Saturday, December 31, 2016

Stonewall in the Valley (6) - Pursuit (1)


Daybreak 21 May 1862.  The pursuit begins, led by
Confederate cavalry, the flying artillery, and 15th
Alabama Infantry.

The Virginia songbirds, at daybreak of 21 May 1862. had barely cleared their syringes to give clear voice to their dawn chorus, when General N.P. Banks's command took to the road back the Strasburg. The previous night's sharp little action showed the road was blocked by a greatly superior force. Who knew where the detachment under Colonel Knipe was, and nothing had been heard of General Shields.  Was he even in the Shenadoah Valley at all? For his part, General Fremont was still well out of the picture.  It was no means certain he was east yet of the Allegheny Mountains.  It would be at least two days before he could enter the picture with effect.  The road east was, for the time being at least, firmly closed to Union traffic.

As the cavalry fight develops, the rear Union regiments
deploy to form a rearguard.
 An habitual early riser as he was, and a deal more dynamic than his sobriquet might suggest, General T.J. 'Stonewall' Jackson had his command as rapidly in motion.    Leading the pursuit rode the cavalry regiments of Colonels Munford and Ashby, accompanied by Captain Chew's 'flying' battery. Fifteenth Alabama of General Trimble's Brigade led the infantry along the road. 

Confederate infantry ignoring and hurrying by the cavalry fight.
Outnumbered three to one, 1st Michigan Cavalry were to
administer a sharp check to the Rebel horsemen.
For this action, I adapted one of the scenarios from the Grant & Asquith Scenarios For All Ages book.  Namely: Scenario 7: 'Hot Pursuit'.   Certain adjustments I had to make for this action.  Readers familiar with the scenario will observe no stream or creek athwart the road - at least, not yet.  I also decided early on that it would be likely I would have to 'scroll' the table.  That will become evident from the pictures later on.  At that point, the creek makes its appearance
Results of the first clash - a 5-all draw.  But Ashby's unit
 took all 5 (whilst inflicting 2 only).  Naturally, they break off
in rout.

From the outset, General Jackson's plan was clear.  First off, he detained General Winder, with his 'Stonewall' Brigade and two gun batteries, to guard his rear, in particular to keep watch and ward upon the Front Royal road.  He did consider ordering Winder to march back to the McCoy's Ford turnoff, but as that might carry his brigade beyond timely help should he encounter a superior force, caution prevailed.  Wait, and if necessary hold.

For the rest, the cavalry and Chew's battery would march rapidly along a line south of and parallel to the road.  If they could overreach the head of the Union column well and good.  At any rate, their purpose was to force Banks to deploy his whole strength.  Meanwhile, the infantry and two batteries of light artillery would march straight down the road, and deploy if and when the enemy did.  Colonel Brodhead, commanding the single battalion of 1st Michigan Cavalry, at once appreciated the danger. Undaunted by the odds facing him - three to one - he ordered the charge.  That order had at the same time gone out on the Confederate side.   In an attempt to save time both cavalry regiments split in two, attacking with the lead halves, and hoping that the unengaged elements would be permitted to carry out their pursuit of the hurrying infantry.


The second clash, as Confederate reserves join the action.
The Union outdoes its early performance, and again holds
its own.  But the cost is too high.  Having held up the
Rebel cavalry for an hour, the remnants break off and flee...
In an astonishing feat of arms, 1st Michigan (15 figures) held its own in the first clash against both opponents (10 from 2nd Virginia, 11 from the 7th) inflicting five casualties and taking just as many. Munford's Regiment got the better of their encounter, inflicting 3 casualties for no loss.  It was Ashby who took the drubbing, inflicting 2 casualties but taking no fewer than 5!  That part of Ashby's command promptly bolted, forcing the gallant Colonel to throw in the balance of his regiment to restore fortunes. For its part, the Union cavalry passed its morale test, as did Munford's.  The fight continued.
Union backstop, as the earlier rearguard is forced back or
retires from the action.
If the first encounter redounded to the credit of the Union horse, the following melee merely added further laurels..  Ten figures now faced twenty-two.  Even so, the Union still gave as good as they got - three figures lost on both sides.  Of course, with over half the battalion dead, wounded or unhorsed, that was the end of the line for 1st Michigan.  Its remnants broke off and fled into the woods to their rear, from whence they were to make their escape.  The Confederates were left in possession of the field, but wiping their bloody noses as they prepared to resume the pursuit.
Munford's cavalry begin to reassemble after the early cavalry action.
Mwanwhile Capt. R. P. Chew's artillery has raced ahead to
engage the Union artillery on the far ridge...
By their magnificent 1st Michigan they had probably saved Banks's command from annihilation - certainly from a worse mauling than it did receive.  (The Union dice rolling was good, but not remarkably so,  Rather, the Confederate dice rolling was truly, and outstandingly, horrible - you rarely get to see the like). That left just half of Munford's cavalry, and Chew's guns, immediately to take up the pursuit.  Once rallied, the engaged half were able to catch up and rejoin the chase. Colonel Ashby, on the other hand, regrouped his horse, taking a good hour to rally his routed troopers.  That might, as things transpired, not have been such a bad thing.

