US Support Teams take up positions in Chain of Command Wargame

Monday, September 26, 2011


A Fire and Fury game

Beginning Positions - terrain and unit placement by the Gamemaster

The third game in the series leading up to Antietam was Crampton's Gap. The forces deployed and their instructions were as follows:

C.S.A. General Howell Cobb
You must take command of our forces in and around Crampton's Gap. You must deny the enemy passage through the gap until nightfall. Only then can our army re-unite to meet the Federal's coming attack. I have information from Gen. Stuart that Harper's Ferry will fall and that he might be available to assist you if he can pass his cavalry through Pleasant Valley without meeting the Yankees.

You will have the advantage of choosing your defensive ground somewhere east toward Burkitsville. You will have at your assistance Gen. Semmes and Col. Patham with Col. Munford's cavalry. Munford will have his horse battery, and Semmes will have at least one battery to support your position. If Gen. Stuart or Robertson's cavalry becomes available, you will be notified.

You must hold Crampton's Gap and the lesser Brownsville Gap to the south. These are your forces:

Gen Semmes (E) Bde 4/2/1
2 guns
Gen. Parham's Bde.
2 Guns

Munfords Cavalry 5/3/2
2 Guns

Robertson (E) Cavalry 6/4/2

Victory Points: Crampton's Gap = 5Pts
Brownsville Pass = 1 Pt
Hold Gap past 6PM + 1 Pt/ turn

U.S.A. Gen. Franklin
You are to proceed with the 1st Corps to Burkittsville and pass through Crampton's Gap by nightfall. Our scouts confirm the Rebels forming down South Mountain to block the gaps. Push him back through the gap. If possible disrupt the enemy forces west of the mountain. Press hard and get through the gap by day's end.
Your Forces:
Gen. Slocum 1 sr Division
Bartlett (E) 8/6/4
Newton 8/6/3
Torbart 7/6/4
3 batteries

Gen. Smith
Brook 8/6/5
Hancock (E) 8/6/5
Irwin 7/6/4
3 batteries
Victory Points: Crampton's Gap = 5Pts
Brownsville Pass = 1 Pt
1 VP for every Bde through Gap by 6PM


The process of the battle
 Slocum(Dick Bryant) upon seeing the Rebel arty posted on South Mtn., immediately closed the 1st Div up to the center of Burkitsville to afford his men some protection from the town's buildings, while moving up his 3 batteries to take the nearest rebel guns under fire. Unfortunately Bartlett didn't get the word and marched his Bde. into the open where it was essentially decimated by the Rebel guns. Slocum's guns managed to silence Semmes' guns (Dick Messier) for a while then switched to Mumford's guns (Dick Messier)in the center. Meanwhile Smith's 2nd Div. (Rich Bryant) had arrived and deployed its guns behind the stone walls of the town to take Semmes' guns under fire as well. The first part of the battle was essentially an artillery duel with the Union getting the better part of the exchange, eventually damaging several of the Rebel batteries. But not before they fired a blast that required them to pull back to re-supply ammo.

Smith's guns take Rebels under fire - note decimated Union Bde near the ford!

Smith advanced against the Rebel right where they were busily building hasty works in the woods on the slope of South Mtn. Smith's volleys supported by his arty soon disorganized the Rebels and his attack into the works and up the hill pushed them out of those works. As the battle came to a close, Rebel Cavalry attacked Smith's 2 left most Bdes while in Rte column and paid the price.

Smith envelopes the rebel Right

On the Union right, The remaining 2 Bds of Slocum's Division moved into line and prepared to assault the weak Rebel unit near Crampton's gap. With 2 Bde's  and 3 batteries firing, it was expected that there was a very good chance of the Union taking the pass. Unfortunately, at this point, the Gamemaster called "time" and awarded all the VPs for holding the gaps to the Rebels. As he left the field General Slocum was heard muttering "this is no way to run a war".

