Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Battle of Oak Grove, June 25th 1862

Summer is finally here in Virginia and it hit a sweltering 96 degrees this past Sunday. So I figured it was a fine time to combine a few of my favorite summer activities:  wargaming interspersed with dips in the pool, and ice-cold beer.

I've been wanting to set up a wargaming table outside for a while now. After ensuring that the weather was going to cooperate (nothing like a rain storm on wargame terrain...ugh) I set up the Oak Grove scenario from the Guns at Gettysburg On To Richmond scenario book and proceeded to use my new favorite ACW rules Pickett's Charge.

It was hotter than hell and we had to take multiple breaks, but the game was a blast and solidified my opinion of Pickett's Charge; these rules are outstanding !


A view of the initial set-up with the Confederates defending on the right and the Union infantry advancing through the wooded terrain on the left side of the table


The Scenario: On the 25th of June, 1862, General McClellan was focused on gaining the high ground at Old Tavern in order to place the heavy batteries of the Union army and pound the Confederate capital of Richmond. In order to accomplish this, the Confederate forces had to be pushed south of the Chickahominy River. While the main advance was at Old Tavern (to the left of the table), this action at Oak Grove represented Brigadier General Hooker's attack on the Confederate right flank. Two brigades under Major General Huger defended the King Schoolhouse Road and awaited the Union advance through the woods into the open fields.

Historically, Hooker thought he was outnumbered by the Confederates, but threw Sickles' and Grover's brigades ahead anyway. The 71st New York actually bolted as the action commenced, but Sickles rallied his brigade and continued the advance. After being initially repulsed, General McClellan made an appearance and ordered the attack to continue. Although the Federals advanced to the King Schoolhouse Road, the Confederates under Huger held their ground and the battle fizzled out at sunset. Old Tavern to the left of the table, remained in Confederate hands as night fell. In the Oak Grove sector, Union casualties were 626 while Confederate casualties ended up as 441.

For this scenario, the Union objective is to occupy (or advance past) over half of the King Schoolhouse Road. The Confederate objective is to deny the Yanks the road.

Hooker's lead two brigades under Sickles and Grover were deployed in march columns in the wooded terrain on-table. Two supporting brigades under Carr and Robinson would arrive as on-table reserves at the beginning of turn three.

Major General Huger had two brigades at his disposal and decided to deploy Ransom's North Carolinians to the left of the line near Brick Chimney while Wright's Georgians and Louisianans  deployed to the right of the line.

While the Union troops definitely had the numbers, most of the Yanks were green troops. The Confederates, although outnumbered approximately 2:1, had quality on their side. Major General Huger's infantry were equally split between regulars and elites.


 View from the Confederate side of the table with North Carolinians, Georgians, and Louisianans lining the King Schoolhouse Road


Grover's brigade to the left and Sickles' regiments on the right advance to the attack through the woods


The Game: On the first turn, Hooker had command and control issues and Grover's brigade was hesitant. Sickles' brigade and an attached 3# rifled battery advanced into the open field. Immediately, the Confederates made their presence known as their own battery deployed on the flank devastated the Union guns while limbered (and at long range), proceeding to roll "boxcars." The battery did pass the "See the Elephant" test. Not a good start to Hooker's attack !


The Confederates rolled well at the beginning of the battle, while using ADC's for rerolls, continuously keeping both brigades under orders


Brigadier General Hooker struggled with command and control in the early going, with poor ADC availability rolls, but managed to get "squared away" as the game went on


The next turn saw Grover's brigade continue to be "hesitant," even with an attached ADC. Meanwhile, Sickles' brigade, which was made up of green troops, began to change formation and assume an attack formation. The beleaguered battery attached to Sickles' brigade continued to get hammered by Confederate artillery.

Turn 3 saw Carr and Robinson's brigades arrive on-table as reserves. With an attached ADC, Grover's brigade finally started to move, but Sickles' brigade now became "hesitant." Due to the limited availability of Union ADC's, no ADC's could be spared to activate the two reserve brigades, so they sat on the edge of the table.

