Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Battle of Chancellorsville - Conclusion

Unbelievably, at the end of the previous session (turn 28) Lee was ready to concede defeat. I had thrown away my substantial advantage on day one, having been seduced by the historical glamour of a Jackson flank march on day two. But when Jackson’s leading division swept out of the woods it was stopped in it’s tracks by accurate volley fire and cannister from Howard’s men, causing heavy casualties. Once shaken it was no longer able to press home with the bayonet, so the assaults that I was counting on to easily destroy the ’green’ Federal brigades, could not go ahead. In addition, Ian had overcome the limitations of Hooker and the Union command control system to put his reserves in motion towards the threatened flank - Sickles was on the march with two fresh, unengaged divisions and three batteries.
Also, on the eastern battle line, Colston’s attack against Slocum had gained some ground and forced the Union batteries to withdraw - but ultimately the division had been driven off in a ruinous condition. Although Union army demoralisation was high, it would mostly restore with the next round of rallying, whereas  Jackson’s situation was irreparably perilous. But this was the Army of Northern Virginia – I owed it to the lads to keep fighting ! – and  this is what happened . . . . .

Colston's Division lies shattered - the General himself badly wounded

 Slocum forced back - two of his six brigades removed from play

Sickles arrives to shore up the hapless remnants of XI Corps
Rodes division moved up to bolster A.P.Hill’s men, and Rebel guns galloped up to unlimber at close range.  As the morale of the Confederates steadied they could finally bring cold steel into the equation - and Howard's timid ‘dutchmen’  fell apart, leaving Von Gilsa's brigade hopelessly isolated.

Jackson watches as his men envelop the Federal right

2pm : Von Gilsa's brigade becomes isolated as XI Corps breaks up . . . . .

 . . . . . . and routs back through Sickles' batteries !

Jackson pushed his threadbare brigades onwards with grim determination towards the thickening wall of Yankees - it was all or nothing. Jackson, Hill and Rodes were all right in the front line exhorting their men to take the bayonet to the enemy, as Pender's brigade ran into a brutal storm of cannister at the crossroads.

Jackson adds his bonus to the morale die rolls

The Rebs bear down on Sickles' line

Pender closes on the batteries

The Confederates had assault orders - and so did Sickles' men. In the case of mutual assaults a morale test defines which side has the upper hand and which side must defend. Bonuses for Generals and just a little luck at the critical moment enabled the Rebs to come out on top - although one nailbiting combat had us re-rolling due to equal scores !

Iverson (down to one strength point!) routs Ward's brigade on the road

3pm - Lane (A.P.Hill's Division) breaks McLean (Birney's Division) in the woods ...
....  they think it's all over. It is now !

Union army demoralisation had crossed the threshold by a margin of one and a half points - a dramatic swing of fortune and a convincing win for Lee (I think!) at the eleventh hour. This game had gone on for an astonishing 31 turns representing more than 24 hours of real time and the outcome was in the balance right to the last hour !
A gripping and memorable contest with a very realistic Civil War feel to the flow of events !

Endgame positions


  1. This whole series of posts has been excellent - great pictures, nice reports - really enjoyed it. Thanks very much for sharing this - I look forward to more of the same!

    Cheers - Tony

  2. Good game. Right to the wire on that one.
    If in dout give em a taste of steel.

  3. Thanks for the comments chaps - it was a great game, still can't believe I lost!