Sunday, 2 June 2013

Cutler's Farm - a bloody defeat!

Flags at half mast on the streets of Richmond today ...

The concluding turns of the Battle of Cutlers Farm - which you can find analysed in detail at -  have been played out, and General Pope has managed to triumph over the Army of Northern Virginia. He has won the second battle in a row and gained the total of 10 VPs that he needed to claim a campaign victory. A bitter pill for the Rebels to swallow and, as I have been frequently heard to say (since about 1964) just after I have been trounced yet again on the battlefield by my brother ... " How can anyone stand against the industrial might and infinite manpower resources of the economically dominant yet spiritually bankrupt North ...? "

A complicated post-mortem is unecessary this time - there were no tactical errors or massive sequences of unfavourable die rolls ! General Lee had used up all his command points conducting a 'clever' manoeuvre around the Union northern flank on the strategic map, and bamboozled by his own brilliance he didn't think it necessary to spend command points on restoring the combat effectiveness of Anderson's division. Consequently it was not present on table, with er,.... Lee arrogantly assuming he could work his magic without it. The Rebs fielded 20 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigades and 9 batteries against Pope's 27 infantry brigades, 5 cavalry brigades and 14 batteries - and the mathematical result, to paraphrase Dicken's Mr Micawber .... "misery" !

If you want to witness the unedifying spectacle of General Pope gloating over his triumph, feel free to visit . This campaign may be over, but somehow, somewhere the war will go on ....... in glorious 6mm.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Cutler's Farm

A massive volley ripples down the Rebel line
(artistic license really - the enemy are still over 500 yds away on this scale!)

The Battle of Cutler's Farm is well under way - both sides started with a big chunk of their forces deployed and only half a mile apart, so the action became intense very quickly. From bottom left to top right you can see Starke's entire division - the brigades of Winder, Jones, Taliaferro and Field forming a solid line that links to A.P.Hill's flank in the distance. The two divisions are advancing against Ricketts and Doubleday (McDowell's III Corps attached to Pope from the AOP) on either side of the Cutler farmhouse.

The situation at the end of the first session
(click to enlarge)

The plan (such as it is!) will be to pressure Ian along the entire front and keep him off balance, hopefully forcing him to commit his substantial reserves to the wrong place. I have detached Ewell from Jackson and sent him to support Hood in a sweeping flank manoeuvre round the Barnes Farm on our left towards the main Sharpeville road. I have already seen a sweating courier lashing his horse to carry this news back to Union HQ!

Walker's artillery is just arriving at the centre of the Confederate line ( there will be no repeat of the artillery fiasco in the last game!), but the centre remains our weak point and I think Ian may have registered this. The good news is that the inital rounds of combat have slightly favoured the Rebs. But we have no reserves - it will be touch and go.

View a full battle report here:

Friday, 3 May 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Turn 21 - New battle

It is 8:00am on the second day (turn 21) and this will be the tabletop situation for the Rebs as the battle begins. You may notice that the bottom half of this table was the top half of the previous table !
Longstreet has the divisions of Hood and Wilcox ( formerly Kemper's) fully deployed, with Fitzhugh Lee's troopers on their eastern flank. Anderson does not have enough command points to enter the battlefield area, nor would  his 'battle weary' status make it advisable.

Robertson's cavalry is off-table to the west - again, not enough command points to take part in the action. Of Jackson's Corps, Ewell will come on by road with Lee and the artillery at 8:00 - A.P.Hill and Starke will enter in battle line at 8:30 a little further west . I don't know exactly what we are going to encounter, but it's all or nothing now !

We will probably call this one the Battle of Cutler's Farm, to distinguish it from the previous battle fought over partly the same terrain. Hopefully we will get to start it this week.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Turn 20

Lee and Longstreet start to put pressure on the
Federal position by advancing against Porter.

7:30 am - and Lee has decided to take the initiative, creating a contact in the map square north of the Barnes House. If Pope withdraws from that contact then the Confederates gain a campaign VP. If he decides to give battle then all the possible tabletop configurations will be acceptable to us. I am fairly confident (but then I was last time!), with the only negative being that Anderson's Division is still not in a good enough condition to be much use in combat, and will have to sit this one out.

