|The hard pressed defence of Skinker's Neck ford is holding...|
This Sunday at the Hall of Heroes Campbelltown, we had an absolutely hoofing game of Black Powder! Organised by Bryan and Philip, who also umpired, based around a 'what if' scenario, the resulting game was one of the most exciting and enjoyable wargames I've had for a long time!
|Looking SE along the Rappahanock at Fredericksburg|
|Rebel defences opposite Fredericksburg|
|Looking WNW from Skinkers Neck to Fredericksburg in the background. Gunboat in foreground, pontoon in midground.|
|Killing ground - Rebel redlegs have prepared a crossfire above the Fredericksburg ford....|
|The second Union brigade crossing the Pontoon|
|Pushing up to the swamp above the pontoon - will it bog down the advance?|
|Our table represented the area within the Green rectangle.|
|Is there no end to the Dark Blue river crossing the Rappahanock?|
· The Union Army only had one pontoon bridge, but there were some Union gun ships in the area near Burnside’s preferred crossing point at Skinner’s Neck (sic) and Sumner wanted to cross the river near the ford upstream of Fredericksburg. Therefore, the Union army will cross the river at three locations: (1) Upstream of Fredericksburg via the ford; (2) Downstream of Fredericksburg at Skinner’s Neck (sic) via boats (Supported by Gunboats); and, (3) At a point in-between Fredericksburg and Skinner’s Neck (sic) by the single pontoon bridge.
|Union infantry braves the killing ground...|
- The Confederate Army still does not know where the Union Army is planning to cross the Rappahannock River. Therefore, it will be required to deploy first (Less Jackson’s Corps) before the Umpire places the objective markers and the Union Army identifies the pontoon crossing point (Note: The Union Army Balloon Corps was observing the movements of the Confederates so the Union side will be able to see the Confederate deployment before picking the crossing point). The Confederates should be relatively spread out across the heights overlooking the river from Fredericksburg to Skinker’s Neck.
|Establishing a firm bridgehead at the pontoon?|
- The Umpire will place the objective markers at the start of the game. The Union side will secretly select two groups of two (with each pair representing a pathway through the Confederate lines) as their real objectives. Potential objectives might include: (1) Fredericksburg; (2) Marye’s Heights; (3) Exit point of Railroad on Confederate side of table near Prospect Hill; (4) High ground near Skinner’s Neck (sic); etc. Ideally, there should be at least ~1 objective marker per brigade on the table at the start of the game (i.e. ~10 objective markers).
|A feint, or the real thing?|
- The real objectives will not be obvious to the Confederate side until partway through the game. At the start of turn “Y” (halfway point based on proposed number of turns or game time), the Umpire will remove all of the false objective markers from the table. The Union players wins if they control either pair of the real objectives at the end of the game – They have forged a path through the Confederate lines.
|Rebs force march across the field to seal off the Union Bridgehead...|
2. Before returning to the gaming area, the other Union players confer with the Balloon observer and advise the Umpire of the following decisions: (1) the position of the pontoon bridge crossing (This must be more than 4 feet from the ends of the table); (2) the two pairs of real objective markers (representing the planned paths through the Confederate lines); and, (3) the Grand Divisions allocated to each crossing point. Whilst the Union players are conferring, the Confederate side sets up Jackson’s reserves on a side table (subject to availability of miniatures).
3. Union players return to the gaming area and, if necessary, move their troops so each Grand Division is placed on the side table near their respective crossing point. They then place the pontoon bridge, deploy their first brigades from the first wave (as below) and then have first turn.
|The high tide mark of the first Union wave off the pontoon...|
|Log jam at Skinker's Neck!|
|Throwing the guns in to hold the bridgehead.|
|Halfway through the battle - soon the Rebel reserves will arrive to fill the empty field....|
|Here comes the first hard marchers of Jackson's Corps....|
|But the second Union wave is closing on the objective...|
|Jackson's first division relieves the defence of Skinker's Neck|
|The Union is keeping the pressure on around Fredericksburg....|
|The Confederate centre is wavering...This lone Rebel brigade has kept the two halves of the Confederate army linked right until the very end - Richard played out of his socks!|
|The Union masses are stalemated at Skinker's Neck - again!|
|Longstreet's second division appears on the hill....|
|But the Confederate centre can't hold for much longer...|
|Union Breakthrough - On to Richmond!|
An outstanding game, played in great company, against a really challenging set of opponents, and a very, very close result! Wargaming at its best!