White Oak Creek – September 1862

The following report is of a fictional American Civil War engagement set in September 1862. Both armies comprised 3000 points. Using the Road to Glory Scenario System the game found the Union army concentrated with the burden of attack having Card 13 “Returning Detachment – Right” while the Confederates had Card 4 “Advance Guard – Echelon Right”. Figures are 6mm Heroics & Ros.

As a gentle breeze caught the flags of the four brigades of Hood & Kemper’s Divisions General Lee arrived on the field of battle. As instructed Longstreet’s Divisional commanders had deployed astride the Boonsboro Turnpike. It was almost 2pm. Three brigades were positioned in the cornfields near the junction of the Turnpike and White Oak Road, while the fourth brigade deployed slightly to the left rear covering a gap between the cornfields and a wood to the left. Apart from two cavalry brigades, deployed further along the turnpike as an advanced screen these, were the only troops immediately available. To their front Union forces were massed and advancing.

Directly to the front was Hooker’s I Corps, comprising Doubleday’s and Rickett’s Divisions as well as French’s Division from Sumner’s II Corps. Moving towards Confederate left flank, and likely to cross the swampy White Oak Creek via White Oak Road was Sedgewick’s Division, also from II Corps. Threatening to cross White Oak Creek to the east of the Boonsboro Turnpike was Porter’s V Corps. McClellan was well concentrated and with the Rebels thin on the ground he planned to press his advantage.

However, delay soon crept in. During the next three hours Confederate reinforcements arrived and as they did they were progressively deployed into the line which now expanded east and west of the cornfields. However, such was the pressure the normal corps structure was dispensed with. Jackson for example had divisions on both flanks and this would greatly complicate Confederate command and control.

Above Union troops are on the left, Confederate on the right. Sedgewick’s Division is in the foreground astride White Oak Road.

While Union infantry in the centre were reluctant to advance through the cornfields Union artillery soon concentrated north of the cornfields where it dominated the area. Below, the Union troops start to form up. The Cornfields are on the right with the high corn obscuring the Rebel infantry.

Once deployed Union gunners focussed on Confederate artillery. In a prolonged engagement the Confederate gun line in this sector was decimated.

In the area around the Boonsboro Turnpike Union infantry were more aggressive. Porter’s Corps were soon pressing the Jones’ Division frontally while simultaneously other brigades advanced through an area of dense woods against the Rebel flank. While Ewell’s division extended the line Rebel infantry and dismounted cavalry countered in this dense forest.

The fighting was brutal. Eventually however the butternut lines surged forward and Morell’s Union Division broke to the rear.

On the turnpike itself the battle had become equally desperate. French’s Division supported by corps artillery extended Porter’s line. Before the division was fully deployed a series of attacks were launched by Confederate brigades. First to attack were Hood’s Texans supported by Early’s Brigade. Initially showing promise the attacks were repulsed by determined Union defenders.

Then other Union brigades counterattacked. Soon additional brigades, both blue and grey, were engaged east of the cornfields. As the lines surged back and forth however it was Doubleday’s Division that was first to break. Yet Confederate casualties limited Confederate abilities to exploit the advantage.

Around 6pm Richardson’s Division, though late to arrive, finally crossed White Oak Creek and added its three brigades and 12 heavy Napoleons to the battle. The Union line had held.

On the Confederate left Union advances were disrupted by a combination of forests and Taliaferro’s Division. Here Union brigades were soon on the defensive and slowly the Confederates pressed their advantage. A series of rolling attacks were placed, including two charges by the Stonewall Brigade. Despite these attacks, it was not until 9pm that Sedgewick’s Division finally broke.

As night finally fell a tally of the battle was taken. Four Union divisions were exhausted or collapsed with two more all but exhausted. Only Richardson’s Division was fresh. Yet Confederate casualties were heavy. Ewell, Kemper and Stuart’s Divisions were all exhausted though the last two were small. Taliaferro’s & Hood’s Divisions were still capable of attack but seven hours of fighting had taken a heavy toll. Lee had gained a victory but at a terrible price.

