Saturday, 11 May 2013

Battle of Cutler’s Farm – Turns 1-3

With both the armies deployed on table it was immediately obvious that we were in for quite a fight. In the last couple of big games we’ve played we have been fighting mostly across the narrow (4’) side of the table, in this one we are using the full 8’ width allowing space to deploy every brigade and battery we possess.

Initial deployment - Porter's corps began the game in column of march due to another command mix-up at Pope's HQ. Wilcox's Confederate division is in battle-line in the distance (you'll have to click the images in this post to really see what's going on).

The action began predictably enough in the campaign ‘contact’ square just north of the Barnes Farm. Dave pushed forward Wilcox (who had replaced Kemper as divisional commander after the last battle) to engage Porter as he deployed two of his divisions, supported by the artillery reserve, into line. The Confederates rather wisely shifted slightly to their left to avoid the fire of my massed guns and settled down to a fire-fight rather than attempt any assault. I was concerned however to see Dave’s reserve artillery arrive on table in a position where they could enfilade Porter’s line but I needn’t have worried as a mix up in the Confederate staff work meant the guns were ordered to ‘attach’ rather than combine in a grand battery – a very lucky break for me!

Porter's line viewed from the Confederate side of the table. The Union reserve artillery is in the centre of the line but unable to fire in 'Grand Battery' until the artillery ammunition park is set up. Wilcox's men have understandably veered away from the muzzles of the northern guns.

The Union ammunition park was established on turn 3. Pope has set up his HQ at Sharpeville. Bobby Lee is still off table stuck behind the lumbering Confederate supply train!

Meanwhile Dave had brought on A.P. Hill and Starke from Jackson’s corps fully deployed in a massive battle-line that stretched for a mile and a half across the fields of Cutler’s Farm. I had deployed McDowell to oppose them but with a frontage of just 4 brigades he looked dangerously exposed as the grey tide rolled forward brushing aside the Federal skirmishers.  Fortunately the arrival of Buford with Bayard’s cavalry division on McDowell’s left flank eased the situation lending some much needed support.

 A mile-and-a-half of Rebels! A.P. Hill and Starke move forward across the fields of Cutler's Farm.

This view shows McDowell's 'thin blue line' (left centre ground) awaiting the onslaught of Jackson's men. In the distance you can see Buford and the cavalry riding to the rescue.

Over on the Confederate left Dave was making use of the extra table space available to manoeuvre Hood and Ewell out past my flank. The Rebel infantry were supported by Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry and I had little choice but to retire my own cavalry (Tompkins) as the enemy advanced. However, I had already ordered Butterfield to extend Porter’s flank and he was almost in position to oppose the Confederate advance by the end of our playing session.

Tompkins cavalry are slowly withdrawing in the face overwhelming odds.

Fitzhugh Lee (foreground) covers the flank of Hood's division as he moves forward around the Union right flank. Butterfield's division can be seen (left distance) moving past the Barnes Farm house to extend the Union line against this threat.

After three turns we have the makings of a truly epic struggle on our hands with an active engaged battlefront stretching for two and a half miles and new activity about to start on the eastern flank. We both have forces still off table and likely to put in an appearance in the next turn or two whilst I have the whole of Sigel’s corps just arriving at Sharpeville.

 "We fights mitt Sigel!" - the Germans arrive at Sharpeville after a hard march all the way from Fremont.

 The situation at the end of turn 3 - click the image to zoom in.

When all the forces are finally on table we will be using approximately 2,300 figures in total so it should develop into a very interesting game that will test our generalship to the limits!


  1. Exciting stuff! Great photo's too. You really capture the flavour of the ACW in your battle reports.

  2. Thanks Silent - I enjoy writing up the battle reports and it's great to have a pictoral record of the games.