I am pretty sure that Ian will fight. He has another two divisions in the Cutler House square (scouted last turn) and probably more troops west of there and at Sharpeville, currently beyond my scouting range. Buford's troopers have been quite effective in their screening of Pope's extended deployment.

Divisional names in red text indicate they are deployed for battle.
[ Keep up with the Federal perspective at Road to Appomattox. ]

Monday, 22 April 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Turn 19

7:00am - August 2nd - day two of the campaign . . . . .

The night turn is complete and this is the situation at dawn from the Confederate perspective. The last few turns have been spent inching around the Union northern flank trying to look for, or create, a situation where it might be favourable to engage. So many command points have been used up by movement and scouting that Anderson's division is still not restored to battle worthiness, and I have held it back.

I don't know for certain but I suspect that during the previous evening Ian finally became aware of the extent of my manoeuvre and I may have missed my chance. As the Union army is moving around far less due to it's interior lines, it has probably been able to allocate more command points to scouting and keep fairly accurate tabs on what the Rebs are doing. So Lee now faces a substantial enemy line arrayed north of Sharpeville. He could continue to slip westwards, go for a frontal assault at an advantageous spot, or pin Pope down while Longstreet tries to turn his eastern flank - answers on a postcard please !

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Turn 15

Rebel situation at 5:30pm, including scouted Union units.

The campaign will go to a night turn at 7:00pm, so further large engagements are unlikely today though smaller ones are still possible.
I have managed to get most of the army into a good position north east of Sharpeville, and have detected Butterfield's division of Porter's (troublesome!) corps at the Cutler House. Because only cavalry can scout diagonally adjacent squares I am hoping that Jackson's presence has not been spotted by Butterfield. More worrying is Tompkin's cavalry near the Stevensburg Turnpike - they seem to have just appeared and I don't know how much of our northward movement they have become aware of. I need to drive them away, or at least 'confuse' them a bit next turn !
It would seem that Ian may have guessed by now that I didn't head south and west, so there could be all sorts of trouble in store for the morning . . .

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Turn 12

Rebel positions at the end of Campaign Turn 12 (4:00pm)

Following the Confederate defeat at Sharpeville, Lee eventually decided to retire his forces to the east and position them along the Stevensburg turnpike, From there he can move them south or north quickly at a much smaller Command Point cost.

A plan is forming in my mind that actually involves - doing nothing for a while! If Lee can avoid Pope's cavalry patrols then a prolonged period of Confederate 'invisibility' might suggest to Pope that we have taken the long road south then west to move against Fremont, the other VP site. This is a fairly flimsy plan and Ian may not fall for it ! But if he does shift his weight towards Fremont then I could  conceivably hook around Sharpeville to the north and try for a battle in the same general area as before, with more favourable odds if possible - and a better state of mind! In the long term it might be better to goad the Union army into attacking us, and fight a defensive battle . . . .

During this lull I will also begin attempts to restore the status of Anderson's division (marker currently white to indicate 'battle weary') and give General Wilcox command of the division formerly led by the now deceased General Kemper.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sharpeville Campaign - Turn 10

Retreating Confederates flood the roads leading
 away from the battlefield

The Battle of Sharpeville is over - and it was pretty much an unmitigated disaster for the Rebs!
See for a blow by blow account.

Confusion and doubt about the whereabouts of Pope's largest corps led me into a paralysis which unfortunately coincided with some assertive tactical play by Ian. The divisions of Hood and Starke never fired a shot, and by some appalling incompetence that I don't even fully understand myself, the majority of Confederate artillery remained limbered up and useless for the duration of the battle! Rebel army demoralisation (6 simultaneously broken units) was reached after playing just 8 tabletop turns - our final session consisting of 1 turn only! Map moves have resumed with campaign turn 10 commencing at the time that the battle ended - 3pm.

In short - Jackson's corps was severely damaged in defence, Longstreet's was crippled in attack, and I was hampered by over-confidence alternating with baseless paranoia.

