Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Chase those Wagons - An American Civil War Engagement

Last night we completed a two week American Civil Ware Fire and Fury game over at the ‘Woking Shed’. All the figures, terrain and scenario were put together by my good friend Mark, so all credit to him for an excellent engagement.

For those of you who will ask the scale is 15mm.

The scenario was quite straight forward a numerically stronger Union Army had to capture the supply base (centred on a church) and secure the supplies (wagons). The Union force consisted of four Divisions – each of about 5 brigades with Artillery support. The Union had one Cavalry brigade under the command of a certain General Custer.

In opposition were four Confederate brigades with around a third fewer troops. These were in the main defending the Supply depot and the cross roads to the East. The Rebels were required to evacuate the supply depot (via the Wagons) if threatened and move the convoy off the road exiting east. This was not revealed to the Union players.

Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera on the first night but in summary this is what happened...the write up is from the perspective of the Union forces (my team)
The Battlefield - looking from Union Left Flank towards supply centre

Day 1

The Union forces were distributed across a broad front. One division was tasked to march to the Eastern crossroads and engage the Confederates in defence.

A large and elite Union brigade along with the Cavalry brigade were sent forward on the right flank to threaten the western end of the supply depot.
Marching to sound of battle

The final Union brigades were told to advance on the centre of the defended position.

Not knowing how the defenders would respond we adopted a simple strategy of engagement across the whole flank. One of the central divisions was held back in reserve available to reinforce either flank or centre if required.

Starting with the crossroads in the East, the Union’s Zouaves pushed forward and quickly came to blows with an equally matched Rebel brigade. Quite quickly the assault was repelled and the Union forces were driven back. By the end of the game this division had been virtually wiped out for little confederate loss of life. This served as a timely reminder of how brutal these rules can be and on the second evening I had learned my lesson.

Meanwhile the Centre brigades pushed forward but were held back until the right flank had engaged the supply depot. The US Cavalry reached the edge of the depot in quick fashion, jumped from the horses and took cover behind the walls. The infantry units to the right suffered a series of disastrous manoeuvre roles and slowly crawled across the field.
Centre of Union

With sporadic firing, few casualties the Rebels held the upper hand on the close of the first night. 

Day 2

We were all set for a thrilling finale. Staying true to our original strategy the Union would continue its assault. Unfortunately I was now commanding the entire Union army so I could only blame myself if it all went wrong.
The Supply Depot  - the Union objective

Starting on the left flank I had to plug the gap after my division went missing in action !. Fortunately the reserve from the centre were in place to repel the confederates charge. Well place artillery decimated one rebel brigade and a series of hand to hand engagements saw the rebels slink off into the woods. The Left flank had held.

Hard Fighting on Left Flank

The Line Holds

Confederates in retreat
Meanwhile I chose to seize the initiative with the US Cavalry. They had for too long been skulking behind the walls of the supply depot. They were needed to chase down the fleeing wagon. Mounting up the proceeded to make their way round the flank of the confederate forces. Their positions were quickly filled with the Elite Union brigade who finally decided to march to the guns.

Dismounted Cavalry in action

Union Right Flank - start of Day 2

Union troops plough forward

It was finally time for the centre to advance, despite marching into well defended troops and taking raking fire from confederate forces the numbers began to tell and Johnny Reb began to retreat. Could they get the wagons off to safety?

Hard fighting in centre

With Union and Rebel forces fighting to win the day

The final few turns of the night saw the Union forces plough into the remnants of the rebel forces. Fierce melees were breaking out all around the supply depot. Retreating in good order the Rebels formed up in the wake of the retreating wagons.
A union Cavalry charge !

The US cavalry rather than charging headlong into the well formed defensive ranks ploughed into the flank of a retreating brigade, a second cavalry brigade was on its way in support.

Confederate forces retiring in good order

The wagons were escaping but the Union forces were closing fast. Time unfortunately got in the way and we called to a close a great battle. Totting up the losses and reviewing the disposition of troops the Union would probably win. They had the initiative, had more fresh units on the board and had reserves of cavalry to capture the wagon supplies, however they had been given a very bloody nose.   At the end of day 1 I could not see how the Union could win but this was a game where the numbers counted.

Great fun, great company and a good result for the Union.

Thanks to mark for making this happen.

Look forward to the next one !


  1. The pictures are all missing.

  2. we are ex fire and fury players in 15mm now playing black powder - we are also in Berrylands Surbiton .. whereabouts are u Eric ... contact me if u fancy a game sometime rolfxx@live.co.uk