Stephen Rochelle
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Huntsville
Alabama
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Slightly over a year into the Civil War, the legends of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia have grown. Robert E. Lee has driven George McClellan's Army of the Potomac from the gates of Richmond in the Seven Days Battles and "Stonewall" Thomas Jackson's "foot cavalry" have marched the length of the Shenandoah Valley, stymieing Union forces three times their size.

With McClellan's withdrawal, Lee's attention turns to retaking northern Virginia and John Pope's new Army of Virginia assembling there. Lee sends Jackson and most of his corps (the divisions of A.P. Hill, Ewell, and Winder) north to hold the rail junction at Gordonsville (8 hexes off the south edge of the map) before Pope's Union troops can arrive. With Gordonsville secured, Jackson turns north to advance up the Orange & Alexandria Railroad toward Culpeper. Opposing him are is I Corps under Nathaniel Banks, Jackson's foe from the Valley Campaign, II Corps under Franz Sigel, and Ricketts' division from III Corps.

This is a solo play-through.
Scenario Overview. Movement limits for Gregg and Lawton's brigades are shown with the dotted lines.

Jackson's objective in this scenario is to secure control of Culpeper, 20 miles north of and across the Rapidan River from his current position at Orange Court House. Victory points are awarded on a sliding scale for Confederate and Union proximity to Culpeper. Jackson has three divisions under his command, two garrison brigades that must remain roughly behind the Robertson's—Rapidan river line, and a cavalry vanguard under Robertson. Opposing him is a Union cavalry screen guarding the river fords, Banks' I Corps and Sigel's II Corps marching southeast from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Ricketts' division of III Corps marching south-southwest from Warrenton (simulated via fixed position on Day 1). As usual, combat casualties score minor VPs.

To achieve victory, the Confederate player must either drive the Union away from Culpeper or occupy Culpeper with a +4 casualty margin.

Day 1 (August 8, 1862)
All forces on the first day of the scenario are prohibited from deliberately exhausting themselves (they may not move past Fatigue 2). This limits the maximum possible movement of troops, and so the Confederates look to clear the Union cavalry screen where possible before advancing Jackson's force.

Robertson's cavalry moves first, crossing Robertson's River at Fry's Ford to outflank Bayard's Union cavalry brigade there. Bayard is eliminated in the attack and Robertson holds those fords, but he will be unable to activate again today. Buford's Union cavalry responds by marching southeast from Madison Court House to cut the road between Jackson and Robertson.

As Banks' and Sigel's corps begin marching for Culpeper, Jackson sends his screening brigades of Lawton and Gregg north to drive off Buford's cavalry. Buford twice refuses to fall back from numerically superior infantry, holding against Lawton before being driven back by Gregg. Although Jackson's road to Cedar Mountain is now open, the remaining Union cavalry along the Rapidan remain in place until Jackson commits to a direction of march.
Positions during Day 1. Confederate cavalry and infantry screens have driven off Union defenders near
Fry's Ford, opening a clear path for Jackson's corps to move north.
The only units still eligible to activate today are Jackson's three divisions to the south, the two Union
cavalry regiments along the Rapidan River, and Crawford's brigade entrenching in Culpeper.
Current VP: 0 (Union Decisive victory)


Jackson marches his corps over the crossings opened by the Confederate van, ending the day with two divisions north of Robertson's River; a good first movement roll is offset by a poor second one. Union cavalry responds by covering Jackson's direct road west of Cedar Mountain and the roundabout eastern path up the Orange & Alexandria.
Positions at the end of Day 1. Jackson approaches the historical battle site near Cedar Mountain;
Pope's army remains strung along the pike northwest of Culpeper.
Current VP: 0 (Union Decisive victory)


Day 2 (August 9, 1862)
Once again the day opens with Robertson's Confederate cavalry moving to push back the Union screen and once again the engagement ends with the annihilation of the Union troops. Buford again hurries his tired troops east to re-impose a screen and Robertson presses north to engage him as well. This fight is less conclusive: Buford is driven back into Culpeper, but Robertson's troops are disorganized and unable to follow up.

