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Andre Bolkonsky

Lander's Road - Ultimate General: Civil WAAR

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Preface. This is an AAR describing gameplay and design elements of Aleksandr Petrov's and Nicholas Thomadis' excellent tactical Civil War game 

Ultimate General: Civil War


I have been in love with this game since the first time I booted it up. I kept asking questions and would not go away, so the developers decided I might be of help testing the game, and I take great pride in having helped craft the narrative backstory. My family fought for the North, and I grew up in the South. I have a better perspective on this conflict than most. The fact my great-great grandfather named his son Frederick Lander, and that name remains in my family today, only deepens the ties that bind. 

Frederick W. Lander is a historic figure around whose biography this AAR revolves. He was a man known to have a bad temper, be rough on horses, and quick to fight a duel to settle an argument. He established the Lander Road along which the Union Pacific Railroad would be built. His artillery at the Battle of Phillipi were the first shots fired in the first land engagement of the American War of the Rebellion. He held his own against Stonewall Jackson, and was given command of a full division of Federal troops just before dying unexpectedly of pneumonia brought on by complications from an old wound. On March 2nd, 1862, he was mourned by the nation; 40,000 people including President Abraham Lincoln, his cabinet, military brass, senators, congressmen, and the Supreme Court attended his funeral in Washington, D.C.

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My name is Frederick Lander. I am the narrator of this game; in more ways than one.

Like Abraham Lincoln, I am a servant of the Railroads. In the Federal Courts, Lincoln argued for interstate trade and that a trainload of goods had the same rights to cross the river that a ship of cargo had while navigating its waters. In the frontiers of the West, through the Rocky Mountains, I carved out the Lander Road using the guidelines established by United States Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. I laid the foundation for what would become the Union Pacific Railroad. While carving out the wagon road, i brought a team of artists to record the natural beauty waiting America 'Out West'. This painting is but one of the works of art they left behind: 



Our intrepid readers know what comes next: the Railroad interests get Abraham Lincoln elected president on a strong Federal program of aggressive railroad expansion. Almost Lincoln's first act as President is to force through Congress and sign into legislation the Pacific Railroad Acts.  For the railroads to expand, for America to enjoy the benefits of free interstate travel and trade, the Federal Power must expand. For the Federal Power to expand, States Rights must contract. And to emphasize this, at his inauguration, Lincoln states --You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it -- and literally punctuates his statement with artillery fire.


This enrages the Fire-Eaters. They fear any threat to their Peculiar Institution. One by one, the Slave States secede. Lincoln  has mobilized his armies, placed Maryland under Martial Law to prevent its secession, and has expressly forbidden field commanders to take offensive action until the Rebels fire first. And so they have, at Fort Sumter. A few hot headed fools who like to play with fire cast the die for an entire people. Thus, the War of the Rebellion began. If it was just the slave owners we had to deal with, this war would soon end. But the men of deep conviction, men who love their homes and will fight for their liberty, lead the armies of the Rebels. Men like Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas Jackson; these are not men who may be dismissed lightly.


My friend, Bill Sherman, was considered mad when he told others what he foresaw in this terrible conflict. But, perhaps he saw more clearly than we what we must become to bring about the end we seek. 



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For me, the War of the Rebellion began, ironically enough, at the strategic railhead at Phillipi, Virginia. I approached the town with a division of light troops and we took up positions and merely observed while waited for our reinforcements.


My ride down the rocky slopes outside the town of Phillipi -- during the Phillipi Races, where we sent the Rebels scurrying back south -- was considered such a feat of horsemanship it was recorded above in Leslie's Weekly along with an account of the battle. But I am no stranger to a saddle, I have crossed the West on the back of a horse, and have come back alive from missions where all the other men died. Perhaps for this reason, prior to the outbreak of hostilities, I performed many covert missions for a government on the brink of war that required both discretion and mobility.

The cavalry unit of Bristow and our light skirmisher units encircled and trapped the Rebel skirmishers in the woods to our Right. Our infantry and guns took up position just outside the town, watching the clock and realizing we had four hours to use.