By mid afternoon, the Army of Northern Virginia was in full retreat, and Ian had recieved 5 Campaign Victory Points for winning the battle. During Longstreet's disastrous assault it was Anderson's Division that took the heaviest losses and is now designated 'battle weary' in campaign terms. Kemper was killed in the chaos when his men broke in the woods, so a replacement will need to be found to command his division. I have started to extricate my army from the battlefield with a view to retiring southwards and having a serious re-think. If I lose a second battle then victory goes to that dreadful character, General Pope . . . . .

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Battle of Sharpeville ~ 12:30pm : Lee's Thoughts

General Lee shares his thoughts about the battle currently in progress at Sharpeville.
(see  The time is 12:30 pm (turn 4).
"General Jackson has been hit hard by Heintzelman's Corps at Barnes Farm, but despite the  firepower of massed Federal batteries, I have faith that he will hold his ground - Starkes' entire division remains in reserve. However, I am perturbed by the likelihood that General Porter's Corps will fall on Jackson's northern flank within the next hour or so. Stuart had formerly reported Porter's presence in the area, but has since lost track of him. Jackson's flank is refused with Ambrose Hill's division deployed against the possibility of Porter's appearance. I intend to bolster that position with Starke's brigades and Walker's reserve batteries - maybe even General Hood if need be. A new line may need to be drawn a little further south.
My chief hope lies with General Longstreet who has reported a moderate enemy force to his front, near Hawk Ridge - I have ordered him to assault those people with all haste then wheel north to relieve the pressure on Jackson.
It was indeed a calculated risk to accede to battle here at Sharpeville while the threat of Porter remained unresolved, but at this moment we outnumber the enemy substantially and must be bold . . . "


Friday, 15 March 2013

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 9

Lee has consolidated the dispositions of the Army of Northern Virginia
  well enough to accept the challenge of battle . . .

Pope has taken me a little off guard by advancing aggressively against Jackson - but, although I know Porter's Corps is just off to the northwest, I feel that Lee's army is in a strong position so the Confederates are standing their ground !  This means that a table battle is declared, with me as the defender deciding the precise geographical area of the battlefield as shown below . . . .

The Sharpeville Battlefield - the road layout on the map is designed so that any
4x2 set of squares can be reproduced using the terrain units we own.
The Union army now gets a small bonus phase with limited command points to 'march to guns' any of their units beyond the area of the battlefield. Campaign moves are suspended until the battle is over, and a full report of the action at Sharpeville will appear on : ........ as soon as we can get to fight it !

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 8

Pope's HQ and most of the large Army of the Potomac V Corps are revealed at the Cutler House.
Yankee cavalry lurk on Jackson's flank.
10:30am. With the two armies closing quickly, a lot of command points went into scouting this turn, with the result that Longstreet and the artillery reserve are not as close to Sharpeville as I would like. Depressingly, I can see that Pope is now well prepared to receive our attentions, and notions of local Confederate superiority are fading fast ! Jackson has moved into a position to be able to strike at Heintzelman's Corps in the town as soon as we are ready  (the enemy has formed a battle line in anticipation of such an attack), although the appearance of Porter's Corps to the northwest has dulled our enthusiasm for immediate battle somewhat. Lee and the supply train are close behind Jackson (positioning of the supply wagons is critical as ammunition rules will be in use for any table battle).

[ If anyone has stumbled across this blog by chance, these are the Confederate turns in an email campaign being used to create tabletop battles. The Union turns can be found posted by General Pope - my brother ! - at ]

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 7

 Kearny and Hooker's presence revealed at Sharpeville - the only 'A' grade
 infantry leaders the Union possess in this campaign

10:00 am - I hadn't intended to post every turn, but this has turned out to be gripping stuff and things are coming to a head - Robertson's cavalry has located Heintzelman's entire corps at Sharpeville, this being the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac (on attachment to Pope).

Jackson continues to advance towards the town from the east, maintaining Ewell and A.P. Hill in cautious line of battle with Starke in reserve. Longstreet's leading elements have left the turnpike to move across country and take up position on Jackson's left. Wherever Pope's army has been for the last few hours it is almost certainly now concentrating at Sharpeville and battle is likely to be joined very soon . . .

[ If anyone has stumbled across this blog by chance, these are the Confederate turns in an email campaign being used to create tabletop battles. The Union turns can be found posted by General Pope - my brother ! - at ]

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 6

Arrows show Fitzhugh Lee's attempts to locate some enemy - any enemy!

