Tag Archives: american civil war

Progress Report

I haven’t been super productive over the past weeks, but I have accomplished a few things. See pictures below.

Test basing for Spearhead (1/285 microarmor)

Test basing for Spearhead (1/285 microarmor)

Microarmor bases for Spearhead

Microarmor bases for Spearhead

The Spearhead bases were a lot of fun to put together. I’m using the direction the turret (or fixed gun) is pointing to indicate the front of the base, which gives me quite a bit of freedom to run roads and other terrain features against the grain. Should keep things from getting too samey. The towed Pak-40 is too ambiguous, in regards to front-of-base; it was a dumb idea to point the prime mover directly at a corner.

Based a few of Thomas's extremely well painted Essex figures for Regimental Fire and Fury command stands.

Based a few of Thomas’s Essex figures for Regimental Fire and Fury command stands.

Leader stands for Lasalle. Divisional commander on the left, and a sub-commander on the right.

Leader stands for Lasalle. Divisional commander on the left, and a sub-commander on the right.

I’m supposed to be working on finishing up my battery for Lasalle, and have, in fact, painted limbers and a howitzer, but I’m dragging my feet on painting crew and horses for the limbers. I don’t know why, exactly, but painting artillery is my least favorite part of horse and musket gaming.

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YANKEE INVADER REPELLED! A GLORIOUS VICTORY!!

INTRODUCTION

Ahem. I apologize for the hyperbolic post title, but I haven’t had an ACW victory in months and months, so I have to vigorously exercise my bragging rights when the opportunity arises! In fact, I think The Scarlet J has beaten me (soundly) a half dozen times in a row, before this most recent outing. In any case, on to the battle report….

————–

AFTER ACTION REPORT

This battle was to be yet another meeting engagement, played using Regimental Fire and Fury; however, there were a few key differences between this game and our usual set-up.

We used random terrain placement, which consisted of strips of paper with types of terrain on them pulled from a hat and laid down on a grid. At that point, terrain was applied to the board as directed by the papers.

Somewhere in Mississippi... The terrain was laid out randomly, using slips of paper pulled from a hat (the Frank the Arkie Method (tm)).

Somewhere in Mississippi…The Yanks over on the right are there temporarily, while TSJ organizes his brigades.

I would NEVER have set up a battlefield with all the terrain in the center of the board. I mean, who would choose to give battle in such a place? Having to deal with whatever came out of the hat was an interesting challenge, and would provide unusual opportunities, as well.

We then rolled a die each, and whomever (or is that whoever) rolled highest had to make a choice: pick your side of the table, or choose who moves first. The Scarlet J won the roll, and chose his side (hereafter called the north side of the table). I chose to make the Yankees deploy first. This would let me see their starting disposition before committing my own forces.

The other significant change was in the order of battle. For these fictional scenarios, we typically put out six ten stand regiments each, with cavalry and a couple of batteries. This time, I wanted to spin things a little differently-we went with 60 stands of infantry, arranged however you like. TSJ stuck with the large 10 stand regiments, but I broke mine down into a mixture of sizes, and ended up with a total of eight regiments. These eight regiments consisted of two ten stand regiments, two eights, and four sixes, all in two brigades. The smaller regiments would be brittle, quickly going from fresh to worn to spent (these three states have significant effects on maneuvering in Regimental Fire and Fury), but I thought having more maneuver elements might prove to be an advantage.

Confederate forces take the battlefield. My right-hand force faces light resistance (two regiments, one of which is cavalry, and a battery)

Confederate forces take the battlefield. My right-hand force faces light resistance (two regiments, one of which is cavalry, and a battery). They’ll attempt to brush this resistance aside, and roll up the Yankee flank. Nothing but 6 stand regiments on this side of the field!

The blocking force is screened by a hill, for now. They'll be fighting for their lives once the Yankees come 'round the mountain.

The blocking force is screened by the central hill, for now. They’ll be fighting for their lives once the Yankees come ’round the mountain. My larger, more resilient regiments are on this wing.

Blocking force sits, while thing heat up on the center and right flank. I really should have dismounted my cavalry, at this point. Later, they'd pay for my dereliction.

Blocking force sits, while thing heat up on the center and right flank. I really should have dismounted my cavalry, at this point. Later, they’d pay for my dereliction. My largest regiment holds the center, and occupies the north end of the wheat field.

A warm action...Weight of fire begins to tell on the Yanks, though I'm taking some casualties, as well.

A warm action…Weight of fire begins to tell on the Yanks, though I’m taking some casualties, as well.  My artillery is considering advancing into the corn field, to take the advancing Yanks on my left under enfilade fire. Note that I’m deployed in depth (well, sort of)? Unheard of!

Thinning them out, before the big push.

Thinning them out, before the big push.

Yanks advance on my left.

The fight in the center.

Over on my right, it's looking mighty thin for Billy Yank.

Over on my right, it’s looking mighty thin for Billy Yank. The cavalry has pulled back (I think they were out of command, and rolled poorly on a rally check.) Time to charge!

At last, the northerners crest the screening hill on my left. Bloodshed ensues.