Although Turn 4 saw Sickles and Grover's brigades continue to advance, the Union battery couldn't catch a break. After deploying and firing at Confederate infantry, the battery rolled so poorly that a "fatigue casualty" was inflicted. After the Confederate guns throttled the battery again, the Yankee guns reached their dispersal point and routed away. The few Union guns that Hooker had proved to be entirely useless in the attack.


Union infantry approaches the Confederate line


Another angle showing the Federal advance

Turn 5 finally sees Hooker solve his command and control issues. Robinson's brigade becomes activated and all troops with the exception of Carr's brigade are under orders. Now that the Union guns have dispersed, the Confederate guns have now targeted the infantry of Sickles' brigade. The 71st New York has also come into musketry range of the 3rd Georgia, which takes its initial shot, causing 3 hits at long range. The Yanks are beginning to be bloodied.


Yanks approach the Confederate line


The entire table as the Federal attack takes shape


The following turn saw Carr's brigade activated as well as the other three brigades acting under orders. General Hooker seems to have shrugged off his initial command issues and is on a roll. Sickles and Grover's brigades were within effective range of the Confederate line now and were punished by all of the front-line Confederate units opening up with initial volleys. The Confederate musketry punished the Union troops, most of whom were green in quality.


The action heats up !


Musketry at close range


Sickles and Grover are fully engaged with Huger's Confederates


Turn 7 sees Hooker attach 3 ADC's to Robinson's brigade, ordering it to move at the "double quick" and ensuring that there is a reroll in place. Grover's brigade becomes hesitant. After the brutal Confederate vollies, the Union infantry opens up on their adversaries, causing moderate casualties. Robinson's regiments move up fast, threatening the Confederate right flank.


Robinson's Pennsylvanians move up at the double-quick to hit the Confederate right flank


Turn 8 saw Union ADC's being committed to Carr and Robinson's brigades to keep them moving forward. The strategy worked, although Sickles and Grover's brigades became hesitant. It was especially important for Robinson's regiments to keep moving due to Wright's Confederate brigade becoming hesitant and unable to react effectively. The entire . Caline erupted in musketry, casualties becoming heavy on both sides. The Union infantry begin to get the upper hand in the vicious firefight that was erupting.




Robinson's brigade continues to move around the Confederate flank


The next turn saw the first charge of the game, as the 11th Massachusetts of Grover's brigade attacking the 3rd Georgia. The formation test for passing over the fence line was passed and the Georgians' defensive volley was pitiful (the unit had lost fire discipline during the preceding turn). Although the 11th Massachusetts didn't close into melee, the unit opened up with a powerful volley in the face of the Georgians. The 3rd Georgia was definitely in trouble. Carr's brigade moves up to support Sickles, whose brigade has been heavily damaged. The good news is that the green New Yorkers have caused some damage on Ransom's Confederates as well.


The 11th Massachusetts charges the 3rd Georgia


On Turn 10, Grover's brigade became hesitant, which was exceptionally bad timing as the 3rd Georgia was about to break. This turn was pretty dramatic as the Confederates launched charges on both flanks to regain the initiative. The 25th North Carolina charged, routed, and dispersed the 74th New York, causing Sickles' brigade to falter. On the right, the 22nd Georgia boldly launched an attack on the 105th Pennsylvania, whipping it, and causing the 57th Pennsylvania to become unformed behind it. The Confederates were taking control.


The 25th North Carolina crashes into the 105th Pennsylvania


At this point, Sickles' brigade was faltering. In the next command phase, his brigades moves to the rear with a "catawamptiously  chewed up" result. Wright's brigade, with the dispersal of the 3rd Georgia (dispersed finally due to casualties from the trading of volleys with the 11th Massachusetts), also became faltered. On their command roll, Wright's brigade was forced to retire.

The difference, at this point in the game, was that Carr's brigade was in support of Sickles' retreating brigade, while Wright's Confederate brigade had zero support to the rear. The Union numbers were finally beginning to force the issue.

