Tuesday 22 May 2018

The Battle of Seven Pines : May 31 1862 : ACW

The objective for what was to become known as the Pennisula Campaign in 1862 was for the Union Forces under George B McClellan to capture the Rebel capital of Richmond. McClellan who proved to be a very ineffective commander was denied additional troops due to the sterling delaying tactics of Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah valley. However, the Union army had drawn quite close to Richmond with the manoeuvring of various elements of the army hampered by poor weather and swollen rivers. Spotting an opportunity to strike the able Confederate General Jospeh E Johnston devised a complex plan to defeat the union army in separate pieces. This lead on May 31st 1862 to the battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks as it is also known.

The overview of the battlefield after turn one around 4 o’clock. As to be expected playing 28 mm we shrank the battlefield somewhat but tried to keep the essential elements, it is quite a big table roughly 11 feet by 5 feet, combining our forces we had 20 infantry Regiments per side with artillery and some limited cavalry. The initial deployments are again roughly historical. We played with my adapted bolt action rules, one particularly good adaptation was to play with less dice than we had units this gives a real challenge for each general deciding where to focus your efforts.
Rodes Rebel Brigade has already broken through the Unon camp and we pick up the action as they regroup and advance towards the second union line around Seven Pines Crossroad itself
Devens Union Brigade 2nd Rhode Island and 36 New York
Garland’s Brigade just to the north of Rodes Brigade they have captured and are manhandling some abandoned Union cannons
Advancing towards Fair Oaks Station on Nine Mile Road Penders Brigade 
Suddenly they come under fire from the remnants of Couch’s Division and Burns Brigade around the Adams House more of Sedgewick’s Division will likely arrive behind them from the Chickahominy River further NE
In the thick woods Col. Micah Jenkins has two Regiments the Palmetto Sharpshooters and the 6th South Carolina they are looking to exploit the gap left by Couch and flank the Union Forces at the cross roads.
Abercrombie’s Brigade holding the line at Seven Pines, they are eagerly looking over their shoulders for reinforcements. Two brigades of Union infantry are scheduled on a random D6 roll to enter behind Seven Pines.
The rebels have initial numerical advantage and must make this pay quickly before the union reinforcements arrive
Pender’s Brigade having come under fire from the flank has turned north towards the Adams House, they are not clear at this stage the size of the union force from this direction. Historically the rebels initially believed the union forces weren’t able to cross the river.
Looking down the Seven Pines / Charles City Road, no sign of the reinforcements and the Rebels are now in force and within shooting range
As luck would have it Anderson’s Brigade arrives first to support the rebel advance
To the North the Rebels have deployed and advance to see off what they believe to be a limited Union force
But Burns Brigade has been able to bring up several cannons and more troops are arriving all the time
Jenkin’s is pressing forward though the woods there is an inviting gap opening along the railroad 
Another overview, union forces at Seven Pines are in a desperate position
You have got to be joking......... Birney’s Brigade arrives in the nick of time to support the centre
It may be too late as the cpdefenders are taking increasing casualties and may fall back soon
To the North it is going to be a tough stand up fight
Then wouldn’t you just believe it Berry’s Brigade arrives through the woods at the back of Seven Pines
But the rebels are already on the outskirts of the settlement
The Union general is looking more confident as more and more Federals form into line
A small unit of cavalry covers the left around Fair Oaks Station
Overview at this point, the two fresh union brigades are deploying on the left behind Seven Pines, Anderson’s Brigade is now fully deployed on the table
One unit of Anderson’s Brigade the 27 Georgia have rushed the Union line and broken through 
On the right Devens Brigade is massively outnumbered
They are pinned down and in trouble.....the leading units of Berry’s Brigade are rushing forward
Pender’s Brigade has taken a battering beyond the station, but Pettigrew’s Brigade has now been brought up and deployed
Reinforcements just in time
Sorry just love this shot 🙂
The initial success breaking over the fence has been pushed back, but more and more Rebel Regiments are being pushed into the combat
The Cannons of Burns’s Brigade are causing problems to the north
A massive separate battle is taking place around Seven Pines itself, on the far left the 6th SC are across the road, a critical moe et for the defenders
Rebels have now pushed upto the fence on the far southern flank
Defenders here are simply too strong
Burn’s Union Forces are also getting the better of the fight at the station
A small cavalry skirmish close to the railroad, behind them the advancing South Carolina boys are going to cause havoc if they aren’t pushed back soon
Taking a lot of casualties several rebel Regiments after a long day of fighting are forced to retreat
But the attack continues on the right
More Rebel units fleeing back form the crossroads
A period shot 🙂
Things are not going well to the north, and all of the available Rebels have been deployed to stop the union flanking advance
Numbers are finally telling on the southern flank if only there was another couple of hours of daylight to press the advantage
Rebels streaming back from the front, whilst there are several rebel Regiments still, in good condition more and more union troops are pushing forward
The crossroads still being held by the Union Forces as darkness falls. Although I missed a photo to the north around Fair Oaks Station the Rebels were also starting to pull back (retreat)

Phewwwww it was a fantastic battle. Remarkably many small features of the battle seemed to reflect the historical events, although I have taken many liberties with history. This was our largest battle so far, with 40 plus units, the rules worked tremendously well giving a real feel of ACW combat, and some real tactical challenges for those that like that sort of thing, they are not designed to be quick at this size of battle, but why rush when you are having fun, we played with breaks for about 7 hours. This is about as big as we can go for a two person battle but we are planning something even bigger in the future.

