Friday, 3 April 2020

Battle for Warrington Pike : ACW

First up this is a picture heavy AAR but I know some of you enjoy a bit of eye candy. For those that don’t just skip,

Just in case somebody was confused this is not a historical battle.  So given the lockdown situation we are all facing I set this up to be played as a remote game where the orders from the enemy in this case the Union Forces were provided by email, I would then play the rebel forces and resolve the next phase of the battle solo before referring back to the Union commander for more input.

I provided only a limited sketch map before the battle and the following instructions.

Scouts have brought back a map of the local area. Your commanding officer Major General Corona has ordered your small division to capture two key objectives before nightfall. These are the cross roads of the Warrington Pike and the Chesterford Road and second objective is to capture the bridge over Logan’s Creek. Your commanding officer has also indicated that keeping the Warrington Pike open is critical so as well as capturing the objectives you should seek to force the enemy back. Your scouts have identified a number of features which they have drawn on the map. They have also indicated that they were chased away by a force of rebel cavalry who they believe are still in the area.

It is known that the rebels are approaching from the Chesterford direction in force.

Please issue your orders to your brigade. Your Division consists of......

1st Brigade New York four Infantry Regiments (regulars but slightly understrength)
2nd Brigade New York three Infantry Regiments Regulars
3rd Brigade Wisconsin Black Hats two Regiments (Elite)
Currently under your control you also have the 1st Iowa Artillery battery and the Harrison Sharpshooters. You can of course detach Regiments as you feel appropriate.

As the battle developed situation reports were sent back of orders completed etc and reports of enemy action often accompanied by a telescope view of the action. This provided significant fog of war for the Union general. 
Enemy sighted to the front in the woods
More rebel infantry advancing to the right
2nd Brigade in trouble on the right flank

Having also predetermined the broad orders for the rebel forces before seeing the Union approach I then played through the game using my house Bolt Action Rules making sensible decisions and on a few occasions using a 50/50 dice roll for example which enemy unit a particular unit might fire on if the choice wasn’t obvious.

So this is how the action played out.....
The Union 1st Brigade move to support the Iowa Artillery on Blue House Hill
Rebel 2nd Brigade advance in the centre, their general is riding an imposing white horse
The rebel first brigade advance through the woods
The dismounted cavalry had been in place by the bridge but have already been sent packing by a good volley
The rest of the 1st Brigade are ordered on and in the distance the 3rd Wisconsin Brigade has rushed to capture Copse Hill
The 2nd Brigade supported by the Harrison Sharpshooters is in a difficult position slight by the creek
Rebels appear out of the wood and the Iowa Artillery opens up, without effect
We also used my random event generator which caused the lone 2nd Brigade Regiment on the right to surge forward a complete confusion of orders and the cause of much laughter even if I was on my own !
1st Brigade moves up slowly and down the front of the hill
General rebel advance in the centre the Wisconsin boys in the woods are Black Hats and playing as elite infantry so they will be tough to shift
Slight confusion on the right wing as a regiment is despatched to support the right flank
Just like this shot πŸ™‚ a sense of ACW gaming well in my mind anyway
The Second Wisconsin Regiment is being redeployed
2nd Brigade moving across the creek in good order, their front regiment is just clinging on
Not too much finesse this is about pouring lead into the enemy
Rebel cavalry by the cabin have regrouped
But then another random event causes the advancing infantry to run into the cabin to look for liquor, well that evened it up
Ha ha but the regiment on Copse Hill fails a morale test and runs back
This leaves a big gap in the Union front to be exploited !
The lone 2nd Brigade Regiment is finally chased off but 
A general view from the top of Blue House hill
Some despairing reorganisation around Copse Hill with the Union Commanding General move to support the area 
Think I forgot to move the smoke the Rebel gun didn’t fire at this stage
Drunk but happy the rebels come back out of the cabin things now looking desperate on the Union right flank
Rebel infantry are onto the pike and using the fence as cover before pushing into the gap
2nd Brigade ordered to retire but fail the test or perhaps don’t hear the order and stay where they are !
But the Wisconsin Blackhats still hold Copse hill
Then the order is received for the 1st Brigade to advance surely this is premature, the the NY Zouaves deal a devastating volley as they move forward, the rebels in the woods wobble but hold just
Another order to relocate the artillery, can’t the general see what is happening (actually no he can’t πŸ˜€)
The advance of the 1st Brigade.....they might do it ?
Union need to hold the centre so go to it with the bayonet 
So do the Zouaves
Desperate fighting on Copse hill (not sure the two householders should be watching form that close !)
Finally the order gets through to withdraw on the right covered by the Sharpshooters
Union Forces (the 1st Brigade are in force at the Cross Roads!)
Both armies in the centre are thinning out..
A last ditch or heroic charge from the blackhats supporting the 1st Brigade but somehow that tiny rebel regiment turns them back from the fence
Artillery has general caused no damage all battle until now when a clear shot opens up BOOOOMMMM !
There may be enough to hold the right at the river long enough to win in the centre ?
But it starts to unravel when the forward line of the 1st Brigade is sent back by the cannon fire
The road will be renamed the ‘Bloody Pike’ from now on......
Cavalry remount to bolster the centre if needed
BOOOOMMMM the second line of the 1st Brigade is also turned back the tide is turning quickly...
The 1st Brigade in disarray pulling back or perhaps fleeing depending on your perspective 
Rebel forces now clearly hold the bridge 1 objective in the bag
and with the 1st brigade withdrawing the Wisconsin Brigade holding Copse Hill darkness fell.

