[color="Red"]Turn 36, Late September, 1862:[/color]
[SIZE="4"]Richmond falls to Yankee invaders!!
[/size] (Expected, but discouraging despite it. That's 10 more national morale for my opponent and 10 less for me. That's never good.)
[SIZE="5"]Jackson narrowly defeated outside Charlottesville!![/size]
My take on this may seem overly positive, but it appears to me that Jackson would have had Berry on the run had Franklin not intervened to save him. My troops were far more experienced, had supply wagons on hand, had more guns, and had Berry caught in Assault posture (unless that was just a small part of a seperate command on "Assault" though I wouldn't know why.) The only thing convincing me Berry stood on his own is that NM at the time of the battle would have been quite heavily in Berry's favor...thereby affording him of troops with much higher maximum cohesion AND that Jackson's troops had forced march to the battlefield.
Anyway, It appears to me that Franklin MTG'd to Berry's aid and Jackson, seeing his new disadvantage, wisely withdrew. It was a bloody affair in hindsight. 4,800 more southern troops that will be sorely missed. This will, in fact, be the last offensive sortee by any part of Lee's army for the forseeable future.
[SIZE="3"]Norfolk seized, Southern troops escape capture!![/size]
(Also expected, another NM bump for Soundoff, but a silver lining in that I was able to get away with my big guns...some supply wagons and a regiment of infantry. I'll take everything I can get at this point
So, before heading to my orders for the coming turn. I will take a moment to give an overview of what's been tumbling through my head the past two weeks, since Soundoff left for his well deserved vacation. First, a peek at the Objectives Screen; A grim reminder of the current state of affairs...
In the last 15 days, Soundoff has taken a commanding lead in NM. I still hold a respectable amount among the southern citizenry, but things are only bound to get more frustrating for the populace as further conscription and taxation are likely to be levied for the purpose of continuing the war effort.
The big figure, one which the loss of Richmond only compounds since it served as a central mustering point for replacements, is the disparity in casualties between myself and my esteeemed opponent. I have now lost nearly 40,000 more soldiers than he has. This is a result of my overly aggressive style of play of course (duely noted, I'm quite sure, by observers of the ongoing struggle.)
I am still in the lead in VP's...however Soundoff now holds the "per turn" lead by a considerable amount. Considerable enough to catch up to me in a few months time anyway.
So, we come to the main focus of my dilemma. Somehow, I need to manage a defense of a wide expanse including North Carolina, the coast, eastern and central Tennesse and the Mississippi valley....all with a badly overstreched Army. There is little hope of me delaying Soundoff's advance at any point with the onset of winter only a month or so away. The only place I could effectively delay him through offensive action is in Central Kentucky...it's where he is weakest, but it is a weakness that won't last long. I have not ruled out an autumn thrust into the Bluegrass State to pressure Soundoff into spending more money on the west than furthering his gains in North Carolina and the Coast, but the main problem is that I'll have few assets with which to follow up any success I have. And should I abandon my western Tennessee line of defenses for an offensive in central Kentucky, I will allow McClellan free reign to advance on Memphis and Corinth using the rails to ensure his supply line stays intact.
The game is Soundoff's to lose at this point. That is very clear to me. What I must do for the remainder of this year and into the next...is make him bleed. It will require, at least for the most part, giving up the initiative to Soundoff, but I am quite confident in a number of likely avenues of advance he will take...and can still muster the resources to make taking them a very costly venture. And of course I have my very compitent cavalry commanders (Morgan still incoming) to slow Soudoff's moves along the precious few rail lines leading through the heart of the Confederacy.
Defense in depth is the name of the game. I look at the positives...
- I have PLENTY of loose War Supply to work with
- I still control ALL of my major ports, including the ever important New Orleans and Charleston.
- Soundoff's commitment to Naval operations has been token at best and so leads me to believe he hasn't enough of a navy to undertake major coastal operations...and thereby affords me time to prepare.
- Soundoff has allowed his Blockade % to drop all the way to 10%. Something I will attempt to take advantage of with further blockade runners. (hence affording me of more, much needed, money and WS.)
- I will still have the edge in leadership, at least into the coming campaign season.
The ONLY major challenge facing me as I head into preparations for what I expect will be a spirited offensive by Soundoff, will be conscripts. I will need to be sparing of the number of troops I raise and monitor my use of conscripts very closely, focusing mainly on replacements, support troops, artillery and possibly some naval investment.
Atlanta is DEEP within my territory...and if Soundoff hopes to take it and affect a NM loss (Which I don't think is his first priority at this point) then I wager it will take him at least another year to get there.
Thus, the stage is now set...for what I hope to be a grueling, bloody battle to the end. If all goes well...and enough Union men are lost charging the earthen walls of the Confederacy...perhaps a renewed advance can save the revolution!
