Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Bull Run 1861 : After Action Report

 A smashing success!

I had four players on hand to command the two armies - something that worked out better than I had imagined.  Indeed at one point the Confederates were arguing with each other about decisions made that caused troops to slow down or be unable to deploy where they had wanted to ...

Henry Hill as seen from the steps of the Stone House
on Warrenton Turnpike

So I was working with the first edition of Fire & Fury army list and ended up with second edition Fire & Fury scenario book to run the game ... the first edition just used the army lists as defined by the army commanders, while the second divided up a couple of brigades and named one after the deputy (since the commander was killed at the battle) and had one 'half-battery' rather than the full formation (they used it as a full battery which would increase the firepower of the Rebels unintentionally).

Therefore I did some 'jigging' of my forces - though I did not divide any of them.

Then it was time to put out the terrain - my new trees getting out on the table almost in their entirety.

the vital Henry Hill, with the farm on the right and
the crossroads and the stone building on the left

fun with the forests

the new Sarrissa buildings getting full use

... along with my older Napoleonic one
doing duty as the 'stone building'

again a time lapse of the terrain layout

Battle was then joined as the troops were deployed.

This battle has the unique element of needing a specific terrain objective to be held, that one side only has a single artillery battery on to start with and having columns of arriving troops, because the army commanders were both so green that they did not fully appreciate where the battle was going to be fought.  Speaking of green, almost all the troops of any type were green for this battle.

10h00 and the forces start moving
looking to the north (top of image)

the early fight was going to happen just north of the crossroad
where a great stone building was located

Confederates had three brigades covering the area

while to the east, covering the stone bridge and
Sudly ford of the "Bull Run" were a force of more
infantry and a battery of artillery


amazingly the Union chose to run a brigade
at full speed up the road on the west side of Henry Hill

they were quite all alone facing
the solitary artillery battery on the hill
(right side of the image)

for nearly an hour (two turns) they were stuck in
the column on the road in disorder
and taking casualties
(seen at the rear of the column)

then they were able to start to form a line to face
off at the Henry Farm (building)
seen behind the farm and now arriving is the
Virginians of Jackson (soon to earn his
'stonewall' moniker)


The Union gambit of rushing the hill and using cavalry to storm the Confederates north of the stone building failed.  There were now more Confederates on the hill and surrounding the farm.

by 11h30 the Minnesotans had arrived
(in their red hunting shirts - they were called
'the Mounties' by the young Canadian players)

one Confederate brigade had managed to be part of the
northern battle, destroying Burnside's brigade,
and was now moving south toward Henry Hill

by 12h30 Sherman's brigade was assembled
north east of the Henry Hill

while Bee's (the Zouaves) brigade
had pushed out the union brigade that
was at the base of the hill
(shot from three sides)

13h00 view from atop Henry Hill,
looking north

east view of the same scene
now Sherman and Jackson were trading

the Minnesotans had moved into the ground
north of the stone building

table overview at 13h00 (start of Union turn)

the woods road looking north

at this point there were no Union forces threatening
Henry Hill

Wilcox (Zouaves in column in foreground)
had also arrived via double-quick march
in column on the road
the stone house and crossroads are clearly seen
here in the hands of Union forces

to the east of the stone building are the Minnesotans
and seen to the north of the stone building is Union
commander Brigadier General McDowell

13h30 the time keeper and quick
scorecard with three Confederate and four Union losses

Jackson had moved down the hill and Bee was covering
his flank as they squared off against three equal or
larger brigades

Jackson had Johnston attached and was trading
volleys with Sherman's brigade
(and the Union troops were taking far more

while other Union troops (yes in grey uniforms)
had set up to cover against the flank action of
the Confederates that had been covering the ford

... though they had to keep watch over their shoulders
as a small Confederate brigade was marauding in the north

the volleys came hard and fast - Sherman was getting
the worst of it

14h00 map overview

Bee was now gone and Jackson was out of ammo
having had a charge checked by Sherman

Now Bonham had arrived and the Henry Hill was secured

by 15h00 the marauding Confederate brigade had started
to inflict casualties and the stone bridge was in Confederate hands
(flag in foreground)

Sherman had now inserted a battery of artillery
into his line and was actually wearing down Jackson

McDowell had hopes of yet taking the hill ...

Henry Hill secured

General McDowell would not be able
to advance further


Now with the hilltop secured only a miracle success would bring the points and position needed to win.

Sherman was charged with the task.

He charged towards Jackson - charge checked.  The ensuing Confederate fire then utterly shattered the brigade and KILLED Colonel Sherman.

16h30 table view
Early had arrived (lower left) and Smith was on the
woods road stopping any flanking actions
on Henry Hill

the gaping hole in the Union line from Sherman's
brigade fleeing ...

there were forces that could 'hold the line'
but too many Union troops had been lost by this time
the 3:2 victory point requirement
was not possible

With only a few hours of daylight left, the Union forces would have to retreat first north then east as the Stone Bridge was solidly held by Confederate troops and artillery.

General Beauregard would win the day.

Overall I was impressed with the game set and tools that I made for things such as disorder, low ammunition as well as Fresh, Worn and Spent indicators for all units.

I'll leave you, dear reader, with a time-lapse of the whole battle.


Ross Mac said...

An epic event!

MurdocK said...

More than two decades in the build-up makes it most satisfying.

Codsticker said...

Fantastic looking game Murdock; your trees and buildings really add to the immersion.

MurdocK said...

Cod that's great praise coming from the terrain master.

James Fisher said...

Great looking game David and a pretty convincing Confederate victory. I like markers to either blend in or add to the look of the whole thing, as yours do.
Regards, James

MurdocK said...

Thank you James!