At last, the northerners crest the screening hill on my left. Bloodshed ensues. Screaming horses!

Fighting all along the line. My poor cavalry is still mounted, and now is within range of a couple of full strength Yank regiments.

Fighting all along the line. My poor cavalry is still mounted, and now is within range of a couple of full strength Yank regiments.

My assault force rushes forward, and pushes the Yankee Zouaves back. Not pictured, tissues for drying TSJs tears.

My assault force rushes forward, and pushes the Yankee Zouaves back. Not pictured, tissues for drying TSJs tears.

Victorioius charge. The Zouaves would route off the table at the next rally phase.

Victorioius charge. The Zouaves would route off the table at the next rally phase.

The main battle line has shifted nearly 45 degrees.

The main battle line has shifted nearly 45 degrees.

The Yanks are doing well on my left, and have pushed me back a considerable distance. You could even say they’re threatening my lines of communication (represented by a supply wagon). Still, I have decent forces there for defense, which are in good order.

Shot from the observation balloon.

Shot from the observation balloon. Opportunities abound for Johnny Reb.

State of the game, at end of play

State of the game, at end of play. I had pulled back on my left to get a little distance from the Yank onslaught. On the right, I moved a couple of shot-up regiments to deal with the Yankee cavalry (waaaay up there on the right). I was a little concerned that, unattended, they might mount up and make a run on my artillery.

The Scarlet J called the game after four or five turns. I had eliminated one of his regiments, had greatly reduced his cavalry, and was about to take his batteries on the northern hill, or at least drive them away. This would have uncovered TSJ’s supply wagon, and I most likely could have captured it.

Major Confederate victory!!!

——————————

DEBRIEFING

I think having the additional infantry maneuver elements DID help me. At one point I was able to drive a wedge between a couple of Yank regiments, and push one of my small units up to get enfilading fire on a flank exposed by aforementioned wedge driving. This simply wouldn’t have been possible with larger regiments. Plus, I was able to deploy in depth, and could pull (or push) regiments from the second line up into the front to plug holes, or just use them as support in charges. It was very nice to have that flexibility, and made the game much more interesting tactically.

The terrain really worked to my advantage. Having that screening hill in the center of the battlefield gave me a couple of turns to prosecute my attack plan on the right, without having to worry about what The Scarlet J was going to do to me on my left. Once he DID move to contact on the left flank, I knew I’d be able to hold at least a couple of turns. Having initiative, and choosing to let the Yanks go first helped me out with this, too.

If TSJ made a mistake, I think it was in leaving his Zouaves and Cavalry out-of-command the entire game. Those units were in trouble from the start, and it can be difficult to make rally checks, when there’s no commander there to offer support.

Here’s the real reason I won, though: Luck. I started off very hot on the dice, and made at least a dozen good rolls right at the beginning, while TSJ struggled along with a bunch of ones, twos, and threes. AS I KNOW FROM LONG SUFFERING EXPERIENCE it can be very difficult to overcome a streak of luck.

The Flower of the Confederacy is Wilted

It’s March 28th, and The Scarlet J and I have had our first Civil War battle of the year. Unbelievable!

General George "Scarlet J" McClellan

General George “Scarlet J” McClellan musters his forces. He’d better look out for that fellow in the back, or his thunder will be stolen!

At my friend Frank’s urging, I recently picked up a copy of Neil Thomas’s “One Hour Wargames” book. He said, “If nothing else you’ll like the scenarios,” and boy, was he right! There are no less than 30 scenarios in the back of the book, that cover almost any situation you could think of. Some of the scenarios are adaptations of historical battles, some are adapted from other wargaming publications (largely Charles Grant’s work), and some are completely Thomas’s inventions. These scenarios (obviously) aren’t designed for Regimental Fire and Fury, but it’s easy to adapt them to whatever rules set, of whatever period, you’d like.

In addition to the scenarios, there is a random force generator that sets up the opposing forces. You roll a d6 on a table for the number of units you’ll be commanding. Most of the scenarios have 6 units vs. 6 units, and those units might be infantry, cavalry, elite infantry, or artillery (actually it varies somewhat by period, but for our purposes those are the possibilities). You will always have primarily regular infantry, but you can get some interesting asymmetries from mismatches among the supporting forces. Here were the results of our rolls:

Confederate
4 regular infantry
1 elite infantry
1 cavalry

Union
4 regular infantry
1 elite infantry
1 battery of artillery

The idea is that you have to work with what you have at hand, rather than having perfectly balanced forces. In this particular case the Union has a significant advantage. Artillery is just more useful than cavalry on an ACW battlefield. I have to say, despite the disadvantage, I was tickled pink to be using forces that weren’t mirror images of each other.

We played Scenario 3: Control the River. This scenario was to last 15 turns (given our experiences with RF&F, and the table distances we’d be dealing with, we shortened it to 10 turns), and victory would be gained by seizing two fords that crossed an impassable river. Other key terrain features were some woods in the northeast quadrant of the board, and a large hill in the southwest quadrant. The “red” team would be going first (this turned out to be me), and would be entering the board from the north edge. The Union would enter from the south edge. The battle is meant to be seen as a part of a much larger action.

