Fire and Fury ACW “Battle of Newhall Pass”

Last Saturday saw me and good buddy Stevie G beg off gaming down at the infamous “Dogs of War” club and return to our “roots” by doing some American Civil War gaming in 15mm.

Steve and I had met 30 years ago over a battle of Johnny Reb ACW at the “Last Grenadier” in Los Angeles California, the city of Glendale to be exact. The Last Grenadier (sadly now gone) was a local Mecca for miniature gamers in Southern California and many of us cut our wargaming teeth there. Steve and I had never met but both worked as “Grips” in the Hollywood film business and because we both had the habit of painting figures during our lunch breaks on the set had known of each other. Now grips have a particular style and look and it was just moments into the gathering of 10 or so guys doing the battle that we looked at each other and realized at long last we had met! Over the next 25 years we have gamed, worked together, and had a great time doing it!

My “Main Man” Stevie G. This is his happy face…before his dice decide not to co-operate! The stone wall area would be the site of the bloodiest fighting for the day. The upside down “T” section of the walls would become infamous to both side as the “Bloody Angle”

We no longer use Johnny Reb but have moved over to Fire and Fury since it is a bit more streamlined, simpler, faster, more popular, and is used for the basis of the Age of Eagles rules we use for 15mm Napoleonic’s.

This battle report is not going to be too detailed since neither of us have played Fire & Fury for several years it was to be a “shake the Dust off game” at best. I’ll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves.

Looking good you Johnny Rebs!

We took fairly balanced forces, 50 infantry stands each representing 1 small Division each. Each of us also had 2 Division Generals and a Corps commander. (forgive me if I misuse Brigade, division, Corps, in my descriptions, comes from playing Johnny Reb and painting units for that system) The Union had 2 three gun battery’s and the Confederates 2 two gun battery’s  since Union artillery was normally better and more numerous. The Confederates received better troops and commanders. I rolled a random entry on my side and Steve picked entry for each of his divisions. The scenario was to get control of the area thus denying the enemy the entrance to the pass.

My first brigade the “Stonewall Brigade” commanded by Brigadier General James Walker advances onto the field. On the road in the background you can see the lead brigade of my 2nd division.

Major General Edward M. Johnson watches Stewart’s Brigade move brigade up the road leading to the stone wall later known as the “Bloody Angle” The 2nd Maryland in their early war Zuoave uniform lead the way! We see the messenger arrive confirming that the Stonewall Brigade has dispatched reinforcements. Brigadier  General Stewart is seen on the other side of the road.

Since I had rolled my troops entry areas before Steve’s entry I new where my troops were going to enter and had a vague plan on what area I wanted to occupy. Steve got too choose where he wanted to go after me but without knowing where I was. No real advantage to either side. Both sides pushed their men hard trying to get to the best positions first. Commanding my forces was Major General Edward M. Johnson, Johnson quickly realized that the Union commander was making a mistake and separating his forces in a flanking maneuver that would result in his two brigades not being able to effectively support each other.  Johnson decided to deploy the “Stonewall Brigade” defensively  and attack with the 2nd Brigade in the north along the stone wall. Johnson also decided to send 2 regiments of the Stonewall brigade to help while recalling the 2nd brigades artillery south to help defend against the “Blue Belly’s” about to attack there.

The Union 2nd Brigade advanced as a dense mass, another mistake of it’s less experienced officers! this would quickly cause deployment problems as they approached the angle.

Using the road the Unions elite 1st brigade attempts to flank the Confederate forces. This took time, allowed the southerners to form a strong defensive line along the woods, forcing the Union to now advance through a storm of shot and shell in the open field.

Steve’s Union troops are very nicely painted with detail that one normally see’s only in 25mm and larger. Here you see some of his Zouaves as well as the tail end of the “Iron Brigade” in their “Hardee” hats.

The Union’s “Iron Brigade” leads the way. They would suffer greatly in the coming advance across the “Killing Field” but survive to fight another day!

The first few turns saw only troops rushing to take up position, at first the Union commander surly felt his choice of of terrain was going to work well…but the men arriving at he positions were met with a sea of fluttering enemy flags and the howl of Rebel yells across the fields!

