Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stonewall in the Valley 7 - The pursuit continues (and other events)

Two regiments of Donnelly's Brigade deploy with a Battery
 to delay the Confederate pursuit.

Though the gallant stand of 1st Michigan Cavalry were holding up the Rebel horse, the pressure upon the retreating infantry was such as to compel Brigadier-General Donnelly to form a line.  Fifth Connecticut and 1st Maryland drew up astride the road, with a battery on the northern flank.  At once, the leading elements of Trimble's Brigade deployed to engage.  The first clash did not go well for 15th Alabama. Taking 10% losses in a mere half-hour, the regiment lost all cohesion, broke and fled.  At least a couple of hours (four game turns) were to pass before 15th Alabama was brought back under control.

(15th Alabama lost 3 figures in the exchange and had to take a morale roll.  It was a 'one' - a truly miserable result.  I use a matrix of stance (advancing, standing, retiring) and result of the roll (pass, fail by 1, fail by more) to determine the unit's reaction.  On this occasion it was incontinently to run. This does not necessary take to unit off the battlefield.  It may yet be halted, rallied, reformed and rejoin the fight.)

5th Conn has been chased off, but 1st Md, having seen
off one CSA regiment (15th Ala) still manfully
holds its ground

So far, Banks's troops had done well, routing one infantry and half a cavalry regiment.  But as the two remaining regiments of Trimble's Brigade swung of to the right to envelop the Union line, General Taylor's Louisianans took up the direct pursuit up the road.  Fifth Connecticut was served out as the Alabamians had been, and soon followed the general exodus from the field.  For a space 1st Maryland stood alone.

(I made a bit of a mistake, here, as there was nothing to stop, and much to recommend, the Marylanders retiring a short distance to deliver fire from a rearward position - the 'move then fire' option.  I do penalise such a move, but it is not great - the depth of the formation only.  In effect, that reduces the line's move-and-fire allowance to 3" (75mm), but every little counts.  The main downside is that if a morale/reaction roll is called for, a failure will be an automatic rout, as the unit will count as retiring, even though it has halted to deliver fire.)

As Trimble's Brigade swings around to the right, Taylor's
Louisianans take up the direct chase. 
Once the first line began to give way, the rest soon followed, whereat the chase brought the last of Donnelly's Brigade, 28th New York, into the action whilst their comrades streamed off.  General Banks also thought it wise to detach 27th Indiana from Gordon's brigade and deploy it on the north side of the road opposite the roadside tavern of one Mr Macintee.  
Ashby's cavalry rallying, but 15th Alabama Infantry
is still milling about in confusion/
By this time, the Rebel cavalry had reorganised.  Munford's 2nd Virginia had reformed and, along with Chew's battery, were riding hard around the Union southern flank.  Ashby has brought back the intact half of his 7th Virginia and rallied the broken half.  But they were ordered to remain in place for the time being.  Fifteenth Alabama, however, were proving difficult to bring under control.  The morning was well advanced by the time the men were brought sufficiently in hand to follow orders.
Munford's cavalry, reconstituted into a single body
Takes up the pursuit on the left.  Chew's flying
artillery engages Union counterparts on the ridge.

1st Maryland  breaks and runs.  28th N. Y.  forms a brief backstop
in front of the tavern to cover their fellow Ohioans' retreat
and the deployment of 27th Indiana close by the tavern itself.

CSA pressing hard...
At about mid-morning Major-General Jackson heard the distant rumbling of  gunfire from down the road behind him.  Clearly, the rearguard he had left - Winder's 'Stonewall' Brigade and a couple of batteries - had encountered something hostile coming up the road - probably from Front Royal. But what?  Sure enough, a few minutes later, a courier from General Winder found Jackson beside the road.
28th NY facing heavy odds - and feeling it!
General Winder had indeed been engaged by enemy troops advancing from the east.  They did not appear, in Winder's opinion, to be in great strength, though all arms were present  (In fact it was Col Knipe's detachment of Banks's Division, comprising 2 infantry regiments, a cavalry battalion and a battery) .  He would attack to clear the road or to develop the enemy strength.  Jackson was inclined to approve this action.  What about the present engagement?  Unwilling to break off the pursuit just yet, he allowed himself another hour and a half to continue the pursuit, after which he would retrace his steps to rejoin Winder.  The hour that would require, would reunite the Army of the Valley a good half-hour before noon.  If he sent Ashby's horse, and (if they were available by then - at this precise moment they were still, frustratingly, milling about) 15th Alabama on ahead, they could be up with Winder within the hour.
Danger to the Union left.  Munford's Cavalry threaten to cut off
Banks's rearguard.
The Union rearguard under heavy pressure.
The decision having been made, General Jackson devoted his attention to the task immediately to hand.  Munford's cavalry were swarming over the ridge south of Macintee's Tavern, almost overrunning Union artillery deploying beside the place.  Trimble's and Taylor's Brigades were converging on the tavern position.  Isolated in its advance position, 28th NY managed for a space to give as good as it was taking.  That could not last.  Once a Confederate battery joined in the firefight, the New Yorkers were rapidly crushed.  The scant remnants scattered and fled.