The battlefield. Take the fords, whatever the cost!! (at least that's what I heard my commander say)

The battlefield. Take the fords, whatever the cost!! (at least that’s what I heard my commander say)

My general plan was to take advantage of my cavalry’s superior speed, and move up to seize one of the fords, establishing a skirmish line on the far side of the bank. Meanwhile, I would install a regiment in the woods on my left flank to cover the other ford (we removed the bridge in the photo above, because it took up too much room).

I should say a bit about the new terrain techniques. I’ve taken a page from War Panda’s book, and started using colored sand (actually model railroad ballast, in the case of the road) to demarcate linear features. It’s super quick to lay out, completely flexible, and to clean up, all you do is suck it up with a hand-held vacuum, and return the contents to the appropriate container. I need to experiment with mixing the sand to get more realistic colors, but I’m liking this way more than my old latex roads.

The Confederates move first. Cavalry gallops in a cloud of dust to take the western ford.

The Confederates move first. Cavalry gallops in a cloud of dust to take the western ford before the approaching Union forces can form up.

So close...but is that the rattle of snare drums beyond the hill in front of us?

So close…but is that the rattle of snare drums beyond the hill in front of us?

Unfortunately, TSJ matched my concentration in the west, and it quickly became apparent that it would be suicide for my cavalry to attempt to seize that ford.

Bluecoats appear, and quickly march into range. Confederate cavalry wheels left, and advances along the river, headed for the eastern ford. The infantry reserve advances to take the western ford. It's never good to commit your reserve on turn 2.

Bluecoats appear, and quickly march into range. The Confederate cavalry wheels left, and advances along the river, headed for the eastern ford. The infantry reserve advances to take the western ford. It’s never good to commit your reserve on turn 2.

So I improvised. My cavalry wheeled left, and galloped along the river bank to try and do some good at the eastern ford, while I quickly committed my reserve who would attempt to punch through at the western ford. I’ll let the pictures take it from here.

Bravely (read foolishly) moving up in field column to capture the ford. Punishing fire is about to be delivered (and I've already taken significant casualties on this wing)

Bravely (read foolishly) moving up in field column to capture the ford. Punishing fire is about to be delivered (and I’ve already taken significant casualties on this wing)

General overview. It's a meat grinder, and I'm not the grinder. I'm going to try to get my cavalry across the ford, and have my way with TSJ's rear (that doesn't sound right, does it?)

General overview. It’s a meat grinder, and I’m not the grinder. I’m going to try to get my cavalry across the ford, and have my way with TSJ’s rear (that doesn’t sound right, does it?)

A lone union regiment marches by the flank to the east, blocking any rear-romping by my cavalry. On my right flank, casualties continue to mount. And damn that Union artillery!

A lone union regiment marches by the flank to the east, blocking any rear-romping by my cavalry. On my right flank, casualties continue to mount. And damn that Union artillery!

My impetuous cavalry splashes into the deep ford. It will take them two turns to get through, if they can manage it, at all.

My impetuous cavalry splashes into the deep ford. It will take them two turns to get through, if they can manage it, at all.

The Confederate high water mark, of this battle. My valiant brigadier attaches himself to the center regiment, and leads them up out of the river, to smash the Union in the mouth.

The Confederate high water mark. My valiant brigadier attaches himself to the center regiment, and leads them up out of the river, to smash the Union in the mouth.

But they smash back. Repulsed! Meanwhile, some of my regiments have shaken out into extended line to take advantage of the meager cover along the river bank (there's a -1 modifier for shooting infantry in that formation).

But they smash back with vigor. Repulsed! Meanwhile, some of my regiments have shaken out into extended line to take advantage of the meager cover along the river bank (there’s a -1 modifier for shooting infantry in that formation).

Miracle of miracles, I manage to drive off TSJ's blocking infantry regiment. The way is open for my cavalry!

Miracle of miracles, I manage to drive off TSJ’s blocking infantry regiment. The way is open for my cavalry!

This was an exciting moment in the game. I had managed to disorder TSJ’s blocking force at the eastern ford. They were out of command, and being out of command can be a precarious state in RF&F. While attempting to rally, TSJ rolled low, and his blockers were forced to retreat to long range (roughly 8″). There was an opening for my cavalry!

Casualty after casualty. Pretty much everyone is in extended line.

Casualty after casualty. Pretty much everyone is in extended line.

This river should be running red by now, rather than cerulean blue. Way off in the distance, you can see that blocking Union regiment giving my cavalry a fierce volley.

This river should be running red by now, rather than cerulean blue. Way off in the distance, you can see that blocking Union regiment giving my cavalry a fierce volley.

Unfortunately, that Union blocking regiment managed to disorder my cavalry, and I was unable to rally them up well enough to get out of the river and onto the Yankee shore. Ok. Back to the pictures.

Still a-fighting. Trying to work my way back up to defend the western ford.

Still a-fighting. Trying to work my way back up to defend the western ford.

