Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Battle of Chancellorsville – Turns 12-18

With nightfall approaching both sides were reluctant to bring on a general engagement. However, Lee’s half-hearted attempt to turn Slocum’s right flank did at least result in the first exchange of volley fire of the battle as Paxton’s Confederate brigade engaged with Ruger’s northern boys in the thick undergrowth of the Wilderness. It was too little too late for the Confederates and the fighting fizzled out as the daylight faded.

The Rebels press Slocum's right flank during the last two daylight turns

As darkness fell there was much relief at Hooker’s HQ at Chancellorsville. The Rebels had held the upper hand all afternoon outnumbering the boys in blue by 4:3 but they had failed to capitalise on their advantage. Now, with Sickles large corps finally arriving in support the moment of crisis had passed.

Nightfall, time to pull back and regroup

  Dawn on May 2nd...

During the night turn our rules allow for both players to carry out a limited amount of troop movement by a process of mutual agreement. Hooker took the opportunity to pull back Slocum’s corps further into the woods and out of the reach of the Confederate artillery whilst all along the front line the men were ordered to construct entrenchments. Lee meanwhile ordered Early to disengage from Slocum and reorganised the forces on his right flank in preparation for a morning attack.

The new Union line, now entrenched

The Confederate line - Anderson's division is forming up for attack on the far right

Meanwhile the Union reserve artillery column had finally arrived at Chancellorsville containing 4 batteries of rifled artillery, 1 caisson and 6 wagons, in a column that stretched back for nearly two miles! The lack of artillery ammunition for the Union guns had become critical with most of the batteries in the front line down to their last round but now the means of re-supply was on hand.

Hooker breathes a sigh of relief as the wagon train trundles past his HQ

And what of Jackson? Still no sign! Hooker had left Howard’s XI corps back at Dowdall’s Tavern to protect the rear of the army while Sickles remaining Divisions were being kept in reserve at the Fairview clearing. Stuart meanwhile was probing north from Catherine Furnace but Pleasonton was hot on his heels and a new cavalry action is developing in Hazel Grove.

It's round two for Stuart and Pleasonton

As we reached turn 18 (8.30am May 2nd) Lee’s orders to “assault” had finally reached Anderson whose lead brigade surged forward and attacked Zook’s brigade behind the Union entrenchments. To succeed in an assault on entrenchments is quite hard in our rules but by a fluky die roll the Rebels did just that and Zook’s men were sent streaming to the rear while the jubilant Rebels occupied their old position.

Anderson's men (on the left) eject the northerners from their entrenchments

And so ended the third playing session of the game. It had been looking quite good for Hooker but Anderson’s attack is now causing some concern at Union HQ and the uncertainty over Jackson’s whereabouts means we will be in for a very interesting session next time.

To make sense of this narrative take a look at the map here.


  1. Perhaps Hooker and some of his brigade commanders woke up with a hangover? Love the "night sky" effect!

    1. Matt, I can assure you that Hooker never has a hangover on a game night! I like that night effect as well - Dave put in the sky and stars.

  2. Another great write up with more wonderful photos, love the long artillery train pic. But what is Jackson up to? Next phase should prove interesting!

    Roughly how many figures on the table Ian? Must be many hundreds, they certainly do give the impression of a Civil war battle.

    Great stuff chaps,

    1. I'd love to know what Jackson's up to as well - XI corps suddenly seem very isolated!

      I currently have around 900 Union figures on the table plus 13 artillery batteries. Dave has about 550 figures but of course Jackson is still waiting to come on with a further 130 or so figures. It's quite a lot of stuff although at your present rate of production you will soon be overtaking us!!!