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Subject: A look at leaders rss

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Philip Hernandez
United States
Washington
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I've been going over the leader variants and the fantastic counters created by Robert Sweeney, and will be preparing some variants of my own (which will appear later in the variants forum). One major variant will involve George H. Thomas, perhaps the most underrated general of them all (though not by Sherman).

Some questions arise concerning John Reynolds, who was the senior corps commander in the Army of the Potomac even before Gettysburg. In fact, he nearly became commander of that army instead of Meade, but he made demands on Lincoln which the President could not accept. More to the point, he was senior to Abner Doubleday, who was in turn the senior division commander in Reynolds's I Corps. I am inclined to swap the positions of the two in the variant (the two-star counters). Meade's hatred of Doubleday is a fact, and clouds the latter's reputation (as Grant's hatred of Thomas did the same).

Also, while it is fun to see the irrepressible (Meade would have said "irresponsible", no doubt) Dan Sickles in the variant, I noticed that the steadier John Newton, James S. Wadsworth (a political general who made good and died at the Wilderness) and especially Henry W. Slocum are missing.

Now I understand that everyone can't be included, but before making any more changes, I thought I would throw the matter open for discussion. Also, as I am in full agreement with General Thomas's position on the war, I have not made extensive studies of Confederate generals other than George E. Pickett (who built Fort Bellingham in Washington state and a house in the town nearby; the house still stands, and I have visited it), so discussion of Confederate generals will be welcome too.

I have made my own tentative assessments of the star rankings:
--1-star: the better, or in some cases better-known, division commanders, most of whom became corps commanders (or the equivalent)
--2-star: corps commanders (Pickett rates this because he commanded two infantry divisions and two cavalry divisions at Five Forks.)
--3-star: army commanders
--4-star: commanders of multiple armies (In Grant's case, he commanded the entire U.S. Army.)

Note that these do not correspond with actual rank (Grant was the only actual 3-star general, and we won't get into brevet ranks); when Thomas was promoted to the permanent rank of major general in early 1865 he became the sixth-highest ranking officer in the Army. The Confederates had a more sensible system, with four grades of general officer.

There were also some weird groupings early in the war, such as "grand divisions" and "wings", these being equivalent to either divisions or corps depending on size. Corps commands in the Confederate army seem to have been very flexible.

I am also wondering if Henry Hunt, who commanded the reserve artillery of the Army of the Potomac, deserves a special rule to account for his deeds; he would not be a troop commander. He was especially important at Gettysburg.

Phil
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Richard Cuccia
United States
Metairie
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Phil,
""" ... but before making any more changes, ... I have not made extensive studies of Confederate generals other than George E. Pickett ... so discussion of Confederate generals will be welcome too."""

----- [1] While commanding about 10,600 Confeds on April 1, 1865, Pickett lost the Battle of Five Forks (about a mere 12-15 miles southwest of Petersburg) to Sheridan's 20,000 Union troops. Considering that each VG CW hex is 25 miles, Five Forks is well within the VG CW Petersburg hex & the Confed fortress therein.
----- [2] In my opinion, in VG CW game terms, besides being well within two weeks before Lee's surrender (April 9, 1865), Pickett's presence withing Petersburg & Five Forks is too minor & too irrelevant for him to show up as a new separate Confed Leader.
Slainte, Richard
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Richard Cuccia
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Phil,
"""I am also wondering if Henry Hunt, who commanded the reserve artillery of the Army of the Potomac, deserves a special rule to account for his deeds; he would not be a troop commander. He was especially important at Gettysburg."""
----- [1] Hunt only (most ably)commanded artillery at Gettysburg, & not any infantry troops. Subsequently as Wikipedia describes: "The rest of the war was an anticlimax for Hunt. He served in Virginia to the end of the war, managing the siege operations of Petersburg in 1864 and 1865. He was breveted major general both in the volunteers and in the Regular Army."
----- [2] Seemingly, he did not command significant infantry to warrant appearing in VG CW as an additional leader.
Slainte, Richard
 
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Richard Cuccia
United States
Metairie
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Phil,
"""Also, while it is fun to see the irrepressible (Meade would have said "irresponsible", no doubt) Dan Sickles in the variant, I noticed that the steadier John Newton, James S. Wadsworth (a political general who made good and died at the Wilderness) and especially Henry W. Slocum are missing."""
----- [1] Good observations. However, "Shoot-My-Hot-Wife's-Boyfriend" Dan is way more entertaining than Newton, Wadsworth, & Slocum, all boring generals. Also, Dan is a "-2" detriment to the Union in battle (Peach Orchard).
Thus, let's make it tough on the Yankees.
Slainte, Richard
 
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Philip Hernandez
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Quote:
Seemingly, he did not command significant infantry to warrant appearing in VG CW as an additional leader.


