Indeed. Pickett was in a very good defensive position...and Grant was in a very unfavorable attacking position. With the marshy terrain...his frontage was probably reduced considerably. Add the fort's frontage limitations to that and just about any general would probably have been successful. Bummer is that Pickett isn't promotable. Ah well...it DID give his troops a LOT of experience and increased his defense stat by 1.
On to orders...I want to start in the theater which caused me all KINDS of headaches. Virginia:
Well...not a pretty picture. As you can see, Soundoff has just about every depot within one turn's marching distance well defended with at least 2 divisions and Hamilton's strong Corps has Washington all locked up. Had I managed to carry the Manassas Depot and its vital stash of supply...I would consider a further push north, but low and behold...Jackson's small army is starting to run out of supply and it won't be long until his troops are forced to live off the land and possibly even starve.
Jackson was forced to retreat from Manassas after Johnnie Walker's cavalry put on a brave rear-guard assault against Hamilton's troops...for 14 days Jackson's two divisions were able to rest and recover. They are now in good fighting shape. Edward Johnston's Wing is another story. Magruder's division is in pretty dire need of rest. The good news being that E. Johnston has at least another turn worth of supplies to consume. I might be able to save his command after all.
Stuart's troopers are another story altogether. I suspect they may end up blown away by the summer breeze. The cavalry assault on Harper's Ferry failed, there is no outlet for supply and he has little option but to make for the nearest supply source and recover.
So...to my thoughts in this very difficult theater of operations. Being that my supply situation is so dire...and being that Soundoff knows it. I suspect now is the perfect time to high-tail and make for home as swiftly as possible with as many troops as possible. Were it that I could make it back to friendly territory with even three quarters of Jackson's original number...I would call the entire operation a resounding success. Jackson has managed to attract nearly 80,000 Union troops away from the main front in North Carolina and getting he and his army out alive will put the final touches on a very productive campaign. NOW...with that said...I know Soundoff will do everything he can to ensure Jackson's troops starve...so I don't expect this to be an easy task.
My choices were numerous.
1. A forced march to Richmond and following assault. NO
(There are too many troops there dug into Level 4 trenches with plenty of artillery in support. It would be too bloody an affair to warrant taking the depot.
2. Assault south to Burkeville. NO
(Same reason as above).
3. A rather wiley move down the Rappohannock river by boat followed by an assault on Hampton Roads, placing me in perfect position to take Fortress Monroe next turn. NO
(Jackson's supply would run out before he had the chance to make the final assault and Soundoff would easily be tipped off to what I was doing and likely be able to corner Jackson on the Penninsula in later turns. This is, however, something I have not ruled out for Johnston's Wing.
4. A forced march and subsequent assault on the Milboro Depot. YES
(It's really the only viable option. Griffin has a division entrenching there, likely into level 3 trenches by the time Jackson reaches the outskirts...14 days...and the depot is stocked. Which would take care of Jackson's supply troubles for at least a little while. Jackson outnumber Griffin by about 2 to 1...the Mountains will make the assault tough...but I'm confident Jackson's troops will prevail. Besides...at the very least it will put him closer to the Cumberland Mountains and a quick train ride home.)
So an assault on Milboro it will be. Doubtless Soundoff sees his weakness there and plans to counter with the only force he has available to him...Franklin's Corps. I suspect Franklin will be ordered to march north and beat Jackson's troops to the punch...and I suspect Franklin will make his main thrust in the direction of Lexington...then on to Milboro. I've prepared for this by ordering Jackson to remain in defensive posture all the way through Lexington...(you can't see it, but I have 47% MC of the region)...if he meets Franklin's troops...it will be on favorable defensive terrain...in defensive posture...while Franklin's troops will be forced into attack posture by the Confederate controlled regions travelled between Lynchburg and Lexington. If Frankline DOESN'T forced march...it will take him 10 days to reach Lexington....if he does...it will take him 9. Jackson will reach Lexington in 11 days regardless. Jackson will "defend at all costs" the entire way...thereby allowing him to throw off Franklin if he comes...and then press home the advantage once he reaches Milboro and is automatically switched to attack posture. Here's to luck going my way...let the race begin.