In the final two turns, Grover's brigade advanced and passed the King Schoolhouse Road in the void left by Wright's retreating brigade. Although Ransom's brigade was still in decent shape, Carr's troops were fresh in front of the Confederate infantry. Surprisingly, Wright's brigade failed a second falter test and continued to retreat. The die was cast. The Yanks had occupied over half of the King Schoolhouse Road and were threatening Ransom's worn troops. There didn't seem to be any conceivable way for the Confederates to re-occupy the road, so the game was declared a Union phyrric victory.


Grover's brigade advances past the King Schoolhouse Road in pursuit of Wright's brigade


 
Ransom's troops were now being pressed to the front and now on the right flank


The rules provided an outstanding game. The command rolls at the end sealed the fate for the outnumbered Confederates,  whose lack of reserves yielded the field to the Yanks. As for casualties (I have my own system for determining end of game casualties), the Union suffered 825 and the loss of 2 guns, while the Confederates absorbed 700 casualties. The game also proved a bit more bloody than the historical action, but that's the way we like it. I was disappointed that my Confederates ended up withdrawing from the field, but the Union player fought well and used his reserves smartly.


Pickett's Charge excelled in the tactical aspects of the game, but I think that the command and control system truly shined and kept the commanders on the edge the entire game. There was uncertainty and drama throughout...........truly a story that unfolded on the table. Now, it's time to hit the pool and cool off !



















Wednesday, May 24, 2017

American Civil War Confederates

Here's my Confederate collection in 15mm. Based for Pickett's Charge, there are 21 regiments organized into 5 infantry brigades, 4 4-gun batteries, and several regiments of mounted and dismounted cavalry.


1st Confederate Infantry Brigade


2nd Confederate Infantry Brigade


3rd Confederate Infantry Brigade


4th Confederate Infantty Brigade


5th Confederate Infantry Brigade


Confederate Cavalry


Confederate Artillery


Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Review and Summary of Pickett's Charge

David Brown of General de Brigade fame, recently released (a few months ago that is) his new American Civil War rules Pickett's Charge, available from the Too Fat Lardies website. As a fan of Mr. Brown's approach to miniatures rules, it'll be my pleasure to review these rules. In short, I think these rules are outstanding not only in gameplay, but in historical realism as well.



Scale

Scale is one of the first things I look for in rules to ensure that my collection matches up. Pickett's Charge utilizes a flexible approach to basing figures; the number of figures per base is up to the individual gamer.......it's the number of bases per unit that is important. Each base represents approximately 75 infantry or cavalry, while an artillery base equals two guns. As for figure scale, the rules allow for any size miniature, although movement and fire distances are designated in the rules for 15mm and 25mm figures.

As a fan of David Brown's earlier ACW rules, Guns At Gettysburg, I have to admit that it is refreshing to get away from a very strict figure ratio and focus on the number of bases per unit instead. Instead of counting figures on fire or melee charts, one only needs to know if a unit is considered small, standard, or large. The appropriate bonuses or negative modifiers are contained on the tactical charts. A large infantry unit, for example, would have more than 6 bases, while a small unit would have 4 or less bases.

As an example using my collection, each one of my units' bases has 3 figures. A standard unit would contain 5-6 bases, or 15-18 figures. This represents between 375 to 450 troops per unit.

Ground scale for 15mm figures is 1mm = 1 yard. As for time scale, the author is hesitant to define a specific number of minutes per turn. If I had to guess from the movement distances per turn, I would guess about 10-15 minutes per turn.

Unit Organization

The basic unit is an infantry regiment (or even a battalion for small units), cavalry regiment, and artillery battery. Units are organized into brigades, while a number of brigades are commanded by a commander-in-chief (or division commander). There are rules for deploying up to a corps on the table as well, with the corps commander acting as the CinC.

The rules also cover all appropriate unit formations including line, double line, skirmish, march column, dismounted cavalry, etc.


