Monday, September 6, 2010

The Civil War minis are here!

My new Civil War armies have just arrived and I couldn't be more excited! I'm like a kid again. :)

I have been planning and working on the composition, layout, and other details of these Civil War Armies since my trip to Gettysburg last Fall. It took most of a year, but the project is now complete and the playing can begin.

The figures are Sash and Saber, Old Glory 2nd Edition, Foundry, and a few Perrys. The quality of the figures is quite good, but the painting is what really makes them sing. All hail Scott MacPhee, the artist that was good enough to take on the job of painstakingly painting and basing hundreds of miniature figures.

Scott is a rarity these days: a craftsman of the old school who is dedicated to creating works of art through hard work, talent, and skill. What he was able to do with these pieces of lead is truly amazing. His artistry brought these miniatures to LIFE, and now I have the privilege of owning and playing with works of art. You can see Scott's work here on this site and on his Blog (link is listed as one of my favorites), which is truly an inspiration and a pleasure to read.

My first blog showing the figures is a re-fight of Longstreet's attack on the 2nd Day at Gettysburg. I used my rules adaptation of Command and Colors: Ancients/ Battle Cry system by Richard Borg.

Gettysburg Day 2 - Longstreet's Attack

It had been a hard fight the day before, and the Union had taken a good lickin'. Two Union Corps were almost destroyed, but they doled out their share of punishment too. As Lee surveyed the field, he knew that he wanted to hit them again while the memory of their defeat was still fresh in their minds. He needed to hit them hard and drive them off those hills to his front. Once he did that, his boys would keep 'em running...crashing into the rest of the Army of the Potomac as it marched northward to reinforce them. Then it would just be a matter of pressing them...all the way to Washington; and an end to this war.

So how to hit them was the question. Lee sensed hesitation from Ewell over on the left, and A.P. Hill's Corps in the Center had done most of the hard fighting the day before and faced the strongest part of the Union line. The guns that were dug into the hill by that Cemetery would be tough to assault.

And he had found out that it was Hancock's men that had reinforced the I and IX Corps troops as they dug in last night. Those were good men, but they would run just the same if he could give them a good smash. Who would deliver the blow was obvious: It had to be Longstreet. His men were fresh and Hood's Division were the shock troops of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Where seemed pretty sure as well: The Union line was strong in the center and apparently over on the left, but to the right it seemed to just peter out at the end of the ridge as it headed over toward those two big hills on his right.

The attack would need to be made quickly so that Union reinforcements couldn't extend the line.

He gave the order for Longstreet to get his men in position and to make the attack as soon as possible. Longstreet wanted to avoid a fight here and swing around the enemy to the south, but not knowing exactly where the other Union Corps were because of his missing cavalry, Lee didn't dare to maneuver in the face of the enemy. He thought that it was much safer to smash this part of the enemy army to bits before the rest showed up. Longstreet didn't seem enthusiastic, but he was a good soldier. He would obey and drive the enemy.

As Longstreet lost several hours waiting for his Third Division, and then when ordered to move regardless, getting his men in position without being seen by the enemy, Sickles' III Corps appeared and extended the Union line southward. Now Longstreet's attack would head directly into these newly arrived troops. And when Sickles moved his forces forward to occupy the Peach Orchard, Longstreet's men were directly in his front. A collision was inevitable.

Graham's Brigade of Birney's Division occupies the Peach Orchard.

DeTrobriand's Brigade of Birney's Division occupies Rose's Woods south of the Wheat Field.

Meade's Headquarters behind Cemetery Ridge was distant enough from events on the Union Left Flank so that many decisions had to be made by the officers at hand. The battle would be won or lost on their initiative.

Longstreet's I Corp Artillery opens fire on Graham's men in the Peach Orchard to start the action at 4:00 pm on July 2, 1863.

Hood's Division was on the Confederate right flank and lead the attack. Robertson's and Anderson's Brigades...

...and Law and Benning's Brigades on their right.

At 4:00pm Longstreet gave the signal for the attack to begin.

I can see them! Union left flank 4:00 - 5:00pm

Hood's Division starts to advance...

4 Brigades cross the Emmitsburg Road as they head toward Rose's Woods and the Union left flank.

Meanwhile Ward's Brigade waits around the Devil's Den.

Skirmishers from the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters fall back and report the rebel advance. Busy re-directing Strong Vincent's Brigade of reinforcements from V Corps to extend his line into the woods south of Devil's Den, Sickles shouts back, "They're moving up right in front of me, I can see them."

Union Left in Danger 5:00 - 6:30pm

Law and Benning's Brigades head directly for the extreme end of the Union left flank south of Devil's Den.

After a brief but bitter fire fight, Law's Brigade wraps around the left flank of Sickles' line.
In a bloody running fight, the union troops withdraw back toward Little Round Top while the Confederate units continue to hammer them and swing to their left.

Eventually the battered remnant of Vincent's Brigade rallies around the Colonel of the 20th Maine near the crest of the rocky knoll.

But the resistless tide on Rebels sweeps over them led by the famous, Colonel William Calvin Oates (3rd President of the Confederate States of America).

Supported by part of Robertson's Brigade led by Hood himself, the Confederate attack looks like it will break the Union left and drive the enemy from the field.

Sickles rides to the extreme left and orders his men to stand firm.

