Friday, 16 March 2012

The Battle of Crane’s Station Turns 1 – 6

McClellan’s deployment was as follows: Cooke in column on the Culver City Road with orders to “Move quickly towards Beckettville, ENGAGE any smaller enemy force or HOLD against a larger force”. Keyes to follow Cooke. Sumner to enter at map point “3” and to move either east or west along the Westpoint Turnpike (to be decided on a die roll). Porter to enter at map point “2”.

Lee ordered Longstreet to form a line of battle just to the north of Beckettville and to hold the town. Stuart, followed by Hill, were to enter at map point “6”. Magruder was to enter at map point “5” on turn five and move towards Crane’s Station.

Cooke's troopers mount up and fall back through Keyes infantry line 

Cooke’s troopers moved rapidly towards Beckettville where they observed the Rebels moving up through the town. The Union cavalry dismounted, formed a battle line and were soon hotly engaged with the lead Brigades of Longstreet’s Division. At one point Cooke bravely exposed himself to danger on the firing line to steady his troopers (it was noted that Longstreet was reluctant to do the same resulting in some wavering of the Confederates).

Longstreet's line at Beckettsville (looking north)

With the infantry of Keyes IV Corps arriving in support Cooke withdrew his troopers to the rear, their job done. Both sides now established battle lines but as neither commander had ENGAGE orders the fighting was limited to an artillery bombardment.

Longstreet and Keyes reach a stand-off at the end of turn 6

Meanwhile Sumner’s II Corps reached the Westpoint Turnpike where a die roll dictated that they turn left heading east. By turn three they were stuck in a traffic jam at the Carter House waiting for Keyes men to pass ahead of them.

Sumner's men stacked up on the Westpoint Turnpike with nowhere to go.

Over on the western side of the battlefield Porter’s V Corps headed straight down the Malvern Road where they soon ran into Stuart’s cavalry and Hill’s Division. Stuart’s troopers moved to occupy Burnt Hill whilst Hill’s men formed line of battle stretching from in front of the Quaker Farm towards Fairweather Ridge. Porter’s men deployed just to the north of the Quaker Farm but as both sides had HOLD orders all that resulted was some long range artillery fire.

Porter's men deploying to the north of the Quaker Farm (view from Stuart's position)

By turn five Lee had arrived on the table and set up headquarters at the Sawyer House. Here a weary courier arrived from Longstreet with the news that a full two enemy Corps were converging on his position at Beckettville. Lee responded decisively by sending new orders to Magruder (whose men were just arriving at the Sawmill).

Couriers move 18" per turn - this poor trooper is getting pretty exhausted as he moves across the entire width of the battlefield carrying General Lee's orders

So, at the end of turn six (9.30am) both armies are deploying but no serious combat has occurred. The Union forces outnumber those of Longstreet’s isolated Division at Beckettville but are unable to take advantage of the situation without offensive orders from McClellan (who is still off table). The Confederate forces are spread thinly along the whole five-mile front but have the advantage in command and control with Lee on table and able to issue orders.

A birds-eye view of the battlefield at the end of turn 6
(click on the image for a closer look or click here to see the map)

To be continued...


  1. Wonderful stuff Ian, I love the long winding battle lines and marching columns.


    1. Hi Lee, playing in this scale means it is possible to manoeuvre in a realistic way with the resulting chaos of traffic jams etc. At the moment there is a two mile gap in the centre of the table with no troops deployed in it at all!