Repulse Along the Rappahannock

The following report is of a fictional American Civil War engagement set in August 1862. As is often the case we developed the scenario with the card based Road to Glory scenario system. Both armies comprised 3000 points. The Union players used Card 13 “Build-up Echelon Left” while Confederate forces used Card 15 “Returning Detachment -Right”. This placed the burden of attack with the Confederates, by a small margin. Figures are 6mm Heroics & Ros.

The previous day Union screening forces along a section of the Rappahannock river were driven back allowing Confederate troops to cross. Lee pressed the retreating Union forces who on the morning of the 23rd of August reformed in the vicinity of Praxton Creek, just north of Rappahannock Station. By 2pm General Lee deployed only a small portion of his forces in the area. Some 28,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry and some 54 cannon. Organised into six divisions these troops represented those formations immediate available. The other formations of Lee’s army were unlikely to arrive by sunset. The exception being Ewell’s Division of Jackson’s Wing and his artillery reserve of 24 guns. However, Ewell’s division of 7000 men organised into four brigades, was at least three hours from the field. Facing them, separated by the meandering Paxton Creek, were elements of Major General John Pope command. With Union forces initially outnumbered Lee determined to maintain pressure, despite being aware that Union reinforcements would soon arrive.

Praxton Creek lay around 2400 yards from Confederate lines and generally ran from the west to the east. Opposite the rebel centre was Stone Bridge. West of the Stone Bridge, extending to the Union right, Paxton Creek become considerably marshy while to the east its banks were firm though lined with numerous trees. The marshy western section significantly restricted rebel options as the marshy creek would significantly hamper movement of artillery needed to support any attacks.

After deliberation Lee decided his forces already deployed would make a general shift of to the right and attack the Union centre and left. General Jackson was confident the Union forces would cross the Paxton Creek and General Longstreet’s divisions would then be able to attack parallel to the creek. However, such a move would extend further the distance Ewell’s Division would have to cover before reaching the area of the engagement. It was hoped that a road running parallel to Paxton Creek, and behind Confederate lines, would compensate somewhat for the distances Ewell’s powerful division would need to cover.

By 4pm the Confederate troops were generally repositioned, with the exception of Hood’s and Kemper’s Divisions. These divisions, having been on the Confederate left, had been slowed by crossing Older’s Branch, a small creek which flowed into the western section of Paxton Creek.
Confederate preparatory attacks opened on the flanks rather than the centre. On the right three brigades of Taliaferro’s Division advanced to engage elements of a Union division thrown out forward of Paxton Creek. Two of his brigades were soon engaged in an extended firefight in a wooded area while additional brigades extended further to the right.

Simultaneously Rebel cavalry on the left, Robinson’s cavalry brigade of General Stuart’s cavalry division, advanced and engaged raw Union cavalry in the open ground northwest of Stone Bridge. General Stuart having been ordered to demonstrate against the Union right was determined to press the enemy. In hindsight his attacks were pressed with too great an élan. As a result Robinson’s Brigade fell back in disorder while Union cavalry and infantry pressed forward. Such were the determination of these attacks that Stuart’s cavalry division was forced back in considerable disorder.

Between 3pm and 5pm several additional Union divisions deployed on to the battlefield, reinforcing the Union centre. Bolstered by these new divisions Union forces now outnumbered Confederates forces, though a number of Union divisions were recently raised and therefore poorly drilled. Lee therefore decided to press the Union troops further, hoping to gain advantage in a fluid battle. Just prior Rebel attacks being set in motion three Union divisions crossed Paxton Creek. Brigade after brigade crossed and formed on the south side of the creek. It would seem that General Pope has a more aggressive nature than General McClellan had demonstrated during the Peninsula Campaign.

Longstreet reordered his divisions and ordered a general advance. Anderson’s Division went directly forward supported by 24 cannon and extended to the right and echloned back by three further brigades of Jones’ Division. These formed a line 100 yards north of Widow Wyatt’s Farm and extending east through the Wyatt cornfields. In the ensuring attacks both Armistead’s and Wright’s Brigades were thrown back, as was Toomb’s Brigade from Jones’ Division.

