It is 1807, late spring. The fields are green with new wheat and the first crop of hay is already in the mows. Cattle are fattening nicely, and the new foals are starting to gambol about in the great estates of Poland. However, war is afoot. Napoleon and his legions of veteran French troops are driving into the heart of Poland and the Tsar’s armies seem unable to even slow them down. On a prominent hill near the manor od Count Politnotski and the market village of Snotaratnik, the Seventh Corps of Count Raevsky, tired from marching and short on rations, has set up a defensive perimeter. Generals Vandamme and Gerard, with the French III and IV Corps respectively swing in a wide arc to snap up this juicy target. But Hetman Platov spies out the advance and Baron Scherbatov and his reinforced Third Corps marches hard to his fellow’s aid.
While Vandamme deploys carefully and Raevsky waits his doom with classical Russian patience, Gerard and the cavalry corps of Milhaud find that instead of sweeping in and engulfing the hopeless Raevsky they are faced with the hard-marching Cuirassier of Von Pahlen and the infantry of Scherbatov.
Vandamme, faced by only two sotnias of Cossacks on the plain (there was no chance Raevsky would detach a single jager from the hilltop), deployed casually and the Hetman pounced. 3rd Sotnia struck two batteries as they approached. The guns, stunned by the audacity of the irregulars, failed to unlimber before being overrun. The Cossacks cut the traces, lanced man and horse, destroying half of Vandamme’s artillery in a single strike. Maurin’s light cavalry brigade failed to react in time, the brigadier having called his colonels to a council of war.
A Russian horse battery, commanded by Captain Rashashellsky, dashed out with the Cossacks and confronted Vandamme’s entire corps of infantry, alone. An aide from General Paskevitch raced out and recalled the gunner after he had fired a few rounds into the leftmost French regiment.
His honor smeared Maurin now launches his brigade at a gallop into the offending plainsmen. Perhaps it is the elan of a French sabre-wielder with his honor on the line, perhaps only an irregular’s desire to avoid personal unpleasantness, but the sotnia is forced back with over a hundred lancers deciding they needed to be somewhere else.
On the other side of the field Gerard and Milhaud, unimpressed with Scherbatov, boldly sidestep across the Russian’s front to press forward in their planned attack on Raevsky. Vandamme now has his infantry in motion toward the hill as well.
The battle is now joined in earnest. Milhaud throws Berruyer’s light cavalry brigade at the massed Russian 12-pounders at the point of the hill. The cavalry general knows if he can sabre the guns there will be nothing to stop his cuirassiers from decimating, if not annihilating, the Russian infantry. However, the Russian gunners are up to the task. Their rapid and accurate canister blasts empty hundreds of saddles and Berruyer, struck by three balls himself, is forced to retreat.
Maurin, his blood now fully up, leads his brigade with a flourish into the Hetman himself and the 4th Sotnia. Perhaps because they were under the eye of the great man himself, these raiders and plunderers retain their cohesion and only give way a short distance before reforming, glaring at the French horsemen over the snorting snouts of their mounts.
On the far Russian left, the Kurland Dragoons do their best to keep Gerard’s interest away from the hill. They engage Domon’s light cavalry and manage to push them back and overrun a horse battery. Gerard, knowing a gnat when he sees one, ignores the turn of his right.
Von Pahlen sees his opportunity, launching four regiments of cuirassier over the wreckage of Berruyer’s brigade. They strike a weak screen of horse artillery and brush it aside though Astrakhan does take a measured dose of double canister that carries away a chef d’escadron, a major, and the first trumpeter. However, Gerard’s leftmost regiment, the famous 57th Ligne, having been campaigning since Napoleon was in Italy, formed square and Farine’s brigade of cuirassier rushed forward and Von Pahlen recoiled. The heavies found themselves in the same situation as Platov and Maurin!
Vandamme, while the cavalry thundered to and fro, marched steadily forward, his serried ranks glinting in the sun as the drums beat the cadence. Raevsky, fearing the veteran infantry most of all, stands like the rocks from which his infantry are descended, and braces for the inevitable impact.
Now we come to the great climax, the point at which the fate of the day hangs, the coup de main.
Vandamme launches his infantry forward, up the slopes of the hill and into the waiting muskets and bayonets of the stoic peasant infantry. Rome’s brigade, Schaeffer’s brigade, and Capitaine’s brigade in a wave, forward for France, forward for l’Empereur! Rome is up amongst the guns that did so much damage to Berruyer, this canister not so devastating, perhaps aimed more for a saddled armored cavalryman than a sweating, crouching, grognard. He is through! At the jager, boys! But the jagers have seen the elephant too and they have not raced up a hill and bayonetted and clubbed their way through a hail of grape. Rome’s men recede, like the wave they were, back down the hill.
Schaeffer never makes it up, rolling volleys of musketry and the determined point of a battalion bayonet charge force him, too, to recede like a wave upon the sands. But Capitaine, yes Capitaine sweeps forward and takes the volley but presses on. Here it is French bayonets that are sharper and Russians who stumble back. But it is a lonely triumph and the 47th Jager levels its muskets for the next round.
