Hot on the heels of our completion of a 1st Bull Run scenario from Three Battles of Manassas (MMP/The Gamers), gaming buddy Roger and I elected to graduate to a larger scale battle, allowing us to make full use of the Civil War Brigade series command rules. Logically enough, the choice was a scenario from August Fury II, covering the 2nd Battle of Bull Run: 6.2 The Second Day.
We opted to increase the uncertainty by adopting the variable arrival rule for reinforcements - requiring 10+ to be rolled before each due formation can enter the fray.
Here is a Vassal snapshot of the field of battle and objectives at 5am on the 29th of August, 1862:
Thanks to Pope thinking that Jackson is retreating westward, Union troops face a tough job in what amounts to hurried and piecemeal assaults against a Confederate corps holding strong defensive ground. Not only that, but one expecting reinforcements to soon come a marching down the Warrenton Turnpike.
As the initial orders for the Union corps have already been accepted, the Union player has little choice but to follow through in the hope that the rebel line can be penetrated. Attempts could be made to exercise divisional command initiative, but the odds are not good and there is an element of risk (rolling snake eyes activates the 'loose cannon' rule, allowing the opponent to control said division for one turn!).
The Union troops advance and carry out their assault.
Here is the situation two hours later:
On the Union left, the Rebels are pouring fire into Reynold's division...so much so, that they are already running low on ammo! But they are getting results and Reynolds' boys are crumpling under the withering fire...but not before Union artillery deal out some harsh treatment to Johnson's extended line (in the current turn, he will become disorganised).
Meanwhile, Sigel's corps has elected to ram into the centre of Jackson's line, hoping that a solid push on a narrow front will get results. The Rebs are dishing it out and Schimmelfennig's men have pulled back, disorganised. Yet, the Union are scoring hits too, with Trimble and Archer's veterans bearing the brunt.
The Union desperately needs its awaited reinforcements to arrive - now! But instead of Pope and two welcome corps, all that has shown up so far is Kearny and his three brigades, now advancing to join in the attack.
And Jackson is still alone...no sign of Lee and Longstreet.
Two hours later, little has changed. Kearny's brigades have badly bruised themselves attempting to push back A.P Hill's brigades defending south of Bull Run. Reynolds succeeds in cancelling the attack and has pulled back to Groveton to lick his wounds. In the centre, Union troops have sent Trimble packing, forcing him to abandon the railroad line....but Early and Gregg promptly fill the gap, robbing the Federals from securing their hard-won gain.
And off to the West, there are signs of an approaching column, while still no relief in the East for the Union.
By 11am, Lee and part of Longstreet's L-Wing has appeared on the scene and deployed on the Confederate right flank, forming a hinge. Un-nerved by the slaughter, Sigel has called off the attack (via a stoppage roll) and pulled back in front of Chinn's Ridge, east of Groveton.
Finally there is significant Union activity in the South, as Porter's 5th corps advances NW up the Manassas-Gainsville Rd. It has orders to occupy Gainsville to hold any rebel advance from the west. But the cat is already out of the bag!
By early afternoon, Porter's corps has taken up position at Gainesville, waiting for rebels that have already passed them by. In fact, Longstreet's entire corps is now on the battlefield - half moving to a rendezvous with the Federals at New Market, while the rest are blocking the Manassas-Gainsville Rd.
As both Lee and Pope are on the map, each can issue orders to their commanders as soon as their HQ's take up a position. Just west of Groveton wood, two of Jackson's blooded divisions have received orders (Jackson initiative) to push Union troops off Chinn Ridge and move on New Market. It looks like a pincer movement....Civil War style.
Pope has appeared east of Hill's position....but it's too little, too late.
So far, the result seems to generally reflect that of history: piece-meal attacks robbing the Union of the cohesiveness it needs to overwhelm the rebels, in tandem with an inability to swiftly adapt to the rapidly changing situation. The rebels get a jump on them, sweeping eastward in superior numbers. Jackson's high initiative value plays a telling role here, as does Lee's overall command superiority ('4' to Pope's '0'). Porter sitting there out west at Gainesville, doing nothing.....seething at the idea of taking orders from boastful Pope! In the end, it cost Porter his command...and career: court-martialed and cashiered from service.
So, how did the battle turn out in the end?
