This week marks the 150th anniversary of the first large battle of the American civil war, the battle of Bull Run. On the area surrounding Bull Run and Henry House Hill, two inexperienced armies fought a battle, both believing that the war would be fast won. They were wrong.
To mark the anniversary, I decided to play out the battle in 6mm miniature with the popular ACW ruleset, Fire & Fury. This was the first large scale historical battle I've made, and I chose Bull Run as I could make the entire OOB's for the battle instead of doing a small portion of the battle on as big a table as I could make. It took me months of designing, modelling and painting but I made it. The scenario itself is based on the "official" Bull Run scenario from the Fire & Fury eastern battles scenario book, but I've increased the size of the map and changed the scenario from 1 stand equals 150 men / 1"=45 yards to 1 stand equals 200 men / 1" = 60 yards.
We had five players for the most of the game, one commanding each union division and confederate corps. Janne controlled the overall union commander McDowell and Tyler's division, which mostly came through the top right road on the other side of Bull Run. Arto controlled Hunter's division, which was the first deployed against the confederates and Simo controlled Heinzelman's division, which came to support Hunter through the top left road. On the confederate side, Mikke controlled Joseph Johnston, the overall commander and a large division worth of units from the army of the Shenandoah. Mikke's troops were mostly responsible for the first line of defence against the union. The army of the Potomac units under Beauregard were controlled by yours truly, and they arrived on the scene mostly after Johnston's units.
|Here you can see the battlefield from the bottom left corner of the map. The red Stone House makes a good reference point throughout the scenario.|
|A view from the top edge. Mathews Hill on the foreground. Units have not yet been placed.|
|The Stone Bridge is one of three possible crossing points on Bull Run. There is a ford north of here that most of Tyler's division will use.|
As the union reinforcements marched along the road to join the fight, the confederate Louisiana Tigers extended the confederate left flank to protect the forces near Stone House from being flanked. The hardy dockworkers of New Orleans gravely underestimated their opponent though, and the union attack decimated them utterly.
|Meanwhile, Sherman's brigade of Tyler's division marches cautiously towards the ford north of stone bridge. McDowell looks on contentedly.|
|The victorious Hunter moves his forces to occupy the Stone House area.|
The Stone House was now in Union hands and Union batteries were being deployed on the small hill between Mathews hill and Henry House Hill. From here they had a clear line of sight for the whole area. Meanwhile, Thomas Jackson's brigade, having first marched towards stone bridge, reversed course and went to Henry House, as it was in imminent danger of being overrun.
With Stuart's cavalry and a battery of guns, Jackson reinforced the hill. They were however, outnumbered as the confederate forces routing from Stone House couldn't be of help in stopping the Union. Meanwhile, elements of Tyler's division started pouring over the river ford, joining the forces of Heinzelman, who had marched in the same direction instead of reinforcing the Stone House area.
|The union troops were busy pushing aside the remnants of Johnston's troops.|
|The union team plots their movements.|
|The union cavalry strays into the canister range of a confederate battery with deadly results.|
Union forces under Heizelman attempted to further the envelopment of confederate forces by making a quick march along the road to the confederate left. The confederates quickly countered by moving onto the exposed Union column and unleashing a devastating volley on the vulnerable soldiers. The Union column sprang to the safety of the nearby woods to get out of the fire, only to encounter a confederate reinforcement brigade marcing to the field. The union brigade routed in defeat.
|The weary Beauregard watches in despair as the confederate troops put on an effective but ultimately futile defence.|
|Jackson's brigade becomes spent as the last confederate brigade on Henry House Hill, ending the game in favor of the Union at 17:30.|
A major victory for the Union! The early success of the union troops fed itself and even though the confederate side upped their game from midgame onwards, the damage was largely done. The rebels put up a surprisingly stiff resistance though, and at one point, it looked like the game could still tilt towards a confederate victory. The union musketry saved the day in the end, and sent the rebels running for Richmond! As a tabletop game, it was very entertaining and an even challenge for both sides. The confederates should have started their retreat a bit earlier from Stone House, but the defeat of the Louisiana Tigers suprised both rebel commanders. A lot of troops were lost unnecessarily, but it went in a quite realistic fashion, although the end result was far from historical. That's part of the appeal of a historical scenario after all, to see if the players' decisions can change the historical outcome. Good fun was had by all and we even got some non-wargamer spectators who seemed to be glued to the side of the table for hours even though the weather was nice outside.
Now, the cautious McClellan gives me a good, long rest until I'll start working on the next larger scenario. Will it be Shiloh? I don't know yet. I know I will be doing a small battle like Port Republic for a wargames convention this autumn, so I do have something on my hands.