Friday, November 17, 2017

WBTS via Vassal - Weeks 89 to 92

After last month's play where I thought the Confederates had been able to stabilize everything to now thinking it is all falling apart, let's see what happens with this installment.

For the Confederates Charleston and New Orleans provide imports (the latter because it is protected by an ironclad) garnering a massive 8 supply points.  The Confederates are carrying 160 supply.  They get 95 from major cities (Richmond, Atlanta and New Orleans).  This gives them 263 to spend with their 10 personnel points.    They raise 10,000 garrison troops and are left with 243 supply.

The Union have just 9 supply to carry forward and get 180 from major city supply.  They have 30 personnel points (would have been 40 if they had freed the slaves).  They augment 3,000 man divisions from Washington and Baltimore and a 4,000 strong, eh weak, division from Philadelphia.  The remaining points go towards training 5,000 militia as that keeps the supply requirements low.  They have a need as will be seen.  They are left with 124 supply.

The Confederates deploy 10,000 garrison troops to Richmond, and 5,000 to each of New Orleans and Atlanta.  No partisan bands form.

The Union receive 5,000 militia that they will hold on to.  10,000 man divisions are formed at Cairo, Bowling Green and Baltimore, a 3,000 man division is posted to Washington.  A river flotilla goes to St Louis, along with 7,000 garrison troops. 5,000 more garrison troops go to Cairo.

Both sides conduct brigade merges were possible trying to replenish their worn down divisions.

The Union, using their accumulated supplies, rush fortification materials to Sedgewick who quickly fortifies Drewry's Bluff.  They take no risks and spend 60 supply points.

Likewise the Confederates take no risks in fortifying Vicksburg.  They also relocate the Department of Kentucky and Tennessee to Vicksburg.  There is some laughter at this in the press and a number of editors are threatened with treason.  Subsequent articles suggest treason was involved in the loss of Kentucky and Tennessee.  That is labelled fake news and in loud voices Confederate loyalists declare that Kentucky and Tennessee will be, have been and still are part of the Confederacy of free states, united together to fight Northern aggression.

Magruder returns from sick leave and is given command of a corps in A Johnston's Army of the Mississippi.  This immediately causes a fight with Huger who claims he was due a corps command.

A new recruit, Walker, is posted to Atlanta.

The Union (again) fail to create headquarters, just as Thomas and Heinzelman return to active duty.  The latter goes to Washington while Thomas is given Burnside's command.  Burnside takes it like a professional and hands Thomas his supply of specially procured seasick pills.

The Confederates build up their field army in Richmond by drafting in garrison troops.

The Union consume 47 supply using 16 rail.  Sedgewick builds a depot which allows supply to be broadcast to him, making his foothold on Richmond's rear nearly impregnable.

The Confederates consume 24 supply using 12 rail.  Polk, Forrest and the militia at Montgomery are all out of supply, but manage to get by without any serious desertions, even when Forrest unveils the new Confederate uniform consisting of a white sheet and a pointy hat.

Week 89

The Union start with the 5 chit.  There is lots to do.

Crittenden is ordered to get the Confederates at Helena.  He performs a march attack across the river at the very small force Polk has screening the fort.  The attack goes in on the 401-900 column of CRT 1.  It is a failure.  The 5% casualties doesn't register on the Confederates and so nothing happens.

Buell is then activated and collects his army and moves to confront Forrest.

Not wanting any delays, such as occurred with the disgraced Crouch, Thomas is ordered to set sail for Norfolk, VA.  In a intricate move, 10,000 men sail there directly, 20,000 force march to Alexandria and sail from there and a supply wagon and Railway Repair Unit is also dispatched, along with necessary supplies.  A 1,000 men perish in the rough seas, or from taking too many sea-sickness pills (a court of inquiry will be held), it is hard to say as the evidence all went overboard.  Thomas names his operation "cat amongst the pigeons".

The reinforcements at Cairo are shipped down the river and get as far as Memphis.  Some of the garrison troops newly raised don't appreciate the change of scenery and a 1,000 of them wander off. (The river transport could only reach Fort Pillow and it was a forced march for the new recruits to disembark and then move to Memphis).

Realising he's in disgrace, Crouch tries to make amends by distributing garrison forces throughout Missouri.  He then sails for Jefferson City to pick up some stranded forces.

McCook stays put while McDowell swings round behind Hardee, whose troubles are far from over.

Halleck and Hooker are deep in conference and fail to realise it is their turn to move.

Over in the east, the Union await the Confederate reaction to Thomas' landing.  Meade has the bright idea of sending a brigade down to stir Butler into action (free him from the restrictions of water transport).  Butler asks if he has won the war yet.

