A scratch force of Confederates under the command of the veteran General Gaylord Beauregard the Third found itself temporarily billeted in the small town of New Rayleigh. His command has suffered fearful casualties and had been chased by the Yankees before, during and even after the fall of Atlanta. Supplies were non existent, his troops were a mixture of too few veterans and too many greenhorns, his artillery was greatly reduced, he himself was carrying a leg wound that was showing no signs of healing and he was fast running out of territory to retreat into. At least in New Rayleigh he had been unmolested by the Yankees for a week or so and this had given him and his small command a chance to reform and reorganise, even resupply or at least to be able to forage without interruption.
The Battle of New Rayleigh, August 13th, 1864.
The town of New Rayleigh sat between a range of small hills and a wood and featured a single road running through it and down which any Union advance would have to be made.
Beauregard had prepared the town as well as he could with some fieldworks either side of the main road into town. He deployed his artillery in the centre supported by an infantry unit with a further two units in fieldworks on his left. A single cavalry unit was deployed on the far right and his sole reserve, his last remaining infantry unit, occupied the town. The position had plenty of open ground around it which meant that any advance would be exposed to fire. It was not a perfect position by any means but it was the best that Beauregard was able to do with the resources he had to hand.
From the other side of the hill....
Elements of the Army of Georgia had been detached under the command of General Kyle. E. Minogue to harry and pursue any Confederate forces along their line of march, a task complicated (at least in the opinion of General Minogue) by a shortage of cavalry and artillery. His infantry was plentiful which was just as well due to his shortfall in the other arms of service.
His scouts had reported that the small town of New Rayleigh had been occupied and subsequently fortified by the Confederates. They estimated the strength to be roughly at brigade level meaning that in infantry alone he was able to outnumber them roughly two to one.
Minogue was well aware of how effective troops behind fieldworks could be and so he was under no illusions that this would be anything other than a tough fight. With this in mind he decided to attack from either flank and demonstrate in the centre. The Rebels would not be moving from their positions so he could dictate the action. The terrain either side of the town could be used, especially the woods to his right. He gambled on the Rebels staying in their defences and so either flank had three units of infantry whilst the artillery in the centre had but a single regiment in support. His cavalry was deployed on his left. His disposition complete, Minogue took up his position at the centre of his command and issued the order to commence the attack.
Turn 1. The Union (4 APs) advance three infantry units on the right and move and unlimber their artillery in the centre. The Rebels (3 APs) content to observe the Union preparations, respond by cautiously moving their cavalry forward and opening fire with their artillery but to no discernible effect.
Turn 3. The Union (3 APs), handicapped by poor command, are only able to move into the woods opposite the Rebel position whilst the artillery, seeing discretion as the better part of valour, limber up and retire out of range of the Rebel guns. The Rebels (4 APs) are content to bide their time and merely order the reserve to the top of the hill overlooking the town and in support of their cavalry.
Turn 5. The Union (4 APs) right flank infantry poured out of the woods to attack the Rebel position. Rather than charging in they pulled up short, deployed and opened fire, catching the defenders by surprise. Rebel casualties began to mount although they fought back hard against the middle of the Union line. The Rebel artillery also came into play and scored against an infantry unit sent to support the right flank attack. Meanwhile on the Rebel left the cavalry cautiously moved forward whilst the reserve infantry consolidated their position on the hill.
The game was an enjoyable run through of the rather hastily cobbled together set of rules I was using (those from Worthington Games board game Honour and Glory) and of course featuring the 30mm ACW collection. The playing area was a 12 x 8 square grid with 3” squares.
The rules worked well although with some occasional improvisation which will be incorporated in future usage. The action points worked well and the whole movement and combat flowed well enough without any major issues other than some pints of detail I will address.
The Union had a dismal rum of action point rolls meaning that their overall plan was a little disjointed in execution. Their artillery was completely ineffective as the combat modifier at extreme range meant that it was impossible to inflict any casualties. The Union opted to move their artillery out of range rather than suffer any further casualties.
There was little for the Rebels to do although their reserve could perhaps have been better employed on the opposite flank. Having said that its appearance in support of the cavalry at least served as a deterrent to any Union moves against them.