Brigadier General Hampton's brigade consisting of 4 regiments of infantry


The Game Turn

Each game turn consists of 4 phases: the Command Phase, Charges (including defensive fire and possible melees), Movement, and finally, the Fire Phase.

The Command Phase

Command and control is one of the most interesting aspects of Pickett's Charge. A CinC, depending on his rating, typically gains one ADC (Aide de Camp) per brigade in his command. At the beginning of the command phase, the availability of these ADC's are rolled for. Once the final number of ADC's is determined, the player must determine how to use these valuable assets. Assigning an ADC (or multiple ADC's) to a brigade can enable the brigade commander to execute specific functions. Examples of these include Double Quick movement, Re-roll of a brigade activation, Committing reserves, and Artillery assault fire (added chance of artillery fire bonuses with the chance of added fatigue). I won't go into every function that requires ADC's.....suffice it to say that this phase is very important and much thought is required to ensure a successful game.

After ADC's are placed, brigades must be rolled for activation. A brigade that passes its roll may conduct all movement, charges, and firing. A brigade that fails becomes "hesitant," which restricts the forward movement of all units as well as limiting fire arc. Hesitant brigades will ensure a challenging game for a player. For example, a well-placed ADC can supply a brigade activation re-roll, which may keep an important attack moving on a sector of the battlefield.

A brigade that suffers a routing or dispersed unit (or two "whipped" units) is considered "faltering," and its activation roll must occur on a special table. The brigade may end up following orders, it may retreat, or even rout ("catawamptiously chewed up").

In addition, details like command distance, optional "fog of war" cards, and commander attachment are all covered in the rules.

At the end of the Command phase, initiative is rolled for with each CinC throwing 2d6 and subtracting  the number of "hesitant" brigades as a modifier.  The winner is the first phasing player in charge declaration, regular movement, and firing.

The Charge Phase

The phasing player (winner of the initiative) declares all charges while his opponent declares charge reactions (stand and fire, wheel and fire, evade, cavalry countercharge). Then, the second player declares charges. Charging units are moved towards their targets and defensive fire is conducted. At this point, charge reactions are rolled for; after modifiers are computed (morale class, defensive fire casualties, etc) each side rolls 2d6 with various results for either side. Only if the die rolls equal a tie does a melee occur. If this happens, each side will roll a number of "casualty dice" depending on the situation and the side which inflicts the most casualties wins the melee.

By the way, casualty dice are six-sided dice in which a rolled 4,5,or 6 equals a casualty. Besides melee, casualty dice can also be added in the Fire phase for certain conditions (ie large regiment, 12 pound smoothbore battery firing canister, etc).

The Movement Phase

After charges, charge reactions, and melees are conducted, the phasing player then moves all available units. Movement is formation-specific and distances are detailed in the movement chart. Units move strictly (as opposed to a flexible movement system like Black Powder), all oblique movement is completed by wheeling and are prohibited from coming closer than 5 cm to an enemy unit. Once the phasing player moves all units, the second player then moves all units.

Movement through rough terrain, severe terrain, and over fence rails / walls are covered. A unit may become "unformed" through this kind of movement if a formation test is failed. Certain formations like skirmish or march columns do not have to take a formation test if moving in rough terrain for example. Retrograde movement and about-faces are also included.

Units that become "unformed" are considered disorganized and require a full movement turn to reform. Units may also become "unformed" through charge results, morale tests, or being involuntarily interpenetrated.

The Fire Phase

Again, the phasing player conducts fire first (with all casualties being suffered before the opposing unit fires) and the second player then conducts fire. Typically, 2d6 are rolled for each firing unit with modifiers added. Certain circumstances add "casualty dice" as well. Truly effective fire may also prompt a morale test ("See the Elephant Test"). Infantry volley fire is rolled on one of three tables: Standard volley at effective range, all long range fire, and "deadbeat" volley at effective range. Units that are small, in double line, attack column, inferior muskets, or have previously lost fire discipline are considered to fire a "deadbeat" volley.

Skirmish fire and snipers are conducted in a different manner, with a variable number of "casualty dice" thrown instead of rolling on the volley table.

