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The Guns of Gettysburg» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The Skirmish of Gettysburg: Footnote to History rss

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Tyler Harris
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July 1st, 1863 would be a long and frustrating morning for John Buford. Recognizing the favorable ground afforded by the ridgelines around the town of Gettysburg and aware of the rapidly approaching Confederate forces, Buford would spend the entire morning fighting a desperate delaying action.

Marching fast down the Chambersburg Pike on reports of a supply of much-needed shoes in the town, Anderson’s Division (with William Mahone’s Virginians marching in the lead) is surprised to encounter Union Cavalry around 7:30 am. Anderson is significantly slowed, as he brings up the rest of his division in line of battle and attempts to engage the Union Cavalry.

Knowing he cannot stand long in a direct engagement. Buford withdraws from successive positions, first on Herr’s Ridge and then on MePherson’s, mere moments before confederate attacks. His plans to come to grips with Buford frustrated by these maneuvers, Anderson nonetheless is making slow progress toward the town.

At around 9:00 am, Anderson receives a dispatch from Robert Rodes. Rodes, having heard the sounds of Anderson’s earlier skirmishes is bringing his division onto the field along the Harrisburg road. Fortunately for Buford, he had already detached half of his cavalry force and sent it to screen north of the town.

Thus for the rest of the morning, Buford would be fighting not one, but two separate delaying actions against two full divisions of Confederate infantry. With every passing hour, Buford would turn his gaze south hoping – praying – to see the caps of marching Union infantry. Frequent rumors of approaching infantry spread through the ranks, but time after time these proved false.



As afternoon broke, Buford found that he had run out of time and of ground. In a strong position atop Cemetery Hill, he decided to make a final stand.



Around 1:00 pm Anderson’s Division formed up stepped out of the tree line, battle flags fluttering in the breeze. As they crossed the open field, Buford’s limited artillery support opened up from the ridge ahead. Shot and ball tore through Anderson’s ranks, but onward his men marched. Finally the rebel yell rose up, marking the crescendo of Anderson’s Charge up Cemetery Hill. Buford’s men broke and streamed south, ceasing to exist as an effective fighting force.



Lincoln was enraged by Meade’s inaction, but new he could not replace the new Union commander with Confederate forces still so close to Washington.

Resupplied from the town and finally rejoined by Stuarts Cavalry, Lee – urged on my First Corps commander James Longstreet – would slip the Army of Northern Virginia past the Union left and find favorable ground to compel Meade to attack. With news of the fall of Vicksburg in the West reaching both armies, everyone knew the coming battle would be the climactic engagement of the war.
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Tyler Harris
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This was the worst Union reinforcement draw I've ever seen. I didn't mind though, because as anti-climactic as the game was (and I followed it immediately with a second game since this was all over in about 30 minutes), it still recreated a great "alternate history" version of a battle that wasn't.

I absolute love this game, not just as a really challenging strategic exercise, but as a compelling thematic experience and an engine for creating alternate histories of this battle.
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Jon Quinn
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Interesting report. Thanks for that!

I suppose one bright spot for the Union in this alternate history is that Reynolds is still among the living at the end of the day.
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Kåre Dyvik
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One comment about victory conditions:

Even after Buford has been swept off the field, the game isn't over, technically. Eventually, Union reinforcements will arrive, and you have what's left of July 1 to get in position, and it's not until July 2 that you must declare attack every round or lose.

In theory at least, it is possible that the Union can counter-attack and regain the objectives (which can still move as long as you have less than 4 commands in the field).
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Tyler Harris
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What a great point!

Rules wrote:
Attack general orders: This enables you to make attack moves. If youare under Attack general orders, but make no attack moves in youraction phase, you must immediately take at least half the battle tokens in your tray (your choice) and put them face-down on your Return Stack. (The Return Stack is explained in section 8.)

The penalty is canceled if you cannot make any legal attacks, or if your opponent made any withdrawals or attacks between the time you last declared general orders and your current action phase.


It would seem the Union player would even avoid the token penalty in this case, since no legal attacks would be possible with no units on the board! The next time this sort of instance occurs, I will soldier on!
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Kåre Dyvik
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The ruling that the Union must declare Attack general orders or lose, is valid only for July 2 and 3. Given the situation above, while still July 1, both players can declare Hold, and the Union player can see several of his units appear during his turn.
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Tyler Harris
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What do you know! Like a good book, I find I'm discovering something new in Simmons' ruleset every time I re-read them!
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Kåre Dyvik
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In a game yesterday, I had a similar experience to yours, with Buford facing several enemy units alone for most of 1st July. I'll post a brief session report about it soon.
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