|Part of The Second Great War|
|United States||Confederate States|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Irving Morrell||George Patton|
Operation Coalscuttle was a failed attempt by the Confederate Army during the Second Great War to move through Western Pennsylvania and to capture Pittsburgh, one of the United States' key industrial cities.
In preparation, the Confederates thinned their defensive lines in Virginia to build up in Sandusky. When completed, the Confederates launched a short, sharp artillery barrage both to the east and west of Sandusky in order to prevent the U.S. from knowing in which direction the attack would go.
At first C.S. troops under General George Patton swept through eastern Ohio into western Pennsylvania quickly taking Youngstown, Akron, and Cleveland. The U.S. troops had some warning about the attack but they were still unprepared and had not reinforced their lines. After taking these cities, in succession, Patton proceeded toward Pittsburgh.
However, when Brigadier General Irving Morrell took command, U.S. forces began to slow the C.S. advance. Not having enough barrels to counter-attack, Morrell elected to concentrate his forces in built up areas by Lake Erie between Cleveland and Erie, Pennsylvania Because he could resupply his forces with the help of the U.S. Navy, the Confederates could not surround the cities and take them at their leisure with infantry and artillery. If the Confederates left them partially surrounded, Morrell could build up and attack to their rear. Instead, the C.S. had to quickly take them with barrels and accept the heavy casualties it required.
While slowed, Patton's troops eventually succeeded in reaching the city of Pittsburgh. Patton intended to surround the city from north and south but this was made impossible by U.S. counterattacks, so the C.S. forces engaged in a battle of attrition with house-to-house fighting inside the city itself. After several months of this, the exhausted C.S. troops inside the city were cut off by a counteroffensive masterminded by Morrell: U.S. forces attacked south and west from Meadville, Ohio, and north from Parkersburg, West Virginia, meeting at Lafayette, Ohio. This cut off the Confederate spearhead in Pittsburgh. At this point the chief of the C.S. General Staff, Nathan Bedford Forrest III, wanted to retreat out of the city to break the US ring and limit Confederate casualties, but C.S. President Jake Featherston ruled otherwise, claiming that the CS Air Force would be able to provide adequate supplies for the trapped soldiers.
After it became clear that air resupply alone could not keep the CS army in Pittsburgh in being, the Confederates launched a counter-attack from their western positions in Ohio to attempt to link up with their army in Pittsburgh, with a simultaneous attack to the west by the encircled forces. However, Morrell was able to exploit the Confederate Army's thinning numbers by launching an attack on the western flank of the Confederate corridor through Ohio, and forcing the rescue force to retreat and fend off this attack; otherwise another large Confederate force would have been encircled. The Confederate attack from inside Pittsburgh was held by the US forces. The Confederates in Pittsburgh were able to hold out for some time, but eventually they were forced to surrender. Patton was airlifted out of the city.
While the Confederates succeeded in heavily damaging Pittsburgh, the loss of virtually all of the invading army more than compensated the U.S.