Friday, August 01, 2003

Refighting the American Civil War - Turn 2 (September - October 1861)

Hidden Strikes

At the end of August President Lincoln made a trip to the encampment of the Army of the Potomac. He met McDowell behind closed doors - but the room had thin walls. He upbraided McDowell, and the language used left McDowell in no doubt of the President's displeasure. This threw the general into action, and at the beginning of September he left-flanked Beauregard's position. The plan was hasty, and Beauregard had not been idle. After a gruelling battle McDowell was forced to admit failure. His army remained intact, and while Braag took the corps he gathered at Richmond to reinforce Beauregard, he crossed into the Shenandoah and marched onto J Johnson's small force. Taking Staunton they crushed Johnson's force. Johnson himself escaped, and lauched a scathing attack on Beauregard in Richmond. His accusations came a little late. Beauregard was already on the move. Reinforced he too crossed into Shenandoah and met McDowell's army outside Staunton. It was a crushing Confedate Victory, McDowell was thrown northward.

Out West Price, reinforced, finally attacked Union positions outside Springfield, Missouri. The Union were evicted, but Price himself was wounded in the battle. It just happened that both the Union and Confederacy had a number of very able snipers in their troops in Missouri. Lyons and Price were simply the most notable of their many victims to date. The tribes in Texas were now thoroughly stirred up, and an Apache warband destroyed Fort Phantom Hill. Further raids took place both in Texas and in New Mexico. To the south the Union flexed there naval muscles for the first time, blockaded Corpus Christi, TX; and landing a small army under command of Brigadier Blunt outside Brownsville. On the Mississipi Schofield led his corps against a Confederate fortification, and was repulsed. However he caused enough damage that the fort was judged by the Confederacy to be untenable a few weeks later.


Beauregard realised that McDowell had left Washington only lightly garrisoned, and that the commander of that garrison, General Halleck, had been desultory in completing fortifications. Realising that McDowell's cavalry were badly overstretched he snuck out of the Shenandoah, crossed the Potomac above Washington, and attacked the Union capital. The garrison was outmatched, and Halleck ordered the evacuation. Lincoln was not there at the time - fortunately. Some overzealous troopers burnt the White House for the second time in 50 years.

McDowell was moving before he heard the terrible news. Showing some unexpected foresight he ordered some naval ships to patrol the Potomac as far as they could. He then positioned his army athwart the crossings that Beauregard would have to use to supply himself. Beauregard, realising this, moved out of Washington, leaving only a skeleton garrison. He met McDowell some twenty miles up the Potomac, and forced McDowell to yield him the river crossings. But even as that battle was fought a small Union force under Brig Logan landed just outside Washington and broke the skeleton garrison. Washington was still in danger, and Beauregard was still a potent threat, but Washington was free again ... for the time being.

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