Our artillery and infantry pounded the Confederates across the Right Bridge, while our cavalry and skirmishers demonstrated in front of the Left Bridge. Once our wedge dislodged them from the Right Bridge, we performed a single envelopment and captured all but one infantry brigade of his starting forces before the end of Day One.

Our goal was to eliminate the Rebels one by one, slowly and surely, shattering and capturing each one in turn before finally seizing our objective at the train station which would surely trigger a massive Confederate response.


At the beginning of the second day, knowing the Rebels were poorly armed and led, and wishing to hide from the guns of his armored train until we had enough artillery to deal with it,  we withdrew to the far banks of the river and built killing grounds on the bridges while we awaited further reinforcements. While we slaughtered the Rebels on the bridges, our reserve infantry and artillery joined our line, we had more than enough strength to retake the town and send the Rebels off to the races back down South.


Having culled the Rebels and forced them off the bridges, we crossed in strength and began bombardment of the Armored Train while pushing up to seize the railhead. As if I don't know how to take a train apart . . . .But, I see my primary mission as ensuring my core command -- Walton, Loomis, Woods and Scales -- remain at full strength while still completing their mission. 


Victorious, we returned to camp. Our green troops have tasted combat, but we have only proven we are not yet ready for war. We need more men. We need more guns. We need better commanders. And we know exactly where to start looking  . . . . 

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Camp I - Post Phillipi


Returning to camp, we figure out exactly what we have to work with. 

My commander has the Logistics trait; not optimal, but 20% more ammunition for every unit in my corps will come in handy before long. 

The problem with my poorly trained division is I have men in the wrong jobs and we need to sort this out. Just look at the artillery battery we've selected. The only GOOD upgrade for artillery is logistics, extra ammunition; not Discipline. To fix this, we're going to lock up almost all of the green troops in a few large brigades, then dissolve our four veteran brigades -- Loomis, Walton, Woods, and Scales -- and create one large pool of veteran troops we can reorganize exactly like we want. We have $55,000 gold, four prestige points for 2,000 rifles, and an academy full of officers to work with . . 


Our First Division consists of three infantry brigades, each with the Disciplie veteran attribute, all with Palmetto Muskets. One Dragoon unit carrying 1855 carbines. Two brigades of green troops carrying M1842 Muskets, and one battery each of 3" Ordnance Rifles and 6 Pounder guns. 

Our shakedown cruise will be Distress Call, a very easy mission. Use your entire army to build a reinforced line centered on the Southern Fort, if possible send two units to block the bridge to the east. Form line, and allow the Rebels to wear themselves out attacking you. When all of your forces are present on the field, launch your own counter-attack and take the North Fort before time expires. 

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And, now we're back at Camp. 

This is a good time to discuss Career pathing. 

Each minor victory gives your commander increased experience which can be applied in a wide variety of ways. 

The key to Reconnaissance is getting 4 points, immediately, right off the bat. This opens the invaluable Force Bar at the top of the screen. After that, don't bother about Recon. 

Organization determines how large and how many you can have of brigades/divisions/corps. Politics gives extra cash and manpower for every battle. Our first goal is to cap these two items,understanding it is foolish to add extra organization when you can't afford to fill the empty billets you have now. After that, medicine and training will be pursued in that order. 


Now, back to the art of building your OOB: 


We are going to repeat our previous tactic of locking up all the green troops into as few large brigades as possible. We're going to recruit John Gibbon off the Prestige Menu. We're going to dissolve our entire army and reform it one last time, creating The Iron Corps. 

OOB Bull Run: Birth of the Iron Corps


And now our game begins. . . . 

My personal brigade is the Blackwatch. Kelly's Voltigeurs, Koros Livgarde, and Soldier's Rifles are old companions. Dartis' Companion Cavalry is an elite formation of dragoons. And Sterner and Wright's batteries will form the core of my ever growing artillery arm.

Alongside these I am inviting a few other friends along. "I fights mit Stucki" was a comment heard offen on the battlefield. LatinCliges, the twins, scraped together some Virginia militia. And SgtStickybomb will be looking for panzers to kill, just in case there is a programming error someplace.  