Now, on to orders for Late September, starting in the east:
With Jackson's withdrawal, Grant's supply line to Washington is now secure and his army poised for an advance into the Carolinas. Berry's Corps was badly bloodied at Charlottesville and I suspect will either withdrawal to the confines of the Amherst Depot...or stay in place and rest. Grant commands 3 Corps in the vicinity of Richmond and Petersburg (Sherman has an independent command that I expect will be folded into Whipple's Corps) and Hamilton sits outside Norfolk with 3 divisions.
With his army so spread out, so many rail lines broken, and the strong defensive line of my army, anchored quite snugly behind the Chowan and Appomattox rivers, I don't expect a Union advance this turn. However, I cannot deny the possibility of an attack in the direction of Lynchburg...which remains the only nail holding North Carolina and Tennesse together. I see a possible move there by Franklin's Corps, possibly with the help of McDowell...if Soundoff advances...he is likely to face a tired Jackson, but with Longstreet in perfect position to support him. I will force march Jackson's Corp back to Lynchburg and march W.H.F Lee's division, currently under Longstreet, with a Signal Corps and Hospital to join Jackson. a fresh division will hopefully give Longstreet enough time to MTG and repulse any attack Soundoff has planned.
Stuart will continue his return trip to Garysburg, NC to refit (he was delayed by Franklin's Corps as well as his attempts to blow the depot at Amherst.)
Whiting, with a small cavalry detachment is ordered north to cut the rails at Waverly, VA thereby temporarily severing the link between Grant and Hamilton.
General Hoke, with two brigades and some artillery, is ordered to reinforce the defenses of Savannah, GA (One of those prospectives Union attack corridors I mentioned earlier. Taking Savannah would flank my entire position and put Soundoff within a stone's throw of Atlanta.)
Lastly, I have militiamen repairing the rails between Lynchburg and Knoxville, in case I decide to get creative with Jackson before winter fully sets in.
In the West:
McClellan continues to drag down his commanders' activation potential and so poses little threat to my defenses in western Tennessee. Helleck and Sumner command a thick trio of divisions, but Helleck's escape through the mud and across the Cumberland has left his command utterly useless. I suspect Soundoff will withdraw to Bowling Green and rest Helleck, and maintain an effective defense with Sumner.
I will shift some forces around this turn. Sending McClaws' division of Forney's Corps of the Army of Kentucky to guard Corinth. (Hooker, back down in Vicksburg, has some water avenues that lead me to believe Soundoff may try something tricky.)
General McCulloch, with his fresh division with cross the Cumberland river and secure Clarksville and its vital rails. That after repairing the rails west of Nashville.
Lastly, Forrest is ordered to muster with cavalry reinforcements in Nashville. the division I'd hoped to form with Colston was not to be, as he went inactive this turn. Placing Forrest closer to central Kentucky will serve as an advantage anyway. If I can't move into the state with my entire army...I may be able to cause considerable trouble with Forrest. Especially if he has 6,000 cavalry at his back.
Hooker has been a pest for far too long. I know Soundoff is probably scratching his head, wondering how to get him out of Mississippi, but without the depot in place at Vicksburg, it won't be long before Hooker runs low on supply. There are a large number of moves Hooker might make. He may drive up the Mississippi river to Memphis...possibly up the Yazoo to Corinth (Although mud will make it a 25 day trip) or, much more likely, a strike at Little Rock, cutting the legs from beneath my defense of Arkansas. Although there is every possibility Hooker will stay in place. I still believe Soundoff is considering an escape by way of Port Gibson, or perhaps down the river to Natchez...this is quite the quandry for me...I can defend several of the escape routes...but not all.
I will send Van Dorn and his small division of the Army of Mississippi to Port Gibson in defensive posture to intercept a move in that direction (Again the northerly escape route around Jackson seems far less likely...especially in the mud.)
Sibley is reinforced at Little Rock, sufficiently enough I believe, to thwart a landing there.
Beauregard will stay put with the army's remaining two divisions and guard the direct approach through Jackson.
And finally, some government action this turn:
Davis, prodded by a continuous stream of urgent telegraphs from his Generals for reinforcements, is convinced to call on Congress to pass a new military spending measure. The Arms for Victory Act is passed with nearly unanimous approval...albeit some rather stiff resistance was offered by the remaining representatives of Virginia and other border states. Davis signs the bill within a few days, and the south begins the printing of new monies to aid the war effort.
The money was needed for what you see below. Another battery of coastal guns will be built. As will several more batteries of artillery across the south. Artillery will be key in my defense at all points. Columbiads...with the "3 damage per hit" stat will be essential...as will the long range Parrot Rifles.
Will Grant strike at Lynchburg?? Does Buell have something waiting in Kentucky?? Where will Hooker move next, if at all?? Stay tuned friends....