Saturday, April 18, 2015

Long time, no see...

The scenario map that was the basis of the action.
Taken from C.S. Grant's 'Green Book.'
A couple of weeks back an old wargaming buddy now domiciled in Southern England was making his occasional visit to his home town, Christchurch, New Zealand.  In Andy's last visit, some 5 years back (already!), we played an American Civil War game, refighting the classic Don Featherstone scenario 'Action in the Plattville Valley'.  It did not go well for the Confederates under my command.

As Andy seemed to have enjoyed that previous encounter, he requested another ACW game, again using my old school Bluebellies and Greybacks rule set.  At that I thought one of the C. S, Grant's 'Green Book'* Scenarios would be    suitable for a quick pick-up game.  
Confederates defending Bone Ridge.
The 'Reinforcements in Defence' seemed to be eminently suitable.  Laying out the terrain and the concept, I gave Andy choice of sides and whether he wanted to attack or defend.  He chose the Union, on attack.  They had to deploy on the table edge at X-Y.  A small brigade sized all-arms Confederate force stood on the ridge (Bone Ridge - B) to the west, protecting the road junction further beyond.  Meanwhile,  through Arnottsburg (A) a strong relief column was marching to its rescue.
Confederate reinforcements passing through Arnottsburg.
The forces were (the Grant originals adapted to my own organisation):
Union: Major-General Erasmus Schoonhauser
Brigade: 4 x 27-figure infantry regiments
Brigade: 4 x 27-figure infantry regiments
Brigade: 3 x 10-figure cavalry battalions
Battalion: 2 x 2-gun batteries (1 smoothbore, 1 rifled); each gun 4 crew.
Total: 266 figures (including generals) and 4 guns.
Union left flank supported by rifled artillery.
Hill Defence, Brig-Genl Artemus Tumpickler:
2 x 27-figure infantry regiments
1 x 15-figure cavalry regiment
1 x 2-gun battery (12pr Napoleon smoothbores)
Total: 78 figures (including general) and 2 guns.

Reinforcements, Major-Genl Ambrose Bontz:
4 x 27-figure infantry regiments
1 x 15-figure cavalry regiment
1 x 2-gun battery (10pr Parrott rifles)
Total: 132 figures (including general) and 2 guns.

Union centre and right.
Unfortunately, the following photos don't really follow the action, as I tended to get too involved in the brisker moments to take many pictures.
Looking along the Union line
advancing to the attack.
These pictures indicate White's plan: a frontal assault by three regiments of 1st Brigade, supported by the remainder of the infantry and the artillery, whilst the cavalry outflanked the ridge line from the north.
A view of the battlefield looking westward.

The Union lines looking from the right flank.

Confederate cavalry, ready to defend the open
northern flank of the ridge line.

The second CSA horse regiment leading the reinforcing body...
The following pictures show the early developments.  Gun and infantry fire drove off the attack by the left-most Union line, but the other two regiments shook off their losses and closed the range. Just to be clear, my rules remove casualties, and are bloody into the bargain.  They ain't for the faint hearted.
The attack draws closer.  The left flank Union regiment in line has
been driven off by 8th Virginia.
Losses mount on both sides as the ridge line comes under heavy attack.  The defenders repulsed the entire first wave of Union infantry handily enough, but the latter had plenty to fling in to the attack. The local rebel horse, unable to wait for the help of the reinforcing cavalry charged the enemy horse to forestall the latter's outflanking movement.  Outnumbered 20 to 15, the Rebs gave as good as they got, but, seeing the odds lengthening against them, broke off the action and fled towards the town (Both sides lost 4 figures, which meant a morale roll for all 3 units involved.  The Union pair passed theirs easily; the Confederates failed).
The assault closes in.  The Union win the cavalry action
close by the woods, and, despite heavy losses, the Union
infantry is about to carry the ridge position.
Fortunately, the second Reb cavalry unit was available to avenge their comrades, and the Union horse were in turn driven back.  But behind the leading Union battalions trotted a third.  Just as the Confederate ridge-line defenders began to crumble, they took advantage of the infantry success and charged the enemy artillery section that had limbered up and was making off from the north end of the high ground.  Defending themselves with pistols, trail spikes and rammers, the gunners fought well but were completely overwhelmed.  The guns remained as trophies for the Union soldiery by now swarming over the recently defended position.
Andy triumphantly looking on as his troops swarm over the
objective just won.

