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.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

A brisk action at Deer Creek

Sergeant Gallard and his section attempt to hold up the strong Confederate push on their right

Thursday evening saw Bruce, Drew, Seth and myself convene at Scrivsland to play some Sharp Practice with my American Civil War collection.

I've now got quite a lot painted - and even more finished since this game - so we can now play some quite large battles. Before the chaps arrived I picked a couple of evenly matched forces from the later period in the war:

Confederates - Drew and Seth:
  • Captain James Turnbull (III) leading three groups of eight infantry with rifled muskets.
  • First Lieutenant Gregory La Vert (II) leading two groups of eight infantry with rifled muskets.
  • First Lieutenant Daniel Carter (II) leading two groups of eight infantry with rifled muskets.
  • Second Lieutenant Dominic Harris (I) leading a group of six skirmishers with rifled muskets.
  • Corporal Nathaniel Jefferson (I) leading a group of six skirmishers with rifled muskets.
  • Second Lieutenant Harvey Greene (I) leading a group of eight cavalry with pistols and shotguns.
  • Sergeant Elijah Barnes (1) commanding a medium gun with five crew.

Along the Confederate lines

Union - Bruce and myself: 
  • Captain Stanley Parsons (III) leading three groups of eight infantry with rifled muskets.
  • Second Lieutenant Ross Drucker (I) assisting the captain.
  • First Lieutenant Howard Van Klassen (II) leading three groups of eight infantry with rifled muskets.
  • Sergeant Eugene Naler (I) assisting the lieutenant.
  • First Lieutenant Thaddeus Thaler (II) leading two groups of eight cavalry with breach loading carbines.
  • Sergeant Thomas Gallard (I) leading a group of six skirmishers with rifled muskets.

The Union troops also were bolstered by a mule train, a musician and a secondary deployment point.

Via a risky coup de main Lt. Thaler and his horse seize the high ground on the Confederate right

The table was set up fairly open with some scrubby hills, sparse woodlands and marshes. On one flank was a farm where the Union troops had set up a field hospital and on the other a fenced orchard. In the photo below the Union deployment points were top right and the Confederate deployment point was bottom left.

The battle after after several turns
It was clear from the initial deployment points that the battlefield would end up a diagonal affair slashing across the centre of the table. The Confederates rushed skirmishers supported by their artillery up their left flank. 

Lieutenant Dominic Harris and his section get emplaced in some marshy ground.
 The Union troops deployed to try to form a firing line in the centre, the main force under the captain formed an open column then skirted a scrubby knoll to form up on the left flank.

Captain Parsons and Lieutenant Drucker swing wide on the Union left.

While the Confederates shook out their line the Union horse rushed up at the trot to take position on the hillock on the Confederate right

Union troops in column make rapid advances on their left

The Union right was quite outnumbered so Sergeant Gallard and his troops were moved into the field hospital to help shore up the right flank of Lieutenant Howard Van Klassen.

Lieutenant Howard Van Klassen's line is formed on the Union right
Sergeant Gallard and his section fall back in the face of withering fire

Initially the Union troops gained an advantage on their right, driving off the Confederate skirmishers under Lieutenant Harris, but the Rebel artillery fire started to sway the battle towards the Confederates on that flank. The Union skirmishers in the farm also gave ground in the face of the fire coming from their opposite numbers.

Lieutenant Van Klassen's left is driven back by the concerted artillery fire.
 On the Union left they were taking their advantage, while the Union cavalry dismounted and poured accurate and withering carbine fire into the Confederate left the main force under Captain Parsons shook out into line and started exchanging volleys with the Rebels under Captain Turnbull facing them. The Rebels had the advantage of deploying in the edge of the woods, but the Union troops had the superior controlled volleys.

Captain Parsons' troops form a steady line.
 On our right the wight of fire began to tell, the left-hand group of the formation was forced back in some disorder by the artillery file, and Van Klassen had been struck, not fatally, but sufficient to cause some consternation.

The main body on the Union right is in some difficulties

The Union horse were ensconced on the hillock and despite Thaler being hit were overwhelming their opposite numbers with volley after volley of accurate carbine fire, the battle was finely in the balance, whose left flank would crack first?

Lieutenant Thaler and the Union horse have a strong position on the Confederate right flank

Unfortunately, we would not get to find out, it was well past 11PM and time to wrap up. Maybe, having not played for quite some time we had too many troops on the table and spent far too long gassing beforehand.

Would the Union right collapse before the Confederate right?
Thanks to Drew for some of the photos used in this report.

More images from the game.

Union troops in column

Driving off the Confederates with steady, accurate fire.

Your author contemplates another beer!
The main body of Confederate infantry

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