May 27, 2018

Chaplin’s Heights Redux–solo edition

Upplagd av Minondas

So last Saturday, after the guys left for home, I took the stock of things. I could pack everything in and continue to feel seriously disappointed about the entire affair… or I could give it another try, this time all on my own. The choice wasn’t that hard.

Some decisions to make

My approach in a solo games is always to act more as an observer than a player – decide upon initial plan for both sides and then just ‘sit back’ and see how things will develop. With this mindset, I came to following conclusions:

  • As Confederate commander, I needed to show some patience. Before the real ‘push’, I would let Steward’s brigade get out of the woods. Hopefully, by that time, Field’s brigade (which failed to appear on the field in initial game) would show up on my right flank and put additional pressure on Union line.

    I also made a different judgement of situation on my left flank. Jones’ brigade, consisting of only two regiments and some skirmishers, was a pretty weak force. It seemed overly risky to charge against Harris, it seemed much more sensible to let the Confederates on my right to remain where they were, at least to begin with.

  • From Union perspective, things were what they were. The blue-clad boys were on defensive pretty much everywhere but on their right flank. So the question was – should Harris’ brigade immediately attack rebels on Hill 5 or should they wait? Since both options made equal sense, I let chance decide. A D6 was rolled and Harris’ brigade was issued orders to assault Hill 5.

The game

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Maney’s and Donelson’s brigades advance toward Union positions. Their job is to engage and pin the enemy in place.

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At the same time, Harris gathers together his somewhat spread out regiments and forms up in line for the assault against Hill 5. Jones observes the movemen to his front and sends forward his skirmishers of 34th Mississipi.

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Starkwater reacts to Confederate advance and establishes his line along the stone wall and the road. Rebels will have to work for it now.

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33rd Mississipi gets into contact with Union troops and is promptly sent packing with a well-aimed volley from 38th Indiana.

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Field’s brigade appears on the field without any delay on turn 3 of the game.  Union position on Hill 2 is now in serious peril.

At same time, rebels in Steward’s brigade appear out of the woods and halt at the stonewall, as ordered. The brigade is now ready to proceed with their advance toward enemy.

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33rd Mississipi gets their act together and starts to seriously molest Harris’ right flank with accurate sniping. 38th Indiana is hit especially hard! Still, the Union advance toward rebel line continues steadily.

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Union skirmishers on Hil 7 and Starwater’s regiments along the stone wall are doing pretty good job and casualties in Donelson’s regiments start to pile up at alarming rate.

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Harris’ brigade ready to assault rebels on Hill 5. If only those skirmishers stopped hitting everything they aimed at!

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Field’s brigade charges Hill 2. Union artillery beats hasty retreat as 1st Tennessee flanks their position.  Meanwhile, green 105th Ohio rattles 3rd Tennessee with a well-aimed volley and stops them cold.

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Steward’s brigade gets over the stone wall and into the open field. 4th/5th Tennessee is immediately hammered with accurate artillery fire from battery deployed to the rear of Union line, on Hill 1. The ‘double-six’ throws their assault column into confusion and stops further advance. Steward himself is hit by a shrapnel… which is stopped by the Bible in his chest pocket!

Same ‘double-six’ gives Union CinC ‘Aim low’ chit, allowing him at any time an option to add +2 modifier to a fire or melee roll of a unit up to 15cm from him.

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On Union left, 105th Ohio cooly retreats to the crest of Hill 2. Intensive action along entire line.

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Harris’ gives orders to charge Hill 5 and things go to hell in a handbasket! Skirmishers from 33rd Mississipi take their final revenge against 38th Indiana for that painfull volley couple of rounds ago. They roll a ‘double-six’ at critical moment - Harris is wounded and put out of action for the rest of the round, while 38th Indiana’s casualties reach above 50 percent. Obliged to test their morale, they fail badly and disperse!  10th Wisconsin is blasted by rebel artillery and retreats in confusion. 2nd Ohio does manage to throw their opponents from the hill but it’s too little and too late, as entire brigade breaks and falls back toward their own lines.

