Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Battle Comes To Sheridan: Battle of Stones River - December 31, 1862

The Scenario:
Early in the morning of December 31st, the Confederates launched a surprise attack against the Union forces on the western side of Stones River.  While the Confederates rolled up the unprepared Union right wing, Sheridan's division in the Union center put up a stubborn resistance.  Although they suffered heavy casualties, Sheridan's troops bought precious time for the Union army to rally and create a new defensive position to the rear.

The scenario was from the Regimental Fire and Fury rulebook.  The Game was to last 12 turns, with victory points awarded for inflicting heavy casualties and greater losses on the enemy, as well as controlling the key position along the fence line where Woodruff's and Sill's brigades were deployed.

Union Players:
Chris, commanding Woodruff's and Schaeffer's Brigades
Justin, commanding Sill's and Roberts' Brigades

Union Deployment:
Along the fence line - Woodruff on the right and Sill on the left
Roberts' brigade in the dense woods on the Union left
Schaeffer's brigade in reserve

Confederate Players:
John, commanding Loomis' Brigade
Bill, commanding Manigault's Brigade
Ray, commanding Vaughan's Brigade
Nate, commanding Maney's Brigade

Confederate Deployment:
Left Flank - Loomis in front with Vaughan in reserve
Right Flank - Manigault in front with Maney in reserve

The Game:
The Confederate attack got off to a slow start.  Not only was the rough terrain of the battlefield a great hindrance on movement, poor maneuver rolls by the leading Confederate brigades further slowed the advance.  The rebel guns were successful in silencing the Union battery at the apex of the fence line, but withering Union musketry took its toll on the attackers.

To further complicate matters, Robert's brigade moved through the dense woods and threatened to turn the Confederate right.  This forced Manigault to send part of his brigade to deal with the threat, instead of moving forward to support the attack.

Woodruff and Sill managed to put up a stubborn resistance and beat back several rebel charges against the fence line.  Eventually Loomis and Manigault gave way, and the Confederate second line under Vaughan and Maney pushed past them to renew the attack.

As the Union troops finally began to break along the fence line and lose the key position, the battle took a sudden turn.  After several hours of fighting in the dense woods, the Confederate right collapsed.  Robert's brigade pushed forward and swung around to attack the Confederate rear.  This outflanking maneuver by Roberts, coupled with the fact that the Confederates had now suffered heavy casualties and greater losses (negative modifiers on maneuver rolls), ended the game.  One of Woodruff's regiments on the Union right also refused to be moved from the fence line.  Perhaps if they could have been driven off and the key position lost, things would have evened out.  However, in the end, it became clear that Sheridan's boys had done there job and held the Union center.

Pictures from the game:

Some extra pics I took after the battle -  without all of the extra "game" clutter: