Monday, January 14, 2013

Black Powder American Civil War Battle Report

The Story
This was a pretty simple concept. Forward elements of the Union and Confederate armies have encountered each other, and both are now rushing to claim the best ground before the enemy can take it. There is a large hill between the two forces that is the obvious choice, so both sides are attempting to control the hill and drive off the enemy. It turned out to be a very dramatic and fast-paced game that came right down to the wire.

The Forces
I tried to make the forces roughly even, though they are slightly different. I didn't use the points system, so I'm not sure how close I got to even points. We rolled randomly for the brigade commander personality traits.

Confederate
The Confederate force was led by Major General James Longstreet (Staff Rating: 8) and consisted of:

Texas Brigade - Brigadier General John Bell Hood
Staff Rating: 8
Unit Type Armament HTHShootingMoraleStamina Special
1st Texas Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
4th Texas Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
5th Texas Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
18th Georgia Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
3rd Arkansas Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3

Stonewall Brigade - Brigadier General Thomas Jackson
Staff Rating: 9, Decisiveness: Low, Independence: High
Unit Type Armament HTHShootingMoraleStamina Special
33rd Virginia Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
2nd Virginia Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
4th Virginia Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
Rockbridge Artillery Artillery Smoothbore Light 1 3-2-1 4+ 2

Forrest's Cavalry Brigade - Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest
Staff Rating: 8, Aggression: High
Unit Type Armament HTHShootingMoraleStamina Special
4th Tennessee Cavalry
Infantry
Pistol/Shotgun 6
4
1
2
4+
4+
3
3
Skirmish, Marauders
8th Tennessee Cavalry
Infantry
Pistol/Shotgun 6
4
1
2
4+
4+
3
3
Skirmish, Marauders
Morton's Tenessee Battery Horse Artillery Smoothbore Light 1 3-2-1 4+ 1

Union
The Union force was led by Major General Winfield Scott Hancock (Staff Rating: 8) and consisted of:

Irish Brigade - Brigadier General Thomas F. Meagher
Staff Rating: 8, Decisiveness: High
Unit Type Armament HTHShootingMoraleStamina Special
69th New York Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
63rd New York Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
88th New York Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
116th Pennsylvania Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3
28th Massachusetts Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3

Iron Brigade - Brigadier General Solomon Meredith
Staff Rating: 8, Decisiveness: High, Independence: Low
Unit Type Armament HTHShootingMoraleStamina Special
2nd Wisconsin Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
6th Wisconsin Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
7th Wisconsin Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
19th Indiana Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady
24th Michigan Infantry Rifled Musket 6 3 4+ 3 Brave, Steady


The Setup
For this scenario, the victory would go to whichever side controlled the large hill in the center of the table at the end of turn 10. We didn't really define what the technical requirements were for controlling the hill, we just figured it would be pretty clear to us both which side, if either, was in control of the hill at the end. And if it was indeterminate, we could always agree to play another turn and see if things got more decisive.

Units could be set up withing 12cm of the table edge. One player would deploy his entire army first, on the side of his choosing, and that player would have the first turn. Then the other player would deploy on the opposite side. I gave my opponent the choice, and he decided to deploy first and have the first turn. He commanded the Confederate army.

The Texas Brigade was deployed in march column in the Confederate center, with the Stonewall Brigade to their right, also in march column. The Confederate Cavalry was deployed to the left to attempt a flanking maneuver. The Union army deployed with the Iron Brigade in the center in march column, ready to advance on the hill. Three regiments of the Irish Brigade were in line to their left, while General Hancock led the other two regiments of the Irish Brigade far off to the right, where they would protect that flank from the rebel cavalry.

Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 1
With great alacrity, Hood got his tightly packed Texas Brigade moving towards the hill, already reaching the bottom of its slope before the Federals even got moving. Jackson displayed his indecisiveness, debating whether to send his infantry forward at full speed or make a more measured advance, and ended up not keeping up with Hood's efficient marching. He did, however, send the Rockbridge Artillery forward to the nearby farm to seek an advantageous firing position ahead of the army. The Confederate Cavalry advanced at a cautious pace, not knowing exactly what awaited them.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Things started out badly in the Union center, with clashing personalities leading to delays and disorganization. With his low independence, Meredith wanted to wait for confirmation of everything from Hancock, but the highly decisive Meagher wanted to go do his own thing, and with Hancock far away, the two couldn't agree on what to do. This resulted in Meagher doing nothing with the three New York regiments of the Irish Brigade, and Meridith eventually sending two of his Iron Brigade regiments toward the hill, and the other three moving off toward the only enemy they could see, which was the Rockbridge Artillery (the result of a blunder). Clearly he did not trust Meagher to protect his left flank.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Union Right, Major General Hancock fared much better, moving up the other two Irish Brigade regiments into a gap between a farm and a small wood.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 2
Once again, Hood moved his brigade efficiently. He sent three regiments marching to the crest of the hill, easily winning the race to the objective. The other two regiments were deployed into line at the base of the hill. Not being able to see what was on the other side, Hood wanted to be prepared to cover the withdraw of the forward units if it proved necessary. Jackson marched his three infantry regiments forward cautiously, but then in a bit of a blunder, accidentally ordered his artillery battery to charge the enemy. Being used to their commanders unique idiosyncrasies, they decided to interpret this as an order to move into long range and deploy.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Confederate left, the horse artillery moved up and deployed on the hill. The two cavalry regiments moved further to the left and deployed into line, still mounted.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Union side, Brigadier Generals Meagher and Meridith finally got past their personal disagreements and got their brigades moving. Seeing the rebels crest the hill must have given them a greater sense of urgency. The three New York regiments of the Irish brigade advanced to the left of the hill, and took some shots at the Rockbrige Artillery battery, causing them some disorder, but not significant casualties.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

