Saturday, 14 March 2015

Invasion Maryland - Confederate defeat !

It is twelve noon on September 13th, 1862 and the Army of the Potomac has finally brought the Army of Northern Virginia to ruin. After 67 turns of a nail-biting game, Lee concedes that he has been outmanoeuvred and beaten.

I know it's Grant - but where was I ever going to find a historical image of a
victorious General McClellan ?!!

The VP chart tells the story. By riding around in the Union rear (pretty much unopposed I have to say!) JEB Stuart gained about 80% of the objective points that were up for grabs - the Union finished with only 40 remaining out of an initial 250. But it wasn't enough. The Rebs also gave McClellan's artillery some very rough handling - but that wasn't enough either!

When it comes to attrition, the Rebs are always going to struggle.
 Infantry losses of 2000 more than the enemy is not good news.

Here is the situation at the end of the game. D.H.Hill's division has disappeared from the map at Williamsport because it was encircled and wiped out.

Final strategic map - note Stuart's troopers roaming free across Maryland !
Lee's left flank - some substantial routing highlighted.
Lee's centre, virtually unengaged.
Lee's right flank - scene of a brief victorious moment earlier in the game !

So where did it all go wrong ? Well, first I will bleat on pathetically about the factors that were stacked against me !  The scenario involved historically sized armies so that McClellan had 30,000 more men than Lee, even though Rebel troops were of marginally better quality than their enemy. Secondly, at all scales of the game the mechanics don't allow for a player who is not faring well to disengage and live to fight another day. Historically a victorious force would be as exhausted and demoralised as it's opponent and the two sides would simply disengage, without the losing force being completely destroyed (we hope to find a way to address this in future).

Okay - that's the moaning done ! Playing as McClellan, my brother Ian simply came up with a brilliant strategy and pursued it doggedly until he beat me. After a bit of a clumsy initial deployment, I arrived at an excellent defensive position, making good use of terrain and artillery LOS. On the morning of day two Longstreet's men launched a surprise attack on the Union left, which I know seriously rattled him and threw a spanner in the works. So, faced with all this Ian decided not to tackle any of the Confederate main position head on at all ! He shifted his weight north west to Williamsport where he pulverized D.H.Hill for a massive VP haul. When I shifted half of Longstreet's men over to that flank to try and deal with the situation he was simply ready for them with most of his army solidly in place.

Ian's plan was already good but I generously helped him him out with two massive blunders. I simply didn't think he would attack D.H.Hill with virtually ALL of his army, so I left Hill vulnerable. And when Ian passed his army across the front of my main position in order to get to Williamsport, I just sat there paralysed in my 'good defensive position' and let him do it, when I could have attacked.

A well earned and convincing victory for the Army of the Potomac. Check out Ian's celebrations at :

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Invasion Maryland - Turn 62

10:20 am: It has become clear that I have been seriously outmanoeuvred by McClellan - instead of attacking Lee's main position he has pinned it and bypassed it to encircle D.H.Hill at Williamsport. Although this has failed to yield a decisive VP total at the moment, it certainly will in the long term. I am pushing out Lee's left wing in reponse but it is too little, too late I think.

Pleasonton has crossed the Potomac and closed the trap on Hill.

Jones' Division pushes hard towards the banks of the Potomac below Williamsport, but the Yankees are moving to block the manoeuvre. Behind Jones, Anderson's Division (rushed from the eastern flank) assembles at Downsville.

Jones' Division move northwest out of Downsville,
but it looks like McClellan anticipated this.

A tactical view of Jones' brigades as they deploy to attack.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Invasion Maryland - Turn 58

The strategic situation at 9:00 am. Three things to note : there is a build up of Union forces to dislodge D.H.Hill from Williamsport : McClellan is refusing the left flank of the Army of the Potomac in response to the hammering it took in Longstreet's dawn assault : and in the bizarre absence of any Yankee troopers, Stuart has made a beeline for Funkstown.

Williamsport is under immense pressure. It is unlikely that we can hold it, but we can certainly make the Yankees pay for every street and building - and of course one Reb DIVISION is tying up two Union CORPS !! In truth, my opponent is reckoning on surrounding and eliminating D.H.Hill for a massive VP reward, and I have stupidly allowed it to happen by being too cocky.

Routed units can be shuffled to safety across the river at the moment - but
Union cavalry may be prowling there soon

Stuart's men have been feinting and manoeuvring behind Union lines to cause maximum anxiety. I expected huge numbers of Pleasonton's troopers to show up and put a stop to it - but they never did! So now the Reb cavalry is off to Funkstown.

Fitzhugh Lee's brigade is one hex away from securing 50 VPs for Funkstown.
Where the hell is the enemy cavalry ? It's making me slightly nervous ....

I don't want McClellan to have it all his own way at Williamsport so I am pushing Lee's reserve
division ( Jones/Longstreet's wing) out from Downsville on our left flank, in as threatening a manner as I can muster.

Jones may or may not mount a serious attack, I haven't decided yet.
Just the threat may be enough to throw McClellan into a muddle and stretch his resources.

I feel that the whole weight of the engagement may be shifting west. As there is a handy east/west road from Tilghmanton through Mount Moriah to Downsville, I am rushing Anderson's division across to the other flank. This can be easily and swiftly done without disturbing the main front we are presenting to the enemy, but the downside is that Anderson's division is weakened and fatigued by the morning's combat.

Anderson's battered brigades are marching to the opposite flank.
 Fair bit of grumbling in the ranks I would think.

