Friday, 23 March 2012

The Battle of Crane’s Station Turns 7 – 14

At 10.00am McClellan and the Union HQ finally arrived on table behind Porter’s corps and the “Young Napoleon” wasted no time in issuing orders to Porter aimed at consolidating his position by the Quaker Farm.
Porter's corps at the Quaker farm.

Unfortunately a series of poor command die rolls meant that none of his orders were implemented and instead Porter was only able to react defensively to the growing Confederate threat. This limited him to pushing forward skirmishers and pounding away with his two artillery batteries deployed near the farm.

General McClellan at his HQ. The general was not having a good day.

Lee however managed to get fresh orders to Magruder to head towards Crane’s Station and once there to assault Porter’s flank.

General Lee's HQ (that's him on the white horse!).

McClellan was still unaware of developments at Beckettsville until at 11.30am a courier arrived from Keyes informing him that Longstreet was in the town but that his left flank was “up in the air”. Keyes and Longstreet were now locked into a skirmish and artillery duel whilst Sumner’s corps steadily deployed to the rear of Keyes.

Longstreet at Beckettville with an open left flank.

McClellan finally dispatched a courier with orders for Keyes but there was a three-mile gap between the two commanders, which meant more delay. Things were made worse by the fact that McClellan forgot for a while to issue any orders at all to Sumner or Cooke

 The couriers of both armies were the busiest men on the field for most of the morning.

By 12.30pm Magruder’s first division had deployed just south of Crane’s Station and shortly after this they assaulted Sykes division on Porter’s right flank. Two of Sykes brigades and a battery were routed and went streaming back through McClellan’s HQ although one of Magruder’s brigades were also broken in the process.

Sykes division collapses under pressure from Magruder.

So by the end of turn 14 the Confederates were looking increasingly menacing on the Union right whilst on the far left it was the Union troops with the upper hand now that Sumner had finally received orders to advance and occupy Fairweather Ridge.
The situation at the end of turn 14

To be continued...

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Battle of Crane’s Station Turns 1 – 6

McClellan’s deployment was as follows: Cooke in column on the Culver City Road with orders to “Move quickly towards Beckettville, ENGAGE any smaller enemy force or HOLD against a larger force”. Keyes to follow Cooke. Sumner to enter at map point “3” and to move either east or west along the Westpoint Turnpike (to be decided on a die roll). Porter to enter at map point “2”.

Lee ordered Longstreet to form a line of battle just to the north of Beckettville and to hold the town. Stuart, followed by Hill, were to enter at map point “6”. Magruder was to enter at map point “5” on turn five and move towards Crane’s Station.

Cooke's troopers mount up and fall back through Keyes infantry line 

Cooke’s troopers moved rapidly towards Beckettville where they observed the Rebels moving up through the town. The Union cavalry dismounted, formed a battle line and were soon hotly engaged with the lead Brigades of Longstreet’s Division. At one point Cooke bravely exposed himself to danger on the firing line to steady his troopers (it was noted that Longstreet was reluctant to do the same resulting in some wavering of the Confederates).

Longstreet's line at Beckettsville (looking north)

With the infantry of Keyes IV Corps arriving in support Cooke withdrew his troopers to the rear, their job done. Both sides now established battle lines but as neither commander had ENGAGE orders the fighting was limited to an artillery bombardment.

Longstreet and Keyes reach a stand-off at the end of turn 6

Meanwhile Sumner’s II Corps reached the Westpoint Turnpike where a die roll dictated that they turn left heading east. By turn three they were stuck in a traffic jam at the Carter House waiting for Keyes men to pass ahead of them.

Sumner's men stacked up on the Westpoint Turnpike with nowhere to go.

Over on the western side of the battlefield Porter’s V Corps headed straight down the Malvern Road where they soon ran into Stuart’s cavalry and Hill’s Division. Stuart’s troopers moved to occupy Burnt Hill whilst Hill’s men formed line of battle stretching from in front of the Quaker Farm towards Fairweather Ridge. Porter’s men deployed just to the north of the Quaker Farm but as both sides had HOLD orders all that resulted was some long range artillery fire.

Porter's men deploying to the north of the Quaker Farm (view from Stuart's position)

By turn five Lee had arrived on the table and set up headquarters at the Sawyer House. Here a weary courier arrived from Longstreet with the news that a full two enemy Corps were converging on his position at Beckettville. Lee responded decisively by sending new orders to Magruder (whose men were just arriving at the Sawmill).

Couriers move 18" per turn - this poor trooper is getting pretty exhausted as he moves across the entire width of the battlefield carrying General Lee's orders

So, at the end of turn six (9.30am) both armies are deploying but no serious combat has occurred. The Union forces outnumber those of Longstreet’s isolated Division at Beckettville but are unable to take advantage of the situation without offensive orders from McClellan (who is still off table). The Confederate forces are spread thinly along the whole five-mile front but have the advantage in command and control with Lee on table and able to issue orders.

A birds-eye view of the battlefield at the end of turn 6
(click on the image for a closer look or click here to see the map)

To be continued...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Crane's Station - The Battlefield

Here is the table layout for the soon to be fought Battle of Crane's Station, a hypothetical battle set during the Peninsula campaign of 1862. The Union forces led by George McClellan (the "Young Napoleon") are moving south to a new base of operations on the James River. The Rebels under Bobby Lee are attempting to stop them. It should be noted that this scenario has been devised by the Confederates which is why there is a suggestion in the previous post that McClellan's army is trying "to escape from the Peninsula". This is untrue, the Army of The Potomac is merely engaged in a routine change of base...

A birds-eye view of the battlefield (to see the map click here

The view from Beckettville (looking northwest) 

The Carter House (looking southwest) 

The Church on Westpoint Turnpike 

The view from The Sawmill looking north 

A train gets up steam ready to head north from Crane's Station

The battlefield is ready, all we need now are troops and the generals!