Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Battle of Chancellorsville ~ Turns 1-5

Click on images to zoom in

May 1st - 1:00pm - Couch's II Corps deploys across the Orange turnpike facing east. In the foreground the McGee House - the white building is Chancellorsville itself.

McLaw's division marching west on the turnpike, starts to take fire from a couple of Couch's batteries on the higher ground behind the McGee House.
At the same time his skirmishers run into a substantial Union skirmish line so the whole division starts to deploy off the road, followed by Anderson behind him. By 3:00pm Lee's HQ had not even got on to the table so McLaws and Anderson were stuck with  their original cautious 'HOLD' orders which meant that no general engagement was brought on

The best bit of this encounter was watching Ian, faced with an entire Confederate Corps commanded by Lee in person, deciding if he should conserve his artillery ammunition for when ' things got worse ' ! ( Ammo Rules are in use for this one ) 

          The Rebs tentatively approach the McGee House, having rushed all the way from
                                                                     Fredericksburg ! 


Slocum's XII Corps column marches along the Furnace Road then turns south east onto the Plank Road - there is a large clearing here so the enemy are visible less than a mile way, forcing a hasty deployment.

Early's brigades roll out into line north of the Alrich House to face off against Slocum's Corps as it emerges from the woods ahead – again, both sides unable to take the initiative as they have defensive orders.

2:00pm  - Several miles to the west, Sickles III Corps marches to join the action, passing Wilderness Church and Dowdalls Tavern.

... which brings us to the only real combat of the first session -  a dramatic clash of cavalry forces in the Union rear at the Carpenter House. As Pleasonton moved south to secure the Brock Road, he literally ran headlong into Stuart's troopers moving north to 'probe for enemy weaknesses'. Both sides were in 'RECON' mode and looking for a fight – but so close together that dismounting would have been risky. Horse artillery was deployed to the flanks and the Rebs came off worst in the first exchange, inspiring Ian to launch a mounted charge 
( rather unusual in these games !)  Weight of numbers gave him +1 on the die roll and I wasn't optimistic . . . but, hey - these were JEB's boys . . . . the Yankees broke and ran !  In danger of losing his whole command and opening up the Union rear, Pleasonton wisely withdrew.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


The first new additions to the armies for over fifteen years - an artillery caisson and artillery command stand for each side.

 The new Rebel & Yankee artillery caissons and command stands

We are introducing a new rule creating an artillery reserve for each army and will be testing it for the first time in the Chancellorsville game.

Rule 4 – Artillery Reserve
a] Only these order modes apply: MARCH = move to location and await further orders. ENGAGE = move to location, deploy and bombard target. RETIRE = Limber up and retreat to location. (ATTACH) = MARCH to the HQ of a specific Union Corps / Rebel Division and then operate under the orders and mode of that unit until further orders. When attached, the Reserve may disperse its batteries throughout the corps or operate as a grand battery.
b] If the Artillery Reserve Commander receives an order he functions like an Infantry Corps commander. If he fails his command test then the order execution is delayed one turn. When the order is executed, a half move penalty is incurred by any batteries 12" from Reserve HQ.
c] Grand Battery rule – a minimum of 3 positive-strength rifled guns deployed together under the command of the Artillery General, form a grand battery. Units losing casualties from grand battery fire must test morale (the grand battery may not split its fire).

Each caisson will designate a wagon park and wagons will move the ammo forward to the firing line.

Rule 6 - Ammunition
a) Ammunition rules apply to batteries only. They hold a maximum of 6 Aps and expend one AP per turn of firing. A battery with no ammunition may not fire.
b) The Artillery Commander must designate a wagon park, choosing any physical location he currently occupies. All wagons must deploy initially to the wagon park and this location is fixed for the rest of the battle. 
c) At any time wagons may leave the wagon park with enough ammo to re-supply ONE battery, and when empty they return to be refilled. Every turn that a player wants to despatch any full wagons from the wagon park, the Artillery Commander must first pass a command test.
d) Wagons move during the courier movement phase – they must move by road where possible. Wagons are eliminated if they come into contact with any unbroken enemy unit. Artillery may fire on wagons – 5,6 to hit. – the wagon is eliminated. 

Finally, I just had to show a picture of this signal tower that a built nearly 20 years ago. The logs are made from pins and the planking is tiny strips of plasticard. I don't think it will be of much use in the dense woodland of the Wilderness but I though it looks good all the same.

All the figures we use are Heroics & Ros 1/300th scale and are still available today - click here.

The tension mounts

Hooker's strategic masterstroke - what could possibly go wrong ? Coming to a tabletop near you . . . .

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Scenario (2)

Here is the final scenario brief for the Chancellorsville game. To make sense of the information you will need to view the map here. Click on the images below to read the text (click again to zoom in).

This is going to be an interesting game. We hope to start playing next week.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

“Fighting Joe” Hooker

"Joe Hooker is our leader, he takes his whisky strong."

Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 30, 1863


It is with heartfelt satisfaction the commanding general announces to the army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defenses and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him.

By command of Major-General Hooker

This was the actual General Order issued by Hooker on the eve of the Battle of Chancellorsville. Sadly in real life Lee came out from behind his defences and gave battle on his own ground. Here at Union HQ we are hoping to re-write history.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Scenario

Hooker has moved the bulk of the Army of the Potomac west and crossed the Rappahannock, dramatically outflanking Lee's position at Fredericksburg. He is now marching to consolidate his scattered corps in the densely wooded terrain near Chancellorsville, probing for signs of the enemy. Lee has finally become aware of the threat and is moving the Army of Northern Virginia to meet it - but right now Hooker has no idea of the strength and position of the Rebels.
This refight begins at 1:00pm on May 1st as the two armies first make contact, using most of the figures we have available – 51 infantry brigades and 24 gun batteries, plus 4 cavalry brigades. Only the Union Corps that were engaged historically are represented - II Corps (Couch), III Corps (Sickles), XI Corps (Howard) and XII Corps (Slocum). Hooker held Meade and Reynolds in reserve and Sedgwick was at Fredericksburg. The Confederate forces consist of I Corps (Lee) and II Corps (Jackson), with a third nominal Corps under Early (for play balance) representing the forces that historically remained at Fredericksburg until May 3rd.
Because Turn 1 is 1:00pm, Turn 14 will be a night turn, and Turn 15 will recommence at 7:00am on May 2nd. The game will continue until there is a clear winner (Turn 40 would be another night turn, but we are unlikely to get that far !) A demoralisation level of 8 applies to both armies.


Click map for detailed view

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


The next game will be based on the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1863. To set the scene here are a few more Brady photographs recently unearthed in the Federal archives.

The Orange Turnpike - looking west towards Chancellorsville

Furnace Road - looking northeast towards Chancellorsville

Catharine Furnace - looking northwest towards Hazel Grove

The Orange Plank Road - looking north towards Wilderness Church

The table - looking west (click on the image for a closer look)