Milhaud too launches a final push. All eyes are on Farine’s brigade of veteran cuirassiers. Over the debris of previous struggles, broken caissons, dismounted guns, broken horses, and bloodied comrades, they surge. They first meet the survivors of Astrakhan and push them aside to crash headlong into the Military Order Regiment. Here, under the hot Polish sun, they duel like the champions of Greek mythology, hacking, slashing, twisting, turning, neither giving nor expecting quarter. In the end, they separate, as if by mutual exhaustion, each having lost half their number, staring numbly at the destruction they had wrought.
Gerard, assessing the situation critically, issues the order to withdraw. Raevsky will live another day. Vandamme will curse the Cossacks at the campfire this evening. Honors of audacity and valor to General de Brigade Farine and his troopers, and to the 57th Ligne, to the Military Order and to Hetman Platov.
Colonel William Washington had gone out looking for trouble and Colonel Banastre Tarleton had happily obliged. Both colonels led a polyglot mix of troops as deployed for battle on the Rutledge Plantation on a sunny March afternoon in 1780.
Tarleton had been bested by Washington in a minor skirmish near the Stono River a few weeks prior and was out for revenge. His party, a mixed foraging and scouting force, consisted of two troops of cavalry – one from the famed 17th Light Dragoons and one from his own Legion, as well as six companies of infantry – one South Carolina militia, one of Butler’s Rangers, a jager detachment of the Brunswick regiment, a company of the storied Black Watch, and two companies of the Royal Green Provincial regiment.
Washington had a troop each from Baylor’s Dragoons and Lee’s Legion, as well as three companies of Continental Line, Grim’s Rifle Company, Posey’s Ranger Company, and Bellow’s Kingston Militia. Washington’s primary goal was to snare Tarleton, though his orders were to find Cornwallis’ main column and to gather much needed foodstuffs for Greene’s hungry army.
The two colonels deployed their small commands in a mirror pattern. In the open fields to the west of the plantation’s wagon road, where on a more peaceful morning the Rutledge cattle would graze, each commander set his mounted troops in loose line. To the east of the road, in an open woodlot, both commanders shook out a double line of infantry, Washington’s slightly smaller units deploying four companies in front and two behind, while Tarleton had equal-sized lines with three companies in each.
As the infantry advanced, firing, in their long, ragged lines, broken by the ash and pecan trees of the woodlot, the cavalry clash opened in dramatic fashion. Baylor’s Dragoons thundered across the open ground to meet the 17th saber to saber.
In the woods, the long-ranged rifles drew first blood, and the captains were hit early – Captain Grim took a ball through his left hand, Captain Butler’s scabbard was shattered by a ball which left him with a burgeoning bruise, while Captain Pfeffer of the Brunswick Jagers was mortally wounded by a ball to the chest. The Jagers, stunned by the loss of their leader, fell back, their position in the line quickly filled by the staunch bearskins of the Black Watch.
In the open, Baylor’s, recently remounted on fine stock “acquired” from another loyalist plantation, thrashed the British regulars. 40 red saddles were emptied in the melee while only 9 blue-clad Americans fell. Decimated, the 17th broke, galloping for the safety of the plantation building a mile to the rear. As that skirmish was ending Tarleton was launching his own Legion against the green-clad Americans of Lee’s Legion. The swirling melee of horse and saber saw yet another captain fall – Captain Jones, who had been with Tarleton since the unit’s formation, was killed by a vicious cut to the neck.
Tarleton found his troopers staggered and led them back, disordered but together, to regroup with the 17th. Tarleton’s troop lost 31 men, while the Americans lost 22.
Tarleton’s withdrawal with the defeated cavalry, however, spelled the end for his embattled infantry. As the Colonel was falling back his second, Colonel Hamilton of the Royal Greens was breathing his last by an ash tree, having taken two balls to the belly and the Virginia Continentals pressed the Greens. The loss of the popular commander caused the loyalists to waver, the second company giving ground.
But the loss was not all one-sided. In pressing the attack, Captain Smith of the Second Virginia took a ball neatly through his ear as he turned to urge his men forward. While he would linger the rest of the afternoon with a grievous hole in his head, his last resting place was the plantation wood. Simultaneously Simcoe’s Tory Militia delivered a devastating on Bellow’s Company, killing and wounding 24 men.
However, with Tarleton in retreat and Hamilton dead, even remarkable marksmanship and the bravery of the regulars was to no avail. The British infantry slowly fell back against a thinning American line. Finally, after over an hour of hot action, the British leadership suffered one final, debilitating, blow. Captain Butler, rallying his rangers to reform and re-engage Posey and a few attached riflemen, was struck by a ball and killed instantly.
The British withdrew. Washington’s command, badly blooded, was too tired to pursue with any zest. The American dragoons, their blood up, did attempt to chasten the withdrawing loyalist horse but were dissuaded by Tarleton’s artillery train – two 3-pounders – which had missed the battle due to a broken wheel on a limber but were all too happy to send a few balls Washington’s way.
In all the American infantry suffered 62 casualties out of 350 engaged. The British, with about 400 infantry engaged, lost 56, but the loss of four commanders sealed their defeat.
We play using 25mm figures and A Continent in the Balance rules.
