Series: Great Campaigns of the American Civil War
Scenario: The Maryland Campaign, Scenario #7 [Updated via the Skirmisher #2 rules]
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D, Myself
Time: Fri, 8/17 ~ 6.30PM - 10.00PM
Tonight we started on turn 11, Sept 14th. I had broken the Monocacy River line. In the South HeavyD was pulling out, having rushed Jackson's two Divisions North to aid in the defense of Frederick. Hood and McClaws were on the run back towards Harpers Ferry. In the North, I was sitting next to Frederick with two Corps (I and VI) with Reno's IX a few hexes away. HeavyD had let slip that he was going to pull out of Frederick the next turn. We were very close to a Marginal Confederate Victory. I had lost an entire Union Division a couple of turns ago, this and the occupation of Frederick County (West) and the quick fall of Harpers Ferry meant that HeavyD was within sight of a Victory, albeit a slim one.
Turn 11 - The Battle of Frederick, part 2
HeavyD might have won the first couple of action rounds, all I can remember was sitting there with my mouth watering as HeavyD had two Sub units (6SPs) in the hex next to Frederick in clear terrain and without Artillery. I had all of Franklin's Corps in the hex next to it. Slocum's Division was in no shape to take part in the fight, but Couch and Smith, the other two Divisions in the Corps were fresh and had 25SP and 7 points of Artillery between them. I have the sense that HeavyD was unaware of the risk to his units here. I jumped at the chance to attack and managed to get a +6 attack using a Corps Assault activation. I Routed HeavyD with very little cost to myself.
|Opening positions, start of turn 10|
Once that happened the Confederates bugged out of the area very quickly. HeavyD was able to string together a bunch of action rounds (wining the initiative) to safely extract the rest of his units in the area. He also destroyed the RR station and the Union Depot still in the hex. He was able to make it to the Mountain line 3-5 hexes to the West of Frederick without interference. Once he was in these mountain hexes I had little interest in attacking due to the +2 defender DRM.
|VI Corps Routes HeavyD's line|
|As the Confederates flee, Mansfield's XII Corps Liberates Frederick|
|Reno makes great progress in the North|
Things went well in the South thus turn as well. XI Corps continued to pursue Hood towards Harpers Ferry, making it into the Mountain range as well. Porters V Corps couldn't keep pace with McClaw's fleeing remnants though. Sumner was able to get the II Corps into the area as well. Most of HeavyD's strength was in the North, I was only really facing DR Jones' exhausted Division in the South. HeavyD's Army was looking a lot smaller now.
Turn 11 - The Race for Sharpsburg
|Ending Positions, Turn 10|
HeavyD had only one option at this point. He has to get to Sharpsburg before me and occupy the County with a clear line of Supply for a few more turns without taking big losses. If he can so this he could still get a victory. This is much easier said than done. However he has several key factors still very much in his favor. He can out march me all day, generally getting to move before I can (via the initiative roll, he wins ties). Also, he'll have a couple sets of mountains and a small river (Antietam Creek) to support his movement. I am breathing down his neck with the bulk of my forces. He also has several routed units, a few of his units are still out of supply as well. The mountain passes can also be a curse should I be able to get there before him, it would spell doom for his Invasion of Maryland.
|Reno wins the Race to Turners Gap|
Again here I have to chime in on how much I love this game...it's because of turns like this. Every initiative roll is filled with drama, then the ensuing painful decision as one player wins the activation. The beauty of the system is that neither player knows what the other is thinking, I could be focused on what I see as the biggest risk (or opportunity) to my forces and I have no idea if HeavyD is even aware of what I see. This applies in reverse as well, does he see something that I don't? Even though his forces are in flight, he can quickly turn and strike. Jackson's two divisions are still fresh and anything Jackson attacks with his +5 TAC rating can make me very nervous. I have to pursue him as closely as I can without leaving him opportunities to inflict a big Victory as those SPs I would loose really hurt when they convert into victory points. Add to this the few mountain passes that each of us are moving towards and you have a very intense turn.
|Sigel makes it to the 2nd pass|
In the end is was the infamous 11th Corps that drove the final nail into the coffin. Sigel was able to out march DR Jones and get to South Mountain first. Once I was able to lay ZOC down on the entry hex to the pass (it is two hexes wide) while blocking the other one, it was over. Stuart was able to get there, but HeavyD didn't have anyone with enough strength to make a try at pushing me out of the pass. Reno was able to get to the other pass (Turners gap I believe) with a small division, so HeavyD could likely have pushed my out of it, but the odds we slim now that I was in the Mountains in front of him with the entire Army in hot pursuit. At the end of the turn HeavyD resigned. I was a little surprised as I thought that he could have forced one if not both of the passes with good combat results. But I had to agree that the maneuvering over the course of the turn further reduced his chances.
So ended our second GCACW CG game. This time around we had a little more fighting, but it was still largely decided by manoeuvre rather then in a large clash of arms. I had never seen (or tried) to defend a River like HeavyD and in the end I think it was his downfall. Once that River line was broken, he was suddenly in a very bad position. I still think HeavyD doesn't recognize the offensive potential of the Army of Northern Virginia in this series. Even though he was outnumbered here his units are better (3 TAC vs. 2 TAC for the Union) and with the edge in movement and initiative this can be a lethal combination. I'm not sure one can gain an appreciation for this until one is beat up by the CSA in this game. We are planning on starting another CG here soon in the coming months. All in all, this was one of the gaming highlights of the year for me.