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Major Battle I: The Battle of Bull Run

First Battle of Bull Run Kurz & Allison.jpg

A march was ordered. Federal leadership is slow to respond, and the Confederates have railed their operational army up the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to Manassas Junction in Prince William County; blocking our lines of approach into Richmond. 

The plan has two parts: A diversionary attack of three brigades and two artillery batteries are going to attack the Stone Bridge to the south-east of our  line of approach, from the north-west. After lining up and softening up the infantry brigade hiding behind fortificiations . . . 



The Federal Infantry fixed bayonets, and in well timed intervals, charged the bridge and seized the hill. The vanguard of the 1st Ohio and its skirmisher bullet shield definitely got the worst of the exchange, but the 2nd Ohio and 2nd NY create a wedge of bayonets and drive the Rebels away from their objective. 2F230B5B86825F969F8906A6DD52E381A62FB086

But, drums to the North. The Iron Corps approaches . . . . 


Gibbons, with eyes on the scene, forms his divisions into lines along the edge of the forest, brings up his artillery, and waits, giving Stuki and LatinCliges time to work around the flank while Dartis' cavalry keeps our line of sight open to prevent an unwanted surprise. 


The Rebels had taken up fortified positions on Matthew's Hill. Gibbons slowly ordered his line into position. Stucki and Soldeir's rifles began volley firing into the fortified positions. When the farmhouse had tasted hot lead, Gibbons decided to give them a dose of cold steel. A cry went up, Fix! Bayonets

Koro's Livgarde and Kelly's Voltigeur displaced the Rebels with a wedge of bayonets, attacking from the place of honor. 



We hold the hill, for now. But we know the rest of the Rebel army is in front of us. Time to earn our pay. 

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Bull Run - Phase II

It is time to mass our superior numbers and cross Young's Brook, and take Henry Hill. Joining the Iron Corps, our new reinforcements, and the elements of the Diversionary Attack on the Stone bridge, we get our entire army in position before launching our attack . . . Notice Dartis' Dragoons and the fresh, heavy, FREE infantry brigades in the southwest that will form the point of our spear. . . 


And now, we press. We form line, and push the Rebels off the objective. With their backs to a river they can't cross, they are pinned and destroyed in detail. 



Even more important than good weapons are good  commanders. It is always a good idea to check your officer promotions at the end of a battle. 


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Camp - Bull Run


The Victory at Bull Run has done a lot for the Federal Cause. Gibbons was granted command of an extra corps, which we will need soon enough. Those career points will earn us a lot of goodwill in political circles, politicians love nothing more than to be seen with a war hero or seen voting to send them money. We have a chance to rest and refit, but we know orders are coming soon for us to board the trains and head west, to Shiloh. 

Currently, we are in excellent shape concerning our command staff. Our field commanders were promoted, and our academy is full of promising new officers. 



We have two minor battles to contend with: first, Logan's Crossroads; second, River Crossing. We have chosen to fight them in this order because we can only take 9 Brigades into Logan's Crossroads, and 12 Brigades into River Crossing. 

Currently, we have 10 operational brigades broken into three divisions. We were granted an extra corps, but we don't need that yet. What we need are nine solid brigades to tackle Logan's Crossroad: 


OOB Logan's Crossroads


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Back on the Left, Stuki's Germans held up an advance of three brigades; falling back when they heard Kelly's Voltigeur marching up from behind, singing Le Marsailles in full voice. The Germans break, and the Frenchmen and Soldier's Rifles form line with the Blackwatch. The Germans will fall back and initiate a second line guarding the artillery, allowing them recover morale and fatigue. But these men are soldaten, soon they will resume their place in the line once more. 


Back on the Right, Koro's Livgarde have run up to reinforce Stickybomb. And Dartis's Companion Cavalry has dismounted in the woods behind the Confederate Line of Battle. Pouring a withering volume of enfilade fire into the Rebels, the dismounted cavalry begins the process of breaking the morale of the Rebel line. Dartis turns and continues firing into the rear of the next brigade, rolling up the Rebel flank,


We now have sufficient firepower on our front line to resist the coming Confederate Charge. We can see glimpses of their banners, waving on the edge of the fog of war. Then suddenly, we heard the deadly scream of the Rebel Yell. 