Here is a tactical overview of the bulk of the Army of Northern Virginia.

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Invasion Maryland - Turn 51

Overview of the strategic situation at 6:40 am.

Note Stuart's troopers moving up from Boonsborough into the Union rear.

Overview of the main tactical situation. Another disastrous round of routing has forced the Union player to disengage several divisions north and east of Tilghmanton. I am going to use the lull to start withdrawing my own forces. The original Rebel dawn attack has shaken McClellan's nerves and caused a lot of casualties but I can't achieve any more here and we probably need to cautiously extricate ourselves.

Batteries withdraw just north of Fairplay as exhausted brigades
 start to pull out of Tilghmanton.

Robertson's cavalry brigade is shown here approaching the Union rear from the east of Antietam creek as Stuart attempts to add to McClellan's headaches. That's what he's paid for.

Trying to stay unpredictable - Rebel cavalry head west into the
Union rear rather than strike out north for the Funkstown VPs.

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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Invasion Maryland- Turn 49

The dawn attack on the extreme Union left has led to a blistering firefight with big losses on both sides. The Yankees counterattacked from the east, probing for Anderson's flank, and a handful of Reb units skedaddled - but the main line held and continued to slug it out. Eventually we were rewarded by a massive number of Union routs, but it barely impacted the effectiveness of their front line as there are always more soldiers in blue to plug the gaps.

Longstreet is a little uneasy about the Yankee line curling around
Tilghmanton to the south east.

Here are the in game statistics as of Turn 49, which is 6:00 am on Sept the 13th. I am particularly pleased to be winning the artillery combat, as the massive superiority in Union guns is usually my downfall. Confederate cavalry losses relate to much earlier in the game when Stuart was a little er,...reckless !

VPs are expressed for the Union side. Minus 72 may not seem like much of an
achievment for the Rebs, but the Union started the game with plus 250.

And speaking of Stuart, he is once again making a nuisance of himself far in the Union rear having gathered the VPs for Boonsborough (near South Mountain) during the night.

At Williamsport, D.H. Hill has gone on the defensive as McClellan orders Burnside's Corps to attack and remove the strategic threat he represents.

Overview of the main Confederate position with all the Union forces that are currently visible to us.

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Invasion Maryland - Turn 46

Here is the situation at first light (visibility just 4 hexes). We can now see what we are up against - a slightly more coherent line than we would have liked, but we have hit it hard and caused a lot of enemy casualties before they could properly react and return fire.

Confederate brigades shown. The red highlighted hex marks where the 44th Georgia
 just captured a 10 gun Federal battery and turned it on it's owners !

The Rebs have just deployed dozens of guns right up on the front line which will be able to open fire next turn - Union artillery is conspicuously absent. If this gamble is going to pay off we need to make headway very quickly and rack up a lot of VPs. Come full daylight and every Union battery within a mile is going to zero in on us.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Invasion Maryland - Turn 44

Both armies settled down at sunset yesterday, and any movement now is not visible to the enemy but it does incur high fatigue penalties. I know from bitter experience that when the Army of the Potomac is given time and space to marshal it's overwhelming resources against a static enemy it can be hard to beat.

The divisions were moved into place before midnight and have been
 recovering from their night-move fatigue ever since - it is now 3:00am on Sept 13th.

So I need to be a bit unpredictable and keep McClellan off balance. In the early hours of the night I pushed Anderson's division and most of McLaws division back out to Tilghmanton - a position they abandoned earlier in the day. It looked to me as if the Union left flank was up in the air and I might be able to take advantage of that. I have nervously made a deployment to assault the location where the extreme enemy flank was observed to be in daylight. Two things could go horribly wrong with this plan ...........

Is the Union flank still where it was, between the Emmet and Maddox houses just north of the town ?
I will have to wait for dawn to find out if my plan is crazy or not !

McClellan may may shifted or refused that flank in the darkness leaving me poised to attack .... nothing ! Or he may have massively reinforced it and I will be committed to assault against unfavourable odds. But if he has just left it as it was in the afternoon then I may be in with a chance of dealing him a hammerblow and taking the initiative away from him. My instinct is that his attention (and the weight of his army) is focussed on the opposite flank, nearer Williamsport.
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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Invasion Maryland - Turn 32

Strategic situation - 6:20pm - Turn 32

D.H.Hill has finally completely cleared the Yankee cavalry out of Williamsport, and established himself on the East bank of the Potomac. It has been a slow process though, and I would have preferred him to be in a better position to threaten either Hagerstown or McClellan's flank before nightfall. Regardless of that, I am still willing to bet that he is making the Union commander nervous!

Yankee troopers driven off, Hill consolidates his perimeter as dusk approaches.

Lee is patiently assembling his battle lines. It will be limited visibility from 7pm to 8pm then nightfall, after which any kind of movement carries a high cost in fatigue. The Confederates cannot compete with massed long-range Federal artillery so much of my deployment is an attempt to avoid those fields of fire.

The Rebel Left

The Rebel Centre

The Rebel Right

A tactic I have developed in previous games is to spread the rebel artillery thinly around the entire front line, stacking it with entrenched infantry to beef up their firepower in defence. This has proven to be a better use of it than getting into a large scale counter-battery combat that I can only lose. The artillery should mostly be in position before dark.

Overview of the Confederate lines.

Jones' division of Jackson's command is still moving up through Downsville, having been delayed by unusually audacious Union cavalry ! The left flank will not be fully secure until it is in place. Longstreet also has a division under a different General Jones which is being deployed as a reserve just north of Mount Moriah.

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