Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ACW 1862 Campaign

We were going to fight a campaign battle tonight, but Stonewall Jackson reported in sick and the Rebs asked for a postponement.  It looks too good a battle to use up short handed so the gods agreed.  So tonight the Union prepared their position ready for the Rebs when they show up.  (Then we fought a Bolt Action on the other table).

So far I have been unable to put reports about the campaign itself on the blog.  I could only describe the battles because the campaign involves hidden movement and it was impossible to report on the strategic situation without revealing forbidden intelligence to the players. 

The campaign is based on Lee's 1862 invasion of Maryland - the Antietam campaign.  We have two  umpires.  Peter Williams in Canberra designed & set up the campaign and is generally running it by email.  I am setting up and umpiring the battles here in Hobart using our Hail Mr Lincoln variant of Hail Caesar.  The first 3 battles were small ones and were fought using 15mm figs.  The large battle we are about to fight will use 6mm figs. There are 4 players on each side – all are taking part in strategic decision making by email, those who could can turn up on the night fight the battles.  These have been described on the blog as they happened.

The Union force comprised 7 Corps of varying size & quality, plus garrisons at Harpers Ferry, Baltimore and Washington.  The field army started in an area just west of Washington.  The Confederate army comprised 6 divisions of various sizes and quality and started in an area just east of Harpers Ferry.

The campaign has a 15 campaign day time limit.  The Confederates can win a decisive victory by taking either Baltimore or Washington, or win a minor victory by gaining 3 Victory Points.  Victory Points can be won by taking Harpers Ferry, by raiding deep into Maryland, by winning a major battle or by bombarding Baltimore or Washington for 24 hours.  VPs would be lost by losing a major battle.

The map has a hex grid, each hex about 8km.  Standard move rates are 2 hexes a day for foot, 4 for cavalry.  Forced marching is allowed, but can cause units to lose stamina.  There are restrictions on how many troops can use a single road. All movement was hidden from the enemy with intelligence gained from spies and contact at the umpire’s discretion.  Battlefields are set up using historical maps of the area where available, or failing that using Google Earth as a guide.

At the start of the campaign, the Confederates crossed into Maryland and split into two groups.  One infantry division and the cavalry division moved west to Harpers Ferry, the rest went north towards Gettysburg.  The Union army in scattered Corps marched generally west towards Harpers Ferry.

The attack on Harpers Ferry was repulsed at first, but a renewed attack with Confederate reinforcements the next day took the town.  Some of the Rebs garrisoned the town, the rest headed northwest to try to join the main force.  This force was caught on the road by a Union Corps almost twice their size forced marching up behind them.   The Rebs deployed behind Antietam Creek (on the edge of the historic battlefield) and managed to hold off the Union attack until nightfall.  They then made their escape back over the Potomac via Williamsport.

At this stage the Union had much better intelligence than the Rebs as they had used their cavalry in a scouting role while the Rebs had used their cavalry’s mobility to speed up their concentration around Harpers Ferry.  The main Rebel army had moved to a position near Gettysburg & then rested up and the Union knew this, but the Rebs were generally ignorant of the Union positions. 

After a period of masterly inactivity, Lee suddenly started marching east towards Baltimore.  The Union then realised they had got a bit over-obsessed with Harpers Ferry and started moving back east to intercept him.   Our next battle is to fought outside Baltimore.
The city is on a broad peninsular on Patapsco Bay defended by some basic fortifications.  It has a sizable garrison of 3rd rate troops in the earthworks around the perimeter of the city.  Two small Union army Corps have thrown up hasty entrenchments forward of the city facing the Cockeystown Rd running north towards the camera - the direction that Lee's army is expected to appear from on turn 8 of a 24 turn day - day 11 of the campaign.  (The thin tape represents a railway).
Both sides know the other has reinforcements marching towards Baltimore, but doesn't know when they will arrive.  If Lee can storm the city and take it, Lincoln and McClelland will be so discredited that the Confederacy will win the war.  If he either bombards the city for a day, or gets a foothold in the city, and then gets back to Virginia past McClellan's army the Rebels will be able to claim a minor victory. 

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