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Rainbow Brigade, Episode 6: A Bridge on the River Patapsco

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  • Rainbow Brigade, Episode 6: A Bridge on the River Patapsco



    Prologue to Battle:


    In the aftermath of Sharpsburg, the Army of the Potomac withdrew to the North. Scouting reports indicated that the loss of several key leaders, such as Hooker to a wound, might have been the cause. That, or as some seemed to think, the Yankees “must think there are a million of us”. Either way, the losses to their Cavalry arm and the Army in general at Chantilly showed, as Stuart’s troopers did not have much in the way of competition for their scouting.


    Seizing the opportunity, and with a number of Rainbow officers agreeing either to an aggressive course of action or specifically to making a move to cut Baltimore from Washington, the Army of Northern Virginia gets on the march early in the afternoon of the 20th with Rainbow Brigade in the Van. Stuart’s Division skirmishes with all comers towards Hagerstown, cutting telegraph lines and railroad tracks in an effort to deny intelligence or supply to the enemy. Captain Dashwood and Major Pruitt work their troopers hard scouting ahead of the Army and ensuring that foraging parties get to any substantial stores of food or fodder, Lee having left behind the bulk of his train in favor of maneuver.


    In the ranks, the mood is heady, and the men are impetuous. They are also exhausted, after fighting three major battles and several minor ones in the last month. Nevertheless, straggling is low, a combination of pride in embarassing Billy Yank repeatedly and the knowledge that they are not in Virginia and stragglers can not so easily return to friendly lines. Abandoning the majority of the supply train also means that the wounded have all been sent back across the Potomac, and foraging parties politely yet firmly pillage the countryside. Jackson, Lee, and Longstreet all strictly enforce a policy of not unnecessarily taking or destroying private property, but privately all will admit a desire to visit upon the Yankee the insults that have been visited upon Confederate farmers and tradespeople over the past year, in an effort to further cement the futility of this war upon the national psyche.


    And so the Army marches, to Middleton, then east through Fredricktown towards New Market on the 23rd. Fitzhugh Lee’s Cavalry ride southeast towards Rockville to gather intelligence on any moves made by the VIII Corps garrisoning Washington and the other major cities. On the 24th, riders from Hampton’s Brigade bring word that the Army of the Potomac is force marching in pursuit. After mulling over the uncharacteristic action, Lee concludes that Lincoln has replaced McClellan, and from his days in the US Army he believes that Maj. Gen. Sumner is the only one who could so quickly turn that force about and drive them singlemindedly.


    On the 25th, riders from F. Lee’s Brigade bring word that troops appear ready to march from Washington, and with the way that the limited Federal cavalry there are active, Fitzhugh Lee expects them to march within the next day or two. As the Army reaches Lisbon on the 26th, Major Pruitt encounters a small party of Marylanders in Union Blue at a creek. From the one bank, Pruitt yells across telling them that Maryland is being liberated. From the other, the riders tell him that has yet to be decided. The Maryland cavalrymen then ride East towards Ellicots Mills and Baltimore. Pruitt’s Cavalry are unable to catch up with the small party, but scout the river and find the bridges still intact, and some visible defenses.


    That night, the officers meet in the farmhouse Lee is using as his headquarters. “Gentlemen, it appears that we are once again on the horns of a dilemma. If we continue East, we will find ourselves trapped against the river and Washington, and Sumner’s battered Army of the Potomac reinforced by the VIII Corps. If we turn South, we might brush aside the VIII Corps reinforcements and return to Virginia, but Lincoln would call our campaign a raid, and the Yankee would not find removed any of his capacity or will to wage war against us.”


    Jackson speaks up: “I am of a mind Sir, that we should divide our army. I can take my Corps south, defeat the VIII Corps separately, and then turn on the Army of the Potomac.” Lee looks at Longstreet, who opines “We passed a goodly ridge near Poplar Springs, with steep bluffs on the North looking down on the creek. It would be a good place to make a stand, especially in anticipation of a maneuver to flank from the South.” Stuart merely states that he anticipates we will be caught up by the Federal force between the 27th and 30th even if we continue to move East, and his scouts report no serious activity to the North that would indicate major troop movements.


