For this battled I wanted to do something more than just a random encounter. I have recently been reading about the Battle of Chancellorsville and I find Jackson's flank attack a very interesting part of the battle. There seemed to be enough information for me to build a divisional level scenario centered on D.H. Hill's division attacking the Union 1st Division, XI Corps.
Historically, this was not a good match-up for the Union. 1st Division, XI Corps was not a strong or well unit, while D.H. Hill's division was a large, powerful and veteran formation. In addition, the Union forces were off guard and unprepared to defend themselves. At first this seemed like a poor setting for a game scenario but in Black Powder the games are not really meant to be evenly matched, tournament style balanced games. And this game certainly would not be balanced.
The first task was the creation of the order of battle for the game. Having decided on the main units for each side I needed the specific regiments and brigades that each division was comprised of. For the Union I would also set the experience level of the units and the command ratings for the commanders. For this game we would not use any of the unit special rules but if we play this again I might incorporate some. Here is the source for my Union order of battle - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chancellorsville_Union_order_of_battle#XI_Corps
BG Devens rating 6
First Brigade - von Gilsa
Col von Gilsa rating 7
41st New York - Large green
45th New York - Large green
54th New York - Large green
153rd Pennsylvania - Large green
Second Brigade - McLean
BG McLean rating 7
25th Ohio - Standard elite
55th Ohio - Standard elite
75th Ohio - Standard elite
107th Ohio - Large green
17th Connecticut - Large green
New York Light, 13th Battery - regular
Reserve from 3rd Division
1st Ohio Light Battery I
1st Ohio Light Battery K
New York Light 2nd Battery
1st West Virginia Light Battery C
The ratings and the troop qualities for the reserve are randomly determined.
The 1st division was made up of a large number of German immigrants and was a small division compared to their Confederate opponent. They were probably better troops than I have rated them for this scenario. I am using the ratings to help represent the level of surprise the rebel army achieved. Brigadier Devens was, by all accounts, a fairly useless commander and issued no orders during the battle. Eventually, he turned over the command the BG McLean and left the field.
D. H. Hill's Division (Rodes)
2nd North Carolina
4th North Carolina
14th North Carolina
30th North Carolina
5th North Carolina
12th North Carolina
20h North Carolina
23rd North Carolina
Carter's Artillery Battalion
The leader and troop quality, as well as unit sizes, for all Confederate units were randomly determined. I don't know, off-hand, the specific ratings but I know there where no brigade commanders less than 7 and most were 8. There was at least one brigade commander at a 9 and the overall Confederate commander was also a 9. In all it was a fairly balanced force.
For our ACW games we use the Black Powder rules mostly as written in the book. We do, however make a couple of adjustments that we feel fit the flavor of the period. The first is we do not allow infantry units to assume the Attack Column formation. There is some historical debate but we feel that it was used so rarely that allowing in our games seems a bit gamey. Cavalry units an assume the Attack Column formation, but as of yet, we have not used cavalry in our games.
The American Civil War was fought in some extremely rugged and difficult terrain. This terrain was frequently a major factor in the outcome of battles and some battles were fought entirely in dense forest. This means that the rules prohibition against formed units entering woods is not appropriate for the period. As such we allow units in Line formation to enter woods but limit them to single move (in past scenarios we limited this to a 6" move but not for the game).
The table for this game was 12'x6' with the long edges representing North and South. The Orange Turnpike ran along the Southern edge of the table with a another road branching off towards the Western end of the battlefield. North of the Orange Turnpike is a section of high ground. On the Eastern end of the table (in the Southeast corner) is the Wilderness Church. This was the main objective of the attacking Confederates. There is a road leading North from the Orange Turnpike, at the Wilderness Church, that goes towards a small farm (Hawkins). The Western end of the table had large section of Woods that spread out along the Northern and Southern edges, leaving a clearing in the center.
The deployment was preset for the Union forces. At the extreme West end of the Union line is von Gilsa's Brigade. The 54th New York and the 153rd Pennsylvania are deployed facing West and have had time for some improvised defensive potions. The works grant a +1 morale save bonus which helped to offset the green rating of these regiments. These two regiments are large and fill the gap between the two roads. The remainder of von Gilsa's Brigade, the 41st and 45th New York, are deployed along the Orange Turnpike facing South. These units have not done anything to prepare their positions.
McLean's Brigade was deployed adjacent to von Gilsa along the Orange Turnpike. In order along the road was the 17th Connecticut (green), the 55th Ohio (veteran) and the 107th Ohio (green). The 75th Ohio (veteran) was deployed in reserve supporting von Gilsa's Brigade. The unit was facing south and was well behind the main line. The 25th Ohio was also in reserve facing South well behind the line, near Hawkins. The New York Light, 13th Battery was deployed behind the main line on the crest of the high ground. The battery faced South.
|Initial Union deployment. Hawkins is in the foreground.|
The Rebels had the first turn and had to make very good time if they were to win the game. Their objective was to capture the Wilderness Church, for a minor victory, or capture the church and exist one brigade off the Eastern edge for a major victory. All within the 12 turn limit. They needed good command rolls as well as good shooting, early in the game to make their breakthrough.
With this in mind the Confederates proceeded to fail several command rolls which slowed the advance early on. The Rebel center did get off to a good start and three brigades, along with the artillery battalion, advanced on the Union line.
|Confederate brigades infiltrate the woods West of the Union positions. Many of these units would spend half the game bogged in the rough ground.|
|Iverson's Brigade boldly advancing along the Orange Turnpike dangerously close to the enemy. This brigade was well led and the bold advance paid off.|
|The Union troops await the unending hordes of rebel rushing (or sauntering) towards them. These two regiments would give good account of themselves but they were doomed from the start.|
|The massive Rebel army on the move. It would take several turns for the attack to gain momentum.|
|Two Confederate brigades would spend several turns hacking through the woods on the North side of the battlefield. A combination of bad ground and failed command almost took these units out of the fight completely.|
|The Confederate force finally flank the Union forces and begin to drive them off. The 54th New York has been routed and the 153rd Penn is wavering. This was taking too much time.|
|Thousands of rebel troops are still slogging through the woods but they are advancing.|
|The 75th Ohio is shaken and retiring but still putting up a withering fire. They have managed to delay and entire Confederate brigade for several turns.|
|McLean's Brigade is very slow to change their facing to deal with the Confederate threat. Fortunately, von Gilsa's Brigade is fighting hard and buying time.|
|The gateway to the objective is open but it is the last turn. The Confederates get an excellent command roll and three moves. The Union attempts to counter by repositioning the artillery but they cannot do enough damage to change the outcome.|
Of the half dozen or so Black Powder games we have played this was , by far, the best game yet! The historically influenced scenario really helped to anchor the game and give the players something to strive for, even if it was just holding out longer than their historical counterparts. I really enjoyed the research for the scenario as well and I am inspired to develop more. I think this is really how this game shines.