Scourge of War: Lost In The Woods

So last night I spent about an hour playing Scourge of War: Antietam.  I commanded Jackson's Corps on the left flank and battled with Joe Hooker's First Corps. It was a great battle.  My corps waited for the Union advance in the dark and eventually made contact with them in the Cornfield and along Hagerstown Pike near Dunker Church in the early morning light (see previous AAR for brigade level version of this fight).   Elements of two of my divisions were forward and fully engaged within minutes and the third division, DH Hill's men were strung out along a nameless road resting in the rear.  

While the fighting was hot on my right flank at the beginning of the battle, I reinforced my center and sent Jubal Early's brigade around the left flank of Hooker's men with the hope of catching them from behind and cutting Hooker's forward elements off in the Cornfield.  Big mistake.

The ground was uneven and sloping upwards.  Union artillery commanded the heights and there were enough random Union regiments to stall my advance.  A series of stone walls also cut the line of advance for my brigade and caused me to slow down.  I wasn't moving as swiftly as I needed to.  Suddenly from the right flank, hidden Union regiments opened up from the thick woods I had skirted inflicting heavy casualties and sending my regiments into a panic.

In the end Jubal Early was lost along with his whole brigade (I think Early may have been captured.)  I tried to reinforce him through the woods but I couldn't get men there in time and the ones I did send forward came out in the wrong position (further west of Early) or walked straight into heavy Union fire.  The latter happened to Tallaefero's brigade and I lost Tallafero in the firefight also.

Part of the problem here is the game.  The mini-map displaying troop positions is terrible and not a help.  The other difficult is the way the terrain is displayed.  Smoother war games wouldn't have this issue I am sure and you might actually be able to find your way through the forest.

But like the courier system which is also imperfect (but very novel), I realized this is very much like real war.  The maps are always terrible.  The woods are unfamiliar and units get lost. I am reading Bruce Catton's account of the battle of Chancellorsville in Glory Road and the Union army is a mess. Lost in the woods and unable to see what is in front of them, the reports from their right flank are confused and not to be believed and then WHAM they are hit with an entire corps of Confederate troops, 28,000 men total.  Men their generals said, could not be that far west.

The truth is war is hell and if you are lost in the woods you need to get over it. 

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