The Great Summer Army arrived in Northumbria in 870. Promptly there was trouble. One of the raiding earls decided to have a bit of fun. But he ran into one of the local earls at the river Oxno.
The east wing of the Northumbrian army held the bank of the river which had a short stretch east of a plank bridge that was fordable. To the west half of the raiders, who had come all the way from Kiev for a Brittanic holiday, had managed to work across the stream and faced off against a force of mercenaries from the Saxon plains.
The Rus immediately sent a force along the river to try to help secure the bridge. A valiant group of Saxons, led by Njal, raced to intercept. The plains of Kiev are more vast than the plains of Saxony and, on this day, Njal found himself the last man standing, his entire retinue killed. With one last invitation to the Valkyries he charged to his death against a dozen Rus.
Meanwhile the Norse leader sent his large command in two assaults - one across the bridge and one over the shallows. The Northumbrians, outnumbered, fought desperately but vainly as the northern steel cut deeper this day than that forged in more southerly climes.
The Rus, too, on the further west flank, triumphed in a wildly swirling melee, their massive two-handed axes splitting many a shield.
In the end the Earl of Northumbria fell with his men at the foot of the bridge and the Saxons bought their passage back to the mainland, what few remained, with the gold they had been paid by their vanquished employer.
There was much feasting by the few Rus and Norse survivors on the rich cattle and sheep of the earl's lush holdings.
Game played using 25mm figures and home rules by Chris Anderson.
A group of Wyandot chiefs asked to parley with the British garrison of Fort Sandusky. However, Private Smallwood had run all the way from Detroit to warn the garrison, led by Lieutenant Luckey, of this very stratagem that the same Indians had attempted at Detroit. Forewarned, Luckey spurned the chiefs who then retreated to the woods which encroached to about 80 yards from the blockhouse that served as the “fort”. Luckey, with only 13 men, declined to garrison the supply shed which, due to the time of year, was almost empty.
The Wyandots began to lob flaming arrows at the blockhouse and the garrison fired back at the well-hidden natives. Chief Tall Deer did dispatch two braves to take possession of the supply shed. Their dash from the woods to the shed and then a shimmy through the window was met by a fusillade from the blockhouse. Both warriors arrived unscratched though the war feather worn by Slinking Dog was clipped by a ball just an inch or so from the warrior’s head. A half hour later two more braves, weeing this as the only way to count any coup, repeated the action. However, this time, Abel Straight, resting his musket on a firing port from the second floor, got a good bead and his bullet cut a sharp groove in the hindquarters of the second brave as he dove through the storehouse window.
Eventually a fire arrow caught in the roof of the blockhouse creating a small, stubborn fire which gradually, but very slowly, consumed the roof. Once the fort was afire the Wyandot withdrew deeper into the woods, out of sight and Luckey’s men ceased their desultory fire. Two natives had been slightly wounded.
The spirits of the garrison were raised when they heard gunfire erupt to their north along the narrow path from the lake. Major A. D. Vance was leading a relief column from Fort Erie, seven companies. Vance had disembarked from his canoes and immediately deployed his command in two lines, the trail from the landing to the fort neatly bisecting them and allowing a place for the good major to ride his horse in comfort in the middle of his command.
On the right or west side of the trail two companies of Highlanders deployed in front and two companies of the 44th Line formed behind. To the east side the ranging company of Captain Forrest and the militia from Erie of Captain Moss made up the front line with the “city” militia from Albany of Captain Downs alone in the back line.
Two warbands of Shawnee and another two of Delaware with a small band of Mingo waited in ambush for the relief, having watched it make its way along the river and setting up patiently in a most opportune place between the landing and the fort where there would be maximum opportunity for coup and minimum chance of loss.
Chief Howling Wolf sprang the ambush on the relief column when it was still a mile or so from the fort. Mostly from surprise the Highlanders were stung by the sudden scattered fusillade and fell back in some disorder behind the advancing line companies.
Lieutenant Cohannon in the center now came face to face with Keoqua’s band of Delaware’s. Faced with the much more resolute redcoat line of bayonets, Keoqua fell back to leave the Mingo band of Chief Red Jacket in contact. Cohannon took a ball in his left hand as Red Jacket’s band opened fire from their ambush positions. Enraged, Cohannon ordered his men to charge.
Up a small rise and through the light underbrush the redcoats met the Mingo, surprised by the audacity of the whites. The cold steel of the bayonet, projected from the distance of a musket barrel, proved significantly better than a hand-held war club. The Mingos were decimated with 20 killed and another 20 racing pell-mell in disgrace for the loss of only 4 redcoats wounded.
But now Cohannon had outstripped the rest of Vance’s command. He would stay on his small rise for the next hour taking the shots of Keoqua, who had reformed, and various other small parties of natives, being gradually reduced until finally forced to withdraw to the landing spot as the rest of the British command dissolved.
Moss led the left wing forward and quickly ran afoul of Stalking Lynx’s band of Shawnee. One of the first shots killed Captain Moss but the company, wise to the ways of woodcraft, knew their best hope was to stay together. While the Albany militia cowered behind them the valiant farmers and trappers from the Erie region held their ground, only falling back when they perceived a threat to their open left flank.