    Lee considers his subordinates advice. “Gentlemen, I believe your ideas have merit. From Sharpsburg we know that while the Yankees are more numerous, their morale is low, they are at least as exhausted as our own men, and their supply can be in no way superior to our own. But more importantly, we captured or destroyed a number of guns at Sharpsburg. Despite our dearth of industry, our boys have bought in blood a fleeting supremacy in our artillery arm. It is a bold plan, to divide so in the face of destruction, but I believe we have opportunity now to soundly defeat the Federal Army while it is disorganized and at a dearth of arms. He must attack, and I am certain that Lincoln is mustering reinforcements both South and East in an effort to crush us in a fist. We must use all our advantages, and seek the favor of Providence, but our boys have never failed to deliver when required, and I would not doubt their courage or skill.”


    Poring over the map, Lee makes his decision. “General Longstreet, you will dispose your Corps as you see fit in the area of Poplar Springs. General Jackson, take your Corps South and throw back the VIII Corps, I suspect they will be bringing a substantial artillery train to replace losses in the Army of the Potomac. General Stuart, you will of course take your Division with General Jackson, and plan to guard his outboard flank.”


    General Longstreet points out the potential of threats to the East and North, most especially if the garrison of Baltimore has been given similar orders as the garrison of Washington. Lee relents, and orders General Hampton to remain to guard Longstreet’s right. As to Baltimore, after looking at the map, Lee concludes that there are four places a column could easily cross the Patapsco, too many to be protected sufficiently lest the Army be weakened into uselessness. Instead, he decides on a bold course of action.


    “Colonel Fawcett. You will take your Rainbow Brigade East and threaten Baltimore. You must seize and hold Ellicott’s Mills, as that is the most direct route into the rear of the Army. But more importantly, you must impress upon the Federal commander a significant threat to his charge. To keep him from simply sending a column by a different bridge or ferry, you need to force him to stand before the city and protect it. Force him to muster his full strength near the city, where he cannot intervene in the fighting here.”


    Thinking for a moment, Lee also says “This war has killed its share of great leaders, and your brigade has not been an exception. General Sennef killed, Captains and Majors killed and wounded, and Colonel Bates riding in a wagon as I heard, suffering the ill effects of a concussed head. Consider yourself to be Brevetted to Brigadier, Mr. Fawcett, for the duration of the campaign.” Turning to Stuart, Lee says “Also, General Fawcett may draw from Hampton’s Brigade what additional guns or regiments he might require to complete his task”, but he quickly adds, “Harry, remember that anything you take from General Hampton may not be available at Poplar Springs when the Army of the Potomac arrives. We must carefully husband our forces if we are to finally bleed this blue army white and end this awful war.”


    With that, the meeting breaks up, and General Fawcett goes back to Rainbow to bring them the news and the orders. Arriving back at his own headquarters, he looks at the map Major Pruitt’s scouts were able to make of the area of Ellicot’s Mills, and the all-important Patapsco River, which will either contain the Yankees from attacking Longtreet’s rear…..or will contain Rainbow to be annihilated.
    Last edited by TacCovert4; 30 Aug 18, 23:31.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

  • #2
    Map:

    https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1...it?usp=sharing
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

    Comment


    • #3
      Rainbow OOB:



      Brigade stores Unattached to units

      12 Wagons (24 men)


      Legendary Stars: 5 (+1 Marching Speed)


      Gardner’s Battery (Maj. Gardner)(TAG)(Wounded)

      4 x 3in Ordnance Rifles

      4 x 10lb Parrott Rifles

      1 Wagon

      86 Men (grey-blue uniforms w/ red facings)

      Sharps Carbine, 1851 Colt Navy Revolver


      Cavalry Squadron


      Tar Heel Troop (Maj. Pruitt)(Pruitt)

      133 Cavalry (Grey Jackets, Jeancloth trousers, assorted covers)

      3 x 1860 Colt Army

      Sharps Carbine


      Dashwood’s “Light” Cavalry (Capt. Dashwood)(Dashy)

      120 Cavalry (Blue hose, Red Coats)

      1796 Heavy Cavalry Saber

      Assorted sawn-off shotguns (pistol ranges)

      2 x Colt “Dragoon”

      2 x 12lb Howitzer “Galloper Guns”


      2nd Regiment


      Finch’s Battalion (Maj. Finch)(Snowy)(+2 Musketry)