All period weapons and ranges are listed, including artillery pieces. Bouncethrough and cannister fire is also discussed. As it should be, my experience with artillery in the game is that battery fire can be  deadly, especially the destructive power of canister.

At the end of the fire phase, the game turn is considered ended.

My thoughts on Pickett's Charge

I think these rules are superb. The game turn ensures a nice flow to the proceedings and the mechanics are simple and built on common sense and period tactics. After playing the rules several times, I noticed an absence of "clunky" mechanisms that plague many games. Here are some specific examples of what I like:
  
     - The command phase is a "turn within a turn" and is critical to a successful game. Thoroughly comprehensive but easily executed, the command phase adds a significant "pucker factor" to each and every game. Differences in command capability are represented by the number of ADC's available.......I really like this. Therefore, a totally incompetent commander will automatically have one less ADC to use, while excellent commanders will have an extra ADC to work with. The command phase is a brilliant hallmark of the system but does not bog the game down in any way.
     - The weaponry and casualty tables seem right on the money with respect to historical accuracy.
     - Unit morale checks happen at the time of the event. In other words, there is no separate morale phase at the end. If a unit gets slaughtered by a cannon barrage, the effects of morale are tested at that moment. Brigade morale checks are simulated by the Falter table during the command phase.
     - Charges seem historically accurate. Melees are actually uncommon and charge reactions are rolled for as a result of the charge. Typically, one side or the other would give way before crossing bayonets. This is accurately represented in the charge mechanics.
     - All modifiers throughout the game seem very accurate. There are no "head scratchers" anywhere to be found.
     - Units are made up of bases when determining small, standard, and large units. When firing, figures do not have to be counted up anymore. This has streamlined the game immeasurably.
     - Because it doesn't matter how many figures are on a base, the gamer has full flexibility to build an army the way he / she wants.
     - The research is impeccable. There are rules for "tuckered out" brigades, units going to ground, optional rules for brigadier command span within woods, and more.
     - The rules are simply put....FUN.

Things that I found frustrating about the rules:

- Nothing really, but there are a couple of areas that I might add a house rule or two. Specifically, the winner of the initiative in the rules always moves and fires first. There may be a situation in which it is desirable to move second, even though a player will lose the benefit of firing first. I might add a rule that the winner of the initiative may decide who the first phasing player is. Another area is the subject of leader attachment. The rules do not spell out any possible leader casualties in a melee or charge reaction. Also, for regular or elite units, the attachment of a leader really doesn't give much of a modifier in charges.


Overall, I think these rules are fantastic. They have everything that I desire from ACW simulation: command and control, historical results, accurate weapon ranges and effect, and they are simply fun as hell to play. I tested the rules out pretty rigorously and I was impressed with the overall experience and the results each time. Kudos to David Brown ! Pickett's Charge is highly recommended.









Sunday, April 30, 2017

Battle of Fair Oaks, May 31st 1862

In preparation for the future release of Dave Brown's Napoleonic rules General de Armee, I recently purchased his American Civil War rules (that have many of the same concepts), Pickett's Charge. It's been a while since I've set up an ACW battle, so I thought I'd give it a go. As the American Civil War has always been a smaller side project (in comparison to the black hole that I reside in called Napoleonic wargaming), I only have about 5 brigades painted up for both the Yankees and the Confederates. So, after perusing some of my Guns at Gettysburg scenario books, I settled on a nice-sized divisional battle that would fit on a 6'x 5' table, the battle of Fair Oaks (known as Seven Pines to the Confederates).


Action close to Fair Oaks Station


After studying Pickett's Charge for about a week, I then converted the OOB's in the scenario book to the new rules. Each side consisted of 4 brigades each and approximately 8,000 men. The scenario was therefore very balanced, although I selected it specifically due to the fact that reinforcements for both sides arrived at different times. One of the aspects of Pickett's Charge that interested me most was the command and control system, which was very different from most rules that I play. This scenario would certainly put this new system to the test.

