Sunday, January 24, 2010

Civil War Battles

Just to keep you updated, there have been some developments over the xmas/new year/january period in my Scotland-set ACW Campaign, and I thought I'd post an update. Under McClellan, the main Union army has finally made it's great advance, seeking to destroy it's Rebel counterpart. The scene for this fighting was Stirling and it's environs which - if the Union captured it - would lead to the Rebel heartlands of the Fife peninsula and the highlands being exposed!
Launching this attack were two 'Regular' corps (under Porter and Sedgwick) and a more inexperienced corps (Pope.) Also nearby, there was potential reinforcement from another untried corps (under BUrnside) down the Kilsyth road. Facing them were the rebel veterans under Beauregard now in the entrenchments around Stirling, plus an untried corps under Johnstone. A third, well-drilled corps under the eccentric Jackson was to the west, and would no doubt be recalled at speed once the attack began.
McClellan stayed true to historical type, advancing slowly up to the rebel defences and digging in himself. The Union couldn't turn the eastern end of the lines where they were anchored on the River Forth, and the western end had been secured with a small redoubt called Fort Burke. The rebels under Johnstone were concealed in the woods and hills to the west, to fall on the Union flank as they tried to encircle and destroy Fort Burke.

The attack was duly launched, and Porter's Union corps found itself being struck by the eager if inexperienced graybacks under Johnstone. The scattered woodland around Bear Mill became a battleground as the Union rapidly formed a line to repel the onrushing horde.

The attacks by Johnstone proved inadequate however, and the steadier Federals ultimately repelled the onslaught with heavy losses (I diced for destroyed units being recovered, and through bad/lucky rolls the Union units were able to largely reform while the Rebels seemed permanently lost!) However, although tactical disaster the battle did leave Porter facing west and turned the Union line into a salient, so strategically it had good results!
Next came the battle at Fort Burke itself, where Sedgwick's men had a crack at it.
No doubt the Rebs were shaken by the defeat nearby, because with a great display of enthusiasm, the Federals managed to storm the fort. The Rebel position was turned, and their centre threatened with collapse as their two wings were driven apart! To make matters worse, even the eastern flank began to look tricky as Pope's corps managed to ford a division over the river and threaten to take the overlooking high ground. Only Jackson's instant deployment could save the day!

Thankfully he made it in the nick of time, marching down the Stirling Road and hurling his compact little corps into the tip of the Federal breakthrough. Thanks to his sweeping advance and the Rebel cavalry raiding into the rear, the fleeing Federals were quickly routed and fled the field, abandoning Fort Burke and losing the battle of Kerse Farm!

Both sides paused to regroup, and the arrival (or non-arrival) of Burnside's fourth Federal Corps became crucial. The incompetent general seemed incapable of getting himself on the field however, while the Federals waited and the Rebels swapped Johnstone's battered corps with Beauregard's, giving the tired militia the benefit of fortifications while the two good rebel corps were freed up to become mobile.
They duly did so, racing south to cut the road link between Burnside's arrival point and the Union corps already present. With them in the way, Burnside could be crushed 2:1 when he arrived, so the two good Union corps moved southwest to keep the route open. The result was yet another battle at Cross Lines, where the Union and Rebel corps hit each other on the move, each flanking the other. However, while the Rebels couldn't rout the union they ended up in posession of a wood on the north of the battlefield, which blocked the Union army's return back to it's lines. Forced to withdraw east and back over the Bannockburn stream, the Union had lost it's chance of getting Burnside onto the field for a joint effort. McClellan withdrew, leaving the Rebels still in control of the Stirling area and victorious.
Overall, this was an enjoyable little mini-campaign, with lots of map maneuvering plus a good couple of colourful battles. Looks like the onset of the 1861 winter means both the Federals and Secessionists will need to start planning on an 1862 campaign!


  1. This campaign has a really nice 'feel' to it. It looks good and makes a lot of sense as one reads the battle reports.

    You seem to be enjoying yourself no end, and that is reflected in your blog entries. I look forward to reading the next one.

    All the best,


  2. Hi Bob,

    Thanks very much for your lovely comment - always nice to get the encouragement! I am still pushing on with my other (main) blog, but I am alternating between different projects which I can hop between on this blog. Details will still follow, if in a rather random 'scattergun' approach!