On Saturday morning. Feeling refreshed and rearing to go again we removed all out of ammo and disorder markers. We decided that no stragglers would return and the units would fight as they finished but all front line units would need to pull back at least 6 inches from the enemy but could move up to 12 inches back from the enemy to give at least one movement distance between the two sides. This gave the players a chance to re-order their troops and get some them back into a command and control structure.
The Union players divided up the Army of Cumberland (AoC) 3 new Corps between the players, AoC 1st Corps was given to Brian and Alan to reinforce their battered Corps (2nd / 5th and 11th Corps). The AoC 2nd Corps was given to Chris to support the Union attacks on Hardee’s Corp by his 12th Corps, Alan’s 1st Corps and Jonathan’s 3rd Corps. The AoC 3rd Corp was given to Simon which arrived on their right with orders to press forward and attack Polk’s Corp and Confederate Army reserve. Ross unfortunately could make the Saturday and his Corp was divided between Peter and Rob. Rob taking over McLaws’ Division. Peter taking over Hood’s and Pickett’s divisions. Ewell’s corps with no enemy to face with the withdrawal of the Union 5th Corps was turned about in March Column with Early and Johnson’s divisions being brought up to support Longstreet. Rodes Division was being marched along the road at the Confederate rear to fill the gap that appeared between Hardee and A P Hill’s Corps.
The Confederates wasted no time in pushing forward their best troops from Longstreet and A P Hill’s Corps pushing back the remnants of the Union 2nd / 5th and 11th Corps. In one devastating attack across the line (thanks to the dice gods too) they destroyed 6 Union brigades forcing Alan and Brian to commit units of the AoC’s 1st Corp piecemeal to plug gaps in their line. The pullback had given Noel with Hardee’s Corps some breathing space and some of A P Hill Corps under Peter helped relieve the pressure on the centre by moving towards their flank and the Potomac’s 1st Corps stated to look exposed being pushed so far forward in the gap between the two armies.
The Union Cavalry on their right was finding it difficult to get a flanking position with pressure from the Reb’s artillery reserve, command and control issues and the broken ground found on that part of the field. Attacks on Polk’s Corps were made by the Union 3rd and 12th Corps although the weight of Reb’s artillery made the attacks difficult to push through. However the Union 1st, 3rd and 12th Corps were battering Hardee’s (Noel) Confederate Corps.
However on the Confederate right Ross living up to Longstreet’s legacy crashed his Corps into the Union lines. The dice gods finally abandoning Brian after being the chosen one in many games resulted in his two Corps taking a fearful pounding driving them further away from Simon’s 5th Corps and Army reserve. Longstreet was fully supported on their left flank by AP Hill Corps (Peter) which was also moving to their left to help relieve the pressure on Hardee’s Corp. The Reb cavalry (Rob) was changing at everything to keep Longstreet’s flank protected and prevent the Union 5th Corps from linking up with their comrades, destroying a Union brigade in a lucky pincer movement. That was the high tide of the Reb Cavalry as the entire Corps was destroyed leaving JEB Stuart to control a damaged horse artillery battery. Their effort was not in vain as Ewell’s Corp (Rob) finally arrived and smashed into the Union 5th Corps and army reserve protecting Longstreet’s right flank and pushing the Union forces into the corner of the table.
Pressure from Union forces in the centre and their right drove back Hardee’s Corps further splitting the Confederate army and Polk’s Corps although under less pressure than Hardee’s was also pushed back to a new defensive line. As day One ended the Confederates had opened a large gap in the Union Line and Longstreet Corps was widening the gap with supporting attacks from A P Hill’s Corps (Peter). At last the dice gods changed for Hardee’s Corps and the end of day 1 they threw back the last Union assaults of the day, preventing a collapse of the centre. The “butcher’s bill” for the first day’s action was for the Confederates; 69 Infantry Stands, 27 Cavalry Stands and 4 guns. For the Union; 105 Infantry Stands, 6 Cavalry stands and 7 guns. What was left to ponder for the next day; could the Confederates take advantage of their success on their right? Could the Union players destroy the army of Tennessee and in particular Hardee’s Corps before the pressure on the right grew too great?
Orders of Battle and players at Day 1 were for the Confederates, Longstreet’s Corps (Ross) Ewell’s Corp & Cavalry Corp (Rob) A P Hill’s Corp (Peter), Hardee’s Corps (Noel) Polk’s Corp / Army Reserve (Phil). On the Union side 1st & 2nd Corps (Alan) 3rd Corp (Jonathan) 5th Corp & Army Reserve (Simon), 6th & 11th Corps (Brian) 12th Corps & Cavalry Corp (Chris). The dice concluded that the Confederates would end up deploying from Left to Right as follows, Polk/Army Reserve, Hardee, A P Hill, Longstreet, Cavalry and Ewell.
