Copyright © 2018, Paul Scrivens-Smith

Copyright © 2018, Paul Scrivens-Smith

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The battle of Smiths Heights 24th March 1862

After a Union victory at the Battle of Woodwards Farm both armies went into winter quarters. However, due to a suspected nefarious Confederate conspiracy many Union troops were incapacitated and many more died with influenza like symptoms.

The campaign season started early in 1862, however, despite trying to force a battle with the Confederate forces under that scoundrel Barksdale the cur declined so both forces tried to attain the upper hand.

Finally, with his forces atop Smiths Heights General Thaddeus P. Scrivener eventually forced battle. After the influenza epidemic his troop numbers were low and he would be unable to hold both Smiths Heights and the neighbouring Dalton Hill so he concentrated his troops to the Heights and left Dalton Hill undefended.

General Barksdale took the bait, despatching his cavalry to screen the Union troops on Smiths Heights he sent his infantry and single howitzer on a wide sweep to occupy Dalton Hill.

Scrivener was not going to sit supinely on Smiths Heights and surrender the initiative to Barksdale, Leaving the 1st West Virginia cavalry to hold the stream line between the two summits he ordered his infantry and guns forwards. Seeing the trap Barksdale attempted to extricate his cavalry, the veteran 1st South Carolina were able to move back to support the infantry, but the skittish 1st North Carolina were caught out and eventually scattered to the winds by concerted volley fire from the 14th Ohio despite many foolhardy attempts to charge home against the Union infantry.

Howitzer fire from Dalton Hill managed to know out one of the six pounders of 12 Battery Ohio Light Artillery as the Union guns redeployed.

With the 1st South Carolina now back with their infantry Barksdale continued his folly. While the Confederate infantry watched from Dalton Hill the unsupported 1st South Carolina charged through the woods and over the stream at the depleted 12 Battery Ohio Light Artillery, however despite overwhelming odds only the second 6lbr was lost.

The 1st South Carolina then continued their reckless, unsupported attack, after several charges also scattering the depleted 8th Ohio infantry before concentrated cannister fire from both Union batteries and the 3rd West Virginia musketry made Barksdale realise the error of his ways and withdraw from the field in disarray. Unfortunately, with few cavalry and his forces scattered along a broad front Scrivener was unable to capitalise fully on the victory.

The Union forces retired to their camp where the effects of cholera were much milder than the influenza of the previous month.

In terms of the Longstreet campaign. My initial forces were:

14th Ohio InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits6
8th Ohio InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits5
3rd West Virginia InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits7
5th West Virginia InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits6
1st West Virginia CavalryCavalryEagerRecruits5
12 Battery Ohio Light ArtilleryArtillery32 6pdr, Howitzer
Battery H, 5th U.S. ArtilleryArtillery32 Lt. Rifle, Howitzer

We were playing The Hilltop scenario, but given the Confederate superiority in both infantry and cavalry I surrendered the objective on the second hill to the Confederates and concentrated on my left.

James deployed his cavalry against my entire force and moved to take the other hill with his infantry and artillery.

I managed to trap one of the units of cavalry and destroy them to a man, but James used his veteran cavalry to cross the stream and damage my light battery and wipe out one of my small infantry units before the Confederates broke. It was a very close run thing though as surrendering one of the objectives without a fight meant that James was always rolling 2D6 when seeing if he had broke me.

The Confederate infantry had not fired a shot the whole game.

At the end of the game the permanent Union battle losses were:
  • 2 x 6pdr guns from 12 Battery Ohio Light Artillery
  • 1 cavalry stand from 1st West Virginia Cavalry who dropped to seasoned
  • 1 infantry stand from 8th Ohio Infantry who dropped to seasoned

Confederate permanent losses were:
  • 1 cavalry stand from 1st South Carolina who dropped to seasoned
  • 1 cavalry stand from 1st North Carolina who dropped to cautious

We then rolled for reduction and it was nearly not so bad as last time. Also the campaign cards were more favourable. For the next game I have an act of Sabotage in place, two light rifles replaced the 6pdr guns from 12 Battery Ohio Light Artillery. The 12th Ohio, a unit of Seasoned Veterans joined my forces and the 3rd West Virginia regained a stand of recruits and a Hero arose from the ranks. A new full strength regiment, the 1st West Virginia were also allocated to my brigade.

For the next campaign game my forces will be:

14th Ohio InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits3
8th Ohio InfantryInfantrySeasonedRecruits2
3rd West Virginia InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits6Hero
5th West Virginia InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits4
12th Ohio InfantryInfantrySeasonedVeterans6
1st West Virginia InfantryInfantryEagerRecruits10
1st West Virginia CavalryCavalrySeasonedRecruits3
12 Battery Ohio Light ArtilleryArtillery32 Lt. Rifle, Howitzer
Battery H, 5th U.S. ArtilleryArtillery32 Lt. Rifle, Howitzer

Really looking forwards to the next one now.

All the figures are 6mm Adler from my own collection.