A problem with tablets

When I wrote yesterday’s blog entry about Chris Engle’s latest card-driven combat system, I added links to the three YouTube video clips that he had created to explain how the system works. This morning I looked at the blog entry on my iPad … and realised that the links did not appear on screen. I have therefore added links from the titles for each of the sections (i.e. ‘Part 1’, ‘Part 2’, and ‘Part 3’) to the YouTube video clips.

A different way to fight a wargame: Three video clips produced by Chris Engle

Chris Engle is an innovative wargame designer. He devised the original Matrix Game and has continued to develop the concept in a variety of different directions ever since.

Recently he has produced a set card based rules for figure wargames, and to demonstrate how they work he has produced three video clips that can be viewed on YouTube.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Chris‘s rules have some novel features, and do produce a narrative-style of battle in which all the participants have an input. They may not be to everyone’s taste … but they are nonetheless an interesting experiment.

Matrix Games: An interesting development

Further to the recent Matrix Games that Chris Engle featured on Hamster Press (his blog), he has now sent an interesting message to the WDDG (Wargame Developments Discussion Group) that describes the developments he has made in the use of Matrix Cards in his games.

In his current design Chris allows players to draw a hand of five Action Cards which limit their choices. Instead of the old ACTION, RESULT, and 3 REASONS method (as used in THE MARCH TO THE SEA Matrix Game featured on this blog) players make up a short story about what happens using the cards in their hand to act as inspirations. The players can be as creative as they want to be in the way that they use the Action Cards.

In his message Chris gives an example of this:

So I might look at the terrain board and see that enemy reenforcements are coming up behind me, play the card ‘Freeze’ and say ‘The commander of the reenforcements hears the sound of battle up ahead. Fear grips his intestines and he freezes up. He tells his men to stop and take up a defensive position. No help arrives at the main fight.’

Since this is an interactive game, other players get one chance per turn to add to or challenge an action. They play a card and add to the story. For instance a player may play ‘Disobey’ and say ‘The men realize that their officer is wrong and that they need to keep advancing. One NCO distracts the officer while the others set up ‘defensive positions’ ahead of the position. They keep moving till they reach the fight.’ The two players then roll two six-sided dice each. The high roller wins, re-roll ties.

This is an interesting development and one which I would like to experiment with myself at some point in the future.

Chris also mentions in his message that he is experimenting with a card-based combat system … and this sounds very interesting indeed.

I look forward to reading more about Chris‘s latest Matrix Game designs in due course, and I will keep my regular blog readers up-to-date with the developments as they happen.

A trip to the shops

After my gardening session this morning, my wife and I went shopping in Dartford. Whilst she spent time in the local branches of Matalan, TKMaxx, and George at ASDA, I paid a visit to B&Q (where I bought a new lawn rake!) and WHSmith.

The latter had copies of all three major wargames magazines on show, and after looking through the two I only occasionally buy – WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED and WARGAMES, SOLDIERS & STRATEGY – I bought both.

The November issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED has several articles about the Franco-Prussian War that I thought I might find interesting as well as a long obituary for Donald Featherstone that was written by Chris Scott, with an additional contribution by Duke Seifried.

Issue 69 of WARGAMES, SOLDIERS & STRATEGY has a Cold War theme, including a very interesting Matrix Game that has been developed by Mark Backhouse.

It was nice to see a Matrix Game featured in a mainstream wargames magazine, especially as it was not too many years ago when they were regarded by quite a few wargamers as being a bit too avant garde.

More about Matrix Games

Chris Engle of Hamster Press has been the driving force behind the development of Matrix Games, and over the years he has published – and continues to publish – books and booklets about them.

This morning I went through my collection of wargames publications and found that I own the following copies of Chris‘s work:

  • CAMPAIGN IN A DAY (1992): This explained how a Matrix Game worked, and included two examples; Peninsula Campaign and Ancient Sumeria.
  • CAMPAIGN BOOK (1992): This was the companion volume to CAMPAIGN IN A DAY and contained all the information needed to set up and run ten Matrix Game campaigns. Each section contained a description of the historical situation, orders-of-battle, and each player’s briefings and goals.
    • 1066
    • Bannockburn
    • 1494
    • Blenheim
    • Bonnie Prince Charlie
    • Peninsula Campaign (as featured in CAMPAIGN IN A DAY)
    • Russian Campaign 1812
    • March To The Sea
    • Zulu
    • Save Gordon!
  • MINIATURE BATTLES: STUPID SIMPLE RULES (1992): This was the third book in the series and featured rules that could be used to fight any battles that were ‘generated’ by a Matrix Game campaign.
  • THE MATRIX GAME! (1995): This book included a revised (and in some ways simplified) version of the original Matrix Game rules.
  • SCOTLAND THE BRAVE (1995): This book was a complete scenario (including player briefings) for a Matrix game set during the Scottish Wars of Independence (1295 AD – 1314 AD).
  • MATRIX GAME RULES (2000): A revised – and very easy to follow – version of the original Matrix Game rules.
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES CASE BOOK (2005): This book contains and explanation about how Matrix games work and the scenarios and player briefings for six murder-mystery Matrix Games:
    • Sherlock Holmes Mystery
      • The Case of the dead Duke
      • The Case of the Missing Bride
      • The Case of Bad Blood
    • The Fenian Murders
      • The Fox Hunt
      • A Shot in the Dark
      • The Fenian Plot
  • DESERT RATS: A MILITARY CAMPAIGN GAME (2005): This book contains and explanation about how Matrix games work and the scenarios and orders-of-battle for six Matrix Game campaigns:
    • Desert Rats
      • Rommel’s Advance
      • Jihad
      • Rommel in Defeat
    • Dar as Salaam: The 1880 British Invasion of the Land of Peace
      • A Small War for Empire: The Invasion
      • Allah U Akbar! : The Dervish Counter-Attack 1881
      • The Hunt for Ali Baba 1885

I am sure that I also have a copy of Chris’s POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS (PBOM) rules, which are a very simple set of wargames rules for fighting battles with toy soldiers. I think that a synopsis of the rules is available on his website here.