The ranging company cautiously filled the gap between Moss and Cohannon engaging elements of Stalking Lynx’s, Keoqua’s, and Wolf Claw’s bands. They maintained their cohesion which allowed Cohannon and Moss to eventually withdraw without too much loss. However, they failed to exploit Cohannon’s destruction of the Mingo and failed to materially support the militia who, for most of the battle, had a slight numerical advantage.
On the far right Howling Wolf’s warriors displayed by far the best marksmanship of the day and the British regulars of Captain McManus displayed the greatest stoic bravery. McManus’ 40 man company suffered over 50% losses, including the valiant captain, struck in the shoulder and ear as he steadied the line. With the loss of their leader the redcoats fell back through Sergeant James Wallace’s company of Highlanders. Wallace was more fortunate than the captain – the bullet that found him buried itself in his pocket testament, sparing his breast.
In the end, Howling Wolf’s band collected 21 scalps and another 39 men in McManus’ and Wallace’s companies were nursing wounds by the time they had made it back to the landing site.
Vance, seeing his right shattered and unable to get further than Cohannon’s small rise, ordered a general withdrawal. Fortunately for Lieutenant Luckey, Vance abandoned two barrels of rum at the landing site and the natives spent that night celebrating their victory and counting coup, deciding the next morning that it was too difficult to attack the fort and returned to their villages.
Rules: A Continent in the Balance. 25mm
Second Corinth, wargame played 12/7/18 based on Day 1 of the Second Battle of Corinth, October 3, 1862
October 3, 1862 broke gray as the noncoms kicked and prodded the soldiers of Rosecrans’ Army of the Mississippi. Orders had come to move out of their entrenchments near the railroad junction of Corinth, Mississippi and meet the invading Confederate Army of West Tennessee under General Earl Van Dorn. A hasty breakfast of hardtack and cold bacon – the lucky ones got the dregs of coffee from the sentries – and off they marched, north into the wet, open woods, and scattered hardscrabble farms toward Dawson Creek and the old Confederate works.
The Confederates had been in motion since early morning, skirmishing with Union cavalry pickets and marching south along the Chewalla Road. Just north of Dawson Creek they deployed, Mansfield Lovell on the far western flank with Dabney Maury next, then Martin Green’s division.
Union deployment was a bit offset from the Confederates with Thomas McKean’s division on their far western flank but overlapped by Lovell further to the west, then Thomas Davies’ division, and finally, the cavalry division of John K. Mizner, beyond Green’s flank to the east. Unfortunately for both sides, neither took advantage of their flanking position. Mizner was paralyzed by the idea that John K. Jackson’s rebel cavalry brigade could be even further east and Mansfield Lovell, inexplicably, failed to urge his men on with any sort of vigor.
McKean reached the creek first and immediately dressed his lines and steadied his mostly veteran command into place. John McArthur’s brigade held the left, in the air as it were. In McKean’s center was John Oliver’s brigade and the right and reserve were the veteran Iowans of Marcellus Crocker. The line was ably supported by three batteries of Napoleons, 16 cannon in all.
Davies was still 600 yards from the creek when the ball opened, with Silas Baldwin’s brigade on his left, Richard Oglesby on the left, and Pleasant Hackleman’s brigade in support. Davies also had three batteries, all rifles, 12 guns in all.
On the Confederate right (west) Dabney Maury’s division of veterans came crashing through the woods with Charles Phifer’s brigade of dismounted Texas cavalry on the far right, expecting Lovell to cover their flank, and William Cabell’s Arkansas brigade on the left. John Moore’s brigade was in support. Rapley’s Battery of rifles and McNally’s Battery of Napoleons supported the assault.
The Confederate left, Martin Green’s division, was under the watchful eye of Sterling Price, “Old Pap”, with Earl Van Dorn, the overall commander, observing from Price’s side. Green advanced with Elijah Gates’ brigade of Missouri veterans on the right, Bruce Colbert’s brigade in the center and the Mississippi brigade of John D. Martin on the far left (west). Martin’s brigade had ignominiously run at the recent battle of Iuka and were held in low regard by the army. Deployed in support was William Moore’s brigade. Dawson’s Battery and Wade’s Battery, both of Napoleons, supported the main attack.
Maury developed his attack with precision and deliberation, bringing steady, intense pressure to bear on the bluecoats. Stirman’s Battalion of sharpshooters took first blood then the 3rd Arkansas (dismounted) charged over the creek, the 21st Missouri suffering 40% losses to the withering assault. A bit further along the line, the 18th Wisconsin was forced back after a similar 40% loss, surrendering their bloodied ground to the 21st Arkansas.
But it was not all glory for Maury, as the 6th Texas (dismounted) suffered mightily from repeated blasts of double canister from the Napoleons of Battery F, Illinois Light Artillery and Rapley’s Battery was forced to withdraw one section due to losses to the crews from the heavy fire of the 18th Missouri (Union).
In all Maury suffered 443 killed, wounded and missing, McKean roughly twice that.
