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The Lost Division - The story until now...

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The Lost Division - The story until now...

Post  Father General on Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:08 am

The Lost Division

The story until now… June, 1862.

With McClellan advancing slowly on the peninsula, the Confederate War Department, desperate to relieve the pressure on their badly outnumbered forces, opted to stage a high-risk diversion by sending a single reinforced division on a raid into Maryland with orders to cut the Union lines of communication through the state.

The War Department chose a commander for the job who many quietly described as “expendable” and “a liability.” That man was Lt. Gen Matthew Neal, a disgraced corps commander who retained his rank and command only at the intervention of President Davis himself and a few powerful political allies.

Lt. Gen Neal was widely known in the Confederacy by another name: The Father General.

The Father General was a mediocre West Point graduate who opted to attend seminary instead of a commission in the Army. He was the bane of his reverend professors and turned to radical fundamentalist preaching not long before the war. He also gained command of his hometown militia, which became the First Mississippi Volunteer Rifles, an elite formation of handpicked marksmen, perhaps one of the best units in the Confederacy.

His star ascended at Bull Run but he quickly found disgrace in the months that followed as he nearly lost the Shenandoah Valley to the Union. Quick intervention by General J. Johnston saved his command. The problem, as all agreed, was his attitude. The Father General believed that “Providence” had blessed the Confederate cause and only by tremendous acts of faith and courage, his country would be saved from the “blue-bellied devils.” Unfortunately those acts of courage included foolhardy charges against enemy formations and batteries which proved unnecessarily costly in lives. He was madly insubordinate and thought nothing of dressing down his own commanding officers, accusing them of random, obscure offenses such as "heresy."

After defying orders in the Shenandoah, the Father General was detained and court-martialed and was convicted of insubordination. He was barely saved from doom by an immediate pardon from Jefferson Davis.

Now a pariah and without any work to do, the War Department found one last mission worthy of his rash nature. He was returned to the head of his old division and reinforced with orders to stage a diversion into Maryland.

The diversionary raid was intended to be just that –a temporary foray into the contested border state. However, the Father General opted to press further instead of returning with his troops, and on a late spring day under a hazy sky, his command was swallowed by the wilderness to the west.

Now, the Union has restored their lines of communication but somewhere to their rear, a rogue Confederate commander is missing with several thousand rifles at his command.

It is almost mid-June, 1862. The Battle of Seven Pines is fresh in memory. McClellan’s campaign has stalled and President Lincoln is ready to withdraw forces to shield the capitol from any Confederate forays against it from the west and north.

There’s a pocket in Union territory out of which no man or communication comes or goes. What is happening there and why? Does this portend disaster for the Union? Or is this the greatest folly of the Confederacy?

Only time, and your decisions, will tell.
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Father General

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