Recent Matrix Game developments

The man who came up with the original Matrix Game concept is Chris Engle of Hamster Press … and he is still developing new ways to use it. His most recent games have reverted to the use of Matrix Cards, and by the look of them he seems to have come up with yet another interesting and novel way to produce a ‘narrative’ wargame (i.e. one in which the players work with and against each other to create a story of what happens).

The two most recent games featured on his blog include a map-based campaign/battle set in East London/Essex

… and a Revolution in 1830s Paris.

I am pleased to see that Chris has revisited the use of Matrix Cards. They always seemed to me to be a real antidote to the mechanistic and mathematically-modelled approach to wargame design that is so commonly seen. They also allowed a wargame to incorporate the ‘human in the loop’ element without having to rely upon things like morale throws or reaction tests; these were replaced by something much better … a real human being!

My only regret is that I never found a way to use Matrix Cards in solo wargames … but with Chris on the case there is every chance that he may well find a solution to that problem as well.

The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – The Actual Events

Sherman’s army group left Chattanooga. It included:

  • Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland, 61,000 strong
  • James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee, 24,500 men
  • John M. Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, mustering 13,500.

In front of Sherman was Johnston’s Army of Tennessee, 60,000 strong. In his rear, from the Mississippi to the Appalachians, Confederate cavalrymen John H. Morgan and Nathan B. Forrest roamed, disrupting communications and attacking Union garrisons. Johnston – outnumbered though he was – skilfully opposed Sherman in a series of delaying positions. Sherman – equally skilful – outmanoeuvred him by turning movements at Dalton (9th May), Resaca (15th May), and Cassville (19th May). Each time the manoeuvre was the same: a holding force in front of the Confederates and a wide Union turning movement around the Confederate left. Then Sherman drove due south, by-passing Johnston’s position at Allatoona (24th May). Johnston, retiring to Marietta, placed himself directly in Sherman’s path.

After a series of indecisive combats near Dallas and New Hope Church (25th to 28th May), Sherman made a frontal assault on Kenesaw Mountain, which was the key to Johnston’s position. The attacks were repulsed and Sherman lost some 3,000 men. Johnston’s losses were only 800. Once again Sherman (2nd July) turned his opponents left, and Johnston (4th July) took up a powerful entrenched line north of the Chattahoochee River.

Again Sherman turned the Confederate position. Johnston fell back on Peachtree Creek, just north of Atlanta, and prepared for a counterattack. He was then summarily relieved of overall command on 17th July. This could be viewed as an ungrateful administration’s reward for a really remarkable delaying campaign against very superior forces. For 2 months he had, with a minimum of losses, held Sherman to an average advance of 1 mile per day. He was succeeded by John B. Hood, who had a reputation for being somewhat impetuous.

Johnston had already foreseen that Sherman’s advance on Atlanta, on a 10 mile front, offered possibility for a successful counterstroke. Hood seized the opportunity, and attacked Thomas’ army. Although surprised, the Union forces were alert and the attack was repulsed. Some 20,000 men on each side were involved. Southern casualties were about 2,500 and Union losses were 1,600. The Union advance continued (21st July), forcing Hood to withdraw behind Atlanta’s defences. Sherman hoped to follow his enemy into the city and sent his left-flank cavalry division eastward to cut the railway. Hood, however, had retreated with the full intention to strike back.

22nd July: BATTLE OF ATLANTA 1864
William J. Hardee’s corps – the elite of Hood’s army – together with Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry division, hit the open left flank of McPherson’s army. Surprise was complete, but the veteran Federal troops reformed, despite the death of McPherson in the melee. The assault was repulsed with Confederate losses of some 8,000 men. Federal casualties were 3,722. Sherman – his strength insufficient for a siege – determined to swing entirely around to the western side of Atlanta and operate against the railroads. Sending most of his cavalry raiding south (27th July), he started the move next day.

An further assault by Hood was repelled – mainly by the Army of the Tennessee – with 4,300 Southern casualties against 632 Union losses.

28th July to 22nd August 1864: CAVALRY RAIDS
Part of Sherman’s cavalry – 6,000 strong – moving around both sides of Atlanta failed in its dual mission to cut the railroad and to liberate the Union prisoners at Andersonville. As a result Major General George Stoneman and some 2,000 men were surrounded and captured by the Confederates on 4th August. Meanwhile Sherman continued to build up the strength of his forces on Atlanta’s western side. Another Union cavalry raid was mounted of 22nd August but this also failed to cut rail communication between Atlanta and the outside world.

27th to 31st August 1864: FALL OF ATLANTA
Leaving one army corps to guard his own communications, Sherman swung his remaining troops forward in a great wheeling move towards the railroad lines south of the city, driving Wheeler’s cavalry before them. Hood sent Major General W. J. Hardee – with half of his army – to hold the railroads, but Hardee was thrown back at Jonesboro on 31st August. Hood’s communications line was cut now cut, and after destroying ammunition and supply stores, Hood evacuated Atlanta that night, moving east and south. Next morning Sherman’s troops marched in.