I was not disappointed; Pickett's Charge is an outstanding and impressive set of rules. I found the game very entertaining and filled with uncertainty and the chaos of combat.

Background of the Peninsula Campaign

As a part of the Peninsula Campaign, the battle of Fair Oaks marked the closest distance that the Union would approach Richmond and preceded the Seven Days' battles, during which General Robert E. Lee counterattacked and forced General McClellan's forces to retreat from Richmond. Up to this point, General McClellan had marched up from the Tidewater Virginia area through Yorktown and Williamsburg, to the outskirts of the Confederate capital. On May 31st, the Confederate commander-in-chief, General Joseph E. Johnston took the opportunity to attack two seemingly isolated Union corps south of the Chickahominy river. The larger contest, of which this scenario is but a part of, saw 39,000 Confederates versus 34,000 Yankees.

The action was fierce and, although tactically a draw that was continued on June 1st, General McClellan was shaken to the point of hesitation. The battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines) was second only to Shiloh at this point of the war in terms of casualties. Most notably, General Johnston was severely wounded on the evening of May 31st and replaced by General Robert E. Lee, who would go on to make a huge impact on the entire war.

Our scenario is but a part of the larger contest, the action taking place in the approximate center of the map below:




The Historical Battle

In this section of the battle, Couch's brigade of Federals held firm against the advance of three Confederate brigades. Meanwhile, steady Union reinforcements began arriving, bolstering the Yankee line. With two Union batteries providing continuous support fire against the advancing Confederates, losses on Whiting's division were very heavy. After a tough day of fighting, Whiting's division was unable to dislodge the Yankees and the Union forces continued to hold the field and were considered the victor.

Confederate casualties were approximately 1,270 compared to Union casualties of 468. In addition, Confederate Generals Pettigrew and Hampton were wounded, while Hatton was killed in action.

The Scenario

Our scenario represents the center of the action on May 31st. In the vicinity of the town of Fair Oaks Station, Brigadier General Couch was holding a position with a Union infantry brigade near the Adams' house. Major General Longstreet sent three brigades under Brigadier General Whiting to overwhelm this position and drive the federals back. Hearing the sounds of battle, Union II Corps commander, Brigadier General Sumner dispatched a division under Brigadier General John Sedgwick to reinforce Couch's isolated position and counterattack the confederates. Unfortunately, the Union reinforcements had to cross the Chickahominy river over the Grapevine bridge, which was in ill-repair. Against the odds, Sedgwick's troops did pass over the bridge, which collapsed right after the last of the Union troops passed over it.

On our table, Couch's brigade was deployed near the Adams' house in the center of the table. The Confederate brigades of Pettigrew, Law and Hampton were deployed against it. There is wooded area and fenced-in fields throughout the table, so the rebels had some difficult terrain to move through.



Couch's brigade thinly deployed near the Adams' house


Law's Confederate brigade prepares to advance through the woods


Hampton' s brigade is deployed against Couch's right flank


Union reinforcements: Beginning on Turn 1, Gorman's brigade is available to enter the table as an on-board reserve formation. The other two Union brigades under Generals Burns and Dana will enter in maneuver columns on the southeast corner road behind Gorman.

In Pickett's Charge, any reinforcements need to be activated as on-board (or off-board, depending on the scenario) reserves, which requires an extra ADC.

Confederate reinforcements: Brigadier General Hatton's brigade will enter in maneuver columns on the Nine Mile Road (in the northwest corner of the table). This brigade will be available as an on-table reserve beginning on turn 4.

Victory Conditions: The game will last 15 turns. The side which controls more than half of the table will win the scenario.

The Game

On game turn 1, the Union infantry was outnumbered 3 to 1 against the advancing Confederates, but General Gorman's bigade was poised to enter in the southwest corner.

