Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Situation Report: McDowell, Virginia May 12, 1862

Soldiers of the Valley and Northwest:
I congratulate you on your recent victory at McDowell. I request you unite with me this morning in the thanksgiving to Almighty God for thus having crowned your arms with success, and in praying that we will continue to lead you on from victory to victory until our independence shall be established, and make us that people whose God is the Lord. The Chaplains will hold Divine Services at 10 o'clock A.M. this day, in their respective regiments.
                                                                                             Maj. Gen T.J. Jackson

Jackson's victory at McDowell drove General John C. Fremont's advance brigades all the way back to Franklin which was 50 miles away.

While Jackson was engaged at McDowell, Ewell was ordered by Jackson to wait in Staunton Va. While in Staunton, Ewell was given word that General Shields was going to leave New Market for Fredericksburg to join up with Irvin McDowell in an attempt to reinforce McClellan on the Peninsula. Ewell had been given word from General Robert E. Lee, who was Jefferson Davis' Military Advisor, to leave the valley and make way to Fredericksburg if Shields leaves. He was also well aware of the fact that "Ol' Jack" had Richard Garnett arrested after the battle of Kernstown for insubordination. Ewell thought it best to wait where he was.

Ewell did however send word to Jackson about Shields movement. Jackson's response was for Ewell to pursue Banks if the Yankees retreated from the valley. General Ewell was in shock. The response made no mention of Shields at all. Ewell was so incensed he told Col. T.T. Munford of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, "I could crush Shields before night if I could move from here. This man Jackson is certainly a crazy fool, an idiot... Mark my words, if this old fool keeps things up, and Shields joins McDowell, we will all go up at Richmond." He told Col. J.A. Walker of the 13th Virginia Infantry, "I tell you, he [Jackson] is as crazy as a March hare!"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Battle of McDowell May 8, 1862 Part 2

When we last left off the situation was looking bad for General Jackson's Forces outside of McDowell, Virginia.  Two regiments have been routed and The Federal Force doesn't show any sign of stopping.

BG Robert Schenck Leads his brigade over the bridge in support of BG Milroy's advance.

BG Robert Milroy motivating his regiments forward.

The Hill and the line of advance. The Federal Regiments continue to surge forward up the slope towards the Confederate positions.

Turn 5. Federal Initiative. The 3rd WV Infantry fail to advance. Milroy and the main force continue up the hill. BG Schenck crosses the bridge and moves his regiments to the Federal left. The 25th Va Infantry who were routed earlier have left the field. "Stonewall" issues his orders for his brigades. The 23rd Va Infantry under BG WIlliam Taliaferro on the road open fire on the 3rd WV Infantry. The West Virgina Infantry take casualties.  "Allegheny" Johnson's Brigade lets loose along the line with their opening volleys. All along the Federal advance the line takes heavy casualties and wavers. 3rd WV takes serious casualties and is shaken. the 25th Ohio Infantry  rout from the field. the 75th Ohio Infantry are also shaken.

The 25th Ohio routes and stops at the river. BG Milroy finds himself in the lead of the advance.  He continues to motivate his men forward.

BG Schenck and his brigade. 

Turn 6. Confederate Initiative. The 23rd Va Inf continues to pound the 3rd West Virginia Infantry. Finally they give up the field under the pressure of severe casualties their morale cracks and they quit the field. This leave the road into McDowell open and unopposed. The Continued barrage from "Allegheny" Johnson's Brigade cuts the Federal advance to pieces and General Milroy watches as both the 32nd and the 75 Ohio Infantry Regiments break and fall back. The 25th Ohio from earlier throw their gear to the ground and swim the river to the opposite bank.

Johnson's Brigade watches as the Federal brigade retires from the field in less then good order.

BG Milroy alone in the front of the field. the routed regiments bottleneck at the bridge and the bank of the river. BG Schenck does his best to keep his brigade from being swept away by the "Big Skedaddle."