Sloacum prepares the final attack

Friday, September 23, 2011


ACW Naval game using Age of Iron rules
By Spencer Clough

 The end of the game: CSS Livingston (upper left) attempting to back downstream to avoid futher contact with the USS Pittsburg (center). Confederate battery (bottom of photo) hoping for a shot at the Pittsburg

“We were greatly surprised when we arrived above Island Number Ten and saw on the bluffs a chain of forts extending for four miles along the crescent-formed shore, with the white tents of the enemy in the rear. And there lay the island in the lower corner of the cresent, with the side fronting the Missouri shore lined with heavy ordnance, so trained that with the artillery on the opposite shore almost every point on the river between the island and the Missouri bank could be reached at once by all the enemy's batteries.” Henry Walke, Rear Admiral, U.S.N., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. I

Following the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson by General Grant in February, 1862, Union forces in Missouri under General John Pope began to concentrate on Confederate forces in New Madrid in early March. Island Number Ten arose in the river at a hair pin bend between Kentucky and Tennessee just a few miles from New Madrid. This would be where Confederate forces stood the best chance to prevent a link up between Union forces on the upper Mississippi and those in Missouri. Once Pope occupied New Madrid he appealed to Rear Admiral Henry Foote commanding the Union naval units to send a couple of ironclads to assist him in keeping Rebels bottled up below his position. Foote had been warned by Secretary of War Halleck to keep his forces safe from needless risks as they would be needed on the advance to the lower Mississippi, so he was reluctant to send any of his fleet.

This scenario poses a hypothetical situation in which Foote sends 2 ironclads and 4 tugboat driven mortar barges to Pope. This flotilla would need to pass the island and a hastily assembled Confederate fleet. Rules for the engagement are Age of Iron, 2d edition, by Leo Walsh. These utilize a split move system in which side A moves ½, side B moves full, side A moves ½ again. Walsh lays out two scenarios for these actions on April 6th and April 14th. These scenarios and forces were combined so that forces involved here were:

Confederate: CSS Ponchartrain, CSS Maurepas, CSS Polk, CSS Ivy, CSS McRae, CSS Livingston, a floating battery with 9 guns, and 3 island batteries with a total of 15 guns.

Union: USS Carondelet, USS Pittsburg, and 4 unarmed tugs with 1 mortar barge each.

Both ironclads, tugs and mortars, would be making way down stream adding to their speed. Conversely, the Confederate navy would be laboring upstream against the current thereby subtracting from their speed. All Confederate vessels were wooden without any additional armor or cotton-clading.

Union mortars were restricted to firing only if tied to shore; tying up or casting off required a turn a piece. The Rebel forces were under the command of Rear Admiral Dick White, ably assisted by Captain Dick Bryant and Lieutenant Ben Clough. Rear Admiral Jack Breen of the U.S.N., was ably assisted by Captain Dick Messier. Game length was to be 10 turns. Game points were awarded as: 1 or less Union vessels exits board = major Confederate victory, 3 union vessels = minor Confederate victory, 4 vessels = minor Union victory, 6 Union vessels = major union victory. Unlike the historical reality, the scenario was played in full daylight under a clear sky. Historically, it rained heavily and the Union ships sailed at night.

Rear Admiral White, from the shore batteries, held his fleet in line across the river as the Rear Admiral Breen launched his attack down the north side of the river at the helm of the Pittsburg. When the smoke cleared two and a half hours later much carnage had been wreaked upon the Rebel fleet. The Union had succeeded in sinking the CSS Maurepas, CSS Ivy, CSS Polk, and the flag ship, the CSS McRae. The CSS Pontchartrain had taken severe damage and the CSS Livingston was attempting to back downstream to avoid futher contact with the USS Pittsburg. However, the USS Pittsburg had taken severe damage and was nearly a hulk. The USS Carondelet was in good condition as she had been slower to engage. All Union tugs and mortars were in one piece. When the game was called it seemed evident that the Union would be able to escape with at least 4 pieces by turn 10 thereby awarding the boys in blue a minor victory over the forces in gray.

After battle chatter concluded that Age of Iron made for an enjoyable “beer and pretzels” game in a genre often overlooked by gamers.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Chris kindly offered to give our group a hands-on tutorial of his new DOB rules at the club this past Thursday. We had played the 3rd edition many times and enjoyed it but had some major problems  in trying to play the 4th edition on our own. I think that it was because of us unconsiously reverting back to 3rd ed interpretations.

