Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Wheatfield, Gettysburg, 2nd July 1863

At the end of January - yes, I know, what with all the WOTR stuff it's taken me ages! - the Falkirk Club (FDWC) held a big Sunday bash for the Longstreet Campaign.  The result was a day-long multi-player fight, where we decided to add a bit of historical relativity by modelling on the second day at Gettysburg - four Union players holding Sickles' Salient around the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field, against five attacking Rebels.

A massive, L-Shaped table required!

Looking north up the Emmitsburg Road - the Peach Orchard on the right; and the Sherfy Farm just visible opposite, among general farmland.
Hardtack himself took his place in the line, and was assigned the Wheatfield itself!  Somehow, it was pretty much inevitable that he'd wind up here, what with an artillery train the size of his.

Looking east along the Millerstown (Wheatfield) Road - more farmland, the small Stony Hill, then the Wheatfield itself along with Rose Woods next to it.
The multiplayer game did create one strange aspect - having to consider neighbouring brigades, and not just contracting your front to help yourself out, and leaving a friend's flank up in the air.  Definitely a bit of a mental adjustment from the one-on-one games fought before now!

HArdtack sets up in the Wheatfield and faces off against the Rebels emerging from Rose Woods.  Further back, other Federal brigades defend the road.

More Federals defending the Peach Orchard
The battle started off pretty badly for Hardtack, as the Rebels opposite him threw most of their weight at the end of his line, striking the two weak regiments - the 8th New Jersey and the 27th Pennsylvania - on the end of the line.  

The biggest disaster came on the right-flank of the Wheatfield however, as it turned out that the Rebels had assembled an artillery battery along the edge of Rose Woods - incredibly, it was even bigger than Hardtack's!  The massed cannon swiftly began pounding away at each other, but the Union guns were slowly hammered flat all through the day.
The Artillery batteries face off - it's like a duel, but far bigger!

Confederates take the Stony Hill objective out-house.
The Rebel line kept on moving forward in the field, while the Union kept falling back to deny them a 'killer' charge.  The constant drain of skirmishing fire weakened both sides, but the tide was undeniably pro-Confederate.
Hardtack's left gets hit by Tweng's brigade on the left, fighting back through the field.

The 8NJ and 27PA steadily give ground, with their neighbouring units falling back to maintain the line.

Elsewhere, Rebels break into the Peach Orchard

Lunch-break!  The Union line still holds, but now dented into all sorts of strange shapes - and there's a lot of Grey on the table!

Violent clashes neighbouring Hardtack's force as Schimmelfennig resists Bee's brigade. 

More Peach-Orchard combat.

More Rebels!  An extra brigade marches on.

Hardtack is almost losing the Wheatfield now, having given ground all the way back to the objective marker.

As above, but the 27PA gets pushed back in the middle of the line

A large panorama of the Peach Orchard, with the two fighting lines swaying back and forth.
Hardtack's veterans were finally compelled to relinquish their hold on the Wheat-field, but only after about ten turns of fall-backs and delays.  The Rebs finally charged in with 'Cold Steel' to rout the 27PA and 8NJ - battered out of existence, they fought down to the last!
The end!  the 8NJ and 27PA get forced out the field with heavy losses.  

Another 'big' view of the Peach Orchard from the south.
The break limit for Hardtack had definitely been reached, but the larger game meant that overall the game kept running - giving him time for a last-minute bit of destruction.  The 122NY regiment, under the command of the hero Col. Thucydides Ganderpoke, could now swing round and counter-charge the exhausted rebels - he duly did so, throwing them back temporarily and regaining the objective marker, but he was now isolated in a sea of Grey.  It was only going to be a forlorn hope, but it saved a bit of pride for the new-frantic Hardtack, at any rate!  
Hardtack is defeated, but the larger game runs on - his remaining regiments turn and engage the bunched Rebels.

The 122NY gets a charge in, routing an exhausted Rebel regiment and momentarily re-capturing the Wheatfield objective.  Nice, but it's all just ego-soothing by this point!
Unsurprisingly, the 122NY got hit from front and flank, so all six bases fled - about four hundred men.  A wise move, but a pretty poor show after two or three other regiments in the area have fought it out to the last. Let's just be grateful that the newspaper-men will only care about the heroic bit at the start...
The 122NY gets the predictable counter-attack that routs it.  Still, that's an Epic Point in the bag, and right now I'll take all I can get!

Battery B is cut down by flanking rebels - yet more guns lost!

The end of the day.  Barring the Colored 45th MA regiment that sat out on the flank, there's not much left that's recognisable from Hardtack's old Brigade.  

Hardtack: "The map's that way up?"
It's over then, and Hardtack has been beaten - not just beaten, but his division has been trashed and blasted out of all recognizable shape!  His vast artillery-train of experienced gunners: gone. Prestigious old regiments like the 8th New Jersey or the 83rd Ohio: gone.  It's enough to make his little lead heart skip a beat.  Of the entire force it was the veterans in the filed that took most of the losses - the only relatively decent-shaped regiment is the 45th Massachusetts Colored infantry, who sat out on the flank for most of the day, covering the neighbouring division's flank.  

So, back to camp and to re-shape his force.  Only a lone battery with a single gun-section of Light Rifles has been salvaged.  The Delaware cavalry have at least toughened up to veteran status, thanks to their energetic charging on the far flank.  Most other 'old' regiments are ground down to nubs - 3 or 4 bases, basically.  HQ sends fresh drafts of reinforcements, attaching the 31st Vermont regiment, and then also the 154th New York Colored Infantry Regiment - combined with the survivors of the 45th MA, this means Hardtack's division is a remarkably mixed force - predominantly white troops, but not far off a 50:50 split.  Given that Hardtack is a crusty old pre-war army man and not an Abolitionist (he lacks the character card, although it would aid him greatly) this probably means a few teething troubles integrating them all - at least for a while.  Not that he has much choice, however.  Lee's army may have lost at Gettysburg ultimately, but the war still goes on!

Oh, and fate has one last cruel trick to play on him - the 154th NY arrives with, of all things, a ready-attached Hero (courtesy of a campaign card).  Its Colonel Elijah Mottram, possibly the smuggest and most irritating man in the Union army, whose sole purpose is to irritate Hardtack.  Presumably it'll be off to the front again before long, just so Hardtack can get some peace and quiet.

No comments:

Post a Comment