Category Archives: American Civil War

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.

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.

Move Swiftly, Strike Vigorously!

Having been held by a determined defence along Praxton Creek on the 23rd August General Lee gave Major General John Pope the slip during the night and flanking the Union position continued his advance north. Pope, ordered the Union army north trying to keep his army between Lee and Washington. Lee for his part was spoiling for a fight and with his army relatively concentrated turned on the 25th of August to strike advanced elements of the Union Army of Virginia.

With Confederate scouts reported the Union forces were generally strung out in line of march. Lee determined to strike swiftly, with a portion of his Army of Northern Virginia attacking two Union divisions. While it was true the Union divisions had the advantage of high ground Lee was determined to retain the initiative. His army was divided into two commands of corps size, one under Longstreet and the other under Jackson. For the forthcoming engagement Longstreet would be able to call upon four divisions, some ten brigades. Jackson would support this with two further large divisions, another eight brigades. Stuart would also add his small cavalry division to the attack. In all General Lee would be able to commit some 30,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and over 72 guns to the attack.

Above and below the Confederates approach the Union forces deployed on Weaver Ridge around 3pm. From left to right are Anderson’s, Jones’ and Ewell’s Divisions. Union forces on the ridge are the 1st and 2nd Divisions from McDowell’s III Corps, Army of Virginia.

Lee moved his army forward in three general bodies. Anderson’s Division would pin the two Union Divisions in place on the wood covered high ground locally known as Weaver Ridge. At the same time Jones’ and Ewell’s Divisions would slide to the right before moving against the exposed Union left and line of communications.

Above Confederate artillery, comprising rifled and smoothbore guns, form a massed battery of 36 guns and begin to bombard the Union left. Simultaneously the Ewell’s Division begin their attack moving swiftly forward. Forno’s Brigade attacks Union guns while Lawton’s Brigade is advancing astride the Kylertown Pike, the main route of advance for Union reinforcements. Five additional brigades extend the Rebel right.

The divisions of Hood, Kemper and Stuart, all relatively small and forming the Confederate left flank, move from the Rebel left and advance on Weaver Ridge from the left, flanking the position. Below, the Confederates advance against the Union right, holding the extreme Union right of Weaver Ridge.

By 5pm the Union reinforcements were arriving. First to deploy was Siegel’ I Corps. No sooner had they deployed these two Union divisions faced another attack, under the watchful eye of General Lee. Below, the Forno’s, Toombs’ and Jones’ Brigades are in the foreground while in the distance Early’s, Lawton’s, Trimble’s and Drayton’s Brigades attack.

While Lee was in the thick of the fighting Jackson moved along the line encouraging troops of Ewell’s Division. “Move swiftly, strike vigorously! These Yankees will break!” Despite the rapid Confederate advance additional Union reinforcements were now pouring on to the battlefield, primarily from Heintzelman’s III Corps, Army of the Potomac. Now increasingly outnumbered the Rebel attack on the right began to stall. Lawton’s Brigade was first to crack. Below, the Rebel brigades in a sea of blue around 6pm.

Meanwhile in the centre, the Union 1st Division had earlier abandoned the safety of Weaver Ridge and advancing through the cornfields attacking the Rebel centre. Below, two Union brigades, along with US Sharpshooters advance on Armistead’s and Mahone’s Brigades, both part of Anderson’s Division. Mahone’s Brigade, shown below on the Confederate left, suffered heavy casualties over two hours of desperate fighting.

Yet Longstreet was feeding in troops. Three Confederate Divisions crossed the south branch of Otter Creek about 5pm. Below, in the foreground, is Hood’s Division, which comprises Hood’s Texan and Whiting’s Brigades. In the distance Kemper’s Division, comprising Kemper’s Brigade and that of Jenkin’s Brigade. Between them are Fitzhugh Lee’s and Robinson’s cavalry brigades from Stuart’s Division.

Now, around 6pm, the exposed Union Division in the Cornfield, is hit from two directions. In the rear by Hood’s Division and from the front by Garrett’s Brigade from Taliaferro’s Division (Jackson’s Corps) and Wright’s Brigade from Anderson’s Division. Hood’s Texans in particular gave the Yankees a surprise, attacking with great élan. Below, the Union 1st Division defends the Cornfield.

While the action in the Cornfield plays out the two brigades of Kemper’s Division attack the final Union brigade holding the Union left supported by Fitzhugh Lee’s dismounted cavalry brigade at 7pm. The combination of all these attacks on the 1st and 2nd Union Divisions were disastrous. Both divisions were driven back in disorder having suffered crippling casualties.

However, Union reinforcements continued to deploy including extending the Union right. Below, two Union infantry brigades prepare to counter-attack while Pleasanton’s cavalry, some three brigades form behind the northern branch of Otter Creek.

Further along Weaver Ridge the shattered Union centre began to be reinforced by another Union division around 8pm. With light fading Longstreet ponders a further attack. Anderson’s Division is itself however nearly exhausted. Any final push would need to be by Hood’s Division, on the left, or Stuart’s dismounted cavalry far left.

On the Confederate right, below, the attack by the southern brigades had stalled earlier and now prepared to face a possible Union counter-attack. Ewell’s Division was exhausted though Jones’ Division remained fresh. Several disordered Union regiments can be seen on Weaver Ridge.

There was no doubt General Lee was pleased with his troops aggressive spirit and determination to advance. The Southerners had fought hard and pressed the Yankees at every turn. One Union Division had collapsed and another exhausted, giving Pope grave concern. However, yet again the hoped for destruction of the Union forces was not complete. The Union army had held.

The scenario was of course another fictional encounter developed using the “Road to Glory” System with each army comprised of 3000 points. The Union commanders had selected “Advance Guard – Echelon Centre #5” while the Confederate commanders selected “Returning Detachment – Reserve #20” and therefore had the burden of attack. Miniatures are all from Heroics & Ros 6mm range, with the Confederates from my collection while Jon provided the Union forces.