As the second session began, Jackson was under serious pressure. A.P. Hill’s men on the far right were being forced to give ground, but Lee was still in the grip of the fear that Porter’s Corps was about to descend on the Confederates from a position off-table to the north, and continued to order the bulk of the reserves held back for this (increasingly unlikely!) eventuality. He did, however, send Walker’s three rifled batteries trundling off down a woodland track to attach themselves to Jackson’s command.
|Stuart's troopers (foreground) and Jackson's reserve stubbornly continue to face north - |
waiting for a flank attack that will never come ! The rifled batteries can be seen arriving in the rear.
Ian and I have fought dozens of play-by-email campaigns using the brilliant range of ACW games sold by HPS. We have often noticed how total fog of war over huge strategic areas and timescales has the psychological effect of crippling you with caution. You start to vastly overestimate your opponents strength, cunning and manoeuvreability - we call this affliction ‘McClellanitis’ .... and by now I was seriously suffering from it on the field of Sharpeville. I was so convinced that Porter was about to outflank me that I had utterly failed to notice that his corps had already arrived on the table in the Union rear, and was marching calmly through the town to join the main action ! Being under no obligation to identify this force to me, Ian was extremely amused at my discomfiture.
|It wasn't until the final division of Porter's corps (Sykes) passed through Sharpeville|
on it's way to the front, that I correctly identified them !
It was too late of course. Scared of phantoms, I had held back a division from each of my corps and was paying the price. Jackson managed to fall back a little and re-align, shunting fresh brigades into the line and retiring threadbare ones – but he was badly mauled.
|Kearny's brigades push Jackson hard ....|
|.... and the flank begins to buckle under the strain.|
To the south at Hawk Ridge Longstreet ran into a solid wall of fire from McDowell’s divisions, Doubleday and Ricketts. Heavy losses and crumbling morale meant that he couldn’t press home any of the assaults his orders had required. After a confident start the Rebs have lost the initiative and are fighting for survival.
|Looking west with the Lutheran church in the centre background - Longstreet|
ploughs into McDowell where the road winds past Hawk Ridge.
|Looking north from the ridge as the battle lines close.|
|.... and it starts to go badly for the Rebs |
( a lesser man might start bleating about unfavourable dice at this point...)
As more and more Union forces flood onto the field, Lee has ordered Hood’s division up to plug the gap between Jackson and Longstreet. The Confederates already have 2 brigades permanently eliminated from play and 2 more broken on table, giving them a demoralisation level of 4 at the end of turn seven.
|The Army of Northern Virginia headquarters.|
Lots of awkward silences and uncomfortable foot shuffling.
Thankfully the Easter break will delay the final resolution of this battle, and draw a temporary veil over Southern embarrassment . . . .