Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Battle of Bristoe Station - 14th October 1863

The battles and skirmishes in the months after Gettysburg and General Lee last offensive campaigns in late 1863 are not well known. Until the last couple of years I did not know much either until a read a couple of great books for the period. The battles during the Bristoe Station and Mine Run campaigns are full of great cavalry battles and numerous small scale battles, which can suit any gamers ACW collections....unless like me you lack Union Cavalry. Our battle last weekend focused on the The Battle of Bristoe Station, which was a encounter battle on the afternoon of the 14th October 1863 between The Union 2nd Corps under the command of Maj Gen Gouverneur K Warren and the Confederates under the command of Lt Gen Ambrose P Hills Third Corps. The set up and brigade deployments came from page 66/67 Cooke and Kirkland Attack 3:00 -3:15pm of the MAps of Bristoe State and Mine Run Campaigns book.

As mentioned above our battle started with both sides already deployed for battle Cooke and Kirklands Brigades were already deployed across the small hills to the north and the Union brigades of Owen, Makkon and Heath were deployed along the Orange & Alexander R.R and in Bristoe Station. The Union boys had good cover from the railway cuttings and would be well protected from the small arms fire from the confederates.  There were also two farms out to the front which would help break up the Confederate attack - Dodd farm to the north of the station and T.Davis farm to the south of the station. The Confederate attack would have to come down the hill and across open ground to assault the Union position.

Brig Gen Joshua Owen (commander of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Div) surveys the ground to his front and makes final adjustments to his line.

Brig Gen W W Kirkland deploys skirmishers and encourages his North Carolinians to attack the Union line.

On the far right of the Union line is Col Francis Heath's Brigade

Col Heath makes a few final adjustments to his line and prepares to move forward with his brigade in order to bring the battle to the Confederates

Col James E Mallon also makes a few final adjustments to his line before advancing. I am not too sure why the Union commander (Terry Moran) did this but it certainly made for a more interesting battle.

The battlefield of Bristoe Station. The two Confederate brigades of Cooke and Kirkland are advancing across the heights towards Bristoe Station (the two buildings in the top centre of the images) and the three Union Brigades are deployed along the Orange & Alexander R.R. I placed a few more fences on the table just to make it look a little more less open as the battlefield actually was on the day.

Confederate skirmishers advance in front of advancing line

And take up a good defensive position behind a rail fence

As soon as the Confederate line crossed over the hills they came under small arms and artillery fire from the Union line.

Union boys from Mallon's Brigade advance through Bristoe Station

The whole Union line advances out of the defensive cover of the railway cutting and into the open ground...crazy!!

Skirmishers from the 1st Minnesota contest the open ground with Confederate skirmishers between the two advancing lines.

Both lines close...this is going to be a stand up battle

Col Heaths' brigade moves into position around the Dodd Farm

Cookes' North Carolinians attack the Union troops around the Davis Farm to the south of Bristoe Station.

However the Union troops of Owens' Brigade make the first charge of the day, pushing back the rebel skirmishers and charging the 48th NC. 

The 48th NC hold firm on the fence line and deliver a withering volley which stops the 125th NY in there tracks.

Three regiments of Mallon's Brigade advance towards two regiments of Kirklands Brigade

The battle intensifies, small arms fire and small regimental charges across the line of battle are conducted with no real gain to either side but mounting casualties. 

The Confederate Brigade of Cooke halts and delivers a few well aimed volleys at the Union line but fails to halt their advance.

The fight around the Davis Farm is long and hard with both side hold the farm grounds for sort periods of time. 

But under overwhelming numbers the 15th NC are pushed back from the farm after taking heavy casualties from Union fire.

The battle rages on and the Confederates are desperate to push the Union line back and gain victory this day, so Cooke foolishly joins the 48th NC in charging the 19th MA....he falls mortally wounded and is taken from the field. The Col of the 46th NC takes command. 

The battle also rages around the Dodd Farm with the 47th NC charging and pushing back the 19th ME. Col Kirkland also joins this attack and he to is wounded and taken from the field. The battle is not going well for the Confederates with both Brigade commanders out of the battle.

With the Confederates commanders out of the battle and regiments falling back across the line Gen Heth tries to hold the line with the deployment of McIntoshes Artillery Battalion. 

The 12 guns of the Confederate Artillery Battalion deploys across the heights in hope of stemming in the tide of Union blue. Both too come under small arms and artillery counter battery fire

There is no hope for the Confederates attack to succeed now 2/3s of the their regiments have suffered over 50% casualties or have been routed from the field and support is still yet to arrive. The battle is lost and again history repeats itself with a Union Victory.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Battle of Stephenson's Depot - 15th June 1863

Last Sunday Myself and Dave Hancox played a fantastic little game of ACW. We were play testing the soon to be released Basic Battles from Dadi &Piombo. The scenario I picked for the game game was from 'The Maps of Gettysburg' starting at page 53 The Battle for Stephenson's Depot on the 15th June 1863. This is a great little unheard of battle which end the 2nd Battle of Winchester and opened up the Shenandoah Valley for Lee's Army of Virginia to march onto Gettysburg. With a small battlefield and basically only three Brigades on each side it additionally made for the ideal afternoon wargame.