Gee it looks empty over here...One of my regiments has disintegrated in the face of overwhelming Yank fire.

Gee it looks empty over here…One of my regiments has disintegrated in the face of overwhelming Yank fire.

My cavalry has been driven out of the ford, and was never able to cross. The remnant of the Confederate forces is decidedly on the defensive at this time.

My cavalry has been driven out of the ford, and was never able to cross. The remnant of the Confederate forces is decidedly on the defensive at this time.

All that's left to protect the right. What's McClellan waiting for?

All that’s left to protect the right. What’s McClellan waiting for?

My cavalry has dismounted to make a last-ditch stand on the north bank of the ford. It's not looking good.

My cavalry has dismounted to make a last-ditch stand on the north bank of the ford. It’s not looking good.

Why yes, there's only two stands left from my veteran infantry regiment. Chewed up.

Why yes, there’s only two stands left from my veteran infantry regiment. Chewed up.

The Union regiment on my left flank forms column and splashes into the ford on the very last turn. They take the objective. I have no doubt they would have kept it, had the game continued beyond turn 10.

The Union regiment on my left flank forms column and splashes into the ford on the very last turn. They take the objective. I have no doubt they would have kept it, had the game continued beyond turn 10.

TSJ miscalculates, and is unable to get any troops into the eastern ford. Somehow I think he could have overcame this problem with a couple more turns. (it's about 38 stands to 6 stands over here!)

TSJ miscalculates, and is unable to get any troops into the eastern ford. Somehow I think he could have overcame this problem with a couple more turns. (it’s about 38 stands to 6 stands over here!)

These rifles did murderous fire against my left.

These rifles did murderous fire against my left.

Along the river.

Along the river.

Final state of play. Somehow the Rebs still hold one of the fords.

Final state of play. Somehow the Rebs still hold one of the fords.

Those are my losses on top of the book. TSJs are scattered below. Embarrassing!

Those are my losses on top of the book. TSJs are scattered below. Embarrassing!

By the rules of the scenario, this battle would have been a draw – each force held one ford and the game was up (night fell, I suppose). However, one has only to look at the photo above to understand why we called it a Union victory. This is, by far, the worst shellacking I’ve ever taken playing Regimental Fire and Fury. It was also the most fun I’ve ever had when being whipped into oblivion. Honestly, I have no idea why TSJ didn’t make his move a couple or three turns earlier-he had me on the ropes at least half the game and could have finished me off with ease. That’s why he’s McClellan, this time around. I tease, but he did a great job.

The scenario was really challenging. I was foolish to be so aggressive in the situation presented, but there was a ton of drama and story inherent in trying to seize and hold these fords. I can’t wait to have another crack at it!

I’m excited to try more of these scenarios. If you find yourself mindlessly playing meeting engagement after meeting engagement by default, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Thomas’s book.

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.

fix me

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.

fix me

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.

fix me

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.

fix me

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!

fix me

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).

fix me

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.

fix me

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.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

But I do have this recently completed generic 11 (don’t ask) stand Confederate infantry regiment adorned with some ridiculously expensive and out-of-scale wildflowers from Army Painter.

IMG_1677

(Apologies for the iPhone photos-I’m posting from the mobile app on my phone, too, so this is likely to be a sub-par post, even by my low standards)

IMG_1678
With these fellows complete, I’m at 80 infantry stands for my Confederates. That’s 240 figures! Two-four-tee!! I know that’s not many figures to you old hands (particularly you napoleonic gamers) but I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself, nonetheless.

I started this ACW project in December of last year, and I think I’m going to shoot for an even hundred infantry bases by that time this year. Then I’m calling the Confederate side of this project complete.

Or sort of complete.

There are always things to add. For example, I don’t have any 6 pounders, I have no ammunition re-supply wagon, and I don’t have a hospital wagon to mark High Casualties. Come to think of it, I could use a couple more disorder markers. And I really need to paint up a couple dozen stands of dismounted mounted rifles so The Scarlet J and I can game the Battle of Iuka.

Of course, I never would have gotten to THIS point, were it not for a generous gift of Nicely painted transcontinental Danish Confederates from my friend Thomas.

-Sigh-

Maybe there’s hope for December 2015?

The Battle of Why City: June 22, 1862

The Sleepy Hamlet of Y-City, Early Morning June 22, 1862

The Sleepy hamlet of Why City, Early Morning June 22, 1862. The peace would soon be disturbed by the thunder of cannon. They really should take better care of their fences.

Hullooo hulloooo hullo! This is post number one-hundred (100!!), here at Arkiegamer central. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been maintaining this blog for this long (since November 2011), and have come up with 100 things of value to talk about. Actually, I doubt I HAVE come up with 100 things of value to talk about, but please don’t hold it against me!

——————

In any case, I wanted the 100th post to be about something other than some sort of recursive loop about it being the 100th post. The Scarlet J (my regular opponent, who will remain mysterious on this blog) and I had a rousing game of Regimental Fire and Fury on Sunday. Said game is the second meeting of our ACW campaign, which fuses RF&F (our tactical set) with Longstreet (our campaign rules). We’re only taking one brigade through the campaign, but for today we decided to look at a larger action, of which our campaign brigade was a part.

