Stones River

I’m currently travelling in the United States visiting a series of battlefields in the Western Theatre. The day after my arrival Joe Collins hosted a multiplayer Volley & Bayonet game, a refight of Stones River. The game was hosted in Nashville only a short drive from the actual battlefield.

All figures are from Joe’s 25mm collection. The game itself involved some 12 players equally split between the Confederates and Union. I admit I was wondering if there would be a preference for supporting the Union here in Tennessee, but it seemed not to be the case.

Above and below a view of the Union left flank. In both, elements of Wood’s Division is shown across Stones River. Four brigades that comprise Breckinridge’s Division hold the high ground and some works.

Below, the Union right flank which is held by Davis’ and Johnson’s Divisions. A number of Union Divisions were initially out of command in an effort to model the initial Confederate attack and rated morale 4. Despite this several brigades fought with determination and some Rebel brigades were thrown back.

For my own part I was allocated command of Sheridan’s division in the centre and later Negley’s division after one the commander of this division had to leave. As a result my view of the battle was mostly based around the centre and Union right flank.

Above, Sheridan’s Division in the centre while Negley’s Division extends the left.

Below, Sheridan’s Division extends further, as some of Davis’ artillery is absorbed into the line.

Below, another view, showing the general situation. The Union right is now under considerable pressure. On the Union left a series of Union attacks are underway which eventually will break Breckinridge’s Confederates, though at a terrible price.

Above, Davis’ and Johnson’s Divisions are in chaos and several stands are now routing.

Below, Union reinforcements have arrived allowing Negley to move to the extreme right and form a line at 90 degrees to Sheridan’s Division. Confederate cavalry threaten the flank before reposting to Confederate cavalry to their flank.

Below, the high tide of the Rebel attack against the Union right. The original attack against the Union right was primarily launched by McGowan’s and Cleburne’s Divisions. By around 2pm McGowan’s Division was almost exhausted and Cleburne was unwilling to advance. With Sheridan’s Division having suffered heavily from Rebel artillery Negley undertook a limited counterattack but with little result.

At the end of the 4pm turn, and after some three and a half hours of play, the battle began to stagnate. Several Union and Confederate Divisions were exhausted. As a result both Union and Confederates were unwilling to launch further attacks.

A great game thanks to Joe and all the local players that have welcomed me to Tennessee. It was wonderful being able to refight this famous battle which took place just down the road a little over 155 years ago.

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American Civil War Scenarios

I am well behind on my website updates, so far behind it is actually embarrassing. However, real life has a habit of getting in the way. That said over recent weeks I have slowly been reformatting American Civil War scenarios. The current release covers three scenarios. They include First Bull Run, Pea Ridge and the American Civil Campaign system developed by Frank Chadwick and updated for miniatures by Greg Novak.

First Bull Run is one of my favourite battles to refight, partly as the original version of the scenario was my introduction to Volley & Bayonet, some 24 years ago. Despite it being my first game with the rules I was impressed. Many years later I have refought the battle a number of times and it remains an enjoyable, balanced and challenging game.

Unlike First Bull Run I haven’t as yet fought Pea Ridge, but with two scenarios provided I’m sure it won’t be long.

There are few rules that allow the potential to refight the large battles of the American Civil War, but of course Volley & Bayonet does. Combine that with the campaign system based on “A House Divided” you can fight out the entire war. Over the years I have been involved in two such campaigns and recall many of the battles with fondness. I would especially like to acknowledge the valued support Greg Novak provided me when I was organising my own campaign here in New Zealand many years ago.

You will find all these updated scenarios, along with others, here. I trust they encourage you to deploy some miniatures and you join me in thanking the various authors who have contributed to these scenarios.

American War of Independence Scenarios

The American War of Independence, or Revolution for some, is somewhat of a niche interest in these parts. Certainly for me it is not part of my own regular gaming schedule. Despite this I’ve always been keen to make available some scenarios. Recently I was kindly supplied by a good friend, Paul Reynolds, three American War of Independence scenarios.

Specifically they were Camden, Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse. Today I have uploaded them to the website and opened a American War of Independence Scenario section.

Now, Paul uses 10mm miniatures for his AWI gaming and to support his three scenarios I thought a couple of photos of one of his Guilford Courthouse refights may provide some further appropriate inspiration.

The figures here are all based on 3” wide bases, but the scenarios all use Volley and Bayonets “Wing Scale”. At Wing Scale 1” equates to 25 yards, a turn represents just 15 minutes and a strength point represents 50 men.