Green and Davies raced each other to the creek and, especially to the small farm of Cyrus Burton. Burton’s small 10-acre spread was surrounded by a stout stone wall and it was this small open space and its surrounding wall and rough-hewn buildings where the hardest fighting of the day was to occur.
Gates threw the 16th Arkansas at the farm and Colbert supported the attack with the 14th Arkansas and Dawson’s Battery. Baldwin countered with the 14th Missouri (Birge’s Sharpshooters) and the 57th Illinois. The bluecoats got to the farm first but the extra weight of the cannons, in the end, won the day. 225 Confederates and 190 Federals fell in the small farm.
In the center, just west of the farm, at the only bridge over the creek (though it was low enough to walk over at all points) both armies threw their reserves. Crocker’s veteran Iowa troops blocked the road for the Yankees while elements of Gates’ and Cabell’s brigades attacked. Behind the front piles up the Confederate brigade of William Moore and the Union brigade of Pleasant Hackleman. No decision was made here. The Union was forced to withdraw based on Maury’s attack and the events on the far eastern flank.
There, Martin’s disgraced Mississippians and the 37th Alabama angled into the air where Mizner was supposed to be. Hackleman tried to slow the rebels by deploying Battery D, Missouri Light Artillery but the Alabamians and the 38th Mississippi advanced relentlessly, capturing two guns. In desperation, and in contradiction of his orders to support Baldwin, Hackleman redeployed the 2nd and 7th Iowa, but by the time they arrived it was too late, and Martin threatened to cut the Federal route back to Corinth.
Rosecrans ordered a general withdrawal to the inner works which was done in good order, as losses in Davies division, except at the Burton Farm, had been relatively light.
Van Dorn clapped Price on the back as the Federals pulled back and congratulated him on a “brilliant victory” and ordered the troops stop for dinner. The next day, Van Dorn hurled the same troops at Rosecrans’ works with another two Federal divisions joining their comrades. Again Lovell would fail to attack aggressively and the Confederates would be forced to ignominiously retreat back across the Mississippi, never to again cross east.
We use Mr. Lincoln's War and 15mm figures.
1758 On the Brandenburg Plain: A Fictional 3rd Silesian War Battle
Premise: Frederick turns to save his capitol from the invading Russians. Unfortunately for the Russians diarrhea has “run” through the ranks of the senior officers leaving a Cossack, Hetman Platov, as the senior officer. Frederick meets the Russians somewhat dispersed and is able to offer battle with even numbers. This, for the less well-drilled Russians, spells ruin.
Both armies deployed in a long double line of sixteen battalions each on either side of three small hills. The terrain was otherwise unremarkable, being used by the locals as pasturage and wheat fields. The armies deployed symmetrically with each placing a 6-pounder battery between the southernmost and central hill and a 12-pounder battery between the center and northernmost hill.
As they maneuvered to contact the Russian 12 and the Prussian 6 deployed early. At a range of about 600 yards the 12-pounder began bowling the Prussian Grenadier Battalions of Unruh and Burgdorff. Prussian gunnery was initially as good with the 6-pounder causing casualties and disorder in the Narva Regiment at the same range.
For the rest of the afternoon the two batteries would fire at these two targets with distinctly different results. While the grenadiers would suffer over 360 casualties to the long-range fire they never wavered and were ever-present as a reserve if needed from the musketry battles raging to their left and right. Narva, on the other hand, would never recover, suffering only 10% losses (57 men) but deteriorating in their order as the bombardment continued, eventually running from the field in disgrace without ever nearing an enemy unit.
On the southern end of the field Regiment Markgraf Karl faced off against Rostov and Regiment von Bevern faced Astrakhan across a broad, gentle slope covered in young wheat. Here the normal stoicism of the Russian foot soldier was in full evidence against the superior firepower of the Prussian musketeers. In over an hour of musketry exchange, over 400 Russians fell to color the wheat red, only at the very end did the 1st Battalion of Rostov finally fall back from the fury. The Prussians suffered only 111 casualties.
In the center Platov sent Musketeer Regiment Apcheron and his brigade of converged grenadiers against the Fusilier Brigade von Wied and Olde Six. Wied found itself outgunned and finally 2nd battalion was forced to fall back to reform. This allowed Apcheron to pivot on Olde Six which was still standing having outdueled two battalions of Russian grenadiers. In the end Apcheron was forced to withdraw as all of their supports abandoned them and the Oesterreich Grenadiers marched forward under Frederick’s careful eye.
Olde Six suffered over 350 casualties while inflicting 446 on three different Russian grenadier battalions and forcing them all to fall back before the blind discipline of Freddy’s Guard Grenadiers.
It was on the northern flank, across a small hill that had, until that morning, been a resting place for cattle in the summer sun, where the battle was decided. Here the two battalions of the Regiment von Itzenplitz utterly destroyed a brigade composed of two battalions of Russian Guards and two battalions of the St. Petersburg Musketeer Regiment.
1st Itzenplitz engaged the Guards while 2nd engaged St. Petersburg, each supported by a 3-pounder battery. In a gradual wearing away, the 2nd Guards, then 2nd St. Petersburg, then 1st Guards all withered away while the Prussians fired and stepped forward, fired and stepped forward, inexorably pushing even as their ranks were thinned. The Russian gunners died at their pieces and, finally, only 1st St. Petersburg was left to withdraw in order before the remnants of Itzenplitz. The brave men of Regiment von Meyrinck were never called from their supporting line.
