Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Antietam 150th anniversary battle in 6mm

I was supposed to write my anniversary battle report for Antietam yesterday already but I had a chance to play some Musket & Pike instead. I'm sure you understand. Note that there are a lot of pictures in this entry, probably more than you care to see :)

We played our Antietam game last weekend using the brigade Fire and Fury rules. The scenario for the northern part of the battlefield was much, much too big for our combined collections, but the afternoon battle south of Sharpsburg was much more manageable and posed an interesting scenario. In the scenario, Burnside's corps, having been stuck at the soon-to-be-named Burnside's bridge for a good while have finally gotten across and are advancing towards Sharpsburg. It is late in the day, but the Confederate defences are weak there. If successful, Burnside would threaten Lee's line of retreat. They don't know however, that A.P Hill's light division is on it's way from Harper's Ferry to reinforce the defenders.

I won't bore you with a detailed story, but rather put some comments on the pictures. It's not like any of us actually read the text in long battle reports, right?

The historical evening battle [Wikipedia]

Opening setup. The Union forces greatly outnumber the Confederate defenders but a half of the brigades are restricted from moving until a Union brigade holds a portion of Sharpsburg.

Casualties from the fight to take Rohrbach bridge litter the ground.

The chances of the Confederate defenders to stop the Union assault seem remote.

The Union forces advance to take the guns at the Confederate left and receive the opening volleys of the battle.

Union forces advance on the left. The players know of A.P.Hill's imminent arrival and the Union commanders attempt to prevent Hill from having an uninterrupted march route to Sharpsburg. Holding the town at game end will give automatic victory to Union.

Union forces assault both flanks of the Confederates. On the Union right, one brigade rolls over two Confederate batteries silenced by the massed Union artillery. Another brigade reaches Sharpsburg, releasing the rest of the Union forces if not driven off on the Confederate turn.

On the Union left, the assault fails as a tiny Confederate brigade together with a battery of guns refuse to budge. We used the casualty markers as disorder markers and the wagons to indicate low on ammo.

A.P.Hill's light division arrives on the scene. He sends half of his division to Sharpsburg and reinforces the Confederate right with the rest.

Division general Wilcox dies leading the assault on Sharpsburg. The Confederates put up a fight and drive back one of the two enemy brigades there.

Alas, one Union brigade stays in Sharpsburg until the Union turn and releases the rest of the Union forces. The Union forces outnumber the Confederates two to one.

A majority of the released troops move to oppose Hill on the Union left.

A.P.Hill and Wilcox's replacement survey the situation.

The empty spot in the center was previously occupied by a large Union brigade. They routed upon miserably failing their rally.

A large Union brigade punches through the Confederate center, isolating the Confederate force into two parts.

A.P.Hill's brigades reach Sharpsburg and not a moment too soon. After repulsing several assaults, the Confederate defenders are getting worn.

Garnett's brigade (in the foreground) prove Jackson wrong by stubbornly not retreating before a greater enemy force.

The battle is now divided in two parts. In Sharpsburg, the Confederates still refuse to give ground, and on the Union right A.P.Hill's forces are pushing back Union brigades but are in danger of being surrounded.

A Union brigade assaults the Confederate batteries, driving them away. The Confederate brigades are successfully assaulting the Union forces on the right but are being surrounded by the much larger force.

The Confederates in Sharpsburg are also badly outnumbered, but well motivated.

All hell breaks loose in Sharpsburg as the 300 remaining men in Archer's brigade first assault and drive away a 1350 man brigade and then a 900 man brigade! Some medals were earned.

On the Union left the Confederates are enveloped...

...with horrific results.

Low on ammunition, disordered and spent, the Confederates continue their heroic resistance in Sharpsburg. The battle is nearly over as twilight sets in.

The Union forces send fresh troops to the Confederate rear in Sharpsburg.

The generals take stock of the situation as the scenario ends.

The overall situation at nighfall.

The Union forces did not win by default as they didn't have an unspent brigade in Sharpsburg at the end, but the Confederate losses were grave and they lost by victory points.

The scenario started very well for the Union. Their advance was so effortless in fact, that concern was raised over the fairness of the scenario. It wasn't difficult to silence the Confederate guns on the Union right and roll them over with infantry. This made reaching Sharpsburg much easier. Upon reaching Sharpsburg the rest of the Union brigades were released, giving the Union double the troops compared to the Confederates. Most of the Union brigades were green though, and were reduced form Fresh to Worn status by the first losses, a big thing in Fire and Fury. The Confederates fought like hell and I haven't seen quite so many 10's rolled before, but in the end the outnumber factor proved too much for the Confederates to handle. They held Sharpsburg in the end and both sides had suffered roughly equal losses, but the Confederate flank had been turned. Lee would have a hard time retreating unless the cautious McClellan would order Burnside to retreat back behind Antietam creek during the night, convinced there's 100 000 more rebels hiding in the bushes. If not, maybe McClellan's wife would really get something to brag about.

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