Turn 7. Federal Initiative.  Brigadier General Schenck, with the last of his men across the river, deploy into line of battle. "Stonewall" Jackson orders his men forward. "Keep the heat on them!" Johnson, Taliaferro, and Burke's brigades move forward and begin the counter attack down the hill.

BG Schenck straightens his lines.

Turn 8. Federal Initiative.  BG Johnson halts his men and lets the fresh regiments of Col. Jesse Burke's Brigade pass through his position. On the Confederate right flank, Taliaferro's brigade continues to advance up the narrow road in battle line.

Bg Schenck awaits the Southern horde. Confident in his position on this side of the river. General Milroy, with his head hung in shame, crosses the bridge back to the opposite side f the river. The regiments of his brigade nowhere to be seen.

"FORWARD!!  Drive the Philistines out!!" cries "Stonewall Jackson.

Turn 9. Confederate Initiative. Johnson continues to rest his men on the crest of the hill. The combined brigades of Burke and Taliaferro surge forward at best possible speed across the rough and rocky ground. 

At the beginning of turn 10 the BG Schenck realized that his position was no longer attainable.  The combined forces coming over the hill to the immediate front gave an impressive view of manpower.  General Schenck would not be able to fall back and redeploy before the game ends.  It is also of note that the Confederate force is out of range of the Federal force. The movement distance over rough ground is only 2 inches as compared to open ground which is 4 inches. In the future, I would suggest making the game last to at least 20 Turns. I could have continued with this battle, however time restraint no longer made it practical. This battle ended as it did with a Confederate Victory based on casualties and units routed from the field. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Battle of McDowell May 8, 1862 Part 1

McDowell Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

~Orders of Battle~
Union Forces

MG John C. Fremont
 approx 4,600 men

BG. Robert H. Milroy's Brigade

25th OH Inf                        8 stands
32nd OH Inf                        8 stands
75th OH Inf                         8 stands
3rd WV Inf                         8 stands

BG Robert C. Schenck's Brigade

82nd OH Inf                      7 stands
5th WV Inf                        7 stands

Confederate Forces

MG Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
approx 4,100 men

Col Jesse Burke's Brigade

21st VA Inf                   3 stands
42nd VA Inf                 4 stands
48th VA Inf                  4 stands
1st VA Inf Bn (Irish)    2 stands

BG Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's Brigade

12th GA Inf                    3 stands
25th VA Inf                    3 stands
31st VA Inf                     3 stands
44th VA Inf                    2 stands
52nd VA Inf                   3 stands
58th VA Inf                    3 stands

BG William Taliaferro's Brigade

10th VA Inf                    4 stands
23rd VA Inf                   3 stands
37th VA Inf                     4 stands

Jackson's columns departed West View and Staunton, Virginia, on the morning of May 7, marching west along the Parkersburg turnpike. BG Edward"Allegheny" John's Brigade was in the lead. By mid-afternoon, Union pickets were encountered at Rodger's tollgate. The Union force, which consisted of three regiments under BG Robert H. Milroy, withdrew quickly and abandoned their baggage train. They retreated west to the crest of Shenandoah Mountain.
The Confederate Force  split into two columns to envelope the Federal position at Shenandoah Mountain. Milroy ordered his force once again to fall back and concentrate at McDowell. By dusk Johnson's advance regiments reached Shaw's Fork where they camped for the night. The narrow roads and mountainous terrain left little in the option for camping sites. Jackson's force encamped along the road for 8-10 miles. Jackson established his headquarters at Rodger's tollgate. Milroy withdrew his brigade behind Bullpasture River inside McDowell. Milroy made his Headquarters in the Hull House. The morning of May 8, brought Jackson's forces to battle.

Turn 1 Union Initiative. Milroy orders his brigade forward. 75th OH, 25th OH, 32nd OH on the Confederate left. begin to advance up the hill towards the 12th GA and 32nd Va regiments who were in advance of the main force. on the Confederate right we see the 3rd WV infantry advance in line of battle down the narrow mountain road towards the 31st VA infantry. The Union Force begins their turn set up on the East side or Confederate Side, of Bullpasture River. "Stonewall Jackson's forces are set up in line of battle along the crest of the mountain and down the reverse slope. BG WIlliam Taliferro's Brigade is seen in column formation n the Staunton Parkersburg Turnpike.

