Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 1864 – J.E. Johnston Sacked – Hood Takes Command

This day 150 years ago in Rebel Raider’s History

-Dedicated to Civil War episodes, battles, people and ships that also appear in my game, GMT’s Rebel Raiders on the High Seas.

July 17, 1864 – J.E. Johnston Sacked – Hood Takes Command

Historical Event:   On this day in 1864 President Jefferson Davis removed General Joseph E. Johnston from command of the Army of Tennessee – and replaced him with John Bell Hood.  The revered Johnston, who although outnumbered by more than two to one had skillfully delayed William Tecumseh Sherman’s advance into Georgia, was revered by his troops.  His use of  Fabian tactics (similar to those used by the Roman general Fabius against the Carthaginian invader Hannibal) earned him the nickname “The Gray Cunctator” (Latin for Delayer).  Like the Roman general, however, Johnston was derided for being too cautious and even cowardly – and like Fabius was replaced – and replaced with a fire-eater who vowed to bring the enemy to battle.  Acting on the advice of his friend and chief adviser, General Braxton Bragg, Davis gave Johnston’s command to General John Bell Hood.  The 33-year-old Hood, youngest man on either side to take command of a full army, was brave. He had lost an arm at Gettysburg and a leg at Chickamauga, and had to be strapped to the saddle.  He was also reckless. Within 72 hours Hood made good on his promise to fight – inaugurating the first of four epic battles that would bleed his army white and lead to the evacuation of Atlanta – the very thing Johnston had hoped to prevent or at least delay as long as possible.

Game Connection:  Although primarily a game of naval strategy, there is a strong land war element to Rebel Raiders on the High SeasAtlanta is a critical objective of that land war.  It is one of the only two cities in the South that provide the Confederate player with the means to build batteries and ironclads (the other is Richmond).  Its loss costs the Confederates dearly in victory points not only when it falls (the total on two dice) but also every turn (adding a die to the Confederate supply attrition roll).  Atlanta is also one of the key cities whose fall can bring victory for the North,  and holding it helps the Union win the 1864 election – which (with USN Card 36 “If it takes all Summer…” can extend the game for a 13th and devastating turn.  Generals Sherman,  Hood and Johnston are also included in the game (cards USN 50, CSN 89 and CSN 91, respectively).  Bragg, who advised Davis to remove Johnston, is also represented – not by name, but by his picture on the appropriately named USN Card 7 – A Lack of Brains.

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