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Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

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Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Martin on Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:58 pm

This game was designed for 3 or 4 players to play coop vs the AI.  As is so often the way, 7 turned-up in the event!  I was a little concerned to see how the AI would hold-up against such a large human team.  I did have time to tweak the scenario just before the game, to make the Union somewhat stronger than I had intended.  In the event, I needn't have worried!

I'll start with the Confederate briefing, then provide a more accurate picture of the initial dispositions and early moves.  Then a link to the replay file, plus my take on the result.



Confederate briefing

Background

The Confederate army in the Trans Mississippi was sent east of the river in April, to help defend Mississippi and Alabama.  This left Arkansas virtually denuded of troops.  Major General Thomas Hindman was appointed to command of this area and energetically began raising a new force, by rigorously enforcing the new conscription law in Arkansas, and even diverting 2 Texas brigades en-route for Vicksburg.  He has also been reinforced by volunteers who have made their way down from Union-occupied Missouri.




Confederate forces

The expected Union advance is from the NW and your most experienced troops under Walker have been placed there to cover your LOC (marked by stars on the map), and also protect the forward supply depot SW of the Wentz Farm.

3 new brigades of Arkansas infantry are being organised as a division under Rains, further to the SE along your LOC, on the outskirts of Manchester.  These conscripts show promise, but they are not fully-trained, especially McCrea's Brigade.  There is a further supply depot SE of the town.

A Missouri cavalry division under Marmaduke joined you yesterday, and your ordered him to patrol the line of the South Branch, NE of Manchester.  These men are well-motivated, but seem somewhat undisciplined.


Order of battle

Army of Arkansas - Maj Gen Thomas Hindman
Walker's Division (2 infantry, 1 cavalry Bgds and 2 artillery batteries,  supply depot) 5,400
Rains' Division (3 infantry brigades, 2 artillery batteries,  supply depot)                        4,800
Marmaduke's Cavalry Division (2 cavalry brigades)                                                3,500 (estd)


Union forces and intentions

Your intelligence of the Union forces is not good, but you know that they are commanded by General Steele, an aggressive commander.  His force is believed to consist of 3 mainly infantry divisions under Auger, Carr and Rice.  It is believed that Steele has only been waiting to collect supplies before advancing into the heart of Arkansas.

A local farmer, Jonas Bentz, has just been ushered into your HQ outside Manchester, with the news that Union cavalry marched S past the his farm and the Yost farm an hour ago.  Marmaduke is patrolling that very area, and you know that many of his troopers wear captured Union clothing.  Farmer Jentz seems rather excitable, and you are not sure whether to believe him, but he seems a good southern patriot.  


Your objectives

You must clearly defeat Steele if he advances against you.  But you must also preserve your LOC, and supply depots (marked by wagons without horses).  These wagons have been collected with great difficulty in the sparsely-settled country, but cannot realistically be moved far, as virtually all the draft animals have been taken for your cavalry and artillery.  

Any enemy advance, if this is what it is, would be most inconvenient.  Especially if it is from the NE, as Rains' Division is untried in combat.


Scenario designer's view

The Confederate task is not easy.  They face a force of almost identical size, but overall better quality.  In particular, Rains' new division is not really ready for combat.  This battle has just come too early for Hindman....

They also have a long LOC plus two crucial supply depots to defend.  

Although the briefing is fairly accurate as to Union dispositions, the Rebs have no way of knowing this, due to Marmaduke's failure to picket the line of the South Branch.  He has encamped way to the SE.  The Missourian cavalry general is also guilty of over-reporting the size of his own division; perhaps through bravado, or poor record-keeping, or maybe in hopes of securing extra rations.  In later campaigns, some of the Missouri cavalry were to rank among the most reliable and effective fighting troops W of the Mississippi.  But at this point in 1862, even senior officers are still learning their trade.

The true position is as follows...........




The battle

In the S, Auger's division, accompanied by General Steele, immediately struck straight for the Hanover road.  They marched through Manchester, and took up a blocking position astride the Rebel LOC, inhibiting communication between the Confederate divisions.

Marmaduke pushed N and NW to try and locate the Union force, whilst Rains initially remained on the defensive, concerned to protect his supply depot.  Auger's men then launched a series of attacks against Rains, both in the town and on the heights to the NE of it.  The N W portion of Manchester repeatedly changed hands.  Marmaduke's cavalry came in to support Rains, but both Confederate divisions suffered severely.

In the N, the Union the Union division of General Rice did not move immediately, presumably awaiting receipt of final orders from Steele.  In testing, Rice had occasionally ignored Walker's Division, and marched straight down the Hanover road to join Auger near Manchester.  Not in this battle.  After a few minutes he advanced on Walker, and a heavy fight broke out, with the Rebs initially having the better of it.

Gaining the upper hand here, the Rebs then switched Walker himself and one of his brigades to reinforce the southern sector.  This force eventually arrived in Auger's rear and certainly helped turn the tide in this sector.  Auger's Union division was in some disarray by the end of the battle.

In the N however, General Rice had rallied his Union division and counterattacked.  He overran Walker's camp and part of his supply depot.


Replay file

Here 's a link https://www.dropbox.com/s/vaec9712e0q8u0e/NetServ-09272514%20222430.zip?dl=0


The result and my take on it

                  Casualties    Stragglers     Remaining     Start
Union               2,900         1,450            6,450      11,800
Confederate      4,250         3,000            4,550      11,800

Uncle Billy and his Reb team did well in difficult circumstances.  They saved 75% of their supplies, and secured their LOC, at least temporarily.  The majority of Rains' Division just about held together, which was by no means a certainty.  And substantial losses had been inflicted on the Union.

