Really some very flattering comments gentlemen. I am very sorry about the recent delay. I also wish to offer a sincere apology to Soundoff who has now been waiting nearly 2 weeks for a new turn. I should explain myself of course.
Typically I will wait until I've posted my AAR to send Soundoff a new turn so at least I don't get ahead of myself. I've sent Soundoff an email with an apology and an explanation...with that. Back to war!!
[color="Red"]Turn 56, Late July, 1863:[/color]
[SIZE="4"]Lee sends Grant to flight, Yankees whipped in North Caronlina!![/size]
(Another good result, although not quite what I was hoping for. Beauregard managed to move into the region and hold Grant into place for a little while, but it appears Crittenden (as i expected) was sent to rescue Grant's beleaguerd army. His mission was a success, but at a very high cost...Grant was able to escape to the Northwest and his troops will now be able to resupply and collect replacements. It was a Union rout...and I'm guessing most of the damage was taken by Grant's troops. This has certainly reset things in the east for the time being...but more on that in a little while.)
[SIZE="3"]Jackson thrown back at Battle of Smokey Pass!![/size]
(I suppose I could have seen this defeat coming, but being the eternal optimist I am, I had to trust ol' Stonewall and his veteran troops to carry the day. As you can see on the battle report, once Jackson's troops got in close...it got bloody. It appears he might have been able to push Keyes' troops back had he just one more division at his disposal (Damn you Edward Johnston and your consistent delay!!). This was a battle Jackson needed to win...and a depot he needed to take...badly. Now he faces a long slog west to the rails and an even longer ride home. Hopefully he will still have an effective fighting force once it's all said and done.)
[SIZE="3"]Hooker catches Confederate detachment in Alabama, score victory!![/size]
(Here's one I never saw coming. And a result I can only blame myself for. Had I railed Talliaferro back to Columbus, GA like I'd originally tried to, he would have avoided combat altogether. Now his division is badly bruised...yet another formation that will fight the remainder of the 1863 campaign severely understrength. The retreat path taken by Talliaferro also complicates the strategic situation...Johnston's headquarters at Columbus is now under direct threat. More in a moment.)
First I'll turn to orders in the east...we'll start in Virginia:
So Jackson's troops will now be left to pick what they can for sustenence and move as swiftly as their legs can carry them back to safety. I think perhaps many of those troops will be glad to see the Shennendoah mountains behind them...I know it will be good to have Jackson back in North Carolina in decent shape that's for sure. What Jackson's troops have working for them is a warm, sunny summer...it should decrease significantly the attrition suffered on the march.
J.E.B Stuart's troopers aren't in great shape, but they managed to find supply SOMEWHERE. Not a clue where, but I'll take it. Stuart will shadow Jackson's wing and make sure to keep any would-be pursuers at bay. Neither Jackson nor Stuart will allow any major engagements, but both will turn and defend themselves if need be.
Edward Johnston...oh what another story his escape is likely to be. He has once again gone inactive and he has another 9,000 troops that will be sorely missed if they all starve...and whether or not Soundoff decides to let him go...will largely determine the fate of his command. I will order Johnston's troops to follow in Jackson's footsteps. Intel puts Hamilton about a day or two's march from Culpepper so I've ordered Johnston to "defend and retreat" should he be attacked and then continue southwest up the valley toward Lexington. All bets go on Soundoff trying to take full control of Lexington to block Johnston's escape...but perhaps I'll get lucky and Soundoff won't want to go for it. His other Corps under Franklin and Dix ARE quite out of position to do anything about Jackson or Johnston...so again...perhaps I'll get lucky.
Moving then to North Carolina, where things may be winding down for a time.
I went back and did some calculations...after a month of hard fighting, combined losses in North Carolina have topped 40,000. Around 26,000 Union troops fell between Wilmington, Sampson and Duplin...about half as many boys in Gray. Grant's army is now in tatters save the lone Corps under General Whipple. As you can see on the above screenie, Grant's Corps are widely spread across the entire front. Whipple, along with Grant's HQ now have Fort Jones under siege outisde Raleigh...the troops manning those ramparts are those of General Bee's division. about 9,000 fresh troops. Perhaps Soundoff will try another assault with Whipple's Corps...I doubt it. All evidence points to Soundoff settling in for another few turns to rest Grant's army and collect much needed replacements. I'm really hoping the timing of the battles will force Soundoff to wait until the winter draft to even HAVE any replacements available en masse. Until then, he'll receive around 50 or so companies per turn, but as we all know....Union elements don't refill as quickly as Confederate elements do. So the timing of Grant's repulse may end up being Lee's saving grace.
Now...all that said. I won't rejoice for long. With Jackson's retreat from Virginia, around 60,000 federal troops will now be free to join the North Carolina front in the form of Hamilton, Franklin and Dix's fresh Union Corps. My troops will need to clean the muskets and arm for battle again soon I suspect...another wave of attacks can't be far off. This time I think Soundoff will try to wiggle around my western flank....the "long way" if you will. If he does...and I manage to get J.E.B Stuart back in one piece...I'll do the best to make that line of supply nearly impossible to keep intact. Otherwise I plan to assemble a defensive line with Lee's newly reorganized Army of North Carolina.
As was the case before, the line will be anchored at Goldsboro and run in an L-shape between Wilmington and Raleigh. Regretably, Raleigh will actually be quite isolated from the rest of the line, but I hope to remedy that with the addition of a 4th Corps command after this turn is completed. Until then, The new army...consisting now of 3 Corps...under Generals Beauregard, G.W. Smith and Forney will begin the "L"...and begin digging in deep. Bory will make up the far left flank, Smith the center and Forney the refused right flank. Lastly, Lee with the HQ and a small garrison will remain in the vicinity of Wilmington and Fort Bee to complete the line.
