Friday 3 March 2023

Black Powder Epic ACW: The Battle of Cross Keys


This was the penultimate game in the Wollongong Wargamer's 1862 Shenandoah Campaign. We are using Warlord Games' Epic scale figures, enabling large actions to be fought in the Grand Manner! Confederate forces of General Ewell's division are attempting to hold off Union General Fremont's overwhelming but half hearted attack.

Photo courtesy of Caesar Anderson

I'd sent out a brief and mock up to the players beforehand to maximise playing time. Some of them even read it!

Darren got in early and was able to study the tactical situation for the Union team. Given the objectives, his appreciation soon spotted the importance of the Union left flank by the Pence Farm and the Port Republic road exit.

The majority of the Union infantry...

And all of their artillery, were massed on that left flank.

The Confederate team had a much tougher combat appreciation to make - they had to balance holding the three objectives along Mill Creek Ridge and keeping the Port Republic road open with sending any spare (!) troops off table to General Jackson's support in Port Republic, where the Confederacy's right arm was preparing to take on General Shield's division...

Photo courtesy of Caesar Anderson
Time was short for the Union so they pressed on boldly. There was the usual SNAFU in giving brigade orders, fortunately they had set off in march columns so were still able to make good progress!

They eventually untangled themselves and prepared to assault the Pence Farm.

Photo courtesy of Caesar Anderson
This was defended by Richard, who was heavily outnumbered in infantry, and only benefitted from light cover from the wooden farm buildings. But he had been given the lion's share of the Rebel's meagre artillery assets, and was determined to make good use of them!

The Union tide surged around the farm...whilst the massed Union artillery pounded the open ground in the centre of the Rebel stand - one stubborn Confederate regiment was obliterated to a man in a repeat of the artillery duel that characterised the historic battle.

The garrison of the farm held and held against repeated attacks...despite the Confederate leadership responding to Jackson's request for reinforcements by despatching two artillery batteries down the Port Republic road - for a Victory Point.

The Blue tide lapped around the farm from all sides!

As the sun was slipping down to the horizon, the Union finally took the farm and pushed through in the centre, securing the 2 Victory Point objective at the road junction, and pushing forward to threaten the lonely Rebel regiment holding the centre of the Rebel stand...

The Union charged forward in a bid to seize the centre Mill Creek objective too...

But were beaten back! However they did push back a Southern regiment by the farmhouse, sealing their possession of the crossroads! 

We rolled for a seventh move, and the Union got another chance to gain the ridge - but as ever they were let down by their C2 and the Rebels continued to hold the ridge.

To Confederate relief there was no eight turn, so they ended this game ahead on Victory Points: three for the objectives along the ridge, and one for the sparse reinforcements they sent to Jackson...However, they may come to regret their reluctance to send aid when it comes to the fourth and final game of the campaign when they assume Jackson's mantle at Port Republic- with precious few reinforcements!


  1. A fine spectacle you guys have put on there and look forward to the next outing. Nice to see the outcomes of one game affecting another, as should be the case:).

    1. Thanks Steve - yes I hope to keep the moment going with the final game of the campaign at the end of the month - with a dearth of Confederate reinforcements!

  2. If only I didnt already have so much invested in my 15mm ACW troopers I'd go "epic" in a heartbeat! Table looks magnificent.

  3. A stonking looking game - fabulous. I have read it twice. I have just been reading about the battle / campaign in the Osprey Shenandoah Valley 1862 volume, with a view to doing Cross Keys. Your armies are really coming on. Thanks for putting these reports up … they are eagerly awaited :-)

    1. Thanks Norm always good to get positive feedback. Yes the Campaign Osprey is very good with a great map of this particular battle. I would also recommend 'Shenandoah 1862' by Peter Cozzens - great narrative and several maps of each battle showing the various stages.

    2. Hmmm …. I spent money today, thanks Ralph :-)