Monday, August 14, 2017

Black Powder American Civil War Battle Report: Daybreak at Hangman's Creek

I finally got around to trying out the American Civil War scenario from the Black Powder rulebook. Daybreak at Hangman's Creek sees a small Confederate division advancing on the town of Hangman's Creek at dawn. A small Union division is in the area, but they are not expecting trouble and most of them start off the table. All of the Union officers start in the town, and they will have to scramble to get their brigades moved up and deployed once they realize they are under attack. To the Union left of the town is a large Union camp. To the right, across the river, is a gun foundry. The Confederate objective is to capture the camp, town, or gun foundry, with a greater victory earned by capturing two or all three of them.

At the start of the game, one Union regiment is deployed in skirmish order in the fields north of town. They are allowed one free initiative move each turn until they are given an order, but the Union commanders (in the town) are not allowed to issue any orders or move until the alarm is raised. The alarm is raised at the end of any turn in which any unit fires or fights a round of close combat. The Confederates split their forces to attack all three objectives at once. They will need to advance quickly on their objectives before the Union officers have a chance to organize a proper defense if they are to secure victory.

The Forces
Each Division had three small brigades, as shown below. For all brigade officers and the division commanders, we randomly generated officers by drawing from my Black Powder officer personality card decks. We ended up with staff ratings of 8 for all our officers, but we also ended up with a lot of personality traits. As in reality, the personalities and quirks of our officers would end up having a large impact on the battle.

Union Division
Major General George Henry Thomas - Staff Rating 8, Hesitant
Brigadier General Philip Sheridan - Staff Rating 8, Decisive
  • 69th New York Infantry
  • 63rd New York Infantry
  • 88th New York Infantry
  • 1st Michigan Cavalry - Marauders, Skirmish
  • Medium Smoothbore Foot Artillery Battery
Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown - Staff Rating 8, Timid, Hesitant, and Irresponsible
  • 2nd Wisconsin Infantry
  • 6th Wisconsin Infantry
  • 116th Pennsylvania Infantry
  • 19th Indiana Infantry - Marauders, Skirmish, Pickets (one free initiative move each turn until they receive an order)
Brigadier General Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss - Staff Rating 8
  • 7th Wisconsin Infantry
  • 28th Massachusetts Infantry
  • 24th Michigan Infantry
  • Battery M, 2nd US Artillery

Confederate Division
Major General Drayton - Staff Rating 8, Aggressive and Decisive
Brigadier General Gordon - Staff Rating 8, Timid
  • 1st Texas Infantry
  • 4th Texas Infantry
  • 5th Texas Infantry
  • Medium Smoothbore Foot Artillery Battery
Brigadier General Anderson - Staff Rating 8, Timid
  • 2nd Virginia Infantry
  • 4th Virginia Infantry
  • 5th Virginia Infantry
  • Rockbridge Artillery Battery
Brigadier General Breckenridge - Staff Rating 8, Hesitant
  • 18th Georgia Infantry
  • 3rd Arkansas Infantry
  • 27th Virginia Infantry
  • 33rd Virginia Infantry

The Setup
I set up the table to match the scenario map as best I could. I did have the Confederates deploy on the board and move the objectives close to make up for the fact that we are using centimeters for all measurements instead of inches, so hopefully it ended up about equivalent, though are battlefield was probably wider in centimeters than the one in the scenario was in inches. For all the fields, I used the corn field rules from the Black Powder ACW supplement, meaning that any line of sight or shooting passing through a field would be limited to 12 centimeters.

Turn 1

Turn 2

Turn 3

Turn 4

Turn 5

Turn 6

Turn 7

Turn 8

Final Positions At Close of Hostilities

The game ended with two Confederate brigades broken (Breckenridge and Gordon) and one Union brigade broken (Sheridan). While few units fled the battle, many were shaken due to having casualties equal to their stamina, which resulted in the brigade morale being broken. By the end, it was clear that the Confederates weren't going to capture either the town of Hangman's Creek or the Gun Foundry. However, there were rebels soldiers inside the Union Camp, opposed by only a broken brigade, so I think it's fair to say that nobody really held the Union camp.

I have to give credit to the 19th Indiana, who particularly distinguished themselves in this battle by holding off the attack in the center far longer than anyone could have expected. Given how long it took the hesitant Brown to move his men up to defend the town, the 19th Indiana really saved the day in the center. Thanks to the terrible rolling for Anderson's brigade, the Gun Foundry was never really in any danger. However, with rebels inside the Union camp (presumably looting it), I think we'll have to call this one a draw.


  1. Nice! I appreciate the effort of labeling the units and adding arrows to the pics as that helps in understanding what it's actually a picture of.