Friday, November 15, 2013

Our "Longstreet" campaign - 1861 through 1862

Hello all!

Okay, I am sorry that I have not posted about what has happened in the "Longstreet" campaign I have taken part in!

I posted all about the starting army, but then... nothing on my three games!

So... here is a SUPER long post all about it!

My first campaign game was a 4 v 4 river crossing game.  Another player in the campaign already posted on his blog about it (check it out here) and, for me, it was a pretty anti-climatic start... most of the action took place on my left or right, and I ended up not doing any shooting at all!  Somewhat sad, to fight a whole battle and kill no one!

Here are my boys, facing the ford.

Here is the whole battlefield... on the left, bottom to top, was Jim's command, my command, and Rob's double large command.  Facing Rob was John, then DJ, then Augie, and finally Phil (at bottom right.)  Note that my cav was deployed off to our flank, joining Jim's in an attempt to try something tricky.

My boys, facing the ford.

John's Federals tromped forward quickly and engaged Rob's troops across the river.

My men face the oncoming Federals... this is actually almost as close as the Federals got, as they called off the attack before they got too stuck in... it just looked hopeless for them.

Our far left flank.

Rob's command comes under fire from two directions... he was the only Reb commander to see any real action that day!

My men begin to dig in (should have done that sooner, but I forgot!) as the Federals get even closer to the fords...

The shooting gets hot and heavy on the left!  I was the CinC and did not play a card to help Rob as I felt we needed to save the interrupt for another piece of the action.  Some 15 hits later, I felt rather guilty!  Thankfully he is a perfect gentleman and didn't bop me over the head with a chair.

Post battle my force DID change a bit... with taking no casualties there was no loss of elan for any units, but sickness did take a toll on the Army of the Carolinas.  I did pick up some artillery and some infantry, and Christian K Hurley was promoted to Brigadier General, thanks in no small part to his political savy!

My second battle (my first 1862 game) was a brute.  A one on one affair against Phil, a formidable Federal commander.  His force was a good deal larger than mine (he had already played an 1862 game and so had an army that was 1862 sized, while mine was still 1861 sized) and he had a BUNCH of rifles... not good.

So the field (Phil is a terrain minimalist, so not many photos, sorry!) was fairly straightforward for our Meeting Engagement.  We did put down some terrain, and my front quickly got crowded with hills and trees.  Looking at Phil's force, I realized that, if I stood back, I'd likely get pounded to smithereens by his artillery, which was more numerous and better guns.  So I started to push forward my artillery and cavalry, hoping to get some cover in the woods (little did I know that I misread the rules and wouldn't get any!) while my infantry moved up behind the hills at the center.

Anyway… the game went poorly.  VERY poorly.  His artillery pounded mine into dust in just a few turns, leaving me with two options; sit and get pounded, or attack.  I chose to attack.  Things looked okay, but just as I lined up my entire force at close range… Phil played the "They couldn't hit an elephant…" card and I promptly rolled a six, taking every card out of my hand, leaving my entire force paralyzed on the verge of an attack… and then Phil promptly charged into me and defeated my force, sending them backwards.  Above is the photo of the fateful moment.  At that point I decided I could not win, and withdrew, one unit being wiped out in the process as my opponent mercilessly pounded them with artillery.  I literally did not cause a single casualty the ENTIRE game… and yes, for those that are keeping track, that was the second game in a row where I didn't cause a casualty!  How on EARTH…

So here is my actual report that I sent to the group post-game.

Governor Vance and friends,

I regretfully write with ill tidings.

My force, advancing north through Durham county, got word from our scouts that a large Federal force was advancing towards us down the Chapel Pike, just over the two hills and the woods to our front.  