The Rebs cavalry was soon supported in the centre, to its left by both Longstreet Corps and A P Hills Corps. Shortly followed by Ewell’s Corp on their Right. The Army of Tennessee (Polk and Hardee) with the army reserve moved on and took up holding positions on the left and centre respectively. The Union forces were more concentrated in their centre and right facing onto to the Army of Tennessee. However the Union on their left were in a different situation with the 6th & 11th Corps (Brian) and Alan’s 1st and 2nd Corps facing down 3 Confederate Infantry Corps and the Cavalry Corp. To help even the numbers the last Union entry was their army reserve and 5th Corp (Simon) which entered to the extreme left of their line.
Ignoring their right flank Longstreet Corp (Ross) raced forward to crash into Brian’s 6th and 11th Corps. The Rebs Cavalry Corp was well forward trying to outflank Brian’s formations and now found themselves caught in between two major Union formations Brian’s 6th/11th Corps to the left and Simon’s 5thCorp / Army reserve to their right. Rather than pulling them out Rob decided that they were going to be sacrificed to keep the gap open between Brian’s 5th/11th Corps and Simon’s 5th/Army Reserve to allow A P Hill and Longstreet Corps to engage Brian and Alan’s forces without worrying about their exposed right flank. In the meantime Ewell’s Corp raced forward to engage the Union 5th Corp and Army reserve to keep the gap open. On the Confederate left Polk Corps and the Confederate Army reserve took up defensive positions and with a Reb cavalry detachment that watched for a Union Cavalry outflanking move. In the centre the Union forces of 12th, 3rd and 1st Corps advanced forward to engage with Hardee’s Corps. The 1st Corp in particular threatened to split the Confederate army in its centre.
For our second game in the “War Room” we wanted to take full advantage of the full sized table and the fact we had almost 2 days of gaming time with players being available on Easter Friday and Saturday. We thought a large ACW game using Fire & Fury rules would be good way of doing this. We came up with a “what if” scenario. The Scenario we created was that Jefferson Davis had concluded that the South was not going to win the war without a massive knockout blow.
This was going to be an encounter battle with the Confederates racing to Washington and The Union forces moving to block them. The Battlefield was set up to have a large number of hills (using my new modular hills made by TableScape) and was liberally covered with woods. Two fordable streams were placed on the table and the battlefield was crossed with a number of roads. Each long edge had 5 roads entering the battlefield. On Day 1 of our Game the Confederate forces would have both armies available - all 6 Corps and would be faced by the Army of the Potomac only until Day 2 (Easter Saturday) when the Army of Cumberland would arrive. The Union forces would be outnumbered on day one by 71 Infantry Stands (equivalent to 1 and ½ Union Corps), 11 Cavalry stands but would have a minor advantage of one additional gun stand. On Day 2 (subject to casualties) the Union player could outnumber the Confederates by up to 125 Infantry Stands and 11 more guns although they would still have less cavalry. The onus was on the Confederates to do as much damage as they could before the Union Army of Cumberland arrived. We played to real time rather than set out a specific number of turns.
On the first day there were 10 players and we divided ourselves equally into the 2 sides. Each player on the Confederate side took a Corps and the Cavalry Corp and Reserve was apportioned to two of the players. On the Union side the players divided the 8 Corps and army reserve between the players, the majority have 2 Corps each. The Cavalry Corp was to come on first for both sides then on each turn thereafter a Confederate Corp or 2 Union Corps would arrive using the roads. Which road was decided randomly by the dice, but the players decided what order their Corps arrived in. It was also decided that each road could hold a either a single Confederate or 2 Union Corps (ignoring the Cavalry and army reserves) and if a road had been used the side diced again for the remaining roads that were unused. This gave a spread across the table and random feel to the encounter.
Noel had created an unusual scenario for Friday’s game using his excellent 15mm figures. There were 3 armies - Spanish, French and British. The French were tasked with getting off the table via a valley at the end of the board. The French had to go through an entrenched Spanish army with a British army in hot pursuit. The Spanish deployed first with a strong defensive line in front of the valley with cavalry and infantry reserves in the mouth of the valley.
The French infantry advanced on their flanking movement which drew some of the Spanish reverses into a blocking position. The British (Alan) and French (Phil) cavalry engaged early on with first blood going to the French due to artillery support and fortunate dice rolling. Alan on his third outing with cavalry was beginning to wonder what he done to offend the dice gods. The French infantry were making slow progress on a large wheeling movement through a wood. French artillery and infantry dispersing one Spanish Brigade in their advance. On the right the French cavalry decided that British infantry in march column were too much of a tempting target and about faced and charged. Unfortunately more poor dice rolling ensured for Alan and he could not get his troops into square. He watched his British division mowed down by French cavalry.
The French infantry meanwhile were engaged heavily with the defending Spanish. The Spanish grenadiers threw off two attaching French battalions in column but had to retire due to artillery and musketry casualties. After destruction of the British Division the gallant French cavalry reformed on the right and starting to outflank the Spanish. In the centre the British Cavalry reformed and charged again. At last the dice gods finally favoured Alan and the French cavalry were thrown back. The British cavalry moved forward hoping to catch the French infantry in the rear. As real time caught up with the game the French cavalry saw off some Spanish cavalry on the right and were able to catch some more British Infantry units in march column that were rushing to save their Spanish allies. It was looking grim for the Spanish and Brits.