      241 Infantry (Variety of Homespuns, good boots, Cavalry Hats)

      1853 Enfields/Bayonets

      Shovel or Axe per man


      Bates’ Irregulars (Maj. Bates)(Sen)(Businessman Bonus)

      115 Infantry (Green Sack Coats, Butternut Trousers)

      Calisher & Terry Carbines

      Single-shot Pistol

      Dirk

      4 x 12lb Napoleon


      Tiger Rifles (Maj. Leroy)(Fritgern)(Soldier Bonus)(+2 Melee)

      240 Infantry (Blue/White Striped Pantaloons, Red Shirts/Blue-Red Jackets), Straw Hats & Fezzes)

      1841 Dreyse Rifle (Adds Capt. Von Trapp)

      Cutlasses


      1st Regiment


      Bird’s Green Jackets (Maj. Bird)(Capt AFB)(Businessman Bonus)(+2 Musketry)

      300 Infantry (Green Sack Coats and Trousers)

      Jaegergewehr 1856/59 / Bayonet (+50% ammo)

      Bowie Knives/Hatchets

      Wagon of Supplies and Ammunition in personal stores (+50% ammo when stationary for 1hr)


      Georgia Badgers Militia (Maj. Holden)(Cheetah)(Businessman Bonus)(+2 Musketry)

      141 Infantry (Solid Green Sack Coat and Trousers, Brown leathers, brogans and Slouch Hat)

      Whitworth Rifles w/Globe sights (1200yd range)

      Kerr Revolvers

      1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword (carried on baldric)



      Orleans Blues (Maj. Freeman)(Businessman Bonus)(Wounded)

      140 Infantry (Grey Sack Coats, Trousers, Kepi)

      1853 Enfield Rifle-Musket, Bayonet

      Single-shot Pistol

      2 x 12lb Howitzer




      Reserve Regiment


      NC Grenadier Guards (+2 Musketry)

      100 Infantry (Helmets, Green Jackets w/ Black Facings, Black Trousers)

      Dreyse Rifle/Bayonet

      3 Grenades Per Man


      Jaeger Volunteers (Hpt. Augustus)(Soldier Bonus)

      160 Infantry (Grey Frocks, Grey Trousers, Brogans, Grey Hats)

      1841 Dreyse, Bayonet
      Last edited by TacCovert4; 31 Aug 18, 00:27.
      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

      Comment


      • #4
        Reinforcement Pool (Can select up to 3, or None, must select prior to battle):

        Jefferson Davis Legion (200 Mounted Rifles)

        10th VA (150 Mounted Rifles)

        Cobb's Georgia Legion (150 Dragoons)

        Chew's Battery (4 x 12lb Howitzer)

        OOC: Difference between Mounted Rifles and Dragoons here is Mounted Rifles will have 2 or 3 band long-arms (Rifles or Rifle-Muskets) and a pistol while Dragoons will have shotguns/carbines, saber, and pistol.
        Last edited by TacCovert4; 31 Aug 18, 02:09.
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

        Comment


        • #5
          OOC: Open to suggestions in reinforcement. Can we manage without further forces?
          Captain Khryses, Silver Star Omnilift Wing

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Khryses View Post
            OOC: Open to suggestions in reinforcement. Can we manage without further forces?
            We'd be foolish not to take reinforcements. My suggestion is to take artillery unit and mounted rifles.

            Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

            "Aim small, miss small."

            Comment


            • #7
              Or as a compromise, we can just take artillery unit.
              Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

              "Aim small, miss small."

              Comment


              • #8
                I would say leave the artillery and take one cavalry unit. I think we should move quickly, which means the arty will be initially useful only for the river crossing. Cavalry is essential to flanking those fortifications.
                Wisdom is personal

                Comment


                • #9
                  I always have difficulties with this "pick & choose" option in these ACG sim games. I understand that it raises players interest in computer wargaming, as they accumulate points, they have better option in purchasing new units or capabilities.

                  But in real life (in this where my bias may come from), if all four units are available, we take all four units - BGen Fawcett may decide to leave a Rainbow unit or attached unit behind, if it does not fit in his overall plan, but there is no such thing in real life at looking at a "menu" and deciding what three of the four items we want...It is not like Stuart or Longstreet are waiting for Rainbow to decide what it wants to sweep up the available one for their own mission, Lee has already decided what unit will be attached or detached to his commanders to help them with their assigned mission.