As my infantry began to deploy into line, I sent the Asheville Irregular cavalry up the left flank, covering the two advancing batteries of artillery.  Learning that the Federals to our front boasted a large number of heavy guns, our artillery headed into the wood at the base of the far side of the central hill, planning to deploy at the wood line and open fire on the Federal artillery from cover.  The infantry advanced behind them, staying behind the hills to provide some cover from the Federal batteries.  Unfortunately the large federal battery quickly ranged in on our smaller guns and began to pound them mercilessly, throwing tubes from their carriages and slaughtering many men.  One of my battery commanders even panicked and began to order his guns to limber up to escape the destruction, only to see his battery pounded to matchsticks.

With both of my batteries destroyed and my cavalry on the left flank facing not just oncoming enemy cavalry but also advancing blue coats, there were very few options left.  With the main, larger force of Federal infantry slowly advancing to our front, the Federal artillery limbering up to advance with them, I pushed the 1st and 11th South Carolina forward, along with the 33rd North Carolina, in an attempt to bring the battle to the Federals before their artillery and flanking forces could be brought to bear.  The Federals, seeing my oncoming troops, fired and fell back slowly as they did to prevent my force from bringing our muskets to bear.   Then, as I prepared to order the attack, an enemy ball struck me in the chest and threw me from my horse, unconscious, my orders left unspoken, my command stalled right in front of the Union line.

I recovered several minutes later, thankfully spared grievous injury as the musket ball buried itself into the Bible I keep tucked into the breast of my coat.  However, I woke only to hear the battle cry of the oncoming boys in blue, who charged home into my lines, throwing my leaderless, out-numbered force backwards with much loss.

At this point I sounded the retreat, although the 1st South Carolina, a veteran group of troops, were too close to the enemy lines and could not withdraw quickly enough, hounded every step of the way by every Federal soldier and gun on their side of the field.  They were eventually wiped out before they could break contact.

Overall the encounter was a disaster for our forces.  Both the 1st and 2nd North Carolina Artillery were wiped out, as was the 1st South Carolina infantry regiment.  With our artillery being totally destroyed before firing more than a few ineffective shots, and our infantry being unable to get close enough to the enemy lines to fire before my injury paralyzed my command helplessly in front of the charging Federal troops, we were unable to cause any noticeable casualties upon the overwhelming enemy before us.  

We finally managed to withdraw to lick our wounds.  Thankfully our recent emphasis on medical care in camp saw very few deaths due to injuries or sickness, and the large infantry regiment and cavalry regiment sent from Raleigh will help us defeat the forces of that tyrant Lincoln!

I hope to have better news to share after our next encounter with the enemy!

Most truly yours,
Brigadier General Christian K. Hurley

A disaster, for sure.  But the units that weren't totally wiped out took very few casualties and so most of my force maintained eager élan (we messed up one rule and my veteran unit that was wiped out we KEPT wiped out… it should have returned as a unit of four with a lower élan courtesy of a roll) and then, thanks to reinforcements, my army gained a unit of 10 eager recruit infantry and 6 eager recruit cavalry.  Here are my campaign cards from that game.

Then I played a THIRD "Longstreet" game!

I lined up against Augie in a 1 v 1 1862 game.  It was his FIRST 1862 game, so my force was about as large as his.  On top of that, I was defending a railroad cut, so was in great defensive position, even though all of my cavalry started off the board.  Here is my force, defending the objective... a signal tower.

 And here is a shot of the whole battlefield!

And then I realized I had a problem.  I had no artillery.  He had five guns.  If I just sat behind the cut, he would just sit and pound me into nothingness!  This was a BIG issue.  (At the time I didn't realize that, as a linear obstacle, I could just withdraw 2 basewidths back from the railroad and his artillery couldn't fire past it.  Oh well...)  So... I attacked!