Crittenden attacks!  Whoops, no he doesn't.  He challenges Polk to a duel.  Polk receives a mere flesh wound, but Crittenden is hospitalised for nine months (I'd forgotten to check for leader casualties after his march attack).  This setback for the Union means the Confederates get away as their hold on Helena, now that they were out of supply, had to be given up.  It does mean 9,000 Confederates can keep fighting.

The Confederates order Hardee to make his escape.  Before doing the same for Polk, the ironclad is sent up from New Orleans, getting as far as the protection of Vicksburg.

A Hill is ordered to attack, from march, the small Union force withdrawing from Chattanooga.  He does so inflicting 1,000 casualties for no rebel loss.

In the east Beauregard is ordered to drive Sedgewick into the James.  He sends a message to Taylor who is in charge of the Richmond army to send him some troops, but it doesn't get through.  No other troops can be spared.  He attacks anyway with 31,000 troops against Sedgewick's 14,000.  The attack goes in on the 201-250 column of CRT 3.  At least Beauregard is able to draw supplies for his attack from Richmond.  It is a desultory affair with both sides losing 2,000 men.

Back in the West, Jackson decides he better go help Hardee and Forrest thinks the same.  Bruckner seems lost in the mountains.  Magruder takes 10,000 men and the supply train and heads off to meet Jackson and Forrest.  Johnston stays in Vicksburg to raise some militia to build up the garrison.

A Hill finishes the destruction of the troops retreating from Chattanooga.

The West with everything in it, even the Confederate ironclad very bottom left hand corner.

When winter ends the James won't be such an obstacle.
It could well be that Richmond is on borrowed time

Week 90

The Union get the 4 chit.

Farragut braves the guns of Fort Helena and sails down the Mississippi in the hope that the Confederate ironclad will come out.  One Union River Flotilla is lost in the passage of the guns.

McDowell and Buell head to rendezvous with McCook in the face of the coming Confederates.

Burnside is ordered west, he takes the train headed to Memphis.

Troops in Bowling Green are sent to Nashville with a brigade being sent up to block A Hill's advance.  The Union need to get an army with a suitable commander to central Tennessee.

On his own initiative, Sickles take 8,000 to confront A Hill.

Banks, Halleck and Hooker all sit put.

In a blow to the Union, Thomas fails to move.  The rest of the Union generals in the East lose heart and no one moves.

Porter does bring the ironclad up to help support Sedgewick.

The Confederate high command order Beauregard to attack Sedgwick (an attack made as part of movement is done at half strength and only on CRT 1, but doesn't require supplies).  Sedgwick is the better commander and frustrates the attack.  There are no losses, although the Confederate generals get a scare when surprised by Union pickets (I have just found out I should be testing for every leader in a stack involved in combat).

The Union failed to remember their ironclad could have provided support.  The Confederates are about to get Taylor to pull out of Richmond to make an attack, which could have fatal consequences for Richmond, when the black smoke from the Union ironclad is spotted and they decide not to persist.  But they need to do something!

Bruckner is ordered to help A Hill with the invasion of Tennessee.  The consensus is that while it is pointless, it has to be done.  If the Confederates are lucky it will draw Union reinforcements away from the other theatres of operation.

Polk is ordered to leave a token garrison and sneak off down the Mississippi river.

Jackson, Forrest and Magruder meet up around Carthage, MI.  Magruder hands over his troops and supply wagon and heads back to Vicksburg.  Jackson has 17,000 men now and Forrest 5,000 troopers and more importantly a supply train.

Ewell sends reinforcements to one of the forts garrisoning the mouth of the Mississippi (they are garrison troops, but will be able to be absorbed over time into the regulars stationed there).

A Hill gets ready to cross the Tennessee, but writes to Richmond saying that Halleck's Army of the Cumberland is just a week's march from Atlanta.  Richmond reply that maybe, but that his supply lines aren't.  There are also 15,000 men protecting Atlanta and Halleck only has 10,000 and is a long way from getting any reinforcements.

Hindman, who was attached to Smith's Army of North Virginia is detached to take over Stuart's command who then gets his cavalry and marches towards Richmond.  While the Confederate press is describing Thomas' descent on Norfolk as a "beached whale", Stuart knows better.

There are no attacks.

 The situation in Mississippi.

Alabama and Tennessee.

And in Virginia

Week 91

The Union get the 5 chit.

Farragut sails his fleet back up to Helena and blasts the poor Confederates who were left behind to pieces.  He is almost hit by a ricocheting cannonball, but luckily had his lucky rabbit's foot in his hand.  (I better fess up and say that these imaginative explanations are my doing and should not be taken as an example of any combat outcome specified by the game designers or developers.)

Crittenden's Corps is then ordered to occupy the fort and move down river to capture Arkansas Post.

Buell's Army of the Mississippi is ordered to the Mississippi and skillfully combines at Yazoo City with a grand total of 47,000 men.  Vicksburg only has a garrison of 5,000...