September to October: MANOEUVRING AROUND ATLANTA 1864
Sherman, turned Atlanta a military base, but found further any further advance almost impossible because of the need to protect his 400-mile line of communications to Nashville. In addition to the daring and successful attackes of Forrest and Wheeler, Hood had moved west and north with his entire army (1st October) to attack these lines of communication in the hope of forcing Sherman’s withdrawal from the city. After chasing Hood’s force through Allatoona (5th October) as far as Baylesville, Alabama (22nd October), Sherman came to the conclusion that further efforts to get to grips with the elusive Confederates would nullify Grant’s giant pincers concept.

14th November 1864: HOOD INVADES TENNESSEE
Reinforced by Forrest’s cavalry, Hood crossed the Tennessee River and moved rapidly northwards toward Nashville with 54,000 veteran troops. Thomas, building an extemporised army at Nashville around his own hard core of veterans, did not wish to withdraw garrisons from key points in Tennessee. He therefore played for time. Major General John M. Schofield, with 2 corps and Wilson’s cavalry division (about 34,000 men in all) was directed to delay the Southern advance. Schofield managed to avoid Hood’s attempts to box him in at Columbia (26th & 27th November), and he fought his way through the enveloping Confederate forces in a night battle at Spring Hill (29th November), and then moved into previously prepared defences at Franklin, 15 miles south of Nashville.

15th November to 8th December 1864: MARCH FROM ATLANTA
Sherman solved the problem – with the somewhat reluctant approval of Grant – by sending Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland back to Nashville and Chattanooga, whilst he abandoned his line of communications and marched eastward from Atlanta toward Savannah with 68,000 veterans. With him were 2,500 wagons and 600 ambulances carrying supplies (mostly ammunition); other that that, his men lived off the country. With practically no opposition he cut a 50-mile-wide swath of ‘scorched earth’ to the sea, 300 miles away. He was deliberately making ‘Georgia howl’ as he devastated crops and the war-supporting economy of central Georgia. He ignored Hood’s efforts to distract him when the latter mounted a full-scale invasion of Tennessee whilst – to his front – Beauregard, assisted by Hardee, tried to protect Savannah and Charleston.

30th November 1864: BATTLE OF FRANKLIN
Hood, impetuous as ever, attacked piecemeal with two-thirds of his army. He was thrown back after losing 6,300 casualties out of 38,000 men engaged. His opponent – Schofield – lost 2,300 out of his force of 32,000 men. Having successfully defeated Hood’s army, Schofield retired that night to Nashville.

15th & 16th December 1864: BATTLE OF NASHVILLE
Hood assembled his army outside the defences of Nashville from 2nd December onwards. In the meantime methodical Thomas, who was busy training his largely newly-recruited army – particularly Wilson’s new cavalry corps – would not be budged until he was ready. When he did finally attack, he destroyed the left flank of Hood’s army because it was exposed as a result of Hood’s decision to send Forrest away on a raid towards Murfreesboro. On the second day of the battle Hood found Thomas’ troops were enveloping both his flanks. In the end Wilson’s cavalry, which struck behind the Confederate left, delivered the final blow. Federal losses were 3,061 out of 49,773 men engaged. The Confederates lost 5,350 out of 31,000 on the field, and Hood’s army dissolved into a fleeing rabble. This was the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in a major engagement in the war.

9th to 21st December 1864: OPERATIONS AGAINST SAVANNAH
Arriving in eastern Georgia, Sherman discovered that Hardee held fortified Savannah with 15,000 men. Sherman stormed Fort McAllister at the mouth of the Ogcechee River, 15 miles from Savannah on 13th December. After establishing communications with Union naval forces, Sherman’s army began an investment of the city. With his lines of communication about to be cut, Hardee evacuated the city and Sherman moved in at once (21st December), presenting the city (in a ship-borne and telegraph message to Lincoln) as ‘a Christmas gift’.

Umpire’s CommentsOne measure of whether or not the re-creation of a particular historical campaign works is to compare what happened in the game with what happened in reality, and it is interesting to see how close some of the events in the game mirrored those of the actual campaign. This may – in part – be due to the fact that several of the players were very knowledgeable about the period, but it is also due to the quality of the arguments presented by the players, most of whom took a very ‘cultural’ (i.e. historically correct) view of events as they unfolded. For my part I deliberately did not read up any of my sources about the Atlanta Campaign until I had typed in the last moves. This was in order to ensure that I did make any biased decisions as I ran the campaign. The result was a realistic and enjoyable campaign that was not a burden to the players – I hope – or the umpire. I enjoyed it very much, and I hope that you did too.

The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – December 1864

Messages SentFrom: General Joseph E Johnston CSA (Army of Tennessee)

The Army of Tennessee will winter in the Kenesaw Mountains, astride the Yankee supply lines thus restricting Federal freedom of action. This will be made possible because:

  1. My Confederate heroes will be able to live well on captured Yankee supplies.
  2. Confederate cavalry will continue to harry the Federals.
  3. The cowardly Yankee are exhausted following the long siege of Atlanta and will be too busy burning houses and molesting livestock to pursue us.

