Sunday, 24 May 2020

Seven Pines Solo – Conclusion

7:00pm and the exhausted Confederates continue to attack the Union forces at Seven Pines crossroads. Both sides are cycling fresh troops onto the firing line risking 'passage of lines' morale checks.
At Fair Oaks the Federals have a small success by breaking Law's Brigade with a combination of canister and rifle fire, however the Union troops are themselves shaken and unable to follow up.
Turn 14 was twilight which meant no long range artillery fire. At this point Johnston strayed too close to the firing line and was himself wounded (a 50% chance to recreate the historical risk). Bad news for the North as this will result in Robert E Lee being promoted to command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Turn 15 was a night turn which meant I could re-dress the lines, bring on reinforcements and remove all shaken and broken markers returning units to good morale, I also allowed some limited SP recovery for units with 6SP’s or less.

The Confederates ended day one without taking Seven Pines so they started day two with a 1DEM handicap increased to 2DEM as they had 2 destroyed Brigades against 1 for the Union. This meant that the Federals had a small but significant advantage over the Rebels for day two.

The view at dawn on June 1st. The rest of Sumner's corps has come up over night to strengthen the line opposite Fair Oaks. The Confederates had Huger's Division arrive by the Twin Houses ready to support the attack on Seven Pines.
4:30am and Wilcox and Pickett successfully assault the Union line just north of Seven Pines routing Birney and Jameson.
Simultaneously, Armistead carries the trench line in front of the crossroads, the Rebels are now just 1VP short of victory.
And that total is reached as Hood's men charge forward and break Dana - game over!
The situation at the end of play, Turn 17 (5:00am). Enlarge the image to read the unit labels.

The Confederate victory came slightly against the run of play and if I had finished the turn it is possible the Reb’s would also have reached their DEM level, however I felt that as they had taken the Seven Pines crossroads it was right to call the game in their favour.

The total SP losses were Confederates 89, Union 58. The most heavily engaged Confederate Division was R H Anderson’s veterans who lost 31 SP’s and had 2 Brigades destroyed (Kemper and Pickett). On the Union side Keyes Corps lost 29 out of 69 SP’s with one Brigade destroyed (Palmer), many of these casualties were incurred in the first few hours of the battle.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Seven Pines Solo Turns 7-12

Kearny's Division arrives at Seven Pines to help shore up the line held by Keyes battered Corps. The time is 4.00pm and D H Hill has called off his attack on the crossroads whilst Longstreet sends Anderson's Division through the woods in an effort to turn the Union right flank.
In response to the new Rebel move Heintzelman pushes Kearny towards Fair Oaks. Fortunately Sumner arrives on his right in the nick of time, heading directly for Fair Oaks Station.
But now the Confederates are receiving reinforcements too in the shape of Whiting's Division pouring down the Nine Mile Road. The area of action is rapidly expanding as it engulfs both Seven Pines and Fair Oaks.
Anderson's veteran Brigades wheel to their right and begin the attack along the Nine Mile Road towards Keyes flank.
However, the time for an easy Rebel victory has gone as more and more Northern Brigades deploy between Seven Pines and Fair Oaks Station. Jenkin's Brigade pushes forward but is subject to a withering fire from front and flank as it emerges from the tree line. Shaken, Jenkin's moves back to allow Kemper to take his place.
At Fair Oaks, a rare breakdown in the Confederate command chain causes Smith to delay one turn in fully deploying Whiting's Division. This enables Sedgwick to form a line of battle near the station and bring up his artillery.
Back at Seven Pines the Union front line is worn but holding and manages somehow to cause Kemper to falter. The steam is going out of Anderson's attack.
Smith finally manages to get Whiting into line of battle and a fierce fire-fight erupts by Fair Oaks Station. The time is 6.30pm and Johnston has arrived on the front line to take personal control of the battle.

The situation at the end of Turn 12. Zoom in to read the unit labels.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Seven Pines Solo Turns 1-6

1.00 pm and D H Hill advances astride the Williamsburg Stage Road smashing into Casey's Division. Garland's Brigade successfully assault Naglee breaking the right of the Union line.
Taking advantage of their success the Rebels move to outflank the entrenchments at the Twin Houses. Casey tries to withdraw Naglee's now isolated Brigade but fails the command test.
Naglee makes a good fight of it making a dent in the Brigades of Rodes and Rains but is eventually broken and the entrenchments are overrun. Casey himself is wounded during the fighting and carried to the rear.
The Confederates continue to push on towards Seven Pines whilst what's left of  Casey's Division (foreground) reform to the rear of Couch's men. The red counter denotes that Casey has become a casualty.
By now Garland has advanced up to the abatis but has become isolated from his supports. D H Hill tries to call the Brigade back but fails the required command test (it is harder than usual for the Confederates to change orders to represent the poor command performance during the real battle). With 2 Federal batteries and a host of rifles aimed at them it is no surprise that Garland is destroyed shortly after.
Longstreet arrives with three more Brigades to bolster the Confederate attack. By now D H Hill's Division has been seriously depleted and will need support if they are to take Seven Pines.
3.30 pm and the first of the Union reinforcements arrive. These are the van of Heintzelman's II Corps coming in along the Williamsburg Stage Road and the Richmond & York River RR.
The state of play at the end of Turn 6 - zoom in to read the unit labels.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Seven Pines OOB