This leaves me with the problem of Stuart and E. Johnston's troops. Johnston went and decided to deactivate this turn. So movement will be slow going for his men. But move they will. I've ordered a small regiment detached to blow the Manassas Depot while the rest of Johnston's Wing marches southwest to Culpepper to prepare for...well whatever I decide to do with him next turn...much of which depends on the success or failure of Jackson's march. Stuart will take a parallel route to Jackson...making his way to Milboro by way of the valley road. Hopefully Stuart is able to outpace Rosseau...who I assume Soundoff will have in hot pursuit of the grayclad horsemen.
Again...this turn will be crucial for Jackson's entire operation. If his troops can get out alive. He may well have saved the south for another season.
In North Carolina:
This is a theater that really had me scratching my head. What to do...how to follow-up such a successful turn. Perhaps you can see Soundoff's dilemma...Grant's army retreated into unfriendly territory...Berry was booted out of Sampson, NC...thereby allowing G.W. Smith to regain full control of the region...subsequently shutting the door to Grant's northerly line of retreat. On top of that. Grant's army has no supply in tow...and will starve if locked in place. Which is exactly what I intend to do.
First...an explanation on the absence of General Longstreet, who so brilliantly performed against Berry at Sampson...and so stoutly defended against Crittenden outside Wilmington. After his victories...Longstreet, "The Rock of the Confederacy" was put up for an immediate transfer to a theater much in need of his particular skills. The Gulf....more on that later though.
To my plans...as you can see, Hood's, Loring's and Ewell's divisions were badly mauled while fighting against Berry's troops at Sampson and so are not in good shape to do any fighting unless they get at least a few days rest first. However, Pickett's troops...fresh off their victory...as well as the division under E.K. Smith are in relatively good shape. These two divisions will be tasked with locking Grant in place north of Wilmington. It will take them 2 days to march north to their objective. Once there they will simply be ordered to "defend and retreat". If a large battle is joined and Grant manages to get away...so be it...destroying 29,000 yanks is hardly worth another 9,000 Confederate lives...being that Soundoff is able to replace his losses at 4 times the rate I am. However I do expect Soundoff will join a rather large battle in the area if he can. Crittenden's and Whipple's Corps are still relatively fresh and COULD march to Grant's aid. I believe Berry will be withdrawn north to Garysburg to rest and take on replacements. Should a large battle occur in the region...Beauregard's troops should be aided by Lee's Wing as well as G.W. Smith's Corps....some 41,000 troops in all (against Grant's approximately 56,000). What I'm hoping is that Lee's divisions will be rested enough by the time battle is joined to be of some real help...and I certainly hope Smith's Corps is up for the challenge.
If all goes well...I'll be able to throw off all of Soundoff's attempts to break Grant loose and cause Grant's 29,000 remaining troops to starve. That will put a nice little dent in his invading army and hopefully force him to spend a significant amount of resources replenishing his losses. And it could delay any further advance until after winter. Enough time for Lee to replenish his weary army as well.
On to the west...not much happening in Tennessee:
Little action on this front. Soundoff didnt go for the end around as I'd thought. In fact he did almost the opposite. He retreated. I haven't the slightest clue why, but I'll take it. Soundoff DID, however, send Grierson's cavalry on a very annoying raid south to Rome, GA. This is not good as it will sever a very important supply artery for at least a turn. Bragg's army is already struggling with supply...the rail line running south through Georgia will be paramount to his troops maintaining supply. So Iam forced to react to this move. More on that in a moment.
