Monday, January 02, 2017

My 69th birthday at Cedar Mtn

On New Years Day afternoon we celebrated my 69th birthday at Cedar Mtn where in 1862 Stonewall Jackson fought Nathanial Banks.  I based the scenario on the excellent blog on the battle by Jeff Berry at   I simplified the OOB by making the command divisions pairs of brigades of 4 or 6 units.  The paper OOB has Jackson outnumbering Banks by about 2:1, but Jackson forced march to the battle in searing temperatures and his units suffered considerable attrition.  How much is unknown, but I reduced the Confederate infantry by about one third to represent this.  This made the wargame scenario look like a fair fight and the historical result more understandable.  All divisions have a Command Rating of 8.
The Union are on the right of the pics.  Mark commands the Union right - 2 inf divs in the woods & a cav unit in reserve.  Jim commands their left - 2 inf divs & 7 guns in the corn fields.
Steve commands the Reb's left with 1 inf div in the woods, Chris has 2 inf divs & 2 guns in the centre, Mike has an inf div & 2 guns on Cedar Mtn on their right.  Another inf div is still on the road & will arrive sometime in the first 4 turns as the dice decree.
The pic is taken after the Union's first turn.  A general advance was attempted, but the command dice only allowed Mark to advance his LH division.
The Union right continued its advance through the woods while their centre advanced to near the forward edge of the cornfield.  The Confederate left redeployed in the woods to receive the attack.  Their centre advanced slowly.  Their right blundered about getting nowhere.
On the far flank Mark continues his advance through the woods.  In the centre the Union artillery is in action.  In their rear, the Union cavalry is being moved to the left. Steve waits for Mark near the table edge in the woods.  Chris has pulled back his left after copping some accurate artillery fire.  The Rebel reserve has arrived behind his centre.  In the foreground Mike's force has moved forward off Cedar Mtn.
On the far flank Mark has got to grips with Steve in the woods.  His intitial charge was a failure, but he has 2:1 odds in his favour & the attack continues.  Chris has moved his LH division to support Steve.  Jim has began an advance in the centre to support Mark.  The Union cavalry have dismounted and occupied the house at the end of their line.  The Rebel right has advanced enough to start a firefight with the Union left, but poor command dice have prevented them closing in.
There's a hot fight going on in the woods on the Union right.
Union artillery & poor command dice are making the Rebel attack on the near flank slow going.  Jim's attack in the open ground right of centre has hit home and the Rebel left is in big trouble. 
The Rebel left has collapsed with both divisions there breaking.  Chris' RH division has been reduced to half strength by Union fire and has been withdrawn before it broke.  The large Rebel reserve division has taken its place in the line with part of it turned left to face the victorious Union right.  The Union left has taken some losses & been forced back, but this large division is holding on in the cornfield. 
When time was called at beer o'clock the Confederates had lost 2 divisions out of 5 with another reduced to half strength.  The Union have lost only a few units & no divisions and clearly have the upper hand.  We took a pleasant walk in the warm summer rain to Knoppie's for the post mortum & some birthday Moo Brew.

In the historical battle Banks attacked first but the Confederate line held and they then counterattacked driving him back, but at nightfall Banks still held his initial position & he withdrew in good order overnight having achieved the Union's strategic aim of delaying Jackson.  Both sides claimed victory.  In our battle both Bank's attack and his defence were rather better handled & while the Confederates weren't broken it was pretty clearly a Union victory.  The allowance for attrition made in the Reb OOB certainly made the wargame a fair fight & a great game.  Given the historical result, it looks like it may not be far off the mark historically as well - in explaining how Banks could do as well as he did given the paper OOBs and his known level of incompetence.

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