Friday, 4 December 2015

Battle of Gaines Mill 1862 - AAR / Scenario Conclusion

Our "Small Game" Ends

Fighting Rages in the woods by Watts Farm
Welcome back readers to the concluding part of the write up of our recent ACW Epic Gaines Mill. The original post is HERE, that contains an OOB for the game up to and including the re-enforcements which arrived on table on the 3pm turn. Also in that post are some explanations on hows and whys when it comes to orbats / table layout etc.

The "small game" was a phrase one of our players used when describing the battle, we calculated we had over 3500 figures on the table, that's not small, in Ian's defence he normally plays brigade Fire and Fury and not regimental Johnny Reb.

To make life easier I have included the map again so you can see re-enforcement points etc

Included is the rest of our orbat along with a detailed break down of the casualties (lots of stats, you either love that or hate it) in our game and how they compared to the real thing before finishing off with some thoughts on the game itself.

Union Troops from Newtons Brigade rush toward Watts Farm
How we got on

When we left the game in the previous post the first Confederate attacks were starting along the creek above Watts Farm, the centre had stagnated into a musketry duel across the creek whilst Confederate troops were still massing opposite the McGeehee Farm.

It wasn't long before the first Confederate Brigade attempted to charge across the creek and dislodge the Union troops from behind their barricades. Branch's, Greggs and Archers Brigades tried to lead the way but were easily beaten back in the first attempt at charging the lines. Brave Branch was shot dead from his horse leading the charge.

Picketts (slightly smaller charge) Brigade gain a foothold.
The next turn at 3.50 p.m saw the charge of Picketts Brigade onto the far left of the Union Line after the bloody nose received in the first charges the Confederates were more than happy when the 19th Virginians and the 34th North Carolina Regts stormed over the barricades gaining a small but vital toe hold in the Union line.

The battle raged all along the front between the Union far right and the Watts Farm, Penders Brigade formed the first of the days Brigade Columns but they were repulsed after some accurate Union fire. Another set back for the Rebels came next turn when the slim hold on the Union side of the creek gave way. It was hot work in there for Picketts Brigade as the Union had brought a battery up on its flank, the brave Virginia Brigade eventually gave way ending the battle with over 70% casualties.

Brigade Columns who said subtlety was dead !
In the centre the Union line held firm, with the Zouave Brigade and a number of Elite units they easily whittled away the Confederate Troops in front of them to the point around 4.30pm when the Union were seriously thinking about pushing over the creek themselves. It was only the timely re-deployment of some Rebel troops that stopped this action. The area stayed static throughout the remainder of the game. Star unit was the US Sharpshooters who proved very difficult to kill but were deadly in return, any Confederate unit it got in its sights were quickly dispatched. At one point in the game with the help of the dice gods they dispatched 16 Rebel Figures in one turn and they were in a wood !

Georgia Troops attacking McGeehee's wood.
On the Union right a defensive line had been formed from the edge of the wood to McGeehees Farm and wood and then back down the road to Point C using the minimal cover of the roads fencing. From 4pm with the release of the bulk of the Rebel troops things livened up no end, what had been a steady away long range artillery duel became a bit more interesting as the columns of Union troops marched forward, deploying into battle lines and advancing on the Rebel line.

The main action was still by the Watts Farm however, two more Confederate Brigades formed up into large columns and charged the Union lines, Wilcox's Brigade faltered but the Brigade of R H Andersons stormed into the Union Lines scattering dark blue uniformed troops before them, it wasn't all Confederate success though, with Picketts Brigade gone it wasn't long before Greggs Brigade went the same way, Archers Brigade suffered the same fate on the next turn at 4.50 pm.

The Battle rages around the Watts Farm
The weight of Rebel troops however was now starting to tell, on the right Sykes Division had started well and had seen off a number of Ewells troops all along the line, however when a Rebel Unit broke another just replaced it in the line. The Union however had little capacity to take casualties and once a unit went there wasn't much left to replace it. The line started to gradually crack beginning with the troops in McGeehee's wood which then unstablised the troops between there and the creek. Once there was a real threat of a break through in their lines the Union players ordered a general withdraw from the centre of the table to prevent those troops being outflanked and eventually surrounded in the woods. Still in good order the boys in blue broke ranks and made best speed back to the Adams Farm.

The Divisions of D H Hill, Ewell and Whiting finally getting to grips with the Rebels
Back on the Union left all resistance in the woods around Watts Farm had collapsed and the remainder of Morrell's Division formed a second defensive line on the high ground behind the Watts Farm. Then we had one of those joyous dice moments which we all love. The 14th Alabama charged out of the safety of the woods up the hill at the 9th Mass, the 9th were a big Elite unit, total confidence from the Union player as he rolls double one for his closing shot. Out of ammo and hardly any casualties, the charge unsurprisingly goes in. Total confidence now for the Rebel player in melee, rolls the dice, of course double 1, still dejected from his earlier poor shooting the Union player throws a pair of dice in response with little hope, double 6, one bloody nose for the Rebels.