"Stonewall" Jackson can be seen in front of Col. Jesse Burk's Brigade on the reverse slope of the mountain.

BG Robert H. Milroy's Brigade set up in line. you can see the 82nd OH Infantry Regiment in column formation in McDowel on the other side of the river.

BG Milroy gives the order for the brigade to advance.

82nd Ohio, part of BG Robert Schenk's Brigade in McDowell.

Schenck's other regiment, the 5th West Virginia.

The 25th Virginia draws first blood as the 3rd WV come in range of their muskets. the West Virginia regiment takes casualties as they continue to advance.

Turn 2. Union Initiative. Milroy's Brigade continues to move forward. Jackson orders his brigades to hold in place. The 25th Virginia now turns their attention to their immediate front and gives a volley to the 25th OH Infantry. The Ohio infantry takes casualties but passes their cohesion test and continue. The 3rd West Virginia now become the subject of interest of the awaiting 31st Virginia who cut loose a devastating volley. The opening volley caused heavy casualties. However, the West Virginians continue forward.

from this view we see how the numbers stack up. the Confederate Regiments are small in manpower compared to the larger Federal regiments.

A close up view of the battle. we can begin to see some of the ground features. It's important to note that the Staunton Parkersburg Turnpike  is basically in a valley with mountains and steep hills on each side.

Turn 3. Union Initiative. the Union brigade has moved in close enough. the 25th OH opened up on the 25th VA. they lose over half their force in the volley and are routed. the 3rd WV fires on the 31st VA blocking the road. The Virginia regiment also takes heavy casualties and is routed. BG William Taliferro is ordered to advance his brigade u the road.

The situation does not look good for Jackson's force. two regiments already routed. his right flank is in danger of collapsing.

"Stonewall" Jackson knows something must be done.

Milroy continues to advance his brigade. confident with his initial victories with the leading Confederate Regiments.

Turn 4. Confederate Initiative. The 12th GA infantry falls back from their advanced position. they reform in line with "Allegheny" Johnson's brigade line. Johnson shifts his force to the right to bring his line to bear. Taliferro's Brigade goes into battle line and continues to advance. Milroy continues to advance. Schneck's brigade moves to cross the river and add their support to the advance.

The mountainside is rated as "rough terrain" so the movement is slower then it would be if this were an open field. The maximum movement is 2 inches.
Taliferro's brigade moving forward.

The situation looks grim. in the first few movements of the engagement, Jackson hasn't started the turns with the initiative. Milroy has taken advantage of this and using his superior numbers advanced into contact with Jackson's pickets and managed to drive two regiments from the field. The battle will continue to develop in the second part.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Battle of Eltham's Landing May 7, 1862 Part 2

When we left off, The 1st Texas Infantry Regiment of John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade has made contact with Brigadier General John Newton's Brigade. Newton himself is with the 18th NY infantry as both regiments prepare to open fire on each other.

The reserves at the landing wait for the moment they are called into action. The bold Brigadier General Philip Kearny sits in the saddle ready to give the order to advance.

The small village of Eltham's Landing on the south bank of the Pamunkey River.

Union Brigadier General's Kearny and Slocum wait for orders at the Landing.

The 1st Texas Infantry were able to let loose a devastating volley. Across the road in the other wooded area, Hampton's Legion also opens fire on the opposing Federals.

The 1st Texas Infantry's initial volley was so heavy that the 18th NY Infantry takes serious casualties and breaks.

Turn 5. Confederate Initiative. The battle continues to be hot on the Confederate right flank. Hampton's Legion Infantry the 95th PA Infantry continue to exchange fire. The Wagon masters with the supply train hears the rattle of muskets to their right. They crack their whips and attempt to quicken their pace. General Hood continues to press his momentum of the attack. The Rattle of Musketry is certainly heard at the landing by the Brigade Generals in reserve. For some reason, no one comes to the front. 