You will find all of Paul’s scenarios here. I trust you enjoy them and join me in thanking Paul for his efforts.

Blucher at Beilenberg

Last night our miniatures were deployed for an 1813 game between a Russo-Prussian army under Blucher and and the French under Ney. Unfortunately I failed to take many photos of the game and with a late start time was more limited than usual. Still, I trust even this shorter than usual article is of interest to a few readers.

The Allied Army of Silesia was strung out in road column. Forming the advanced guard was the Prussian I Corps. Advanced elements of the Corps had secured the high ground near Beilenberg when French forces were observed to the front. Kleist deployed three divisions of I Corps. Advancing towards Beilenberg were at least five French infantry Divisions. An additional two divisions moving towards the Prussian left though these were clearly delayed by a marshy banked stream to the Prussian southeast. In all two full infantry corps were moving on a converging course towards three Prussian divisions. Interestingly no French cavalry were evident and Kleist assumed the French cavalry would soon approach from the west to reinforce the French centre.

Blucher, arriving on the scene around 4pm was soon aware of the predicament the Allies now faced. He concurred with Kleist’s general deployment. He however ordered the main defence, centred on rising ground in the Prussian centre, to be protected with withdrawn flanks. This position while exposed would allow room for reinforcements to deploy and utilised what terrain existed to strengthen the position. On the left the line was somewhat protected by a wooded area. Blucher believed this could be an ideal position for the Landwehr who were known to be brittle in open battle. On the other flank the small town of Beilenberg would mark the Prussian right.

Below, the general situation around 5.30pm, with the Russo-Prussians mostly deployed. Elements of Prussian III Corps have however not yet arrived and nor are all French forces are in the photo.

Blucher’s left was clearly the most exposed and here he placed the next two divisions of I Corps – the infantry divisions are called brigades in Prussian parlance. The Prussian 12th Brigade, some three regiments, under August von Preussen was pushed to the left. Von Roder’s Cavalry Reserve took a more central position on the left.

Blucher however was soon to be surprised. He had expected the French cavalry to be advancing towards his front. Now, at 4.30pm and to his surprise and alarm, French cavalry were reported to be advancing rapidly against his open right flank in a clear turning movement which would unhinge his entire position.

Fortunately Baron Wilhelmovich’ Russian XI Corps had made good time and around 5pm entered the battle area. Blucher ordered Wilhelmovich to deploy on the Prussian right with his two divisions running from the town of Beilenberg due east facing north. They would have to halt this new threat. The various Russian regiments were well supported by position batteries as well as division and corps artillery. Below, the Russians can be seen deployed.

Soon after their deployment the Russians were hit by French light cavalry supported by two horse batteries, shown below.

The stoic Russian musket and cannon fire was to prove devastating. Despite the some initial success, where French cavalry overran two Russian batteries and forced two others to fall back, the Russian infantry remained in place. Having suffered heavy casualties in the initial charges the French cavalry were in no position to suffer the massed fire of the Russian infantry. By 6.30pm the French cavalry had fallen back demoralised and exhausted.

Soon after the attacks on the Prussian right the French infantry moved forward against the Prussian centre and left, despite their preliminary artillery having produced little results. The focus of one such French attack was the point in the Prussian line held by a Reserve Regiment of Pirch’s Brigade and where the Prussian line turned 90 degrees. Below, the point where the French attack would be launched.

Disordered by close range artillery fire the the regiment, along with several others, were assaulted by French cavalry and several infantry regiments. These attacks resulted in several Prussian regiments routing. However, further down the Prussian line determined Prussian brigades fought off a series of French attacks. Around 7.30pm, on the extreme Prussian left, Ney was wounded and the attack thrown back while encouraging one such attack against a Landwehr regiment of von Klux’s Brigade.

Prussian artillery continued to belch death at the French formations assailing the left and that had advanced in support of the attacking regiments. Now a series of localised Prussian counterattacks where launched to reestablish the line, starting at 8pm. With Ney wounded and elements of Prussian III Corps now fully deployed, French resolve for further attacks lessened. The Allied line had held, though the position remained perilous.

The game had been developed using the Road to Glory system. The Allied commander had selected Card 7, Advance Guard – Echelon Centre. In contrast the two French players had selected Card 24, Turning Manoeuvre – Left from the two possible cards they had drawn. All figures are from Heroics & Ros 6mm ranges. The Allies are from my own collection while the French are from Jon’s collection.