Campaign Ozark

By Scott Parrino 06 May 2003 0


Campaign Ozark is an enjoyable turn-based, 2D game that brings to life the American Civil War in Missouri and Northern Arkansas from 1861-1862. Three separate campaigns include the Battle of Wilson's Creek (August 1861), Pea Ridge (March 1862) and Prairie Grove (December 1862). Campaign Ozark is the second in HPS Simulations' and John Tiller's Civil War Battles series, following in the footsteps of Campaign Corinth in portraying lesser known campaigns from the American Civil War. The game's campaign system lets each side choose from a series of operational decisions, resolving the result in a tactical battle. The 79 scenarios included in Campaign Ozark can also be played as stand-alone games. Offering single-player and multi-player (hot-seat, PBEM, LAN) modes as well as scenario and campaign editors, the game includes all the options one has come to expect from both John Tiller and HPS Simulations.

One of the three campaigns.

Plot and Presentation

As a border state, Missouri endured a tremendous amount of fighting during the Civil War, much of it part of the internecine, small-scale conflict between the pro-Southern and pro-Northern inhabitants. Several large-scale military campaigns for control of Missouri, however, took place in the early years of the war. The majority of these battles took place in an area comprising southwest Missouri and northeast Arkansas known as the Ozark Plateau.

Missouri attempted to remain neutral at the start of the Civil War. In the summer of 1861, Union General Nathaniel Lyon led a 10,000-man force in an attempt to take control of the state for the Union. Initially confronted by ill-armed and ill-trained Missouri State Guard forces, the Union troops forced the militia under General Sterling Price to retreat into southwestern Missouri near Springfield. A Confederate force from Arkansas under General Ben McColluch then linked up with Price's forces. The Union forces, already at the end of their supply lines, were now outnumbered, with no hope of reinforcement. General Lyon resolved to mount a spoiling attack on the enemy in their camp at Wilson's Creek to cover his impending retreat. In the resulting battle on August 10, 1861, General Lyon was killed and the Union forces defeated. While General McColluch's forces returned to Arkansas, the Missouri State Guard followed up on their success, moving to Northern Missouri and besieging Lexington. The Town's garrison surrendered on September 20, 1861, but the imminent approach of a large Union detachment forced Price's troops to fall back once again to Springfield.

At the beginning of 1862, General Samuel Curtis and the Union Army of the Southwest were directed to drive the confederate forces out of Missouri. Missouri, or at least the part under pro-Southern control, had been admitted to the Confederacy in Nov 1861. In somewhat of a repeat of the previous year, General Price's forces were forced to retreat, this time all the way into Northern Arkansas, where they once again joined up with General McColluch's Division. Renamed the Army of the West, the combined forces were now under the control of General Earl Van Dorn, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Military District.  Outnumbered and at the end of his supply line, General Curtis had his force of 12,000 take up defensive positions along Little Sugar Creek.

To avoid a frontal assault on the heavily fortified Union position, General Van Dorn took the Army of the West on a forced night march around the enemy flank to cut General Curtis off. Though successful in this endeavor, the morning of March 7, 1862 found the Army of the West exhausted and strung out along the road. In a series of battles over the next two days, General Curtis repositioned the Army of the Southwest against the enemy threatening his rear. To the North, a fight at Leetown led to the death of General McColluch and the defeat of his division. To the East, the Confederates captured Elkhorn Tavern on March 7, but, hampered by a lack of ammunition, were driven out and then forced to retreat the next morning. The Army of the West was soon transferred East to Mississippi to take part in the Corinth Campaign, leaving Missouri in the control of the Union.

In the fall of 1862, General Thomas Hindman arrived in Arkansas to put together a new Confederate Force, the I Corps, Trans-Mississippi Army. In November 1862, General James Blunt's Kansas Division, part of the Union Frontier Army, invaded Northwestern Arkansas. After forcing back the Confederate cavalry, General Blount took up a position at Cane Hill to await the arrival of General Francis Herron with two more divisions. Going on the offensive, General Hindman decided to attack and defeat General Herron's force and then deal with General Blunt's smaller force. On 7 December 1862 a pitched battle was fought near Prairie Grove, with assaults by both sides, including reinforcements from the Kansas Division, being ultimately repulsed. General Hindman withdrew and the Confederate force was rendered ineffective through desertion and loss of equipment. There would be more Confederate campaigns in 1863 and 1864, but none would succeed in wresting control of Missouri back from the Union.

Campaign Ozark consists of separate games that depict the three campaigns. Within each campaign, the results of a battle carry over into the next set of operational decisions. In addition, while some losses will be recovered, casualties in one battle will be reflected in the next conflict, especially if they occur closely together in time. It is possible to finish a campaign earlier than occurred historically, but there is no hypothetical continuation of a campaign after the climatic battle (Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge or Prairie Grove). The Battle of Lexington is presented only as stand alone scenarios.



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