Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Battle of Untietam: Opening Moves

After three turns, the Union had the most success on their right.  The poor Mississippians, who had been posted to the creek as sentries, took appalling casualties from the fire of the rifled guns, but they held out long enough to be reinforced by the 11th TN, who had been stationed upstream.   They silenced one of the Union guns (which had advanced too far forward of their supporting infantry) and began to return punishment to the Yankees across the creek, but their front is fragile, and if they collapse the entire Confederate force will be flanked.

Lots of bullets being traded across the creek!

The advance in the Union center stalled much as it had historically.  One regiment, the 57th PA, infiltrated the woods that overlooked both bridges, but without the main thrust of their brigade, there was little they could do.  Meanwhile, the Confederate reserve committed two regiments to defending the bridge, and they began to inflict casualties on the limbered Union guns and infantry still plodding through the wheatfield. 

The 57th, hidden in trees on the right, is the only Union unit to show up to the party.

Finally, on the Union left, the brigade of Colored troops was equally slow to advance, though the artillery attached to their unit did some serious damage to the Texas regiment that had advanced forward to protect the bridge.  While the morale of the Texans grew shaky, the Confederates replied with their own artillery.  Crossing the creek at this point looks nearly impossible.  Both commanders on the Union left and right are screaming for reinforcements.  Sadly, General Trout has but one brigade to commit.  Meanwhile, the Confederate cavalry lurks ever nearer.  Will their arrival be enough to rout the disorganized Union forces?
Black soldiers prepare to Mess with Texas

After Turn 6

The battle is becoming bloody.  The Union has still been unable to force their way across the creek, but they are inflicting appalling casualties on the Rebs.  They are taking just as good as they give, however, and if they do manage to force their way across the creek, they may not have the strength to establish a beachhead.

On their right, the Union finally forced the Mississippians to rout.  The timely arrival of some reinforcing Virginians from Albemarle’s Brigade prevented a total disaster, and the 7th NH, which had been taking a pounding from the Confederate artillery on the hill, finally withered and broke.  Without a reserve, the best the Union can hope for now is to pin down enemy units, hoping  for a breakthrough in the center or on the left.
The Confederates look out at an increasingly thin Blue line on the North flank.

The Union center got off to a slow start.  Had they marched sooner, they might have seized the central bridge, putting a huge gap in the center of the Confederate line.  Instead, two regiments of Albermarle’s Brigade, backed by some artillery, held the crossing.  The bend in the creek left the Virginians vulnerable to flanking fire from the Pennsylvanians in the woods, and despite some fine shooting which trashed a Union battery, the rebels in the center are starting to fray.  With only one regiment in reserve, the Confederate center might be vulnerable to a well-coordinated push.
The Union pushes to the edge of the creek and brings its firepower to bear on the Confederate defenders.

Meanwhile, on the Union left, the brigade of Colored troops was unable to trade shots with the rebels on the hills.  They had driven off the Texans who held the banks, but with most of their infantry pinned down on the banks of the creek, there was no hope of a breakthrough.  Finally, devastating fire from the hilltop caused the entire brigade to break.  The Colored Troops began to think about a withdrawal, but just then the drums of the Iron Brigade could be heard to their rear.  The thin and damaged Confederate line now faced a fresh brigade of enemy troops.

For the end of the battle, click here.

All that remains of the USCI troops who were sent to capture the railway bridge. In the distance, Confederate infantry and guns hold the heights,  

Here come the Black Hats!  Will they be in time?  And where is that pesky Confederate cavalry?

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