Tuesday, 29 October 2013

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

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

The Army of the Ohio will remain in the Kenesaw Mountains. We will ambush any Rebels that attack the line of the railroad, thus successfully defending it. We will obtain sufficient supplies from our trains and the locale. If the Rebels do not dare to attack us, the forces under my command will rest. My army will be able to accomplish this for the following reasons:
  1. All Northern armies have men expert in the repairing and running of railroads and the telegraph. Thus we will be able to keep the railroad running, and use trains to move troops to threatened parts of the line.
  2. The presence of a Union army frees the black populace from slavery, and they will eagerly give information about Rebel forces, supplies of food, and other material.
  3. The Rebel cavalry’s fighting strength will be poor, since they are lightly armed and will be exhausted after three months of continuous campaigning.

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

The Army of the Tennessee will continue to follow the plan of campaign in accordance with the wishes of the General of the Armies, Lt. General U. S. Grant. It will call upon the city of Atlanta to surrender to the lawfully constituted powers of its sovereign government. Failing the unconditional surrender of the city, the Army will proceed to commence a bombardment with its heavy guns. The Army shall stand in a defensive posture, heavily entrenched, with the cavalry screening its flanks and rear No civilians will be allowed to pass our lines without my express permission. Soldiers wishing to surrender will be accommodated as usual; all civilians will be returned to the city. Contraband will be confiscated and put to use. This will be carried out because:
  1. The Army of the Tennessee is in great heart, having out-manouvered the Rebels, trapping them in the city of Atlanta.
  2. The Army is located in a rich and fruitful land, formerly untouched by war. Our Quartermasters are daily aided to uncover caches of supplies hidden by Rebels, by the former slaves who had been obliged to hide them.
  3. The Army has seen little fighting of late, is strongly posted, and the country constantly brings us news of Rebel forces.

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

Bedford’s Raiders, working in conjunction with John Morgan’s forces, will rest and recuperate in Macon, with the result that our brave boys - and heroes of the South, each and every one of them, and more than a match for the Blue-belly cavalry - will restore and revive the strength of both themselves and their mounts. We will be successful because:
  1. We are utilising reserves laid up in advance in preparation for this day.
  2. The location is unknown to the Union - who do not have sufficient forces to scour the land.
  3. We will be cross burning - as my boys’ spirits are wondrously raised by the ceremony.

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

I shall, during the month of August, force a passage along the railroad to the relief of the Army of the Ohio, with the result that their combat effectiveness shall be improved. This reasons that I shall be able to do this are:
  1. After the sensible preparations of the preceding months, and the successful restoration of rail links, my forces are full of confidence and supplies.
  2. My rapid advance along the railway shall enable my fresh troops to brush aside any of the lightly equipped Rebel raiders, who will be tired after their forced march.
  3. My men will be inspired by the knowledge that they are setting out to help their fellow countrymen, who are sorely pressed, and that we are marching on Atlanta!

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

Morgan’s Cavalry will, in company with Bedford’s Raiders, rest, regroup, and replenish our forces in Macon, with the result that our glorious and intrepid adventurers (and not a bandit or jayhawker amongst them) will be revitalised and refreshed. We will succeed because:
  1. We are utilising reserve stores laid up for such a day.
  2. The Union forces are commencing the encirclement of Atlanta and consider us of no strategic or tactical importance.
  3. The only troops possibly capable of locating us are the Blue-belly mule-riders, but being timid by nature and in awe of our fighting prowess, they wouldn’t report seeing us even if we rode over them.

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

The Army of Tennessee will defend Atlanta, resulting in a serious decline in motivation amongst the Army of the Tennessee. This will occur because:
  1. The Yankees are already sore at having been beaten to Atlanta.
  2. Yankee supply lines have been severed by the heroic efforts of Confederate cavalry.
  3. Blue-belly reinforcements will not arrive due to the intervention of the aforementioned horse-borne Rebel heroes.

Campaign Events
August was a month of little fighting, but much preparation. Both sides sought to draw upon what reserves they had before the climactic battle for Atlanta began. Despite General Sherman’s call for surrender, the people of Atlanta and the Army of Tennessee were not yet prepared to throw open the city to the feared Northern invader, and the resulting bombardment did much to strengthen their resolve.

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

Dear Sam,

Well here we are in the heart of the South. As I write, I can hear the sound of our siege guns, and looking up I can see the spires of those churches in Atlanta that still have spires! Joe Johnston is bottled up in Atlanta and must be getting madder every day.

Those Jayhawkers Morgan and Bedford jumped on the back of John Schofield, which let Johnston slip into Atlanta, but did not stop me cutting him off! We are living like lords on the fat of the land. It seems that some pessimistic citizens in the city decided the dust clouds in the west were ‘blue’ and started burning stores and depots. Trains were loaded with all sorts of machinery and equipment - including artillery - and run east - straight into us!

The citizens hereabouts are much less argumentative these days - deserters are coming over in greater numbers and the Contrabands are beginning to be an embarrassment, but they are well meaning to us and have their uses. A party of prominent burgers of the city attended me recently, asking for passage through our lines for non-combatants. I replied that all may pass once the city had surrendered on Donelson Terms!

At present our forces look like a club sandwich, but I look forward to having all three Armies parading down Main Street by Thanksgiving.

Yours in high spirits,

Bill Sherman

Please click on the map to make it larger.

Troop 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 September, Morgan’s Cavalry will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness (in addition to any alterations in Combat Effectiveness shown above).
  2. As from the beginning of September, Bedford’s Raiders will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness (in addition to any alterations in Combat Effectiveness shown above).
Please click on the charts to make them larger.


  1. It seems a pity that the two Confederate raiders have been raiding the same place, when they could be threatening more of the railway supply line. Perhaps when they are rested...

  2. I still reckon Uncle Joe is letting an opportunity slip by... Bobby Lee would be licking his chops at the prospect of striking 'those people' a mortal blow.

    Meanwhile, Braxton Bragg in Richmond would be irritating Jeff Davis (and thus endangering his tenure as military adviser) with continual remarks along the lines of 'You ought not have replaced me Mr President: I woulda sent those Yankees to the rightabout afore this. I done it before...'

    I know I am making assumptions about how things work - it won't do if what I am suggesting is not a practical proposition. I guess we'll simply have to see what Johnston makes of the situation. Can't say his handling of the Vicksburg Campaign was up to much... :-(

  3. Simon Miller,

    Perhaps they will ... and perhaps they won't!

    All the best,


  4. Archduke Piccolo,

    I suspect that you have a greater knowledge of the American Civil War than some of the original participants had!

    If I ever re-run this campaign I am sure that you would make a worthy and very active participant.

    As to the final outcome of the campaign ... well you don't have too long to find out what happens in the end.

    All the best,


  5. Archduke Piccolo,

    When I ran this Matrix Game I made sure that I did not read anything about the campaign beforehand so that my decisions were based on the player's arguments and not upon the actual events. That way I tried to ensure that the whole thing developed in an unbiased a way as possible.

    All the best,