Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Shenandoah 1862 Campaign Ends

The map below shows the campaign moves after the battle of Winchester.
After Winchester Banks & Shields retreated over the Potomac at Harpers Ferry hotly pursued by Ewell & Ashby.  The Rebs declined to charge over bridge under the Union guns but raided the arsenal for weapons & supplies.  Jackson's div rested up a day at Winchester collecting loot before striking east at Leesburg.
The Reb victory at Winchester had finally convinced Lincoln that McDowell & Fremont had to be sent to the valley to deal with him.  McDowell marched north from Manassas just failing to prevent Jackson taking Leesburg.  McDowell's 2nd division (Geary's) came up the next day & pursued Jackson back to the valley.  Jackson blew the bridge over the Shenadoah near Snickers Gap  & rested his battered division at the crossroad while Geary's engineers repaired the bridge, Ewell marched south from Harpers Ferry to join Jackson & Ashby's cavalry went to Winchester. 
After resting up a day after the battle, McDowell's div took over from Geary at the bridge while Geary marched south west to find another crossing over the Shenadoah.  He found the next one also blown & having left his engineers at Snickers didn't try to cross there & headed off towards the Manassas Gap (taking a long way round due to dense forest on the river bank).
Fremont marched his lead division from West Virginia to Winchester where he found Ashby - who conceded the town, but maintained a watch on Fremont.  Fremont moved west to New Town & was joined by his 2nd division.
After rest & reorganisation on the safe side of the Potomac, Shields' division was able to resume operations & follow Ewell on 1 June & Banks' div moved off towards Winchester on 2 June.
The Rebs turned left at the New Town-Front Royal crossroad towards Front Royal with Ashby's cavalry left as rear guard.
Union cavalry from all 3 Union commands converged on Ashby's rearguard to fight the last action of the campaign.
The road to Front Royal heads off the bottom left corner of the pic.
McDowell's cav has come cross county from the right foreground.
Fremont's cavalry is the column far left.
Shield's cavalry is the small brigade next to them (he came on from the far right.
Ashby's Reb cavalry is in the left foreground having already had 2 units broken by McDowell's 1st charge.
Despite early success, McDowell's men dithered while Freemont's & Shield's came up.
The Rebs never recovered from their early reverse & were also pushed back on their left.  With half their units broken they broke off the action & the remaining units ran down the road to Front Royal having done enough to allow the foot & the wagon train of loot to safely cross the Shenadoah.
With the bridge blown behind them, the Rebs had a clear road home & the Union forces were all too far north to be able to intercept them.

The Rebs were deemed to have won a great victory in the campaign having accumulated 8 VPs.
1 each for taking Winchester, Harpers Ferry & Leesburg.
1 each for forcing both McDowell & Fremont to come to the valley.
1 for winning more battles than they lost.
1 for getting the plunder from the Union supply bases at Strasburg, Winchester & Harpers Ferry home. 
1 for getting back to Dixie with the army still a fighting force (while failure to do so would have negated all the above).

Banks was rated the best of the Union generals. 
Banks fought in 3 battles & though he retreated from all of them, he put up a good enough show for the Washington post to laud them as valiant rearguard actions against the odds.  So 3 VPs for battles minus 1 for losing Wincheter = 2 VPs.
McDowell got 1 battle VP for Leesburg but lost 1 VP for failing to stop the Rebs taking it, so net toal 0 VPs.
Fremont's didn't lose any VPs as Jackson chose not to invade West Virginia, but he headed too far north to cut Jackson off & had no opportunity to gain battle VPs.

The real Jackson only got 7 VPs (all the above except Leesburg), so our Rebs (Mike & Chris) did very well - despite the fact that Banks (Mark) & McDowell (Steve) probably did better tactically in the battles.  But the Reb's rolling advance of 2 divisions in succession leapfrogging each other so in each battle they had a fresh division to the fore, while Ashby's cavalry distracted part of the Union force, gave them an advantage in the first 3 battles that better Union tactics couldn't overcome.  The Union on the other hand missed strategic opportunites.  Geary could have cut Jackson off west of Leesburg, but McDowell took the safe option in calling him up to Leesburg in direct support.  The Union had enough men to make a serious attempt to send troops further south (for instance all of Fremont's & some of McDowell's to intercept Jackson's retreat in the Mt Jackson-Laray area), but instead went directly at him & he was able to evade the pursuit.

The campaign was run using our own campaign rules - the same as last year's Spanish campaign with an umpire to provide hidden movement & limited intel.  The battles were all fought using Hail Mr Lincoln = Hail Caesar with our house rules.

1 comment:

Gonsalvo said...

A civil war cavalry action is a rare treat. The campaign seems to have met its objectives as a game quite well!