Friday, 1 November 2013

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

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

During the month of November, I shall personally lead my men into battle in any engagements that take place, resulting in the effectiveness of my forces being immediately enhanced. The reasons that this shall happen are:
  1. I am ‘THE ROCK OF CICKAMAUGA’, against which the Confederate Forces broke in that crucial battle last year.
  2. The Rebel lies about my being severely wounded, given spurious and temporary credence by my necessary absence to co-ordinate personally with Uncle Bill the major and complicated plan for the attack on Atlanta, will be demonstrated to be utterly false.
  3. None of the cowardly Rebel Commanders has so far dared to lead his men personally, despite the desperate plight they find themselves in, so my Forces will be inspired by my example.

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

During the month of November, the morale of the Rebel forces within Atlanta will fall to such a pitiful state that their effectiveness will be greatly reduced. This will occur for the following reasons:
  1. The Rebel Army has no confidence in Joe Johnston since he has not even attempted to prevent the investment of Atlanta. Some have noted that, since he was wounded at Seven Pines in 1862, he has avoided decisive battles, and consider that this is due to cowardice. The Rebels now find that their so called ‘President’ Davis has also lost faith in Johnston, but has failed to achieve a seamless change of command.
  2. The Rebel army has been cut off in Atlanta since September. The Rebels know, from the precedent of Vicksburg, that the result will be the capture of their whole force and the end of the Rebellion in the west.
  3. Atlanta has been cut off by rail since July, and surrounded since September. The civilian population has been placed on short food rations by their army. However, since the civilians have no confidence that the Rebels will ever fight to free them, they have rioted to gain control of food supplies. The discipline of some Rebel regiments has broken down when ordered to fire on starving people.

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

Bedford’s Raiders will force march to Nashville, via Lafayette, with the result that we will raid the city of Nashville. We will be successful because:
  1. We will have total surprise because the curmudgeon Bluebellies will all be guarding the rail link to Atlanta after last month’s raids and capture of supplies.
  2. We are the finest fighting cavalry in the war, who adore our successful and charismatic leader.
  3. The Northern Boys think that the South is all done in. Well it ain’t, and we’re gonna show them soft City Boys what real men - and gentlemen - fight like. That will take the heat off the heroes of the defence of Atlanta.

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

The Army of Tennessee will break camp and march into the Kenesaw Mountains to the north-east. This will result in the salvation of the army and will be made possible because:
The Confederate cavalry will screen the movement.
  1. Confederate forces are well supplied on account of the capture of Sherman’s ‘Southern Delicacies’.
  2. The Yankee aggressors are preoccupied with their preparations for an assault on the City, and can do little to stop us.

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

The Armies under my command shall continue to increase pressure on the City of Atlanta with concerted full assaults upon the City to obtain its capture. The cavalry shall continue to screen these efforts from interference from the Confederate Cavalry which they shall ambush if the opportunity should arise. Atlanta will fall because:
  1. The Union Armies know that the fall of Atlanta will lead directly to the collapse of the rebellion before Christmas and they can go home.
  2. The defence of the City is visibly weakening - the latest counter-attacks have been costly to the defenders.
  3. The City has withstood a siege unequalled in the history of this War, and there is still no sign of relief.

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

Morgan’s Cavalry will cause a disturbance in the gap between the Combine Union Cavalry and the Army of the Cumberland, then pillage and burn our way through the latter’s rear areas, destroying what remains of their supplies and causing a disturbing amount of chaos before disappearing into the hills once more. We will be successful because:
  1. The Union forces are obsessed by the thought of capturing Atlanta and will not be paying attention to their rear.
  2. Surprise will be complete because the Union spies are unable to decipher our intentions.
  3. Our men are very well motivated as they are on the crest of a wave of success after dealing blow after blow to the confused and bewildered Union forces.

Campaign Events
Early in November, General Sherman wrote two letters, one to General Johnston - with which he returned Jefferson Davis’s letter - and one to General Grant.
To: The Officer Commanding, Garrison of Atlanta

Dear Sir,

I attach a dispatch addressed to you which came into my possession.

W T Sherman

Major General, USA

To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

I am still here and they are still there and here I shall remain until they are no longer there. I am not a patient man but we all suffer burdens for the cause and one more in not important.

The City of Atlanta has now withstood a siege unparalleled in modern times. Bearing in mind the City was not put on guard before the Rebel army tumbled pell-mell into it, they have undergone a trial of the greatest order. But they cannot last. Everyday reports reach me of further reduction of their rations, worsening of their conditions, and a diminution of their ability to withstand our forces.

They may have won my grudging admiration but they have won no concessions. I have now required my quartermasters and patrols to be more thorough in their work to deny the enemy any sustenance or even shelter. The west is already a desert after our campaigning but now the south and east is being cleared of anything useful to the enemy. What cannot be carried away is being burned.

You will have heard that Forrest and Morgan have gone back to their old trade of larceny and jay-hawking. Soldiering was obviously too tough for them. They are a nuisance but not more than that. I will deal with them when Atlanta has fallen, which will be soon!

Here until Hades cools or Atlanta falls

Bill Sherman
If the former was intended to spur Johnston into action, it succeeded. Now that he realised that he no longer enjoyed President Davis’s whole-hearted support, General Johnston secretly prepared to break out of Atlanta. His decision was aided by the growing unrest amongst the civilian population of the City, the reluctance of his troops to fire on starving rioters, and the increasing ferocity of the Union assaults on his defensive trenches. Using trusted couriers, he communicated his plans to Generals Forrest and Morgan, both of whom agreed to mount diversionary raids in concert with the breakout.

On the allotted day, Morgan’s Cavalry began a sustained raid on that part of the Atlanta perimeter guarded by the Union’s Combined Cavalry. Whilst the Union troops turned to deal with this attack, Johnston marched what remained of the Army of Tennessee out of the City towards the Kenesaw Mountains, leaving behind only those men who were too unwell or injured to move. These men formed the last Confederate garrison of Atlanta.

The Union Cavalry, which was now trapped between two Confederate forces, and awed by the sight of the Confederate Infantry advancing with colours flying and drums beating, did their best to stem the breakout, but without the support of Infantry and Artillery, they could do little more than delay the inevitable.

Once they realised that Atlanta was now virtually undefended, both Generals Schofield and Thomas rapidly moved their troops into the City. There was little resistance, and within hours General Sherman was able to make a triumphant entrance into the City he had seen from afar for so long. His triumph was, however, a bitter one, because the sights that met his eyes - the destroyed buildings and starving people - deeply affected him. Now he saw that, as he was later to say, war was Hell.
News of Bedford Forrest’s raid on Nashville reached General Sherman late in the day of Atlanta’s fall, but he was, for the present, unable to react because of the need to deal with the starving citizens of Atlanta and the need to find and destroy the remnants of the Army of Tennessee, particularly as the latter now lay across his lines-of-communication to Nashville.

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.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  3. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.

  1. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.
Please click on the charts to make them larger.

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