I think it's necessary to describe the command and control system of Pickett's Charge, which I think is one of the hallmarks of the rules. Basically, each brigade is rolled for and is determined to be in one of several states: Activated, Hesitant, or Faltering (resulting from previous routed or "whipped" units). An Activated brigade may move, charge, and fire normally, while a Hesitant brigade may not charge or move closer to the enemy. A Faltering brigade has to roll on a separate table and might even withdraw or rout from the enemy. Before the activation roll, each division commander rolls for a certain number of ADC's which he can attach to the brigades to either influence the activation roll or to perform special functions. For example, in order to activate an on-board reserve brigade an ADC is required. An attached ADC can also allow for a reroll of the activation in case the brigade commander fails the first roll. Other functions that require additional ADC's include Double Time (entire brigade gets a bonus move) or Artillery Assault (artillery batteries have increased chance for inflicting casualties at the cost of increasing fatigue). I found that ADC's became very scarce when needed and a large part of the decision-making was where to focus these limited resources to where I felt the focus of the battle needed to be. This system is a mechanism that proved to be very realistic and irritating at times.......I felt that it modelled the challenges of command in an outstanding way.

At the start of the game, utilizing all available ADC's, Law's brigade of Confederate infantry was Hesitant, while the other two Confederate brigades were activated. Couch's Union brigade and Gorman's oncoming brigade were both activated.

During the first couple of turns, Couch's brigade simply held their position and reformed behind fence rails to await the advancing Confederates. The brigade's artillery battery swung into action, causing a couple of long range casualties.  Gorman's brigade continued to advance along the road in march columns. The plan was to deploy this brigade to Couch's right flank in the woods, in order to counter Hampton's Confederates.


Gorman's brigade of infantry begins to maneuver onto the table
 
 
One of Couch's regiments, the 31st Pennsylvania attempts to counter Hampton's men in the woods
 
 
Men from Hampton and Pettigrew's brigades begin to menace the Union position
 
 
Over the next few turns, the Confederates continued to advance but found the going tough through the woods and over fence rails. When crossing rough ground in Pickett's Charge, a formation test is rolled. If failed, the unit will become Unformed (temporary disorder), although the full movement is still taken. As the Confederate regiments struggled to maneuver into attacking position, Gorman's brigade of Union infantry continued to quickly march to the support of Couch's brigade. In the command phase, the Union player was able to dispatch 2 ADC's and succeeded in "Double Timing" Gorman's troops which significantly helped the Federal situation.
 
 
Confederate troops begin to converge on the Union position
 
 
The 35th Georgia regiment of Pettigrew's brigade advances through the corn field
 
 
Gorman's brigade continues its march to support Couch's right flank
 
At this point, opposing infantry regiments began to open up with musketry. The advancing Confederates begin taking the worst of it, as the Union artillery added to the savage fire from the infantry. Several Confederate regiments begin to lose "fire discipline" and become Unformed.  Law's brigade, after a slow start begins to move through the woods to threaten Couch's left flank, forcing the 7th Massachusetts regiment to redeploy in support of this flank.
 
 
Attacking Confederates from Hampton's brigade become unformed in the face of Federal fire
 
 
The 7th Massachusetts is forced to deploy in defense of the Union left flank
 
Meanwhile, in the center, the 35th Georgia took crushing casualties while advancing through the corn field and ended up as "whipped" (basically a unit that is forced to retreat) and withdrew to the rear of Pettigrew's brigade. Hampton's troops were starting to succeed in causing casualties to the 31st Pennsylvania, causing a bit of a "pucker factor" on Couch's right flank.
 
 
Law's brigade engaging the Union left flank
 
 
Gorman's reinforcements beginning to bolster the Union right flank
 
 
Pettigrew's brigade forming attack columns to "force" the Union center
 
 
The action began to turn furious as the Confederates were threatening all across the Union line. Gorman's brigade had arrived in support of the right flank, but Hampton's men were advancing in force. At this point, the Union player began to have problems rolling for ADC's and was unable to assign an ADC for Burns' brigade, which was poised to enter the table as an on-board reserve. Burns' brigade was supposed to march to the Union left flank...........so this delay caused some anxiety for the Union player as only the 7th Massachusetts was holding the flank.
 