Sedgewick is ordered to send one of his divisions to go and meet Thomas.  This requires a forced march to cross the mouth of the James, but after a hearty breakfast this is achieved without loss (if they had thought to preposition the river transport then the Union could have made a Ferry).

Sickles moves to block A Hill from crossing the Tennessee as does the brigade down river facing Bruckner.

Thomas has overcome his astonishment at the lack of Confederate defenders and starts his march on Petersburg, aided by the troops sent by Sedgwick.

McClellan is busy writing about how he captured Richmond.  Howard, who has been trying to see him to get some orders, decides instead to call for volunteers to cross the James and destroy the railway line.  It's dangerous work and 1,000 men die in the attempt, but the rail line is cut, sealing Richmond's fate by putting it under extended siege.

Halleck, in an awesome display of initiative, takes his cavalry and cuts the rail line linking Atlanta to Macron.

Crouch brings back some 4,000 idle troops from Jefferson City, MI, to St Louis.

There are no attacks (McClernand tried, but failed and Thomas could have tried an "attacker wiggle", but why suffer the embarrassment of such an tactic?).

The Confederates have to move quickly in both the east and the west.

Richmond is doomed.  Stuart can slow down Thomas, but the nail in the coffin has been the cutting/blocking of the two railway lines connecting Richmond with the rest of the Confederacy.  Should they evacuate immediately or hang on for one more month?

The West gets attention first, with Hardee ordered to Carthage (a 1,000 men desert) and Jackson back to Vicksburg.

Beauregard gets a pitiful plea to save Richmond.  He has Price wipe out the Union saboteurs, who are described in the press as terrorists with calls for the rising of Confederate partisans to take the war to the Union heartland and make them suffer.  But Beauregard pulls out 48,000 troops defending the capital, leaving just 10,000 in the fortress under the command of General Holmes who is delighted to be recognized as the saviour of Richmond (and has no idea of the perilous state of his command).

Stuart at least has the initiative to block Thomas, although he better be careful not to get trapped.

A Hill and Bruckner are stalled on the Tennessee.

Walker, in Atlanta, seems out of his depth.

Ewell sends a brigade up to Baton Rouge.  The whole of the Mississippi must be fortified.

Forrest, it seems, doesn't know what he should do.

Polk can't bring himself to abandon Arkansas.

Beauregard now has 45,000 men.  He faces 8,000, but backed by an ironclad.  He attacks.  It is the 131-160 column of CRT 3. Both sides use supply.  The Union suffer 10% casualties, which, including the ironclad makes 3,000.  The ironclad passes its SNAFU roll and is unaffected.  The Union lose 2,000 infantry, the Confederates 3,000.  If the Confederates get to go first next turn...

Richmond fighting for survival.

 Atlanta under threat.

 Confederate offensive into Tennessee stopped at the river.

Vicksburg, where the stakes are high.

Week 92

The Union get the 4 chit.  Sedgewick is saved.

First Thomas is activated and he sends a brigade back to Norfolk thus removing the water transport restriction on the division there.  He then conducts a march attack against Stuart who retreats before combat.  The Division in Norfolk is then picked up and delivered to Sedgewick.

Farragut sails down the Mississippi and now blockades Vicksburg.  Burnside is sent to take over Crittenden's Corps and he take's 10,000 men from Memphis with him.

Buell is ordered to attack Jackson.  The march attack is on the 131-160 column of CRT 1.  Jackson uses his skills to convert a retreat to a contact.  McCook is almost killed when spotted by a rebel sniper, who. however. holds his fire hoping for a shot at someone with more gold braid. 

Curtis and Sumner stay in St Louis.  They have 30,000 men ready for any partisan problems.

Sickles and Banks also stay put in their respective posts (Tennessee and Mobile respectively).

Hooker and Halleck, who have stuff to do, decide to stay put as well.

The important Union generals round Richmond don't take advantage of the absence of its field army.

No one attacks, in the East or West.

The Confederates order Polk to double back to Little Rock so he can be in supply.  (I now realise this is a false hope as Little Rock is only connected to one other city/town by rail or water).

Hardee is ordered to join Jackson immediately.

Stuart is ordered to destroy the Union base at Norfolk.  With 5,000 troopers he can't fail against the 1,000 leaderless Union men.  This action also destroys the Union Railroad Repair Unit.

Beauregard does nothing, but Price takes it into his head to move some of the garrison evacuated from Richmond to Bragg's command.

Over in the East, A Hill has the initiative to do something, but can't decide what.  Forrest decides to retake Yazoo City and block Buell's line of retreat (forgetting the Union have the mighty Mississippi as their highway).

There are no attacks and the Confederates sink into a deep funk.

Militia are raised at Baton Rouge and put to work building fortifications.

 High troop concentrations in the East.

Dispersed operations in the West.


Union lost 12,000 casualties to the Confederates 7,000, but seem to have well and truly seized the strategic initiative.

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