This wargame covers the battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma on June 17th, 1863. The Gettysburg campaign is ramping up in the eastern theater and Vicksburg is about to fall on the Mississippi. Honey Springs pitted native American forces on both sides, USCT volunteers on the northern side and untrained militia cavalry on the southern side. The battle was won by the Union, having them seize the confederate depot at Honey Spring. I would dearly love to visit this battlefield some day.
My initial take on the rules and impression of how the game will play is centered on leaders and the role they play. Units which are disordered become less useful on the battlefield and limit offensive options. Units become disordered by engaging in combat, forced marching and at dawn/dusk. These units must be rallied by officers. Officers lost in battle are replaced, but it may take up to six hours (turns – you roll a six sided die and that is how many turns you wait for the replacement) which, I think, will have a decidedly chilling effect on how well the affected army can continue to fight. Artillery and cavalry self-rally and do not need officers to do so, so they are that much more precious.
Lacking any real familiarity with the battle, I will have the forces act in a manner consistent with their historical goals. The Union will attempt to take Honey Springs Depot, the Confederates will attempt to stop them. I am playing with one optional rule, including Stand Waite as one of the Confederate generals. He was not there during the battle and the rulebook awards an extra 4 victory points to the Union if Waite is in play. I think given the power of leaders in this game, I want the Confederates to have some offensive punch and this seems like an equitable solution.
Union 10 AM turn –
This turn skips the Confederate phase and begins with the Union move. I have used the historic set-up.
We will attempt to jar the confederates out of their defensive positions. They are in wooded terrain (good for them, it is rolled on the “covered terrain” CRT – combat results table), but have their backs to the creek, an obstacle we would like to beat them across.
I had to decide how to place the Union officers, as officer placement happens first. I will put them where I expect the units to end up.
Both Judson and Phillips activate, as does Blunt. Phillips commands the attack of the 1st IHG on the Cherokee units on the far right of the rebel line, eliminating one and forcing a retreat. The 1st Cherokee is eliminated, the 2nd Cherokee retreats to cover the ford. (Roll of 1 on 2:1 covered terrain CRT) The vacated terrain is occupied.
The 6th KS and 3rd WS cavalry supported by five artillery factors attack the 29th TX cavalry at the apex of the confederate line. An exchange results ( roll of 2 on 1:1 covered terrain.) Union occupies the vacated square.)
The 2nd IHG (Indian Home Guard) and the 1st KSC (Kansas Colored Volunteers) crash into the center of the confederate line held by Lee’s artillery and the 5th Texan Partisans, commanded by Judson and supported by artillery. The defenders break and run and are eliminated (roll of 1 on 4:1)
First contact has disorganized the entire union army, but Confederate losses are heavy.
Five nations forces have already suffered 12 points of loss and are fatigued.
VP (Victory Points) – Union 12 Confederate 0
Confederate 11AM Turn
Cooper and Walker both activate, as does Watie.
The 1st and 2nd Creek commanded by Walker attack the 3rdWS and 6th KS cavalry who are disorganized in covered terrain. The Creeks are commanded by Walker, who force the bluebellies to retreat ( a roll of 1 on 1:1, shifted right one column for Walker, shifted left one for fatigued attackers.). The 2nd Creek occupy the vacated terrain.
The balance of confederate forces fall back and form a line defending the Texas Road.
VP’s unchanged, Union 12, Confederate 0
Union 11AM Turn
Some things to get used to with this system. DE does not eliminate all defenders, just one. Have to keep an eye on if cavalry is defending against infantry, that changes how casualties are taken. Still trying to get a handle on the best way to use leaders. Leaders are placed with units, then roll to see if the leader activates. If the leader activates there are several actions the leader can take, rally, command an attack, movement (units in command radius do not pay a 1 MP penalty) or artillery survey. If the leader fails to activate, they are removed for the turn. For the union units, the disorganized side has the same strength as the organized side, so that makes union options less complex. Decisions, decisions…
After all that thinking, a quick review of the units indicates that all other units in this game are either cavalry or artillery, which self-rally. So no need to worry about rallying at Honey Springs. (This game is one of several indicated as designed for this system, so the rally function must be used in other games.)
Judson is assigned to the center with the KSC and IHG units adjacent to the 2nd Creek, even with Blunt’s help he fails to activate, getting lost in the woods. Blunt activates with the 3rd WS and 6th KS cavalry. Phillips performs an artillery survey with the 6th KS.
Cavalry and artillery self-rally.