We fielded two three regiment brigades apiece. Losses to our campaign brigades persisted from the last game, as did TSJ’s preponderance of artillery (I think he’s up to five guns vs. my three). The additional brigade was made up of three fresh regiments of ten stands each. Despite our initial clash of May 1861, all troops were still green.

The scenario was Scenario 7 from the Longstreet rules: an attack on a crossroads. The table was fairly heavy with terrain, including three hills, multiple woods, some rough ground, and a couple of fields full of standing crops. The Confederates (moi) won the scouting roll (which determines who gets to be attacker or defender), and being the over-confident, over-aggressive commander that I am, I decided to attack.

——————-

CONFEDERATE ORDER OF BATTLE—-

Major General Lew Leverett commanding Leverett’s Division

General Eustace B. Tillman commanding campaign forces (Rank: 2 ‘eagles’)
4th Arkansas Infantry– Green, Reliable, 8 stands
3rd Missouri Infantry – Green, Reliable, 9 stands
15th (Northwest) Arkansas Infantry– Green, Spirited, 10 stands, Brave Colonel
6th Texas Cavalry – Green, Reliable, 6 stands
Yell’s Arkansas Battery – (2) 6 pounders, (1) light howitzer. Trained

General T.X. Nielsen (Tex to his friends) commanding Nielsen’s Brigade.
15th Arkansas Infantry – Green, Spirited, 10 stands
6th Mississippi Infantry – Green, Spirited, 10 stands
2nd Tennessee Infantry – Green, Spirited, 10 stands

UNION ORDER OF BATTLE—-

Major General Gordon Granger, commanding.

Brigadier Edward H. Ripley commanding campaign forces (Rank: 2 ‘eagles’)
27th New York (spirited, green)
5th Rhode Island Infantry  (spirited, green)
11th Illinois Infantry (Zouaves)  (spirited, green)
9th Kentucky Cavalry (spirited, green)
8th Battery Indiana Lt. Artillery (2 10pd Parrotts, 1 12pd howitzer)
Battery B 2nd Regiment Illinion Lt. Artillery (2 10pd Parrotts)

Brigadier Thomas Sweeny commanding Sweeny’s brigade.
8th Iowa Infantry
15th Iowa Infantry
7th Illinois Infantry
8th Ohio Battery (2 6pd smoothbores)

The full Union order of battle will have to wait until The Scarlet J gets back to me with the details of his forces. For now, suffice it to say the armies were pretty even in terms of infantry and cavalry, with a slight advantage in cannon for the Union.

Disposition of Forces

Disposition of Forces as the Confederates march on to the battlefield. The damned fool photographer got the labels wrong, though. The 3rd Missouri is in the 4th Arkansas’s place (and vice versa). This shot is taken from the southwest corner of the board, looking northerly.

The Union defended the north side of the board (naturally), and could occupy any ground up to the south edge of the east-west road. The valiant rebels came on board from the south side, and were tasked with wrenching the vital (one supposes) crossroads from the bluebellies.

General Leverett knew he’d never be able to drive the Yanks from behind the stone walls of the small hamlet at the road junction in a straight ahead assault, so he came up with a simple plan to mass his forces like a clenched fist, and hit the Union right with a strong hook, while forces under T.X. Nielsen screened the Confederate right. Leverett knew the fight for the center, in particular, would be bloody, but battles are not won by the timid! With a little luck, he hoped that Tillman, commanding the regiments in the west would be able to move aggressively, and quickly punch through the Yank right, catching the bluecoats out on the wrong foot.

The Yankee Despoilers

Yankee Despoilers in extended line formation at Yancey’s farm. Is that the panicked bleating of sheep I hear coming from the barn?*

Yanks cower behind fences and walls.

Yanks cower behind fences and walls as they await the rebel attack.

Brightly caparisoned Union men.

Brightly caparisoned Union men form the eastern extents of the Yankee line.

Looking west, towards Y-City

Looking west, towards Why City

Preparing to advance through Old Man Yancey's wheat field

Preparing to advance through Old Man Yancey’s wheat field

Brave men of Arkansas and Mississippi itching for a fight.

Brave men of Arkansas and Mississippi itching for a fight. Major General Lew Leverett watches the advance-his aide must seize the white stallion’s reins to  prevent the gallant general from joining the assault through the wheat field!

Those people. What they lack in elan, they make up for in numbers.

Those People. What they lack in gallantry, they make up for in numbers.

The view from Yell's Battery's position down to the Y-City junction.

The view from Yell’s Battery’s position down to the Why City junction. 3rd Missouri in the mid-ground.

The battle develops...

Murderous fire on the eastern flank.

In its very early stages the battle developed according to plan, but the green troops had trouble maneuvering through some of the more difficult terrain on the battlefield (green troops are disrupted in rough terrain in RF&F. Crossing fences, marching through woods, things like that), and the attack began tending towards the piecemeal, rather than the strong strike Leverett had envisioned back at his command tent.

