Sunday, 27 January 2013

Antietam Dawn!

Our most recent practice game for our Gettysburg 1863-2012 Megagame project was the early phase of the Battle of Antietam, aka Sharpsburg.

The Australia Day weekend fell very well for wargamers this year - the great day itself - 26th Jan - fell on the Saturday for the customary day of lounging around the pool, barbequeing and generally sampling the finest of Australian food and drink with family and friends - including the obligatory Passionfruit Pavlova - or 'Pash Pav'. Family and social obligations duly discharged, that left the Sunday free for wargaming, and Monday's public holiday free for the adventurous to attend CanCon.....

Since the preparations for the Mega Game weekend itself, now scarily happening this year, leave little time for detailed scenario work, and the Gettysburg scenery is not yet ready, a ready made scenario from David Brown's 'Guns at Gettysburg' GdeBde ruleset was pressed into service and hastily adapted to Black Powder - this simply entailed our default leadership values of Union Brigadiers 7 and Div Generals 8, whereas their ANV counterparts had 8 and 9 respectively - with a major impact on the outcome!

David has provided a terrific map of the early battles around the corn field and Dunker church, and with Matt's help we were able to recreate this area of the field quite well.

Here we see the table from the SW, with the Kennedy farm in the foreground, and the Miller farm way across the diagonal.
The line of blue dice delineate the maximum Union deployment as per David's scenario instructions. The table size was 12' x 6 '

This view is from the SW, with the Dunker Church in the foreground. The Cornfield is left to the imagination, but outlined by the small hedges, which otherwise have no effect. Visibility of all troops in the cornfield was reduced for the first 4 moves (-1 Obscured Target)

There were 6 of us rolling dice today, although there are at least a dozen keen wargamers committed to the megagame itself. Matt, genial propreitor of the Hall of Heroes Gaming store, took command for the Union, Dave took the Union Right flank, Philip the centre, and yours truly the Left flank. For the Confederacy, Troy took charge, and also commanded on the Rebel Right wing. Terry took the ANV centre, and Bryan the left wing by the Dunker church.

For the Union side, Matt quickly spotted the opportunites I had with Ricketts division to launch a double envelopment...

I was to launch Hartsuff's Bde straight down the road thru East Woods to split the Reb centre, and send my left flanking Bde to occupy the Kennedy farm and flank the Rebs from the South. All my centre Bde had to do was pin the Rebs in the centre to link everything together - a simple plan with great potential - what could possibly go wrong? Matt instructed Dave and Philip to simply attack to their front, keeping the Rebs fixed to the North...

Naturally I wasn't privy to the Confederate plans, but it seemed they were going to take up a forward defence  - below is Wofford's Bde moving up to their centre along the Southern edge of the cornfield:

And below Bryans Bde's on their left by the Church. The Miller farm in the top left corner.
Note how the Rebel line appears to have ample reserves in support...

On the Confederate right, Troy deployed as best he could to cover both the Eastern flank and the Southern edge of the East woods - a difficult position to hold - would he be up to the challenge?

As you can see, Troy is also a firm believer in keeping reserves in hand. He has deployed his Division '1 - Up', with one Bde in line and another in immeadiate support, with his third Bde a little to the rear to cover all eventualities. A Bde skirmish screen can be seen in the background covering the approaches from the East Woods. Cunningly concealed is his artillery brigade, which would have a major role to play...

Troys figures are mainly a mix of Perry Plastic and metal, but with a sprinkling of Foundy figures sculpted by the Perry's. He is even more of a fan than I am.......

The skirmish screen at the bottom of East Woods. Our BP house amends were trialling allowing a 'Bde Skirmish screen' of 3 tiny units to pool their stamina to 3 collectively, whilst still able to either concentrate their fire to the front, or fire as 1 dice each to flanks and front. 'Coffee coaster' bases 67 cents courtesy of Bunning's craft aisle! 

The view from the Confederate right flank out across at a sea of blue formed by Rickett's division, with the Kennedy Farm on the right and East Woods on the left:

It was clearly going to be pretty crucial who opened the ball, so we diced off for it, the Rebels winning - would this forsage the morning's outcome? Troy as ever was blessed with the dice as a combined volley from his lead infantry Bde and Artillery Bde dispersed my brigade skirmish screen, never to be seen again - deep breath time....However, he didn't quite manage to order a unit into the unoccupied Kennedy farm...

Following my orders to the letter, I ordered my flanking Bdes out to their respective envelopment duties, only for both orders to fail, indeed for one Brigade to blunder and shy a move's march away from the field of glory. My middle Bde would have to go it alone...

On the Union Right, Dave, aka 'Rommel', for reasons which will become apparent, experienced his usual 'Red Mist' and opened up an attack 'a l'outrance' with his Brigades,

whilst Philip, with typical British reserve, concentrating on effective placement of his guns to do the work. I was too caught up in my own woes to fully record the action in the cornfield, but suffice it to say that a deadly combination of Dave's aggression and Philip's professionalism soon made things challenging for Bryan and Terry:

This is not to say that counter attacks were not regular and determined:

To the extent that 3 Union Regiments fled the field after failing their 'Rebel Yell' tests.

