Monday, 28 October 2013

The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – July 1864

Messages Sent
From: General Joseph E Johnston CSA (Army of Tennessee)

The Army of Tennessee will withdraw to Atlanta, resulting in the consolidation of that city’s defences. This will be facilitated by:
  1. The superior ability of the South’s heroes to skirmish.
  2. The support of the local populace.
  3. Our secure supply lines.

From: General John Hunt Morgan CSA (GOC Morgan’s Cavalry)

I will force march through Cassville and into the Kenesaw Mountains with Bedford’s Cavalry, with the result that we will engage and defeat the Army of the Ohio with a surprise attack from their rear area. This will succeed because:
  1. The friendly local populace will direct us to the enemy and reveal their dispositions.
  2. The Blue-bellies fighting power is sorely reduced after sustained combat and the need to provide large foraging parties to compensate for their drastically reduced baggage train.
  3. The Yankee city-born mule-riders can’t tell one end of a horse from the other, and their lack of ability is legendary, so their outriders will fail to give warning of our onslaught.

From: General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA (GOC Bedford’s Raiders)

Bedford’s Raiders will force march into the Kenesaw Mountains via Lafayette with the result that the Union Army of the Ohio will be taken in the rear and smitten. This will be successful because:
  1. We are a mobile force operating in conjunction with Morgan’s Cavalry in areas well known to use both.
  2. The local populace are supporting us due to our well publicised success in Nashville.
  3. We are motivated by the need to protect Atlanta, and to assist our brothers-in-arms in the Army of Tennessee.

From: General John M Schofield USA (US Army of the Ohio)

The Army of the Ohio will maintain contact with the Rebels and continually skirmish with them. This will prevent the Rebel army from moving, or slow it sufficiently so that Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee will capture Atlanta before Johnston’s force can reach there. My army will be able to accomplish this for the following reasons:
  1. The Army of the Ohio is already in contact with the Rebel army.
  2. My army is now experienced and successful at engaging Johnston’s troops in this type of operation.
  3. My force is a smaller formation than Johnston’s, and we possess cavalry which he does not, so that we are able to out manoeuvre the Rebels.

From: General William Tecumseh Sherman USA (US Army of the Tennessee)

The Army of the Tennessee will continue with its part of the plan to return the Rebellious States to the Union. Acting in concert with the Army of the Ohio, we shall march on Atlanta to capture the city before General Johnston’s force can reach it. Should the Rebel Army reach Atlanta in sufficient force to hold it, we shall manoeuvre around the South and East to cut the Macon & Western Railroad and the Georgia Railroad. This can be achieved because:
  1. My Army is in great spirits. With its recent successes against the Rebels, it is carrying out work which it understand and for a purpose it approves.
  2. The Army of the Ohio is constantly at grips with the rebels impeding their movements which are further hampered by our preponderance of cavalry.
  3. The Army of the Tennessee is stripped like a whiplash, and is able to move and fight swiftly with only the minimum of baggage in an area which I know better than many Georgians.

From: General George Thomas USA (US Army of the Cumberland)

I shall, during the month of July, move the Army of the Cumberland along the path of the railroad to Chattanooga, with the result that the rail communications between Nashville and Chattanooga shall be restored. The reasons that I shall be able to do this are:
  1. I have a secure and reinforced base to my rear in Nashville, so I shall not want for supplies or equipment to effect any repairs.
  2. During the past two months of preparations, my men have learned valuable lessons from reports of the Rebel raids two years previously (through Kentucky and Tennessee in 1862) and from my victorious experiences at the Battle of Chickamauga last year, so their confidence in ‘seeing off’ the Rebel scum is improved.
  3. The enemy are lightly equipped raiding forces who have so far failed to inflict any damage to my forces, whereas my mixed force of Infantry and Cavalry - backed by railroad support - is better balanced to force a way through to Chattanooga.

Campaign Events
During July, General Sherman wrote again to General Grant about the events in his area of operations.
To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

Not much time to write as we are marching pretty smartly to get to Atlanta before Joe Johnston. John Schofield is going to hang on to his coat-tails as best he can, but Johnston has little choice but to hightail it back to Atlanta with us situated as we are.

This will suit us fine; the country hereabouts is rich and plentiful, and has never felt the savagery of war. West of us a crow could starve. How those Jayhawkers Forrest and Morgan are keeping going beats me; they must have lost half their horses at least and are getting precious little from us. George Thomas saw to that at Nashville, and Chattanooga was practically empty when they arrived.

I am entrusting George with the job of scrubbing those bandits out and tidying up our lines-of-communication, but with Atlanta soon to be in our hands, the problem of maintaining supplies will be avoided.

Kind regards,

Bill Sherman
Despite Sherman’s hopes for a quick victory, for the first time in this campaign the Confederate forces seemed to act with speed and in unison, with the result that they were able to seize the initiative. When Johnston ordered the Army of Tennessee to fall back to Atlanta, Schofield’s Army of the Ohio was preparing to prevent such a move. The unexpected attacks by Morgan’s Cavalry and Bedford’s Raiders in the rear of the Army of the Ohio surprised Schofield - whose cavalry had been keeping a close watch on the Army of Tennessee - and he was diverted from his planned course of action in order to deal with this threat.

Having broken contact with Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, Johnston’s Army of Tennessee was able to occupy Atlanta ahead of Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee. Sherman’s troops, having been forestalled in their intention to capture Atlanta, swung round the city to the East and South, and took up positions astride the only railroad link out of Atlanta to the rest of Rebel-held territory.

In the meantime, Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland advanced on Chattanooga, and repaired the damage done to railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga.

Please click on the map to make it larger.

Troops Strengths

  1. As from the beginning of July, The Army of the Cumberland will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness when it is in Nashville.

  1. As from the beginning of August, Morgan’s Cavalry will have a -1 decrease in its Combat Effectiveness (in addition to any alterations in Combat Effectiveness shown above) unless or until it rests for a month.
  2. As from the beginning of August, Bedford’s Raiders will have a -1 decrease in its Combat Effectiveness (in addition to any alterations in Combat Effectiveness shown above) unless or until it rests for a month.
Please click on the charts to make them larger.


  1. I'n very much enjoying this series; great to see a matrix game played out.

  2. Simon Miller,

    I am pleased to read that you are enjoying this series of blog entries, and that they are helping to make Matrix Games understandable.

    All the best,


  3. Am I reading this wrong, or has the Union got itself in a real spot of bother? I reckon if Joe Johnston's Army had included 'Fighting' Joe Wheeler's cavalry, he would be in a great position to administer the good ol' one-two from his central position.

    I'll be very interested to see how Genl Johnston handles it this time...

  4. Archduke Piccolo,

    The Union do seen to have a problem or two to solve, but it is too early to tell if dealing with them will derail their overall plan of campaign.

    All the best,