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"Most interesting small ACW campaign - and why?" Topic

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American Civil War

1,704 hits since 14 May 2016
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Major Mike14 May 2016 6:04 a.m. PST

Longstreet at Knoxville, TN

Rosecrans in WV

Kirby Smiths invasion of Missouri in late 1864

John Thomas8 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 6:07 a.m. PST

Pleasanton chasing Stuart after Brandy Station, leading up to Gettysburg I find fascinating. Or the feint by Grant with Sheridan's Cav at Trevilian Station to get his Army across the James while Hunter abjectly failed to take Lynchburg. Both require an extensive amount of cavalry, but are interesting in their own way.

Lascaris14 May 2016 6:30 a.m. PST

Red River campaign in 1864 is interesting although somewhat bigger in aggregate than your 20,000 man restriction. The individual battles were <15,000 men per side.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 6:38 a.m. PST

Olustee, Florida. Cavalry, Infantry & Artillery. Reasonably flat land with lots of brush and palmetto shrubs, some trees, etc to break up the lines of sight.

Both fairly green as well as veteran troops on both sides. Federals have both white and colored regiments, and both rifle-muskets and repeaters. Confederates also have rifle-muskets, and also have a railway gun, a large cannon mounted on a somewhat protected flat car. Oh, and confederates formed a brigade square as well.

Look up the Battle of Olustee and it's accompanying campaign, which started at Jacksonville as a means of securing north Florida for the feds.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 6:38 a.m. PST

Confederate invasion of New Mexico to try to gain control of the gold fields in New Mexico and Colorado. Small number of troops, death marches thru badlands, Kit Carson, Battles of Valverde and Glorietta. Small number of troops, mountain guns, volunteer units and regulars, etc.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 6:56 a.m. PST

1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign – Early vs Sheridan.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2016 7:59 a.m. PST

Early's raid on Washington. Lots of 'what-ifs' in that one.

HammerHead14 May 2016 8:07 a.m. PST

Been to Cedar Creek second Big Red`s comment. Also bigger than small campaign is Grants taking of Vicksburg, worth reading about if nothin else

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 8:38 a.m. PST

1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign

If you stretch it a bit, Bragg's invasion of Kentucky up Perryville. Bragg only had about 22,000 men but was heavily outnumbered by Buell, one of the best generals the Confederates had.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 8:56 a.m. PST

Breckenridge Vs. Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley.

jowady14 May 2016 2:38 p.m. PST

Another vote for Sibley's New Mexico Campaign, a charge by Texans as mounted lancers at Valverde as well as Paddy Graydon's "exploding mules". Fort Craig played a big part (the Texans felt they couldn't take it but that doesn't mean that you can't try), Sibley himself was "ill" for all the battles, Captain McCrea (Union) dying fighting his guns (McCrae Blvd in El Paso is named for him although 99% of El Pasoans don't know it or indeed anything about the campaign), Latino spies working for the North (the Catholic Church in Mesilla would be a virtual spy nest, it's the only campaign where the Confederates would capture the Capitol of a loyal State/Territory. You have the New Mexico Volunteers many of whom only spoke Spanish fighting under Kit Carson, Colorado Volunteers and the possibility of the California Column getting there in time. And of course you can always have Apache and Pueblo skirmishing around the edges (the Apache under an up and coming warrior named Cochise). The question isn't really "why you should do it", rather it's "why not"?

Personal logo ACWBill Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 2:55 p.m. PST

The 1864 Valley Campaign has many characters, much strategic importance and is dramatic in nature. You really can't do much better in that regard. The battles are not huge, but are not too small either. All three arms play important roles with cavalry used to a much greater extent and to much greater effect than in most Civil War Campaigns.


Ryan T Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2016 4:29 p.m. PST

Being from the western prairies I've always been intrigued by campaigns taking place in mountainous terrain.

In May of 1862 Union General Jacob Cox led an advance of two brigades from Raleigh Court House (present day Beckley WV) southward to cut the Tennessee & Central Virginia Railroad. This force was opposed by Confederate forces spread out along the rail line with a Confederate brigade under General Henry Heth at Dublin Depot, a second brigade commanded by General Humphrey Marshall at Abington, the separate 51st Va at Wytheville, and the 8th Va Cavalry in a forward position at Princeton WV.

The Union advance generated battles at Giles Court House (now Pearisburg WV) and Princeton. A planned flanking move by Heth never materialized and after the Battle of Princeton Cox fell back to a position just to the south of Raleigh Court House.

I haven't gamed this campaign yet, but it is on my gaming bucket list.

cwbuff15 May 2016 7:59 a.m. PST

Pea Ridge Campaign. Lots of games to pull an OB and a great book by Shea and Hess as a basis.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2016 8:08 a.m. PST

Most of the ones I would recommend are already listed. Missouri in 1861, ending with Wilson's Creek, would be fun. Small forces made up almost entirely by green troops.

GoodOldRebel16 May 2016 12:56 p.m. PST

Definitely the Red River and Wilson's Creek campaigns. I have gamed aspects of both but I would happily revisit both!

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2016 2:48 p.m. PST

Burnside's 1862 expedition to capture the North Carolina coast is an interesting, small-scale sideshow of the ACW. It's also a great opportunity for interleaving the land games with naval games, if you're into that. This campaign might be too small for you, as the forces present in any battle were typically less than a division in size, but I think it's an excellent candidate for a regimental scale campaign.

Burnside captured New Bern, cutting the coastal railway, and sealed off most of the eastern seaboard of NC by capturing a constellation of towns and islands around it (from Fort Macon to Roanoke Island), but at that point the campaign ended because he was recalled to help cover McClellan's retreat from VA. The original plan had been to continue the drive inland to Goldsboro (along the Neuse River) and cut the strategically critical North-South rail line to Richmond. Lee was reinforcing North Carolina to oppose this, so it could be a really fun "what if" campaign, with both sides operating on a shoestring.

Years ago I played several fun games based on this idea. I scaled them up to multi-corps actions to adapt them to Fire and Fury, and expanded the Union goal to include Raleigh (cutting the rail lines at Raleigh could have badly strangled supply to VA). This was probably going too far (Lincoln and McClellan wouldn't have bought into it), but now that RF&F is out I may try the campaign again with a more reasonable force allocation, and the option for Burnside to try for Goldsboro if he's successful enough.

- Ix

XenaWP17 May 2016 4:15 p.m. PST

Longstreet's Knoxville campaign;
Should have created merry hell in Tennessee with his Corps after Chickamauga, but was so inept & badly organised & at loggerheads with his Brigadiers & Div. Commanders, he made Bragg(!) look good.

Despite having half Longstreet's numbers-& bits & bobs of two Corps at that- Burnside easily sidestepped him at Campbell's Station with a skillful withdrawal back to Knoxville.

A more savvy Corps Commander might just have caused some mischief & serious consternation in Tennessee…..

GoodOldRebel21 May 2016 2:13 a.m. PST

With a little work the Mill Springs campaign in South-East Kentucky in late December/early January of 1861/62 can be quite fascinating to run as a campaign. Minimal forces, recalcitrant/headstrong subordinates and some interesting terrain and factors such as riverine support to add spice to the mix?

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