Paul Owen
United States
Lorton
Virginia
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Monday my friend Paul R. and I got together for another session of Stonewall Jackson's Way at Game Parlor, Chantilly, VA. We decided to try the micro-sized Scenario 3, "Stuart's Raid," dicing for side in the first game then switching sides and playing again.

General J.E.B. Stuart
source: www.sonofthesouth.net

From the game notes: "This scenario simulates J.E.B. Stuart's 22 August cavalry raid against Pope's lifeline, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. This is a very simple scenario and should take only a few minutes to play. Again, this is something of a hypothetical scenario as Stuart's raid actually encountered little opposition." The three-day episode runs 22 - 24 August 1862 and occurs primarily in Fauquier County and northern Culpeper County, Virginia. The Rappahannock River forms the boundary between the two counties.

In the first game, I had the Confederates, which consisted of F. Lee's cavalry brigade and J.E.B. Stuart, normally a corps commander but in this case simply an augmenting headquarters unit. My Union opposition consisted of two cavalry regiments, 1st Maryland and 4th New York. My objectives were to damage railroad stations at Catlett's Station and Warrenton Junction and to occupy Waterloo or White Sulphur Springs at the end of the three days. Inflicting Union casualties also counted toward Confederate victory, whereas suffering Confederate casualties counted toward a Union victory.

The Confederate cavalry start the scenario on the north side of Wellford Ford on the Hazel River, about three miles west of its mouth on the Rappahannock. Union cavalry start in White Sulphur Springs and Foxville, north along the Rappahannock on the far (east) shore. Scenario restrictions prevent the Confederates from crossing the Rappahannock downstream of the Union position (unless it is at Kelly's Ford, a good seven miles south of the Hazel River, rather the long way around to the objective rail stations). On the first day of the raid, scenario restrictions also prevent the Confederates from conducting an extended march and prevent the Union from moving at all.

My initial thought on reviewing the scenario was that if I had good dice rolls (for movement points) on the first day, I could swing north of the Union forces, cross the Rappahannock at Waterloo three miles north of White Sulphur Springs, then head for the Warrenton Branch Railroad and follow it east toward my two objective stations. As it happened, my first roll was quite poor, and I feared that I would make insufficient progress on the first day. Rather than leave the Union forces unmolested, I figured that F. Lee's brigade, which outnumbered the 4th New York three to one, could force its way through at White Sulphur Springs, bloody half the Union cavalry, and shorten the route to Warrenton Junction.

My thinking was seriously flawed. My advantages of leadership and manpower were largely nullified by having to attack across the ford, and although I forced the enemy's retreat and occupied White Sulphur Springs, I ended up disorganizing my cavalry and exhausting my troops for the day.
On the second day, I gained the initiative but had to conducted an extended march by virtue of my troop's fatigue from the previous day's fighting. As it happened, my die luck was poor, and I lost a third of my manpower from extended marching with a disorganized force. Retaining the initiative, I elected to conduct a second extended march, seeking to regain lost ground toward my railroad objectives. Again, poor die luck led to loss of another third of my original manpower on the extended march while disorganized, leaving me with but a third of my original manpower, and that completely exhausted.

And hereupon we realized the fatal error I had made. In order to damage a rail station, I needed at least two combat factors (i.e. at least two-thirds of my original force size). So here I was, having conducted a day of battle and a day of extended march, only to leave myself with a force too small to damage either of my objectives. A quick analysis of the victory conditions led us to conclude that even if I wiped out the Union forces and occupied Waterloo or White Sulphur Springs at the end of the third day, the Union would win for having protected both railroad stations.

Thus I managed to lose the game without my opponent having to move a single piece. If that's not an indictment of my cavalry operational skills, I don't know what is.

If I can swallow my pride, I'll post the results of our second session, when we switched sides.
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Eddy del Rio
United States
Springfield
Missouri
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Paul,
Well you'll never make that mistake again ... and hopefully neither will I, thanks to your AAR. whistle
 
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Jenkster 65
United States
Alabama
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I've noticed that taking a historical strategical mindset is usually best. Stuart was successful because he avoided contact with the enemy as much as possible plus he utilized terrain and his opponent's ineptitude to his advantage.

I've made the same mistake of thinking superior firepower would win, but that didn't always happen back then...and with die rolls blush it doesn't happen now either.
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