Wednesday 29 August 2018

Battle for Salem Church : 3rd May 1863

For our latest venture (actually a few weeks ago before I went on holiday)  into the ACW we played a version of the initial battle for Salem Church. By way of historical background I found this lovely period sketch of the battlefield, although there is more than one version. By way of short background the battle took place as part of the larger Chancellorsville campaign. General John Sedgewick having captured Fredericksburg is moving west to attempt to join the main army under Hooker and flank the Confedrate army. The leading division in the advance is commanded by Brigadier General Brooks. Blocking his advance are two brigades of Rebels under Brigadier General Wilcox and Brigadier General Semmes. Having read through the accounts of the battle it is slightly confusing as both sides fed reserves piecemeal into the battle. What they do agree on is the initial assaults by the Federals were successful to a point driving the rebels back from the church but then stalled, but the confederate reserves pushed the advance back and counterattacked. This was also driven back and by the end of the day with increasing numbers of troops squaring off across the battlefield hostilities ceased. The following morning discovering the ‘defeat’ of the main army Sedgewick retreated north across Banks Ford, over the Rappahannock River bringing the whole campaign to an end.
The period sketch of the battlefield in the afternoon but we will focus on the initial assault on the church
Battlefield at the start, looking south. Not easy to see from this angle but there is a moderate ridge feature which forms the Confederate defensive line. Brooks Division has three brigades in action and is supported by artillery who are off the table to the left, you can’t see them in this shot but the rebels have a small battery at the crossroads and the 9th Alabama are occupying Salem Church itself.
The 9th Alabama, historically only a company but I increased this to a small unit
Semmes Brigade in the foreground and in the distance Wilcox across the Plank Road
Russell’s Brigade still in marching order advancing towards the church
A better shot showing the rise upto the Rebel lines and you can just see the Rebel battery at the cross roads (I made sure the Union commander was aware how devastating canister could be and this had just the right impact on his confidence)
To the south Bartlett’s Brigade advances through the woods
Wilcox brigade around the Plank road with the 15th Virginia Cavalry awaiting orders
We had set the victory conditions as a line of control through the church and the school house so there was no point sitting back and the rebels advance
Union Forces now deployed in line
Wilcox’s line moves forward to take the ground  the school house
The battery at the school house has delayed the advance but is coming under heavy counter battery fire and won’t last long
The rebels have artillery on the ridge but can’t seem to hit anything
Russell’s Brigade advances towards the cross roads
Colonel H Brown angles his Brigade towards the Church itself
Dwindling numbers of the 9th Alabama hold the church yard
BG Wilcox seem preoccupied with holding the advance in the south and rebel troops can be seen deploying 
They can’t hold on long in the church......
And some of their support has been driven back
Now I should say at this stage as the first Rebel unit turns and runs, that the Rebel CO rolled some pretty terrible dice during this battle, it is hard to remember actually passing a morale check whilst the Union CO repeatedly passed almost every test 😢
Finally the 9th Alabama have been wiped out or captured (historically) and the church is unprotected
Union Forces are also advancing up the Plank Road where the battery has been overrun 
On their right flank the Rebels are still quite strong and in a desperate attempt to halt the advance a unit is sent out to flank the advancing Federals, you can just see them east of the Schoolhouse
A lot of open ground in the centre though and too few confederates to plug the gaps
Salem Church is taken
Semmes’ Brigade has been driven back
The cross roads is also now in Union hands
There are still Rebel Forces holding the schoolhouse at this stage, but they are out numbered and General Brooks is able to claim victory.

A fun battle, the Rebels severely hampered by my dice rolling far too many units failing morale checks.🤪

Tuesday 28 August 2018

The Holiday Painting.......

Well I didn’t get all the painting done on holiday but managed to get the following two units polished off. Photographed here before I had added grass to their bases, although I have now rectified this 😀
 My Federal dismounted cavalry, again Perry figures although I had an extra Foundry figure who got painted in the same batch.
and here are the Crusader Peasants for use in C&Cross or really any future Dark Age games.

Northumberland Holiday highlights.......

