Friday, November 10, 2017

WBTS via Vassal - Weeks 85 to 88

The war must go on, which, based on my reading of the Bruce Catton history, seems to have been very much the case.

The Union blockades of the three remaining Confederate seaports are ineffective and they get 12 supply.  The supply from seaports always seems a bit of an anticlimax to me.

The Confederates carry forward 97 supply and receive 95 from major city supply.  With the 12 import supply they have 204 supply.  This is more than enough with just 10 personnel points.  Maybe they need to call another draft?

The Union have 40 to carry forward plus 180 major city supply, a total of 220 to go with 50 personnel points, not 60 as there are no negroes, I mean people of colour, flocking to join the cause without emancipation.  If the Confederates were to call for another draft the political points they would forfeit would help the Union deal with the political point loss for proclaiming emancipation.  Tricky.  Who's going to bleed white first?

The Confederates call up 10,000 men to be used as garrisons to stop the depredations of the Northern aggressors.  They are left with 184 supply.

The Union augment a 3-3 to a 10-3, a 4-3 to a 10-3, commission an ironclad, a railway repair unit, a 2,000 strong cavalry division, 1,000 garrison troops and 5,000 militia.  In the Department of Virginia 1,000 militia are converted to infantry.  They are left with 52 supply.  Hmmm, it would seem with that level of supply they couldn't outfit any black regiments even if they had wanted to.

The Confederates deploy a 10,000 man strong infantry division to Richmond along with 10,000 garrison troops (best to do this while they still can, but at the same time it is putting a lot of eggs in the one basket).  Another big division goes to Atlanta along with 3,000 cavalry troopers in a division much needed by Forrest.  A Hill is given command of the 9th Corps.  There are 3,000 militia returning to the cause, but 8,000 militia decide to go home.  Beauregard is able to absorb 9,000 garrison troops to build his army up to 45,000 men.  A similar activity occurs in Richmond giving it a field army of 35,000 men.  A Johnston and Hardee do the same, but on a more modest scale out in the west.  There are over 40,000 Confederate soldiers (ignoring those besieged) around the Mississippi, but there are in four equal and well dispersed lots.

The Union, who still haven't been able to move all their previous reinforcements to the front deploy three big full strength divisions to Washington, Baltimore and St Louis. A supply train is established in Baltimore which appears to be destined for transport by sea.  A 1,000 Union militia decide to call it quits.  The Department of Virginia is relocated to Charleston.  Rosencrans returns to duty and is put on the army reserve list, as is Sherman.  Sickles is placed in command of the II Corps in Bowling Green.  Crouch arrives in St Louis and is promoted to command of the VIII Corps, when he asks where are the troops he is told to head to Baltimore.  Howard is given command of XII Corps. The Union move the Department of Virginia to Parkersburg.  They had wanted to move it to Charleston, WV, but that place is not connected via rail.

Missouri raises a 1,000 militia in St Louis.  Kentucky raises a 1,000 in Bowling Green.

The partisans are still keeping their heads down.

Union supply consumption comes in at 45 using 15 rail.  They have 9 supply left and 15 rail.

Confederate supply is 24 and 10 rail leaving them with 160 supply and 10 rail.  All the surplus supply is not enough to save Fort Pillow or Memphis.  Both places surrender, giving up 19,000 captives and, with the loss of Memphis, two political points.  Memphis also gave up 12 supply and Fort Pillow 4.

In checking the Political Point Matrix at the start of 1863 the Confederates could have tried for victory.  My statement in my previous post on this game that the "Confederates now have a one political point ascendency, but that is not good for anything and in fact it is good for nothing" was wrong.  They had a one third chance of victory.

Let's check.  Their first attempt fails.  The President refuses to see the Confederate emissaries (for to do so would imply recognition).

The Confederates make a second attempt...  Another fail, the Democrat intermediary is relocated to Canada.  The Union gain one political point.  The Confederates can make a third attempt, but the chance has halved, however these are desperate times...