In all, the Russians suffered over 800 casualties while Itzenplitz lost 475 but held the bloodied rise and watched the crumpled Russians tuck pride and tail between their legs and skulk back to Warsaw.
We use Volley Fire rules and 25mm figures for our Lace Wars games.
We played a representation of the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, of November 1-2, 1943. While the actual battle was a mass of confusion with ships of both sides colliding with each other in the dark and shooting at friends, ours was a much more controlled scenario exploring “what if” the American plan was carried out to perfection.
The Japanese under Admiral Unlucky Tomiachi approached as they had historically with the two heavy cruisers Myoko and Haguro in line ahead flanked by two columns each of a light cruiser leading and three destroyers. The Americans under Admiral Just-Follow-the-Plan Caccamerrill and Close AtSpeed Burkox started in line ahead across the Japanese “T” with four destroyers then four “light” cruisers and four trailing destroyers. The Japanese also had two scout planes intended to drop flares.
The battle began with some tentative radar contacts and a flash of anti-aircraft fire as gunners on the Cleveland and Claxton opened up on the two scouts. The AA gunners were met by spectacular success as both Suisei exploded in mid-air, foreshadowing the rest of the game.
Admiral Tomiachi, acting on imperfect information, split three destroyers to his right (west) and turned the rest of the squadron hard left, intending to match the American gun line with his own four cruisers, screened by the three eastern-most destroyers. Admirals Caccamerrill and Burkox executed the historical plan with the lead four destroyers continuing forward and the rest of the command reversing course.
The entire Japanese squadron opened fire on Cleveland, scoring hits and starting fires but not knocking her out. The Americans opened fire with the few ships who had made radar contact, with a couple minor hits.
Both squadrons now established on their new courses, and with plenty of gun flashes to fire at, the battle was joined in earnest. The Japanese launched torpedoes from every ship but were quickly smothered by the American shells.
Myoko was first to be crippled, then Sendai and, one by one, the destroyers. The return fire was less effective, causing minor damage to Denver, Ausburne, and Foote.
Tomiachi ordered a withdrawal only 5 minutes after launching torpedoes and ordered all ships to make smoke. But it was too late. The Americans had full acquisition by radar and, at ranges from 5000-9000 yards, simply smothered the Japanese fleet. Deftly turning into the torpedo salvoes only Ausburne was hit out of the nearly 70 Long Lances launched, and that hit proved to be a dud.
Every Imperial ship was sunk with only Cleveland and Foote being damaged enough to be forced to leave the landing area the next day.
With no confusion, unerring radar, and perfect execution, the Americans in the game won an overwhelming victory denied the actual Americans 75 years before. No matter, historically the Japanese had been bloodied sufficiently that they never again made a significant sortie in the Solomons.
Game was played using 1:2400 ships and Sbase3 computer-assisted rules.
Major General John C Fremont was awakened by a dusty young courier. “General Jackson, Sir! He’s coming up the Pike at Luray!”
Fremont swung his legs into his boots at the side of his cot and barked orders to his waiting staff, their dress uniforms about to be badly soiled in the day’s events. Within minutes they stumbled over each other and raced out of the command tent putting Fremont’s small Federal command into motion.
Further south, Brigadier General Custer calmly surveyed an alarming situation. His three tiny cavalry regiments were galloping into delaying positions as General Stonewall Jackson’s Army of the Valley deployed astride the Valley Pike.
To Custer’s rear Brigadier General Dan Ricketts received an urgent message from his signal tower. The grizzled captain gruffly informed him that the drill was over. Jackson had arrived and Custer was engaged. Ricketts issued orders to his three batteries of U. S. Artillery to bring up the caissons and re-supply.
Jackson sent Colonel John Wilkes’ brigade to the left to develop Stempel’s Woods where the 7th Michigan waited. Brigadier General Dan Adams deployed to the right into the Douglas hayfield where the 5th and 6th Michigan cavalry awaited. Armistead’s brigade followed Wilkes and Palmer supported Adams.
Desperately the cavalrymen popped away with their Burnside carbines from behind Douglas’ stout snake fence and in Stempel’s tangled wood lot. Adams’ struggled to close the range sufficiently for the smoothbores arming the 17th Tennessee and the 8th Louisiana. Wilkes’ men struggled with the dense undergrowth, the creeping vines delaying them almost as much as the Wolverines.
Pouring down the Valley Pike in the opposite direction was Brigadier Thomas Milroy’ New York Brigade and Brigadier General Franz Sigel’s German Brigade at the head of Fremont’s small army. Unimpeded by the few ineffectual balls fired by the ancient 6-pounders of Bay’s Virginia Battery they surged forward into the north end of Stempel’s Wood.
Milroy’s 21st and 30th New York found less undergrowth in the north half of the woods and managed to surprise Armistead’s 13th Louisiana as it started to deploy from column. Soon the doughty New Yorkers were locked in a death match at close range in the thick forest with the Pelicans and Tarheels from the 4th and 7th North Carolina.