For the army OOB's I have drawn largely from the Fire & Fury scenario with a few tweaks from reading various accounts of the battle. The numbers in brackets on the OOB's are the starting strength points for each brigade, unusually in this fight the Confederate units are mostly stronger than those of the Union.

Initial dispositions - zoom in to read the unit labels

Army of the Potomac

II Corps - Sumner
Corps Artillery (9)

1st Division - Sedgwick
Gorman (9)
Burns (9)
Dana (8)
Artillery (9)

2nd Division - Richardson
Howard (10)
Meagher (8)
French (9)
Artillery (9)

III Corps - Heintzelman

1st Division - Kearny
Berry (7)
Birney (7)
Jameson (7)
Artillery (9)

2nd Division - Hooker
Sickles (10)
Paterson (8)

IV Corps - Keyes
Corps Artillery (9)

1st Division - Couch
Peck (7)
Abercrombie (7)
Devens (6)

2nd Division - Casey
Naglee (8) GREEN
Wessells (7) GREEN
Palmer (7) GREEN

Casey's Division near the Twin Houses. Casey's men were mostly raw recruits hence the GREEN status on the OOB

Army of Northern Virginia

Left Wing - G W Smith

Whiting's Division
Law (9)
Pettigrew (9)
Hampton (9)
Hatton (9)
Hood (9)

Right Wing - Longstreet
Corps Artillery (8)

D H Hill's Division
Garland (9)
Rodes (9)
G B Anderson (9)
Rains (8)
Battery (8)

Huger's Division
Armistead (9)
Mahone (9)
Artillery (8)

R H Anderson's Division
Jenkins (9) VETERAN
Kemper (9) VETERAN
Pickett (9) VETERAN
Wilcox (9) VETERAN
Pryor (9)
Colston (9)

D H Hill's Division about to unleash their fury on the Yankees

Victory Conditions
The Army Demoralisation Level (DEM) is equal to the current number of broken infantry brigades either on table or removed from play.

DEM on day 1
Union – 3
Confederate – 4
If the Confederates do not hold the crossroads at Seven Pines at the end of Day 1 they start Day 2 with +1 DEM

The DEM is reset on Day 2 but the side with the highest DEM score from day 1 starts with a DEM level of 1.

DEM on day 2
Union - 4
Confederate – 5

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Seven Pines Set Up

My next solo game will be a re-fight of the Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), the turning point in McClellan’s Peninsular campaign. The battle was fought over a relatively small area so I will be playing on a 4’ x 4’ table that represents 16 square miles of actual terrain.

This is the table looking north - zoom in to read the place names
Fair Oaks Station
The crossroads at Seven Pines (count the pine trees!)
Looking north towards Seven Pines, the Twin Houses are to the left.
Looking southeast along the Nine Mile Road towards Fair Oaks
The Adams House
The Twin Houses - as Mathew Brady might have photographed them
The Hyer House near the Richmond & York River RR (the track is by Irregular Miniatures)

My main reference for the terrain is the map in the Fire & Fury Eastern Battles Scenario Book but I have also dipped into Battles & Leaders of the Civil War (Vol II) and the excellent Time Life Book Forward to Richmond.

Next, I’ll be deploying the troops and finalising the scenario rules.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Twin Houses

I bought these models from TimeCast a few years ago and thought it was about time I finally painted them. They are of course the iconic Twin Houses from the Seven Pines battlefield.

These buildings appear in a few photographs and drawings from the time and must have been a very noticeable landmark. I couldn’t work out what colour they were painted from the photos and I have seen models painted in both white and brown, but I opted for white.

There is no info on the Twin Houses that I could find and I wonder who lived there? Presumably two related families? The Twin Houses were demolished long ago, and a housing development now stands on the site they once occupied.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

The of the Army of the Potomac

I painted the figures for this Union Division six years ago and they have been waiting to be based ever since. This means they have waited longer to be mustered into my miniature Army of the Potomac than the time it took to fight the real war.

It brings the size of the army to 30 brigades of infantry organised into 10 Divisions, each with its own artillery battery and Command group. There are 5 brigades of cavalry represented both mounted and dismounted, and an army artillery reserve of 4 batteries. There are over 1,300 figures in total.

I can categorically state that this army, started over 35 years ago, is now complete.