But they suffered significantly heavier casualties than the Union, together with twice as many stragglers.  Although some of the latter would have returned to the colours over the next few days, would many of the sometimes reluctant Arkansas conscripts have hurried back?  

In my judgement Steele's northern army would have been substantially stronger by the next morning, and Hindman would have needed to fall back.  I believe he could have done so in good order however, and thus preserved his new army.  Something of a strategic victory there, perhaps?

Overall I think this was a tactical draw.   So hats-off to the AI too.

Martin (J)

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Re: Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Uncle Billy on Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:38 pm

It was a challenging scenario given that nearly all the information I had was wrong. The need to fight two completely separate battles also didn't help. Both fights degenerated into slugging matches. At the end both armies could claim pyrrhic victories. Strategically, I'd say the Union got the better of it. They completely disrupted the rebels ability to consolidate its forces in Arkansas and destroyed what must have been a very valuable depot. Even worse, the widow Jenkin's farm on Shaeffer Ridge is now in enemy hands.

Casting about for the guilty, Gen. Hindman settled on General Fagen, (Martin), as the cause of this misfortune. His inability to crush the brigade before him directly led to the demise of Hindman's carefully crafted plans. There can only be one sentence in such a case. Shocked

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Re: Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Martin on Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:19 pm

Sadly, General Fagan is nowhere to be found in Arkansas, sir.

But we received a postcard this morning from Acapulco, where he is apparently holidaying - sorry vacationing - with the Widow Jenkin. He says he rescued the dear lady from Steele's rascals. Various pleasantries are included, but notably omitting the phrase 'wish you were here'.

Peabody, Capt, CSA
Gen Hindman's Staff

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Re: Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Iberalc on Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:26 pm

It was a change of flavor, all right.

At start, I was disoriented, my forces are facing south with the high ground on our backs to the north, what the hell? Maybe it was a hint.

We started to move some forces with the depots down the Hannover Road and that's when Rice's division came from the northeast.

I did very badly handling that cavalry trying to take some guns (didn't remenbered you advised before the game Martin) and when they engaged on foot they didn't seem to shoot just to take casualties, nasty bussiness.

It was goog learning. Smile
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Re: Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Martin on Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:49 pm

The Confederate cavalry in the Trans Mississippi was a very mixed bag.  By 1863-4 a few of the brigades were very good indeed, and the equal of any infantry in that theatre in a stand-up fight.  That had partly to do with its recruitment - Reb cavalry units often had a higher proportion of volunteers.  It also reflected the fact the some of their cavalry were armed with infantry weapons.

But in 1862 it was still often poorly organised and badly armed.  You had Parson's Texas Cavalry Brigade in your division, which did eventually become quite efficient.  At this point though it had just one decent regiment (Parson's own 12th Texas), the other units were quite poor, and there were also frictions between Parsons and his colonels.

I'm reading about the 1864 Wilderness Campaign in Virginia at the moment.  Even there, there was a lot of variation between brigades and divisions of both armies in terms of quality.  But there was even less homogeneity in the Trans Mississippi.  There were huge variations between the armies from year to year, and also within the armies themselves.  Particularly the Confederate ones.  It's one reason I find the theatre interesting.  

As late as 1864 some of the Rebel cavalry were fairly useless, for example.  The Confederate high command periodically dismounted the less efficient units, both in the hope of making them good infantry, and also because they were becoming short of artillery horses.

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Cavalry Horses

Post  WSH Baylor on Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:30 pm

Hi Martin,

Interesting you mentioned that cavalry in the west was dismounted at times with one reason being to furnish horses to the arty.  Since each cavalryman was expected to furnish his own horse, I am surprised to hear that they would turn over their personal mounts to the arty.  Would appreciate footnote on where you found that.

Thanks

Jack

PS: I presume you have read, or are reading, Confederate Cavalry West of the River. If you don't have it, it can be found on the net under a search for dismounted cavalry.
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Re: Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:18 pm

I guess orders are orders Jack!

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Re: Sunday's SOW game - Tom Hindman creates an army

Post  Martin on Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:07 pm

Exactly so, Diggers!   As you suspect, Jack, it was never popular, but the men were in the army, subject to military discipline, and it was forced through on a number of occasions.   Especially by Hindman, an unusually firm (even dictatorial) commander.

It's a matter of record, and is well attested in the 0fficial Records of the Union and Confederate armies.  I seem to recall that Oates also covers it in Confederate Cavalry West of the River.  

Here are the main occasions:

1. Spring/summer 1862 – several Texas regiments in East Texas and Arkansas.  The drivers were shortage of infantry, and lack of fodder in the Arkansas valley.  The dismounted regiments were used by Hindman to fill-out brigades in what became Walker's Texas infantry division.

2. Nov 1862 – Bradfute’s Texas cavalry brigade.  The drivers here were partly their lack of effectiveness, and partly their poor disciplinary record.  Hindman reported they were “worthless as cavalry, and.............ordered them dismounted and their ponies sent to Texas”

3. Early 1865 – this was the largest such exercise during the war.  Several brigades were dismounted, which represented the bulk of the cavalry in Texas and Louisiana. Drivers were the perennial shortage of infantry in the Trans Mississippi, too many cavalry for the available grazing in the Red River Valley, and the lack of horses for the artillery.

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