Meanwhile the 3rd Florida finally dislodged the 7th Michigan. Sigel, in the forefront of the battle, gave confidence to his green troops, steadying the 23rd New York who marched into the gap left by the exhausted cavalrymen. Deep in the woods the equally green 95th New York led by Colonel Marsena Patrick met and halted the flanking maneuver of Armistead’s 4th Kentucky.
Fremont, finding the bullets flying a bit thick found it necessary to personally guide the 80th New York into a reserve position at Miller’s Farm behind the heavily pressed 5th and 6th Michigan. By the time Adams finally dislodged the cavalrymen, Sigel had stabilized the Union right and the 24th New York, personally guided by Ricketts, had joined the 80th.
Ricketts’ gunners meanwhile, took a dreadful toll on Palmer’s brigade as it tried to march across the mile-long swale of young wheat and oats from Douglas’ fields to Ricketts position on Tower Ridge. By the time the Virginians of Palmer’s brigade reached the gunners they had suffered almost 300 casualties and, more importantly, Francis Stone’s brigade of Union infantry had arrived and been skillfully deployed by Stone to support the batteries.
As the sun passed toward the west Adams and Palmer made one last gasp of an attack on Miller’s Farm and Tower Ridge. After almost 6 hours under fire though Jackson’s veterans had nothing left and they recoiled back to the safety of Douglas’ fences.
In the woods both Sigel and Wilkes had been hit but remained in command. Jackson, surveying the strength of the Miller Farm position in the center and a second line waiting patiently behind Sigel and Milroy reluctantly issued the orders to break off the engagement in the woods as well.
In light of the stunning victory, Lincoln appointed Fremont to replace Major General George B. McClellan outside of Richmond. Fremont subsequently was unable to extricate Franklin’s V Corps when Joseph Johnston counterattacked and suffered a devastating defeat to end the Peninsular Campaign begun by McClellan.
Game was played with 15mm figures using Mr. Lincoln's War rules.
Two evenly matched phalanx-based armies met on the plains of Epirus. Pyrrhus was defending his realm from the incursion of Antigonus One-Eye (OK I know we're off on the timeline, but work with it!).
Antigonus made his left heavy with his Spartan hoplites flanked by some chariots, his agema, and Thracian mercenaries. His right was much weaker with elephants and another group of chariots. Pyrrhus deployed his elephants on his right, anchoring the flank of his Galatian band, the largest unit on the table. His left, on the other hand had both his agema and his Thessalian heavy cavalry.
Both armies advanced with their peltast engaging, first with missiles and then charging each other, the light troops exhibiting exceptional aggressiveness. However, Pyrrhus was to be betrayed by his heavy cavalry commander who, inexplicably, ordered the two heavy cavalry units to withdraw allowing Antigonus' chariots the opportunity to strike while the horses unshielded side was exposed.
Pyrrhus' elephants, on the other hand, held the flank against all comers, engaging Antigonus' Phoenician chariots, agema, and Thracian mercenaries for over an hour of very confused melee.
The battle was decided, in the end, by the heavy infantry. Antigonus' elephants and Athenian hoplites ground away Pyrrhus' 3rd phalanx while the Chaldean and Macedonian phalanxes of Antigonus crushed Pyrrhus' 1st phalanx and the Galatians were eventually destroyed by the Spartans.
Game was played using 15mm figures and home rules.
Brigadier General Harry T. Hays lay shivering under a heavy blanket even though the midsummer Alabama noon heat was causing a lethargy amongst his staff in the next room. It was all they could do to lift the glass of lemonade that the “girl”, Bessie, had brought them, from the table to their lips. General Hays had managed to catch a fever and had been shivering and miserable for the past three days. Fortunately, Union General Lovell Rousseau had been nowhere near, resting his division 30 miles to the west. Unfortunately, Major General Henry Halleck had ordered Rousseau to clear the Tennessee River of rebels east to Muscle Shoals the day before.
Rousseau, ever the reliable officer, had packed some extra cigars and a special bottle of cognac he had “borrowed” from an Alabama planter and set his blue-clad troops in motion. Hays had ordered entrenchments built before he had taken to his bed, but had not remembered about pickets or vedettes. His ranking brigadier, Robert Hoke, failed to order any scouts as well. General James R. Chalmers, commanding Hays’ other brigade, had just returned that morning from leave and was receiving reports over lunch about a mile away from where Hays was shivering.
Leading the Union advance was companies A and E, 1st Ohio Cavalry, all the mounted troops assigned to Rousseau. Early that July morning, Captain Morris, spied the Confederate works and reported back to Rousseau in person. The general, cigar in place, rode up to a small rise two miles from the Confederate lines. Quickly assessing the situation, he summoned his three brigadiers, the taciturn regular Shepherd, the dapper lawyer John Starkweather, and the heavy-set former county sheriff, Samuel Beatty. Rousseau issued his orders in his slow, deep voice and bid his subordinates godspeed.