Crowning the ridge, the Union infantry prepare to
exploit on to the farm position out of the picture
to the left.
The 8th Virginia, defending south of the road, made off in good order despite its losses, together with its accompanying gun section.  But its companion unit, 46th Virginia collapsed under the weight of superior musketry and gunfire, and fled west of the road junction where they attempted to rally just short of the hill beyond.
Confederates hastily forming a new line.
It was clear that no counter-attack was ever going to recover the ridge.  The Confederate commander then resolved at least to form a line centred on the road fork and the nearby farm.  This line knew a shaky moment when the Union cavalry that had just overrun one artillery section went after the other.  But themselves faced with disappearing among surrounding enemies, the horsemen fetched a wide arc behind the line of 8th Virginia and made it back to their own lines.
The CSA line is almost ready, but the blue lines are
menacingly building up to the east.

It will not be long before the next Union attack comes in.
A lull fell over the field as the Union brought up its troops for the assault and the Rebels tried to form a coherent line.  The Union gunfire was particularly galling against the Confederate right, but they were giving better than they were getting on the other flank.  When the final assault went in, the farm defenders crumpled quickly, just as the 8th Va also found the gunfire they were receiving too much to endure.  Thus thinned out the Confederates line was looking very shaky.  But the effort had exhausted the Union infantry, most of whom fell back beyond the ridge crest.
General Schoonhauser waves his infantry forward into the attack...
Will they drive the Rebs out of the farm and through the
At this point the day was getting well advanced.  Both sides attempted to rally the units that had fallen back.  The Confederates had the advantage that the rallied units could be brought quickly back into the line.  The Union troops would take a little longer to return to the fray.  Night drew in, the Confederate line had (barely) held, the Rebs claimed a hard-won victory.

Just out of curiosity, we totted up the losses whilst packing up.  The CSA had lost something like 60-65 figures, the Union maybe 20 more.  The game played out in a little over three hours.

It has been a very long time since I have done anything with my ACW armies, and the game indicated strongly that it was high time that changed.  Since then I have reorganised my cavalry into 4 x 23-figure CSA Regiments (actually one of them has just 21), and 6 x 15-figure Union Battalions. I've also begun a certain amount of painting to refurb these figures and arrange them into easily recognisable, distinct units.  Three units of Airfix French Foreign Legion figures that were to form my 'Coloured' infantry Brigade will be phased out altogether into an entirely different army, and probably replaced by a similar number of Revell or ESCI figures.  Not a huge project by any means...

Next time, my second game against Andy: Napoleonic, with Lasalle rules.

*The 'Green Book': C.S, Grant, Scenarios for Wargames, WRG (1981).


  1. Impressive game, as always!

    1. Thanks, Doug. I've another to come along shortly.

  2. I'm doing the same with mine - Ive spray painted 200 odd figures in gray and will paint the rest on in due time.


    1. Look forward to seeing more of them! I'll be buffing up my BB&GB rule set. A few things came to light in that game that needed attention.

  3. Replies
    1. Cheers, Al. One of these days I will put on a ACW game...

  4. Good to see you back 'on line'. As you know, we don't share a common rules philosophy, but I still enjoy your AARs and photos.. thanks for sharing.

    1. Cheers, Robin. You know: I feel the same way about your projects and games. I've been near on tempted to look further into Spearhead (I've heaps of 6mm WW2 stuff doing nothing). Thoughts?

    2. As we all know it really depends on the paradigm from which you view warfare. I'd be happy to show you a game in your preferred period though .. it may or may not be your thing.

  5. Wonderful stuff!, the Airfix men look great, reminiscent of the Terry Wise Airfix book. I look forward to seeing more.

    1. Hi Paul - I have a copy of TW's Airfix book at that. Liked a lot of the ideas in it - and my cavalry units are based (however loosely) on what he had to say about the respective organisations. I was very tempted to make my Union infantry regiments smaller as well, but the 'command':'other rank' ratio tends to lead towards the 3:24 unit size as a default.

  6. Good to see a new game here specially such a good one. Somehow Airfix and ACW wargame just go together.

  7. I agree, Ross. The figures are pretty basic, but (like most of the Airfix wargame figures) do reward a bit of effort. I have been surprised, though, just how photogenic these armies are.

  8. Excellent set of ACW- AIRFIX - very 1970s War Gaming- a style and look about it that says 20mm IS just terrific. Very pleased that You have posted this Article for us to enjoy- Inspiring- Well done. Regards. KEV.

    1. Thanks, Kev: very kind comments. I like the '70s style, less of a clinical feel than more modern treatments.

    2. Yes ACW Figures by AIRFIX - the original 00/HO packet was indeed my very first ever Soldiers - ACW UNION Infantry in blue plastic being first closely followed by a pack of UNION Artillery - this must have been way back around 1965/66..yea-gad. Your ACW is an excellent Collection - excellently presented. Regards. KEV.

  9. Wonderful Ion.
    1/72nd and Airfix; love it!