My infantry rushed forward to attempt to take some hills to my front and punish his army as it moved.  At first it looked like it might work, as his artillery was caught up front with only a narrow cavalry shield.  Then I ran into a rather annoying rule... infantry cannot charge cavalry.  So he just left his mounted cavalry in front of my infantry, unlimbered the artillery JUST behind them, and began to pound away with cannister.  I only had one or two stands that could target his artillery, the rest being required to target his cavalry (because they were to the front) and he just used cards to absorb casualties.  This ended up being VERY frustrating, as my infantry battalions were, in effect, held up by mounted cavalry just sitting in front of them, yet unable to chew the cavalry up in just a few volleys because of card use, instead killing, if I was lucky, 1 stand a turn... all while eating buckets of cannister.  
That bought him enough time to get his infantry up from the other flank, and suddenly what looked like a good position because... well, untenable.  Then I ran into ANOTHER rule that I didn't love... my cavalry came into the game, but because I had to do a charge or two with my infantry my cavalry couldn't move up!  Argghhh!  Now, I understand that the idea is that you are a brigade commander, and thus this is showing that your command attention is dedicated to the charge, but still... frustrating.

So fell back a bit to the hill and defended from there...

...and while cannister fire flayed my lines, I was charged by the Federals...

 but forced them back, causing casualties!

But there were simply too many enemies, and I started to worry about the other flank, as his artillery began to pound me and more infantry began to arrive... so I decided to get my guys out of there.  Thanks to a well-timed "Move out!" card I got my infantry out of the fight QUICKLY, and RAN back towards the railroad cut.  Augie's federals took a turn or two to reform, although one of his units ran RIGHT alongside my guys in an attempt to get to his objective!  For a turn or two it looked like the Rebs and a Federal unit had joined sides.  Then there was a confusing swirl of charges, as that Federal unit, aided by some cavalry, charged and then was counter-charged by my infantry.  I actually managed to charge his limbered artillery with an understrength cav unit, but double sixs saw his artillery force my cavalry back!  At this point we had fought what felt like TWO battles; one in the first half of the game as I went after him, and now a second battle as my reformed line behind the railroad began to shoot.  Finally, both sides dangerously weakened, Augie hit his breakpoint and we had a Reb victory!  It was CLOSE, though... I was VERY close to being broken, and Augie's force was just worn down... he was actually down to a SINGLE CARD left because of all the fighting and casualties he had absorbed... if he had played it, he would have lost!  So either way, the game was about over!  A good game though with a nice fellow:)  And sorry no photos for the second half of the game... the sun was REALLY bright and RIGHT on the table, so no photos came out:(

At this point, having now fought a bit, I started to do a bit of modeling with this force.  Almost the entire reason I wanted to play a "Longstreet" campaign was in order to change my force over time!  So, I went in and painted a few butternut and brown jackets and pants and kepis now, as my guys gear would start to wear out.  I also started to batter up the flags a bit, and for each stand that a unit lost permanently in combat I added a dead figure to a stand (although I need to do one or two more... I ran out of dead!  Thank God for Fall In!)  I love the way the force has changed over time, and I have to admit, I am particularly attached to them now, ESPECIALLY that 11th South Carolina!:D 

 So!  Into 1863 goes the Army of the Carolinas, under 3 Eagle Brigadier General Christian K Hurley, who has also finally turned his service in Europe into an advantage.  Here is the current force:

11th South Carolina - 8 stands of eager veterans (thank you, CSA replacements!) with a sharpshooter
31st North Carolina - 6 stands eager veterans
33rd North Carolina - 4 stands seasoned recruits
"Battier's Zouaves" - 7 stands eager recruits
2nd South Carolina - 6 stands eager recruits (thank you, 1 stand shy of the minimum!)

The Asheville Irregulars - 3 cavalry stands seasoned recruits

The Durham Irregulars - 5 cavalry stands eager recruits

1st Carolina Battery - light rifle and Napoleon


Jim said...

Nice bat-reps and thanks for the shout out. Long live the Confederacy! Yeeha!

Phil said...

Great write-up and pictures! I like the beautiful figures on the first pic, and your third game table, the fields ar ereally nice to me!