Failure.  The attempt to get Britain to intercede and negotiate a peace is stillborn.  The US had warned that such intervention would lead to war and that British trade would suffer severely.  The Union gain another two political points and the fate of the Confederacy is now sealed (and I get to keep playing).  For the record the dice rolls were 1, 3 and 2.  They need a 5 or 6 on the first two attempts, a 6 on the last.  The Union should have waited until Memphis had fallen before implementing the draft.

Week 85

The Union get the four free initiative chit.

What to do?  The Union really need forty free moves.  All the bold moves in the East or West require multiple moves (to land at Drewry's Bluff or to try and cut-off Hardee for example).

Buell is encouraged to return to Memphis and collect his army together for an offensive down the Mississippi.

10,000 men set sail for Mobile to reinforce Banks.

Pope is ordered to join McClernand opposite the Confederates gathering at Lynchburg.  It is imperative to stop any renewed offensive into the valley (as unlikely as that may be).

Howard is directed to join McClellan.  He takes no troops, but McClellan has plenty that can be allocated to his corps.

With that decision process out of the way, let's see what initiative the Federal commanders display...

Crouch, who is really needed in the field, stays put in St Louis, having a chat with Sumner (whose job is to guard Missouri and could probably be sent down the river with his 26,000 men, except for the risk of partisan activity).

Sickles, newly arrived in Bowling Green, should be going to Bowling Green, but misses the train.

McDowell gets it into his head to go down and confront Hardee at Holly Springs.  His compatriot, Crittenden, stays in Memphis to receive the keys to the city and await further orders.  McCook holds Corinth against massive Confederate counterattacks that never happen.

Farragut assembles his river flotillas and ironclads just up river from Helena.

Banks needs to cross the Alabama River to get to Mobile, but decides to wait.  Also in the deep south, Halleck and the Army of the Cumberland sits in Ft Gaines trying to think up a better name for his army.  He keeps Hooker with him as word is coming down the Chattahoochee that the Rebels are massing in Atlanta.

Back in the East, Burnside sends the Railway Repair unit to Baltimore and moves into the valley to Staunton.  McClernand stays put jostling for position with the newly arrived Pope.  There is not enough troops for the three generals and their corps which are converging on the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley (that said, they are facing three Confederate generals with even less troops).

In front of Richmond, the Union sit paralyzed, unable to match the 48,000 men the Confederates now have protecting the capital or the 66,000 men Beauregard has in the Army of North Virginia.

Pope and McClernand both want to give orders to attack the Confederates in Lynchburg, but neither can find a pen.  This does not stop them from writing to Washington complaining of the behavior of their fellow general.

McClellan thinks of attacking D Hill, but that's all he does, think.

Over in the West McDowell is determined to attack Hardee, but doesn't.

The Confederates are just as much as a challenge as the Union.  They hope however to be able to have time to make all their moves due to the tardiness for the Union generals.  We shall see.

The railroad repair unit is sent to join A Hill near Atlanta.

Price is ordered to force march to Drewry's Bluff; a 1,000 men desert along the way, but the immediate rear of Richmond is now secure.

The new cavalry division at Atlanta is ordered west to meet up with Forrest.

A Johnston and the Army of the Mississippi calls a rest break at Grenada, while Hardee decides to destroy the railway lines at Holy Springs and head to Ripley, believe it or not!  Forrest fails to move from Pontotoc (at least where he is, he provides support for Hardee).

Further south Jackson makes an epic forced march to beat Banks to Mobile.  1,000 men are lost on the way but he doesn't care.

Buckner and A Hill do nothing.

On the James, D Hill sends a division to Smith to give his Army of North Virginia some meaning.  It would appear Smith, Hindman and Stuart don't know what to do with them as no one takes any initiative to seal off the crossing point at the head of the James.  The other generals in the east hold their positions, although Beauregard contemplates an attack in the hope of throwing McClellan back across the James.  He can't decide.  Johnston thinks about doing it, but he can't decide either.  D Hill can have a go, but the initiative to attack seems to have left the Confederates even though they have over 50,000 men facing 36,000 Union south of the James.

