and will be unable to aggressively seek out Soundoff's force under Gustavus Smith, however I have a very distinct impression Soundoff may try to attack Wood's troops again. It means he is likely to still be in "offensive posture" when Stone's command arrives. Obviously, that would favor Stone's force, which outnumbers Smith's command and would benefit from defensive fire values and the benefits of defending hilly terrain.
What I expect to happen is for Soundoff to attack and brush away Wood's troops (hopefully back to Fredericktown) and for him to eventually attack Stone. There is the outside chance Soundoff calls the recapture of Harper's Ferry "well enough" and begins preparing his own defenses there with Johnson's army poised to reinforce.
With that last thought is where I arrived at the "rub". I want to fight hard for Harper's Ferry, but I know my troops, who lack any big guns whatsoever, will potentially be facing an army (Johnson's) with several dozen cannon. If I am to lock down this important town I will need to remedy this imbalance as soon as possible. There will be no opportunity for that this turn, but I'm confident there will be in the Late June turn.
Also, you can see McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia, which has swollen to more than 17,000 troops and 166 guns. It's quite obvious the "passive posture" helped attract replacement hits more rapidly this past turn and I wager (depending on how many full elements are added to the army) McDowell's force could number close to or over 25,000. If I'm in the proper position next turn and McDowell is active, I may attack Soundoff's army in Manassas. If for no other reason than to relieve pressure from the Southern threat at Harper's Ferry.
NOTE: You will notice I mess up Gen. C. Hamilton's name twice in this AAR entry. These are the types of mistakes I will attempt to avoid in the future, but certainly cannot promise to.
[color="#008080"]CAGING FLOYD IN WEST VIRGINIA:
Union forces are certainly gathering in the highlands of West Virginia and while I currently hold the advantage in numbers, I am in no position to make any serious offensive moves. My opponents troops under John B. Floyd in Clarksburg could cause a considerable amount of trouble if Soundoff chooses to use them aggressively.
The way I see it, Soundoff could send Floyd's force in any one of three possible directions.
1. Northeast toward Morgantown and my relatively disorganized defense force there. I'm sure my troops would put up a decent fight, but I fear their lack of a commander might lead to defeat.
2. Northwest toward Wheeling. This is where I have my most organized command under Gen. Blenker. I doubt Soundoff would make a move in this direction.
3. West to Parkersburg. This would be an interesting option for Soundoff if he REALLY decided to get aggressive. Taking Parkersburg could open the entire state of Ohio up to raiding Confederate cavalry. There are a lot of important rail lines in eastern Ohio which connect the eastern and western halves of the Union. If I can avoid them being constantly broken it will save me vital resources for their repair and defense.
Considering all of the possibilities, I have decided to ensure Soundoff's inability to cross the Ohio River near and north of Parkersburg by moving my gunboats into positions along the river, blocking all possible crossings. I have also ordered a regiment of West Virginia militia to secure the town itself. I want to raise another regiment of volunteers there to bolster the city's defense. This is a rather risky move, as Soundoff may indeed elect to attack and likely destroy those troops, however, I consider the risk worthwhile.
As you can see in the screenie, all other troops are ordered to remain in defensive posture save for Gen. Patterson's command, which will assume "passive posture" in order to quickly collect much needed replacements. Patterson's small army could nearly double in size if enough troops are added to its ranks over the next turn. We will see!
NOTE: You don't see it in the screenie, but I decided to move each of those two gunboat units one region to the north. After further reflection, I decided it was more likely for Soundoff to try and cross the river between Parkersburg and Wheeling if he tries at all. It seems to make more sense than crossing southwest of Parkersburg.
[color="#008080"]A LYON IN MISSOURI:
And so we move further west to Missouri. I don't show it in the screenshot, but I am well aware of the new Confederate army in Arkansas forming under Sterling Price. I suspect they will be in Missouri very soon, so moving ahead with my planned advance is certainly of utmost importance.