Then the Yanks had the temerity to advance against Nielsen’s brigade on the right! Didn’t they know they were on the defense?! This called for a change of plan, and suddenly (and ironically) the Confederates were, themselves, caught out on the wrong foot.

The valiant men of the 2nd Tennessee (Nielsen's Brigade) hold a wooded hilltop against three times their numbers, repelling a cold steel charge by zouaves.

The valiant men of the 2nd Tennessee (Nielsen’s Brigade) hold a wooded hilltop against three times their numbers, at one point repelling a brave (yet foolhardy) cold steel charge by Zouaves. The 2nd was to eventually shoot themselves out of ammunition, but were never driven from their critical position.

Fortunately the 2nd Tennessee occupied a wooded hill on the threatened flank, and though badly outnumbered, repelled all assaults against their position.

 

Say anything

The beleaguered 2nd Tennessee repulses Zouaves, as skulking union cavalry consider a flanking maneuver around the right.

Yanks advance through a densecopse of woods.

Yanks advance through a dense copse of woods, making a stab at the Secessionist center.

Still the Yanks poured into the gap that developed as the Confederate center pushed forward, and the 6th Mississippi had to be pulled out of the advance through the wheat fields north of the Why City road to meet this new threat.

4th Arkansas catches hell as they emerge from the wheat field. They gave a little back, too.

4th Arkansas catches hell as they emerge from the wheat field. They gave a little back, too.

The 4th Arkansas advanced through the wheat field alone, knowing they would be meeting twice their number in blue, waiting behind a strong stone wall. No matter! Onward, men!

The boiling cauldron at the crossroads.

Meanwhile, a wider view of the boiling cauldron developing at the crossroads.

Predictably, the 4th took casualties as they emerged from the tall wheat to take up positions behind a rail fence, whose presence gave more moral support than any sort of physical protection. Still, they caught the full attention of two Yank regiments, which gave a little room for maneuver around the left flank.

Brave boys from Missouri advance across open ground.

Brave boys from the 3rd Missouri (Tillman) doggedly advance across open ground in the face of multiple enemy regiments.

Still, the 4th’s casualties were nothing compared to their sister regiment, the 3rd Missouri, who had to advance long yards through the open in front of a Union battery and waiting infantry regiment. The 3rd would eventually take 40% casualties, but they never fled the field!

15th Arkansas, under T.X. (Tex) Nielsen, prepares to defend the seam between the two brigades.

15th Arkansas, under T.X. (Tex) Nielsen, prepares to defend the seam between the two brigades. Thankfully they can easily whip twice their weight in Yankees.

Bouncing off the determined resistance of the 2nd Tennessee on the far right, the Yanks tried to punch through the seam that was developing in the center. The 15th Arkansas and 6th Mississippi met them head on, and soon rebuffed the spoiling attack.

Unidentified Union major general takes his rest under the cool shade of an oak tree, while his boys die by the hundreds.

Unidentified Union major general takes his rest under the cool shade of an oak tree, while his boys die by the hundreds in the hot summer solstice sun. Scandalous.

Rapid firing Yanks

Rapid firing Yanks at the crossroads.

The 6th Texas cavalry makes an audacious move around the extreme western flank, only to find the ground too hot for comfortable travel.

With all infantry regiments fully engaged, the 6th Texas Cavalry (Tillman) makes an audacious move around the extreme western flank, only to ultimately find the ground too hot for comfortable travel.

Meanwhile on the left, the boys of the 15th NW Arkansas, with their leader, Brave Colonel Buford Dellinger, emerged from a grove of trees, and began firing with some good effect into the light Yank forces on that end of the battlefield. Tillman, personally commanding in this vicinity, saw the Union flank waver, and sent for his cavalry. He could be heard to intone, over the simmering battle, “Lord, if our cause be just, and the time seems right to you, I beseech you, in your divine wisdom, to deliver our enemies unto us, so that we may smite, smite, SMITE them!”

The 15th NW Arkansas drives back the enemy, but is unsupported, and unable to press home their hard won advantage.

The 15th NW Arkansas (Tillman) drives back the enemy, but is unsupported, and unable to press home their hard won advantage. Plus, the store was about to close.

Alas, the Yanks did credit to their families and homes, and recovered quickly enough to see off the cavalry (who had every intention of marauding among the unprotected batteries that awaited beyond this lone Union regiment) with a surprisingly efficacious volley. The 15th NW Arkansas moved into close range with these brave Yanks, but night fell before they were able to test the Yankee resolve with judicious application of the bayonet. The battle ended, unresolved!

Of course, we ran out of time. I had lost thirteen stands, and TSJ had lost eight. That’s 520 men to 32o, in RF&F terms. Sobering statistics, when you start talking about men, rather than stands. Despite the not-insignificant disparity in numbers, we both felt that the tactical situation at game’s end was a draw. That said, the Union held on to the crossroads at Why City, which was their mission. That makes it a minor Union victory! Well done, Scarlet J. Well done!