Back from lovely Northumberland now and catching up again ! There is so much for those interested in history, here is a very quick summary of some of the places we visited. It isn’t our first trip but we will be back again.....

The harbour at seahouses with Bamburgh castle giving a spectacular backdrop
Holy Island priory, sacked by the vikings but destroyed by Henry 
The beach where the Vikings are supposed to have first landed, beautiful isolated spot, seal colony in the background
Bamburgh castle big and impressive
The owners collected Persian armour and helmets nice !
Lots of armour
One for you Jonathan 😀
Our cottage overlooked the only remaining fish smokery , so we had fresh smoked kippers for breakfast 
On our way back we visited Wallsend, Segedunum the fort at the far end of Hadrian’s wall in Newcastle 
Not a lot above ground
But a fantastic example of a Roman helmet in the small Museum
A final shot of  Bamburgh beach, looking towards the Farne Islands, Northumberland at its best

We had a great time but I will get on and blog the couple of ACW battles which we have played 🙂

Saturday 18 August 2018

Encouraging the young and packing for a holiday

Somewhere in the last few weeks I entertained a friend from work with his young son, they played my hobbit game a while ago and I had promised them a return trip. This time I had set up another slightly larger LOTR game it’s link to the book and films seems to hit the right balance for youngsters. My aim being purely to spark his enthusiasm for the hobby.
I umpired while they fought it out with 30 or so points each side, just enough to make it feel bigger than a skirmish
With hardly any ‘fiddling’ they had a close game
And despite the warg riders Gondor just won through 
What was really great was a couple of weeks later my friend sent me the picture above of the terrain they have built since they came and them playing with their collection bravo I say.
As for my holiday, I have packed a toothbrush, my bike oh yes and a little army of grey figures to keep me busy 😀

Thursday 16 August 2018

A Dark Age adventure or two : Lion Rampant

Somewhere in the last few weeks we played another couple of pick up games of Lion Rampant using some of our dark age/ medieval figures. We were looking for something easy and fun to play.
The local Welsh Warlord Brendan the Bold has heard tell that his neighbour and rival Duke Stanwix is attempting to abduct a local monk carrying away with him certain important relics, Brendan has gathered his forces to stop this dreadful unchristian action
Knowing there is likely to be trouble the Duke has sent a sizeable force to accompany the monk
Including heavily armoured cross bow men who hurry forward keeping the monk under close guard.
Brendan has a secret weapon his mobile, javelin wielding light cavalry who are both mobile and annoying in their ability to skirmish/ hit and run
Brendan’s forces have set their ambush in the village, whilst the Dukes men attempt to escape with the monk along the far edge of the battlefield
The fight for the centre of the village
The thunder of hooves, the Dukes heavy knights charge onto the table
The light cavalry skirmish from in the trees
....and with effective thrown weapons they whittle down the Duke’s infantry
Taking the high ground Brendan’s men are able to lure the heavy cavalry into the trees where they can be cut down
And there is no escape , the monk is abandoned and the Duke’s remaining forces run home

This is always a tough scenario and very hard to get the objective/ monk in this case right across the battlefield, so we swopped over now Brendan’s men had kidnapped the Duke’s eldest daughter and had the same objective, this was going to be really tough ......

Infuriated by the slight the Duke has filled the village with armed men looking to get his daughter back and put Brendan’s men to the sword
A light screen of skirmish cavalry leads the advance but they are going to struggle with heavy forces in front of them, this is only going to work if the Dukes men fail some morale tests............
Oooooh that was unlucky the mounted cross bowmen have to fall back..........but they will probably rally next turn ☹️
Oooooops now that is very unlucky two failed tests of double one in a row, but now a gap has opened up in the centre of the village. The Duke smiles knowing that is likely to be the end of his bad luck 🤔
Oooooops now that really is very very bad luck and the Duke is the only person I know that can be that unlucky, literally within 2 minutes he has rolled three double ones 🤪
Well with that kind of luck it was inevitable that after a few more hard fought turns Brendan would manage to escape with the Dukes daughter, a rare victory in this scenario.

Two very fun games, great to get the dark age figures out again, Lion Rampant still provides a good game in my view although not as complex as some might like.