My blocking force in Lexington will be joined by Edwin Sumner in Early July (which I chose not to show). It means west central Missouri is relatively secure for the time being. There are going to be roughly 4,000 troops and 12 cannon in Lexington, once Sumner arrives with the 11th U.S. Regulars regiment. Citing my earlier announced Missouri strategy, it will be wise to use Sumner's force in concert with Lyon once I'm able to advance upon Springfield. Coordinating them will also be important in the interim.
Since Soundoff's main western army is so far away, I feel confident I can move out of St. Louis safely with Lyon's troops.
Lyon's army is a small one to be sure, but it is made up of slightly better volunteer troops, regular infantry, early cavalry and some 12 pound artillery. It is a relatively strong force considering the theater in which it is operating. I believe it also stacks up quite nicely against Soundoff's mainly militia army in Fayetteville, at least in quality. Soundoff's force is quite a bit larger. I estimate there to be roughly 6,000 to 7,000 men there presently.
Something I've not really tried (mainly out of paranoia) is marching an army anywhere in "Passive Posture". My memory of the rules dictates doing so to be a dependable way of keeping troops relatively fresh. As I look at the conditions in Union, MO (just west of St. Louis) I see a region completely under my control with little hint of immediate danger. It seems sensible to go ahead and march onward with all confidence in the safety of Lyon's force.
There is a minor concern with the loyalty percentage (80% Confederate!!). I don't know if the game starts with such an imbalance, but it could make things difficult in the future. Soundoff will be able to raise a healthy number of partisans due to this loyalty advantage. However, I don't think he has already done so. I think it's more likely Soundoff is spending more of his resources on other things elsewhere.
It would have taken Lyon 16 days to reach Jefferson City. I choose not force march his men and settle with a more limited advance into Union, MO. I see no real immediate need for hurry. Soundoff's main army can't get to Jeff City this turn either.
Last but not least:
I certainly notice that lone militia regiment southwest toward Rolla. I don't want them to cause any amount of serious trouble, so I decide to detach Lyon's cavalry regiment and place Gen. Lew Wallace as its commander. Wallace's job will essentially be to deal with the militia and perhaps see what Soundoff may have hiding in the Ozarks. I don't know exactly how well early cavalry matches up against militia infantry, but I know once the fighting reaches close quarters, my troopers will have the advantage. Of course, that is assuming there is a fight. Soundoff could just as easily blow the Rolla depot and withdrawal. We will see.
NOTE: You also don't see it in the screenshot (I forgot a bunch on this one lol), but I have ordered a regiment of cavalry to scout southwest Missouri and (hopefully) get a good look at Price's army, currently in Arkansas. I have placed the regiment in "offensive posture" with the "probe" special order. Hopes are the troopers get into some action and are able to pass along detailed knowledge of Soundoff's western army before it is dealt with in pitched battle.
[color="#008080"]SURPRISE GATHERING IN DELEWARE:
Once more, with a mind to "get things going". I decide to assemble my forces for the operation to retake Norfolk. The plan calls for use of the Atlantic Fleet and a fair number of the volunteer brigades which have formed automatically in major cities all across the northern states. For now, the only land forces I have available are those under Hurlbut (which was joined last turn by Gen. C. Griffin and the 2nd Maryland Volunteers Brigade).
Finding a good place to assemble this rather secretive operation involves some consideration. There is Philadelphia, a nicely centralized city with a large port, but I think being a little closer to the front line would be beneficial. Wilmington, Deleware is large enough, it's connected to the main rail line up and down the eastern seaboard and it's not far from where Hurlbut's force is now.
It is also important to have the right kind of leaders to carry out the operation. The force will need a higher ranking General than Hurlbut if its to operate with minimal penalties, so it makes sense to send C. Hamilton (2 stars) to meet everyone in Deleware.
[color="#008080"]BIG SHIPS WITH BIG GUNS AND MORE IN THE WEST:
I continue raising more troops in the west, including a few ranger regiments in New Mexico. It's about time to begin strengthening my position in the Far West. I have also called for the construction of two additional armored frigates. They will both be built in Philadelphia. As I mentioned before, it will soon be time to begin building much more artillery.
So how will Stone's troops do at Harper's Ferry??
Will Floyd advance and cause further trouble in West Virginia??
Might there be a surprise waiting for Gen. Lyon in Missouri??