Tuesday, 17 May 2011

And in my spare time I pretend to be "Abraham Lincoln": An 1862 ACW PBEM Campaign

A strange title perhaps, but the jist of it is that I am playing the Union "commander-in-chief" in a PBEM campaign game (a "matrix style" - free text statements of intent rather than a copious volume of rules to decipher and misunderstand). Somebody else gets to move the toys when a battle arrives, I merely pontificate from afar in the background.

The year is 1962 and I picked the campaign up after a predecessor was disheartened after a "Fredericksburg" type of battle, near well as circunstance would have it, the city of Fredericksburg. Taking up the reigns I blamed all the past misfortunes (as in a futile body count for zero ground gained) of the Army of the Potomac (AoP) and on a certain "Hooker". His character was of reproach, strong whiskey plus his association with woman of ill repute. So I appointed a stern engineer called "Meade" to replace him. The man is a dab hand with a spade, something which I thought of as quite far-sighted as Union Generals go and meticulously dressed.

Scenes from the Union defeat at Fredericksburg:

Union troops bravely cross the Rappahannock, only to re-cross it later that same day in the opposite direction (and in more of a hurry):


Then quickly backwards:

Facing us across the Rappahannock River was the jeering Rebel Army of Northern Virginia (AoNV), entrenched behind secure fortifications. Seeing the folly of another "prepared attack", (Meade cautioned other more firebrand Union Generals to actually count the guns facing them), I hence instructed the AoP to "burn the leather off the soles of their shoes" and race ahead (following the Rappahannock) to fins another suitable crossing point. Thus came about the race of "two giant centipedes" [many emails were exchanged] with the Union edging slightly ahead as the town of Culpepper became larger and larger on our maps.

Note: The reason (or was it a mere rumour) for this initial Union "foot gain away from the AoNV" appeared to be the sheer disbelief from a certain Robert E. Lee that a man of Meade's stature (an engineer by trade) would leave valuable pontoon bridges so laboriously constructed, unused back in Fredericksburg. He deduced a clever ruse was afoot and was waiting for a second attack that never came, while in reality I (ahem, Meade/Lincoln) had forgotten about them entirely.
Judging that my head of steam was about right (deduced unfortunately from very limited Pinkerton intelligence (see later), which also nicely sums up my strategic generalship) I sent the "fastest" Union Corps across the Rappahannock to delay the van of the AoNV while the main bulk (a further six Corps) of the AoP crossed safely further up-river at a Kelly's Ford. The AoNV would then have to fight and defend Richmond (they lose and we win the war). The wheels of my cunning plan were put into motion (by a chuckling umpire) and you could almost sense the critical wheels of said cunning plan falling off.

Here we go again across the Rappahanock, Hancock and Federal Cavalry double time, with no Rebs in sight, what could possibly go wrong? Scene fades as marching music continues ...

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