2nd CO attacks across the Elk Creek Ford supported by the newly surveyed 6th KS Arty (surveyed artillery positions give a range of 6) (I made a decision here concerning the rules, that the woods in hex 0805 did not block LOS to the higher elevation defenders in 0905) A roll of 1 on covered 1:1 yields a retreat, the 2nd CO occupies, hoping to maintain a foothold across the creek and force the confederates into some uncomfortable decisions.
The KSC and IHG units attack the 2nd Creek from their south, Blunt attacks from the north with the 3rd WS and 6th KS and Hopkins’ artillery loads grapeshot from between the two attacking units. Odds are 5:1+ (no shift from Blunt needed) on covered terrain CRT, a roll of three eliminates the 2nd Creek, whose mission to delay the Union advance for half an hour is fulfilled. The disputed woods are occupied.
Walker and the 2nd creek are forced to retreat by artillery fire from the 2nd KS and 3rd WS.
Command confusion (as in I forgot to save artillery to support the attack and allocated it elsewhere) forces the 1st IHG to go in against Stand Watie and his defenders at 1:2 with a column shift on covered terrain. The IHG is thrown back from the heights and forced to retreat.
VP’s Union 17, Confederate 0
Confederate Noon turn
We are close to army deomoralization.
Cooper and Walker activate, Watie going to support the counterattack on the 2nd CO on the extreme right flank gets lost in the hilly terrain and does not arrive, failing to activate. (A roll of 1+2 = 3, one less than the 4 necessary, arrgh!)
Cavalry self-rallies (artillery was destroyed on the Union’s first turn)
The 29th TX and 1st Creek counterattack Blunt, a 2:1 in covered terrain yields an AR and the rebels are thrown back.
Walker leads the attack on the right with the 1st and 2nd Cherokee and Gillette attacking the 2nd CO. The 2:1 yields a DE, eliminating the defenders. Gillette occupies the terrain to pin the Union flank.
Finally, we have destroyed a Union formation and Judson’s command is close to fatigue.
VP’s Union 17 Confederate 5
Union Noon turn
Very simple tactics this turn. We will cross Elk Creek and continue down the Texas Road, sweeping aside any enemy we encounter.
Blunt activates with the IHG which will be attacking across the ford on the far Union left. Phillips, assigned to the same attack, fails to activate having to take cover along the way. Judson, surveying the 2nd KS activates.
Artillery and cavalry self rally.
Blunt and the IHG attack across the Elk Creek ford at 5:1(covered), eliminating Gillette and occupying the contested terrain across the creek. This loss demoralizes the Five Nations forces, limiting the offensive options and combat effectiveness.
The 3rd WS, 1st KS and 6th KS, all artillery attack the 1st Creek and 29th TX, yielding an exchange result. The 29th Texas is eliminated, as is the 3rd WS artillery.
The 6th KS and 3rd WS attack Walker and are thrown back (2:1 open terrain, roll of 6 yields AR)
The 1st KSC and three IHG units attack Cooper in the Confederate center at 4:1. A defender eliminated is suffered by the Five Nations HQ, with Cooper and the 20th TX retreating. Union forces advance and take the disputed woods.
Note concerning VP (victory points). I was counting unit strength towards victory points, these only count towards fatigue and demoralization. VP’s for lost units are not dependent on combat power. The VP total below reflects the correct calculation, earlier totals do not.
VP’s Union 25 + 4 (Watie) = 29, Confederate 8
Confederate 1PM Turn
Watie activates, Cooper does not, Walker does.
Cavalry self rallies.
Watie and Walker set up the defense on the rise. If the Five Nations were not demoralized, I would have the 1st Creek and Walkers regiment attack the artillery on the Union right, but they will not enter ZOC’s unless with an officer and I cannot place an officer alone in an enemy ZOC, so they wall back
No attacks, hoping the Arkansas Cavalry arrives next hour.
VP’s Union 25 + 4 (Watie) = 29, Confederate 8
Union 1PM turn
Cavalry and artillery self rally.
Judson and Phillip activate, Blunt fails, still supervising the IHG crossing the ford after their successful attack.
6th KS and 3rd WI cavalry supported by all Union artillery attack the 1st Creek at 4:1 on the covered table, EX result on a roll of 4. The1st Creek and 6th KS are eliminated with the 3rd WI occupying the vacated terrain.
Judson leads the IHG and KSC units up the slope attacking Walker’s regiment, an EX results with Walker’s regiment and a battalion of the 2nd IHG falling. Judson occupies the heights.