9:30 am - Tompkin's division must have been way out on a limb because Buford has retired him in front of Jackson's advance, yielding the Confederates one campaign victory point. Longstreet's Corps has finally moved up close enough to support Jackson if all hell breaks loose.
That's the good news. The bad news is, Stuart has yet to discover the whereabouts of any Union infantry divisions ! Fitzhugh Lee's troopers have been desperately scouting the area just south of Sharpeville, using up half the available command points this turn, but they have turned up no boys in blue from the Lutheran Church to the Schimmel House. Could it really be that the main weight of Pope's army is deployed over towards Fremont, and Lee has outmanoeuvred him already ?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 5

The first engagement of the campaign

With maximum command points yet again I was able to achieve a lot, and the Confederate phase of the 9:00 am turn has brought some action at last ! Robertson scouted Masons Ford and then the area directly north of his position where he discovered one of Buford's divisions at the crossroads. This froze Robertson's movement and scouting abilities - but he had already seen enough to inform Jackson, who moved quickly across the ford and deployed to engage the enemy troopers. (Rebel unit markers changed to red text to indicate battle formation)

I am hoping that we have caught Pope off balance (maybe even caused a little panic?!) and that he doesn't have enough infantry in the immediate vicinity to confidently bring on a battle, so the Union cavalry will be forced to retire. But of course I could be completely wrong!

Strategic overview - Lee and Longstreet moving up fast

Pope must have allocated some forces to protect the town of Fremont several miles to the west, so by concentrating and coming at Sharpeville from the east, Lee hopes to force a battle quickly and gain some local superiority.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 4

Jackson's infamous 'foot cavalry' race ahead of Longstreet - a masterstroke or a blunder ?

Two hours and four turns into the day - 8:30 am. I have been literally trying to 'steal a march' on Pope by allocating a lot of command points to the movement of Jackson's Corps in order to get part of my force further north than the enemy might reasonably expect in the time. This is a bit risky as Jackson is now seriously isolated, but as far as I know he remains undetected !
The downside of my command point choices is that Longstreet's Corps is making poor progress, and Stuart's brigades have done almost no scouting at all. Patrolling out of Fairfax, rebel troopers have found no sign of the enemy in the area around the Shriver House, but that's it for intelligence reports so far.
Next turn - assuming I am not surprised somewhere by hordes of Yankees ! - I must exercise more caution, drawing the two parts of the army closer together and doing some proper scouting to find out exactly where Pope is located.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sharpeville Campaign : Turn 2

Confederate situation- Turn 2 -  7:30 am - 1st Aug 1862

Confederate situation after two turns of play. I got the maximum number of Command Points on turn two (there is a random element) and used most of them to increase the movement of Stonewall's Corps. To the west Fitzhugh Lee's troopers have entered Fairfax without incident.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sharpeville Campaign : Initial Deployment

Campaign map overview with Confederate initial dispositions.
(click to enlarge)

The best strategy in this campaign - I think! - is to try and bring on a battle where Lee can achieve local superiority before enemy reinforcements can reach the scene. There are two towns that will yield VPs for the Confederates in the northwestern area of the map ( Sharpeville and Fremont), so Pope will initially move to defend these. This means I can guess his general deployment and target one of the flanks – I have chosen the eastern approach. Lee’s initial disposition is just south of the Rappahannock, and he has issued orders to make for Berry Creek with Robertson’s cavalry out in front to prevent any nasty surprises. Fitzhugh Lee’s troopers are posted out wide on his left to screen the movement from the enemy and gather intelligence.

If Pope can concentrate his entire force on any battlefield then the Rebs will be outnumbered, so Lee’s main tactical consideration is to avoid this.

We both have a limited number of Command Points each turn to spend on scouting and movement, and these could all initially be allocated to cavalry units rather than army movement, enabling them to cover a lot of ground and scout a lot of squares. I haven’t decided yet whether to do this on the first turn, though I suspect the enemy might – knowledge is power! However, once a cavalry unit encounters an opposing cavalry unit it’s scouting and movement abilities are substantially curtailed, making careful defensive screening a viable tactical option, and less drain on Command Points.

Lee, Longstreet, Jackson and Stuart prepare to march.