I had intended here to carry on the narrative of the pursuit, but it seems to me that the gallant fight of the 1st Michigan Cavalry deserved a posting all of its own.  So I will delete the following - wow 15 - pictures and continue another time....
Confederate infantry in pursuit.
  To be continued...










....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Stonewall in the Valley (5): Overnight Decisions.


As the warm May afternoon sun sank slowly towards the western mountains, all seemed tranquil in the small Virginia settlement of Front Royal.  The earlier scare of the Confederate approach had died down. The road south, up the South Fork valley, remained, so far as Colonel  Knipe (USA) was concerned, untrod by rebel feet.


Daybreak - or shortly after - 21 May 1862.  Michigan cavalry
and a flying battery cover the Union retreat.
It was, then, something of a surprise to hear, just on 4 o'clock an ominous rumbling coming from the direction of the Strasburg road.  As innocent as the blue sky was of storm clouds, that could mean but one thing: gunfire.  It continued on, as well.  Clearly, some kind of encounter was occurring somewhere along that  road.
Union wagons lead Gordon's Brigade, which is in turn
followed by Donnelly's.  

What to do?  At this time, the good Colonel knew that General Shields's command would be marching through the Blue Ridge Mountains via  Chester Gap, but would not be arriving until early the following forenoon.  Dare he leave Front Royal ungarrisoned, and march for the guns?  Should he wait for some clarification before deciding.  After all his orders were to hold this village.  Maybe he ought to wait until morning - even for General Shields.  




Colonel Knipe's command comprised:

- 46th Pennsylvania Infantry  (27 figures)
- 3d Wisconsin Infantry (27 figures)
- 1st Maine Cavalry (15 figures)
- Bty M/ 1st New York Artillery (4 figures and a smoothbore Napoleon cannon) 

This decision I subjected to a die roll, and, as it transpired, Col Knipe didn't shally-shally about.  His superior officer was probably in trouble, he would help if he could, even though he would  barely have crossed the South Fork river bridge by dark.  He would resume the march at once the following day.  Meanwhile he would send a courier to Shields stating the case.

Donnelly's brigade on the march - but for how much longer?
For his part, General Shields was too distant to hear the gunfire, and, though through the Blue Ridge, was still well over an hour short of Front Royal when darkness called a halt to the day's march.  He did receive Knipe's message, however, and, in consequence, also found himself faced with a decision. In some ways it was more likely that he would follow Knipe's lead the following day (though it would be not until noon that he could contact Jackson's army).  Would he wait for further information?  Perhaps he should detach a force to guard McCoy's ford?
Confederates in hot pursuit, the cavalry and elements of
Trimble's Brigade leading.  The Michigan cavalry
hurl verbal defiance...

General Nathaniel P. Banks was not altogether displeased with his troops' fight against the redoubtable 'Stonewall' Jackson, but his situation was not a comfortable one.  The day's encounter had been quite unexpected when it happened, and it was clear that the Confederates heavily outnumbered his own.  Could he expect help from his subordinate, Col Knipes?  His message to him carried no instructions to meet him half way, but rather to wait, and try to hold Front Royal if attacked.  General Shields could not be far short of that place by this time, but reliance upon his intervention might be more problematic.  He could not be up before noon, that was plain.  It was one thing to sustain a two-hour fight at two to one odds.  Accepting the task for six hours was a whole other matter.  Delaying action, then?  To gain time for... what?  For whom?

Cavalry action!  The outcome you will have to wait for until
next time...
Retreat, then.  Very well: at once, or wait until dawn?  To retreat at once would gain a little time (I allow an overnight  move of 1 hex only to retire from a battlefield or to break contact.  It is not much of a start when the enemy are faster moving, but it is something!).  But any stragglers as yet uncollected would have to be abandoned (a matter of 8 figures the Union would not get back overnight from the days' losses). The alternative would be to wait until morning, and hope to fight of the pursuit that the Confederate 'foot cavalry' could be trusted to mount (I set the decision at these options, giving equal weight to the three).  The General stared into the flames of his campfire as he quietly issued his orders.  His little army must be ready to march at dawn.