A very fun battle, a mix of solo but not. I think I could improve the intelligence being sent to the Union general and perhaps introduce a little more randomness for the rebels. I played very fair and only took very reasonable decisions with bolt action it kinds of plays itself anyway. The Union was always struggling on the right but it is fair to say that was the furthest point from their commander so it would have been difficult. They could easily have taken the rest of the field, but Lady Luck wasn’t with them. The game took about 5 evenings the play I didn’t need to rush. We will definately being playing more games like this. But am trying something else over the weekend using Zoom. I also have an idea to play two remote generals and me to play as the umpire. Might see how that goes ? 

If nothing else it provided some diversion and hoped the pretty pictures have distracted you for a few minutes 

All the best πŸ‘


  1. well that was fantastic. speak soon using so tech type thingy when work relents

    1. Thanks Martin yes we tested a live game using zoom and keeping it small the game worked pretty well. If you are about.......durhhhh of course you are about we could try sometime next weekend.

  2. Wow, what a great game. Love the ACW write up's. Bit different to my 6mm but sounds a blast. Excuse the pun!

    Looking forward to the next update to cheer us up.

    1. Thanks John.....I like the idea of 6mm ACW but can’t afford timewise to have two versions

  3. Great idea, Matt! Seeing your troops out on maneuvers fighting over your handsome table is always an anticipated pleasure. I enjoyed your photos very much.

    Well done and thank you!

    1. Thanks Jonathan......a small break from reality

  4. Well I enjoyed following that through and look forward to the next offering.

    1. Thanks David it felt like a real game and not solo even though I was on my own

  5. Great report Matt.
    Our group is trying something similar, the telescope view gives commanders a very different feel to command a lot more frustrating when trying to see the big picture.

    1. Thanks Stu we played an alternate live game yesterday and will blog that later

  6. Absolutely superb, loved that Matt.

  7. Marvellous, thoroughly enjoyed the narrative and of course your table.

  8. A splendid looking game Matt... and lots of lovely photos.
    I am trying out a little skirmish game with my daughter at the moment...using email, texts and FaceTime... so far it seems to be working.

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks Aly, the semi solo approach work really well at this scale......we have played a live link game now and will blog the results later

  9. Looks superb, I shall fire the laptop up later and view in Cinemascope for a better experience.

    1. Thanks Phil don’t look too close at the painting please....

  10. Excellent ACW AAR!
    I have my 28mm Yanks and Rebs on the tabletop right now ready for a run using 61-65 rules this has fired me up to get it started!

    1. Thanks and no time like the present...get them moving into action πŸ‘

  11. Lovely looking game! Nice to see toys on the table, any game is a good one at the moment!
    Best Iain

  12. I certainly did enjoy the pretty pictures! Your stuff really makes a great looking ACW battle.

    I liked the idea for the set up, with orders coming down from on high that might not always be the most informed. It would be great with two remote commanders and you in the middle. πŸ˜€