Friday, August 29, 2014

The Field of Lost Shoes

So, I had a spare moment after preparing my classroom for the start of school next week, so I brought out my 10mm ACW figs and refought a palimpsest of the Civil War Battle of New Market.  Like the Battle of Iuka I did with my students last year, this was a small engagement between roughly even forces.  While the maps make it look like a straight up encounter, there are some itneresting choices for each side to make along the way. Essentially, the Confederates under Breckinridge were able to surprise Franz Sigel's Union army in the Shenandoah Valley.  Historically, the ferocious Confederate assault sent the Union troops reeling before they could mount an organized resistance.  Cadets from VMI played a key role in this battle, an element I have always found interesting (some kids will do anything to get out of an algebra quiz...)

The rules are Black Powder (distances converted from inches to centimeters). Most Minis are Pendraken, but there are a few Perrins mixed in for variety.  Most of the terrain is scratchbuilt.


The long view from the southern edge of the battlefield.  Two Confederate infantry brigades with cavalry support stand ready to attack.  One Union brigade is scattered across the battlefield, while the other is in a long march column that is just entering the battlefield's northern edge. In hindsight, a random entry turn for the Union reinforcements would have been more fun.

The view from the Union position.

The long road that would deliver help to the beleaguered Union troops

The first Confederate objective was to drive the 18th CT off the hill ahead of them so that they would be able to get their guns into a commanding position.

The other rebel infantry brigade stalled in its approach, but Imboden's cavalry swept into a good flanking position.

On the Union left, Billy Yank falls back to a position where two regiments could support each other. Meanwhile, on the hill, the boys from Connecticut put of a fierce resistance, but get too disorganized to withdraw.

The end of Turn 1.  The attack on the Confederate left went in piecemeal, but the slow pace of the Union reinforcements means that the situation is not as dire as it might be...yet.

The Virginia brigade finally drives the hill's defenders away.  The valiant Union artillery section blasts cannister until the bitter end.

The Union reinforcements finally get close enough to begin deploying.  Take your time, boys.

Both Confederate brigades begin pushing forward.  The Virginia units are pretty roughed up, while Echols' brigade, while still fresh, continues to move at a snail's pace.  The Confederate cavalry dismounts and begins to threaten the left flank of the Union line.

The lead Union regiments begin to take a punishing fire, having double their number of rifles to their front.  On the Union right, the first regiments of the relief column form a line behind their friends, determined to check the Confederate advance at the crest of the hill.

Finally, Wharton's brigade has enough and melts away. In a game with only a handful of brigades, moments like this can be teliing, and the survivors on the losing side can find themselves heavily outnumbered and outgunned.

But not for long! The Confederate right coordinates an attack that drives the defenders away from their front.  The sides are once again roughly even.

And it starts to look bad for the Union. Those pesky dismounted cavalry remain buzzing around the Union flank, pouring enfilade fire in and pinning the Bluebellies as the VMI cadets enter the fight.

But just when it looks like a final push will win it for the Confederates, things fall apart for them.  Though they routed one union regiment, a botched command roll meant that the cavalry could not continue to press their attack. At the same time, the Union troops who had cleared the Confederates from the hill finally regrouped and swung around, hitting Echols' brigade in the flank.  The Confederates call it a day, having seriously bloodied a larger force but unable to hold the field in the end.  Let's call it a draw.

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