Saturday, 25 January 2014

The American Civil War, a Mr Steve Production - Fire & Fury

Union Briefing
June 1863

Somewhere out in West Virginia the Union Governor is pacing the floor of his office, thanks to your political influence back in Washington you have finally managed to secure your own command, it’s just that it’s not quite what you think your considerable talents deserve.

Its been six months now since you arrived and everyone knows that soldiers need to be kept busy yet all the plans you submit for action keep coming back un-approved, its obvious what needs to be done to win this war and yet no one listens to you. Fools

You have a plan, a Great plan; if only the Rebels will continue marching North then you can make your move with the forces you have without waiting for those blundering idiots in Washington to give their approval.

By pulling in all the garrisons from the outlying areas you can make up four small divisions, more than enough to strike a blow that will win you the respect you deserve and to be recognised as the true military visionary that you know you are.

The troops themselves look a decent lot, nothing special but competent enough and it didn't take you too long to mould them into a crack fighting force using your innovative and groundbreaking training methods. Some still cannot salute smartly enough to meet your necessary level but that can be picked up on the march.

Then there’s your subordinates, apart from your Nephew the rest of them seem a little ... docile, its almost as if they had all been specially selected by their former commanders for this posting. Never mind as fortunately you have "The Plan" and all they will have to do is follow your orders and they appear competent enough in that regards.

Finally you get the report that you have been impatiently waiting for,  Lee and his Rebels have left the Shenandoah Valley and are heading further North into Pennsylvania;

Now is the time to strike.

You shout for your aide to quickly come in and you take out a pen and paper ….

At first things went just as you expected, heading quickly South to Front Royal  you passed through the Manassas Gap and swiftly cut the Rebel lines of supply meeting little in the way of organised resistance. If only they had listened and given you those extra brigades you requested then you could have marched on Richmond and ended the war in one stroke. Instead you would have to settle for occupying Culpeper, the Rebels main rail hub and supply centre for both the Valley and for Lee’s army. Once in place you can demand Washington send you those extra brigades and another Star.

However on the road to Culpepper you run into a blocking force of Rebels , its probably only just militia and partly raised units flung together in a last desperate measure to stop your daring thrust . Maybe I should have raised that cavalry regiment my nephew kept badgering me about and they could have been scouting ahead, still I cannot see a few old men and recruits holding of my brave lads for long now that we have brought the saluting up to standard and it of course it does give me the opportunity I need to show I am gifted tactically as well.

We stop and the men start to file out either side of the road, the enemy are spotted approaching under a flag of truce and the Rebel general is shown into my tent, I throw him a snappy salute to show the type of force he is dealing with and politely refuse his offer of a Mint Julep, we agree that the battle will commence in one hour and that the battle will be fought in a Gentlemanly manner.

Confederate Briefing

June 1863

It had been another long hot day when the courier galloped up to the Mansion in a cloud of dust, but then again every day was hot in the South, when it 
wasn't cold that is and always long apart from the shorter days. Maybe I won’t have another Mint Julep .

“Mint Julep?” I said
“Urgent Orders from Richmond “ he said , never even getting off his horse and galloped back the way he came .

Putting down my drink I opened the orders, apparently I was to head immediately to Culpepper with all possibly speed and take command of whatever forces were available to block a damn Yankee force heading that way. It appears that Lee had taken all the other Generals with him to win the war in the North and had somehow forgotten to tell me about it, still I had slaves to pick and cotton to beat and the Mint needed harvesting so I had kept myself busy until that time came when I was once more called upon to serve my State.

And that Time had come.

I read on:
Richmond would in the meantime divert whatever forces they could urgently scrape together, be it state militia or units in the process of re-fitting for my use. If the enemy hadn't already reached Culpeper then I was to move towards Front Royal until I encounter them. Richmond also said that it was essential that I held up the enemy long enough for them to transfer a proper General from another theatre.

The only forces in Culpepper when I arrived were ours, no sight of the Yankees so I called an officers Council to see what we had available.

It appears all the other officers had also somehow missed the call up for Lees Great War winning Invasion, We all agreed that he obviously wasn't as brilliant as the papers made out and that he had far too many limbs to be counted as a proper General.

As it was vital we got on the road to locate the enemy as soon as possible we agreed a four Mint Julep maximum and divided up the forces at our disposal. Richmond had managed to get us four experienced units that had been refitting nearby and added to the State militia and some local recruits we had enough to field four small divisions.

We set out and about eight miles out of Culpepper we spotted the enemy. Being a true Southern gentleman I rode up to the enemy under a flag of Truce and asked to see their commander. He was a smartly dressed man who gave me a crisp salute, politely refused my offer of a Mint Julep and we agreed that the battle would commence in an hours time.

I rode back to my lines and start to array my forces. I am confident that if all things go as planned then we will have thrashed those Damn Yankees long before whatever play that other General is watching and cannot be bothered to leave has finished.

This is a Mr Steve Production

Every so often we round up all the Steve’s in the club and herd them into one corner to play a game by themselves, this is mainly done for the comedic effect of watching them work out whose turn it is but also more importantly its so that we always know were they are and we can keep an eye on them. 

This time it was for a 15mm ACW game using Fire and Fury Brigade Rules
I used the excellent F&F random Unit Generation Tables to roll up the forces in advance with a maximum of 100 possible bases per side.

So enough preamble, here are the initial Briefings and the forces for The Battle of the three Steve’s. (Plus me as umpire).
Short Battle Report: as most people have played F&F I will skip the rule explanations this time.

The Union deployed reasonable evenly across the board slightly favouring the centre where the majority of their guns had been placed, the Rebs massed two divisions on the right and one each in the centre and left wing.

The Union right cautiously advancing slowly shot down the Rebs facing them as they in turn heroically tried to advance into a hailstorm of fire in an attempt to get to grips. One unit did manage to get in a charge but wasn't strong enough to break through just by itself, The Union counter charge pushed back the Reb brigade and on their next turn the Rebel brigade couldn't rally sufficiently enough to escape, so their inevitable doom closed in upon them with a fresh Union brigade attacking from the front and another charging in from the flank.

Nothing could save them.

Now my eerily mystical powers over dice are legendary, suddenly my vision blurred (possibly through taking my glasses off) and somehow I knew in advance how the upcoming melee dice would fall, Foolishly the unbelievers scoffed at my prophecy and low it came to pass, the attackers rolled a 1, the defenders rolled a 10. To their credit the Union players took this fluke roll with dignified good grace, as did the Confederate general, if you call running up and down the hall screaming like a little girl dignified. In the long run it did no good as weight of numbers eventually told and the Rebel left flank collapsed onto their centre which hadn't been so adventurous and were still holding the centre hill waiting for their right wing to swing the game.

Over on that wing it was tougher going as the Union forces were defending a chain of small woods and stoutly resisted the repeated waves of confederate attacks. A lone Union brigade of Zouvres held the extreme left all day against all-comers and even when their flanking unit were routed by dint of the mighty Reb ability to throw a 9 against a 1 (less girly screaming as by then it was too late) still continued to resist.

In F& F the best method of frontal attacking is to have a single line backed up by two attack columns all within 1”, as long as all three units pass their movement dice then you should outnumber the enemy giving you from +1 to +3 on the dice. Even this didn't work.

Reb casualties were now piling up faster than I could put them back in the box up and with the Union right turning in and advancing against the centre it looked all up, which it was.

Victory for the Union, handshakes all round and off to the pub for well deserved Mint Juleps all round.

Thanks to Numerous Steve’s.

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