Hence a special rule and not a counter. Hunt was strictly artillery. But I can't come up with anything that would not be unbalancing, and I don't want a picayune little rule that adds nothing to play value. Perhaps he is already built into the SP capacity of the Army of the Potomac, which is larger than the other armies.

Pickett, BTW, already shows up in one variant, which is why I mentioned him. Also, it seems Longstreet ordered Pickett to conduct a frontal attack at Gaines's Mill in 1862 that was about as successful (i.e. not) as at Gettysburg, though not as devastating to his command. I would not have included him; he was a rather average division commander.

Busy working on New Mexico right now (an overlay to correct the blatant geographic errors), but will be getting back to leaders soon. I'm rather a fan of George Thomas. Slocum may have been "boring", but he was also steady and effective as a corps commander, rather in the category of Meade, Reynolds and (surprise) Hooker. Newton is of interest because Meade took I Corps from Doubleday after Reynolds died and gave it to Newton -- during Gettysburg! (Meade really disliked Doubleday.) I've also been thinking about W.F. "Baldy" Smith, whose performance varied from very good (in the West) to very bad (the flanking move to Petersburg).

It was the boring generals who saved the Union and made it hard on the rebels.

Phil
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Christina Kahrl
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Unionville
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But also note that Newton did not keep his corps; he was back down at division level in 1864. At best, he seems a replacement leader. He had his uses, but so did Charles Griffin or Alpheus Williams, fine divisional commanders who got brief tastes of corps command. Heck, "Blinky" French got a corps after Gettysburg; he didn't keep it either, and both his corps and Newton's were little more than large divisions during the Mine Run campaign.

Smith isn't an easy case to make. Cozzens has written that credit for the "cracker line" really belonged to Rosecrans, but Smith got assigned the credit by Grant out of spite. (Great a general as Grant was, he was far from kind to a very few rivals and near-peers, and Rosey got much the worst of it, in his lifetime and from a subsequent century's worth of historians.)

Beyond Slocum, who rose to army command and deserves inclusion, I'm surprised that guys like Franklin or Warren don't get mentioned, given they commanded huge chunks of the Army of the Potomac for significant stretches; Franklin was also sent to Louisiana to provide adult supervision to Banks during the Red River campaign.
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Richard Cuccia
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Phil,
--- [1] At Gaines' Mills, Pickett was a brigade commander in "Pete" Longstreet's Division in Lee's Army Of North Virginia. At Gaines' Mill, Lee had 57,000 men in confusingly large number of divisions.
--- [2] Whiting (of Jackson's Division), Hood, & Pickett (of "Pete'" Division) eventually succeeded in their frontal attacks on . Para 8, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaines%27s_Mill#Batt.... Lee commanded the ANV, thus, it can be assumed that he ordered Pete to attack & subsequently, Pete ordered Pickett to attack.
--- [3] Because he never rose above division command until 10 days before Lee surrender & in game terms within Petersburg's fortifications, overall, Pickett was a competent enough, but not exception division commander. Pickett was an "rather average division commander", as you aptly stated.
--- [4] In VG CW variant terms, Pickett really does not rate being a variant commander.
--- [5] Note the Variant Leader Rules in the VG CW Wargame Academy 3rd Edition Rules. The WGA 3rd Ed Rules are an absolute requirement in order to play VG CW. http://www.wargameacademy.org/ARCHIVES/CVW/CVW-Rulebook-WGA-....
--- [a] Note p59-64, especially, p63-64 for the "Additional Variant Leader" rules. These "Additional Variant Leaders" are sufficient enough to replace leaders who become dead or NCTed (non-combat terminated) during the game.
--- [6]In my informed opinion, Hunt is simply part of the constituent essence, organization, & base of the what makes the Army Of The Potomac an army in VG CW terms. He doesn't rate an Additional Variant Leader or some special rule.
--- [7]Please, blather appropriately.
Slainte, Richard, richardcuccia@hotmail.com, richardcuccia@cox.net
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Richard Cuccia
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Christina,
Quickly here,
--- [1] """Slocum, who rose to army command and deserves inclusion""". Slocum commanded the "Army Of Georgia" about 26-27,000 men, which was the left wing of Sherman's March To The Sea. In VG CW terms, the AOG rightly does not show up & is only a constituent part of Sherman's Army Of The Tennessee. Thus, Slocum is not required to show up as a Additional Variant Leader.
--- [2] """I'm surprised that guys like Franklin or Warren don't get mentioned, given they commanded huge chunks of the Army of the Potomac for significant stretches""" Actually, Franklin & Warren do show up (or better described as might show up) as Additional Variant Leaders (among about a dozen other leaders) in the required & magnificent VG CW WGA 3rd Ed Rules, p63. http://www.wargameacademy.org/ARCHIVES/CVW/CVW-Rulebook-WGA-....
--- [3] Please, blather appropriately.
Slainte, Richard, richardcuccia@hotmail.com, richardcuccia@cox.net
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Philip Hernandez
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Rosecrans was heartily disliked all around from the start. When Thomas initially declined Buell's command, it was then offered to Rosecrans, whereupon Thomas immediately objected. It was pointed out to Thomas that he effectively had his chance, though of course Thomas ended up with the job anyway after Rosecrans was canned.

