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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Project Battle Cry - Antietam, with Airfix figures!

Having assembled and painted just about enough figures I decided to give a battle from the rule book a go. I chose Antietam as it looked interesting and challenging and I had the right scenery and troops. Here is the set up from the rule book:
Using a five inch hex board (cloth) this is how the initial dispostions appeared:

By the way, I made a small mistake on the position of the woods on the far left!

The battle would be won by the first side to score 6 Victory Points (VP). At first I was a bit sceptical as the board looked empty and I wondered how such an epic battle could be represented with so few troops. The Union had first move with four activation cards, while the Confederates had six cards (this would prove crucial towards the end).

The Union commander decided to play his left hand activation cards, reasoning that he would need to get his forces over the bridge before the Confederates had time to consolidate a full defence on the hills that dominate the far bank. Antietam Creek can crossed only by the bridge. So playing an attack card he moved two units, battled and fired his artillery:


The confederate unit on the heights was badly mauled and forced back, but not destroyed. The Union move forced the Confederate hand and they countered by playing their best card on this flank, moving a new unit on to the heights and the following musketry destroyed the lead Union unit - one VP to the Confederates. After more movement on this flank both sides had used up their activation cards, with the confederates still holding off the Union forces.

In the next move the action shifts over to the centre and Union right, as the blue columns begin to deploy into battle lines and advance. Meanwhile the Confederates strengthen the defence of the 'sunken road ridge', in the real battle known as 'Bloody Lane'.


At this point the Confederate cavalry carry out a 'hit and run' on the Union right, damaging and then forcing a blue unit to retreat:


The Confederates also move a Texan unit towards the fields in support of a unit already there, and to engage the Union advancing line:
However, the Union forces assault and force the Confederates out of the field and destroy the advancing Texans - one VP to the Union.

The Confederates now play an attack on both flanks. By the bridge they force a Union unit back, containing that threat, while on the left around the field a combined cavalry and infantry attack halts the Union advance around the fields and forces a damaged unit to retreat:

The Union now plays a counter attack card, which forces the rebels off the heights overlooking Antietam Creek and allows them to capture the bridge once more, however they are unable to exploit further. Meanwhile, back in the area of the fields the action continues with a Union counter move, forcing the confederate infantry and supporting artillery back.

On the next move the Confederates play a 'Battle and Hold card, which destroys one unit in the field area and another in the centre, suddenly the Confederates have three VP and have blunted the Union attack.

On the next move the Union plays a reinforce card, which allows them to control the Dunker Church and forces a Confederate unit back.

There is now a lull for the Confederates as they deperately want to bring  A P Hill's forces, still in the area of Sharpsburg, into play, so this move sees these columns moving onto the field, towards the bridge:

This move sees a major push on the Union right in an attmpt to dislodge the Confederate line in the Sunken Lane. The Union succeeds and destroys one Confederate unit and forces two back, gaining another VP:

However, the Confederates counter attack the now weakened Union units and destroy two units and sverely damage another gaining two more VPs. The Union now makes a fatal mistake and advances against the ridge, but this leaves their forces unable to fire at the Confederates beyond, and leaves a severly weakened unit exposed to Confederate artillery fire. The guns fire, destroy the Union unit and it is all over, the Confederate have six VPs. The final score is 6 - 4 to the Confederates.

I thought the Union would win this action, but failure to get across the bridge over Antietam Creek and the stout Confederate defence from Dunker Church and the Sunken Lane wore down the Union units. This seemed to mirror the real battle, which saw fierce fighting in the same areas.

I really enjoyed this battle and usinig a large table with model figures was much more pleasing than the playing board, small units and card scenery that come with the game. I will certainly have another go in the future.








Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Action at Wilkin's Farm

The idea behind this battle is heavily influenced by the defensive action fought by Buford's cavalry during the first day of the battle of Gettysburg; in that I have a key ridge line and farm being held by two Union cavalry regiments to allow time for the union army to deploy.

In my battle the action starts with two regiments of Union cavalry, armed with carbines and supported by a light artilley battery. They have been deployed as patrols have identified a massive Confederate force approaching along the turnpike. The cavalry have been ordered to prevent the capture of the ridge at all costs.

The cavalry is deployed dismounted, with one regiment on the left holding a wood, the fence line and Wilkin's Farm itself:

On the Union right the second regiment, with the artillery, holds the fence line and unfinished railway:
For this battle, I decided to have another go at using Donald Featherstone's Horse and Musket rules. For troops I used mostly Britains plastics, with a few from other firms thrown in to make up numbers. Some are almost as old as me!

I rolled dice to determine when the main Union force would arrive and this turned out to be after 12 turns. Looking back to my last action with these rules the battle was over in around six turns!

The action begins with an unsuspecting Confederate regiment being pushed forward to clear the farm and carry out foraging for the main army. They believe the enemy to their front to be a few poorly trained and equipped militia from the nearby town:

They are in for a shock and come under a hail of fire from the farm to their front and the fence line on either flank as the Union cavalry open up with repeating carbines. The Confederate losses are horrific:
Despite attempting to deploy into line and return fire the Confederate column is decimated and falls back:
There is now a lull in the battle, but on move five the Union cavalry can see masses of grey and brown uniforms; as the Confederates deploy a Brigade of three regiments into battle line. In the centre the first rebel regiment makes a dash across the stream:
While on the left an Alabama regiment in butternut approaches the corn field in front of the Union right:
While intent on sweeping around the Union left through the woods, another regiment fans out:
The action picks up around the farm once more as cavalry carbines rip into the rebel ranks and after a brief but bloody action the centre Confederate regiment pulls back:
Although this assault is blunted the cavalry in the farm take several casualties and are weakened. This episode is followed by a rebel assault onto the Union left, through the wheat field. Initially the Confederates take heavy casualties, but do not break. They establish themselves behind a fence and begin to wear down the Union cavalry in a firefight that lasts three turns:
Eventually the weight of confederate fire forces back the Union cavalry in the wood and on the left :

On the Union right the Alabama regiment steadily advance, and some poor shooting by the Union cavalry and artillery allow them to reach the fence line. The hard pressed cavalry are forced back up the slope:


With dwindling numbers the Union troopers are forced to retire and form a small knot around the artillery. By move nine it is largely over, when rebel rifle fire silences the Union gun. The morale of the cavalry breaks and they withdraw back beyond the ridge.

The Confederates have been severly mauled, however, they have driven the Union forces from the field and it will be a full three turns before any Union infantry will arrive, leaving time for the Confederates to consolidate on the captured ridge. So a victory for the rebels.