To be continued...



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stonewall in the Valley 4 - The first battle.

Army of the Valley encounters Union troops coning the other way.

When, on 20th May 1862, the Army of the Valley stumbled into General Banks's command on the Strasburg-Front Royal road, the day was already well advanced - just two hours more of daylight to be expected.  Even so, General Jackson - the redoubtable Stonewall - was ready to fight, and his Union counterpart, whatever his feelings on the matter, was in no position now to decline the invitation.
Donnelly's Brigade deployed across the road; Gordon's
hastening to extend the right flank.
The following action would comprise just four game moves, each of half an hour.  That is not long for a decisive result to be achieved, despite the fact that my 1:900 ground scale and 1:30 time scale yield quite generous movement rates (especially on a 6ftx4ft (180cm x 120cm) table.  I enacted that, as this was a meeting engagement, both sides could deploy up to a foot (30cm) in from the long table edges astride the east-west road, 6 units - infantry, cavalry or gun - apiece.  The rest had to march onto the table.  I stretched a point by having the road branch to the south, and with Confederates entering from the south-eastern corner,  Even then, Trimble's Brigade of Ewell's Division would be starting off table. 
5th Connecticut draw first blood: opening up a very effective
long range rifle fire against 27th Virginia: 6 volley groups of 4
figured, Die Range 2 (only score of 1 or 2 count); 7 hits!
Those 7 hits worked out to 4 'casualties'.

The narrative.

The Union began the action with Donnelly's Brigade, supported by two batteries, astride the road about the walled farm, whilst the 1st Michigan Cavalry Battalion guarded the northern flank against a sweep by mounted Confederates along the Manassas Gap Railroad line that passed by a tract of forest. That forest was about to be occupied by 28th New York Volunteers.  Advancing into the walled field marched the 1st Maryland, and, on the other side of the road the 5th Connecticut kept pace.  Between the two deployed the rifled cannon of Battery F, 4th U.S. Artillery.

Taliaferro's Brigade moving up to support the Stonewall
Brigade already attacking Donnelly.
Leading the Confederate column were the two cavalry regiments, Munford's 2nd and Ashby's 7th - both Virginia Regiments - together with Chew's battery of 'flying' artillery.  They were followed by the already famous 'Stonewall' Brigade under Brigadier-General Charles Winder.  As the infantry advanced against the farm, the cavalry swung further north, where Munford's horsemen dismounted into a line of skirmishers facing the forest, where they were to be joined by Chew's Napoleon guns.  Ashby's remained mounted as a deep flank guard.
First action: 29th Pennsylvania opens fire at long range.
Following immediately behind the 'Stonewall' Brigade, Talioferro's Virginians marched up the road until reaching Broadchurch Tavern , where the roads met.  Taylor's Louisiana brigade leading the way, Ewell's Division was to attack the Union right, where Gordon's Brigade began to extend the Union flank.
The engagement has become general all along
the line, with the sun dipping towards the western
 mountains.  The Tigers pass though a small wood; whilst
6th Louisiana can find room only for its column formation.
Brigadier-General Gordon's lead regiment, 2nd Massachusetts, was soon to draw the undivided attention of two Louisiana regiments and the Louisiana Washington Artillery.  Though accurate and well directed fire eventually forced 7th Louisiana to fall back - albeit in good order - the pressure became too much for their Union opponents.  Before the rest of Gordon'e Brigade could offer effective help,  2nd Massachusetts crumpled and broke.  
Action on the Confederate left
This disaster did not come before some reverses on the Confederate side.  As before mentioned, the Massachusetts regiment had driven back one of the Louisiana units, and in the centre, Fifth Connecticut and its supporting battery of smoothbore cannon had so battered 27th Virginia, that that unit fell back in considerable confusion.  By this time, however, Taliaferro's Brigade stood ready to fill the gaps.  Tenth Virginia advanced into the space left by the 27th, while on the other flank, 37th Virginia  began to push into the line between 5th Virginia, and Munford's skirmish line.  The small battalion of Louisiana Tigers also came in for a terrible mauling, but these stalwart Irishmen refused to     budge,and gave as good as they got in the mutual blood-letting.  
Action on the Confederate right
 As the Confederates fed more troops into the battle line - as much as they could find space for - the Union resistance began gradually to falter.  The collapse of 2nd Massachusetts could not be made good.  29th Pennsylvania was locked in its deadly duel with the Louisiana Tigers and 27th Virginia, then, when the latter fell back,  21st North Carolina.  But 27th Indiana, still winding its way through the trees behind the battle line, was too far off to restore the flank before nightfall.  They lined the edge of the woods instead. 
Donnelly\s Brigade is hard pressed but holding it own.