From: General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA (GOC Bedford’s Raiders)

Bedford’s Raiders will destroy the railway lines from Nashville to the North, and utilise all available trains to send the plentiful captured supplies to the Army of Tennessee, with the result that the Union lines-of-communication will be cut and completely disrupted. We will be successful because:

  1. There are no Union troops for miles, and the Bluebellies in Atlanta will have their hands full dealing with the mess they have gotten themselves into there.
  2. We are the best led and the finest fighting cavalry in the war, who adore our successful and charismatic leader, and pour scorn on the Northern jackasses who profane the word ‘cavalry’.
  3. The people love us, and now that they can see Salvation is upon the South, they will do all that they can to facilitate General Forrest’s brilliant plans.

From: General John Hunt Morgan CSA (GOC Morgan’s Cavalry)

My forces will patrol aggressively and heavily reconnoitre the area between the Army of Tennessee and the Union troops down as far as Atlanta itself, with the result that they will protect the former from any Yankee raids and give them ample warning of any larger Blue-belly move northward. We will be successful because:

  1. We are very experienced in this sort of operation, having spent a tremendous amount of time earlier in the war on spectacularly successful long-range patrols through Kentucky and Ohio using these same skills.
  2. The situation in Atlanta is so confused that the Yankees could never control of their troops and re-organise for an offensive without us knowing well in advance.
  3. Our martial prowess and ascendancy over the Yankee Donkey-wallopers precludes their use as a worthwhile raiding force.

From: General William Tecumseh Sherman USA (US Army of the Tennessee)

Following the re-organisation attendant upon the capture of Atlanta, executive command of the Armies of the Ohio and the Cumberland will be rested with Major General Thomas. The Army of the Tennessee will remain under my direct command and force march to Savannah, capturing that City before Christmas Day, and cutting a swathe of devastation through Georgia twenty miles wide in the process. The Army will achieve this because:

  1. The Army is in great heart having captured Atlanta and thrown the Rebel army out pell-mell.
  2. They are following the plan of campaign already explained to their leaders which has succeeded in every particular to date.
  3. Returning Savannah to the Union will be an appropriate method of showing the Rebels that their cause is doomed, and hence will shorten the war.

From: General George Thomas USA (US Army of the Cumberland)

During the month of December, my forces will advance along the railroad to Nashville, seeking a decisive engagement with the enemy that will re-open the lines of communication to Atlanta. The reasons that this shall happen are:

  1. I am personally leading my men, so they will be inspired by my example.
  2. The complacent Rebel bandits will be surprised by this bold and decisive action, so soon after the fall of Atlanta.
  3. Uncle Billy’s strategy of ‘increasing pressure’ on Atlanta has ensured that the city fell without my forces having to be decisively committed, enabling them to be quickly redeployed.

From: General John M Schofield USA (US Army of the Ohio)

The Army of the Ohio will now commence a campaign to complete the destruction of the Rebel forces in this theatre. My troops will assemble sufficient supplies for both the Armies of the Cumberland and the Ohio, together with our wounded and the prisoners, to be transported north by road and rail. My army will then destroy all manufactories and surplus stores of arms, munitions, uniforms, equipment and means of transport, in Atlanta, that might have any military value to the Rebels. Having completed these preparations, the Army of the Ohio will advance along the railroad toward Nashville, in support of the Army of the Cumberland. I shall be able to accomplish this for the following reasons:

  1. Inspired by the Union capture of Atlanta, the now free black population will give us intelligence of stocks of food that we may gather, and the movements of the enemy.
  2. The Union morale is supreme following our victory over the Rebels, with such a low number of casualties.
  3. In contrast, the Rebel morale is very low, due to their inability to hold Atlanta and to engage us in battle, and to the fact that they do not know who is in command of their army. The Rebels will not stand before us, but will desert their homes in the face of our advance.

Campaign EventsEarly in December General Forrest, safe in Nashville, sent the following letter to General Sherman, using tried and trusted agents.

To: The Officer Commanding, Garrison of Atlanta

As you know we Gentlemen of the South are of good stock. I have some advice for you sir, which may be of assistance.

‘Prospice tibi – ut Gallia, tu quoque in tres partes dividaris’

I assure you sir that unless you surrender now, the warning will cease to be that, but will become a fitting epitaph on your tombstone.

Oh yes, I see that you are still there, but we of course are EVERYWHERE ELSE!!

I have the honour to remain etc. etc.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA (GOC Bedford’s Raiders)

In the meantime, General Johnston’s Army of Tennessee rested and regrouped in the Kenesaw Mountains, in preparation for the Union attacks they fully expected to follow, whilst Morgan’s Cavalry acted as his ‘eyes and ears’, aggressively patrolling the area between the City and the Mountains.

The Union forces seemed to have their hands full during the first half of the month. Not only did they have to deal with the aftermath of the siege, but in preparation for the next campaign, General Sherman re-organised the Armies of the Tennessee, Cumberland, and Ohio. The Armies now comprised the following units:

  • The Army of the Tennessee
    • 16th Ohio Infantry Regiment
    • 47th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment
    • 5th Indiana Cavalry Regiment
  • The Army of the Ohio
    • 42nd Indiana Infantry Regiment
    • 35th Kentucky Infantry Regiment
    • 24th Michigan Artillery Battery
    • 29th Michigan Cavalry Regiment
  • The Army of the Cumberland
    • 19th Illinois Infantry Regiment
    • 22nd Illinois Infantry Regiment
    • 38th Indiana Infantry Regiment
    • 15th Ohio Artillery Battery
    • 25th Illinois Cavalry Regiment

The reasons for this were more fully explained in two letters that Sherman sent to General Grant, the first by normal courier and the second by hand of a trusted senior officer of his staff.
The first letter was for public consumption.

