Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Gettysburg Project 150 Megagame Day 3 - Pickett's Charge

Previous posts have described the first two days of our Megagame...We regrouped on the Sunday morning for the third and final day's gaming. The table was rearranged into a more conventional rectangle, albeit a large one 18' x 8'!

In all of our pregame discussions and planning, we had always known that there are difficulties in wargaming, as opposed to recreating, or a diorama, of Pickett's Charge. Its a difficult ask of the Confederate team to suspend their fore knowledge of what occured!

Episcope view - a Hard target?
With hindsight, it is easy for us to say the charge was hopeless from the outset, and so wargamers blessed with the resources that we had have 2 options; either recreate the entire battlefield on Day 3 from dawn, and allow the Confederate team freeplay to attempt alternative options, such as flanking attacks, with the entire forces at their disposal, and the Union free to shuttle reserves within their interior lines of communication; or instead; set up just the forces and table to recreate Pickett's Charge as it ran, testing Lee's belief that the sheer courage and elan of his Rebels would see them through. An experiment to see if our 'Rebel Yell' rule and additional stamina would accurately recreate the morale quality of the Army of Northern Virginia at its best, and achieve the historical 'high tide of the Confederacy', or even surpass it!

Overnight, and in the morning as we reset the table, it was agreed that we would attempt the latter option of concentrating on Pickett's charge, if only for the sake of recreating this most iconic of actions!

Accordingly, the table was rearranged to reflect that sector, and only the troops and guns employed in that charge, or in support, of it were deployed on table, 9 Brigades for the Confederates, and 11 for the Union, centred around the 'Copse of Trees'. The Confederates had the option of either getting 2 or 3 rounds of pregame bombardment, and forgoing our 'Grand Battery' firing bonus house rules, or attempting to take the Copse of Trees in 10 moves without the bombardment phase, but enjoying the 'Grand Battery' firing bonuses and leaving their guns on the ridge where they were arrayed in their historical locations.

However, as the first few moves unfolded, a misunderstanding between the two teams, or perhaps even within the Confederate team, meant that we did not really achieve either of the options available for the infamous 'Pickett's Charge'; neither  the 'carbon copy' centered around the Copse of Trees Sector, nor the wider outflanking move to test other options available to Lee, with the whole battlefield, and with all units and reserves in play..... 

Looking toward the angle - Fingers Crossed!
For whatever reason, the two ends of the Confederate lines headed for the respective flanks of the fishhook, leaving the centre attack watered down to only 3 or 4 Brigades....which then endured most of the Union firepower! Matt was Union CinC for Day 3, and decided, at this stage, that rather than make a fuss we should just treat it as a enjoyable and challenging set of meeting engagements on the flanks, and see how things panned out in the centre. From what I could see these were hard fought engagements on both flanks, but the slimmed down 'Pickett's Charge Lite' was still exciting enough!

The 'Copse of Trees' top left. The downed Stars and Stripes mark the closest point of the Rebel Attack
So how did those few determined Brigades, those diehard Regiments in Butternut and Grey go with Pickett's Charge, struggling manfully on, across the slopes of death to the Union guns, alone and unsupported?

Crossfire! The Stars and Bars record part of the High Tide Mark...
Well, actually at three points they briefly managed to breach the Union Line atop Cemetery ridge, right at the apex of 'The Angle', before being leaving the Confederate high tide a mere 9 inches from the Copse of Trees, and only a foot from the Union table edge, including sending a Union Regiment, in hard cover, running. Full credit to Bryan and Rhys for gritting their teeth and coming so close! 
Oh Dixie! What might have been...
So, overall, did we fulfil the vision we had a year ago to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg in Grand Style? One of the problems with a project of this size is that it attracts a lot of interest, and despite our initial intent to only admit players who had 'qualified' by playing at least two of our practice games, could we really turn away late applicants? Of course not!

So did everyone read, understand, and accept our house rules? No, not really.....Did everyone appreciate and understand what we were trying to achieve with the scenarios? Not entirely...

Did we put on a grand spectacle worthy of the effort that had gone into it? Without a doubt!
Did everyone experience an enjoyable once-in-a lifetime total immersion 3 Day wargame that they will never forget? Damn straight they did!
Were old friends re-met and new ones made? Yes Mate!

Which reminds me - thanks to those members of the public who stopped by and showed an interest and complemented us. It was much appreciated!



  1. Well played! I've been following this blog closely for the past 3 days and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Having grown up in Maryland surrounded by Civil War history, and descended from both Yanks and Rebs in my family tree, it is very interesting to see this fought out on the other side of the world. Yeehaw! - Tim

  2. Fantastic effort Sparker you are to be congratulated and applauded for bringing such a grand specticle to Wargaming in Australia. Great to see your vision and goal relized in such a way.


  3. Dear Mr Sparkles.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your three days of battle and accompanying photographs. A mighty 'well done' to all involved.

    I sympathise with the aims of admitting only 'qualified' players. We have tried similar goals and like you have wavered in the face of the under qualified yet enthusiastic. It seems that large games must always be accompanied by trainer wheels! But if we all find fun and enjoyment I wonder if it really matters.

    von Peter himself

  4. Absolutely fantastic looking game.

    Sounds like it was a huge success despite a few hiccups on day 3. I'm looking forward to our own version here in NZ this weekend.

  5. Great looking pictures, once again! A very nice commemoration...

  6. Excellent report Sparker. I hope that our game this weekend will be close to being as good!

  7. Thank you all Gentlemen, and all the best with the Kiwi game, looking forward to the blogs!

    Yes Peter, your right, it doesn't matter really, whilst a little frustrating at the time, its just great to share the experience and encourage other people to get enthusiastic about our hobby.

    1. Thanks! Game is all done and is all over the net in photo form.

  8. Three excellent posts of a marvellous game that was fitting of such an historic occasion; and you seemed to all have enjoyed yourselves too!

    We'll see how the game from the Kiwis goes this weekend, eh Rodger?!

    1. Thanks James! You'll be glad to hear its onto Leipzig next and now long term planning for Waterloo 200!