It will be a strong position given the time it will need to get fully entrenched...and with the forts protecting the most valuable points along its length...Soundoff should have a pretty tough time cracking this defensive line...even with overwhelming numbers. What I really hope...is that I discourage a landward advance into North Carolina...and force Soundoff to take the seaward route...where I have plenty more surprises waiting for him
All that in consideration...I will not forget the vulnerability of my supply situation. There is only a thin rail-line linking Lee's army with South Carolina and Georgia and their important supply and ammo stores. So I suspect I will be just as busy protecting that line from Soundoff...as Soundoff will be protecting his from my marauding cavalry. In that line of thinking, General Whiting, at the head of the 1st Virginia cavalry brigade will make for Augusta Georgia to help deal with Grierson's raiding troopers. Also Ransom's 28th North Carolina cavalry will be tasked with intercepting Pleasanton's horsemen and hopefully trapping and destroying them.
On to the west:
Little action on this front. You can see the dispositions of the main field armies for each side in Tennessee. Meade has Bragg outnumbered about 2 to 1...but the mountains will make any attack by Meade...a bloody one...especially if I am allowed the luxury of time to continue digging in. Now...where things COULD unravel is with supply. Bragg's army is already hurting for supply as (as was the case historically) most of the supply produced in Georgia is sent east to feed Lee's army. Of course Bragg complains to Atlanta with good reason. His army is, afterall, quite a bit closer to the capitol city than Lee's.
All that aside, some logistical moves and manufacture this turn. I have a new fort beginning construction in Chattanooga...the completion of which will make the city virtually impregnable. What with the mountains combined with the fort...AND the river crossing to get to it...I'll be able to confidently withdrawl my line fully behind the Tennessee River if need be once all is prepared. The fort will make an advance from the north quite a bit less likely...then I'll need to keep an eye toward Knoxville and/or Montgomery, AL. Speaking of Knoxville, another move I decided to make was to take A.P. Stewart's division out of the works around the east Tennessee town and join A.S. Johnston in Atlanta to bolster the capitol's direct defense. I will also allow McLaw's division to collect much needed replacements and hopefully return him to Polk's Corps in turn.
Now, the problems of supply...made worse by Grierson. I will need to deal with him if I hope to keep those important rail supply routes in service. I've tasked Wheeler with intercepting Grierson's cavalry...again....hopefully trapping them in enemy territory and destroying them. I will repair the rails in Rome with Morgan's command...and then move his south to set up for raids against the Union supply route running north from Pensacola. Finally, Armstrong and a detached regiment of cavalry from Wheeler's command will chase down a small Union detachment which recently moved to cut the rails between Chattanooga and Knoxville. It's clear that Soundoff is trying to isolate Bragg's army...I hope to get the better of his raiding cavalry. Assisting Armstrong will be two small garrison regiments...who will be ordered to rail over and hold the enemy cavalry in place so Armstrong can follow and destroy it.
Moving south into Georgia and Alabama now:
You can't see it on the screenie, but included in that stack with Hooker....none other than Milroy...who had apparently just dissappeared from my view. Discouraging...for several reasons. It means Soundoff will be able to replace Milroy's tattered command with fresh troops...and it means Atlanta is no longer safe from a Southwesterly push. Being that Talliaferro was placed badly out of position to be of any help to either Johnston or the defence of Atlanta...It appears Soundoff will have an open run at Columbus with Hooker if he wishes to take it. So I plan to deny him that important depot and place priority on protecting the capitol. Johnston will destroy the depot and rail north to Atlanta to join up with Breckinridge and Polignac's divisions and reorganize. It won't be long until they are joined by Tally's troops...as well as A.P. Stewart, Rhodes (who as you can see is undertaking the recapture of fort Gadsden this turn....here's to hoping for a promotion!) and lastly...Garnder...who I've elected to send north with the Mississippi brigade to add to Johnston's number. All told, there should be around 25,000 or 30,000 troops in Atlanta once all formations are mustered. It may be enough to go on the offensive before winter...but I'll have to wait and see.
Over in Mississippi...literally nothing happening...and no idea what MIGHT happen:
Obviously I have little respect for McClellan. Sheridan is the one I'm worried about. Where on earth is Soundoff sending him?? He's bound to start experiencing some supply trouble soon right? Time will tell I suppose. I will just have to hold tight and keep a sharp eye. New Orleans remains strong...Baton Rouge now has a respectable garrison. Buchannan's fleet will complete its move to rest and repair in New Orleans as well.
My latest intel puts the defence force in San Fran at just a LITTLE under the power rating of Wharton's army. Wharton is also inactive this turn so it will be a move to siege for the time being. This will be an interesting story to follow. If Wharton can take San Francisco, It will put thousands more in gold in the Confederate coffers...and perhaps distract some attention away from more important theaters of the war. Hopefully I can get some early breeches and storm the city before Soundoff is able to relieve the siege.
Also some action in governance...some good news as you'll see in the screenie as well:
That ironworks is huge. My troops need all the supplies they can get. I'm still liking the VP count. If I lose the edge in VP's by a significant amount (say 300)...I plan to, at that time, concede defeat. Considering the per-turn difference...Soundoff could actually sit back and do nothing through winter and likely grab a significant edge in VP's.
I've managed to keep my NM pretty high. Happy about that for sure.
I will continue my investments in the Carolinas and Georgia.
Will Jackson's troops get away without starving?? Can Wheeler catch Grierson and destroy him?? Will Hooker strike into Georgia...or retreat to Florida? Stay tuned....