Strategic Hex Game McClellan's Last Command (custom GCACW module) - community playthrough

Pat Answer

Sergeant Major
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Oct 8, 2013
Location
“...somewhere between NY and PA”
This is the night General Pat McAnswer actually lost some sleep scratching his head. (Wife was p****d LOL). All enemy units located, substantial strength assembled in front, threat to Baltimore eliminated behind, dominant in cavalry...
Conclusion: They’re up to something...! (LOL!)

Yeah the real McClellan was rolling in his grave at this display of over-caution and hesitation.

My big take-away: the fog of war works both ways at all times. It was very good to have a “hey, man, hit ‘em!” teammate!
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Conclusion: They’re up to something...! (LOL!)
If you recall, the Union instructions said, specifically:


Left Wing -
XII to one mile N, VI and Couch (Franklin) to one mile NE, II to one mile SE of Ijamsville
Mac in charge of whole force

Averell to NE of Urbana, keep CS cav from intervening (avoid battle with infantry)

No attack though clearly I threaten one. I want to see what he does.

Now, here's a quick model of what an attack might have looked like, if attacks at good odds had been permitted...


Units close up on Ijamsville and McClellan moves to Franklin.

Franklin launches assault on Ijamsville, dr 4 vs. initiative value 6: 2 units go in (Smith, Slocum, 24 manpower and 6 batteries)
McClellan upgrades to grand assault? dr 6 - fails

Manpower: 24 attacker, 6 defender (+3 to attacker dice roll)
Type: assault (+1 to attacker dice roll)
Artillery: 6 batteries attacking, 4 defending (no modifier)
Tactics: Jackson (with JR Jones) is defensive 4, Franklin is offensive 3 (-1 to attacker dice roll)
Flanks: All 6 hexes around JR Jones are in Union zone of control, +4; two of them are occupied by Confederates, so reduce to +2 overall
No terrain modifiers

Result: Manpower +3 type +1 tactics -1 flank +2, overall bonus to attacker dice roll +5
Attacker dr 2, defender dr 3
Defender 1DR, attacker 1fa

JR Jones is routed out of Ijamsville at a cost of 500 casualties on both sides (falls back to Slabtown), Smith and Slocum occupy Ijamsville and will be tired the next day

Sumner launches assault on McLaws, dr 3 vs initiative value 6: all of 2nd Corps goes in (34 manpower and 8 batteries)

Manpower: 34 vs 7, +3 to attacker dice roll
Assault, +1 to attacker dice roll
Artillery: 8 batteries attacking, 3 defending, but the terrain is Rough (so no terrain modifier)
Tactics: Sumner and McLaws are evenly matched
Flanks: all 6 hexes around McLaws are in Union zone of control, +4; one of them is forest, so reduce to +3 overall

Result: Manpower +3 assault +1 flank +3, overall bonus to attacker dice roll 7
Attacker dr 3, defender dr 5
Defender 2DR, attacker 1Ea

McLaws is routed at a cost of 1000 casualties to his division and 500 to Sumner's corps
McLaws' only paths of retreat involve going cross country, another 500 casualties
Retreats to Slabtown


The result of this would thus be that two Union corps (6th and 2nd) would be tired by their exertions, and about 1,000 Union casualties - versus 2,000 Confederate ones and two of the Confederate divisions on that flank exhausted.

You might also note that the Union's dice rolls here were at no point better than average; even with poor rolls this is what happened!
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This actually speaks to an interesting philosophical point, which is about "the other side of the hill" and about working out the optimal time to "go for it".
The more strength you have assembled, all else being equal, the better; however, it's also the case that your enemy will "step back on the piste" and avoid the attack if they think it will be too destructive. This is one of the things which is more an art than a science, and why compelling an enemy to withdraw is often a positive step in a campaign.

To be able to damage an enemy, they have to be there to be hit.

