Category Archives: 1863

Hamstrung at Hazel Run

In September 1863 Longstreet was detached from the Army of Northern Virginia to reinforce the Army of the Tennessee. Likewise the Union army, commanded by Meade, also had troops detached. Lee learned of this and as a result in early October began an offensive sweep around Cedar Mountain with his remaining two corps, attempting to turn Meade’s right flank in what is known as the Bristoe Campaign. Meade turned north and followed. Well, that’s the historic part and from here we delve into a report of our most recent game, set on the 12th of October 1863.

The terrain in the vicinity of Hazel Run was a mix of open farmland and heavily wooded areas. Lee had camped on the southern banks of the Hazel Run with much of his army deployed with their flanks mostly protected by the various creeks, some of which were marshy, that fed into Hazel Run. Lee, now planned to turn early and inflict a crushing defeat at the pursuing Union forces.

Meade, suspecting Lee was dispersed, planned to press Lee’s rearguard eventually bringing on a general action. With limited intelligence he had ordered his advanced elements forward and by 1pm he was near to engaging Lee’s army. His main initial force comprised Warren’s II Corps, of three divisions, two of which were to the left of a large forested area near Widow Payne’s Farm. The wooded area, thick with heavy undergrowth and locally known as Todd’s Wilderness was around one mile in width and an equal distance deep. To Warren’s right was French’s III Corps which comprised only two divisions. Warren, had one division on the right of the Todd’s Wilderness on the Loganville Turnpike, and a further division moving into Todd’s Wilderness.

It was soon apparent to Meade that he was far from engaging Lee’s rearguard. Across the rich farmlands and spreading north of Todd’s Wilderness was Ewell’s Corps of three strong divisions under command of Rodes’, Early and Johnson. Together these three divisions comprised 12 brigades, with Rodes’ division being the strongest with five brigades. To the Rebel right two further divisions, drawn from A.P Hill’s Corps and under command of Heth and Anderson respectively. These divisions were, by 1.30pm, converging on Warren outnumbered forces.

Above, the area of battle viewed from the west. The Confederates are visible on the left (north) and elements of Meade’s Army of the Potomac on the right. Central is the open farmland which includes Widow Payne’s Farm, while behind is Todd’s Wilderness. Both areas are bordered by various streams that converge on Hazel Run to the north. Two divisions of Hill’s III Corps are visible in the left foreground.

Below, a view of Warren’s II Corps in the vicinity of Widow Payne’s farm. General Meade, now aware he is facing Lee’s veterans who are fully concentrated, has ridden forward to ensure his veterans of Gettysburg are well deployed. Two advanced brigades will fall back before the butternut and grey ranks of Lee’s legions. They will then form a line with Warren’s artillery. Warren’s artillery, comprising rifles and Napoleons are visible just prior to their deployment.

Below, elements of Rodes’ Confederate Division move to the attack, advancing through Todd’s Wilderness and across open farmland. Rifle fire is illustrated as the two armies come to grips in the Wilderness.

Meanwhile on the Union right flank the artillery of both armies began to exchange fire across Simpson’s Creek which cuts across the Loganville Turnpike. Initially Union artillery concentrated on the Rebel artillery, but as they were found to comprise a concentration of Napoleons French requested his artillery commander to switch to engaging the Rebel infantry. Here they plied their trade with determination eventually forcing elements of Early’s Division to retire. The Union infantry here are mostly from Birney’s Division.

Meanwhile, back at Widow Payne’s the Rebels we’re pressing forward with determination. Confronted with a fully deployed Union line Lee ordered the deployment of his artillery supported by increasing numbers of infantry, shown below. Clearly Lee was attempting to pin the deployed Union ranks while he worked for advantage in the woods.

Unfortunately for the Rebels Lee lacked the required numbers in the Wilderness. Further, the thick undergrowth made it difficult for the Confederate to press the outnumbered Union infantry. As a result, Lee’s attacks started to stall. Below, a view of the eastern end of Todd’s Wilderness where Prince’s Division was hotly engaged. Prince’s veterans held their ground despite horrific casualties.

Below, a more general view around 3pm when the first of Meade’s reinforcements, Sedgwick’s VI Corps started to arrive. First to reinforce the blue lines were the divisions of Wright and Terry. The creek defining the Federal left flank was marshy and as such created a significant obstacle to Anderson’s Division visible in the left foreground. In the area of Payne’s Farm the green markers denote stationary brigades and artillery battalions while yellow denote those that have become disordered.

By 6pm Sedgewick’s VI Corps was fully deployed and forming up on a line 600 yards behind the original Union positions. Wright and Howe’s Divisions formed the new line and were bolstered by Sedgewick’s Corps artillery, as can be seen below.