To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

Many thanks for your kind congratulations which arrived at the same time as the President’s. I am glad that the capture of this sad city has been of benefit to him at least. Lincoln will keep the war going until we have final victory.

However, the capture of Atlanta may not be of much gain in the long run. The city is in a terrible way and so are we. Our losses have been considerable and the cavalry raids have destroyed much of our store of foodstuffs. The country hereabouts is pretty much ‘eaten out’ and with Johnston on our supply line in the Kenesaw Mountains we shall be in a bad way by the New Year.

Our scouts report that he is in too strong a position for us to attack him with our present force. You must arrange for a relieving force to be assembled capable of forming a passage through to us by February at the latest. If this cannot be achieved the consequences will be awful.

Yours in distress

Bill Sherman

The second letter was confidential, and contained his plans for the immediate future.

To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

There are those who read other men’s letters so I have taken pains to ensure that this one reaches you securely. There is another letter which other might read if they wish and much benefit may it bring them.

Many thanks for your kind words of congratulations for the capture of the City; it seem that I have done Mr. Lincoln a good turn in the recent election. At least we can proceed with the war.

Johnston ‘skedaddled’ out of Atlanta and is holed up in the Kenesaw Mountains. He took such supplies as his men could carry but was without any artillery or wagons as they have eaten their horses and mules! Kenesaw was pretty much ‘eaten out’ after we had fought over it in the Summer. They cannot last long there; the men were in a bad way before they left Atlanta. It never fails to amaze and humble me to witness the great goodness of our people. When the troops broke into the City after all these months a massacre was entirely likely. Instead the soldiers were moved by the suffering they found in the hospitals and among the common people. They gave their rations to feed the wounded soldiers of both sides and even some civilians.

Soon enough the impudence of the local citizenry re-asserted itself and I have been besieged myself with petitions from ‘prominent citizens’ for the alleviation of their woes! Since I pointed out that citizens who take up arms against their legitimate government have forsaken all rights to such consideration they have abated a little. I have now issued a proclamation – copy attached – which has given them more to worry about.

Our next moves are now in train. I have re-organised our forces appropriately. As we discussed so long ago, Atlanta must be made useless to the Rebel cause; we are dismantling anything we can use and destroying that which we cannot. The work is taking some time but the troops are working with a will. They are in great heart and despite the efforts of the Rebels we still have ample supplies.

By the end of the month George and John will be heading West along the railroad with our trains, baggage and everything else we can move. They will push Morgan and Johnston aside if they try to interfere; they can rebuild the railroad in front and dismantle it behind; there is no need for a Union Army to operate in this region anymore. I shall take my ‘whiplash’ and scourge the rest of Georgia, taking Savannah by Christmas. We shall move light and fast, and let any who wish to stop us, try!

Best wishes

Bill Sherman

The proclamation to which General Sherman alluded in his letter was printed in large numbers and displayed prominently throughout Atlanta.




W. T. SHERMAN (Maj. Gen.)
Officer Commanding the Western Theatre

The reorganisation of the Union Armies did not go without mishap, and when, in the middle of the month, General Thomas began his march towards Nashville along the railroad, he took with him troops assigned to the Army of the Tennessee and left behind units that should have gone with him. This confusion was reflected by a letter he sent to Sherman soon after he had marched out of Atlanta.

To: General William Tecumseh Sherman

Dear Uncle Billy,

I have just received your message – the young man you sent was delayed by a band of rioting Citizens as he tried to find me in the wreck that is Atlanta, only to find me gone from that burning vision of Hell as fast as I could re-deploy.

I have, as you will have already seen, given orders for my forces to advance to Nashville, with the aim of destroying any Rebel remnants that I find on the way. I think that this is sufficiently in mind of what you wished me to do, as to not require a change in instructions. I should, of course, be delighted if you would include a line in your instructions re-assigning to my command the specific Regiments you mention.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to serve with you once again, and I look forward to continue doing so in the future.

I remain, Sir, Your obedient servant

George Thomas

Sherman’s Chief of Staff immediately sent orders for General Thomas to halt his march, and despatched those units that had been left behind in error to meet him in the foothills of the Kenesaw Mountains. They also ordered the 16th Ohio Infantry Regiment to return to Atlanta to join the Army of the Tennessee. This confusion delayed the advance of both the Armies of the Cumberland and of the Tennessee, and led to certain young staff officers at General Thomas’s Headquarters to be heard whistling the tune ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ and referring to Sherman as ‘The Duke of New York’.

In the meantime, Schofield’s Army of the Ohio set about the task of destroying all the ‘military’ installations and storehouses in Atlanta, as a result of which a large part of the City was burned to the ground. This activity spared them from the confusion caused by Sherman’s reorganisation of the Union Armies, but it also delayed the start of their march towards Nashville to such an extent that they were barely outside the boundaries of the City of Atlanta before the end of the year came.

Please click on the map to make it larger.

Troop Strengths


  1. As from the beginning of July, The Army of the Cumberland will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness when it is in Nashville.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  3. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.


  1. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.

Please click on the charts to make them larger.