The game hinges on the next two activations: Jackson's corps advances toward Culpeper before Pope's army can move, but the foot cavalry are uncharacteristically sluggish. Jackson's corps gets only 7 MP across two activations (the equivalent of a 3 on a 2d6 roll) and A.P. Hill's lead division is left two hexes shy of Culpeper.

The Union quickly seizes this opening and all three corps activate. Ricketts' overstrength division takes up a sacrificial defensive position in the plain south of Culpeper while Banks and Sigel gather near the mills west of the town to block flanking attempts from Jackson's trailing forces. Jackson will now need at least two attacks to enter, much less clear, Culpeper.
Positions during Day 2. Aided by poor Confederate movement rolls, Pope's Union army has deployed just
south of Culpeper before Jackson can reach the town. Of four movement rolls for Jackson thus far,
three have been '1', '1', and '2'.
Current VP: 1 (Union Decisive victory)


Jackson's room to maneuver has run out and his troops are tiring, so he begins launching frontal attacks in an effort to batter through the Union defenders. A.P. Hill's division routs Augur's before teaming up with Ewell to batter Ricketts. This last attack sees Confederate combat rolls begin to turn: while Ricketts is forced to retreat behind Culpeper, Jackson suffers heavier casualties and sees his lead divisions disorganized prior to the final day of the scenario.

With the Confederates fought out for the day, Sigel divides I Corps. Schenck and Steinwehr's divisions march into Culpeper to bolster the town's defense (particularly its artillery). Sigel himself advances with Schurz's division and Milroy's brigade, pushing Robertson's cavalry south to Mitchell's Station and flanking Jackson from the southwest.
Positions at the end of Day 2. Jackson is on the cusp of taking Culpeper but four distinct Union forces
must be driven away to consolidate a Confederate victory. Augur's demoralized division north
of Culpeper will play no further role in the battle.
Current VP: XX (Union Decisive victory)


Day 3 (August 10, 1862)
Today will be desperate for Jackson's Confederates, as near-perfect rolls are required to drive off all of the Union forces in and near Culpeper. Before Jackson can get underway, though, Sigel and Pope attempt to spoil the offensive with an assault at dawn to draw in Banks' forces in Culpeper. Sigel's troops can't get moving in time and the assault fails.

Jackson launches his assault on Banks' troops. The combination of late-arriving reinforcements and hasty entrenchment puts Jackson on the wrong end of an artillery duel; just as with the battle against Ricketts yesterday, Jackson's troops advance but take excess casualties and are too disorganized to follow up on their success. Worse, they now sit in a position exceptionally vulnerable to flanking; Winder's division is forced to spend virtually the entire day working past Sigel's I Corps to strengthen Jackson's flanks.

The scenario ends with Pope's army electing to skip an unnecessary assault on Jackson.
Positions at the end of Day 3. Jackson's entire corps has occupied Culpeper, but all three divisions are
disorganized and exhausted. Most of Pope's encircling Union forces are combat-ready or will return to
full readiness tomorrow. Casualties for the battle are evenly matched.
End of scenario, unit positions only.
Final VP: 9 (Union Substantive victory)


Closing Commentary
The historical battle of Cedar Mountain is an exercise in tactical versus strategic victory. The battle is generally acknowledged as a Confederate victory — Jackson inflicted twice as many casualties on Banks as he suffered — but it was a minor engagement fought over inconsequential ground with no follow-up. Historically Banks raced troops south and the battle was fought in hex 1023 (immediately north of Cedar Mountain), just two hexes past where Jackson's troops ended their Day 1 march in this game. The Confederates never approached Culpeper; two days later, Jackson withdrew behind the Rapidan. In game terms, then, the historical result was a Union Decisive victory, as Jackson did not disrupt the unification of Pope's army at Culpeper. Pulling the view further back, the overall result may be judged more as a stalemate: Jackson secured the rail junction to Staunton and the Upper Shenandoah at Gainesville (prior to this scenario), but did not prevent the Army of Virginia from gathering along the Rapidan.