The Left takes the full brunt of the charge. But, we own the right. Our infantry and Cavalry had weakened that flank and begun to turn it before the Rebels could bring their full strength to bear.


We broke up the Confederate advance and held the field at the end of the day. 


The Rebels have fled, our lines have held. Long Live the Union!






And now we cast our eyes west, to Shiloh . . . 

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Despite taking a bit of a biffing in the previous fights, I look forward to the next engagement.  Hopefully not near Shiloh though, we just pitched camp and since Sherman seems to be convinced that there isn't any enemy closer than Corinth.  Even if they sneak under our very noses, we're backed by seven veritable brass bells that are the 24-pounder howitzers - they'll pay dearly!

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Interesting tactic at Philippi...never tried it that way on Day 1 and Day 2, especially Day 2. I thought the AI would simply stop at the moment they capture the eastern side of the city.


Edit: By the way, is this guy of german heritage? His name and the name of his sister are so extremly german I couldn't fail to notice...xDDD

Edited by Hjalfnar_Feuerwolf

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5 hours ago, Albert Sidney Johnston said:

I think my veteran CSA soldiers will be hard-pressed to fight against a brilliant general like yourself. Best of luck at Shiloh, my friend. 

As I've said repeatedly, I've stood in the shade of the tree where Johnston died many times. Few places have more meaning for me than that tree. 

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I need some commanders for post Shiloh. Lots, really, looking down the road. Any volunteers? 

Some players are earmarked. Johnny always gets my Henry Rifle unit. Because, Johnny Henry. If you don't get it, you're probably European. And Mercanto gets the 54th Massachussets, but they can't deploy until Antietam. Plenty like this. Old jokes that are funny to no one but me. 

Let me know the type of unit you'd prefer, and give me some background info to use when your brigade does something cool. 

Grigg; those crossed guns earn you a green battery of 3" Ordnance Rifles at Shiloh. Same for Firewolf. 

Quicksabre, yeah, sorry, hoss. You've got to wait for the 1855 Colt Sabre unit. With a name like that, the unit assignment is obvious. 

ASJ, Yeah, you're gonna have to change uniforms, but I plan on recruiting a group of Confederates and calling them something like the 1st Alabama Cav. 

Hill, Ibid. 

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John Gibbon's was in his tent, smoking a cigar after dinner with his commanding generals. "We need to be in two places at one time. We need to stay here and guard the Shenandoah Valley, and we need to march west to join the offensive operation to take the Mississippi River from the North according to Winfield's Scott's Anaconda Plan"

General Sanny, A Scottish Lowlander who had a way with horses, had joined the corps with a group of light dragoons called 'The Greys'. Sanny and his fresh cavalry had immediately been put on long range reconnaissance and just returned from his initial sweep. He was cold, tired and cranky. In otherwords, a pure bred Scotsman: "We cannae be in twa places at wance. Ye shuid ken that awready"

"Can we get a translator in here", Sterner was heard telling Dartis in the corner. 

"Eliminate the threat to the valley," Lander said, slowly smoking his pipe. "Keep building up our forces here. We force march 12 brigades out, destroy the Confederates in the Valley Sanny just reported to us, then we march west".

"Aye, laddy, that juist micht dae", Sanny slurred over a well earned pint. "Thare ower thare, beyond that hill. Ye kin murdurr 'em in yin fell swoop".

Gibbons stood up, dismissing his officers. "Plans and marching orders on my desk at 9:00 AM, be prepared to march in 48 hours". 



We ended our last battle with nine brigades and LC in reserve. LatinCliges has kept its veteran status and been brought up to full strength. A new battery of 3" Ordnance Rifles under Feuerwolf has joined the Corps. And, of course, Sanny has done Scotland proud. So we have the 12 brigades allowed in River Crossing. 

Surveying the terrain, there are two separate hills. If we take either of them, we win. But, it's us. We're taking both of them in reverse order. 

