Thursday 20 September 2012

Chancellorsville, May 1863....Game Number 16

The following action was again fought using my block armies and the Heroscape tiles. The trees are slightly modified and based versions of those available in the Town in a bag set. Sadly I used 2p pieces as the bases which are slightly on the large side for the size of hex although not as large as those I have for the normal trees in my collection. Once I have my new 1/300th scale trees on smaller bases this should no longer be a problem.

The action I have chosen to fight is that of Chancellorsville, 1863. I was intrigued by the notion of Lee's decision to split his forces in the face of the enemy in order to attack - usually a move destined to end messily. The game was played as a normal Battle Cry affair, complete with command cards.

The starting positions - note Lee on the right and Stuart on the left with Hooker in the centre massed around Chancellorsville and Fairview Heights

Turn 1 sees Lee advancing into cautiously into the woods whilst the Union mass forward to engage him, courtesy of the card below and inflicting telling damage on the first Confederate infantry formation.

This is a very good card to start an attack with!

Turn 2 sees Lee's command stalled in the woods as the Union press forward. Meanwhile the Rebel artillery atop the Hazel Grove opens fire at extreme range.

Turn 3 and Lee's command attempts to disengage from the Union by pulling back deeper into the woods

Turn 4 and Stuart moves off to attack the Union central position (actually using the same card as the Union did on turn one!).Note the additional Union artillery deployed in Chancellorsville itself, the result of a 'Send for Reinforcements' card. It was not around for long....

Turn 5 and Stuart's advance continues with the Union being pushed back from the Fairview Heights whilst hanging on to Chancellorsville itself

Turn 6 and the battle for the centre swings in the Rebel's favour

Turn 7 and the Confederates have taken the Fairview Heights with the Union forces being pushed away and down the hill although Hooker still holds Chancellorsville

Turn 8 and Stuart's weakened Confederates fall back from Fairview Heights under Union artillery fire whilst the fight for Chancellorsville continues. Note the sole Rebel unit pushing forward to aid Lee's force at the bottom of the picture.

Turn 9 sees Lee's force further whittled down and the Rebel attack on Chancellorsville is finally repulsed - tellingly the Confederate casualties, until now relatively light, begin to mount ominously. 

Turn 10 and the end is in sight. Lee's flanking attack has been defeated and the remnants of Stuart's force is now too weak to hold the heights so gallantly stormed. Meanwhile, the Union forces attempt to regroup and reinforce the centre.

Turn 11 and Hooker's command attempts to clear the area from which Stuart launched his attack, safe in the knowledge that his other flank is secure despite having suffered telling casualties.

Turn 12 and the end. The final Confederate infantry unit from Stuart's command is destroyed (the unit was last seen near the Rebel artillery in the bottom left of the picture) leaving the General and his staff as the sole holder of Fairview Heights in the centre.

The final score - 6 to 4 in the Union favour. At one point the Confederates were leading 4 to 1.

I really enjoyed this game and at one point I thought the Confederates were going to walk it! Without a doubt the Union using the 'Forced March' card on the first turn was ultimately what gave them the victory as they were able to deploy the main bulk of their army into a position where Lee's army was covered most effectively by superior numbers. Lee's attempt to engage through the woods was initially successful but soon petered out in the face of Union spoiling attacks. Stuart's force was also initially successful and came very close to driving the Union out of Chancellorsville but eventually they simply ran out of troops. In effect Hooker was able to alternatively feint with either flank whilst punching with the other.

Within the context of the game itself I am forced to wonder how on earth the Confederates are supposed to win this scenario as in my opinion either force is too weak to force the issue entirely on their own and the potential for a quick Union victory against either flank is a very real one. I will have to play  this against a live opponent at some point on a double-header basis!

The only practical points arising were that I now desperately need to source some smaller trees and buildings and so that will be my next order of business. That, and making a determined effort to read up on the actual land battles of the ACW rather than just the naval side. 

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