Beatty had only recently joined the division with a brigade of mostly untried recruits. Starkweather’s men at least had “seen the elephant” but were not nearly the “old hands” of Shepherd’s Regular Brigade. Rousseau’s plan depended heavily on the regulars (By God!). Hays would be badly outnumbered but his men were mostly veterans under seasoned regimental officers.
Starkweather opened the ball by bringing up in a powerful cloud of dust, Battery A of the Michigan Light Artillery. Their 6 10-pounder Parrotts set up on the tallest hill in the area and began sending shells screaming 800 yards into the works held by the Confederate Guards Response Battalion of New Orleans. Starkweather brought his brigade up methodically, deploying two regiments in front of the battery and sending two more en echelon to the left to wrap around the end of the Confederate line.
Equally methodically, Beatty supervised his raw regiments in their approach. His brigade had the Union center and marched up along a farmer’s track, utilizing a fine wood lot to provide cover. His Kentucky light artillery deployed a full 45 minutes after Starkweather’s guns, their screening infantry having a little difficulty going through its drills under fire for the first time.
On the Union right, Shepherd’s regulars developed the attack swiftly with the Battery H, 5th United States Artillery supporting the 5 battalions who approached in open order, stretching around the Confederate left. The 1/18th and 2/18th combined with the guns to cut the 25th Alabama to pieces.
The situation on the Confederate left had rapidly become precarious as the disciplined and accurate fire from the regulars supported by the US Artillery and the Kentucky guns had already torn a hole in the line and threatened to break through the works and make the entire line untenable. Hoke had swiftly brought his two reserve regiments, the 7th Mississippi and 10th Mississippi, into position, the 10th on a cliff on the far left and the 7th behind the lines where the hapless 25th Alabama had just been eviscerated. However, he hesitated to leave the works.
It was at this moment that General Hays appeared, gaunt and white as a ghost but sitting tall on his sorrel gelding. Hays spoke softly to the much less experienced Hoke and the latter then sent a courier galloping to Colonel Simms of the 7th. Simms was a newspaperman and a storyteller. Many a cold winter night he had regaled his regimental officers and other colonels with tall tales and embellished tales of the Indian Mutiny, actions in Afghanistan and expeditions into the darkest Africa (none of which places he had ever been, not that he let anyone know THAT particular fact).
Simms was, in addition to being a marvelous campfire one-man thespian, personally brave and quite desirous of having an actual personal adventure. Therefore, when the courier galloped up to him and said, “General Hoke’s compliments, Sir! He orders you, Sir, to push those people away!”
With a flourish the teller of tall tales embarked on his personal adventure. Placing his hat on the tip of his sword he thundered to the front of the regiment, bellowed, “Mississippians! Send the sowbellies back to Chicago! Forward, Seventh!”
Their charge was not the glorious one of the Napoleonic Age. No even, serried ranks with glittering bayonets and matching pom-poms. A ragged line of butternut burst over the hasty works, gathering momentum and losing cohesion, some of their ancient smoothbores lacking bayonets at all, most with tarnished, though sharp, blades. The blood-curdling rebel yell erupted from 400 throats and the open ordered 2/18th and 19th Battalions of US Regulars raced for the relative safety of Berger’s Knoll a mile to the rear.
The charge impetuously carried forward right past the Kentucky guns who poured canister into the tiring and scattering attackers. The 1/18th came to their brothers’ aid and finally, on the slopes of Berger’s Knoll, the three regular battalions turned on Simms and his now badly disorganized men. Simms would pen quite the tale for his newspaper, but from the “safety” of a Chicago prison, as he and 236 of his men surrendered.
Shepherd continued his attack with the 15th and 16th and the supporting US Artillery. Hoke’s howitzers scored a lucky hit on the Kentucky artillery as it attempted to re-position to reengage the 7th Mississippi after it had charged past. One shell hit a caisson and the ensuing explosion destroyed a battery wagon and stampeded a gun team that had just been limbered up. A second shell burst on the barrel of a Napoleon, killing 6 gunners.
However, it was a Pyhrric victory as the US Artillery landed Parrot bolts on two howitzers, disabling them and forcing young Lieutenant Dann to order the battery back. Without the guns the 21st Alabama and 5th Mississippi could not stand to the disciplined volley fire of the Regulars.
On the Union left, Starkweather and Beatty now pressed their attack, though their less experienced troops found it hard going against Chalmers’ veterans. After 30 minutes of fierce fighting, with Hoke collapsing to his left, Chalmers ordered his brigade back as well.
Wheat’s Battalion had decimated the 21st Wisconsin but had in turn suffered almost 180 casualties. Chalmers’ guns engaged in a lopsided firefight where 55 gunners and almost every horse were shot down. A mere 23 men and a single Blakely rifle managed to pull back. The Confederate Guard Response Battalion, having rallied back, stopped a potentially devastating charge by the 15th Kentucky, preserving Chalmers’ ability to fight another day.
Hoke reformed with barely 700 men the next day; Chalmers had 1200. Rousseau was in complete control of the Tennessee River to Muscle Shoals.
Game played using Mr. Lincoln's War in 15mm by the Long Island Irregulars.
Diatribes are simply often humorous recountings of the games played by the Long Island Irregulars. We play with toy soldiers and are unabashedly happy to have never lost this part of our childhoods..