Meanwhile, the Stonewall brigade had pressed on despite the defeat of its left-hand regiment. The lead elements of Taliaferro's Brigade added themselves to the line, and gradually, with steadily mounting casualties, the Union troops began to edge back.  The protection of the stone wall and the forest trees notwithstanding, 1st Maryland and 28th New York were both driven back a good 100 yards (4 inches or 10cm).  Having been driven from the protection of the stone wall, the New Yorkers' loss mounted rapidly.  They were to lose a quarter of the total Union battle losses, but, surprisingly, they remained in the battle line.
.
5th and 33rd Virginia close up to the stone wall -
 point blank range!
Night drew in with the Union line under heavy pressure, but with no decisive success for the Confederates.  The Brigades of Taliaferro and Trimble had hardly become involved in the action, only 37th Va and 21 N.C from each having fired off their rifled muskets.
A view of the field at the end of the day, looking north.

After the Battle.

For all the brevity of the action, hard knocks had been taken and given.  The total losses were 42 Confederate - 38 from the Stonewall and Louisiana Brigades, and 47 Union. Donnelly's Brigade on the Union left, incurred well over half, despite the protection of cover for most of the action. Considering the odds and the closeness of the fighting, it could have been a deal worse.
Two regiments of Taliaferro's Brigade waiting to be unleashed...


Donnelly's Brigade about to be driven in.  28th New York
still lines the forest edge but not for much longer...
With nightfall, it lay with General Banks what now to do.  The options were:

1.  Fall back at once overnight.  Now, I didn't allow night marches as such, but a retreat of one map hex was allowed as an option.  This, however did impact upon the total battle losses.

2.  Wait until morning and then retreat.

3.  Resume the action the following day as a species of delaying action.



After the battle, the battle losses were treated as dead, wounded, missing and ... stragglers.  If the army remained on the field at the end of the day and overnight, half the losses (rounded down) were classed as stragglers, who returned to the colours.  But the army that had to abandon the field, even voluntarily,  received just one-third of those losses back.  The remainder were regarded as prisoners of war.

CSA left flank advancing.

In this case, The Army of the Valley got back 21 men, distributed according as the losses were incurred.  Munford's Cavalry having lost three figures got just the one back to balance the two figures returned to 37th Virginia, which also lost three.   Whether Banks's command got  23 figures back or 16 depended upon his decision. 

This was decided by a straight die-roll .  Banks elected to remain on the field overnight and make his way back to Strasburg the following morning.  There was no real need to 'program' Jackson's decision.  



"The enemy is there," he declared, "and there I will strike him."

General view, with light fading.  Nightfall closed the action.

To be continued... 'Hard marching: hard fighting.'


Sunday, December 18, 2016

'Stonewall' in the Valley (3): The Campaign Begins...


The CSA Army of the Valley, commanded by
Major-General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson.

I thought I should begin the narrative in medias res - sort of ... jump right in the middle.  The action at Kernstown was some six weeks back, and then General Jackson had taken his own Division, leaving General R.S. Ewell's at Pine Run Gap, and struck a blow at part of General Fremont's command at McDowell.  Now he was back at the head of the Shenandoah Valley, his Army united, and ready to strike ... and set the Union army once more into a frenzy of action.

In the following I thought I would relate the story more by way of the mechanics, just interspersing it here and there with the historian's narrative.

The campaign begins - in medias res.
Evening 18 May 1862


Jackson in the Valley Campaign

I'll make a start on the Shenandoah thing today, beginning with the location of the forces, and weather charts. Logistics will be handled by line-of-communication.  My preliminary thoughts are these.
Dispositions of the 3 Union positions begin (roughly) as they were on Sunday 18 May 1862. The campaign opens on  Monday,19th May.

Sitting in his headquarters, Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks was feeling more than a little lonely as cut off from the rest of the world.  A few days before his army was at Harrisonburg, far up the southern end of the North Fork valley of the Shenadoah River.  Where had Jackson gone?  And now, he was back here at Strasburg; thirty miles to the south, the Confederate Army of the Valley had once more made its appearance, and with a very bellicose look about it.  General Banks figured he needed support, and needed it fast.  

