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Subject: Heroic Union Stand Atop Culp's Hill rss

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Geoffrey Ulman
United States
Reston
Virginia
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9-10am July 1

The day starts with the early arrival of two Confederate divisions of the I Corps along the Chambersburg Pike. A unit of Buford's cavalry moves to the heights on McPherson's Hill to give advance units of the Union II Corps under Winfield Hancock time to set up along Seminary Ridge.



11-12am July 1

The Union III Corps under Daniel Sickles relieves Hancock along the Chambersburg Pike, freeing him to shift north to take up a position on Oak Hill blocking Confederate divisions which have shifted to the Mummasburg Road. Meanwhile, Buford continues his delaying action both south of the Chambersburg Pike and against new Confederate elements of the II Corps arriving from Harrisburg.

Currently my main worry is that Hancock's position may become untenable as Confederate divisions arrive from both east and west. Fortunately, Oak Ridge and McPherson's Ridge, which meet at Oak Hill, form a protected valley which can't be flanked from the north and which will hopefully be defensible from two sides if necessary.

Union artillery is looking good, with two 2-strength Sickles tokens and an *any* token immediately available. Hancock has no ammunition available but also isn't being strongly pressed quite yet.



1-2pm July 1

The Confederate army continues pushing on 3 fronts. Reinforcements from Sickle's Corps continue to form up on McPherson's Ridge with their flank temporarily anchored by units of Buford's cavalry. I've found temporarily guarding the flanks of nascent Union defensive lines to be a particularly important use of Buford after his first role as a delaying action is complete.

Sickles has plenty of artillery and, with Buford's help, should be able to deal any Confederate push significant damage.

Hancock continues forming up on Oak Hill, his flanks similarly anchored by Buford. However, his position is significantly more vulnerable. His ridges are stronger than Sickles', but Woods along the Mummasburg Road prevent his units from providing each other artillery support. Further, he has no immediately available battle tokens besides a single *any* token. Finally, he is still in danger of being outflanked from the east by units approaching along the Harrisburg road. This problem is somewhat alleviated by the arrival of the Union I Corps under Reynolds, but is still a concern. An immediate Confederate direct assault on Oak Hill, even without supporting artillery, would push the Hancock off the hill.



2-4pm July 1

An afternoon lull settles over the town as both armies pause to bring up additional men and guns. The Union forces finish setting up their defensive lines on McPherson's Ridge, Oak Ridge, and along the northern outskirts of Gettysburg proper. All three Corps face roughly equal Confederate divisions. Reynold's Iron Brigade forms a solid anchor to the potentially tenuous Gettysburg position.

Sickles now has three 2-strength battle tokens, but the Confederate divisions he faces seem content to simply pin the Union forces. I considered a Union offensive against these outnumbered forces, but the two Confederate divisions are beautifully anchored between rough forested terrain which protects their flanks. Further, they are situated above the steep embankment of Willoughby Run. It would take expending the entirety of Sickles' artillery and scoring two direct hits to achieve a breakthrough. Top top it off, even after a victory, the Confederates could retreat to the equally defensible woods behind their position and continue to pin Union forces. In the end, I decided to sit tight.



7-8pm July 1

The first major fighting occurs late in the day, with an evening push against Reynold's forces on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Reynold's has reasonable artillery support which is damaged by equally strong offensive fire. He's on flat ground outside the city, so doesn't really stand a chance. Reynolds is pushed back, but can't retreat his entire corps up Culps Hill to the south. To do so would leave both Sickles' and Hancock's positions dangerously exposed from the rear.

Instead, I choose to have the Iron Brigade remain north of town. Hopefully Reynold's boys will be able to put up enough of a delaying action for Sickles and Hancock to get out of trouble. I don't want to give up their good forward defensive positions before I have to. The Union game is all about delay and the longer that I can hold out before falling back, the better.



Night July 1

The aftermath of the attack from a few hours prior. Reynolds is split, with his weaker divisions falling back to the safety of Culp's Hill and the Iron Brigade attempting a delaying action north of Gettysburg. The positions elsewhere are relatively unchanged, although significant Confederate reinforcements continue to arrive down Chambersburg Pike.

Meanwhile, the disappearance of Buford's cavalry screen leaves Hancock open from the rear. Fortunately, units of Sykes V Corps are able to slip through Gettysburg to take up positions behind him on Oak Hill (see 5-6am position).

Note: I believe the Iron Brigade makes an illegal withdraw move here (the first area he crosses during his withdraw must be his rear area).



5-6am July 2

Dawn on the second day sees both armies under attack general orders. Union reinforcements under Slocum have rushed through the town to take up a position to surround advance Confederate divisions below Culp's Hill. Slocum now threatens to surround those divisions.



The dawn sees a massed Confederate charge down the Mummasburg Road by Robert E. Rodes' Division of the II Corps. Hancock's artillery has been missing in action all day, but the Confederate push was delayed long enough for the Union reserve artillery to be brought to bear, so Hancock is able to meet the advance with a strong artillery barrage. He scores a hit, but Rodes' division is fresh and, with two 2-strength replacements, is able to guarantee that he takes Oak Hill even with the damage from Union guns. Hancock's position begins to crumble.



The Iron Brigade also throws back the first Confederate attempt to dislodge him from north of town, buying Hancock precious time.

Finally, the Union flanking maneuver east of town succeeds in surrounding and destroying Edward Johnson's division with a combination of strong artillery support and a rear attack from Slocum.