Below, the situation after the failed Confederate attack in the centre. Paxton Creek can be easily distinguished.

By 6pm yet more Union troops had crossed Paxton Creek further stabilising the Union position. General Pope was extremely active encouraging his troops who remained vulnerable to determined attack.

Around 7pm Confederate troops surged forward in an attempt to dislodge the Union forces and roll up the line. In all seven brigades were thrown in to the attacks.

The grey and butternut brigades on the right were first to go in. Garrett’s Brigade, while disordered in the advance, routed a Union brigade causing a chain reaction impacting a division. However, other Union brigades held their ground. While southern patriots fought with great determination they were unable to dislodge the Union line now well supported by artillery. Even Hood’s Texans, who had demonstrated such determination at Gaines’ Mill, failed to break the Union line and were themselves forced back.

On the extreme right other brigades of Taliaferro’s Division were now pressed by a slow but methodical Union advance, as shown below. While Ewell’s division had shaken out into line it’s delayed arrival and the time taken to deploy from road column to field formation restricted the impact these troops would have on the battle.

By 9pm and with darkness enveloping the battlefield further Confederate attacks were no longer realistic. Indeed, Union formations were themselves advancing with determination. Casualties have been significant, especially on the Confederates. Anderson’s Division has collapsed as a fighting formation and would need to be rested before further action. Both Jones’ and Taliaferro’s Divisions were near exhaustion following several hours of combat. Lee had clearly been repulsed along the Rappahannock by Pope, but the campaign was young…

Korbitz, 21st September 1759

There are a few excellent Volley & Bayonet blogs on the Internet, one is the Seven Years War blog run by Fabrizio Davì called the Torgau Project. Here Fabrizio documents his research and army building, in 6mm. Recently Fabrizio has posted a four part series on the scenario and mini campaign for the Battle of Korbitz which is now packaged up as a full scenario and published here. To set the scene I will hand over to Fabrizio.

At the beginning of September 1759, a Prussian relief corps under Maj.Gen. Wunsch was sent to counter the Austro-Imperial invasion of Saxony: despite arriving too late to prevent the Dresden surrender, it recaptured however most of northern Saxony. With the help of a corps commanded by Lt.Gen Finck, Wunsch recaptured Leipzig: the two reunited corps marched then on Meissen. To counter them the GFML prince Friedrich von Pflaz-Zweibrücken, commander-in-chief of the Reichsarmee, left 16 battalions to garrison Dresden and marched with his army, reinforced by the Austrian corp of Hadik to attack them. The whole operation was supervised by Field Marshal Serbelloni.

The plan was to fix the Prussian left wing in front of Meissen with the Reichsarmee whereas Hadik was to flank the Prussian position with his corps. The Wunsch wing contained the Reichsarmee ineffective attack: in the meantime Hadik attacked the Finck wing. The approach march of Hadik wing was delayed by the very poor terrain conditions and Hadik asked repeatedly to call off the attack. However Serbelloni ordered to proceed and Hadik troops arrived piecemeal on the battle scene.

To continue with the background and see the full scenario click here or visit the Scenario Section of this site.

Advance to Zwenkau – May 1813

My gaming room has been out of action for a few months but with repairs finally complete it was time for a fictional 1813 engagement using the “Road to Glory” scenario system and my 6mm miniatures…

The Prussians, commanded by Blucher, comprised two corps (3000 points using the Road to Glory system). The stronger, II Corps under von Kliest, comprised four infantry divisions and a cavalry reserve. Bulow’s III Corps was spread out and as it transpired only two infantry divisions and a cavalry division would be available for the upcoming battle, the remaining divisions would not reach the area of the battlefield until nightfall. The infantry divisions generally comprised three brigades, one of regular infantry, one of reserves and a final brigade of landwehr supported by artillery. The cavalry also comprised three brigade, one of dragoons, one of light cavalry and a final one of landwehr.