 

—————–

In the aftermath of the game, we had to figure out the results for the campaign. Poor Brigadier Tillman wasn’t chosen for advancement. It’s not that people think he’s a poor general, but the proper opportunity to show his true brilliance simply hasn’t arrived! The 15th NW Arkansas is now a regular (non-green!) unit. We found out that Tillman is a bit of a religious zealot. Whether he’s a lemon-eater or a relatively lackluster bishop type remains to be seen. Some reinforcements were had, but not enough to make a difference. TSJ is definitely ahead in the campaign, at this point. I really need to pull out a brilliant (or even just competent!) victory soon.

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*I like sheep and Yankees and mean no offense. Except to The Scarlet J.

Even a Blind Hog…

My streak (if two-in-a-row can properly be called a streak) of Regimental Fire and Fury victories has been ended.

I played The Scarlet J in a straight-up meeting engagement this Saturday and was fairly thoroughly thrashed.  We were playing without any victory conditions, other than ‘major casualties’ which we said would be 20 stands, or around 30% of our total forces. I think the score ended up being somewhere around 14-20, and NOT in my favor.

I had intentions of assaulting and shattering the Yankee center, but misjudged space and time, and didn’t get my forces deployed in a timely manner. Attempting to assault through the worst terrain on the board, was most likely a bad idea, from the start. In contrast, TSJ managed his forces quite well-he marched onto the field in line formation, and I payed the price for trying to maneuver in front of a fully deployed enemy line. I was backing up towards the ropes by turn 3, and was never able to retake the momentum from the Yankee aggressors.

There were a few charges during the game, and I won every one of them, but the sheer weight of Yankee rapid-fire musketry was irresistible.

Next time we’ll be starting a campaign, which will tack the Longstreet campaign system onto the RF&F tactical system in some sort of unholy mechanical matrimony. I’ll be out for revenge!

In the meantime, here are a few shots from the game.

 

Pea Ridge: 152nd Anniversary (Reference Photos)

The battle of Pea Ridge occurred on March 7-8, 1862, but they ‘celebrated’ the anniversary this weekend, which was the 15th-16th. There was a small collection of reenactors doing demonstrations, and, as the highlight, the national park brought out their functioning 6 pound smoothbore and had it fired a few times. It’s always great to go out and wander the 4,300 acres (4300!!) of the park, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to get some reference photos for my wargaming efforts.

The demonstration area was in a field south of the Old Wire Road, near Elkhorn Tavern. It being March, the sun was low in the southern sky, so, unfortunately, most of these photos are back-lit. I’ve tried to do some ‘correction’ in Photoshop to reduce some of the high contrast shadows, without totally blowing out the highlights.

Anyway, I hope some of this proves useful to someone, somewhere.

This gentleman is portraying a Missouri State Militia member. He gave a brief tour of an action that occurred just north of Elkhorn Tavern-an artillery duel between a four gun Illinois battery and 22 Confederate guns. I'm sure you can guess the outcome. Excellent presenter.

This gentleman is portraying a Missouri State Militia member. He gave a brief tour of an action that occurred just north of Elkhorn Tavern-an artillery duel between a four gun Illinois battery and 22 Confederate guns. The engagement produced a Medal of Honor winner. I’m sure you can guess the ultimate outcome. Excellent presenter. That fellow in the back isn’t a reenactor, just your typical rural Arkansan of a certain vintage.

 

Model 1841 6 Pounder. Your barrels can't be too bright, or too brassy. These 6 pounders were prevalent in the early war, but were soon supplanted by larger smoothbores.

Model 1841 6 Pounder. Your barrels can’t be too bright, or too brassy. These 6 pounders were prevalent in the early war, but were soon supplanted by larger smoothbores.

Union limber. I'm sure the '6 Pounder' wasn't on the back, back in the day. Note, the top of the ammo box is NOT padded. I've been painting them as if they were for my miniatures. Ugh.

Union limber. I’m sure the ‘6 Pounder’ wasn’t on the back, back in the day. Note, the top of the ammo box is NOT padded. I’ve been painting them as if they were for my miniatures. Ugh.

Bad timing, on my part by a fraction of a second. Still, here's the lanyard being pulled.

Bad timing, on my part by a fraction of a second. Still, here’s the lanyard being pulled.

I got to see the 6 pounder fired twice. VERY cool. The piece actually belongs to the national park, not a reenactment group. The ranger gave a pretty detailed presentation while the crew went through their drill before firing.

They fired the gun twice while I was there. VERY cool. The piece actually belongs to the national park, not a reenactment group. The ranger gave a detailed presentation while the crew went through their drill before firing.

Here’s a dropbox link to a video I took of the artillery piece firing. I was using my little hand-held Lumix camera, so it’s a little jerky, at times.

There was a presenter for each side. Both were great at their job. And not overly-well fed, like some of the other troops.

There was a presenter for each side. Both were great at their job. And not overly-well fed, like some of the other troops.

I probably mix up pants and jacket colors too often in my miniatures, if this is anything to go by.

