Slaughter in Mississippi

'Ol Mattie Harris's farmhouse

The view from ‘ol Mattie Harris’s farmhouse midway through the battlefield. Her turnips never grew so good as in the years following this battle.

The Scarlet J and I put together a fictional meeting engagement game of Regimental Fire and Fury this past weekend. This battle was set in northern Mississippi, and was centered around a four-way road intersection. We fight a LOT over road intersections. Maybe we’ll expand out to railroad intersections some day?

We each had two brigades, one of four regiments and one of three, plus a couple of batteries of guns, and a regiment of cavalry. Two brigadiers and a divisional general were on the field for both armies.

We did add a couple of interesting twists to the setup. We divided up the road entries between the two forces, and prior to deployment of each brigade, the commander had to roll to see which road they were coming in on. Additionally, we had a scouting roll before the game happened, and the winner of the roll would get a free move with their cavalry. Since we were in rebel stomping grounds, the Confederate cavalry received a +1 bonus to their roll. Which I handily won, thank you very much!

Looking north as the first Confederate brigade begins to occupy the battlefield

Looking north as the first Confederate brigade begins to occupy the battlefield

I rolled for the entry point for my first brigade, and came in from the west, basically midway along the north-south axis of the battlefield. The other possibility was to enter from the southern road point. My cavalry got their free turn, and had an interesting conundrum. They could move very far to the east and seize a strong position on a wooded hill, but there was a possibility that the Union could come in from the eastern road behind the cavalry. It’s easy to imagine how that might have turned out. In the end, I decided the possible good outweighed the possible evil, and moved to take that hill.

Next we rolled for normal initiative, and I won that as well. I’m not used to winning dice rolls! Now I began the long process of moving my largest brigade onto the table.

Faaarwaaaad 'Arch!

Faaarwaaaad ‘Arch!

Moving one brigade onto the table takes some time, but when I rolled for the entry point for my second brigade, I got the same entry point. Now that brigade would be stacked up behind their larger brethren, and might not see the table until the third or fourth turn, and wouldn’t be fully deployed until after that! I could have been in really bad shape, depending on how the Yanks’ rolls went.

This was my lucky day, as the Yank brigades BOTH came in from the north. This meant they would be coming onto the table in the face of a partially deployed Confederate brigade which also held the better ground. The bluebellies decided to come on the table in line, and a couple of regiments advanced up a funnel caused by a small forest and some cornfields. This was a bad move.

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Sausage maker…

I managed to get two regiments in place (one of them behind a stone wall) before the first Union brigade began to shake out, and, since I could easily concentrate my fire against an opponent advancing in the open, I was able to cause four or five stands of Union casualties in short order. Which always feels good

The smarter portion of the Yanks...

The smarter portion of the Yanks…

Seeing the effect of the reb fire, the Yankee commander was smart enough to deploy the bulk of his remaining troops where they were screened by a wooded hilltop. In the center, Yank casualties continued to mount.

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Numbers always tell in Regimental Fire and Fury. Concentrated fire is deadly.

My cavalry maintained their position on the wooded hilltop, and took a little fire, but no real casualties. They were able to withdraw and re-mount, as a Reb infantry regiment moved up to take their place, after making the long march from west to east.

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The second Confederate brigade needs to get deployed. And quick!

Meanwhile, the Yanks moved up on the western side of the table, having used a wooded hill to screen their movement. My second brigade was just getting on the table, and only one regiment was in place to protect the batteries arrayed on the hill in that area.

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Swarms of Yanks. Foolish Zouaves attempt to charge across an open field in the face of a full strength rebel regiment supported by guns. Repulsed!

The Yanks moved quickly, hoping to take advantage of their numbers advantage in the west, and were even bold (read foolish) enough to charge across an open field at a gun-supported fresh regiment of Confederates. They were repulsed with heavy losses!

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Finding the flank…If I can turn it before that Yankee battery causes too much damage, I’ll be in good shape.

My large, first brigade, fully deployed, I began to push at the Yankee left, and as you can see above, was able to wheedle my way around his flank. My cavalry began to muster deep in the woods, looking for an opportunity to smash into the side of a Yank regiment (or maybe those juicy looking Parrott rifles).

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Warm work on the Union right. I’m taking a licking on this side of the road.

In the meantime, over on my left, the Yanks are shooting like devils. My famous Danish Texan brigade is facing the Yanks in that quarter, and they’re used to dishing OUT punishment, but they were to take more than they gave on this day.

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Final state of the battle: Yanks swarm over the hill, and my second brigade on the left is in real trouble, but the Yank left, to borrow a modern expression, is royally screwed, and is in the process of being rolled up.

I can’t BELIEVE I forgot to take photos of the glorious moment when my cavalry regiment charged out of the woods with the sound of a blood-curdling cry and thunderous hooves to take the Yankee rifle battery. Of course, the Yanks always have one eye towards the rear, and the mounted up and scurried off before my boys could get into shotgun range, but then the cavaliers continued on to strike a Union infantry regiment in the flank, and drove all before them with heavy losses.

It was getting late at this point, and The Scarlet J called the game. I had four of the five victory point locations (3 road entry points and the road intersection), and had done 22 stands of damage, compared to the Union’s 16 done to me. So, we called it a minor Confederate victory. I’d have liked to have played longer, to see if I could rescue my Danish Texans, but we simply didn’t have time.  This was an extremely bloody game. 22 stands is 880 casualties, which would have been over thirty percent of the Yankee infantry (and I wasn’t all that far behind). Great fun. Especially since I won.

Keys to the victory? Coming in so close to the Federals AND having the initiative. If the Union had had the initiative, I would have been in deep trouble. As it was, the Yanks faced a withering fire whenever they got within range. Getting in on the open Union flank was key, as well. TSJ was concentrating on his right, and that’s the only reason his left WAS in the air. I was committed with no reserves, which is always a risky thing, but it paid off in this case.

I think we were both hoping to split our brigades between our two entry points, but the fates didn’t allow it. Trying to get all those forces onto the table made for a fun, frustrating, nail biter of a game.

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