Taylor and Trimble stepping up the pressure.

At around this point I was running out of table, so I brought everything about 3-4 foot back and extended the terrain.  There now appeared a swampy, scrub-lined creek athwart the road, behind which, Gordon had lined up his remaining two regiments, 2nd Massachusetts and 29th Pennsylvania by way of a backstop.
'Scrolling the table'

By now the broken wreckage of Donnelly's Brigade were making for the bridge, covered by 27th Indiana,  and a battery.  What was left of 28th NY didn't make it.  Having lost all cohesion (routing) they had no hope of stopping Munford's cavalry swarming over them, and the artillery's attempt to ride clear was equally doomed.  Just about 100 New Yorkers survived to surrender to Munford's horse.  
Action at the bridge.  The fleeing 28th New York caught at the bridge
by Munford's cavalry and decimated, along with the artillery of
Gordon's Brigade.
Action at the bridge.  One union battery makes off; the other
doesn't make it.
As the rest of Banks's command made off, there remained only 27th Indiana east of the creek. That regiment formed a column and made to march at all speed toward the creek, planning to cross it a couple of hundred yards north of the bridge.  Sorely tempted was General Jackson to round up this unit, but two things mitigated against it.  First, Munford's cavalry had yet to be reorganised after their successful charge.  The second reason was the more important: he had exhausted the time he had allowed himself for the pursuit.  

27th Indiana fights on in grave danger of being cut off.

It was high time to bring the pursuit to a halt, bring his troops in hand, and march east to rejoin Winder.  The strategic situation as it stood was not without serious danger, for it meant that the enemy, whoever they were, were astride his line of communication.  That had to be cleared forthwith. No further word from General Winder possibly meant that the enemy were still in no great strength. But if there were anything behind, that could spell trouble.

Munford's cavalry didn't come off unscathed, but captured a battery
 and what was left of a regiment.
There was no doubt that Banks's Division had taken a serious mauling during the retreat.  Little was left of Donnelly's brigade, and the scattered stragglers that were gathered after the action of 28th NY were pressed into service in 5th Connecticut and 1st Maryland during the subsequent days.  There was no question of remaining in Strasburg - Banks's command had been too badly knocked about to be entrusted with such an exposed outpost.
View from behind the creek.  Two of Gordon's
regiments form the rearguard, though there is little
left to cover.  
For its part, the Army of the Valley had got off fairly lightly, only 21st North Carolina of Trimble's Brigade, incurring really serious losses, though its morale had stood up well.
27th Indiana hastily making off.  Though
Confederate cavalry are close by, they  are in no position to
hinder the Indianans' retreat.
Meanwhile, a few miles back down the road, how was the Stonewall Brigade faring?  It seemed that, following the morning's action, the Army of the Valley might be fighting a second battle come the afternoon.  The time was now ten o'clock.  The whole army would be up with Winder's detachment by 11.30.

To be continued...


  1. Really vicariously enjoying this campaign and seeing all those Airfix figures. The ACW range was the first to provide all arms and therefore affordable Wargaming. This campaign really reminds me of the Terry Wise Airfix Guide to ACW Wargaming.

    1. I have that book, and a very good one it is. I don't use the rule set, but got quite a few ideas from it.

  2. This is a very inspiring series of tabletop actions! It's very nice to see Airfix ACW figures take center stage. It's amazing how well they look in fairly large formations, after all these years. I'm looking forward to seeing how this campaign continues. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. Cheers, Martin, and thanks for the feedback. Plenty of action to come...

  3. Exciting game of an exciting campaign!

  4. Always good to see your ACW stuff in action!

    1. Cheers, Brian -
      Anything happening on the Harad front?

  5. Great stuff !

    I'll drop one hour wargames off to you at the weekend plus a few spare Airfix guys I have

    1. Thanks, Paul. I'm hoping to have the next action well under way by then...