First off, he detached part of his command to Front Royal - a precaution against anything the Rebs might try via the South Fork valley.  Then he telegraphed Washington to request assistance from the Command of Brig-Genl James Shields, known to lie half a day's march east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  He had already sent a courier with a small mounted escort to General Fremont of the Mountain District.  Even so, it would be several days before either could intervene...

UNION:
- Fremont is at Franklin, his leading Division having received a knock at McDowell:
- Shields is off the map somewhere a half day's march east of Warrenton, with  (possibly) a small detachment at Rectortown (Brig-Genl Geary). Shields moves onto the  map at Warrenton at the beginning of Campaign move 2.
- Banks is at Strasburg, having prepared defences against attack.  He has left a detachment at Front Royal (probably dice for this) against a flanking move up the South Fork valley.
- Saxton remains at Harper's Ferry


Situation: Noon to Evening 19 May 1862.
Uncertainty reigns in Union headquarters.
 Where is Jackson?


CONFEDERATE:

Begin at Harrisonburg.  Two possible moves:

A:   Move straight up the North fork Valley to Strasburg and attack Banks whilst he is isolated from his pals.  He can arrive in front of at mid day  20th May. In view of this he may delay a half-day to arrive at nightfall, for attack on the 21st (Tuesday).

B.  The historical move: march up the North Fork valley to New Market, then cross the Massanutten mountain range, take the White House Bridge, into Luray and then up to front Royal, with the view to carrying or seizing the river crossings to Cedarville and take Strasburg in the rear.  If unopposed, the army would arrive at Front Royal at mid-afternoon on the 20th.  
C:   Allegheny Johnson is at McDowell looking as menacing as he can.  

One of A or B is a 'ghost' - Dame Rumour roaming the countryside.



Major-General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, 'Old Blue Light' to his loyal soldiers, had at last decided it was high time to strike a serious blow in the valley; really make Washington notice.  Kernstown had not been very satisfactory, though it had succeeded in drawing off some support from the major Union effort in tidewater Virginia.  McDowell had eased the pressure in the southwest mountain passes.  But they had been pinpricks, and tactically indecisive at that.  There was Banks's command - no help for days.  Time to strike!

Let's call the situation at noon 20th May.
UNION:
- Fremont has marched hard to reach a half-way point between Petersburg and Moorefield.  He has kept his cavalry by him, one leading, the other covering his ... rear.
- Shields is a half day's march east of the Manassas gap.
- Banks is quaking at Strasburg wondering whether to go or to stay.  

The detachment (if any) at Front Royal will have been joined by the detachment under Geary (if any) at dusk the previous day.

Dawn  to Noon 20 May 1862
General Banks in a quandary  Is Jackson marching directly upon
him, or has he crossed the Massanutten Mountains into the
South Branch Valley?

Issues:

- 1.  


I have been talking of a 12-move day game, which I reduced from a 24-move that goes with my figure and ground scale (900:1 ground; 30:1 time).  But a 6-move half-day battle is too short, let alone a 3-move late afternoon one.  I think I'll have to retain the 24-move battle game.  You will see what the impact of this decision is later on.  That:

- a) assumes, that if he marches direct on Strasburg, Genl Jackson will order a frontal attack on the place, which I think he must.  No need to roll a die for this: TJ came to attack, attack he will. 

- b) Banks has to decide whether to stand and fight, or retreat.  This must be decided BEFORE we roll to see whether the forces on the other side of Fisher's Hill are real or rumour.  It can be done on a die roll, or I can simply decide he'll stay.  General Banks might not have been the cleverest general, but he was prepared to fight, so I reckon he's likely to stay.  This was in fact determined by a die roll, but I made it two-to-one on his staying put, He did.
- 2


I suddenly realise that I have issued far too many cannon, 18 Union and 9 Confederate. What was I thinking?  Was I thinking?  I've halved the numbers, except that Chew's battery remains part of Jackson's cavalry command.  Fremont and Shields have three, and, to redress a mistake I made concerning Banks, his command gets four.  One of these has been detached and is with Col Knipe at Front Royal.

Continuing the narrative:



Having decided that Banks will accept battle we roll the die. 50-50 call: ODDs real, EVENs, rumour... AND IT'S... ... rumour.

Probably just as well.  I've looked at the Strasburg area, and it looks like a tricky place to attack from the south - awkward on account of a big loop of the Shenandoah across the right half of the front, and an enormous forest de-marking the field on the left (it would have formed a table edge.)

What that means is that the real force is identified as three hours south of Front Royal.  If the Union has any force at that town, it will have to fight for 6 late afternoon game moves - supposing Jackson marches directly upon that place...