Our first deployments were for the Union forces (Elliott Brigade and the 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry) to be already placed on the Martinsburg Pike, all in column route as they were trying to make the best speed away from Winchester and Confederates. It was also early morning with a heavy mist, which reduced visibility greatly. However the Confederate General - General Johnson and his veteran troops had reach the battlefield only minutes before and were waiting in ambush.

As the troops of Major General Milroy trudged nosily up the turnpike, Confederate sharpshooters concealed themselves in the undergrowth. Picture above and below are the Union regiments under General Elliott - 110th, 122nd, 123rd and 116th Ohio.

As soon as they were close enough to engage effectively the Confederate sharpshooters unleashed a deadly fire, which emptied many saddles of the 12th PA cavalry and effectively throwing the column into disorder.

The sharpshooters put up an effective defence for at leat three turns, forcing the Union cavalry to dismount and leading Infantry regiments to deploy into line.

With confusion everywhere in the Union ranks the 12th PA cavalry try to engage the Confederate sharpshooters...bit are not that effective in the low light and the sharpshooters are in very good cover.

As the cavalry engage the sharpshooters the first Union infantry regiments start to deploy and hopefully clear the woods.

The 110th Ohio deploys into double line in support of the 12th PA cavalry.

However as they start to cross the Harpers Ferry Road they come under fire from a well placed Confederate artillery gun, which causes a few casualties and throws them into disorder.

Forced back by the 110th OH the Confederate sharpshooters slowly withdraw back to the main Confederate position and draws the Union troops further away from their other supporting units of the Brigade.

As the 110th OH clears the woods of sharpshooters the 122nd OH  of Elliotts' Brigade deploys across the Harpers Ferry Road to cover the deployment of the remainder of the Brigade.

Closely following Elliotts' Brigade is Ely's Brigade, another four regiments of infantry.....surely this amount of troops will over whelmed the small Confederate force blocking the road?

The 87th PA leads Ely's Brigade up the Martinsburg Pike

As soon as Ely's Brigade appears the Confederates reveal another hidden position and delivers a number of well aimed volleys into the unsuspecting Union troops. These lads are from Brig Gen Francis Nicholl's all Louisiana Brigade, and they are crack veteran troops.

The 1st LA moves from its' supporting position in the rear of the Confederate line to the extreme right flank.

With the battle now raging on Union right the 110th OH are still finding it hard to clear the woods of Confederate sharpshooters. However after numerous turns they finally push them away...but waiting behind a stone wall are three fresh regiments of Veteran Confederate troops under the command of Brig. Gen. George Steuart. All are veteran North Carolinas.

The battle intensifies across the whole battlefield 

The dismounted 12th PA cavalry and 122nd OH advance towards the Confederate lines

Brig General Ely deploys hos command in support of General Elliott

With a good eye for terrain General Ely depolys his whole Brigade across the Martinsburg Pike. His four regiments soon out flank the Confederate line 

As they advance across the field Confederate artillery opens up heavy and accurate fire. General Milroys now wishes he had never left his artillery behind in Winchester.......

Milroy's final Brigade finally arrives on the Confederate flank in hope of turning the position. First to arrive are the 13th PA cavalry

Hopefully the Confederate line will brake soon....the 123rd OH advances up the Harpers Ferry Road. But all the time they are under fire from Confederate artillery and the 15th LA infantry.

However the 123rd OH are made of sterner stuff and charge the Confederate line several times in vain hope of braking through.

Confederate artillery placed on the bridge provides support to the 15th LA in the fierce hand to hand battle which rages to their left and along the the Winchester & Potomac Rail Road

Finally 67th PA and 6th MD from McAndrews Brigade arrive on the Confederate flank

The 13th PA Cavalry can not make headway against the accurate Confederate artillery fire so they dismount and deploy in support of McAndrews troops

The 15th LA are finally pushed back from the stone wall but the 123rd OH can not make anymore headway agains the strong Confederate position.

The 116th OH deploys along the Harpers Ferry Road in a vain hope of hold the flank

With the battle ranging across the whole Winchester & Potomac Rail Road the Union commander General Milroy fails to notice the arrival Gen Jackson's old Virginia Brigade. First to arrive are the 2nd & 5th VA, who cut the Martinsburg Pike and Milroy's planned escape route.

Brig. Gen Steuart's Brigade of North Carolinians advance through the woods 

The battle is lost for the Union troops as the remainder of Jacksons Virginians arrive in support of the hard pressed Louisiana regiments. The 33rd, 27th and 4th VA all Elite regiments crush any hopes Milroy had in breaking through to freedom.