I am inclined to add Slocum, but not sure where. I might balance that by limiting Doubleday to two stars, as Meade never allowed him to assume a corps command (except for a few hours after Reynolds died, before Meade arrived).

I'm pretty well convinced Hunt is built into the Army of the Potomac.

As for Thomas, I'm looking toward an optional rule that would put him at four stars (behind Sherman) but only if Grant becomes a casualty. That would match historical reality, as Congress did make him a permanent major general after Nashville but Grant did not want Thomas to hold any more significant commands. Thomas and Sherman were the Civil War equivalent of the Patton-Bradley team, it seems.
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Greg Bales

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I like using the variant rule that starts Rosecrans off as a 2-star. The authors of the unofficial 3rd ed. rules makes a good point that having Rosy as a 3-star (especially a 3-red 1-0, equivalent to McClelland)"... is historically untenable and in standard play immediately displaces one of the *** that Lincoln historically forced to use."
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Everette Robertson
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Remember that this is a strategic-level game. The 1-star leaders come in two categories: those who can be promoted and those who can't. The ones who can't represent men who historically held small but significant independent commands (Magruder in the Peninsula and Galveston; Huger at Norfolk; Blunt in Missouri; Sigel in the Valley, etc). Pretty much the only exception to this is Pat Cleburne, because of his singular brilliance (and he almost certainly would have been promoted had he not been killed and had there been an opening.).

For this reason, the game ignores men who mostly held division-level command within the major armies, which criterion would include Pickett, Newton, etc.

Also, the leaders are abstractions. Pope and Burnside, for example, appear in the "Removed leaders" box in the 1863 and 1864 scenarios, and Rosecrans is removed in '64. In a real game, the Union may demote these guys, but will never get rid of them, because 3-0 leaders are a useful commodity. I always consider that many of the counters representing men who were removed or demoted early in the war actually represent other men who served later on.

Thus, Pope's ** counter can be held to represent other replacement-level Union commanders (like Slocum, Horatio Wright, Gordon Granger, John Palmer, etc), and Bragg, Pemberton, etc can represent Confederate corps/army commanders like Alexander Stewart. And Lyon's ** counter is generally held to represent Phil Kearney.

If you're going to add more counters, you should consider what effect that they will have on the game. Thus, if you want to lower Thomas' initiative to "2", you should consider what effect this will have on the strategic situation in the West, where he normally serves. Similarly, if you want to had Henry Hunt as a 3-1 leader, you should consider how this affects the Union situation in 1863, when they're still struggling to get positive tactical numbers in their main armies. Also, consider that adding Sickles as a 3-(-1) and Hunt as a 3-1 will have no net effect on the game in most cases.

Finally, if you like variant leaders, look at the "Additional leaders" variant in the VASSAL module, which adds a lot of extra leaders (which comes in handy when playing with the "Red Tape" rule.
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