Thursday 17 May 2018

Confederate Draft and my painting philosophy

I have found that part of the answer to getting stuff finished is about making it a ‘habit’.So I have got into the habit of trying to do a little bit of hobby every day. Sometimes it is only 20 mins others a couple of hours. The other key for me is only doing what you want to do at the time, this means I have loads of partly finished stuff but I know I WILL get round to it sometime when the feeling takes me. Enough philosophy.........
Another unit of rebels to join the cause, again fairly generic with a very motly feel these guys have obviously seen a lot of campaigning. Next two units with be more formally ‘grey’ 🙂

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Devil’s Den : Gettysburg July 1863

For our second Historical ACW game I pulled out an old copy of Wargames Illustrated this included two 150 year anniversary scenarios (David and Phil you’ll know this one well🙂) I have enough figures for these now and with a bit of thought,including hunting the garden for some rocks I was able to set up a passable version of the Devil’s Den Scenario.
They take up a lot of space but old magazines do come in 
Our set up as close to the Magazine version as I could get, I did check out a few other sources, although the photo doesn’t show it well there is quite a rise in ground left to right up to Houck’s Ridge, as usual I took too many photos so feel free to skip.
Our set up was as close to the scenario set up as possible, including the timed arrival of the Rebel Forces but from then on we had no constraints and the game would develop naturally. Photo above from Big Round Top behind the 44th and 48th Alabama
Rebel left flank the 3rd Arkansas
The flank attack from Big Round Top has already thrown the Union defenders in to turmoil, the 4th Maine have taken a number of casualties, but Smith’s artillery has turned to bring their guns to bear on this flank
The third gun is currently unable to target the rebels but you can see the Union Forces nervously waiting the attack along the ridge
1st Texas Regiment deploys into line in Rose Wood but comes under fire from Sharpshooters and find themselves pinned down
The 2nd Georgia have started their advance across Rose Run and up the slope of the ridge but are turned back when they fail a morale check
Union General has redeployed the 124 New York to support the left flank but despite their advantage the rebels regiments form Big Round Top can’t seem to make it count
The 44th Alabama retreat back into the woods (they do rally later)
Turn three I think with the 15th and 20th Georgia being pushed into the attack
Rebels are making progress on their right flank hoping to catch the weak point in the union line where they have turned to deal with the rebels on Big Round Top
1st Texas still pinned down in the woods, union troops are even advancing ! And the Texas boys are unsupported as the 3rd Arkansas had fled the field some time ago
The Rebel advance being pushed all along the ridge
The danger of the flank attack is currently under control and smiths gun can turn again to wither the rebels attacking the front
On the left the 1st Texas have also temporarily been pushed back under fire
The rebels need to take those cannons to make any real progress
Finally the 4th Maine who have been under pressure from the start flee backwards through the risks of the Den, they won’t be able to rally but just in the nick on time the 120th New York reinforcements arrive to plug the gap
A shot along the ridge
The Union Forces on the right flank been pushed forward to clear the Rose Woods a dangerous advance under the circumstances
Finally the attack from Big Round Top is being pushed on 
And the 48th Alabama raising the Rebel yell give the New Yorkers the bayonet, the Union boys are pushed back
Finally one of the Georgia Regiments has made it to the ridge fence line and over Run one of Smiths Guns. It might be all over for the Union
A shot at this stage the union forces advancing off the ridge in the distance seemingly oblivious to the impending disaster at the Den itself with rebel forces crossing the stream and having made it to the fence line
.......you have got to be joking with literally seconds to spare the second Rebel gun manages to get off a final canister shot a double six😫, canister is deadly at this range and the 20th Georgia are literally blown to pieces.
We had allotted six turns plus a random seventh for the rebels to take the Den, even with the extra turn this loss of the 20th meant they couldn’t quite push the remaining Union troops out of the Den
The final shot of the Den the 120th New York having come on late are now holding the Den, the union line on this flank has been smashed but the Rebels can’t quite claim a victory.

A very fun game it was all over for the Rebels after 3 turns so it was amazing to see them gradually pull back only to be thwarted by the canister shot at the close. Enjoyed by both generals and a very well written scenario so many thanks David and Phil😀