Once more back into the fray! Doug (of Dots of Paint) hosted his annual wargaming bash. Once again we were treated to a Guard du Corp mass battle (fast play convention rules set which sounds as though it's getting *very* close to being finalized). We were teased with 'it's a historical battle, but not a napoleonic one'. At least one of our American comrades puzzled it out and Doug briefed us. The battle is Anteitam (spelled backwards as the map is reorientated on the compass).....the french are the confederate defending a town just over the river, which includes a set of fortifications/sunken road, against a much superior force. The russian/prussian force is the union who historically was led by McLellan.....not the most aggressive or daring commander. The troops are activated progressively during the day. I'm not sure if this was due to space limitations to advance, or an intentional 'echelon' type attack, or foolishness (my history on ACW being pretty weak).
French in the lower right. Defending the corn/wheat fields to the left, and two river crossings on the top.
My own command was on the right, guarding a hill just behind the river crossing. I attempted to hide behind the ridge from enemy artillery and wait for them to advance. It turned out that my opposing force was activated quite late (closer to midday?) so I didn't do too much except exchange in limited cannon fire.
The hammer fell hard on our left flank. Oudinot was punished with cannon fire and driven back from the wheat field. The Russians towards the top activated fairly early and started their run down the middle towards Eugene.
Another point to note is the sudden appearance of fortifications in the centre. This was the infamous 'sunken road' of Antietam. It might be a surprise for some, but our opponents cooly continued to feed troops into the grinder.
This shows the stretched frontage of my command (Friant) on the right. I'm busy doing local counterattacks on the hill to drive off the Russians before they gain a height/attack advantage. Each time I do so I come under heavy cannon fire. Counter battery figured heavily here as well as we furious tried to wipe out the opponents means to hurt us at range.
Typically Dougs games reach a very clear conclusion in a timely manner. 3 hour con games are completed even with a slow start, a briefing on the history of the battle, and learning by most participants. This game was a slug fest with incredibly lucky morale checks.
You can see the french force is incredibly denuded. Even the Russians in the centre (2 commands) are facing tough checks, and both sides fail to advance, and fall back single moves many times......but no one breaks.
The attackers are in a similar position. Ever loss will cause a risky morale check. On the left the stands are stuck in square, on the right One stand of friants troops (top right) with 5 pips heads is ready to harass them (but to cross the ridge will expose them to artillery fire).
Very historically, a reinforcing column showed up to save the flank. This happened for us as well. Drout took over the right flank for Friant as he was forced to the middle and had no strength left on the hill.
A highly enjoyable game. We banged through 24-26 turns (~12-13 hours) in about 6 hours (including lunch and chatting). We ended up with historical results of the French/Confederates holding but some pretty brutal fighting. Doug finds the historical insights most interesting. He notes that you often wonder why the commanders choose to march straight forward in an attack on a fortified line.....but you can see with a game like this that there simply isn't the space to choose to do anything else, and failure to attack and pin the enemy will result in failures of attack on the other fronts.