Just prior to 7pm the final Confederate attack occurred. Near Payne’s Farm three Rebel brigades launched one final attack on the 2nd Brigade of Terry’s Division. Meade and Lee were both present as the butternut waves moved forward, with a familiar battle cry. They were met by an equally horrific reply – a hail of rifle fire swept which repeatedly through the trees and brambles. The Federal line held, and the Confederates were forced back.

With darkness intervening Lee had to consider his options. Three of his divisions were all but exhausted, having suffered heavy casualties. Opposite Meade’s army was marginally in a worse condition. Two Union divisions were exhausted or near exhaustion, and Webb’s had collapsed. However, Union reinforcements were now fully deployed and overnight more reinforcements would likely bolster the Union lines. Lee had no other choice. He had been hamstrung at Hazel Run, but the campaign was not yet over. Using the cover of night he pulled back and continued his march north covered by his cavalry.

The scenario was of course a fictional encounter developed using the scenario system “Road to Glory”. The Confederate commander having selected the Card 25 “Full Deployment” was concentrated while the Union army was more dispersed it’s commander having selected Card 10 “Build-up Echelon Right”. All miniatures are from my own 6mm collection with infantry based on 1 1/2 square bases.


Across the Rappahannock – 1863

It has been a while since I’ve posted here so I thought it opportune to post a short summary of our most recent game. This time with a lack of photos the report is somewhat brief. The encounter was a fictional American Civil War engagement developed using the Road to Glory. Each army comprised 3000 points but the card system ensured a very challenging game as troops arrived over the course of the game. In game turns the Union commander opted for a low card, Advance Guard Left #2 but with only a small portion of his army it would be several hours until the Union forces were deployed. The Confederate commander selected Returning Detachment #18. Only two divisions were not on table and even these would arrive before any Union reinforcements. 

Lee’s army, having given the main Union army the slip, had crossed the Rappahannock in two groups. Under his immediate command were two Corps. II Corps, under Ewell, was concentrated and elements of A.P Hill’s Corps would be on the field soon.  Lee, aware of the situation seized the initiative and ordered a general advance.

The Union forces on the field were well to his right. Therefore all his divisions would echelon to the right and attack. They would have insufficient time to form up in direct support but rather advance to the right in succession.

Rhodes’ Division, Lee’s largest at five brigades, would advance from the centre and attacked at an angle the Union left. Adam’s Brigade showed much valour as it swept forward and into the Union line in an area known as the angle, where the Union line sharply turned 90 degrees. The initial attack was supported by two artillery battalions, and later Dole’s Brigade. To Adam’s right Daniel’s and Iverson’s Brigades advanced in support. They formed a dramatic picture as they advanced through cornfields into rifled musket range of the blue clad enemy. Having exchanged musket fire soon these two brigades would surge forward. As some Union brigades crumbled others realigned in a desperate attempt to halt the Rebel attacks.

In the coming hours additional Union divisions deployed and were thrown into line, extending the Union line and forming the Union centre. As they deployed elements of Johnson’s Confederate Division and artillery aligned opposite some 800 yards distant. The Rebel artillery here, drawn from several divisions eventually comprised some 50 cannon and outnumbered the Union guns.

Above, the Rebel centre as the gun line begins to form. A portion of a large wooded area is visible on the left.

A large wooded area covered the Union right. Additional Union reinforcements, drawn from three Union Divisions, deployed in the open as elements of two Confederate divisions pressed through the woods. Early’s Division advanced on the left while three brigades from Johnson’s division provided support on their right. A vigorous exchange took place, with the Rebels forming in parts along the wood edge while in other areas attacking through the woods Union Brigades that had advanced into the woods. In time the initial Rebel advantage here was lost and as the battle continued several butternut brigades were forced back deeper into the woods.

Meanwhile, on the Confederate right, Rebel forces continued to focus their attacks on the Union left. Heth’s Division, having marched rapidly by road to the far Rebel right deployed to attack.

Below, on the right, the brigades of Pettigrew and Archer prepare to attack the disorganised Union left. Daniel’s Brigade has just completed a successful attack on the angle. The resulting retreat by the Union brigade holding the angle has disordered several other Union brigades. The large field in the foreground contained a large cornfield and slowed the initial Rebel advance.

For a time Heth’s Division looked set to sweep the exposed Union left from the field. However, Union forces, yet again, extended the line before the Union line could be broken. Indeed, Union forces now overlapped Heth’s Division and in turn advanced tentatively against the Rebels. As casualties mounted Pettigrew’s and Archer’s Brigades were driven back.

As darkness bought peace to the battlefield Lee realised he had no other option but to retire. His attack had not achieved the result he had hoped for. While Union forces had suffered heavy casualties his outnumbered army and his gamble, had failed. Yet the Army of Northern Virginia remained ready for battle…