The 1st IHG and 3rd IHD attack Watie and the 2nd Cherokee at 3:1, but with shifts for Watie to 2:1. The Union forces are repulsed on an AR.
VP’s Union 36+4(Watie) = 40, Confederate = 17
Confederate 2PM turn
Cabell’s Cavalry dawdles, staying off the field of battle (roll of 6)
Walker and Watie activate. Cooper fails to activate, last seen looking for Cabell…
The three remaining Confederate units form a blocking line across the battlefield. This may be it if the Union keeps coming on.
VP’s Union 36+4(Watie) = 40, Confederate = 17
Union 2PM turn
The depot is almost within our grasp. One last push to rid us of these rebel scum.
Phillips and Judson activates, Blunt fails to activate.
The 1st IHG attacks the 2nd Cherokee at 2:1, an AR results
Judson directs the attacks of the 3rd and 2nd IHG and the KSC supported by Hopkins arty against Watie and the 1st Cherokee. 5:1 reduced to 4:1 by Watie in covered terrain. An EX eliminates the 2nd IHG, the 1st Cherokee, being cavalry ignores the EX. Watie escapes unharmed and the KSC occupy the terrain.
The remaining artillery shells Walker and the 20th TX, the desultory fire having no effect.
Judson’s command is fatigued, with total losses over 14.
VP’s Union 36+4(Watie) = 40, Confederate = 22
Confederate 3PM turn
Cabell’s cavalry again fail to arrive.
Only Watie activates, Walker and Cooper continue to try to find Cabell.
Three confederate units remaining take up screening positions. (I made a mistake in the Union half of the turn, eliminating the 1st Cherokee. I brought them back with the Confederates and positioned them appropriately.)
VP’s Union 36+4(Watie) = 40, Confederate = 22
Union 3PM turn
Phillips, Blunt and Judson all activate.
All Union artillery is surveyed. All fire in support of the 3rd WI attack on the 20th TX. The Union cavalry is repulsed on a roll of 6.
The 1st KSC attacks the 2nd Cherokee at 1:1 odds and EX results in the elimination of both units.
The 3rd and 1st IHG attack Watie and the 1st Cherokee at 2:1 with shifts for Watie’s superior leadership and the covered terrain table. An EX results in the loss of the 3rd IHG, the Cherokee cavalry is unaffected. Phillips’ command is now fatigued and the Union army is demoralized.
Due to demoralization the 1st IHG attack on the 1st Creek on the Confederate right is cancelled as there is not an officer in command range.
This turn was a debacle for the Union. If Cabell arrives, he can do some damage.
Interlude. I reread the rules on exchanges and if all of one side is cavalry, then A and D results are ignored for the exchange. I had thought that making cavalry immune and still allowing it to take out attacking units did not make sense (which it did not, I misread the rules, bad on me.) I will bring back the 3rd IHG with the 1st KSC. There were other combats I probably misapplied this rule to earlier, but war is hell and we will not attempt to unring that bell.
VP’s Union 41+4(Watie) = 45, Confederate = 28
Confederate 4PM Turn
The cavalry arrives, Cabell with his untested units and artillery in tow.
Walker and Cabell fail to activate.
A major counterattack is undertaken. Watie, the 1st Cherokee and four of Cabell’s Cavalry attack the 3rd IHG and 1st KSC. The 20th TX attacks Judson and the 3rd WI to cut off a retreat route.
Cabell’s Cavalry is a mixed bag, adding 9 attack factors to the Cherokee’s barely ekeing out a 1:1. Watie will provide a one column shift (Cherokees are demoralized, a 6 is rolled on covered terrain, resulting in an EX. The 3rd IHG dies and Palmer’s one factor cavalry unit is butchered.
The 20th TX goes in at 1:2 against Judson and the 3rd WI in covered terrain and is repulsed.
VP’s Union 42+4(Watie) = 46, Confederate = 34
Union 4PM turn
Judson and Phillips fail to activate, so attacks this turn will be limited.
Both 1st IHG units go in at 2:1 against Cooper and the 1st Creek, the CRT column shifts two, one for Blunt, one for demoralized defender. At 4:1 in open terrain a 1 is rolled, eliminating the 1st Creek. Cooper survives the casualty check.
Note, I have been goofing the VP totals, it is not based on combat factor as I had thought but just by number of units.
VP’s Union 43+4(Watie) = 47, Confederate = 42
Confederate 5PM turn
Options. We can throw everybody at Blunt and get a 2:1 if the untried cavalry is not a zero, throw Watie in and get a column shift. This would leave the depot uncovered except for the 20th TX screening, but eliminating Blunt could win the game. We will try.