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Round later it’s time for Confederates to charge the enemy. Union CinC (McCook) has his heroic moment as he rides forward and holds the fire of 24th Illinois until very last moment (remember that ‘Aim low’ chit?). 31st/33rd Tennessee suffers grevious losses, but led personally by Steward, still reaches the stonewall. Perhaps infuriated by that well-aimed volley, they show no mercy in subsequent melee and rout their opponents. A hole is punched in Union line!

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Aftermath of two charges, at the end of round 6. Harris’ brigade falls back in disarray. 24th Illiois simply runs away. Union right flank is wide open, at least for the moment.

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With pressure mounting on both flanks, Union center slowly gives ground. Last ditch defence will be mounted along the road and the stone wall. Confederates in Donelson’s brigade, having already suffered surprisingly heavy losses, aren’t too keen to follow up and stay put.

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Harris tries to re-establish control over his brigade…

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…and McCook tries to do the same with battered brigades still in reach of his command. Artillery batteries on the left should be able to stop any further rebel advance. 79th Pensylvania pulls back in an attempt to form a defensive line on the right.

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Steward’s brigade tries to sort itself out after the charge, but 3rd/4th Tennessee is yet again raked by acurate artillery fire from Hill 1 and breaks. Remaining two regiments reform (24th Tennessee still in attack column!) and prepare to continue their advance along the stone wall.

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Round 8 – 105th Ohio continues with its obstinate retreat and seems to be living a charmed life. Their casualties mount slowly and their position makes them focus of rebel attention, but they refuse to fold! Field’s Tennesseans try to charge them yet again and yet again are stopped by combined fire of Ohioans and Union artillery deployed along the stone wall.

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Steward’s regiments in the woods are ready to continue their assault and 3rd/4th Tennessee returns into fray.

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Round 10 and final collapse of Union position finally takes place. Steward’s entire brigade rushes 79th Pensylvania from three sides at once. It’s too much, the Union regiments crumbles and runs away. McCook’s right flank is shattered.

2018_Blog_183At the same time, 105th Ohio finally has enough. Just as they reach the road, they’re hit with accurate fire from rebel skirmishers and artillery. Reduced to below half strength, they fail their mandatory morale check and disperse. Their collapse panics the rest of their brigade and it retreats in disorder. Union left is no more.

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Round 11 and it’s all over but the crying! Steward’s rebels slam into flank of 21st Wisconsin by sheer impetus of the charge that begun in previous round. Inexperienced Union unit (raised only month before and hardly even trained) breaks instantly and, unable to run away, simply surrenders.

Musings after the battle

Phew… in simple terms, what cracker of a battle!

Guys, by now I’ve been having American Civil War as special interest for over two decades and have been playing it for almost as long. During that time I have never experienced a game events of which corresponded so closely to the narratives of Shelby, Sears or Cozzens! And the ‘cinematic’ heroics which I imagined in my head as I rolled the dice and moved tin soldiers around… 105th Ohio’s stubborn refusal to break agains overwhealming odds, that disastrous salvo Tennesseans took as soon as they went over the wall, McCook being at exactly right place as the rebels rushed against his line, rebel sniper hitting Harris at worst possible moment… I honestly can’t recall when, or maybe even if ever, I had such great fun with a wargame as I did with this one!

This game did take 12 hours to complete, spread over course of four days. Let me assure you, it was a time well-spent! It was also a great learning experience. Playing slowly and without stress, I was able to check and double-check rules for all those quirky events that always take place in a wargame. This allowed me to really understand how this ruleset works, how different parts are linked together. As it turns out, “Guns at Gettysburg” is a damn clever little ruleset!

Allright, that’s the last post about Chaplin Hills scenario, I promise!

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