It turns out there was no detachment under Brig-Gen Geary at Rectorstown (I had a range of possibilities ranging from nothing (D6=1,2) to 2 Ft, 1 Cav and 1 gun (D6-6) from Shields's Division .  I rolled a 2, but Banks had stationed at Port Royal a force of 2 infantry regiments, 1 Cavalry battalion and a section (1 gun) of artillery.  The CSA has 6 hours to clear away this force and to carry the bridges.  As it transpired, Col Knipe was left at Front Royal with an artillery battery, and yet Banks still has three with him as events will show.  But giving Banks four batteries retains the overall two-to-one ratio of Union to Confederate ordnance (10 to 5 from 18 to 9).  

Afternoon 20 May 1862
Banks discovers there is no threat to his front, but that
surely means...?


Meanwhile, Genl Banks, made aware that a large Rebel force is about to descend upon his flank guard has to decide what to do about it: nothing, retreat, or take part or the whole of his command at Strasburg off to help.  Even if he marches at once, (starting at midday) he will not reach Front Royal but will still be just across the South Fork River from Front Royal at dusk.  Shields will be closer, to the east, having crossed the Manassas Gap during the afternoon. On these grounds, Banks makes an uncharacteristically bold decision.



This could be interesting, depending on Banks's decision, with the Rebs caught between two Union Divisions come the morning of 21 May.

What does Banks do?
1. Nothing
2. Fall back to Middleton
3. Send balance of brigade at once to Front Royal after '1 hex (one hour)' delay ( 2 infantry)
4. Send balance of Brigade (2 infantry regiments) to Front Royal immediately
5. March with whole force to Front Royal after '1 hex' delay.
6. March with whole force to Front Royal immediately, sending the cavalry battalion on ahead (Cav arrives FR at 4pm).

The roll was a ‘5’ – Banks took an hour to gather together his army and march to Front Royal.  He will be two hours short of the place at nightfall.

Late afternoon 20 May 1862.  General Banks has found
Genl Jackson's Army.  Though it is perhaps fairer said that
Jackson's army has found him!

Late Afternoon 20 May 1862

Genl Jackson had arrived at McCoy’s Ford, and not having yet made contact with enemy, took the opportunity of further mystifying the enemy.  The peregrinations of the Army of the Valley was to take another strange turn.  Would they continue straight on to Front Royal, or, having reached McCoy's ford across the Shenadoah South Fork, take that route and place themselves between the commands of Banks and Knipe?



There being no contact at this point, it was possible, and reasonable to create a second 'ghost' army.  The options were:
A. March straight on to Front Royal and carry the place (ODDs roll); or
B. Cross the ford and strike for the Starsburg-Front Royal Road (EVENs roll).
I made the decision a 50-50 call, but as pushing on would have been the more likely (not to say historical!), a 66-33 bias would have been reasonable. 

As contact with the Front Royal garrison takes place slightly before that with Banks, the roll was made with 6 'game' moves (3 hours) left of the day, I simply decided to determine which was the real army, which pretty much was going to lead to a fight. Probably I was being generous to Col Knipe.  In the real campaign, one Col Z.T. Conner (CSA)  was to be left in command of the place, and didn't make much of it. 

'Do you call that fighting, sir?' was Stonewall's blistering response to Conner's abject report.

The roll clearly determined that 'Dame Rumour' has once more given vent to her lies, and that Jackson, though close, was not on the road directly south.  As there was no occasion to call into being another 'ghost' army (which must always begin its moves from the same point as the real one), there was going to be a collision towards the end of the day. Four game moves remain of the day.  Will General Jackson engage at once using what remains of the afternoon?  Or will he await the dawn? 

General N.P. Banks's command, less detachments at
Front Royal.  In the coming encounter at 'Passage Creek'
they will be outnumbered, two to one.
And what of the commands of Shields and Fremont?  At this time, Fremont was still a good two days' march from Strasburg.  But Shields was closer, much closer.  Already his columns were snaking through the Blue Ridge Mountain pass at Manassas Gap...

To be continued: 20th May 1862: Battle of ‘Bridgewood Farm’ or ‘Passage Creek’ .

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Update on Army Men...

Some pics of some recent items acquired and painted up...
Carrier Artillery tractor with crew.
This is by way of an entr'acte between postings on the Stonewall in the Valley campaign narrative. On that score I already have enough material for a good three or four postings, but still have to put together the narrative.  A late afternoon and a morning action have already been fought, and another is imminent.  It is possible that 'Stonewall' Jackson has placed his head in a noose!
Infantry gun and friend...

