Sunday, February 27, 2011

Civil War Saturday

I don't think I've ever mentioned historical wargames on this blog before, but I occasionally play the Civil War miniatures game Johnny Reb.  On Saturday, Joe hosted Grant, Biff, and myself in a refight of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Joe has a great gaming setup, with a large table at chest height, for ease of reaching units on the field.  He had it tricked out with roads, streams, forests, and buildings, and the hundreds of 15mm minis on regemental stands.

I showed up late and took command of the Rebel reinforcements coming to the aid of Biff against Grant and Joe playing the Yankees.  It was an enjoyable game where an infantry charge can go better than expected--or horribly wrong.

I had one remarkable shot during the battle, when my artillery battery fired at a Yank artillery emplacement.  I was rolling four dice, and I would take out an enemy gun for each six I rolled.  I toss the bones, and come up with a quartet of sixes, destroying every one of the damnyankees' field pieces.

Alas, the valiant Southern forces fell to the Northern aggressors, who took out a Reb general and more units than they lost.  Still, it was a good time, even for someone as historically impaired as I am.

Thanks to Joe for hosting the game (and his wife for feeding us).  Biff had to leave before the last turn, so the ultimate responsibility for the Confederate defeat falls on me.

Still, my generalship improves with every game, and I look forward to playing again.

UPDATE: Joe just sent an after action report with details of the battle and gave me the go-ahead to post it here.  Read on below:

After Action Report
McCook’s Shooting Star
Engagement at Jay’s Mill, Battle of Chickamauga
September 1863

This action was a hypothetical engagement taking place on the northern flanks of the two armies at about 0600 hrs on the opening day of the Battle of Chickamauga.  The battle took place after both armies had encountered each other along the banks of Chickamauga Creek in northwestern Georgia as the Union advanced southwards into the Confederate heartland.  Both General Rosecrans (Union) and Bragg (Confederate) were alarmed to find the enemy in force so far north of the intended battlefield, Rosecrans in particular because this threatened his line of communication, supply and retreat.  He had therefore ordered two brigades from his reserve to secure a key crossroads a little further north to protect his rear.
The senior of these two brigade commanders was Col Dan McCook.  He was one of those quintessential civil war officers who coveted glory above all else.  McCook was looking for his general’s star and he believed that his position on the flank of the enemy was that opportunity.  McCook’s command was controlled by Grant in our battle and he could not have been more true to McCook’s character had this been a role playing game.   (Historically, of course McCook followed orders and held his position, but then what fun would we have had with that?)
Grant’s two brigades advanced swiftly to engage the Confederate positions held by elements of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry Corps, ably handled by Biff.  Yours truly commanded the Union’s reinforcements from BG John Brannan’s Third Division, and Mack commanded Confederate reinforcements from Liddell’s Division.  Grant scored early by destroying a battery of the Confederate’s best guns with a quick salvo from his Napoleons.   Thus emboldened (as if he needed to be), Grant drove forward through tough terrain, turning to meet the arrival of a second brigade from Forrest. 
These maneuvers comprised the pivotal period of the three hour battle as the two sides battered each other with musketry and cannon fire at close quarters in the wooded terrain around Jay’s Mill.  After the first half of this slugfest, the Union held the center around the Mill and Grant was ahead in points about 39 to 36, but he had also encountered Biff’s ace in the hole—a regiment of repeaters.   This regiment of about 500 men broke the back of several Union attacks, never permitting the Union to consolidate its position and in the end being a crucial factor in the destruction of the Union Reserve.
I was bringing up two of Brannan’s brigades on the Confederate left and Mack was bringing in the first of Liddell’s brigades.  Mack sent his lead elements into the wreckage around the mill in an effort to shore up the Confederate center.  He succeeded in knocking out a Union battery in a key position, which seemed to leave him poised to push his troops onward to cut the Union line of supply.  The next turn, a second lone battery of Napoleon’s opened fire on the head of Mack’s column, destroying a regiment and discouraging further rebel ambitions.  
The closing turns of the battle saw fierce combat continue, with the rebels making rash advances on both flanks of the action, only to see most of the remnants of Forrest’s command driven off in routes and a weakened Liddell facing an emplaced federal position on the left.  The end result was a Union victory, by a score of about 63 to 56.  The close score tells the tale.  Grant’s brigades suffered nearly 80% losses and Biff’s losses with Forrest were right behind. 
In the end I think a good time was had by all.  I hope to do it again soon.  Thanks to Grant, Biff and Mack for making the trip out to Cibolo.


bighara said...

I envy the scenery. That's a great table. Sounds like a terrific battle.

Scott said...

I would love to play in any ACW big battle again. Never played Johnny Reb always used Fire & No Fury (haha) but looked fun.