Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reposition, rethink, rescale & refight.

It is all part of the fun and learning process, but just sometimes, we, or at least I, try to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, with the inevitable result. Those of you with good eyes and memory, will notice in the photographs below, that I have slid the whole battlefield about five or six inches to the north west (top left corner).

The reasoning behind this, was to allow some of the Union III Corps, to actually get onto the table. It was whilst placing these brigades, mostly made up of six infantry regiments and a battery of artillery, that the alarm bells started to ring. You can see five of General Sickles, six brigades are now on the table in the south east corner.

As I stood and looked at my handiwork, I realised the units looked more like a football crowd, than a scene from a battle. Using a base to represent every regiment in each brigade, simply was not going to work, bearing in mind that as well as Sickles final brigade, the whole of Reynold's I Corp, which is half as large again, as III Corps, has still to arrive!

No this simply was not going to work on my small table. 8 x 4 or 8 x 6 feet, yes, but on a little over 4 x 3 feet, I was attempting too much.

I thus have a number of options.

(a) Reduce the number of regiments in each brigade by half (rounding up for odd numbers). This would still allow me to use the activation cards I created. However, this will still quickly fill up the available space, and continue to give the appearance of that football crowd.

(b) Reduce the number of regiments in each brigade to one third, so six becomes two etc. It will still allow the use of the brigade activation cards, as well as giving far more space on the table.

(c) Simply adopt the Blucher method, one base represents one brigade, forget the activation cards, and revert to the I go You go, momentum method.

My personal choice would be option (b), but as I have been posting this in the Tabletop Commanders Blog, and lots of you are reading it, I thought I would see what you guys and gals would prefer. Feel free to offer any other options you may think of too.

The battle will hopefully be fought over the weekend, and as I found my box of trees and split fencing, I can slightly remodel the battlefield.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Battle of Crow Hill - Part Two

For the first turn only I will show each brigade activation card, after that, I will just show the movement/firing etc, of each unit. I had some good feed back from Part One of this article, suggesting cards to allow a unit to possibly activate twice in one game turn. To achieve this I shall add two more cards, each giving the opportunity to activate one brigade, even if it has already activated this turn, for each side.

A slight problem, that quickly became apparent, was the small deployment area available to the Union. I am going to get out of this by placing the brigade marker on the table if it activates, and then as soon as room becomes available, they will automatically deploy, without a further activation. The reasoning behind this, is a full Corps would be tailed back a few miles along the road, all the troops, guns, limbers and supply wagons. They would not all instantly appear on the field, so the onus will be on the Union to push the Confederates back to make room!

First card is drawn.

3rd Brigade of 1st Division, deploys on and at each side of the road.

A view from behind the newly arrived troops.

Armistead's Brigade are not able to fire, and certainly do not wish to move off the hill, so no action.

1st Brigade of Second Division are halted on the road.

No room to deploy, so their marker is placed on the road to show that unit has activated.

The cavalry brigade with its attached horse artillery, move to possibly set up on the flank of the Union Brigade.

Now with orders filtering back down the Union line, the Brigade commanders order their men off the road and through the countryside to take up attack positions.

2nd Brigade of 2nd Division (I spotted and corrected the label error) are able to form up on the left flank of the Union line.

2nd Brigade of 1st Division are still stuck on the road but are activated and their unit marker placed in position on the road. At this point, brigades or different divisions, are becoming intermingled, this is of course due to the random nature of cards being drawn, but in a meeting engagement like this, you could imagine orders and counter-orders being given to brigades, and the utter confusion behind the forward troops.

The next activation, once again Union, allows 3rd brigade of 2nd Division to take its place, its identification marker teetering on the edge of the table.

End of turn card. The only two rebel brigades that were in a position to fire artillery, never activated.

Turn Two.

1st Brig, 2nd Div. advance.

Hampton's horse artillery deploy and fire on the right most Union regiment.

In the south, 2nd Brig, 2nd Div, begin to take casualties but continue their advance.

3rd Brig, 1st Div, engage with artillery fire and also move onto the attack, entering the wheat field. The remainder of the brigade advance in attack column on the left.

Kemper's Brigade open fire at skirmish range and also with their artillery.

A hit on the Union battery puts it temporarily out of action.

End of turn shots from various angles.

Soldier's eye view.

Turn Three.

3rd Brig, 1st Div, send off a volley.

One Confederate unit takes casualties.

In the south, 2nd Brig, 2nd Division also unleash a volley.

Kemper's Brigade taking hits.

End of turn positions.

Turn Four.

The firefight really begins to get brutal now, with most brigades activating this turn.

 Garnett's Brigade score hits on the Union troops trying to cross the wheat field.

The unfortunate flank regiment, once again takes hits from the horse artillery and also from a regiment of cavalry who charged, fired pistols and retired.

Casualties mount on both sides.

End of turn positions.

The scene below for the occupants of Crow Hill.

The Confederate commander is quietly confident at the moment, his men are holding the enemy, though he knows it is only a matter of time before more Union soldiers appear.

So the battle rages, still not all of Sickles III Corps, are even on the field yet, and from turn five on, the chance of Reynold's Corps. arriving from the east or south west, will increase with each turn.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Battle of Crow Hill - Part One

So with the festivities out of the way, I can now use the table for its intended purpose of wargaming. Hopefully, the wife won't read this!

The area of Pennsylvania countryside indicated by General Lee, as the place to draw the Union Army of the Potomac into a trap, is now laid out. The photos are a not the best as the lighting is poor at the moment.

The whole table viewed from the southern edge. Crow Hill to the left and a farm and fields, surrounding the crossroads. The Confederate forces will be deployed to defend the crossroads and Crow Hill. The Union III Corps will arrive on the road bottom right, later on Union I Corp will arrive either on the road top right or bottom center.

The crossroads from the south eastern approach.

Looking at the elevation of Crow Hill from the south.

Looking toward the crossroads from the southern edge.

The table viewed from the west.

I will be using the Blucher rules, with the Chamberlain supplement for this game. However, as an experiment, I am dispensing with the I go U go system along with the momentum roll. In its place I have stolen an idea from Muskets & Tomahawks, Sharp Practice and others, of unit activation cards. Ordinary playing cards placed inside a protective cover will be used.

Each brigade or every division, expected to reach the field is represented.

A closer shot of a couple of cards, shows the general idea. I am not sure how well this will work, but I intend to give it a go. When the Joker is drawn, the whole turn ends, No matter how many, or how few brigades have activated. Well that is the plan.

The deployment of Clay's Division.

Garnett's Brigade defending the crossroads.

Kemper's Brigade at the foot of Crow Hill, ready to back up Garnett or face any threat from the south.

Hampton's Cavalry Brigade with attached horse artillery battery, in reserve, though watching the road to the north east.

On Crow Hill stands Armistead's Brigade, facing south and east.

The man himself, in the middle of his men.

General Sickles and III Corp will be entering the table from the south east (top right), and General Reynolds with I Corps, will enter the table from either the north east (top center) or south (bottom right).

The first activation cards are put into the pack, along with the end of turn Joker card. A good shuffle and the battle can commence.

Thanks for reading and please join me for Part Two.