In our version of history, Longstreet proved to be far less reluctant to take the fight to the enemy, sweeping eastward - eventually with most of his corps - to engage Brig. Gen. John Reynold's depleted division of Pennsylvania reserves at New Market.
By 14:30, Reynold's division had been almost totally wiped out - with only the last remaining batteries of divisional artillery escaping capture. Reynolds himself fell into Rebel hands.....sparing him from his fateful meeting with destiny at Gettysburg! A Union relief column from the south - under Hatch - could not arrive in time to prevent the rebels from capturing New Market.
This is how it looked:
Immediately to the north, Jackson's divisions (Ewell, Taliaferro) pushed eastward, forcing back Franz Segel's beleagured 1st Va Corps. The force of the Rebel attack routed 2 brigades and their supporting artillery, panicked Federal troops swarming over their supply train as they fled. By 2:30, the Confederates had seized Chinn Ridge, before their orders directed them to advance towards New Market.
Further north, Pope attempted to break through the line of A.P. Hill's defenders still manning the unfinished railroad. Unaware of the situation elsewhere, he still thinks he's on the verge of a major victory and pursuing a defeated enemy! Kearney's division and Reno's 9 Corps advanced to try and force their way through near Sudley Church, but dug in, the Rebels proved a nut too tough to crack, driving off the blueshirts and wounding divisional commander Isaac Stevens in the process.
The situation at 14:30:
With the Union army scattered across the battlefield, unable to contend with the rapidly evolving situation, we elected to discontinue the game.
The post mortem on this scenario is that the Union seems doomed for defeat thanks to the initial orders issued by Pope. These orders largely consign various Union formations to piece-meal, un-coordinated attacks - often against Rebel defenders holding superior ground - that rob the Union of any real chance to deliver a telling blow.
As mentioned, Pope's 0 leadership rating - and delay in arriving on the scene - makes it very difficult for the Union player to successfully change the above situation to avoid disaster. Much also rests on how quickly the two sides can bring in their reinforcements. We opted for the variable arrival rules, requiring a 10+ to be rolled for each formation. Unfortunately, the dice did not go in the Union's favour. In contrast, the Confederates were able to bring up Longstreet's corps pretty much on schedule. With Lee and Jackson's high command values, the Confederates proved much more effective at responding to the battlefield situation and seizing opportunities.
We certainly enjoyed playing this, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the arrival of formations and the potential that exists for manoeuvre.
Coming out of this, Roger and I have decided to try our hand at the full battle of 2nd Bull Run! The hope is that the much longer time-frame will allow the Union commander more opportunity to formulate and prosecute a cohesive offensive against those vile Rebels!
- Last edited Wed Nov 2, 2016 12:47 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:08 pm
Eddy del Rio
Beautiful AAR! Thank you. This may be as good a place as any to ask, does anyone know a good (better great) resource for learning the Civil War Brigade (CWB) series system?
Thanks for your comments. In my experience, the best form of introduction to CWBS is for an experienced player to walk you through it, and to play one of the 1st Bull Run scenarios, as this has a simplified command structure. 6.3 from Clash of Volunteers is recommended here.
It's useful to play a short scenario solo, without command rules in play, so as to firm up the rest of the system - then introduce command for a second game. I have found the rule-set to be pretty intuitive and sensible. Grokking the command system is probably the most tricky part of the game, but when you become comfortable with it, the rewards are great.
I'd love to see an enriched form of the Vassal mod for this, in which
units only show themselves (with varying degrees of info) when they are within ear-shot or sight. This would be terrific fog of war, powerfully complementing the present system.
But getting these games to the table top remains the ultimate.
Or go with 6.1 - Brawner's Farm from Three battles of Manassas - very small scenario with no need to change the orders of either side so that you can concentrate on fire and movement.
Dear Geek: Please insert the wittiest comment you can think of in this text pop-up. Then times it by seven.
The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
The most cumbersome aspect of the game is the silly "LOS Algorithm" -- when I have played I have suggested to my opponent that we just talk about it and agree when LOS is in question.
This is my favorite "grand tactical" ACW game - very fun, very chaotic, and very much makes me feel like I imagine an ACW general felt.
- Last edited Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:41 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:40 pm
Nicely done. A pleasure to read and stare at the pretty pictures.
Thanks for sharing.