We begin with a very loud demonstration on our Left. Sanny's cavalry is going to engage and disrupt the Rebel skirmishers while Kelly and Koro's infantry brigades take up a line behind which we will site three heavy artillery batteries; Sterner's 24 Pounders, and Firewolf's and Wright's 3" Ordnance Rifles. Once he disengages, Sanny will ride all the way around the army and join the flank attack marching behind the hills and forests to the south. 


The enemy generals think they see a light division doing reconnaissance-in-force and want to shock us with an overwhelming attack. They do not see our heavy artillery or the other two divisions taking up flanking positions. And so they charge to try and disrupt our attack. 


What they don't see is the Blackwatch, Soldier's Rifles, Dartis' Dragoons and Sanny's Greys making a wide sweeping attack aimed directly at the second objective. 



Our heavy artillery and infantry are still pounding the defense of River Dam Hill. Gibbon is pushing his infantry to form one long continuous line reaching out to Crossroads Hill. A Confederate division is waiting on Crossroads Hill. If we attacked head on, it would be very difficult. But you'll notice our cavalry has already encircled the enemy and begun opening up lines of sight we can use against the Rebels. 


Soldier and his crack rifles begin unloading salvo after salvo into the Rebels dug into Crossroad Hill. Our cavalry keep the reserve infantry occupied while the Blackwatch takes up positions in the woods south of their stronghold and unload a volley. One more round from Soldier and the Rebels began pulling back. When Sanny's dismounted cavalry begin shooting into the rear of the Confederate line, the Rebels wavered and began to break. The Blackwatch fixed bayonets and escorted them firmly off the property. 


The Confederate Commander now races reinforcements from Dam Hill to Crossroads Hill. Now, we will prolong our infantry and artillery across the stream, stopping short of the objective on the top of Dam Hill. We want to surround, and destroy the enemy. Not just chase them away. Stucki and Stickybomb capture the Stonewall Brigade between them. Coordinated rifle fire and steel bayonets convince the Stonewall Brgade that it is better to be alive and captured than just plain dead. 



And now we pound. For the remainder of the clock we try and cause as many Rebel casualties as possible.








Back to Camp, boys. Time to head west. 

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The mission of the Field Artillery is to destroy, defeat, or disrupt the enemy with integrated fires to enable maneuver commanders to dominate in unified land operations

This will be our mission while serving in the Iron Crops. Call on Red Leg and we'll be there. Boom boom! 

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10 hours ago, i64man said:

This guide is very well thought and prepared. Are you also planing one for the CSA?

I'm glad you enjoy it.

As much time as it takes to play out the game, crop the screen shots, and edit the text; it's going to take forever to get to Gettysburg, and I have no intention of going beyond

However, when I get to that point, it'll be time to boot up the CSA campaign, and we'll see what happens next. 

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11 hours ago, Major Grigg said:

The mission of the Field Artillery is to destroy, defeat, or disrupt the enemy with integrated fires to enable maneuver commanders to dominate in unified land operations

This will be our mission while serving in the Iron Crops. Call on Red Leg and we'll be there. Boom boom! 

I can't hear Red Leg without thinking of Josey Wales, but you're on the field waiting for dawn on the field at Shiloh. 

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14 hours ago, Andre Bolkonsky said:

ASJ, Yeah, you're gonna have to change uniforms, but I plan on recruiting a group of Confederates and calling them something like the 1st Alabama Cav. 

Cavalry reporting for duty, sir. We're ready to preserve the Union at all costs, though we fight against our brothers to do so. We will crush this rebellion with pistol and saber. 

Edited by Albert Sidney Johnston

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16 hours ago, Andre Bolkonsky said:

Quicksabre, yeah, sorry, hoss. You've got to wait for the 1855 Colt Sabre unit. With a name like that, the unit assignment is obvious. 

That's understandable. When our nation calls we will be honored to serve.


Good luck in the western theater! Obviously you won't need it, though, since General Sherman says there are no Confederates closer than Corinth. Should be an easy walk along the river.

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