Our game finished on our 5.30pm turn with the arrival of the last troops on the table. Lawton and Winders Brigades where a long way from the front line and weren't going to alter the course of the action whilst the Union Brigades of French and Meagher marched straight into the Union front line, bolstering it considerably. Longstreet and A P Hills troops had run out of steam near the Watts Farm, they had captured the woods and the farm and were more than safe in that location however they didn't have the strength to push further, The Union line was able to retire in good order, leaving the field and the day to the Rebels.

There is a thing called too may targets
Re-enforcement Schedule

Unless otherwise stated all troops are Ave and Officer +1, RM = Rifle Muskets, MM = Mixed Muskets and SB = Smoothbore Muskets

3.30pm Confederate Point A

R H Andersons (+2) Brigade - 2nd South Carolina Rifles 30 Figs RM Elite, 4th SC 16 Figs MM Green, 5th SC 20 Figs SB, 6th SC 20 Figs RM and Palmetto Sharpshooters 35 Figs RM Elite.

Pryors Brigade - 14th Ala 27 Figs SB, 2nd Fla 29 Figs RM, 14th La 31 Figs SB Elite, 1st La Btn 15 Figs MM Elite and 3rd Va 25 Figures RM

Featherstones Brigade - 12th Miss 22 Figs MM, 19th Miss 35 Figs SB Elite and 2nd Miss 16 Figs SB Elite

1 x 4 gun Artillery

3.30pm Confederate Point B

Elzeys Brigade - 12th Ga 14 Figs SB, 13th Va 16 Figs MM Elite, 25th Va 16 Figs RM, 31st Va 16 Figs RM, 58th Va 16 Figs SB

4.00pm Confederate Point A

Kempers Brigade - 1st Va 16 Figs SB, 7th Va 20 Figs RM Elite, 11th Va 25 Figs RM Green, 17th Va 21 Figs RM and 24th Va 25 Figs RM

4.00pm Confederate Point B All units free to move and engage

4.30pm Confederate B

Laws Brigade - 4th Ala 23 Figs MM, 2nd Miss Btn 30 Figs SB, 11th Miss 31 Figs MM Green and 6th NC 31 Figs SB.

Hoods Brigade (+2) - 18th Ga 31 Figs MM Elite, 1st Texas 30 Figs RM Elite, 4th Texas 30 Figs SB Elite, 5th Texas 26 Figs SB Elite and Hamptons Legion 26 Figs SB Elite

1 x 6 gun Artillery

Confederate troops arrive in march column
5.00pm Confederate B

Fulkersons Brigade - 10th Va 21 Figs RM, 23rd Va 16 Figs RM and 37th Va 20 Figs SB

Cunninghams Brigade - 21st Va 24 Figs SB Green, 42nd Va 21 MM Elite and 49th Va 20 Figs RM

2 x 4 gun Artillery

5.30 pm Confederate B

Lawtons Brigade - 13th Ga 40 Figs MM, 26th Ga 26 Figs SB Green, 31st Ga 33 Figs MM, 1/38th Ga 26 Figs RM Elite, 2/38th Ga 26 Figs MM, 60th Ga 37 Figs SB, 61st Ga 35 Figs SB

Winders Brigade - 2nd Va 20 Figs MM Elite, 4th Va 20 Figs SB, 5th Va 20 Figs MM, 33rd Va 20 Figs SB

5.30 pm Union C

Frenchs Brigade - 2nd Del 32 Figs MM, 52nd NY 16 Figs RM Elite, 57th NY 24 Figs RM, 64th NY 16 Figs MM Green, 66th NY 25 Figs RM, 53rd Pen 30 Figs MM

Meaghers Brigade - 29th Mass 32 Figs RM, 63rd NY 26 Figs RM, 69th NY 25 Figs MM Green and 88th NY 26 Figs MM.

7.30 pm Nightfall Game Ends.

The dam broken Confederates pour over the creek
 Game Losses.

Confederate Army (Total Losses 18420 out of 59420 or 31%)

A.P Hills Division (Total losses 7560 out of 15060 or 50 %)

Archers Brigade lost 1680 out of 2200 men or 76 %
Fields Brigade lost 960 out of 2100 or 46 %
Branchs Brigade lost 1200 out of 2580 or 47%
Greggs Brigade lost 2240 out of 3000 or 75 %
Penders Brigade lost 860 out of 2920 or 29%
J R Andersons Brigade 620 out of 2260 or 27 %

D H Hills Division (Total losses 3260 out of 11780 or 28%)

Garlands Brigade lost 580 out of 2540 or 23 %
Rodes Brigade lost 1400 out of 2340 or 49 %
G B Andersons Brigade lost 620 out of 2260 or 27 %
Ripleys Brigade lost 80 out of 2680 or 3%
Colquitts Brigade lost 580 out of 1960 or 30 %

Ewells Divison (Total losses 3700 out of 5600 or 66%)