A good real world example of where the actual McClellan concentrated force for an attack only for his opponent to step back the night before would be in the campaigning around Washington in late 1861; McClellan planned to attack Munson's Hill and Upton's Hill, but the night before he launched his actual attack the Confederates quit the position (probably the result of the plans leaking).
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
The confederates look to be vulnerable in the center. There really is no sure fix unless the science of that art for stepping back pronounces itself in the head of the commander. (I hope I am not side-gaming the play by these comments? If it was a chess match I would have been tossed out).
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The confederates look to be vulnerable in the center. There really is no sure fix unless the science of that art for stepping back pronounces itself in the head of the commander. (I hope I am not side-gaming the play by these comments? If it was a chess match I would have been tossed out).
Lubliner.
The Maryland Campaign game isn't going on any more! So it's quite alright.
 

dgfred

Private
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Yes... we noticed that too. I actually mentioned to Commander Pat that I was wondering if it was a 'trap' of some sort.

At Saph- Could the Confederates split their Divisions up if they wanted to?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Yes... we noticed that too. I actually mentioned to Commander Pat that I was wondering if it was a 'trap' of some sort.

At Saph- Could the Confederates split their Divisions up if they wanted to?
They could have done, yes, and did on more than one occasion. The resultant brigades would be weaker, however - among other things they have no artillery and have brigade-class leaders instead of division-class ones (Bde-class leaders are usually 1 point worse.)
 

Lubliner

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They could have done, yes, and did on more than one occasion. The resultant brigades would be weaker, however - among other things they have no artillery and have brigade-class leaders instead of division-class ones (Bde-class leaders are usually 1 point worse.)
So is this the review of the finished game, or was it preempted?
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
For the 27th.

Here's what the Confederates could see:

as_seen_Confederate_evening_27th.jpg


You might notice there's a lot less info here. That's because the Confederates have lost almost all their remaining cavalry, and their last scouting asset (Stuart with one regiment) is surrounded by enemy cavalry zone of control.
They're now down to being able to tell the position of an enemy when they're actually in contact, plus what they can glean from the battle reports.


The Union has more info, but not quite full info:


as_seen_Union_evening_27th.jpg


About half the remaining Confederate divisions on the board are routed, and the Union knows there's only six; the Union also knows that the Army of the Potomac has a lot more than six (there's sixteen of them in shot) and they have two of them over the Monocacy.

At this point, the remaining Confederate priority is basically for as much of their army as possible to evade Union pressure.

Here's the movements:

movements_of_27th.jpg

You might also notice here that the images I've been using are cropped at the top. That's actually going to have to change...


At this point it's also useful to think about options. Right now there are three possible avenues the Confederate army could take (assuming that they know Harpers Ferry at least is strongly held, which it is):

Cross east of the Catoctins. This is close to the army, but it's also close to the pursuers, and the Confederates have no way to tell currently which route 2nd Corps is taking.

Cross between the Catoctins and South Mountain. This means putting a ridgeline between the Confederates and their pursuers, but it's further to go.

Cross around Sharpsburg. This is the furthest distance of all to go.

There is probably no best answer - in particular, it depends quite heavily on the positions of the Union forces around Harpers Ferry.
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Making a plunge toward the Point Of Rocks and crossing just east of Catoctin Creek seems preferable, keeping McLaws in place, possibly backed up by Lawton with a holding action, and moving off slowly after the rest have passed down through Adamstown and Doubs Switch. It will be interesting to see what happened next! I notice Stuart is no more.
Lubliner.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Stuart's still there - the cross is the demise of one of his two remaining regiments, but he still has the other.

And yes, with hindsight going for Point of Rocks is probably the superior option. That's with hindsight though...
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
So the 28th of September was right towards the conclusion of the Maryland Campaign,and was in fact the final day for which I used orders issued by the commanders. This is because it was getting to the point where the game wrapped up.

A look at what the Confederates could see is a... big hint why:


as_seen_Confederate_evening_28th.jpg



The Confederates elected to move west of the Catoctins, to use the mountain range as a shield from Union pursuit, and it did work to some extent - many of the shown Union divisions are exhausted - but the real problem here is that the final Confederate scouting assets (Stuart's remaining cavalry regiment) have been dispersed, in a chaotic engagement on both sides of the Monocacy.


As it happens, this situation isn't quite as hopeless as it looks for those divisions which have been enveloped - a single division routing through an enemy formation is only going to lose 1,500 men, which, sure,is bad but it's not the loss of the entire formation.
Take a close look at the position of that division between Lawton and Anderson, though - it's encircled...

