|Day 2 - Looking SW toward Culps Hill (Left) and Cemy Hill (Right) Seminary ridge in the background|
|Devils Den across to the Peach Orchard.|
The issue here was that Matt, the genial proprietor of the Hall of Heroes friendly local games store, who suggested this project right from the start, and put his heart and soul, as well as many dollars, into the spectacular terrain, would have been heartbroken if we had not had some action around his superbly modelled Round Tops and Devil's Den!
The answer was obvious - we would start the game from 4:00pm on the 2nd July, the point at which Longstreet's Corps crossed the start line of the Emmitsburg road.
|On this occasion the 20th Maine did not run out of ammo...|
Now at this point my recollection of the Battle gets a little patchy, as I was relieved from Command and Philip took over for Day 2. I had long planned, with Matt, that my role on this day was to be Dan Sickles, so that I could ensure that III Corps was deployed well forward around the Wheatfield and Devils' Den!
What I can tell you is that the fighting in this sector was tough and exciting, the Rebels coming on like a wild tide of charging furies! My skirmishers did well though, exacting a toll as they traded space for casualties. However, numbers told, so that we had lost Devils Den by move 3! However, we managed to hold on to the Little Round top to the end!
However, at the further up the Fishhook, things did not go so well...
Jim as McLaws was pushing the centre hard, so that V Corps was diverted from our original intent of shoring up III Corps. Instead, a series of head to head scrambling fire fights and combats ensued around the Wheatfield. There was no longer any prospect of retaking Devil's Den, and indeed Hood was steadily threatening Big Round Top.
|V Corps reinforce the Wheatfield.|
Further North, things were even more precarious. James and Terry, as Early and Johnsone were steadily increasing the pressure on Robert and Dave attempting to hold onto Culps Hill:
Rob was a newcomer to our group, and inexperienced with Black Powder rules, so this was something of a baptism of fire for him, but he kept up a good front for several moves before things started to crumble:
|One of Jubal Early's Brigades reaches the Union table edge...|
To be honest, things weren't going to well for the boys in blue in the middle sector either, Lachlan, Phil, and Gus, our resident Gunner, who of course was Henry Hunt for the day:
|Cemetery Hill from Seminary Ridge|
Rhys, Caesar and Sergio with Anderson's mob took their time in deploying, and I should have known from long experience from games at the Uni with Caesar that a slow start means trouble later:
|Caesar has his thinking cap on....|
Whereas around the flanks both Troy and James had reaped the benefits of charging like furies, these two were going for a bit of subtlety....Forcing Lachlan and co to constantly redirect their artillery positions...
The fighting was now fierce all along the line, with the Rebels applying pressure at all points. However, I am proud to say that most of our Regiments passed their 'Rebel Yell' checks, with very few actually fleeing the field! For several long moves the Union command held things together...
|Cemetery Hill at tipping point....|
Eventually however, despite heavy casualties, the Rebels surging around and over Cemetery Hill, forced the Union Reserve artillery to skeddadle at move 9. Philip was reluctant to concede, and certainly we had reserves aplenty as the game ended, but overall the Confederate team played hard and clever this day.
In the heat and passion of the action, a change in our playing style emerged in this most demanding of wargames; instead of allowing each sector to move through the Turn cycle of Orders - Firing - Hand to Hand in their own time, early confusion with the turns led the respective Team Captains to insist that their players all move through the phases together, even if sometimes that meant waiting for busier sectors to complete; and overall this worked well. Even with a game of this size and complexity, surely the largest ever played in Australia in 28mm, we managed to complete the planned 10 moves, with play starting at 10:30 and concluding at 5:30.
|Episcope view - 'Here they come, boys!'|
Overall, a hard fought, challenging game, which probably stretched the capabilities of Black Powder in terms of sheer numbers of units, but all finished the game with a sense of achievement and of a day well spent commemorating an epic day in grand style. Our mid game celebrations were fuelled by a huge pot of Gumbo which had been simmering all day...
Plans were made for the morrow, and the fateful Pickett's Charge...