I picked up a copy of Summer Storm, scenarios for the battle of Gettysburg by Brad Butkovich. Like other books in the series it provides an excellent starting point for Regimental battles with the three day Battle broken down into about 12 scenarios, I have found in the past the largest of these can then be broken down again to fit my collection. However, with Martin bringing his collection over at the weekend we were able to tackle the Peach Orchard in one go. The battle of course is massively well documented, for those with an interest there are a couple of really good U tube summaries of the action which give both the background and the development of the action around the Peach Orchard July 2nd 1863.
For those unfamiliar with the battle I will give the briefest description of the situation. Having fought a number of preliminary engagements, the previous day both sides had spent the night drawing up the rest of their forces, the Union had captured the main high ground of Cemetery Ridge. For several reasons, we’ll explained in the videos the Third Army Corps under Major General Dan Sickles had chosen to deploy ahead of the main army line on elevated ground along the Emmitsburg Road. Out of position their left flank was exposed, this location happened to be where a prominent Peach Orchard belonged to the nearby Sherfy Farm.
A picture taken from the Battlefield trust video of the action on July 2nd, the scenario effectively takes place where I have marked it.
As it happens the setup once converted to the table lends itself to an L-shaped table. The Sherfy Farm is shown in the centre, the peach orchard beyond the cross roads to the right. The Emmitsburg road runs left to right and the Wheatfield road runs away into the distance. In the foreground the high ground represents Seminary Ridge. Although the Confederates can been seen massing at this end their arrival is phased. The distance from the ridge to the main road is actually a little further and the ground rises but we all have to make compromises. We would be using our home grown Bolt Action rules adapted to make these larger games run slightly quicker. One particular ‘fun’ element built into the scenario is a pre-battle artillery duel. We reduced this to a single turn, all troops were designated as ‘down’ until they activated as the Confederates advanced they would by necessity block their own guns.
Sickles can be seen in the foreground, he has already ordered forward some troops to hold the Sherfy Farm, these are mainly Brewster’s Brigade
Elements of Barksdale’s Brigade form up on Seminary Ridge, hard to spot you can just see the US Sharpshooters holding one of the fence lines. It was nice to play a battle where I could actually use these figures ‘officially’
The peach orchard which marks the hastily deployed dog leg in the Union line when they realise they are being outflanked.
An overview form the other end, on the left you can just see Kershaws Brigade who are the first Confederates to arrive on the battlefield.
Across the Peach orchard and aligned along the Emmitsburg road the Union force, beyond the Sherfy Farm is Carr’s brigade
Another shot down Seminary Ridge, now you can see the sharpshooters 🙂
The artillery barrage over and with the Union already a gun down, Kershaw’s Brigade swings left to attack the Peach orchard.
The Union troops have pushed into the orchard and keep up a steady fire with their guns
Barksdale’s Brigade is also now advancing from Seminary Ridge.
The fight for the Peach orchard will be tough !
The sharpshooters have now been driven off but more troops are being dragged to the left to support the defence of the Orchard
This means the line is thinning to the right of the Sherfy Farm and Wilcox’s Brigade has now arrived on the field !
The Union troops have been forced out of the orchard but it is a blood bath
Union reserves are brought to the apex of the line.
As the confederate assault builds Langs Brigade arrives to the North of Seminary ridge
A wide angle at this point in the battle
The Union are holding Kershaws Brigade at the orchard, just !
They are also holding back the Confederate left as well.
But at the critical weak point in the Union line, where infantry has been receiving artillery fire from both flanks Barksdale’s Brigade is now closing on the farm, and behind them Wofford’s Brigade is closing in fast
Kershaw’s South Carolina men break into the orchard at last
The focus of the confederate attack at the cross roads
The thin blue line !
Better success on the Union right where the confederates have been pushed back, at least for now.
Then the tide breaks across the Emmitsburg road and fierce hand to hand fighting in the road breaks out
On the left well timed volleys from over Wheatfield road push the confederates back out of the orchard
…but now Wofford’s brigade is overlapping Barksdale’s and moving up Wheatfield road, the vice is closing !
For at least one turn the Union infantry hold at the farm……
but then a renewed attack on the right and a blunder activation sees the Union right start to crumble.
We called the battle to a close here the Confederates have done enough for the win and the remaining Union troops will have to run for their lives back to join the main line on Cemetery Ridge. A grand battle and as usual hard fought, not sure if the outcome was in real question, there was a moment when the Union right could have taken the initiative and swung out to form a more stable line but the opportunity quickly passed. The Union artillery didn’t roll well and had less of an impact on the advancing Rebels, many times they failed to fire or hit the target, if these had been better the outcome would have been much closer.
I will be thumbing through Summer Storm to look for another scenario soon.