Meade's Army of the South West is now spread way out. Again, I haven't the slightest clue what would have prompted such a withdrawal...but for just a moment, I was tempted to sally forth with Bragg's army and cut Meade off from Nashville for good. However, I got to thinking that perhaps that is just what this "withdrawal" was meant for. By now Soundoff knows of my aggressive nature...and may be trying to use it to his advantage. Well I surely won't bite this time anyway. We'll have to see whether or not Soundoff bring's Sumner's Corps back out of Nashville to reconnect his line...for now I will wait.
Back to Grierson's raid. Wheeler, in completing his own raid, will be called upon to deal with Grierson...who could either swing back around to his own lines...or continue further into Georgia...tearing up track as he goes. I suspect he will occupy much of my cavalry's attention for the next month or so...that's sure.
Moving a bit further south to Atlanta...
And it is Georgia where I get to appease my offensive "sweet tooth". Having destroyed Milroy's army...secured Atlanta and Columbus from any further threat..,It's time to begin what I expect will be a tough operation to completely throw Soundoff's entire operation along the Gulf Coast into dissaray...re-taking Pensacola, FL and it's nearby depot. More in just a moment.
First a note on dispositions. Hooker, with two divisions looks to be aiming for more trouble. Will he attempt a similar assault as Milroy's?? doubtful now that I've reinforced the area, but not completely out of the question. Hooker is a VERY good commander and could probably defeat any one of my divisions toe to toe. It's why I've decided to call one division down from Tennessee to reinforce the capitol. Breckinridge...with his understrength division will rail, hopefully not hindered by Grierson's rail-break, to Atlanta this turn. Once there....he will hopefully be able to gather replacements the next few turns.
I've reorganized the various formations under A.S. Johnston's perview...Johnston, with the main Headquarters in Columbus will be left with a reserve of about 4,000 troops while Robert E. Rhodes is detached to conduct operations against fort Gaines. Bushrod Johnston will act as Rhodes' aid de camp. Talliaferro, faced with a superior enemy in Hooker's command...will withdrawal. It will sacrifice Montgomery...again, but it's a sacrifice I must make in order to prepare for the eventual push into Florida. Talli will join Johnston and the main HQ in Columbus...bringing the total strength there to over 10,000.
Finally, Rhodes with around 3,300 troops and 22 guns will steam down-river and assault Fort Gadsden, re-taking it...and thereby securing Columbus from the south....(and possibly earning himself a promotion
To the rest of the Gulf:
Well here you can see the aforementioned transfer of General James Longstreet. With Gardner suffering severe command penalties...there was a dire need for a 3-star General in the area...and what better man than Longstreet to hold what could arguably be called the most important city in the south other than Atlanta at present. Mobile is essentially the final piece to Soundoff's Gulf Coast puzzle. If he can take it...like I've mentioned before...he gains access to all of Alabama unhindered...and opens himself up to operate against Atlanta unmolested. As it stands...Longstreet has close to 11,000 troops with which to defend...he has VERY strong earthworks, marshy terrain and over 24 batteries of artillery in place to repel any attack by either Banks, Sheridan, Hooker or McClellan.
Holmes...in a slightly weaker position...but bolstered by the swampy terrain he has surrounding the all important economic center of New Orleans.
You can see that Sheridan and McClellan are on the move...I would suspect they are headed toward Mobile...but there's no telling for sure. I will have to wait and see. Sheridan is off in no-man's land. I'm at a complete loss as to where Soundoff is sending him...but I'm sure he has SOMETHING clever up his sleeve.
With the absence of Hooker's troops...it would appear that any major offensive action in this theater will be put on hold for some time. Both Mobile and New Orleans, at present, would be VERY difficult for any less than 30,000 troops to take without a significant loss of life. I hope to add to both cities' defence soon enough.
Buchannan's fleet should be able to make it back to New Orleans this turn to repair. His ironclads will be of high value in coming months.
A look at Government action...I'll let the screenie to most of the talking:
Can Jackson take Milboro?? Can Lee lock Grant's army in place and cause it to starve?? Can Wheeler catch Grierson?? Stay tuned..