Opposing them Ney also fielded two corps (also 3000 points). X Corps, commanded by Rapp, comprised four infantry divisions and a cavalry division. This corps drew heavily on various allies and included troops Baden, Hessians, Poles along with two divisions of French Provisionals, hastily raised. Oudinot’s XII Corps small corps comprised Raglovich’s Bavarians and supported by Pacthod’s 13th Division. Ney however was further supported by a division of Young Guard and a “Heavy”, in name only, cavalry division of two dragoon brigades.

As Blucher viewed the battlefield about, around noon he found himself outnumbered with only Kleist’s Corps deployed on what would become his centre and right (Build up Echlon Right card 10). Deployed opposite were six French infantry divisions and one cavalry division (Returning Detachment – Reserve card 14). Clearly the burden of the attack rested with the French. However, with a portion of the French army behind a stream and separated from the remainder BLucher opted to advance his centre and right while expanding his own left as elements of Bulow’s III Corps arrived. Indeed, by 12.30am two of Bulow’s divisions were beginning to deploy and by 1.30pm Hessen-Homberg’s division were moving rapidly forward.

The Prussian 11th and 12th Divisions, actually designated brigades in Prussian terms, were first to be engaged when their artillery began to fire on Granjean’s (Polish) and Heudelet’s divisions deployed behind the Verbeck stream. The Poles quickly fell back, replaced by Baden and Hessians of 39th Division. However, as both commanders were reluctant to press home with the bayonet a long range artillery dual resulted. By 3pm having had suffered the worst of the exchange the Prussian divisions retired 400 yards.

Above, the situation around 1.30pm with the French 39th Division, comprised of Baden and Hessian troops, in the foreground with Prussian troops opposite and lining the stream. French troops extend the line.

On the Prussian left varoids regiments deployed from road column and now extend the Prussian left. As a result the weight of the Prussian attack moved to the left centre where attacks were launched against Semele’s 52nd Division holding a small partly wooded hill around 2pm. The Prussian Regular and Reserve regiments were thrown into the attack. Supported by artillery the attacks were driven home with great élan, often supported by Prussian sharpshooters. In due course the Semele, the French divisional commander, abandoned the hill. However, when pressed by the advancing Prussians, he reformed and tried to regain lost ground. In the following hours, despite desperate efforts by its officers, the 52nd Division collapsed as a fighting unit. A hole now appeared in the French centre, until around 6pm, Brigade Rothemberg, from the 2nd Young Guard Division, stabilised the critical situation with a counterattack.

Above and centre left, the Prussian 9th Division prepares to advance on the 52nd Division holding the small hill. The 9th Prussian Division comprises three brigades and is supported by the 10th Division. Each division has its landwehr brigade deployed to the rear of the main line. Prussian artillery is also deployed to the rear and will soon move forward. Top left Prussian troops from Bulow’s Corps can be seen extending the Prussian left.

On the extreme Prussian left a confused battle developed. Initially Bulow’s divisions seemed to have the advantage. Especially as Oudinot had dispatched the 29th Bavarians in a flanking movement. With poor marching drill the Bavarians were significantly delayed, allowing the Prussians to inflict considerable damage on the French 13th Division that alone under Pacthod held the French right. However, once the Pacthod was reinforced by the Young Guard the situation stabilised. Now, the flanking Bavarians and 4th Cavalry Division attacked Bulow’s own left. Bulow’s divisions was forced, reluctantly, to give ground.

As Bulow came under pressure on the Prussian left so did the Prussian right. Around 7pm the reformed Polish division, supported by the 8th Light Cavalry Division bEgan it’s own attacks on the Prussian right. A poorly positioned Prussian horse battery was quickly overrun and a general melee developed. With the Prussian cavalry forced back, though not broken, Blucher determined it was time to retire and reform while the army could be covered by his own cavalry.

The Battle of Zwenkau provided an excellent evenings gaming for all players. Poorly drilled troops provided plenty of challenges for manoeuvre while delayed arrival and initially unbalanced forces provided scope for an interesting battle to develop.