Thursday, December 22, 2016
Preparing for another solo battle.
A warm, gentle breeze did its best to ruffle the corner of a map placed onto a small folding table. Robert E. Lee placed a coffee mug on the offending corner, defeating its weak attempt to lift it. General Lee swept his hand across the southern and eastern edges of the map. 'They are here gentlemen, General Hooker and the whole of the Army of the Potomac.' He went silent, appearing to be lost in his own thoughts, his eyes darting from one section to another of the map of Pennsylvania.
Lieutenant General James Longstreet broke the silence. 'General Stuart has confirmed this to be the case, though, like ourselves, they are well strung out.' He looked one by one into the faces of his three divisional commanders, Major Generals Lafayette McLaws, John Bell Hood and Steven Clay. All three nodded in response.
'Indeed that is the case, and General Stuart is rarely wrong,' General Lee remarked quietly, his eyes never leaving the map. 'I intend to meet General Hooker and destroy his army in battle.' His finger came to rest on a small and seemingly obscure location. He looked up at the other four men gathered around the table, satisfying himself that all were gazing at the spot he indicated. 'If he comes to us, which surely he must, the center of his army must pass along this road.' His finger traced the brown line from a south easterly direction, through to the spot he had earlier indicated. I want this crossroads and the hill to the north west of it to be held by a division of your corps, General.' He said looking at Longstreet.
James Longstreet rubbed his thick beard and stared at the point on the map, he knew by the distance from their current location to the intended destination was less than a days march. 'What will be the orders for this division, General?
General Lee used a handkerchief to wipe his brow, 'I want that division to make out as if it is a full corps. Standing confidently in the full knowledge that it is backed up by the whole Army of Northern Virginia, and defying the enemy to come to him.' He returned the handkerchief to his pocket.
'But the whole Army of Northern Virginia will not be behind it, I am thinking General,' Longstreet said with a half smile on his face,'I do believe you have other plans for the army.'
General Lee looked one by one into the faces of the other men before replying. 'You are correct as always James, I want to draw as much of Hooker's army to that location as it is possible to do. The rest of your corps will be in reserve behind the chosen division, and when the moment is right, you will advance to their aid, or more likely, they will be forced back upon you. The corps of Generals Ewell and Hill will swing around on each flank, in this way I hope to destroy a large part of the enemy army. He looked at the three divisional commanders, whichever of you are assigned the task of holding the crossroads and hill, will be in for a hot time, for some considerable length of the day.'
General Lee rode away from corps headquarters and Longstreet returned to the three men, still assembled around the small table. 'Steven I would like your division to accomplish this task, It is the largest division in the corps, and I will supply you with some extra cavalry and horse artillery to assist.'
Major General Steve Clay, smiled and saluted, 'It will be my pleasure general.'
And so another battle of the Amercian Civil War, that never happened, has taken shape. It will not be fought on the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania, but on a small table in England. So is the power of wargaming and a little imagination.
The set up. order of battle and a turn by turn batrep of this action will appear in following entries on this blog over the Christmas holiday, so stay tuned.