This is another of our house rule amends based on the 'Ferocious Charge' special rule -Confederate Infantry Regiments charging may issue a Rebel Yell, forcing the Union target to take an immeadiate Break test until the first time they successfully pass such a 'Rebel Yell' break test, after which they are deemed to have 'seen the elephant' and are awarded a Unit Citation in the form of a small plastic elephant - the one awarded to this Zouave unit (10th NY Volunteers) just visible in the bottom left corner - initially an aid to memory but now a much sought after badge of honour. One of Philip's ideas, he is also our Orbat guru, and for the Gettysburg Megagame has the thankless task of calculating which formations will arrive where over the 3 day battle!

So to  recap, the Union centre and right were steadily advancing and forcing the Rebs back through the cornfield - so how was I doing on the right wing, with my clever double envelopment? Well, the best spin I can put on things is that of my three Brigades, one was doing reasonably well...

Hartsuff's Bde you will recall was to advance down the East Woods road to split the Rebel centre. Forced by the terrain to advance in march columns, it suffered terribly from Troy's skirmishers and Terry's refused right flank Regiment - indeed a well timed volley sent the lead regiment running to the rear - but eventually it was able to link up with Philip to outflank the Rebel centre, with inevitable results for Terry's hard pressed Brigade:

However things were not going well for my left flanking Bde, initially tasked with taking the Kennedy farm and rolling up the Confederate line from the East. The Brigadier' command value of 7 was not up to the simple task of ordering in a Regiment to occupy the Kennedy farm, and even the intervention of the Divisional Commander was not able to persuade the rest of the Bde to launch a flanking attack to the Rebel line. Eventually resort was made to the 'Follow Me' order to bring each and every regiment up individually, one after another, but by this point Troy has set up a refused defense securely anchored on the now defended Kennedy Farm...Meanwhile, my key centre Brigade, vital to keeping my Division linked up, was facing a murderous fire from an Infantry Bde, an Artillery Bde, and Troy's skirmish screen who had worked their way along the bottom edge of East Woods...

 With this Bde, not only did command difficulties hamstring the Federal response to these well coordinated volleys, but the Divisional Artillery Bde repeatedly refused to move from the table edge, with even Divisional General 'follow me' orders falling on deaf ears...Troy remorselessley continued to pour it on so that the Centre Bde all but dissolved - the Confederate Right had cleared their flank of Dark Blue - all that remained was a single wavering regiment perched on the table edge and that recalcitrant battery, still in limber :

However, despite my failure to envelop any thing more than a single Confederate Regiment, the terrible trio of Dave, Philip and Matt on the Union centre and right were sweeping all before them:

So, despite Troy wiping up his side of the field, it was a clear Union victory...though the historically disjointed nature of the Union attacks amply reflected in our game, if only by me!

I was able to console myself that at least one of my 3 Brigades had contributed to the overall effort....and as for my shy Artillery Bde, well, the search for a scapegoat needn't take long, that BC can imminently expect an interview, negative coffee and sticky buns....

Overall, a great day's wargaming in good and sporting company, playing with lovely models on a fine looking table - a holiday weekend to remember! And I can't finish without sharing with you my favourite plastic conversion of the day - Bryan's Perry ACW Drummer carrying drum on shoulder:


  1. Hi Sparker,
    What a fabulous table you have here! This AAR is awesome, your minis are really impressive...I do like the words of the characters in your pictures, funny, very funny!

  2. Some loverleee photos my dearest Mr Sparkles. Nice to see your blog ... and yourself! ... are alive and kicking.

    It seems that our gaming in separate countries has a remarkable synchronicity with Napoleonics and ACW. Hurrah!

    But what's with the stealing of that most Kiwi of creations - the pavlova - for an Australia Day feast. It's intolerable Sir!! 8O)

    von Peter himself

  3. Awesome looking game Sparker! Lovely troops and terrain. Hard to beat a nice bit of Pav!!

  4. Great looking game and figures... there were a few Elite Miniatures units I have used with from Andrew Parr's old collection and have featured on my blog as well.

  5. Wonderful looking game and write up! Great stuff!

  6. Thank you all very much! Yes the Elite Miniature units must be the shop army ones - thanks I didn't know the manufacturer!

    I didn't know the Pav was also the NZ national dish - forgive my ignorance! You'll have to demonstrate when I come over some time...

    1. We mercilessly made The son & heir learn how to cook Pavlova. I'm not quite sure why but now he does it on command! His one redeeming feature!! 8O)

      We'll put the hard word on him when you come over.

      von Peter himself

  7. Nice one mate...looking forward ot getting involved in the next one!

    1. Thanks Jason - I'm sure the Rebs will benefit from your generalship - if not your dicethrowing!

  8. Absolutely amazing looking game - and I'm still getting over the Borodino spectacle! Must be something in the water up there as these are some of the best presented and most impressive looking games I have seen staged here for many a year! No wonder you guys weren't making it to Cancon over the weekend - can hardly blame you with a set-up like that at home to game!

    Brilliant stuff - a rebel yell awarded to all involved!


  9. Hi Sparker!

    Brilliant looking figures and terrain, totally enhance the others.
    Tell me... where did you get your movement trays, they look good.