Hood urges his men forward into Devil's Den and down the slope of Little Round Top to finish the Union left flank. Meanwhile the rest of Sykes V Corps arrives...

And turns south to counter-attack.

A vicious fight ensues near the north face of Little Round Top over to Devil's Den. Charge and Counter-charge cause mounting casualties, and after a time Law and Benning's Brigades are fought out. Hood's success in driving the Yankees back so far means that he is out of supporting distance of reinforcement's from the rest of his Division. he has no choice but to fall back between the Round Tops.

McLaws attacks the Center 6:00 - 8:00pm

Semmes, Kershaw, and Anderson's Brigades move into Rose's Woods and hit De Trobriand.

Rose's Woods fall to the Confederate attack and the Union line recoils north of The Wheat Field.

Wofford and Barksdale join the attack as the assault strikes the Union line en echelon south to north.

A bitter struggle erupts for Trostle's Woods. Sickles returns from the Union left to lead Humphrey's Division. He is personally leading Brewster's Brigade forward when a gap opens in the Union line. The Union troops enter the woods just in time to catch Wofford's brigade in the act of changing front. Pouring fire into the Rebel flank, Brewster's men charge forward and eject the Southerners from the Wood.

Meade sends the Union Reserve Artillery forward to anchor Sickles' right, while Sykes V Corps steadies the fleeing III Corps troops and forms a new line near the Weikart farm. The Union center is battered, but not broken.

The Union Left 8:00 - 9:00

Sykes' senses that Hood's Division is a spent force. Every time that his troops come into contact with the Rebs, they give ground. So, despite the late hour and waning light, he decides to organize a full-scale assault to try to break the enemy right. His men push forward into the Devil's Den and beyond where he strikes the surprised rebels near Plum Run.
Recovering from their shock, the Rebels fire volley after volley. Confederate artillery blasts the advancing Yanks, and the Texans of Robertson's Brigade swing around the left flank of the Union troops and drive them back over and through the Devil's Den, which the Confederate troops seize for the third time today.
Sykes takes personal control of Barnes' Division and rallies the faltering troops, and leads them forward again. Before they know what hit them the victorious Texans are surrounded on three sides. Despite the growing darkness, the fire is so intense that 'The Den' becomes a slaughter pen. Soon the Rebel fugitives are fleeing back over Plum Run. Hood orders what's left of his Division to fall back away from contact.

The Confederate right is hanging on by a thread.

McLaws tries again 8:30 - 10:00 pm

As darkness falls on the battlefield, Lafayette McLaws reorganizes his Division for another try at Trostle's Woods, while calling on the nearby brigades of Richard Anderson's Division (A.P. Hill's Corps) for support.

By the time the attack goes forward, it's fully dark, but this actually protects the Southern troops from long-range artillery attack by the considerable gun line south of Cemetery Ridge.
The two battle lines crash together in the darkness and exchange fire at point-blank range. Casualties are extremely heavy on both sides, with bodies laying in heaps in the Woods, the Wheat Field, and around the Trostle farmhouse.

The defenders are forced back, but counter-charge and push the Rebs back in turn; re-taking the blood-soaked Wood and Wheat Field.
...only to see them come charging back out of the night.

The screaming rebs drive off the Union artillery and finally uncover the right flank of Sickles Corps. The union regiments fight hard, but are toppled like dominoes from right to left. Soon the entire center of the Union line is fleeing.
The casualties on this part of the field are 5,800 for the North plus approximately 1,000 prisoners for a total of 6,800 as compared to 5,000 for the South. Each combatant started with just over 15,000 effectives on the south end of the battlefield. Added to the casualties on the north end of the battlefield and the losses sustained on Day 1, the losses at Gettysburg were: North 18,000; South 12,000.

Sickles hears his men flee

Even in the darkness, Sickles can track the retrograde movement of his battle-line by the sounds of combat and muzzle flashes. As the survivors of the fight north of the Wheat Field stream past him, he realizes that the long day's fight is over, and that he must now try to rescue the remaining brigades.

He orders his men to retreat but can't help wondering what else he could have done. He was everywhere on the field the thick of the fighting, driving his men forward again and again. He'd never seen them fight like this. They were lions! They gave it everything, but the Rebs must have wanted it just a little more, because they were yipping and shouting and his men were legging it to the rear...again.

Victory and Defeat

The Union Center finally breaks and the men of Sickles' Corps flee the field. At a quick meeting with some of his Corps Commanders (Sykes and Sickles are nowhere to be found), General Meade makes the decision to have the Army of the Potomac retreat before it can be surrounded. Darkness and casualties prevent an effective pursuit, but as the Union army retreats toward Hanover, the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Stuart's unbloodied cavalry, takes the inside track toward Washington via Littlestown. The Confederate forces reach Westminster hours before the Army of the Potomac, and prepare a defensive position on Parr's Ridge south of Pipe's Creek.

On the morning of July 4, 1863, a frantic General Meade exhorts his generals to break through the rebel line and save the government. Wave upon wave of Yankees surge up the ridge only to be shot down. The Confederate troops chant 'Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg' as they continue to load and fire into the blue masses. But the apparently bottomless well of Northern bravery changes their jeering to admiration, and even in some cases to silent tears as the men in grey fire into the last approaching soldiers in blue.

2 weeks later, just after signing the armistice that would forever divide America into two nations, Abraham Lincoln noted that "those brave men at Westminster, gave the last full measure of devotion to their country."