                  So, unless Tac comes with a real good reason on why we can only use three of the four units (hopefully the reason would be more than "because i'm the MC and I said so' and I'll respect that) Rainbow wants all four units.

                  I understand Karri's point about artillery vs moving quickly, but as Rainbow already has an artillery unit in addition to integral guns in with some of its unit, another artillery unit is not going make much different on Rainbow's speed. I tend to never say no to extra firepower.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Capt AFB View Post
                    I always have difficulties with this "pick & choose" option in these ACG sim games. I understand that it raises players interest in computer wargaming, as they accumulate points, they have better option in purchasing new units or capabilities.

                    But in real life (in this where my bias may come from), if all four units are available, we take all four units - BGen Fawcett may decide to leave a Rainbow unit or attached unit behind, if it does not fit in his overall plan, but there is no such thing in real life at looking at a "menu" and deciding what three of the four items we want...It is not like Stuart or Longstreet are waiting for Rainbow to decide what it wants to sweep up the available one for their own mission, Lee has already decided what unit will be attached or detached to his commanders to help them with their assigned mission.

                    So, unless Tac comes with a real good reason on why we can only use three of the four units (hopefully the reason would be more than "because i'm the MC and I said so' and I'll respect that) Rainbow wants all four units.

                    I understand Karri's point about artillery vs moving quickly, but as Rainbow already has an artillery unit in addition to integral guns in with some of its unit, another artillery unit is not going make much different on Rainbow's speed. I tend to never say no to extra firepower.
                    Well, in the grand sense I was trying to give you all some influence in operations which you will not be a part of, since it's far beyond the scale of this game to include the much larger simultaneous engagement at Poplar Springs. In that vein I was going for a sense of Lee distributing his forces based upon priorities, and allowing you all to decide if you really need additional forces to accomplish your mission or if you can make do with what you have. From an absolute realism viewpoint I'm inflating Rainbow's decision making slightly, otherwise this ahistorical bit becomes me making all the decisions for you. Realistically you might request for additional troops and be left at the mercy of the Army command on whether you got them.....to give it a bit of a gaming perspective I showed you how much you'd be able to successfully argue for and then let you decide if you really need it or if you can make do with what you have.

                    Hampton is guarding Longstreet's right flank at Poplar Springs. Which is important, if attached duty to a much larger Corps organization. Rainbow is being thrown several miles separate from the main body to ensure that the Baltimore and surrounding area garrison does not intervene and force Lee to concern himself with multiple fronts. To that end, he is willing to put more troops with Rainbow, but by the same token every regiment that leaves with Rainbow will not be there on the right flank and means that Longstreet will have to potentially use his own reserves to fill in. While by no means would a major battle hinge on the presence of a single regiment, the removal of most of a brigade could have some major deleterious effects. So while Lee is willing to tender requests from you for more troops, he would really hope that you don't need or want them.

                    In short, I'll allow you to take all 4, which would leave Hampton with a single regiment to protect Longstreet's right flank. But keep in mind that yours is not the only fight that will be occurring, and I will be separately resolving the battle of Poplar Springs. Overly weakening the right flank to bolster Rainbow's move might guarantee success by Rainbow. But, in doing so you could also create the conditions which would allow the main army to be flanked. This is a case of your mission being important enough that a level of risk is allowed on the part of the main body....but realistically your commander wouldn't want you to require assistance.
                    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      On that basis, I'm cautious about stripping the artillery from Longstreet's flank guard. The army's right flank may be less exposed than the left, but guns are key to their standoff power.

                      Our mission is fairly critical too though, but I can't see weakening the army's main effort too much.

                      If we don't feel we can do it on our own (and we are likely to be busy), Fawcett will only support requesting one cavalry reinforcement from Hampton's brigade. TacCovert4 - how far away is our expected area of operations from Hampton's planned deployment? Do we have the option to request none now, and send a rider for uncommitted cavalry when we feel it is needed? (realistically, 1+ hours before it is needed).