The Union right looks fairly secure for now, but Hancock's position on Oak Hill is crumbling. Fortunately, his retreating forces can follow Pitzer Run down the sheltered valley between Oak Ridge and McPherson's Ridge, attempting to escape the closing Confederate trap by fleeing to the south.

6-7am July 2

Heth continues to doggedly pursue Hancock over Oak Hill and down Pitzer's Run. Union guns still have plenty of ammunition, but have now been forced into the valley and are less effective. Confederate guns are able to provide sufficient cover for the follow-up attack, minimizing losses. Hancock's Corps, already stressed from the previous engagement, takes heavy losses here.



To make matters worse, Pender launches another attack from the west against the same beleaguered Union II Corps forces. The attack is across open ground against a strong ridge, but Hancock spent the Union reserve artillery defending against Heth.



In retrospect, during the battle against Heth I could have simply played the *any* token to soak up his artillery and avoid a +2 close combat result (meaning no Confederate losses). This would have left the two 2-strength reserves to be played on the ridge against Pender.

7-8am July 2

Hancock is pushed completely from Oak Ridge. A third of his corps is destroyed, but he inflicted reasonable losses on Heth and Pender and delayed the Confederate advance on Gettysburg for almost and entire day. All in all, I'm quite happy with his forward defense. He falls back to join Sickle's boys between McPherson's and Seminary Ridges.

Meanwhile, Reynold's Iron Brigade is paying for his delaying action. He is caught from behind, but does receive some artillery support from units of George Sykes' V Corps (which fire down from Seminary Ridge). However, the damage Sykes' guns are able to inflict isn't quite sufficient to prevent the Iron Brigade from being routed and destroyed as it retreats.



Confederate forces launch yet another attack on the Union forces between McPherson's and Seminary Ridge as they continue to roll up the Union line. There's no Union artillery left to defend this position. However, Anderson chooses this moment to simultaneously launch himself at Sickles' position on McPherson's Ridge. Now at this point Sickles has essentially all the remaining Union artillery (he started the game with a large supply and has been unengaged so far). He fires a withering barrage off the ridge, obliterating Anderson's attacking brigade.

I'm not sure that this part of the attack was wise or necessary. I suppose the Confederates were looking to capitalize on their successful attack to the north for an additional +1 in close combat at Anderson's position. But the risk posed by Union guns along the whole of McPherson's Ridge seems too great.



9am-2pm July 2

With empty artillery caissons and positions on McPherson's and Seminary Ridge being pressed from north and west, the Union declares withdraw general orders. At this point it's a no brainer. Four hours of constant fighting have reduced artillery reserves to almost nothing. The half battle token loss for declaring withdraw general orders amounts to two march / field works tokens.

Fortunately, Confederate forces were equally depleted and call for a 5 hour turn. This turn length, combined with withdraw general orders, allows Union forces to extricate themselves entirely and set up a defensive line stretching north east along the Emmitsburg Road, Cemetery Hill, and anchored in the north on Benner's Hill.

Unfortunately, the steep slope and three strength ridge on Benner's hill was too tempting for me to resist. By placing a unit there I allowed Confederate forces to sweep around and flank my position during their 5 hour march. I would have been much more successful had the unit been placed south of Benner's Hill instead.



As it stood, two massive frontal assaults on Benner's Hill quickly forced the Union to fall back to Steven's Knoll and Culp's Hill. We now stood on the last solid defensive ground in front of the center Union objectives! Union troops from the unattacked southern positions begin rushing north to Culp's Hill. A small force also set out to outflank the Confederate forces pinning Sickles near Pitzer's Run in order to free up his corps.



5-6pm July 2

After the 3 and 4pm assaults on Union positions on Benner's Hill, Culp's Hill and Steven's Knoll are left weakly defended by broken remnants of Hancock and Howard's corps. Then miraculously, John Sedgwick's VI Corps arrives up Baltimore Pike right onto the crest of Steven's Knoll just before the massed Confederate forces below can launch their assault. The Confederate attack proceeds anyway resulting in the largest artillery duel of the battle. Strong Union defense artillery is entirely wiped from Steven's Knoll, but the steep terrain and fresh troops from Sedgwick's corps carry the day and throw back the Confederate attackers. A side attack on the heights of Cemetery Hill, not benefiting from the supporting artillery barrage that Pender's assault received, is obliterated by Union guns.

After this significant setback, the Confederates concede defeat.

They're definitely in a tough spot at this point, with all their units engaged and seemingly little chance of breaking through the Union line. My only concern at this point was that Sedgwick did take a loss from the battle, leaving Steven's Knoll defended by three 1 strength units. Many full strength reserve units were available behind the lines, but I had no way to pull the weakened units off the front lines and couldn't bring up the new ones due to the 3 unit stacking limit.

It's an interesting problem that I hadn't anticipated. With a full hand of good battle tokens it would have been painful to declare withdraw general orders, but I think I may have had trouble holding Steven's Knoll against another attack without doing so.

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Geoffrey Ulman
United States
Reston
Virginia
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Thanks to my opponent:

R Ogaki
United States
McLean
VA
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For a well played game and thanks to his Order of Battle Summary for the full names and Corps numbers of the various commanders used in this session report.
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R Ogaki
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McLean
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It was quite a game!

By the end of the game, my biggest problem was artillery. I expended everything in hopes of quickly taking Culp's Hill, so as to take the rear position of Cemetary Hill and more favorable ground.

In retrospect, I think the 5 hour turn was too long. I severely underestimated just how far you could extend the defensive lines of the Union to both wings. Of course, you'd already declared withdraw orders, so you were going to be able to form up a new defensive line, and I needed more artillery.

But a great game and close affair for sure.
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