Finally my internet/computer problems seem to be over and I can finally post this!
I had the immense pleasure in taking part in an all day 15mm ACW Fire and Fury game at the Warlords last Bank Holiday. The battle we were undertaking was the what-if version of the Battle of Glendale from the Fire and Fury Eastern Battles scenario booklet and it was one hell of a tough fight!
The battle (also known as Frayser’s Farm) was the penultimate battle of the Seven Days and is known as a great missed opportunity for the Confederate’s as a lack of co-ordination saw them miss a chance to cripple the Army of the Potomac while it made a stand to enable its huge supply and siege train to escape. However, after having had a go I can see why this didn’t happen as our refight basically ended with much the same result as the real thing, the terrain was terrible and caused untold problems throughout the game which was in the balance right up until the end.
So after setting the table up (it did take a while as there are a LOT of trees!) and getting the troops on the table we were divvied up into two teams and we had a well earned cuppa whilst making our plans.
I was on the Confederate side, along with Andy (whom I was fighting against in the big Dresden game from last year) and Des. We had 175 stands and 12 batteries from:
- AP Hill’s Division (Andy) – Archer’s, Field’s, JR Anderson’s, Branch’s, Gregg’s & Pender’s Brigades. 2 Batts.
- RH Anderson’s Division (Me) – Hunton’s, Wilcox’s, Kemper’s, Jenkins’, Pryor’s & Featherstone’s Brigades. 3 Batts.
- Huger’s Indpt. Division (Des) – Mahone’s, Armistead’s, Wright’s & Ransom’s Brigades. 1 Batt
And the following entered behind Longstreet during the battle:
- DR Jones’ Division (Me) – Toombs’ & GT Anderson’s Brigades. 2 Batts.
- Magruder’s Division (Andy) – Cobb’s & Barksdale’s Brigades. 1 Batt.
- McLaws’ Division – Semmes’ & Kershaw’s brigades. 1 Batt.
Martin and John (an actual American who was visiting from LA) took the Union and they had (from right to left on the field) – 223 stands & 10 batteries in total.
- Slocum’s Division (Martin): Taylor’s, Bartlett’s & Newton’s Bgdes. 3 batts.
- Kearney’s Division (Martin): Berry’s, Birney’s and Robinson’s Bgdes. 1 batt.
- McCall’s Division (Martin): Simmons’, Meades & Seymour’s Bgdes. 3 batts.
- Hooker’s Division (John): Carr’s, Grover’s & Sickles’ Bgdes.
- Sedgewick’s Division (John): Burns’, Dana’s, Sully’s, Caldwell’s and Meagher’s Bgdes. 3 batts. (Only Burn’s Bgde started on table, rest arrived later)
Our plan was quite simple as the terrain and troop density prevented much fancy manoeuvring: to hit the Union hard to weaken his line ready for our reserves to break through to the road, all we needed to do was to have an unspent Brigade on that road at the end of the game to win and all we needed to do was advance about 2 feet to do it so, easy right?
So we got to it, with the first moves basically involving Andy and I slightly re-organising our forces for the coming attack and moving up our Guns to take the Union line under fire as soon as possible. Over on the left Des suffered a set back straight away as Martin’s guns damaged his only battery with their first salvo. there was a special scenario rule concerning the guns to my immediate front and the chance that they might skedaddle at the outset, Martin rolled well though and they stayed put which did mean I as wary of just launching a charge at his line whilst they were still OK so elected to take them under fire from my infantry from the relative safety of the woods.
After damaging one battery and silencing another I decided it was time to get moving (urged on by shouts of ‘hurry up and get stuck in’ from over on our left!) once I was happy that my lads were all in the correct formation, my Brigades were quite small so needed to line them up to get ‘supported line’ bonus for the charges. So I ordered my brave lads forwards across the field to our front only to discover that only half of my brigades wanted to move, the first of many multiple failed activations us Rebs rolled during the battle.
This initial attack was somewhat successful and I managed to punch a hole in the Union line, gaining a foothold in the woods across the field. However, as my attack was not supported by the remainder of the Division it was quickly pushed back itself by a Union counter attack launched by Kearney’s Division supported by the remains of McCall’s. This then was the pattern for the rest of the day with me launching attack after attack on the Union line only to be pushed back by either fresh brigades or a counter-attack from the previously beaten enemy. This attritional fighting was somewhat successful as by the end of the day we had gained the field to our front, and had taken a few batteries of guns and worn down a couple of brigades in doing so but at a high cost to Anderson’s Division which had two broken brigades and the remainder in a worn or spent state themselves.
Andy assisted in this sanguinary battle by launching his own attacks too with brigades from AP Hill’s Division and he managed to get further forwards, a few times reaching the road only to be hurled back by the newly arriving Yankee brigades of Sedgwick’s Division. This fight was equally as brutal as the one that Anderson’s lads were having just to their left with the balance switching one way and the other, and with some devilish dice rolling going on for both sides helping too! However, as was the case for me, Hill’s lads were just about held by the enormous Union brigades to our front even though they too made some gains, wore down some brigades and took a couple of batteries they ended the battle exhausted. However, Andy very nearly broke through right at the death with McLaw’s fresh Division only to be thwarted by Sedgwick’s final fresh brigades as the last of the uncommitted troops were thrown into the fray.
Over on our right Andy put Magruder’s Division in the line facing off against Hooker’s Division who had moved forwards slightly and looked to be readying for an attack on our flank. This proved to be a feint however and once Magruder’s boys were in line he advanced on the Union brigades sending them reeling back. For a moment it looked as if a victory here was well on the cards but Hooker countered and this time it was the Reb’s turn to suffer (aided by some fantastic dice by John) and they streamed back to their start line along the creek and the fight here sort of fizzled out as both sides recovered.
Out on the left Huger had been advancing steadily towards the brigades of Slocum’s Division whilst suffering terribly from the Union artillery which he was unable to respond to due to losing his only guns to that lucky shot at the start of the battle. His Wright’s Brigade that came on at the extreme left of the line along the road over the swamp fought a gallant action in isolation against a larger Union force and was ultimately pushed back, however it did keep them out of the line facing the rest of Huger’s lads. Once the main attack went in here I had managed to bring up a brigade from DR Jones’ Division to hit the angle of the Union line between the forces fighting Des and those facing me at the Neck, unfortunately their transit through the woods took ages (I rolled terribly time and again for activation with the brigades only moving half speed time and again) so the impact wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped and at the end of the day the battle here was the same as on the other parts of the battlefield with the Union holding out after some ferocious fighting.
So after a whole day’s fighting the Confederates had been held all along the line whilst losing a small amount of ground in the centre which is just about what happened in the real battle. Andy did manage to get to the road on a couple of occasions but the Union reinforcements were just too much for us and he was beaten back and even though we did cause some serious damage to the Union forces we had taken quite a few casualties ourselves.
- CSA: 44 stands lost, 10 stands skedaddled, 4 stands captured, 2 Divisional commanders captured
- USA: 28 stands lost, 3 stands captured, 5 batteries captured
It was quite an exhausting fight, everyone said how tired they were at the end, but well worth the effort. Big thanks go to Des for putting on a great game once more and to Andy, Martin and John for being proper gents and making the whole day such an enjoyable experience. For me days like this is what Wargaming is all about.