The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – November 1864

Messages SentFrom: General George Thomas USA (US Army of the Cumberland)

During the month of November, I shall personally lead my men into battle in any engagements that take place, resulting in the effectiveness of my forces being immediately enhanced. The reasons that this shall happen are:

  1. I am ‘THE ROCK OF CICKAMAUGA’, against which the Confederate Forces broke in that crucial battle last year.
  2. The Rebel lies about my being severely wounded, given spurious and temporary credence by my necessary absence to co-ordinate personally with Uncle Bill the major and complicated plan for the attack on Atlanta, will be demonstrated to be utterly false.
  3. None of the cowardly Rebel Commanders has so far dared to lead his men personally, despite the desperate plight they find themselves in, so my Forces will be inspired by my example.

From: General John M Schofield USA (US Army of the Ohio)

During the month of November, the morale of the Rebel forces within Atlanta will fall to such a pitiful state that their effectiveness will be greatly reduced. This will occur for the following reasons:

  1. The Rebel Army has no confidence in Joe Johnston since he has not even attempted to prevent the investment of Atlanta. Some have noted that, since he was wounded at Seven Pines in 1862, he has avoided decisive battles, and consider that this is due to cowardice. The Rebels now find that their so called ‘President’ Davis has also lost faith in Johnston, but has failed to achieve a seamless change of command.
  2. The Rebel army has been cut off in Atlanta since September. The Rebels know, from the precedent of Vicksburg, that the result will be the capture of their whole force and the end of the Rebellion in the west.
  3. Atlanta has been cut off by rail since July, and surrounded since September. The civilian population has been placed on short food rations by their army. However, since the civilians have no confidence that the Rebels will ever fight to free them, they have rioted to gain control of food supplies. The discipline of some Rebel regiments has broken down when ordered to fire on starving people.

From: General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA (GOC Bedford’s Raiders)

Bedford’s Raiders will force march to Nashville, via Lafayette, with the result that we will raid the city of Nashville. We will be successful because:

  1. We will have total surprise because the curmudgeon Bluebellies will all be guarding the rail link to Atlanta after last month’s raids and capture of supplies.
  2. We are the finest fighting cavalry in the war, who adore our successful and charismatic leader.
  3. The Northern Boys think that the South is all done in. Well it ain’t, and we’re gonna show them soft City Boys what real men – and gentlemen – fight like. That will take the heat off the heroes of the defence of Atlanta.

From: General Joseph E Johnston CSA (Army of Tennessee)

The Army of Tennessee will break camp and march into the Kenesaw Mountains to the north-east. This will result in the salvation of the army and will be made possible because:
The Confederate cavalry will screen the movement.

  1. Confederate forces are well supplied on account of the capture of Sherman’s ‘Southern Delicacies’.
  2. The Yankee aggressors are preoccupied with their preparations for an assault on the City, and can do little to stop us.

From: General William Tecumseh Sherman USA (US Army of the Tennessee)

The Armies under my command shall continue to increase pressure on the City of Atlanta with concerted full assaults upon the City to obtain its capture. The cavalry shall continue to screen these efforts from interference from the Confederate Cavalry which they shall ambush if the opportunity should arise. Atlanta will fall because:

  1. The Union Armies know that the fall of Atlanta will lead directly to the collapse of the rebellion before Christmas and they can go home.
  2. The defence of the City is visibly weakening – the latest counter-attacks have been costly to the defenders.
  3. The City has withstood a siege unequalled in the history of this War, and there is still no sign of relief.

From: General John Hunt Morgan CSA (GOC Morgan’s Cavalry)

Morgan’s Cavalry will cause a disturbance in the gap between the Combine Union Cavalry and the Army of the Cumberland, then pillage and burn our way through the latter’s rear areas, destroying what remains of their supplies and causing a disturbing amount of chaos before disappearing into the hills once more. We will be successful because:

  1. The Union forces are obsessed by the thought of capturing Atlanta and will not be paying attention to their rear.
  2. Surprise will be complete because the Union spies are unable to decipher our intentions.
  3. Our men are very well motivated as they are on the crest of a wave of success after dealing blow after blow to the confused and bewildered Union forces.

Campaign EventsEarly in November, General Sherman wrote two letters, one to General Johnston – with which he returned Jefferson Davis’s letter – and one to General Grant.

To: The Officer Commanding, Garrison of Atlanta

Dear Sir,

I attach a dispatch addressed to you which came into my possession.

W T Sherman

Major General, USA

To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

I am still here and they are still there and here I shall remain until they are no longer there. I am not a patient man but we all suffer burdens for the cause and one more in not important.

The City of Atlanta has now withstood a siege unparalleled in modern times. Bearing in mind the City was not put on guard before the Rebel army tumbled pell-mell into it, they have undergone a trial of the greatest order. But they cannot last. Everyday reports reach me of further reduction of their rations, worsening of their conditions, and a diminution of their ability to withstand our forces.

They may have won my grudging admiration but they have won no concessions. I have now required my quartermasters and patrols to be more thorough in their work to deny the enemy any sustenance or even shelter. The west is already a desert after our campaigning but now the south and east is being cleared of anything useful to the enemy. What cannot be carried away is being burned.

You will have heard that Forrest and Morgan have gone back to their old trade of larceny and jay-hawking. Soldiering was obviously too tough for them. They are a nuisance but not more than that. I will deal with them when Atlanta has fallen, which will be soon!

Here until Hades cools or Atlanta falls

Bill Sherman

If the former was intended to spur Johnston into action, it succeeded. Now that he realised that he no longer enjoyed President Davis’s whole-hearted support, General Johnston secretly prepared to break out of Atlanta. His decision was aided by the growing unrest amongst the civilian population of the City, the reluctance of his troops to fire on starving rioters, and the increasing ferocity of the Union assaults on his defensive trenches. Using trusted couriers, he communicated his plans to Generals Forrest and Morgan, both of whom agreed to mount diversionary raids in concert with the breakout.