Chris Parker, center, explains a fine point to Spencer Clough, left, and Dick Messier
The 4th edition has simplified the game considerably and makes for quicker determination of a winner. We had two players (Dick White and Dick Bryant) who had played 3rd a lot, two players(Jack Breen and Spencer Clough) who had played 3rd 2 or 3 times and one (Dick Messier) who had never played the period in any manifistation.

Chris played a spot in the game to balance it 3 to a side and we played to a conclusion in 2.5 hours - in a learning game!

Spence Cloug and Dick Messier remain engaged in a tough series of melees on the German Left
I highly recommend these rules to anyone who wants to game the Medeival period from Vikings and Fuedal England/France to the 100 years war and the Crusades. Once you have learned the tactics and the play of the game, you can get into campaigns where one's ranking, and thus the size of the army he can field, changes with his fortunes on the battle field. I especailly like the individual feel that the 28mm figures and the inclusion of Pages, Heralds, Squiires Champions and other features give a "you are actually there" feel to the game.

The Germans escort The French King and his banner into ignomonous captivity
The game was especially satisfying as I (Dick Bryant) managed to capture my opponent, Dick White - The French King, and his banner. We decided that out of respect for his bravery we let him work in the stables, pending his ransom, rather than cleaning the chamberpots.

For more info see the DOB Web site at


A Fire & Fury Scenario

Report by Jack Breen

In the early afternoon, Gen. D.R. Jones (Dick Messier) C.S.A., commanding, awaits the coming of Union forces at Turner's Gap. There has been much gunfire heard from Fox's Gap to the south. Jones has 6 brigades to hold back what appears to be an entire Federal Corps led by Gen. "fighting" Joe Hooker(Dick White). Straddling the National Road just east of the gap with 2 batteries Jones has built hasty works with the Colquitt, Evans and Garnett brigades. Gen. Jenkins is in reserve with his South Carolinians. Gen. Kemper and Rodes (Rich Bryant) hold the confederate left anchored in the high woods and rocky hills to the north. They are using the deep woods and rocks as cover.

The area is mostly wooded - the clear area near the 3 boulder filds is also wooded

At 2PM a broad Union front presents in the woods. Hooker is in command of the better part of 3 divisions from Gen. Hatch (Doubleday), Ricketts & Meade. Hatch and Meade bring up 2 batteries each for support. The Union left is commanded by Dick Bryant pushing the brigades of: Phelps, Hofmann, Patrick & Gibbon. Dick White commands Duryea,Hartsuff, Christian, Magilton, Seymour & Anderson deploying to the right (north).
Union Columns move agains Rebel Left

Dick White's Forces moves agains the Rebel Left under Rich Bryant

The artillery open up early and exchange fire, with the Union getting the best of the duel silencing several confederate batteries. This allowed Dick Bryant's 2 brigades (Patrick & Gibbon) to attempt a flanking maneuver around the Rebel right. Just in time, Gen. Hood's reinforcements enter from Fox's Gap in behind the Union left flanking attempt causing them to halt. Dick Bryant reactively "refuses the line" and holds the Hood attack.

Bryant moves against the Rebel extreme Right, blocking Hood
With this end of the battlefield essentially fought to a draw, Dick White presented the Rebel left, north of the gap and Rich Bryant with a most dire challenge. He has formed 6 assault (field) columns and is aggressively pressing the Confederate left with the brigades of: Duryea, Hartsuff, Christian, and the Meade Division of Seymour, Magilton and Anderson. Rich Bryant immediately calls for help from Gen. Jenkins, unfortunately, Jenkins is caught in column and is hammered by Dick White's left and is broken.

Dick White catched Jenkins Bde in column and destroys it
They attempt to regroup and hold but too much damage is done and they are forced to retire from the field. With Rodes(Rich Bryant) attempting to connect with Kemper to tighten up the Rebel left, the 3 Union columns slam into him, completely dissolving the brigade and then advancing toward Kemper's rear.

The final Union push in th ecenter

At this point (3:30PM), 6 strong Union attack columns were about to descend on two weakened Rebel brigades who had retreated through the gap towards Sharpsburg and Gen. Lee.
This was the 2nd of 3 South Mountain scenarios played by the group with Fox's Gap held by the Confederates and Turner's taken by the Union. All eyes are to the south on Crampton's Gap which could be the deciding battle in the series leading to auch larger action somewhere near the Antietam River and Sharpsburg, MD.