Sunday, 19 May 2019

Shiloh : Confederate Onslaught : April 6th 1862

We played this game about two weeks ago and it was my first attempt at adapting one of the scenarios from Brad Butkovich’s excellent ‘This Bloody Field’ book for Shiloh. The first thing to say is the scenarios are really designed for a smaller scale than 28 mm or for people with absolutely massive collections and tables. So the first thing was to select only part of the scenario to play. Getting pretty much all my infantry on the table I could manage a reasonable chunk of the first scenario the Confederate Onslaught which sees the initial surprise attack of the mixed Divisions of the Army of Mississippi against the Fifth Division of the Union Army of Tennessee under BG Sherman.

The scenario includes a lot of excellent details about unit sizes, experience and overall orders of battle. I have taken these and simplified them where it felt appropriate to make our game manageable in terms of detail and timings. Those with a good memory will know that we played a larger battle from slightly later in the morning on the first day, with Sherman falling back to defend the Hamburg Purdy Road.

But this is very much the initial onslaught catching the Union troops in the morning πŸ™‚

This was the section of the battle field I was able to squeeze onto my 8x4 table, Pond and Cleburne will start on the table but with Anderson, Trigg and Ruggles’ support entering after a couple of turns, McDowell, Buckland and Hildebrand are pretty much as shown with Sherman on the table close to Shiloh Church.
The battlefield squeezed in on the table, looking west. The Union camps on the right, the Confederate Onslaught from the south (left), this was played before I bought all those extra trees so will be interesting to compare games in the future ?
Sherman taking control of the Fifth Division from close to Shiloh Church Buckland’s Brigade beyond in the Union camp
McDowell’s Brigade on the extreme western flank
6th Mississippi and 23rd Tennessee pushing forward around the Rea Farm
Hildebrand doesn’t seem phased at all and sends the 57th Ohio forward to support the 53rd Ohio who are pulling back from a very exposed position beyond the creek
Sensing danger Sherman is quick to take up a centre command position
Urged on by Cleburne his Tennessee boys have pushed upto the field just south and west of Shiloh Church, but they start to exchange fire across the field rather than pushing forward !
The 24th Tennessee head slightly left to avoid the field, seeing the 40th Illinois exposed this might be an opportunity to break through in the centre ?
Thought I would just try a wide angle to see how it looked ?
On the left flank Pond is making slow progress (to represent the well documented command issues the confederates had at the battle we gave them less order dice than the units they had so not everything can be activated each turn, this is hard but a very effective and simple way of representing the problems they had)
Hildebrand has reformed his units around Shiloh Creek and taken up a strong defensive position
Union fire from across the Wheatfield has forced the initial assault back
.....but further west significant numbers of Rebels are pushing over the Creek
Tough fighting around Rea’s Farm but no break through 
The 23rd Tennessee charge forward to force the issue on the right
Limited Union reinforcements arrive (the scenario allows the 7th Illinois Cavalry to arrive from the Lost Field where they started)
Anderson’s Brigade arrives to bolster the centre, along with Polks Battery
Just in time as the central assault towards the Church is faltering 
The confederates just can’t quite make the break through they need
Hildebrand seems in control on the left
...but suddenly the centre starts to crumble ! The 70th Ohio finally start to fall back
McDowell is taking lots of punishment but is holding firm on the Union right
Still holding this Ohio Regiment is looking increasingly vulnerable as the confederate number start to count
Anderson’s Brigade in full advance but they are still only at the Creek !
Anderson Brigade forms up into line for the assault
But on the Rebel right the 23rd Tennessee have turned tail !!!!! Not good
Hildebrand against orders starts to advance rather than holding the defensive line, this is not how it is supposed to go ?
Anderson is struggling to make a difference in the centre
On the Rebel left a wild firefight with both sides taking casualties but no decisive break through
Hildebrand pushing forward around Rea’s Farm (this is the benefit of knowing that you can’t be attacked from the side, historically I don’t think he would have done this as the Confederates were advancing on both his flanks)
Anderson still bogged down in the centre
This was where we felt the battle had come to a natural conclusion (tea time) the confederates hampered by leadership issues and some woeful dice rolling by me had failed to break through, had they had more troops they might have made it, the Union troops were under pressure all along the line but held.
I missed a couple of photos as this end phase of the battle was accompanied by a large melee in the centre with several Regiments fighting hand to hand, despite inflicting massive casualties on the Union Forces they were able to hold but they have no reserves in this area left, if only the rebels could surge through the gap now !

A splendid game, the Rebel artillery just couldn’t hit a thing, they suffered a leadership challenge and as so often couldn’t push through quickly enough whilst the Union Forces just needed to hold on. The scenario whilst not strictly followed was a great starting point for the game and we will be setting another one up soon. Of course I do need to paint some more Confederate forces up !



  1. Matt, really lovely, your stuff is always so well presented.

    Can't stop, I am going back in to read it again ..... and then will probably go and finish that regiment of Union infantry!

    1. You are very kind Norm glad you got something from it....and yes you do need to paint those infantry πŸ‘

  2. Wonderful terrain and minis, splendid report!

  3. Matt, you produce the most visually appealing battlefield layouts. Absolutely GORGEOUS photos! In these initial surprise attacks, the Confederates must make gains quickly before the Feds can stabilize the situation. With poor luck on the part of the Rebels, a replay of the scenario might be in order to see if the historical result is possible.

    Great stuff!

    1. Thanks Jonathan , very kind, yes the confederates were too slow to get the advantage. Dice rolling and poor leadership constraints. We will probably come back to this scenario when I have a couple more units. One option I have is to drop to 12 man units and run some of the scenarios on a more strategic/simplified approach. Might try this later in the year.

  4. Great looking game, terrain and figures! You manage to pack an awful lot into your table and a super account of the battle!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, and this was before I bought all those trees !

  5. Superb as ever, top stuff all round. Really like the depth of colour in your photos.

    1. Thanks Phil strangely I still find I have real problems with colour of photos google still converts them the actually photos on my phone are way clearer and better colour but I haven’t been able to work out a fix.....?

  6. Another fine looking game Matt and excellent game report.

    1. Thanks David it was hard fought and at any point if I hadn’t been so unlucky my rebels might have broken through πŸ€”

  7. Excellent AAR. Your miniatures are amazing.

    1. Thanks Gary and thanks for taking the time to look and comment πŸ™‚

  8. Great AAR played with forces and terrain up to your usual standard!
    The wide angle shot is interesting, I've tried the panorama setting on my phone a couple of times but made the pictures so 'wide' they look too short and wide to use on my blog your narrower one looks good.

    1. Thanks Captain ! The wide angle was just messing about while we had a cup of tea. I did have to edit the shape to make it square etc.....

  9. Splendid stuff Matt...
    A joy to look at and a joy to read....

    All the best. Aly

    1. Many thanks Aly ...happy to have shared just a small bit of joy to fellow gamers πŸ™‚

  10. Nice job getting the large scenario onto the table. I’m converting some of those Shiloh scenarios myself to get playable with my collection.
    As usual, the miniatures and table look splendid and I do SO enjoy the ACW reports. πŸ˜€

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