On the allotted day, Morgan’s Cavalry began a sustained raid on that part of the Atlanta perimeter guarded by the Union’s Combined Cavalry. Whilst the Union troops turned to deal with this attack, Johnston marched what remained of the Army of Tennessee out of the City towards the Kenesaw Mountains, leaving behind only those men who were too unwell or injured to move. These men formed the last Confederate garrison of Atlanta.

The Union Cavalry, which was now trapped between two Confederate forces, and awed by the sight of the Confederate Infantry advancing with colours flying and drums beating, did their best to stem the breakout, but without the support of Infantry and Artillery, they could do little more than delay the inevitable.

Once they realised that Atlanta was now virtually undefended, both Generals Schofield and Thomas rapidly moved their troops into the City. There was little resistance, and within hours General Sherman was able to make a triumphant entrance into the City he had seen from afar for so long. His triumph was, however, a bitter one, because the sights that met his eyes – the destroyed buildings and starving people – deeply affected him. Now he saw that, as he was later to say, war was Hell.
News of Bedford Forrest’s raid on Nashville reached General Sherman late in the day of Atlanta’s fall, but he was, for the present, unable to react because of the need to deal with the starving citizens of Atlanta and the need to find and destroy the remnants of the Army of Tennessee, particularly as the latter now lay across his lines-of-communication to Nashville.

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Troop Strengths


  1. As from the beginning of July, The Army of the Cumberland will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness when it is in Nashville.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  3. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.


  1. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.

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The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – October 1864

Messages SentFrom: General Joseph E Johnston CSA (Army of Tennessee)

The Army of Tennessee will continue to strengthen the defences of Atlanta. This will result in the defeat (with heavy Yankee losses) of any Federal assault and will be made possible by:

  1. The high levels of motivation amongst the ranks of the Army of Tennessee.
  2. The low morale in the Yankee armies whose attacks have again been repulsed.
  3. The Yankee preparations will be disrupted by rather more enthusiastic Rebel cavalry attacks than the ineffective demonstrations which took place last month!

From: General William Tecumseh Sherman USA (US Army of the Tennessee)

In the month of October, the Armies under my command shall prosecute the siege of Atlanta such as to obtain the capture of the City. Whilst the combined cavalry will screen the operation and the Army of the Tennessee continues with a series of probing diversionary attacks, the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Ohio shall disengage from their present positions on the West and North of the City respectively and march in a clockwise direction behind the Army of Tennessee to take positions to the South of the City. As a result, the Army of the Ohio will be to the left of he Army of the Tennessee, and the Army of the Cumberland to the left of the Army of the Ohio. Every effort will be made to mask this movement so that the attack of the Army of the Cumberland, supported by the Army of the Ohio will be a surprise, coming from a totally new and unexpected direction with little or no defensive works. This will oblige the Rebel forces to fight in open battle against the Union Armies and be overwhelmed. Atlanta will fall. This will be achieved because:

  1. The Union Armies are all assembled and well supplied.
  2. Their morale is high thanks to recent successes against Rebel raiders and the manifest success of their leaders plans to date.
  3. The Rebel forces are dismayed by the constant failure of Southern Armies, uninterrupted retreat since March, and the lack of supplies in a city cut off since July.

From: General John M Schofield USA (US Army of the Ohio)

The Army of the Ohio will take orders directly from Major-General William T Sherman. The self-styled ‘President’ of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, will remove Joe Johnston from the command of the Rebel Army of Tennessee, and replace him with the aggressive John Bell Hood. This will result in the Rebel army falling into so much disarray that they will fight less effectively. This will occur for the following reasons:

  1. ‘President’ Davis has no confidence in General Johnston; Johnston has fought only once, in May. Since then he has run back to Atlanta, allowing three Union armies to invest the city and cut his railroad communications, unchallenged! In contrast to General Sherman, who regularly writes to the General-in-Chief, Johnston has failed to submit a single written report to Richmond that might have excused his performance.
  2. Much of Georgia has now been abandoned by the Rebel army. From these areas, the families of Rebel soldiers will have communicated their fears (of blacks, bushwackers, and Union foragers) to their kin. Many of the Rebels will therefore desert the colours to protect their homes.
  3. General Hood is a fighter! He opposes Johnston’s strategy and has been conspiring to gain command of his army. However, no doubt due in part to his crippling wounds and the use of morphine, Hood is a highly abrasive and disruptive officer. Few of the Rebels believe he can lead them to anything but a bloody disaster.

From: General John Hunt Morgan CSA (GOC Morgan’s Cavalry)

Morgan’s Cavalry will, in conjunction with Bedford’s Raiders, raid into Kenesaw Mountains and destroy the railroad track in numerous places with explosives, avalanches, and dismantling the track, with the effect that no more supplies will reach the three Union Armies around Atlanta. This will force them to divert considerable forces to the defence of their lines-of-communication, and reduce the effectiveness of the troops left in the trenches around Atlanta. We will be successful because:

  1. The Kenesaw Mountains are rich in tunnels, cuttings, bridges etc., which will be perfect targets for our operation.
  2. Destroying railroad tracks is our forté, having carried it out it on numerous occasions during our spectacular raids through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio earlier in the year.
  3. The Union troops will have difficulty living off the land at this time of year. Their supplies will rapidly dwindle, especially as they now have to feed the Black population of the area, who were forced to give over most of their own caches of hidden supplies by unscrupulous Yankee Quartermasters.

