Copyright © 2020, Paul Scrivens-Smith

Copyright © 2020, Paul Scrivens-Smith

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the creator.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Battle of Sauk Meadows

I had my first game of 2017 at the weekend, Drew came around after the Packers-Falcons game and we played some Black Powder ACW.

I had picked two roughly equally sized forces, the Union had 15 units of foot and two of horse while the Confederates had 13 units of foot and three of horse. Both sides had two batteries of artillery but the Union were fielded as large batteries (we give +1 casualty and +1 canister). Both sides were made up of two Divisions each of one Brigade.

You can download the full orders of battle we used from here.

All the figures and terrain are from my collection, Adler Miniatures painted by me, the buildings are from Total Battle Miniatures.

A few other rules were in place too - I'm not particularly fond of some Black Powder mechanisms so we also played:
  • A six to hit from shooting only disorders if the save is failed.
  • Units shot or in melee to the flank or rear suffer -1 to Moral Saves and -1 to Break Tests.
  • Brigades are broken when more than half of all their units are lost.
  • If you move more than once you cannot shoot.
I had sorted out the forces and set up the table as shown, although the hills don't 'pop' too much in this photo.

Drew could not find his rule book and I had left mine in the UK so we did wing it a bit with just the play-sheet but I think the only bit where we needed a rule book was in the event of a risk to generals.

Settling down with a gin and tonic each I let Drew pick which side he wanted to be and he selected the Union so got to wear the kepi. We both started by advancing one Division on to the table, the second division would be available in the third turn and could take command penalties to execute a flank march.

Drew took the first turn and soon was advancing his forces onto the table.

I also deployed one Brigade opposite the advancing Union troops, Drew would have a 2:1 advantage here but I had a cunning plan. my second brigade would sweep in a right hook, around a farmstead and fall on the left flank of the Union troops.

We boldly advanced towards each other in the centre, but after an initial burst of activity from my right hook it decided to spend two turns fannying around, questioning orders and generally doing bugger all.

As the two lines closed in the centre the Confederates were gaining the upper hand in the musketry duel and had just deployed their battery of 12lb Napoleons to rake the Union lines, maybe that 2:1 advantage Drew had could be negated by some good shooting while the lollygaggers on the flank got their arses into gear.

It was not to be, on the third Union turn they had a stunning set of order dice come off. Their reserve division elected for a shallow flank march, not only did they pass their -2 command roll but passed it by so much that the troops were able to make a triple move onto the table. Meanwhile, in the centre a Union Battalion on the left of their line charged over a fence and straight into the recently unlimbered Napoleons, the closing fire was pitiful and the Union troops were soon spiking the guns and looting the caissons.

 Rather shocked by this turn of events I committed my second Division to reinforce my centre, unfortunately even on straight command rolls nothing arrived, and to add insult to injury the fellows comprising my right hook held a town hall meeting and again elected to have a barn dance rather than obey any orders.

With just one brigade on the table actually obeying any orders I ordered them to fix bayonets and push onto the enemy lines before they were overwhelmed, well true to form for this turn the dice were against me, closing fire saw two of the battalions shaken and after the loss of the artillery this Brigade was shattered and heading to the rear.

Another turn saw the Union troops redress their line in the centre, well there was nothing facing them and one of the brigades on the flank pushed on towards the expected entry point of the tardy Confederate reserves. It was now time for dinner so Drew and I joined the ladies for a rather tasty cassoulet and another G&T.

Back to the action, finally the troops on the right decided to get moving again and advanced up to the farmstead that they should have been using as a staging post hours ago, likewise one of the reserve brigades arrived on table and started a slow advance towards the Union troops in the centre, they did not want to go too quickly as the Union now had a 3:1 advantage in the centre. The second Brigade supposed to cover the left flank refused to join the fray and only a light screen of cavalry vedettes covered the entire frontage on that flank.

Fortunately the Union troops now suffered their own setbacks when it came to understanding their orders, the guns in the centre, given orders to limber up and re-position instead chose to limber up and skedaddle from the field, fortunately a runner was swiftly dispatched and they were soon heading towards their intended position.

Shockingly, the Confederate cavalry screen in the woods was giving as good as it got, if not better against the Union line that advanced upon it. It's a damned good job that some of my troops performed as the rest were dismal, the second Brigade of the second Division still marched around in circles trying to locate the battlefield and confusion in the centre meant that that Brigade withdrew from the table. Finally the right hook instead of advancing on to the enemy lines decided instead to look the farmstead. Things were not going well for the Confederate general staff today.

The Union now had a solid reinforced line of troops covering the front of the woods on mt left and then doglegging back to face off against my tactically inept flank attack on my right, the Confederates were very thin on the ground and apart from the cavalry doing a sterling job on my left were either in the wrong place or doing bugger all.

Finally though it came together, the second division arrived en masse and the cavalry vedettes were soon replaced by solid firing lines that started to shred the Union troops from the cover of the wood edge, in the centre the Union troops took such an hammering they broke and ran.

Closing off the game the Union had managed to turn the glorious events of the first two thirds of the game into an bloody stalemate by the end of the day.

Enthused by all this I've started painting a few more troops to add to the collection so they should be in the next blog update. I've also ordered a second card deck for Longstreet so we can give that a go too. James and I had some good games of Longstreet before I left for the US.

Here are more images from the game, apologies for the light quality my gaming room can be a bit dismal.

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