Seymours Brigade lost 1400 out of 1840 or 76%
Trimbles Brigade lost 1340 out of 1960 or 68%
Elseys Brigade lost 960 out of 1800 or 53%

Longstreets Division (Total losses 3320 out of 13380 or 25%)

Picketts Brigade lost 1780 out of 2520 or 71%
Wilcoxs Brigade lost 1020 out of 2410 or 42%
R H Andersons Brigade lost 480 out of 2420 or 20%
Pryors Brigade lost 20 out of 2520 or 1%
Featherstones Brigade lost 0 out of 1490 or 0%
Kempers Brigade lost 20 out of 2020 or 1%

Whitings Division (Total losses 580 out of 5180 or 11%)

Laws Brigade lost 80 out of 2320 or 3%
Hoods Brigade lost 500 out of 2860 or 17%

Winders Division (Total losses 0 out of 8420 or 0 %)

Fulkersons Brigade lost 0 out of 1140
Cunninghams Brigade lost 0 out of 1300 
Lawtons Brigade lost 0 out of 4380
Winders Brigade lost 0 out of 1600 

Ariel view of the action
Union Army (Total losses 7380 out of 36540 or 20%)

Sykes Division (Total losses 2420 out of 4700 or 51%)

Buchannans Brigade lost 1060 out of 1880 or 56%
Lovells Brigade lost 580 out of 1400 or 41%
Warrens Brigade lost 780 out of 1420 or 55 %

Morells Division (Total losses 2780 out of 9860 or 28%)

Martindales Brigade lost 1440 out of 3020 or 48%
Butterfields Brigade lost 900 out of 3120 or 29%
Griffins Brigade lost 440 out of 3720 or 12%

McCalls Division (Total losses 1660 out of 8720

Reynolds Brigade lost 1180 out of 3080 or 38%
Meades Brigade lost 200 out of 2960 or 7%
Seymours Brigade lost 280 out of 2680 or 10%

Slocums Division (Total losses 520 out of 8200 or 6%)

Newtons Brigade lost 0 out of 2600 or 0%
Taylors Brigade lost 520 out of 2820 or 18%
Bartletts Brigade lost 0 out of 2780 or 0%

Richardsons Division (Total losses 0 out of 5060 or 0%)

French's Brigade lost 0 out of 2840
Meaghers Brigade lost 0 out of 2220 

Actual losses on the day where 6837 from 34,214 (20%) on the Union side and 7993 from 57018 (14%) on the Confederate side.

Thoughts on the Losses.

Our engaged strengths were slightly higher than those in historical accounts (not by much) and this is easily explained in two ways, first as described in the original post the orbat I used as a basis was from two days before the battle and therefore included casualties which would have been lost in the previous days battle at Mechanicsville, secondly I rounded up to the nearest figure (i.e. 20 men) when calculating numbers of figures in a unit which when spread across all the units in the armies would add quite a few numbers.

The Union losses on the day and in our game were remarkably the same, 20% however our Confederate losses where considerably higher, 31 % in our game compared to only 14% in the actual battle.

Having played the game the historically recorded losses for the Confederates on the day seem remarkably low, attacking a force entrenched behind a stream in a wood is never going to be easy, in other battles with similar circumstances casualties were much higher.

Some of the extra losses could be accounted for with routing units, if you are not familiar with JRII a routing unit tests to recover, if it fails you remove a base of troops before it moves and so on until it recovers or dissolves. Another could be the use of Brigade Columns which are horrendous for casualties (great for victory though if they work).

The last moments for the Union troops at McGeehee's Farm as the Rebels close in.
 Thoughts on the game and the scenario

A cracking game as always, JRII really works for our group, they are relatively fast without massive reductions in detail, we were also playing a pretty big game with only really one player who knew the rules well.

We reflected quite closely the result on the day, its a game that the Union struggle to "win" especially with the weight of Confederate numbers, forcing A P Hill and Longstreet to attack the stream line near Watts Farm is a must as is holding back D H Hill until 4pm. I'm not that keen on pointed objectives and the like but feel free to do your own.

I changed the time scale for this game to 1 turn per 10 minutes rather than the standard JRII of 1 turn per 15 minutes. This was mainly down to table space, I was concerned that the large numbers of troops entering the table would just get stuck and that extra turn would allow a bit more space for deployment. That aspect worked fine however we came to a conclusion at 5.30 pm Game Time (21 10 min turns) rather than the scheduled 7.30 pm. 21 game turns at 15 minutes a turn would be 7.15pm which would be about right, it didn't spoil the game though.

The 6mm ACW stuff is back in its boxes, I'm sure we will try something again in 2016, I quite fancy doing the 1st Day at Gettysburg again, its a really good game, just need to find my old scenario notes. Sadly it was pre blog, so I can't just look it up online !

Next up on the gaming table is some 28mm WW2 Desert Action.

The last roll of the dice (literally) as Longstreets attack runs out of steam

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