I probably mix up differing pants and jacket colors too often in my miniatures, if this is anything to go by. Also, note how light the un-dyed (I assume) fabrics can be.

Volley fire

Volley fire

Here’s a video of Confederate volley fire.

Union presenter. Also great.

Union presenter. Also great.

War face. Note the variety in shades of blue.

War face. Note the variety in shades of blue and indigo. I believe these guys were portraying the 24th Missouri Infantry, but I could be mistaken.

Union column approaches

Union column approaches

Every Confederate wants to see the Yankee rear, right?

Every Confederate wants to see the Yankee rear, right?

Video of the Union reenactors firing by file.

The Campaign(s) Continues

No big news, but there’s been positive movement on both the ACW and 6mm WW2 fronts. Unfortunately, I’m fighting a four or five front ‘war,’ but there’s no one to blame for that, except myself.

——————

First up, some terrain progress with the 6mm WWII IABSM 3 (that’s a lot of acronyms. TALOA, everyone!) project. I painted up two small houses, a barn, a cottage, and a manor house, all by GHQ. These buildings paint up so easily, and so nicely-a little paint, drybrush, a sepia ink wash, and you’re set! They look even better in person, where every little flaw isn’t exaggerated by zoomed in digital camera. By the way, I discovered that if you use future floor wax as a component of your ink wash, applying Vallejo matt varnish by brush afterwards reactivates the wash, and swirls it around in a not-unpleasing, but still alarming and unintended, manner.

Cottage and Villa

Cottage and Villa

This is the Villa de GHQ

This is the Villa de GHQ

Dilapidated barn and two small houses

Dilapidated barn and two small houses. Here’s where you see how incredibly lazy I am about cleaning up flash and mold slippage. It’s a little annoying that GHQ puts their trademark on the outside of the buildings (grey house, right side), but I’ll forgive them.

Houses and barn from above. My road is way out of scale.

Houses and barn from above. My road is way out of scale.

I have 10 Sherman tanks about 80% done, crops to plant on the terrain board, and a few British infantry to paint up, and this puppy will be ready to go. Unless I decide to base the buildings and make little vignettes out of them. Which I might.

——————

On the ACW front, I’m still mired in the long process of finishing up my Confederates. I completed a couple of limbers, disored/silenced markers, wrecked gun markers, and out-of-ammo markers, but still need to paint up an ammo wagon and an ambulance. It’s neverending! I also need to base up a brigade of the famous Danish volunteers of Texas. Oh, and I have a regiment of cavalry to paint. Woe is me! Our next scheduled game is the 15th.

Is it strange that these dead horses and wounded men make me feel a little uncomfortable?

Is it strange that these dead horses and wounded men make me feel a little uncomfortable?

These wounded Confederates are the first Blue Moon figures I’ve ever painted, and I have to say, I really love them. The anatomy isn’t quite as good as the best of the AB, but the poses are just fantastic. The wrecked gun markers (dead horses with caisson wheels) are all Blue Moon, as well. The wrecked gun ‘diorama’ style bases are kind of bugging me, now that I’ve done them. They don’t look particularly naturalistic. I’m sure it’s a skill that will develop with application and time, though.

A better shot of the wounded.

A better shot of the wounded.

The Blue Moon casualty pack includes a few accessory muskets, which is a really nice touch. Really, those figures made enough of an impression on me, that I plan to do quite a few Blue Moon figures when I switch over to paining Union troops. Oh, that unpainted 15mm resin house in the background is by JR Miniatures. Cheap, but it’s a real pig-bad flashing and pock marks everywhere. Maybe it will look ok painted.

Ok, that’s all for now. I’m going to try to finish up my Brits for IABSM in 6mm next week. Also, there’s some new stuff coming down the pike, that may be of interest.

The Final Countdown

Our first game of Regimental Fire and Fury is scheduled for this Saturday, and I’m bound and determined to have a brigade of three regiments by then. I’m halfway through that third regiment, which is a good sign, but work is hectic, which is a bad sign.

Can I do it? Will I tear out my already beleaguered hair trying? Will my eyes permanently have their range of chromatic perception limited to greys and browns from having painted nothing but Confederates for months on end? Should I base what I have completed on the third regiment, so that I don’t have to suffer the ignominy of having troops marching around on bare metal rectangles, come Saturday? Should I just not worry about it (this is, after all, a hobby) and paint whatever I feel like?

These and other questions will no doubt be answered by Saturday. In the meantime, here is the first half of the 3rd Arkie regiment.

p1060980

I’m painting this third regiment as if they recently received a resupply (alliteration!) of uniform coats. So, they’ll look a little more unified, and as a bonus, won’t take quite as long to paint.

1st-arkie-flag

My apologies for taking this photograph from the worst possible angle for showing off the flag.

I sourced my flags from GMB in England. They’re gorgeous. Unfortunately, my order was partially screwed up, and I have a bunch of HQ flags from generals in the eastern theater. Which I don’t need. Mr GMB discovered the error himself, while the flags were still in shipment, and is supposed to be sending the correct flags. Hopefully they arrive this week. There’s something very satisfying about finishing off a unit with its colors!