Friday, 29 June 2012

The Battle of Chancellorsville – Turns 22-25

We played our fifth session of the game on Wednesday night - this is what happened…

General view of the battlefield looking west from the Confederate lines

With McLaws in full retreat Couch was able to get his II Corps rallied and back into the safety of the entrenchments. It had been a close run thing with the Rebs managing to penetrate to within half a mile of Union HQ causing Hooker a few anxious moments, but now the crisis had passed and the flank had held.

 McLaws Divison beats a hasty retreat pursued by the Yanks

Lee ordered Anderson and McLaws to disengage and form a new line about a mile east of Couch. This time it was Dave’s turn to feel nervous and he even took the precaution of moving his HQ a few hundred yards further south. However, he needn’t have worried because Couch’s forces were in no condition to counter-attack. Both sides have taken heavy losses and it doesn’t look likely that we’ll see any further fighting on this flank anytime soon.

 Lee's new defensive posture on the Rebel right flank

Dave was being much less cautious on the opposite flank however where he ordered Colston to renew the attack of Slocum’s position in the woods southeast of the Maury House. Hunt was able to pound the advancing Confederates with his Grand Battery for a while but they soon passed out of sight of the guns and entered the relative safety of the tree line.

 Colston's Divison advances

The Union forces here, although entrenched, had been weakened during the fighting on May 1st. To the obvious surprise of General Lee, the Rebels swept over the works and chased Slocum’s men deep into the woods leaving Hookers right flank wide open. It remains to be seen if Colston has the strength left to exploit this unexpected success!

 To everyone's surprise Colston storms the Union entrenchments

But now for the bit you’ve all been waiting for – Jackson! In the last post Dave explained how he opted to bring on Jackson’s eight brigades at the historical point of entry by Wilderness Church. It was quite a sobering sight for Howard’s XI corps as the grey horde threatened to engulf their line. The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that an order had just arrived from Hooker ordering Howard to move his command towards Hazel Grove. With part of the corps in column of march, and part deployed to face the enemy, things didn’t look good at all…

 Jackson's Corps attacks!

…and then by a minor miracle, Howard countermanded the march order, swung his boys back into a rough line and blasted away at the Rebels with rifles and canister causing three of A P Hill's four leading brigades to fail their morale tests and stop in their tracks! Only on the extreme right flank did Jackson have any success where Krzyzanowski’s “Dutchmen” were charged and routed. The next turn it was more of the same and this time two Confederate brigades routed – Jackson’s whole front line had been broken up by Von Steinwehr’s green Union Division!

 A P Hill's broken Divsion stream back to the rear through the ranks of Rodes men

At the end of Turn 25 (12.00 noon) the army demoralisation levels are now 4 for the Confederates and 3 for the Union (the first side to reach 8 will lose the battle). After five playing sessions and 25 turns incredibly this battle could still go either way…

To view a map of the battlefield click here.


  1. From what I've read about civil war battles you seem to have the results about right. Troops were able to break the front line of the enemy but then run out of steam before any decisive move could be made.
    Turning into bit of a cliff hanger.

  2. Hi Neil, we're fortunate because we have a permanent place for a wargame table that enables us to undertake such a big game without any time constraints. At this stage I really don't know who's going to win but normally with our games we get a sudden and dramatic victory so stay tuned!


  3. Looks like you gave Jackson a good pounding Ian, but I guess it could have been very different had you not been able to get Howard's boys back into line.... does that reflect the command control/orders system you use? Realistic I thought.

    Great new header background image.

    25 turns and still in the balance, what a game!


    1. It was actually Dave who suggested that it might be a bit unrealistic for Howard to withdraw in the face of Jackson's attack rather than anything to do with our command/control system. He very kindly allowed me a "free" reaction to change orders - he is regretting it now! We have played another session this week and will be posting on it soon...