Again, I apologize for such a nasty delay. The day-to-day work hours have REALLY picked up. That combined with an increased summer social calendar makes it tougher to get in front of the computer and get this AAR done. I certainly hope I've not chased anyone away with what may seem to be my lack of participation.
Trust me when I tell you that dispite how things are going in this struggle vs. Soundoff...I have lost NONE of my resolve and give every turn as much efforrt as I can. I will play this one to the bitter end!
[color="Red"]Turn 51, Early May, 1863:[/color]
[SIZE="4"]Milroy escapes Johnston, seizes Atlanta!![/size]
What a big surprise...I had not thought Soundoff would go for the throat like that, but low and behold...Milroy marched right up and snatched my capitol from under my legs. That's the second time Soundoff has snuck a march past me...(Hooker at Vicksburg) I certainly intend for there not to be a third The battle results.....horrific:
As you can see, my small garrison did nothing to oppose Milroy's troops. What a great move by my opponent. I must reiterrate my respect and admiration for Soundoff....he has truly played a masterful game.
Well I must take it all in stride...the good news is that Soundoff didn't send Milroy to Atlanta with any supplies, so I'm guessing he won't try to hold it. As a matter of fact I'm putting just about everything on the line in the assumption that he won't try to hold it.
What makes me believe he won't, a few things...he has no supply...he knows Johnston is somewhere in the area...he has to know from the replay. He also has yet to get a grasp on where Jackson is. Soundoff still hasn't spotted Bragg's army. So I'm guessing Soundoff assumes he's got at least 30,000 troops ready to bear down and assault the Confederate capitol to retake it. Soundoff also lacks an ample supply line should he try and destroy the depot at Atlanta. If Milroy stays...I will be able to cut his troops off in unfriendly territory...with lower cohesion....and little supply. The only thing helping Soundoff right now...and the one thing I fear most....is the affect his NM is having on his troops' cohesion levels. If he sees that my reaction would fall upon troops that have vastly higher cohesion, even after so much marching and fighting, than my troops (ie. Milroy's troops) then he MIGHT keep Milroy in Atlanta for one turn. That's what I hope DOESN'T happen...but more on that later. I have more pressing things to discuss....
In the East:
First...an aside. As you will see from the image I am about to show you, Soundoff, while masterful in his invasion of central and eastern Virginia...has rather neglected to conquer the Shennendoah Valley AND has neglected to repair his rail network behind him. I plan to take advantage of that now...with a full summer season to use for maneuvre.
You'll notice my point. Gray throughout the Valley and little to stop a strong force from marching its length and taking Harper's Ferry....or even marching on Washington itself. My plan is not too complicated. I will bring Jackson back from the west and have him gather his army in Liberty, VA. I will discuss WHO will attend the meeting in a moment...but I estimate his army will include around 20,000 troops and just over 100 guns...plus some cavalry for raiding and screening.
If Jackson's gambit is successful...I may even see fit to rejoin him with Lee. I will, by that time, need to have taken a depot or two along Soundoff's supply line so I will be able to collect replaecements when needed and possibly keep a thin artery open to the Carolinas.
You will see WHY I've decided on this plan...Soundoff has kindly allowed me ample time to prepare defenses in North Carolina and my line along the coast and in the eastern sector is quite secure for the moment.
As you can see, I have several Ironclads on the way to protect Fort Morgan, the next likely target in Crittenden's "fort hopping" campaign. I have the CSS Neuse blocking Berry from a direct attack on Wilmington...which would now be quite fruitless anyway since a fort is nearly completed there. I now have forts at Goldsboro AND Wilmington....You can see the troops strengths. Forts are a BITCH to assault. To successfully take one...it's advised that attacker have at LEAST 4 to 1...perhaps even 5 to 1 odds. With that in mind...Each of the forts along my line would likely require Soundoff to committ at LEAST a Corps to take. That knocks out 3 of his Corps....fully half of Grant's army...that along with my navy blocking Crittenden will further reduce his effective field forces to around one third of what they would be....add onto that my planned operation with Jackson and you've got possibly just two Corps to deal with.
NOW...that's assuming Soundoff goes pedal-to-the-medal and lurches forward to take the forts...which I hardly expect from a player of his calibre. I fully expect Soundoff to either move his entire army AROUND my line...to the west....or try and bleed parts of his army between my forts and converge on Wilmington. If Wilmington falls...my entire line then relies on a much longer and rather more untennable line of supply that runs instead through Columbia, SC and around to the west.
With all the above in consideration...I will take measures to protect both lines of supply. Lee and what's left of the field army will converge on the rail junction at Greensboro, NC. I expect Soundoff might try for a move around my left flank this turn with Franklin and Hamilton and keeping control of the forrested region around Greensboro will be important to maintaining that line of supply. I also have General Pickett, with a single brigade, and General Hoke with a division from Savannah, GA's defence railing north to join the defenders at Wilmington. All told it will place around 10,000 troops in the fort. More than enough to stop even the most determined Corps sized assault.
