Since I used to get the Miniature Wargames magazines many moons ago I have had an interest in the American Civil War. It was an interest unmatched by actual historical knowledge, and totally unmatched by investment in troops and/or rules. However, with the arrival of Blackpowder, and a revival of interest in a variety of ACW sources (Buster Keatons ‘The General’ for one, Bernard Cornwall for another) I decided to do something about it. I suspected someone at the Deeside Defenders would have an army, so appealed on their Yahoo group for a game to see if the imagery would inspire me to collect a couple of armies, and if so in what scale. Two people replied, and this is the account of the battle against the first.
His name is Will, he has a genius blog (http://willwarweb.blogspot.co.uk/), and a fanatical (justifiable) obsession with 20mm Airfix. Understandably his Union and Confederate armies were made of such Airfix plastic worthies, many in the region of 30+ years old, and looking none too shabby for it either! Will kindly provided both armies, a scenario (the Battle of Kernstown), the battlefield and the rules (Blackpowder) and dice. I brought my tape measure. He even allowed me to chose my side, and I picked the Confederacy, complete with Stonewall Jackson in command – both armies being fully painted it was a striking sight.
It wasn’t until I had picked the Confederacy that Will informed me that Kernstown was Stonewall’s first defeat, or that the troops deployed in my cause were all that were coming, while the Union had twice their numbers in reserve! Nonetheless I pressed on. The Unions objective was to drive the South from the field, my aim was simply to prevent this happening, and following some prompting from Will that Stonewall’s best hope was to send the half of the Union forces that had already deployed packing before the rest arrived I sent my troops storming across the creek after them.
|My Confederacy troops about to cross the creek.|
|The battlefield, with my rebels at the bottom, and the Union troops in the woods and on a ridge. I pushed down the road to the right.|
Well, perhaps storming was a bit too strong with my command rolls and a couple of disorder rolls, but Will’s Union forces refused to play ball for him either. My infantry brigades were able to close with his unsupported front line, and with my superior troops I sent one of his brigades reeling backwards and out of the battle. Will’s second brigade having headed for open ground and the roads in the centre of the battlefield they were wrong footed when my attack carried on down the right flank, running into the advance guard of the Union reserves and driving them back in disorder as well. The Union forces had the advantage of numbers, but the rebels had the quality of troops and it showed as Will struggled to get more than one or two regiments into the fighting at any one time as I pushed down the right hand road.
The left flank was confined to a sideshow of skirmishing between our single cavalry regiments, and long ranged artillery bombardments, while I lost a small brigade of infantry (2 regiments) in the centre giving the second union brigade a bloody nose.
It looked as if my luck would hold, with the Union forces falling back and near collapse, but my own troops had sustained heavy caulsties to each regiment, and suddenly the end came. A massed exchange of rifle fire on the right flank saw 2 of my regiments flee, and a further 2 become shaken – enough to break every brigade (which were only small to start with) and my army was defeated moments away from victory.
|Union reserves arrive, but are fed in piecemeal and struggle.|
|Rebel gun line.|
I had a really enjoyable game, which defeat in no way tarnished, and if anything made better. The battlefield, with its 2 fully painted armies, looked the part, and the battle flowed well with the Blackpowder rules. Interestingly the Deeside group have made a couple of alterations to the rules which we used, the main one of which is to put firing into the enemies turn – so my firing was conducted after the Union movement but before combat, and the Union firing the same in my turn. An interesting idea which warrants further investigation! Other than that I found I liked the ACW period, the question is which scale to look at collecting, a further one threw its hat into the ring tonight – 10mm. Another interesting fact; the battle played out in a very similar way to the original, and produced a similar result to the historical outcome.