Pettigrew's brigade, which had already taken heavy casualties, began forming attack columns to march back though the corn field and crush the Union center. This turned out to be a mistake as the Union battery decimated the columns (part of me wanted to see how the rules performed in this regard), rendering Pettigrew's attack a failure.
 
On the Union left, the beleaguered 7th Massachusetts was continuing to hold but was taking serious casualties, especially from Law's sharpshooters. On turn 9, we saw our first charge, as Brigadier General Law led the 4th Alabama against the worn 7th Massachusetts. As the Yankees saw the Rebels charge, they turned tail and were "whipped." The Union left flank was "in the air."  Fortunately for the Union, Law's brigade became Hesitant after the charge and Burns' brigade was already on the way to bolster the flank.
 
On the right flank, Hampton's men were causing serious casualties among Gorman's troops in the woods. Except for the center, the Union player was in serious trouble.
 
 
Union artillery was breaking up Pettigrew's attack columns
 
 
With Law leading the charge, the 4th Alabama throws back the 7th Massachusetts
 
 
Casualties began to seriously mount on the Union right flank
 
 
The Union left flank is now hanging in the air
 
 
Burns' brigade doubletiming to protect the left flank
 
 
At this point in the battle, the command and control system reared its ugly head for the Confederates. With Law's brigade having a golden opportunity to engulf the Union position, it became Hesitant two turns in a row, while the Union player rolled well and was able to "doubletime" Burns' brigade into position. Although frustrating for the Confederate player, such are the fortunes of war.
 
 
In addition, one of Hampton's regiments became "whipped" due to casualties, causing a Falter marker to be placed on the brigade.  On the next turn, the brigade was forced to retire from their position in the woods. Gorman's brigade gained a welcome break, as these troops were barely holding on due to casualties.
 
The last of the reinforcements for both sides were on the table, with Hatton's Confederate brigade marching to the center and Dana's Union brigade just entering the southwest road.
 
 
The Union forces beginning to solidify a nice defensive line
 
 
Due to the Confederate struggles with command and control, this breather allowed the Union forces to form a nice defensive line, and with Dana's brigade marching onto the tabletop, there was defense in depth. But Brigadier General Law was having none of it. Replacing the worn 4th Alabama, the 2nd Mississippi advanced to charge Burns' lead regiment, the 106th Pennsylvania. The Mississippians were victorious, forcing the Pennsylvanians to retire, but then ran smack into the 72nd Pennsylvania regiment, which knocked them back.  
 
 
The 2nd Mississippi was initially successful in its charge against the 106th Pennsylvania....
 
 
....But was thrown back by the 72nd Pennsylvania, along with their supports, the 4th Alabama
 
 
It was Turn 14 in the battle, and besides a half-heartened attempt at threatening the Union artillery in the center (which failed), the Confederates were hurting. With Dana's brigade bolstering the depth of the entire line, the left flank was secure and Gorman's troops were advancing on the right flank. Hatton's Confederate brigade was still forming up in the center and Pettigrew's brigade was "Tuckered out" and thus more difficult to Activate. The game was called at this point; the Union position was very strong and they controlled the field.
 
 
The Union enjoyed a strong defensive line at the end of the battle
 
 
The battle was considered a Union victory. Not only was the Federal line very strong at this point, but they controlled slightly over half of the table. In addition, Confederate losses were much higher than their Yankee opponents. All in all, the battle mirrored the final results of the historical fight. Confederate casualties were 1,560 (historical 1,270) compared to Union casualties of 480 (historical 468).
 
Pickett's Charge proved to be an incredible game. The mechanisms for firing, combat, and command/control seemed right on target. The unique command and control system not only provided opportunities for strategic decisions, but provided a large amount of drama. The battle swayed back and forth, and while the Confederates had a couple of golden opportunities to collapse the Union flanks, several horrible command rolls on the Rebel side allowed the Union player to jump right back into the game. I can't wait to jump back into another ACW battle with these rules. I was incredibly impressed and highly recommend Pickett's Charge !