The 19th Indiana and 24th Michigan regiments marched to the bottom of the hill and deployed into line. They took some shots at the rebels on top of the hill, but the sloping of the hill and the rocky outcroppings made it difficult to hit. (We decided that the confederates would count as obscured for this round of shooting, and I also forgot about applying the enfilading fire bonus). The unexpected swiftness of the attack did cause some disorder and loss of morale among the targeted regiments, despite the difficulties.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Union Right, Major General Hancock got the 116th Pennsylvania and 28th Massachusetts into a line between a farm and small wood, preventing a flanking maneuver by the Confederate cavalry. They took some shots at the horse artillery, disordering them.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 3
General Jackson moved up his infantry regiments and deployed them into line near his artillery battery, with two regiments in front and one behind in reserve. The 33rd Virginia poured mercilessly effective fire into the clearly unprepared 69th New York regiment, who were thrown into disarray with their morale already shattered.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the hill top, the 1st Texas Regiment also deployed into line and dealt an equally devastating blow to one of the Iron Brigade regiments. Already a large section of the Union line was reaching its breaking point. Meanwhile, one of the Texas brigade regiments still in march column on the hill moved back slightly to take some time to get prepared. The other regiment in march column was too disordered to pull back, so one of the reserve regiments at the bottom of the hill was sent up in front of them to give them time to recover.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Confederate left, the 4th Tennessee Cavalry squeezed through a gap around to the flank of the union infantry regiments, and fired on one while the horse artillery battered the other. These opening shots at them disordered both regiments.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Union left, the two other New York infantry regiments advanced in front of the one that was now shaken and disordered to give them some respite. Their shots roared out at the Rockbridge Artillery and the 33rd Virginia. General Meredith could see the rebels establishing themselves on the top of the hill and, consequently, the Union chances of victory slipping away. With one of his front line regiments shaken, disordered, and unable to act, he sent one of his reserve regiments forward to engage the Confederates on the hilltop at close range. Acting on his own initiative, the commander of the rightmost Iron Brigade regiment charged up the hill, sensing that this could be his best chance to dislodge the Confederate infantry there before his men were worn down by their fire.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Extremely accurate closing fire from the rebels caused many casualties as the Union solders trudged up the steep hill, but once they reached the enemy they fought hard. Though both sides were battered and disordered, neither gave ground.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Union right, the confusion kept the two Irish Brigade infantry regiments from moving, but they both opened fire on the horse artillery battery, and the weight of fire killed or wounded enough of the artillery crew to render them out of commission.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 4
On the Confederate left, the 2nd and 4th Virginia Infantry moved ahead of the shaken 33rd, and the Rockbridge Artillery manhandled forward to keep pace. All three opened fire, and the combination of musket fire and grapeshot was too much for the leftmost regiment of the Irish brigade, which routed, leaving the Union left flank dangerously exposed.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Hood deployed the rest of the Texas Brigade into line and moved them up to support the two regiments in front.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Both sides in the vicious close combat now had supports to the flank and rear, and buoyed by the support, the Confederates fought back with great ferocity. Both regiments in this fight were now shaken and at their breaking point, but both held steady for now.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Confederate left, the 4th Tennessee Cavalry charged the flank of the Union Infantry brigade in front of them, but the Union boys weren't intimidated and fought back ferociously. With both sides giving as good as they got, the cavalry were forced to retire in disorder.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

The only Union regiments available to protect the exposed left flank were already exhausted, so General Meagher spent some time rallying the men of the 69th New York to hopefully get the ready to get back in the fight. The final uncommitted Iron Brigade regiment moved forward on the left side of the hill to complete the Union line, which opened fire all along its front.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