Here, however, is what the Union could see.

as_seen_Union_evening_28th.jpg

The Union still has cavalry assets, and so it can keep track of that division that's routed to the north. It's also got even more troops en route,though the road network is starting to make them snarled up in themselves. As mentioned, a lot of these units are also exhausted in some way.

The biggest surprise,though,is that little regiment at Berlin Ferry. That regiment has been there for the whole game, it's never moved, and it's never come within the scouting radius of any Confederate cavalry unit - and it's blocking the Confederate way out.

This is why Point of Rocks would have been a superior answer. (Though the Union could have railed troops west along the Loudoun and Hampshire to block the way out more thoroughly, so the Confederates can be forgiven there!)

movements_of_28th.jpg



You can see how much distance the Union forces have covered relative to their Confederate counterparts, and it's a big part of the reason for that exhaustion.

I do apologize for the distortion in the movement arrows; I've tried fixing it but it's entirely too much effort. The basic sense should be understandable anyway.


After this day's turn, both sides agreed that I should play out the remaining campaign myself, pretty much to see how much of the Confederate army escaped south of the Potomac.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
And here's the last couple of days of movement.


movements_of_29th.jpg

On the 29th, I had Lawton and Anderson knock back the blocking division of 2nd Corps and then move for the Berlin Ferry, where JR Jones made contact by surprise then tried and (barely) failed to force the 87th Ohio off of Berlin Ferry. This resulted in what was basically an existential crisis for the Army of Northern Virginia - they needed to get that ford open at all costs.

Ford's brigade from Harpers Ferry marched to join the 87th Ohio, making the "cork" in the bottle stronger.

Meanwhile, AP Hill was routed (losing thousands of men, but successfully moving south) and Walker tried to flee north but was overhauled by cavalry - at this point his formation was so depleted that cavalry was something he couldn't just knock aside.



On the 30th:
movements_of_30th.jpg


The ford was cleared by an attack, though the time required to do so resulted in the Confederate troops not managing to get over the ford that way. A traffic jam resulted which impeded the Union's efforts to get at the Confederates.



The next morning, I basically called it when the Confederates got over the ford, though I have subsequently re-evaluated that because at the very least Grover's division (of 3rd Corps) and the 12th Corps are in position to pursue, with Smith and Couch also able to. This would have meant further casualties to the Confederate army, though the suffering they actually took was bad enough; it would not however have meant the total loss of the Confederate army.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
On a slightly different note, here's the events of the 10th June in the Gettysburg campaign, which has seen the first notable combat in the game.





Skirmish near Providence Church

In the face of multiple Union corps (5th, 12th and 11th) crossing the Rappahannock, Robertson's cavalry brigade fought a delaying action and then pulled back to the southwest. Casualties were negligible on both sides.


Battle of Cedarville
In the morning, Hood's division of Longstreet's corps crossed the now-passable fords of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River just west of the confluence with the South Fork.
The 13th Pennsylvania attempted a delaying action, and while they were quickly repulsed by overwhelming numbers their action did permit some fortification by Ely's brigade in Cedarville.
The time also allowed Jenkins' cavalry to come around their flank, however, threatening Ely from the rear, and when Hood's division assaulted in the afternoon the fortifications were insufficient. Ely's brigade was shattered, losing half its strength in the first assault over Crooked Run, and the remnants routed north in total disarray.


Battle of Waterloo
Concentrating two brigades, Stuart launched an assault on Wyndham's brigade in Waterloo from the south. The attack forced Wyndham away from Waterloo, sending him retreating in disorder to northwest of Carter's Run Church, though the fighting took long enough that Stuart's men and horses were largely exhausted; for all that, the casualties were surprisingly low (i.e. not enough to track)
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Events of the 11th June



Battle information:

Battle of Newtown
In attempting to march clear of the Dunkard Church, Ely's exhausted brigade straggled in the rain until it was around the size of a regiment. McLaws' division then marched through the rain along the Newtown-White Post pike road, smashing Ely's disorganized units without even really needing to deploy, and marched through to Newtown.
The brigade is effectively destroyed.


Capture of Culpeper
On a rainy evening, Slocum marched into Culpeper and captured the Confederate supply depot there. The depot has a significant quantity of food (enough for six days for one division), though few Confederates were captured in the depot itself.
 

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