Sealing the James.

See Hardee run

Week 86

The Union get the two chit meaning the Confederates get a double move.

The Confederates order A Hill to retake Tennessee.  He says "Why sure."  Forrest's new cavalry division is hurried on its way to him.

A Johnston is told to make haste and get to Vicksburg.  He duly does so, but 1,000 of his men decide not to go with him.

Hardee pulls back, destroying railroads as he goes.  Forrest decides Hardee is now safe and heads off to collect his new division.

Jackson crosses the Alabama River intent on destroying Banks.  He has 7,000 men, Banks 3,000.

Taylor sends 10,000 of the Richmond garrison to help Beauregard make his attack.

Again Smith, Hindman and Stuart fail to close the gap at the head of the James.

Beauregard attacks!  The 69,000 rebels hit the 35,000 Union troops on the 161-200 column of CRT 3.  It is a bloody victory.  The Confederates lose 11,000 men (15%) to the Union's 7,000 (20%), but McClellan is forced to retreat.  McClellan has a lucky escape due to having moved his HQ to the north bank of the James when the rebels attacked.

Jackson attacks Banks.  Due to the lack of supplies a it is only a modest battle, which turns out to be fortuitous as Jackson needed supplies.  No losses occur and Banks retreats.

The Union order Banks to get back to Mobile immediately!

With their final free initiative, the Union push a brigade over the James west of Lynchburg.  They will need to follow this up if they are to secure the crossing.  Burnside and McClernand fail to see this, but Pope recognises what needs to be done and hurries a division of 6,000 men there.

In a surprise move, Halleck takes his army back up the Chattahoochee.

Out west Crouch and Sickles again fail to move.  Buell and Crittenden sit down in Memphis and congratulate each other.  McDowell however sees wisdom in pursuing Hardee.  As does McCook who heads south from Corinth.

McClellan licks his wounds, while McPherson sends diminished divisions back to Washington and Baltimore, sends 3,000 men to Pope and then takes himself off to take command of the troops across the James west of Lynchburg.

Both Meade and Sedgwick have opportunity to attack Richmond at close parity in what would be an attritional battle in their favour, however the weather must be against them as both fail their initiative rolls miserably.

 McPherson keeping the Union across the James.

The pursuit of Hardee

Banks is back in Mobile.

Jackson would be in supply trouble except the presence of the Confederate ironclad in New Orleans means the Union navy has to keep off shore to remain safe, unable to interdict Confederate coastal traffic.

Week 87

The Union get the two chit.

The Confederates order Jackson to safety and hurry Forrest's cavalry division along to meet him.  After his victory, Beauregard is ordered to send troops to Smith and to Richmond.

Stuart takes himself off to fight McPherson, but doesn't.

A Hill gets on with his invasion of Tennessee, almost reaching the eponymous river.

A Johnston (who needs to get to Vicksburg), Hardee (who is not known for being tardy) and Forrest all fail to move, as does Bruckner.

The Union order up reinforcements for McPherson, it requires a force march and 1,000 men are lost crossing the mountains in winter time.

The 2,000 men holding Chattanooga are ordered to retreat.

Crouch fails to move from St Louis, but Sickles at last moves down to take command in Nashville.

Buell also gets into action, sending Crittenden with 23,000 across the Mississippi to confront Polk while moving himself to Corinth after leaving a garrison at Memphis.  Both McDowell and McCook are inspired to continue to put the pressure on Hardee.

Banks rests in Mobile.  Halleck makes no further progress up the Chattahoochee.

Burnside sends 6,000 men to McClernand and then heads off to Baltimore.

