The Atlanta campaign of 1864, culminating in the siege and fall of the city itself, consisted essentially of outnumbered Confederate forces being continually pushed back from defensive position to defensive position by a series of outflanking manoeuvres undertaken by the numerically superior Union forces. The scenario represented a typical action whereby the outnumbered Confederates were in a strong defensive position but were in danger of being turned and taken in the flank by a more numerous attacker.
To the best of my knowledge there is not a Rettendon Turnpike in Georgia but I will not let such a detail spoil the fun....
The Game Set Up
The playing area was 15 x 10 hexes and consists of two Axis and Allies Miniatures maps with a few 3D items of terrain added - mainly the Rawlplug fieldworks. The combatant forces were represented by my block armies. The game was very much by way of an experiment in respect of the scenario - for the first time I had consciously devised a plan of action for each side - so I wanted to take my time over the game and record what happened in greater detail than I would usually. The rules I used are Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame 19th Century set.
1 x 2 Commander
6 x 4 Infantry
2 x 3 Cavalry
2 x 3 Artillery
Total Strength Points 38 - Exhaustion Level 14
1 x 2 Commander (General Gaylord Beauregard III)
4 x 4 Infantry
1 x 3 Cavalry
2 x 2 Artillery
Total Strength Points 25 - Exhaustion Level 9
All units for both sides are rated as average and the artillery are equipped with smooth bore field weapons.
For identification purposes a unit with a black marker has fired for the turn and a white marker indicates a unit has suffered a hit. Blocks to be removed are stood on their end. If there is no block on its side but a unit has a white marker it means that the unit is opting to fall back rather than taking the loss.
For the most part the units followed the standard 4, 3, 2 approach for infantry, cavalry and artillery. I chose to make the individual Union artillery stronger rather than increasing the number available. It has no effect on their firing but it did mean they would last a little longer.
From the forces above you can see that the Confederates were outnumbered roughly 3:2 but with the advantage of the terrain and of course the fieldworks.
Somewhere, on the road to Atlanta....
"It won't be much longer..." muttered General Gaylord Beauregard III to himself as he surveyed the serried ranks of Yankee soldiery deploying in the distance. He knew it was coming but for all that he was grateful of the weeks grace afforded to him and his small command. The week had been well spent. The men had been able to rest and recover from the almost continuous marching they had been undertaking for what seemed like an age. For sure there work to be done - the fieldworks would not build themselves - but for the most part they were able to rest and recuperate, forage for food (especially important given the abysmal supply situation), make and mend but above all, be away from the shooting.
Beauregard cast his eye over his command for the hundredth time but was certain he had done all that he could with the forces at his disposal. There were lots of youngsters and the veterans were sadly dwindling in number but even so it was a good mix of experience and youthful enthusiasm. The real problem was that there was not enough of them, not enough to halt the blue tide that threatened to wash over them and certainly not enough to turn it back.
There was little pomp and ceremony within his command - for the most part the men had dispensed with that long since - but that did not mean they were undisciplined or in anyway unsoldierly. The men had the measure of their commander and he of them. In truth they were united in facing a common calamity; a calamity that would inevitably overwhelm and consume them all.
There was no unnecessary conversation, just the occasional question and patient answer or an oath muttered from behind a bedraggled beard - each man and boy lost in their own thoughts as they clutched at their weapons, their eyes to the front and the darkening horizon.
The silence was impressive.
Beauregard turned to his ADC, an impossibly young but dashing gentleman from Atlanta itself, eager for glory and whose ornate uniform, polished boots and magnificent black horse were in stark contrast to his own campaign worn attire and tired nag he was having to use, and addressed him directly. "Captain Mayhew if you please". The young officer threw an exaggerated salute to his General. "Captain please extend my compliments to all unit commanders (Beauregard knew that Captain Mathew would not possibly know their names given that he only been with the army for a little over the week they had been in Rettendon) and have them make ready. Our enemy is approaching." With the fire of excitement in his eyes the Captain again threw a salute to the general, jerked his horses bridle away and with a "Hiyah!" galloped away. Beauregard watched him go and then turned his own horse away and slowly walked back to the command post.
It would not be much longer.