Monday 27 February 2023

The Peach Orchard : Gettysburg 2nd July 1863

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 πŸ™‚
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.


Wednesday 22 February 2023

All about Napoleonics……….

Well that is where my head is at the moment…..and what you ask has caused this sudden madness ?

First up I have completed my second British infantry unit. Warlord figures again from the starter army box. A Victrix flag these are the 77th East Middlesex Regiment. Why choose this regiment well it was the second flag on the sheet πŸ™‚ I am already well into a Portuguese regiment from the box.
With the British force slowly growing they need an officer so here he is, after the Portuguese I think the 95th which will actually get me to the point where I could have a battle.

At the weekend I was very kindly invited to join the Lancaster Wargamers at one of their (regular?) large/massive Napoleonic battles. These are run down in South Cumbria so not so far away. A very friendly group of gamers, a number of whom have quite large Napoleonic collections and this is a change to get them all out on the table for a bit of fun. Eight gamers in all each taking a cavalry and Infantry brigade each. The non-historical scenario has the allies attempting to rescue the Coldstream guards who have been badly led and have camped too close to the enemy. We played Black Powder which of course is designed for larger games, even so with this many figures it was a challenge.
Not a blow by blow account just some nice shots to give a sense of the scale. Here is my french Cavalry brigade holding the left flank, well until they were wiped out by allied dragoons.
Some of the action in the centre
And the British far left flank
So many lovely figures on show
The Guard advance ! ……..enough said of course they were soundly beaten and routed
But the french are holding the road 
Cavalry still fighting at the other end of the battle
It was a real pleasure to play, and I hope to attend again at future battles, I’ve also made some contacts and new game ping friends.

So next up a game hopefully this weekend and I have been sticking my fingers together with superglue on some more American supports ! But first the Portuguese πŸ‘

Thanks as always for checking in Matt πŸ˜€



Friday 17 February 2023

Mediterranean terrain, a few more GI’s and Smolensk

As mentioned in a couple of posts I have been working on developing some terrain suitable for Mediterranean theatres, specifically Sicily, Southern Italy and Spain. Some of this managed to get on the table in our first Sicily battle last week.

Here was the set up from last week. The cypress trees were purchased from eBay, I have six but might get a few more, they are simple but fairly robust which I like. The roads which are very characteristic, are simply painted on the back of some other roads, to save some storage space. Some of the extra walls came from the show at York and again I may buy a few more. The two buildings are Charlie Foxtrot, as everybody who has them knows they are a both easy to build and look fantastic. My aim in much of this was not to just collect more stuff as storage is an increasing challenge.
First up rather than buy a new mat I decided to tone down the desert cloths I have, so one side of each was sprayed with green paint. I may give them another coat when the weather warms up.
I purchased some plastic card tile sheets to creat some roofs for existing building see below
I have also done some DIY walls, they are simple wooden blocks with the tiles stuck on top, I have created a slight angle by glueing some card underneath
Finally I have spent ages thinking about the colour of roof tiles. In the battle you will see they were quite dark red, however, having looked at a lot of images on the net this wasn’t quite the look I was looking for. So they have been repainted in a more natural terracotta colour with some weather.
The stable repainted
The walls, I have twice these and will at some point make some gates ?
I had a couple of these warlord damaged buildings so they have been painted to match with tiled roofs
I had some spare mdf building bits so cobbled together a larger building, perhaps as a farm house 
This was a shot to show the Russian thatched buildings I have…
And the same building with a new tiled roof.
Or a pitched roof, these buildings give me quite a few options which I can mix and match. Next I plan to make a few smaller sheds and out buildings and an extension to a tower.
I have also painted up the last few GI’s which Phil had sent me
…and created a spotter team as well
Finally for this post, some will have seen George’s blog on the next battle in our Smolensk campaign, as usual a lovely set up of the Eastern front
Having won the previous two battles and as I’m still learning the rules I thought I would change things up and give a go at the probe scenario, this was going to be a real challenge against dug in German defenders.
The BT 7 was back into the attack.
The patrol phase didn’t go as well as I had hoped and the Russians had too much ground to cover.
They did their best pushing as many infantry forward as possible but, with the Germans rolling pretty well the infantry was wiped out as soon as it started to push forward. Oh well  it was a fun game and I learnt more about the rules, and the Russians can always bring more infantry to the next battle πŸ‘

Thanks as always for checking in

Matt