All leaders activate.
Units move into position. Luck is on our side, the untried cavalry is the 1st AR, which adds five attack factors. We go in at 2:1 with a two column shift, 1 for Watie and 1 for a demoralized defender. A 3 eliminates the 1st IHG, Blunt attempting to rally the disintegrating native lines is ridden down by a cavalryman and dies on a roll of 6. Blunt’s replacement will not arrive before the battle ends at dusk.
L’audace, l’audace, tourjours l’audace.
VP’s Union 43+4(Watie) = 47, Confederate = 52
Union 5 PM turn
That was a brutal turn of events. We are behind, but have a chance to pick off 20th TX and maybe a leader or two. All our units will go in.
Phillips activates, Judson does not.
Watie is removed from the map as the 3rd WI passes adjacent to him moving into a position to flank Cooper, but it cannot stay to search for him, so no casualty check occurs.
The attack goes in at 4:1 with a two column shift (Phillips and demoralized defender), the 20th TX is eliminated, both Cooper and Cabell pass their casualty checks.
VP’s Union 46+4(Watie) = 50, Confederate = 52
Confederate 6 PM Turn
Since the cavalry will self-rally, units will have five MP’s, not 6 (cavalry fought dismounted at Honey Springs and organized cavalry is leg infantry and has an MP of 5). This will not allow us to occupy the Honey Springs Depot, occupation of which will decide the game (12 VP’s) but we will fight for it.
All four leaders activate and locate adjacent to Honey Springs Depot.
If we attack the lead Union forces we can obtain 3:2 odds with column shifts for Watie and demoralized defender, making the attack 4:1. It is so ordered. The Union force breaks and runs (eliminated on a roll of 1). The battle is pretty much over now.
VP’s Union 46+4(Watie) = 50, Confederate = 64
Union 6PM Turn
That is pretty much it. We will occupy Honey Springs Depot with Hopkins artillery, since they cannot run fast enough to get away. The headquarters guard runs.
Phillips fails to activate (of course). Judson activates. Blunt is still dead.
VP’s Union 46+4(Watie)+ 12 Honey Springs = 62, Confederate = 64
Confederate 7PM Turn
Darkness is about to fall, but we want to make Oklahoma fully ours and continue to send foodstuffs to our eastern armies. We will attack both the miscreant Yankee artillery and their fleeing headquarters guard.
Watie, Cabell and Walker activate.
Our forces attack Judson at 4:1 with column shifts to 5:1, since Cabell is not fatigued/demoralized Hill’s regiment is able to execute a flank march and attack (not limited by command range), cutting off any hope of the artillery retreating. Hopkins artillery is eliminated, Judson escapes and Honey Springs Depot returns to Confederate hands.
Miscalculated the movement factors and cannot reach the Frontier escort, cannot use road movement and attack.
VP’s Union 46+4(Watie) = 50, Confederate = 68 + 12 (Honey Springs) = 80
Union 7PM turn
Frontier headquarters escort reaches out and puts Walker in their zone of control, but he passes the casualty check and survives.
Dusk falls on a battlefield littered with dead from both sides and the Union stranglehold on the TransMississippi is broken. How will this change the war in the east…
No need to play the dusk turn.
Final. VP’s Union 46+4(Watie) = 50, Confederate = 68 + 12 (Honey Springs) = 80
An interesting game system, I am still trying to wrap my mind around the command rules and the best way to employ leaders. I was surprised at how bloody this game can get. Unit density is low and once a side falls below critical mass their flanks are vulnerable (just like real life!).
I thought the Union would win in a cakewalk, especially after the first turn juggernaut and the poor Confederate rolls. Two factors turned it around in my opinion. The arrival of Cabell’s cavalry (and not one of them was the “0” attack factor unit) at just the right place and time. As an aside, Cabell and his force only arrive on a roll of 6 and the rolls start at 2PM. There is a 16% chance of arrival each turn.
The real difference was Stand Watie. His column shifts and availability allowed continued attacks after demoralization. Combined with the negative shifts for demoralized defenders, the Union was at a great disadvantage once they reached demoralization.
I think the 4VP Confederate penalty for Watie is probably too low, given how pivotal an impact leaders, especially highly rated ones, can have on this battle. Without Watie, the Union would have won easily in my opinion.
There could be better color graphics, the disorganized sides of the counters make it difficult to easily distinguish between Union and Confederate, light grey vs white