The Firing that was put out by Hampton's Legion was so fierce, they run out of ammunition. Being out of Ammo and with no support on the left is a precarious position to be in.

"The smoke was so think. you could almost choke on it. The dense trees and underbrush blocked any breezes from dissipating the musket smoke. It hung in the trees as if the world was on fire and we were the fuel."

Hampton's Legion on the line.

Eventually, the smoke will clear from the 1st Texas Infantry's front and they will be able to advance.

Turn 6.Confederate Initiative Hampton's Legion Infantry managed to get resupplied. 40 rounds per man. They do not seem to stand idle as they once again bring their muskets to bear and let loose with another volley. On the Left side of the advance, the 18th GA Infantry pass through the 1st Texas Infantry as they collect their wounded and resupply. General Hood orders his brigade to continue their push. The 31st NY Infantry witnessed the 18th NY Infantry rout and pass through their lines in a skedaddle. They determine to hold in place and defend the line. At the Landing, BG Kearny looks to BG Slocum and says.       "You got any 6's?" Slocum shakes his head no. "Go fish." replies Kearny with a smile.

On the Confederate Right. Hampton's Legion manages to break the 95th PA Infantry and they fall back.

"Forward men, for God's sake, Forward! Keep the pressure on them!" says General Hood .

Hampton's Legion Infantry watch as the Federal Regiment retires from the front.

The 18th GA Infantry collide with the 31st NY and two fresh Infantry regiments continue the struggle. The New York Infantry let loose with a thunderous volley. Minnie balls snap tree limbs as they pass from the end of their muskets to find their marks in the opposing regiment. Twigs, leaves, and soldiers alike fall to the ground. The 18th GA Infantry takes heavy casualties. They become shaken but they hold their position.

The Colonel of the Georgia Regiment rallies his men and they return fire.

Hampton's Legion continues forward.

Turn 8 Federal Initiative. The 31st NY continues to slug it out with the 18th GA infantry of the left flank of the advance. Hampton's Legion on the left are ordered to hold the position and secure it from enemy attack. The Wagon train continues along the road at their best possible speed. Now almost bordering on complete ignorance, the reserves at the landing continue to do nothing.
Turn 9 Confederate Initiative. At this time in the battle 31st NY Infantry will break and quit the field. With their departure from the woods, this effectively ends the action in the woods and secures the wagon trains way to escape. at the Landing, General Kearny falls asleep and General Slocum takes up knitting. The Dice Gods are bound and determine to keep the reserves out of this contest.

Turn 10. Federal Initiative. There isn't much to do at this point other than wave at the wagons as they inch closer to the table edge and safety.

Historical Outcome of the battle was roughly the same result. General Hood's Brigade with Wade Hampton's Legion Infantry managed to push the Federals back into the area of the landing. Union Generals Franklin and McClellan, fearing a large force opposing the landing, ordered a retreat and the brigades withdrew from the area. By this time, the Battle of Williamsburg has already concluded and the Confederate lines shifted once again. With Eltham's Landing being no longer behind the enemies lines, it was deemed pointless to continue with the operation. General Joseph Johnston's willingness to continue to retreat helped to buy the Confederate Army time. Soon General Johnston will attack and neither side will be completely ready for the carnage of war that will fall upon a small railroad stop on the Richmond and York Railroad line. A place called Fair Oaks.

Having the wagon train in the background with it slowly moving forward was a offhanded idea of mine. Almost like a visible countdown timer. I would modify my scenario so that once the "first shots are fired." The reserves at the landing will activate and move forward. As it were, I had it where I was supposed to roll a d20 and get a result of 18 or better to activate the reserves beginning on turn 5. This did not happen and Slocum and Kearny sat around the landing area playing poker. If you play the battle yourself take liberty and adjust when the reserves come in.