In this scenario, movement is at an absolute premium for Jackson's force. He has only three divisions to work with and must, practically speaking, clear all six hexes surrounding Culpeper for victory; the Union has a great many more units (albeit individually inferior) to force a late-game presence near the crossroads as well as Ricketts' large division that can stand toe-to-toe with any one piece of Jackson's corps.

To that end, the Confederates need to be concerned about the screening potential of the four Union cavalry detachments scattered across the map. None individually are a combat threat, but all are capable of slowing Jackson's advance. The two most straightforward options are the one used here (19 hexes to Culpeper, leveraging Jackson's garrison brigades, which aren't permitted to go near the contested Rapidan fords) or directly up the Orange & Alexandria RR via the ford at Rapidan Station (17 hexes); the eastern Somerville Ford (21 hexes) is in my opinion too far a detour, though it has the possible advantage of being furthest from Pope's advancing troops. The short central route is difficult for Robertson's cavalry to clear from the north side of the river and is easier for other Union cavalry forces to converge on, so I'm content with the path across Robertson's River chosen here.

The real key, as noted above, is for Jackson to be in Culpeper on the second day of the battle to preserve the third for pushing back Pope's army. Poor Confederate movement rolls played a part in that, but the Confederate player should probably have used Jackson's infantry to push back Union cavalry (risking the loss of movement due to cavalry retreat) in order to maximize the chances of having enough initiative wins before Union troops could respond; quick action plus average movement might have seen a Confederate division in Culpeper ahead of Sigel's I Corps. Note that the movement calculus changes from Day 1 to Day 2: because Day 1 is fatigue-constrained, the armies cannot possibly meet (nor can Jackson possibly reach Culpeper), so the emphasis is on maximizing the movement of the allowed activations. On Day 2, competing initiatives assume a key role.

By Day 3 of this game, Jackson was in a virtual no-win situation. Four different Union stacks in or within one hex of being adjacent to Culpeper are present; Jackson needs the massed weight of two divisions to break into the town; Winder's separate division is inferior in troops and artillery to the Union forces closest to it. Even a perfect sequence of victorious battles with no additional fatigue risks a retreated, but not routed, Union unit returning at the end of the day. Such an outcome would have felt artificial, but the one that actually occurred — Jackson taking his objective but in turn encircled — feels very much like the Union victory the game credits.
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Allen Dickerson
United States
Portland
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Nicely done, and well-annotated with screen grabs. I'll have to read this again more carefully and thoroughly when time permits.

I prefer grand tactical Civil War games, but operational level games of this era are not without their charms as well.
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Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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Having played this scenario numerous times, I find it is a race to Culpepper - sometimes favoring the Union, sometimes the Confederates. Once there, it's a "forward defense" if initiative rolling permits. If not, it's a holding action, maneuvering around to protect as many hexes around Culpepper as possible. The scenario seems to come down to 1 or 2 major die-rolls.

A great mutli-turn learning scenario.
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Gordon G
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Bossier City
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cmontgo2 wrote:
Having played this scenario numerous times, I find it is a race to Culpepper - sometimes favoring the Union, sometimes the Confederates. Once there, it's a "forward defense" if initiative rolling permits. If not, it's a holding action, maneuvering around to protect as many hexes around Culpepper as possible. The scenario seems to come down to 1 or 2 major die-rolls.

A great mutli-turn learning scenario.


To me, too much of this scenario depends on a handful of CSA die rolls on Day 2. Get two great movement rolls and Jackson sits in Culpepper. Get two poor rolls and it's the Union. The rest of the game is just chaff with no amount of skill able to change the result of these two rolls. Too much of this scenario depends on the luck and detracts from the overall enjoyment of the game.
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Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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I have played at least one game in my memory where the Union occupied Culpepper and was dislodged by the Confederates for a Confederate decisive. So I would say, yes, a few initiative rolls do matter on who gets there first, but it is just as important to roll well on the decisive combats that inevitably follow.

Edit: For confirmation, I think my opponent was Scott Kippen at this past years' BGG Con.

Cheers.
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