Civil War Pt 6: The South is Burning

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What I wouldn’t do for her help now!

My positive turns of fortune were quickly reversed by the might of the Yankee Military Industrial Complex.

Though Lee finally was able to take command of the Army of Northern Virginia in Maryland and leave Hood in charge of the Carolina forces, Union Ironclads made it impossible for to ferry supplies to the army. The raiders in Pennsylvania didn’t succeed in luring away more than a few troops away from the Army of the Potomac. Lee was forced to make his move and hope that McDowell was too inept to keep him from skirting the river south and take Washington. Alas, my dad succeeded on his reaction roll and McDowell managed to cut me off. Bloody skirmishing ensued that ultimately led to Lee being driven back into Virginia. In the back and forth, nearly all of Virginia has been lost.

Things are just as bad, if not worse in the west. Though normally an incompetent bum, with no one but militiamen to stop him, Rosecrans has been cutting a swath through the deep south with the Army of the Cumberland. Some fighting back and forth around Memphis finally sealed the fate of the far west and deprived the rest of the Confederacy of scant imports and delicious tex-mex cooking. I just can’t match the flexibility of the Union marine forces and the Union’s now virtually limitless supply capacity. Whereas I’d had Grant on the ropes just before, with every Yankee available hopping on a train and joining up with the Tennessee to reinforce him, he was quickly able to rebound and make things dire for both AS Johnston and Jackson. So, while Jackson was busy trying to deal with the marines who kept trying to take Memphis, Grant was able to put the hurt pretty bad on Johnston who, unlike Grant, didn’t have a bunch of recruits to make up for his losses. Now Jackson is cut off and out of supply in the middle of Mississippi and will have to get all the way to Georgia before he can reconnect with his supply line, and Johnston’s beaten a retreat all the way from Decatur to Chattanooga with not much left of the Army of Tennessee but the baggage trains and the paperwork. Unless I win initiative of the first pulse of next turn, Johnston will be forced to surrender.

Very little is happening for me in the TransMississippi, and now that they’re completely cut off from the rest of the Confederacy, probably even less will. The only upside is that my Dad will be so busy taking Alabama and securing Virginia, he might not have time to finish off my token force in North Little Rock. And man, for all of the dozens of command points spent in the Far West over the course of the 13 turns we’ve finished, we each have only 1 victory point a piece to show for it. I’ll probably never get a second one, because of how lousy the Mexican Banditos are. Most wild Indians still have a shot of burning down a fort even if it’s been alerted; banditos will ALWAYS either go home or get killed if they try to attack an alert fort. I’d’ve been better off sending my Apaches or Comanches across hundreds of miles of desert into New Mexico than send Mexican Banditos, even if they were closer.

There are a few things I wish now that I’d done differently.

I wish I’d sent even a marginally competent 3 star general to Arkansas so I could have done SOMETHING there after the first turn or two. Ironically, crushing Lyon’s force in Springfield turned into a strategic mistake, because it gave my dad the chance to put one of the top tier Union generals* into a theater where he’d see a lot more action.

I should not have pushed into the North with the Army of Northern Virginia. For the most part, we’d kept detente, and I’d finally dealt with the worst of the coastal raiders. I’ve lost too many leaders, either to wounds or death in fairly meaningless battles. Since I was never able to take Washington, I never got any permanent victory points for cities I took north of Dixie. I would’ve been better off trying to keep my ports open.

Even though it would’ve tied up my 2nd best general and an entire army, I should’ve left Jackson with his monstrous force in the Swamp Fortress outside of New Orleans. It would’ve kept the Mississippi River open and I wouldn’t have that blundering bum from Delaware steamrolling across the deep south from Vicksburg to Atlanta. It would’ve meant that I couldn’t press the assault against Grant as I’d done, but it proved to be a major strategic mistake.

Which leads into my next mistake: I should not have pressed against Grant. I came so close to annihilating the Army of the Tennessee I could taste it. I had Grant at such a huge disadvantage for awhile, it seemed like I could actually squash him. Unfortunately, doing so meant chasing him north toward Paducah and leaving Nashville open. And dagnabbit, what did I JUST say about Lyon? Having two decent sized armies operating in west Tennessee seemed like a good idea until one of them had to head back to Nashville and let Grant get between them.

Even though I did a great job of holding Tennessee much longer than the actual confederacy, I sacrificed too much energy in trying to create diversions in Kentucky. There’s just no way for the south to both keep Tennessee safe from the Cairo staging area and do anything in Kentucky while staying in supply.

I wish I’d built more commerce raiders. Nearly all of my points are going to come from the CSS Alabama, who’s sunk upwards of 30 ships. It’s just that the Confederacy has so few resources they can devote to naval strength. Just about the only thing that confederate vessels are good for is keeping the rivers open for a couple of hex-sides, and there are times I really wished I’d managed to do so, those discretionary points just always made sense to be used for something else.

We’ll probably be wrapped up in two more sessions at most, unless I’m forced to surrender in the next few turns. Since both the Army of Mississippi and the Army of Tennessee are on the verge of being annihilated, it’s looking very possible.  And yeah, Board Game Geek’s 20+ hour playtime estimate is probably not all that far off.

“Aww, man, I don’t know what I’m gonna do…”
“You can free all the slaves and surrender.”
*:The game’s creators are certainly Nathaniel Lyon fanboys; that Stonewall Jackson may have been promoted to 3 star general, had he lived, seems like a more reasonable ‘what-if’ than the 3 star Lyon (who is mechanically the equal of Thomas, Mead, Grant and Sherman), especially since it’s highly unlikely that a Union player would leave a 2-2-2 general in TransMississippi theater.

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