Now....to the details of my operation in the valley with Jackson.
Edward Johnston will be a part of the meeting...as will his supply wagons and a unit of marines from Beauregard's former field Corps. J.E.B. Stuart will also take part of his cavalry force to join the meeting. Once gathered in Liberty, VA...Jackson will have 3 divisions of infantry...around 120 guns....5,000 cavalry and marines for those tough river crossings (of which there will be plenty).
The targets of the campaign will be various...and all will depend on several factors...but consist of 3 primaries and a couple of secondaries.
1. Millboro-destroy the depot
2. Amherst - destroy the depot
EDIT: In looking at the map, I forgot:
3. Take Mannassas...there is SURE to be a wealth of supplies there for Jackson's troops.
1. cut the rails leading north from Petersburg to Aquia - Grant's only quick line of retreat and reaction.
2. March on Washington...possibly taking it...possibly even holding it.
3. Harpers Ferry
The purpose of this valley campaign is pretty simple..and I suppose there are a few goals here:
1. I really need to slow Soundoff down in the east
a. If I can hold up his advance for another campaign season...I might be able to survive into 1864.
2. If I can take Washington, NM will swing HEAVILY in my favor, thereby achieving goal number one...slowing Soundoff down.
All hopes rest on good weather and a whole lot of luck. In fact...I'm quite worried that parts of E. Johnston's command might get picked off by an advancing Franklin and Hamilton...should they indeed advance...but we shall see.
In the West:
Not much action here, but things are bound to heat up sooner or later. Meade has a strong army...comprising some 4 Corps (including that reserve under McClellan at Paducah)...probably around 70,000 men with which to make his push on Chattanooga. I fully expect Rosecrans to take advantage of the lightly defended forts...and I expect Sumner and Stevens will march south and secure Nashville...what I don't know...is what kind of effort Soundoff will make in finding Bragg's army. I know he probably has a good idea where it is, but considering good military doctrine...you can't fight someone you can't see...so I'm guessing he will try and probe into central Tennessee to find me before committing stregth to any campaigning.
What I suppose Soundoff's approach to taking Chattanooga will be...flanking....as per usual. I think the route along the Tennessee River will be his most likely choice as a line of advance for Meade's army...although if he tries it, he'll open up his rear and even more importantly...Kentucky. Which still favors the Southern cause...and will remain "in play" for the forseeable future. I suspect Soundoff knows that he will need significantly more resources to defeat me in this theater of the war...and I don't expect a quick march through Tennessee...in fact I won't be surprised if there is little action here at all this entire year. We will see though. It depends on what happens in the following theater.
This theater really has me scratching my head...and biting my nails. Hooker sits in Vicksburg with a WEALTH of options. He has all of Mississippi to move through unhindered. He is obviously going to start experiencing some supply problems as I've conveniently blown every depot between Memphis and New Orleans. I suspect Soundoff is aware of this and plans to move Hooker to the nearest supply base as soon as possible. Now...which one??
1. He has Memphis to his north...a sound move, one which would allow him to join forces with Sheridan's small army in Arkansas and shore up his supply situation.
2. He could try for a river assault down the Mississippi to take New Orleans...but I'm quite certain Holmes garrison (currently around 10,000 men and reinforced by Quantrill...close to 12,000) would repulse him so I count that less likely.
3. He could also try for Mobile. A move that is also sound...and would make sense. He already has around 20,000 troops in the area...he has a supply base AT mobile that he could take. Gardner's garrison is strong behind level 6 trenches on "defend at all costs", but a concerted attack by Hooker COULD break through. The only pitfall to this attack would be the amount of time it would take Hooker to get there....even with another lightening march....Hooker's force would be "showing its hand" in trying to make it all the way there from Vicksburg. So I think this move is made somewhat less likely by that fact. Although it is a concern.
All that in mind...one thing is for certain...A.S. Johnston is needed in the above theater...and I hope to avail him once I've finished mopping things up in...
While at first I performed a nice little "dance of frustration" at such a masterful move by Soundoff...worthy of Grant himself. I took time to process everything and came to some rather obvious conclusions. Milroy CANNOT stay in Atlanta long...he simply doesn't have the supply and his troops would starve. Milory's troops have to be a little low on cohesion.
However my choices are limited...I have to retake Atlanta...I would so love to focus on cutting off Milroy's command, but the NM impact of retaking Atlanta as well as retaking its depot intact are too important. So I will rail Johnston's army to Atlanta and "assault at all costs". Morgan's troops will attack as well....take back Montgomery and high-tail it back to Atlanta to join Johnston...(you can't see that movement arrow because I neglected to paint it :bonk
Can Jackson get set without interferance?? Will Grant try for the end around...or the belly dive?? Where will Hooker go next?? Stay tuned....