Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Fire and Fury Chickamauga scenario

Whoah, it's been a year since I started this blog already? Time to break out the party hats! *toooot*
I'll celebrate with an offering of pictures and tales of battle!

We played a Fire & Fury scenario of Chickamauga a week and a half ago but I've been too busy to write about it until now. As those familiar with Fire and Fury know, the scenarios in the scenario books tend to be a bit large, and by large I mean too damned big for anyone with only a moderate collection of figures. Luckily I found a scenario with a smaller portion of the field presented, and with a very easy terrain setup to boot. The scenario is hosted at by a Simon MacDowall, so be sure to give his site a visit as there's lots of wargaming goodies there.

So, it is September 19th, 1863 in the western theatre of the American Civil War. The scenario depicts the initial fighting on the northern side of the battlefield. Confederate forces are attempting to outflank the Union line. The game fits on a 6'x4' table and took the three of us a full evening to play.

The initial positions. The map is from the scenario at Legio Wargames.

We had three corps on the table so each player took the role of one corps commander, picked randomly. Simo got the lone Union commander, George Henry Thomas, not yet named "the rock of Chickamauga". Janne got Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry general infamous for being the first grand wizard of the KKK. I got Leonidas Polk, just arriving to the scene to drive Forrest's spearhead home. 

The initial positions looking from north towards the south. The yellow fields mark clearings, everything else is wooded. The stream shows so pale blue in the pictures it's easy to mistake for a road.

The game started with the Union preparing to receive the Confederate attack. The Confederates started with Forrest sending Liddell's division to take the crossroads at the clearing, and by sending Pegram's division to harry Brannen's Union division through the woods and behind the stream. Cheatham's division of Polk's corps marched on the map from the southeastern road. The first shots rang out in the clearing.

Opening shots.

The second turn saw the Union forces further consolidate their position in the middle of the clearing. Union reinforcements started moving in from the south.  On the Confederate turn, Walthall's brigade of Liddell's division tried to charge the clearing, but was beaten back badly and retreated after sustaining casualties. The rest of Polk's command arrived from the eastern road. 
Walthall's brigade attempts a charge as one of Polk's divisions arrives on the field.

 Next, Baird's Union division moved to the woods on the center of the field towards Pegram's division, which was exchanging musketry over the stream with Brannen's division. The Confederate forces were split between two distinct forces but the union line was beautifully drawn evenly through the field.

Pegram and Brannen clash at the stream.

After Walthall's failed charge, Liddell's division remains in position and pours musketry and cannonade to the Union line, waiting for Cheatham's division to deploy and threathen the Union right. This gives the Union reinforcements a chance to use the roads to quickly reinforce the line.

Union reinforcements rush to the scene.
General Thomas redresses his line.

At the stream, Pegram bravely rolls two batteries of guns to the front and manages to drive back some of the defenders. The assault by the dismounted confederate cavalry brigades looked like it might succeed, but Baird's division moved in through the woods to support and the confederates found themselves in trouble.

The Confederate attack at the stream falters as Union reinforcements arrive.

The rest of the battle at the stream is fought to a stalemate with neither side gaining the upper hand.

At the clearing, the rebels had regrouped and now attacked the Union line in force. The focus point was at the center of the Union line, as there were two Confederate batteries conveniently placed to support. The Union forces put up a hell of a fight though and inflicted massive casualties on the advancing rebs only to slightly fall back with few casualties themselves.

Polk observes his command advancing into the clearing.

The attack on the center was failing and the brigades in no shape to see the attack through, but there was still one card up the Confederates' sleeve. The Union right was somewhat vulnerable and if the rebs could punch through there, they might be able to cross the clearing and grab a victory (the scenario states that the Confederates must advance past the clearing and inflict superior casulties to the Union to win). 

The Confederate forces attacked the Union right and in a spectacular showing of elan, captured one battery, and drove another battery and an infantry brigade back. However they soaked a lot of canister fire from the batteries doing so, and were reduced to worn status.

The Confederates drive the Union right back.

This was exploited by the Union cavalry waiting in reserve. They launched a dashing charge against the worn out left flank of the rebs and wiped out the remaining four stands in the brigade in a single round!

The Union cavalry slams into the worn Confederates.
The union cavalry shatters Jackson's brigade with a well timed charge.

It was clear at this point that the game was lost for the Confederates. We still had one round of the eight total rounds to play, but decided to call it a night as it was getting late. The fighting at the stream had been inconclusive but the Confederate assault at the clearing had failed miserably. The Union forces had eliminated 21 stands from the Confederate army, losing only 4 infantry stands and 2 artillery batteries in return. This was a clear and resounding victory to the bluebellies!

Final positions at the clearing: The Confederate attack is a disaster and the Union forces move in for the kill.
Final positions in the woods.

As usual, we didn't permit tactical discussion between generals if their models are not adjacent. This usually results in generals being huddled together on the field, but this time the Confederate corps commanders were well apart, and we sent messages using notes carried by couriers. Due to the difficult terrain, these notes arrived about two hours after being sent, which made coordinating our efforts difficult to say the least!

Here's the OOB labels I used in the battle. The labels are for 25mm frontage stands: PDF

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