Thursday, May 8, 2014

150 Years Ago: Grant Moves On After the Wilderness and Spotsylvania

150 Years Ago in Rebel Raiders History: Grant Moves On After the Wilderness and Spotsylvania

Historical Event:  On May 8, 1864, Union General Ulysses Simpson Grant once again hurled the Army of the Potomac into the meat grinder that his Confederate counterpart, Robert E. Lee, had designed to trap, frustrate and hopefully repulse the superior Northern forces that were heading toward Richmond.  Although Grant had taken horrific losses earlier in the week in what became known as the Battle of the Wilderness, he refused the advice of his generals to retire and regroup, as they had done so many times before when confronted by Lee.  Grant pushed on without so much as a day's respite, initiating another two days of combat around Spotsylvania Court House and Laurel Hill.  Lee pulled back, only to dig in and create the deadly defensive position that came to be known as "The Mule Shoe."   The attack on that position four days later, on May 12, was initially successful, but for nearly 24 straight hours both sides fed more and more men into the fight - a fight that would claim 17,000 casualties - as many as were lost at Antietam.  Grant would come on again on May 18, hitting the "Bloody Angle" - but even after that repulse he refused to pull back, instead slipping to the side to continue his march to the James - and on toward Richmond.

Game Connection:  Although primarily a game of naval strategy, Rebel Raiders on the High Seas  also covers the land combat side of the American Civil War.  Each turn the Union player receives and may purchase additional attacks to advance on and take key Confederate cities and forts, and those attacks are resolved by a combination of dice and cards rolled and played by both players.  While most of the cards in the game represent individual ships or naval tactics, many also represent some the generals, strategies, events, triumphs and tragedies of the land war.  Among these are the two principal antagonists of the Virginia campaign of 1864:  Robert E. Lee (CSN Card 60 )and Ulysses Simpson Grant (USN Card 8 ).  Although the quote on USN Card 4, is from General Sherman, Grant's refusal to retreat in the face of horrific losses and to only come on again is represented by USN Card 4 - "We cross the ford, never to retreat again to this side."

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