                      Although Capt AFB raises a good point that in hindsight I realise I've neglected in my battle sims. I'll look into exploring that next time; not dropping the menu of available forces in the players' laps (unless there's a compelling reason for this) but noting down the forces that may be available if they're requested and it's in some way higher priority than what the forces would otherwise be doing.
                      Captain Khryses, Silver Star Omnilift Wing

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        With more cavalry we could potentially push them up the Baltimore pike once the forward battery by the river is taken out. They could flank the second position the Yankees have on that hill from there while moving mostly in cover forward.
                        I think we have sufficient artillery to accomplish that with us.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For the purposes of battle planning, let's see if we can do without and keep the option open to ask Hampton to reinforce us if we find we need it (Tac confirms this is possible) without weakening his side of the operation any more than we do prove to need.

                          Planning (discussion):

                          Situation
                          • The Army of the Potomac is force-marching to confront the Army of Northern Virginia east of Lisbon, MD.
                          • Federal columns are expected from the garrisons of Washington and Baltimore to reinforce the Army of the Potomac and restore their numerical advantage.
                          • Army has determined to defeat the Federal reinforcement columns in detail while a blocking force entertains the main Federal body, then re-concentrate to defeat him.
                          • Intelligence on the Baltimore column suggests:
                            • Between 2000-5000 men, primarily drawn from the 8th Army Corps.
                            • Primarily large regiments of infantry mustered in the past few months.
                            • Some local cavalry and heavy artillery from the Baltimore defenses.
                            • Small numbers of marines (or even sailors) from the strong naval presence at Baltimore.
                            • All of the above should be considered green with varying levels of training and not yet blooded.
                          Map

                          https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1...it?usp=sharing

                          Mission
                          • Rainbow Brigade has been detailed to defeat the Federal column coming from Baltimore, prevent their involvement in the greater battle and return to reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia if practicable.
                          Execution
                          Commander's Intent
                          • To provide a credible threat to the Baltimore defense area, drawing the Baltimore column to engage us instead of advancing towards the main battle area along an axis Rainbow cannot effectively interdict.
                          • To advance across the bridges at Elysville and Elliot Mills, clearing the defenses and advancing to a blocking position at Caton (inside phase line 3) and the northern ridge line.
                          • To draw the enemy onto us there and drive them into retreat on Day 1.

                          Concept of Operations
                          1. The operation will begin at 0400 - Rainbow elements will camp 1.5 miles west and begin an approach march to the area at 0300.
                          2. 1st Rainbow will be primarily responsible for the northern sector of the advance, securing the Elysville bridges, the wooded hill and the northern flank of the eastern ridgeline.
                          3. 2nd Rainbow will be primarily responsible for the southern sector of the advance, securing the Elliot Mills bridge and advancing down the Baltimore Pike to a position between Caton and the southern flank of the eastern ridgeline.
                          4. Rainbow Squadron and Reserve Rainbow will operate between these sectors as required at commander's discretion, and both regiments may support one another as tactical needs require.

                          Phase 1 planning:

                          Given the known Federal positions at the Elliot Mills bridge and the likely presence of Federal garrisons in support of the artillery there and at the northern bridges, I see three paths open to us gentlemen.
                          1. Both regiments assault their bridge areas at the beginning of the operation under cover of darkness, relying on surprise to carry them safely across the bridges.
                          2. As the northern defenses appear weaker, Rainbow carries the Elysville bridges first and then takes the Elliot Mills bridge either from behind or front and behind at once.
                          3. Rainbow attempts to advance a body across the centre of the river between the bridges, either at a shallows possibly found at the wooded curve of the river or using boats seized from either town.

                          How would we like to approach the first phase of the operation?
                          Captain Khryses, Silver Star Omnilift Wing

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                            With more cavalry we could potentially push them up the Baltimore pike once the forward battery by the river is taken out. They could flank the second position the Yankees have on that hill from there while moving mostly in cover forward.
                            I think we have sufficient artillery to accomplish that with us.

                            Good point - let's include that option in the planning, and if we don't think Rainbow Squadron is sufficient we can request one regiment from Hampton to back them up.
                            Captain Khryses, Silver Star Omnilift Wing

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Khryses View Post


                              Good point - let's include that option in the planning, and if we don't think Rainbow Squadron is sufficient we can request one regiment from Hampton to back them up.
                              Never turn down reinforcements. More is always better than less. God, after all, is on the side of the bigger battalions...

                              Comment

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