The only other action in the East is Sedgewick who moves down to the mouth of the James with 18,000 men and attacks the 2,000 rebels commanded by Price.  As he is without supplies he attacks on the 401-900 column of CRT 1.  The Confederates lose 1,000 men, but in a quirk of the CRT 1 table, don't have to retreat.  A great missed opportunity.  Price had a lucky escape, although reports that he was in Richmond posting a letter to the Emperor Maximilian, although strenuously denied, where later found to be true when the letter was returned due to insufficient postage.

The Division that put down the draft riots returns to Philadelphia.

Week 88

The Union get the 2 chit again.

Hardee, to avoid being cut off is ordered to move to Grenada, MI.  Johnston is ordered to get to Vicksburg immediately.

Beauregard is ordered to send reinforcements to Price and he dispatches 8,000 men.

A Hill retakes Chattanooga, bringing the war back to Tennessee.

Forrest finally picks up his second cavalry division in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Jackson moves to Winchester, MI.

Polk maintains his position at Helena on the Mississippi, but feels exposed.

The Confederates make no attacks as they know it will just cost them men and men are in short supply.

Banks receives reinforcements in Mobile when 10,000 Union troops disembark after their long voyage. As Banks had arrived on the coast after marching down, the newly arrived troops will not be under any movement penalty due to having travelled by sea.

Buell is ordered to secure Columbus, MI.  With some skilful forced marches he does so, even extending the rail line as he did so.  Forrest is now out of supply. 

Crittenden is ordered to force his way past Helena.  The Confederates have 80% of their force in the fort attempting to block the river.  The small force outside suffers 1,000 casualties, but stops the Union in their march attack.  In support, Farragut gets a River Flotilla past the fort and up the Arkansas river to put Polk's force out of supply.   When Polk is told this he has a suspected heart attack, but as he is not bothered by excessive stars he recovers (a 2 on the casualty table only effects 4 and 5 star generals).

I'm not using the Experimental Naval and Fort Combat rules [30.0] and it is possible I have been a bit generous with Union naval combat/moves (but I don't think so, I tend to forget about them too much).

McCook, in his continued display of initiative, sweeps down through Greensboro and cuts Hardee off.  Hardee can draw supply from the Yazoo river.  And in an equally dazzling display of initiative McDowell continues his pursuit of Hardee.  Hardee could have been surrounded, but it would have meant putting Union forces out of supply, so a bit MAD.

Banks throws a welcome party in Mobile.  Which seems to be all Crouch is doing in St Louis - partying (he has a 50% chance of activating and failed to do so each week of this cycle - disappointed!).

Hooker cuts the last rail connection into Alabama.

Burnside inspects the reinforcements in Baltimore, but doesn't realise it might be a good idea to send them down where they are needed.

Meade moves alongside Sedgewick.  McClellan, Franklin and Howard all discuss how dangerous the James River is and how it will be impossible to cross it.

McClernand clears the railway at the bottom of the Shenandoah Valley of an lingering Confederate claims to ownership.

Sedgewick attacks.  It is on the 91-110 column of CRT 3.  He has supplies now thanks to Meade and uses them.  The battle costs the Union 2,000 casualties, but they are over the river cutting off Richmond's penultimate lifeline.

 The East

The West


Confederacy lost 17,000 men due to battle and desertion plus 19,000 with the fall of Memphis and Fort Pillow.

Union suffered 11,000 casualties.


  1. The CSA was unlucky in its bid for independence. I have calculated their chances at 63%, which wasn't too foul. They look pretty much sunk now, though.

    1. At the start of this cycle I thought the Union were going to find it tough going, but they had look with the Western generals activating and very good luck, after McClellan got pushed back across the James, the Sedgwick was able to get in behind Richmond. As it is the end of the cycle he should be able to secure his bridgehead at Drewry's Bluff. It will still take a while for Richmond to fall and then the Union have to get Atlanta and New Orleans, but currently there is a lot of time and not many Confederates.