Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Preserve the Union

July 4th.  The day we celebrate our declaration of independence from the mother country and the beginning of a long towards being an international power.  But there was a second attempted war of independence and today we gamed that failed attempt.  Rules are Johnny Reb III with six players.

Three divisions of infantry and a cavalry brigade of Thomas' XIV Corps, the future "Rock of Chickamauga" prepared to assault the positions occupied by Benjamin Franklin Cheatham's division and half of Withers' division.  A strong brigade of cavalry under Joe Wheeler supported their flank.  The Rebs, outnumbered by nine regiments were made to deploy first, then the Yankees, then the Rebs were given a free redeploy of a brigade.  They were given five hasty works to support the natural strength of the position, but in a moment of good sportsmanship and perhaps poor judgment only placed five of them.
Reb center looking towards the Yankees

Part of the Yankee left

Yankee center

Yankee right at the start

Victory depended on the Yankees controlling two of the three road exit points on the far side of the table.  The plan was to make a major effort on the left with five brigades and the center with three, while holding the right with the cavalry and an infantry brigade.  As they say, no plan survives first contact.
A traffic jam ensues

And an intense discussion follows

The left stepped off quickly, though the center advanced slower due to terrain considerations.  On the Yankee right cavalry moved into the woods and dismounted to establish a skirmish line.  What was on the far side of the woods was as yet unknown.  A pattern quickly emerged with the Rebs.  When the Yankees first came into range they always held fire so that the opening volley modifier could be combined with the first fire bonus.  In retrospect this allowed the Yankees to fire back with the same modifiers and without the moving fire penalty.
Yankee left looking at two roads the mass of cavalry

The potent looking Rebel cavalry on the Yankee left remained mounted and threatening, though unable to charge the steady lines of advancing Yankees unless the timing got lucky.  In the center the Yankee artillery got into good positions to soften the Rebel line as the lines got themselves sorted out of the woods.  On the right Withers two brigades began to move forward into the woods to probe the Yankee position.  Reb dice were sometimes hot, with units running low on ammunition as a result of intense fire (all sixes), or there was this canister shot...

Firing became general on the left and center and a hole opened in the center of the Rebel line when, shielded from multiple batteries by nothing more than a wooden fence a regiment melted away.  This coincided with the Yankees finally getting into position to attack.  A charge would have hit empty space, but instead ran off a now unsupported battery and ended disordered in the woods. 

Much fire and casualties were exchanged on the left as Thomas prepared a massive charge.  As it turned out, his wily opponent anticipated the charge had was on hold orders as it kicked off.  Needless to say, it didn't go well.

Things continued to go well in the center as the two regiments that had previously charged, with their brigadier still with them charged as a disordered mob down the rebel line.  Although again hitting empty space as their intended victim routed from artillery fire.  A pitiful charge bonus left them short of anything else.  On the right, having drawn the Rebs into rifle range, the cavalry quickly remounted and made off leaving the Rebs to wonder what else was there while stuck in very difficult terrain.

As things faltered on the left and were exploited on the center, the right went over to the attack once out of the woods.  Cavalry moved to exploit gaps as the infantry on that wing advanced to support the center.  We would now be making a play for the center and right hand road exits.

Rebel reserves stabilized the center for a time but the numbers were just too much for them.  The original defending force was run off or eliminated and the reserves were surrounded.  While Withers' brigades were still intact they could do little but withdraw.  On the left a spirited Reb charge cleared away a Yankee brigade, but could no save the situation.  Similarly, desperate charges by the Rebels on the left threatened and worried the Yankees but did not break them.  While they still held the left, the Union forces were successful everywhere else and at a low cost.
The best Reb success of the day

Closing the noose

An unstoppable advance

Bent but unbroken

Players gather by 10AM, started play at 11AM and finished before 4:00PM.  Good movies provided some ambiance to the game and good will and friendly (if sometimes impatient) behavior was the rule.  Thanks to all who played and enjoyed themselves.

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