In the brutal melee at the top of the hill, the Iron Brigade regiment finally reached its breaking point and routed. The rebels were in sorry shape as well, but still stood tall at the top of the hill.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Far to the Union right, Hancock had his leftmost Infantry regiment pivot right to fire on the pesky 4th Tennessee cavalry.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 5
Though already in a good position, the Confederates did not let up. The 33rd Virginia, now recovered somewhat from their initial losses, moved forward to re-engage. The Texas Brigade regiment that had exhausted themselves fighting off the earlier assault got some relief from their comrades. The unit supporting them to the rear moved ahead of them to engage another Federal unit at the bottom of the hill at close range. The Confederate fire was unrelenting.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Confederate left, the 8th Tennessee Cavalry saw an opportunity and quickly worked their way behind the Union infantry who were firing on their compatriots. However, as they were firing from the saddles as the rode by behind the Federals, their attack was little more than a minor annoyance.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Trying to keep the army together, General Meredith rallied one of his Iron Brigade regiments, while another fell back away from the fighting to regroup (the Brave special rule lets them rally on a 4+ if they are more than 12cm from an enemy, which they succeeded in doing). The 69th New York pivoted slightly back so that their left flank was less exposed, while the four regiments at the front of the Union line continued pouring volleys into the rebels.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Union right flank, the leftmost regiment turned around to face their attackers, and the rightmost regiment finally regained enough order to face their attackers as well. Both regiments opened fire at close range against the two respective units of Tennessee cavalry.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 6
The Stonewall Brigade continued to push forward as much as possible, while the rest of the Confederate infantry, already as far forward as possible, continued to fire. The combined fire of the Stonewall Brigade once again routed the leftmost regiment of the Irish Brigade.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the Confederate left, the shaken 4th Tennessee tried to hold the Federals in place by firing on them, while the 8th Tennessee was ordered by Forrest to break away from the fight on the left flank and try to get around behind the main Union line.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Needing to shore up the left flank, General Meredith had to send his only unengaged unit, an already battered regiment, to anchor the left flank. Their fire did manage to route the Rockbridge Artillery, which had inflicted great punishment on the Federals.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

The rest of the Union infantry around the hill continued to trade shots with the Confederates. The slug-fest was wearing on both sides but the Union, with no unengaged reserves left to commit, were getting the worst of it.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On Union the right flank, one regiment of Union infantry pursued and fired on the escaping 8th Tennessee cavalry in a vain attempt to slow them down, while the other Union Infantry regiment succeeded in pinning down the 4th Tennessee cavalry.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 7
There was little room for maneuvering now. The 33rd Virginia moved back to regroup itself, while the rest of the Confederate line continued its punishing fire.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Finally, the rightmost Iron Brigade regiment on the hill could take no more. Having balanced on the precipice of defeat for some time, the Union army was now plummeting toward the inevitable conclusion.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

The 4th Tennessee Cavalry continued trading shots with the Federal Infantry, while the 8th Tennessee, unsure of whether to continue on or turn to face the pursuing Union troops, are halted in indecision.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Not willing to give up without a fight, the Union left flank continued their disciplined volleys despite the setbacks on the hill. They finally saw some progress, routing the 2nd Virginia regiment and one of the Texas Brigade regiments at nearly the same time. The Union left flank was finally looking secure.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

In the center, however, things are looking grim for the federals. One nearly spent Iron Brigade regiment stands against the four remaining regiments of Hood's Texas brigade. One of these infantry regiments, the 18th Georgia, was standing right in the center of the hilltop, completely fresh and unscathed.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

On the far Union right, both remaining Infantry regiments fire on the Confederate cavalry. The 4th Tennessee finally rout from the superior fire, but the 8th Tennessee shrug off the attack from their rear.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


Turn 8
Being fired on from behind motivated the 8th Tennessee cavalry to move quickly, and they moved around behind the main Union line at the hill. Surrounded and taking fire from several directions, the Iron Brigade regiment on the center of the hill finally routed. The rest of the Union line continued taking fire, but held their ground.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

The two Infantry regiments with Major General Hancock could only look on as the Union attack on the hill crumbled. They had been taken out of the main fight for the hill by the need to defend the flanks from Forrest's Tennessee cavalry.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report

Conclusion
At this point I, the Union player, chose to concede. There was almost no chance of taking the hill back from the Confederates, especially with a completely fresh unit still standing right on the center of it. The outcome was clear at this point, and we reasoned that the Federals wouldn't waste more lives trying to accomplish the impossible, but would instead withdraw in good order while they still could. The Confederate infantry would be happy to consolidate their hold on the hill and dig in, while the one remaining Tennessee Cavalry regiment might go off and try to harass the Union stragglers. It was an exciting game of Black Powder that came down to the wire, but in the end it was an unambiguous Confederate victory.
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report
Warlord Games Black Powder American Civil War 10mm Battle Report


4 comments:

  1. You aren't kidding... up until turn 8 it looked like a draw at best, leaning toward Union victory. As we've seen in the past it only takes one turn for the whole scene to change.

    The personality traits were an exciting variable and really seemed to reflect the actual personalities.. some turns Jackson was unstoppable whilst others he barely seemed to realize he was in a battle. The Irish brigade withstood casualties that no normal unit would on another day.

    Great, great fun. Can't wait for the next one. The artillery ought have recouped its horrendous losses by then....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Re-re-reading this... I got the impression that while this was perhaps our shortest game, it had the most action. Seriously, compare this to other Black Powder games.. short and intense. I really think setting an objective and time limit may be the way to go.

    Does anyone else do similar things, like objectives and turn limits? I know that sounds rather like a GW game, but it certainly seems to have changed the dynamic of the game.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, what a write-up! Must have taken you as long to write this as it did to play the actual game!

    Sounded like a good tense battle.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Brilliant write up on the battle, thoroughly enjoyed the pics and text. Could have gone either way.

    ReplyDelete