Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greenbrier River - ACW Regimental

The battle of Greenbrier River, also known as the battle of Camp Bartow, occured in Pocahontas county of Virginia (present day West Virginia) on 3 October 1861. The debacle of 1st Manassas were still fresh on the minds of both sides. The Confederate troops of Henry Jackson were trying to hold on to the wooded hills around Cheat Mountain in the hopes of keeping that pro-union area within their control. The Federals under Joseph R. Reynolds, although somewhat unorganized, retained overwhelming numbers compared to their gray and butternut counterparts. As a result, Reynolds set out on the 2nd of October to rid his department of the stubborn southerners. Jackson however, had excellent defensive positions, and vast knowledge of the ground he was defending. He was determined to give the Federals all they could handle...

The Federals slowly come on the field with high hopes of breaking the Confederates, who are well defended behind breastworks on elevated ground.

The line of Confederates as they await the approaching blue horde:

Reynolds' inexperienced Northerners are coaxed uphill by their mounted officers.

The thin defenses see wave upon wave of Federals coming up through the trees.

In their haste to clear the graybacks from their defenses in the hills above, the Federals positioned their artillery on the relatively unguarded left flank. A bold Confederate Brigadier saw the juicy prize and captured all but one section of Federal heavy ordnance and was on the verge of closing the escape route.

The Federals however were able to barely hold on behind snake rail fences, while the Conferate assault ground to a halt without any further support.

With their left flank finally contained, the first wave of Federals makes it over the wall, but cannot hang on and consolidate their gains. These troops are quickly thrown back down the hill with staggering losses. More blue-clad troops are on their way up.

Union troops at last make it up the first hill and hold it in order to confront the defenders at point blank range. Mounting casualties however have worn them down, and the Confederates are far from broken.

At the end of the engagement, The Federals have pushed the Southerners off of their high ground and are hanging on by a thread. They too are in worn out condition and can no longer make any gains.

The game was played prior to the HMGS-East Convention Fall-In! held in Gettysburg, PA. Our game turned out differently than the historical outcome. Historically, Reynolds pulled his troops out of action before any serious engagement could be undertaken. After all the smoke had cleared, less than a 100 casualties were counted between both sides. This was a classic case of both sides feeling each others capabilites out with troops and weaponry that were far from ideal, and in a countryside that offered little in the way of freedom of movement. Three years later, the veteran soldiers of both sides would be slugging it out all across Virginia, inflicting previously unthinkable amounts of casualties.

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