Snowdonia: Siege of Petersburg

At a loose moment a while back when Tony was talking about lots of designers doing expansions for Snowdonia, I laughingly said I’d design a Snowdonia – American Civil War mash-up. ACW has lots of railway building (including the US Military Railroad in various places), and logistics is what railways do and what armies need, so I figured ‘what’s the problem?’

A few months (maybe a year?) later, and we’re now unpacking here at the new Chez Paulls in Warboys (yes, military pun there) nr Huntingdon, Cambs. Having found a table, a copy of Snowdonia and my original notes, I’m now putting the lot together to see what happens.

I’ve researched a fair amount on the topic, as I’ve been reading freebie eBooks – autobiogs of Grant, Sherman and Sheridan are all fair ol’ reads. This has been coupled with use of Wikipedia and fairly gung-ho US tourist websites – perhaps not so scholarly, but at least they’ve put stations in vaguely the right positions. I homed in on the Siege of Petersburg in 1864 as a reasonable scenario. This was a very extensive siege over several months, incorporating operations round Petersburg and Richmond as Grant et al attempted to manoeuvre Lee and comrades out of his entrenched positions, while Lee tried to pick off any vulnerable Union detachments. Leaving large armies in more or less the same place for long periods required railroads (sic) for supplies and for swift tactical manoeuvres. The siege was typified by building railroads (primarily a Union activity), as they established communications from the Virginian coast at City Point to the siege lines round Petersburg) and defending / destroying them. Sheridan, the Union Cavalry Corps commander, was responsible for several successful cavalry raids to rip up track and burn stations, cutting the Confederate supply lines or at least forcing them to use much worse road and track transport. The rebels too carried out raids and even sabotage-bombed part of the City Point port.

Though the railroad lines tended to radiate out from Richmond and Petersburg, the Union army helpfully built a US Military Railroad from City Point down towards Petersburg, linking (in my mind anyway) to the Weldon Railroad that was a critical line for the rebels to hold. This forms the script for the Snowdonia expansion, and allows me to use wonderful names such as ‘Stony Creek Depot’, ‘Reams Station’ and ‘Jerusalem Plank Road’ conjuring up an appropriate image of the American Civil War, capped off by Appomattox Manor, Grant’s HQ.

Players are the usual gangs of labourers, but this time you’re working under the rather less than watchful eyes of the Blue and the Gray. As the generals are busy fighting the war, your men can fulfill contracts along the whole line without regard to any particular partisanship (as long as you get paid, what do you care?). Some of the line starts completed, but that’s not likely to last, as Military Events replace some of the classic Snowdonia event track items. You’ll hopefully be able to influence these events by strategic positioning of military stores and garrisons to help one side or the other, as your own personal aims dictate. But eventually the final climactic battle will happen, and this will decide whether any bonuses will be paid to you for specific contracts keyed to Union or Confederate victory. Will you win the logistics war, despite or because of, the outcome of the Siege of Petersburg?

Now for some rigorous play-testing to see if the scenario will stand up to the billing!

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