The spring mecnanism on this one is in working order.
Won't be using it, though.

Armoured car in Raesharn livery camo.
A Kiivar Reconaissance aircraft overflying a Raesharn column
in bivouac.  This was a toy plane I think I picked up abandoned in the street.
It was going to be an interceptor, but I thought it more
suited to a less bellicose role...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Stonewall In the Valley - Part 2.

A Division of Infantry with the bases (finally!) flocked. The flags
are all hand drawn or painted.
 Now that I have begun thinking about an American Civil War project, I have bethought me at last to finish off and tidy up my plastic armies.  In particular, I have reorganised and rejuvenated the cavalry, and reformed them in units larger than they were, as described in my last posting.  In the last week of so I finished the flocking on 92 cavalry plus maybe a dozen other mounted figures.
Overhead view.  The small Zouave d'Afriques unit was fashioned
from Airfix French foreign Legion figures, with plasticene
turbans.
 But since then I've been carrying out the same task - flocking the bases - of my infantry.  In about a week I have flocked the bases for 351 Union and 397 Confederate figures - a total of 748!  In the picture below, only the Zouave d'Afriques unit has already been flocked, but there I had to repair a couple of figures that had snapped off just above the ankle.  The flags are all home made.  The distant ones are tin - milk-bottle top, I think.  The nearer are paper, the design drawn with pen and the colours applied by felt-tip pens designed for overhead projector transparencies (do people still use those?).
A third photo from sheer self-indulgence.  The small bunch of
mounted troops are CSA cavalry officers and replacements.


A powerful CSA brigade of three regiments and
two battalions.  The Louisiana Tigers are in the
centre of the line.
In the picture to the right and  below, the nearer 'Army of Northern Virginia' flags were also drawn on paper and coloured with felt pins. The 'Stainless Flag' of the farther units were painted on foil - milk-bottle-top again.  I have considered replacing them, but haven't had the heart.

Meanwhile I have been researching the 1862 Valley Campaign as part of my project to 'try out' Don Featherstone's 'Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley' campaign.  A couple of changes I wanted to make. The first was that as the single Confederate army was identical in size and composition to the three Union columns, it seemed to me unlikely that General Jackson could afford more than two battles, or three if he managed in all of them to attack much smaller forces.  It seemed to me more realistic if the Army of the Shenandoah were rather larger than each of the columns facing it, but that overall the Union numbers combined - should they ever combine - would be too much to cope with.



That nearest unit could stand a bit of paint.  The product
of a recent reorganisation of this brigade.


I also felt that the thing might be more ...erm ... verisimilitudinous ... if there were a Union garrison stationed at Harper's Ferry, at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and the small army of Brig-Genl Edward 'Allegheny' Johnson stationed in the southwest corner of the campaign area.  These forces were to have 'walk on' or maybe 'walk off' parts to play in the unfolding events.
Research materials: my copies of Battles and Leaders of the
Civil War
, and Col. G.F.R. Henderson's biography
of Stonewall Jackson (1898/1919).  

Some of the troops who received flocking of their bases
this last week.  Actually the guys in the north-west box
were flocked probably 20-odd years ago.  But still, that's
6 Union regiments in the  other Union box, and a whole
10-regiment CSA Diviiosn in the CSA boxes.  
There was something else, though.  Where did Mr Featherstone place his columns at the outset of the campaign?  Where were their starting points?  Paul - 'Jacko' of the blogspot 'Painting Little Soldiers' - was good enough to lend me his copy of John Curry's edition of Donald Featherstone's Wargaming Campaigns. Very enlightening it was, and all. Apart from the pictured Battles and Leaders, I had the National Geographic maps of the ACW, a SPI article, and Terry Wise's little ACW volume Battles for Wargamers, and Mark M. Boatner's handy, if somewhat flawed, Civil War Dictionary.  All these helped with the decision making.

The original concept had the three Union columns placed a fair proximity at the foot of the Valley, at Martinsburg, Harper's Ferry and Winchester.  The latter formed the apex of a triangle pointing straight up the valley.  Jackson's army was encamped at the head of the valley, at Staunton.  'The Don' had also pitted Generals Phil Sheridan, Crook and Ricketts against the Stonewall, a bit of historic licence presumably to avoid someone having to take the role of Nathaniel P. 'Confederate Commissary' Banks, Fremont and Shields!  Of course, one might equally well attempt the campaign 'Old Jubilee (Genl Jubal A, Early) in the Shenandoah Valley'.  