From: General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA (GOC Bedford’s Raiders)

The Army of the Ohio will disengage its forces from Atlanta, with the result that General Joe Johnston will find a gap in the encircling Union forces. This will happen because:

  1. General John Schofield was severely wounded during the running skirmishes with Forrest’s Cavalry and Bedford’s Raiders last month.
  2. The loss of their Commander has produced a state of melancholia and inertia in the Army of the Ohio.
  3. The famous, brave boys of the South are in the rear of the Army of the Ohio and threaten the railroad link and supply lines to the Army of the Ohio.

From: General George Thomas USA (US Army of the Cumberland)

During the month of October, the morale of the general population in the city of Atlanta will plunge into the very depths of despair, resulting in the effectiveness of any Rebel forces in the city being reduced. The reason’s that this shall happen are:

  1. The transparent failure of the Rebel cavalry to disrupt the Union advance on the city, despite the desperate promises of General Joseph E Johnston.
  2. News of the support provided to the Union forces by local Blacks invokes mistrust and suspicion of the local slaves on whom the administration of the city depends.
  3. Uncle Bill’s refusal to allow civilians to depart the city for the past two months has reduced the supplies and standard of living for the civilian population below bearable levels.

Campaign EventsThe siege of Atlanta continued during October, despite a major and complicated redeployment of the Union Armies around the City and an increase in number and ferocity of the attacks made upon the entrenchments thrown up by the Confederate forces commanded by General Johnston. The Union Army of the Cumberland were, in fact, able to break through the Confederate front-line trenches in several places, but spirited – though costly – counter-attacks prevented these breaches from being exploited.

One of the reasons why the Union assaults lacked success was, in part, due to the lack of ‘fire’ the Army of the Ohio exhibited during their attacks in support of the Army of the Cumberland. This may well have been due to the rumours within that Army’s ranks that General Schofield’s injuries, suffered during the skirmishes with Confederate cavalry in September, were more serious than at first thought.

News of unrest amongst the civil population in Atlanta filtered out to the besiegers, but this disquiet did not manifested itself in any form of action, save requests to President Davis to do something to aid the plight of those contained within the City. The President’s response was to order General Hood to Atlanta to take over command of the Confederate forces there. Unfortunately, the copy of this order that was sent to General Johnston was captured by a Union cavalry patrol, who brought it to Sherman’s Headquarters.

To: General Joseph E Johnston, Atlanta

General Johnston,

I have today ordered General Hood to Atlanta to take over command of the Army of Tennessee. You will, on his arrival, hand over command of your Army, and give him all assistance in ensuring that the siege of the City of Atlanta is raised forthwith. Upon the success of this operation, you will report to me in Richmond so that I may reassign you at my convenience.

I regret that I have had to take this action, but your inactivity in the face of the three Union armies that stain the soil of the Confederacy by their presence has forced my hand. I can always dispose of civilian complaints about you, if I can show that you are fighting, but since Vicksburg sieges are seen as a sure admission of defeat.

Further, your lack of communication with the Capital has made you many enemies here. Many do not understand why you are not fighting the Yankees in the open, and liken you to a timid rabbit, hiding in a burrow waiting to be dug out. Without dispatches, these views cannot be refuted.

I remain, Sir, your servant,

Jefferson Davis

Sherman’s glee at Johnston’s discomfort was, however, short-lived when he discovered that his own letter to General Grant had been captured by Forrest and Morgan – along with several supply trains – and had been copied, printed, and distributed throughout the South. Furthermore, the disruption of his supply lines seemed likely to force him to make an all-out assault upon Atlanta, a situation he had so far sought to avoid.

To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

As you see, I am still outside Atlanta which pleases me not at all. Sieges do not suite my temper and I fret. However, everything else is working so well I should count my blessings. Joe Johnston is shut up in Atlanta short of everything except complaints from all and sundry. The local citizenry are irked about the ‘damage and inconvenience’ to their affairs, his so-called President is sending him nothing but advice – and plenty of that – and some of his officers are demanding that the Army be led out to attack us!

I trust you are receiving your due share of the Southern delicacies I have been sending back to supply the farmers to the North. Here the harvest has been got in by our ‘contrabands’ and the barns are full so I have used the empty wagons on the returning trains to ship out our surplus. We would have to bun it otherwise.

The country hereabouts has emptied over the past months – my cavalry patrols say they can ride for days now without seeing a white person. Some did not even wait to remove their livestock! Our black neighbours give us news of Forrest and Morgan’s movements so that when they tried a surprise us, we surprised them!

Atlanta has held out longer now than Vicksburg but it can’t last. I hope the Thanksgiving present I sent you will have a capital ‘A’ on it.

Yours in anticipation,

Bill Sherman

As to the ‘Southern delicacies’ that Sherman referred to, these were used by Forrest’s Raiders and Morgan’s Cavalry to replenish their own supplies, and their presence in the Kenesaw Mountains appeared to threaten the Union Armies’ lines-of-communication with the North.

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Troop Strengths


  1. As from the beginning of July, The Army of the Cumberland will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness when it is in Nashville.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  3. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed


  1. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls to -3 has a 50% chance of surrendering to the enemy at the beginning of the next month.
  2. Any unit whose Basic Combat Effectiveness falls below -3 is destroyed.

Please click on the charts to make them larger.