The flags here were all painted on tinfoil or other thin
metal I could find.  Milk bottle tops from the days of glass
milk bottles were useful sources ...
Fun read as the following narrative was, I felt that I really had to go more with history, and the situation as it stood in April 1862.  So my column commanders were to be placed as follows: Fremont at the outset in the west, at or about Franklin:  Shields off the map to east of Ashby or Manassas Gap, and our pal, Genl N.P. Banks waiting ...tremulously? ... nonchalantly? ... at Strasburg.  The Kernstown battle was a month back, and  Stonewall Jackson himself, having dealt his blow at McDowell with his own Division, has just rejoined General R.S. Ewell. The combined Army of the Shenandoah begins the narrative at Harrisonburg.  Game on.

For the rest, my hex map indicates something like 14 hexes spanning the 30-mile distance by road between Harper's Ferry and Winchester. So the map scale is roughly 2 miles the hex.  That distance the hard marching Confederates could cover, if they needed to, in about 24 hours.  It is clear, then, there would have to be at least two and possibly three or four 'campaign turns' for each daily period of daylight.  Possibly a single 'night march' turn ought also to be considered, though I find it hard to administer these well.  Obviously the night marchers will need to catch up on rest.  When will that be taken?  On balance we might as well ignore night marches, though it might be possible to send courier messages overnight.


Slightly different painting styles shown on the right of the picture.
The right-most unit began life as part of the Airfix Wagon
Train box.  These days I would, after some alterations to the
 firearms, painted these as Louisiana Tigers with straw hats.
These 'campaign moves' will equate to a number of 'battle-' or 'game-moves' as Don Featherstone termed them.  Now, his rule set allowed 8 game-moves for the period of daylight.   That seems to me a little bit on the short side, and it probably not so surprising that according to the 'Featherstone' campaign narrative, Jackson's whole army could not quite in that time force Brig-Genl Getty's 'Division' from its dogged tenure of the Manassas Gap passes.  This, even at five-to-two odds.
A unit painted and based flocked a long, long time ago.
The ground scale for my own Bluebellies and Graybacks rule set is 1:900 - that is 1-inch to 25 yards, or 1mm per yard.  That suggests to me a time scale of 1:30, which indicates 24 30-minute turns to represent a 12-hour period of daylight.  As it happens, though, I have scaled down the armies somewhat, as the last posting's Orders of Battle will indicate.  A 12-game-move day seems pretty reasonable.   Using the Featherstone movement rates translated from his squares to my 'hexes' yields the following.

Two campaign turns represents one day - a morning turn and an afternoon turn.  Each turn, therefore, equals 6 game-moves.  It is necessary to be aware this in the event of calculating the ETA of any troops 'marching to the guns'.  

Federal Forces:
   Infantry - 4 hexes per campaign turn.
   Mounted - 6 hexes per turn
   Artillery - 4 hexes per turn

Confederate Forces:
   Infantry - 6 hexes per turn
   Mounted - 6 hexes per turn
   Artillery - 6 hexes per turn.

These are all 'road' moves.  Cross country moves are halved, mountains are impassible.  If weather were to be brought in ( a decision by no means yet made) then the black outlined roads (such as the Valley Turnpike), being Macadamized, are all-weather roads.  The others become quagmires after one campaign move of rain and reduce movement to cross-country speed if the rain continues for a second or more consecutive campaign moves.


Depending on wind direction (rolled for when there is any such prospect) forces within a campaign turn (a half-day;s march) might hear the sounds of distant battle. Its reaction - do nothing, send some troops, march the whole force - should be diced for.  

6 Union regiments, bases newly flocked.  The flags they
had formerly been issued having become tatty, I replaced
them about two years ago.  These new flags are a bit rough, but they'll do.

The objectives of this campaign are interesting, especially from the Confederate side.  Historically the Army of the Valley existed to create a 'threat in being' to Washington DC.  As such it was to draw upon itself the attention of as many Union troops as it could, consistent with its maintaining itself in the theatre.  Shortly before this campaign narrative begins, Jackson's 6000-strong Division had brought into the area 40,000 Federals.  This led to CSA General Ewell's reinforcements being sent in. 

So the Confederate objective is to remain in the theatre for as long as it can, whilst keeping the Union forces occupied.  To achieve this it must keep the Union columns separate as much as possible.  The Confederate supply base and recruit assembly area is Staunton,  The main Union supply and recruit assembly base is Harper's Ferry.  The Union objective is, if they can't destroy the Army of the Valley, is to drive it out of the Shenandoah Valley altogether.