Seeing the enemy already so close Union soldiers deploy into line of battle…trusting in their commanders.

The more experienced of the Union brigade commanders realize that they have already fallen in to a dangerous trap! Outflanked and facing superior numbers they prepare for a hard fight.

Rebel forces surge forward enveloping Union forces on two sides before even a shot is fired. Union artillery is mostly still moving up and the one battery deployed is badly handled in the confusion missing and doing little damage!

On the Union right at the “Angle” both side open up a hot exchange of musketry. Either uncertainty, inexperience, or Union commander Steve’s dice result in the Rebels coming out on top in nearly all the exchanges of musketry!

While the right exchanges shots the rebs on the left hop the wall preparing to charge with their superior numbers and better close in abilities.

The Union officers continued to urge their men forward trying to reach the wall and halt the Rebel advance. They would make it but a moment later a howling mass of Rebs charged over and into the Union line. A finial round of musket fire cracked all up and down the “Angle” as steel met steel and blood flowed….

Confederate charges go into both Union side of the “Angle” with the Blue coats slightly disorganization and in disorder it will not go well! The Union artillery on the hill only managed to get off one shot and did little to the advancing Rebels.

On the Confederate right, just south of the “Angle” a powerful line of battle is setup with Rebel forces even retreating some to increase the distance and time it would take the Union forces to reach them. General Johnson hoped this would give him time to crush the Union force in the north and then use his combined force to deal with the Iron brigade and the Union forces crossing the field. He was also counting on his concentration of artillery there to severely weaken the advancing blue coats.

The southern flank of the Confederate lines, The Rebels are slowly withdrawing to the line along the woods that their artillery now occupies. Beyond them we can see the fight at the “Angle” start to heat up!

After two turns of charges and melee, the Union was beaten back in disorder and lost several stands. Before they could recover the rebels charged again capturing (swept from the field results with a 10+2 roll and a 10+3 roll!) or destroying two full brigades, one Union Battery, capturing both the Division and Corps commanders! As the remnants of the Union northern force skedaddled two Reb Brigades were released to reinforce the southern force.

One set of charges later half the remaining Union force would be dead or captured.

The Confederate line of battle was ready and waiting!

I painted these over 25 years ago but they still look pretty good! (Several rebasings..lol)

Seen from the Union side. I sure would not want to be in these boys shoes! It really makes you stop and think on the bravery of men both North and South who for the most part didn’t understand why they were fighting other than “There’s a fight about something and I’ll not be left behind!”

Proud as ever the “Iron Brigade” leads the way!

The Confederates held their fire, not used to being on the waiting side as the Federals approached. One Rebel gunner was heard to say “agin us or not them are some brave boys!” as he touched his wick firing the first round….

Southern Battery’s open up a devastating fire on the advancing Federals. My high die rolls help them hit there marks!

Despite their bravery the Iron Brigade feels they wrath of the southern battery’s. This day Union Artillery failed to live up to it’s reputation, providing little in the way of support for the boys in blue!

Southern fire seals the loss for the Federal troops this day, but swears one Sargent, “There will will be a reckoning one day soon Johnny Reb!”

With their one division wrecked and unable to make headway against the other flank the Union commanders sound retreat and use the fading light to cover their withdrawal.

The battlefield as it looked on the last turn.

Steve and I shook hands and despite his loss agreed it was a lot of fun. The rules play very easy and we remembered things as we went along. We did a bit of an after battle kibitzing and both agreed it was a union loss due to mistakes in deployment and not helped by lackluster die rolls on his part. I wish someone would invent a game where “1s” are great cause Steve would be unbeatable! It was great to get out figures that have not been used much in the last years, heck I even may do a bit of work on my small Union force!

 

 

 

Another Dogday afternoon

Well this Saturday saw it happen, Lord Bluster and the Normans finally caught up with the Skraelings led by the legendary Chief Half-baked and his fearsome band of Indian warriors. The battle was one of the hardest yet for yours truly against Joe N. a master wargamer whos reputation on the battlefield and dice rolling is well known throughout the area. I myself am considered by many to be pretty good and roll well especially when “cornered” so I was confident of giving a good account of myself but still figured to end up one more “head on a stick” outside of Chief Half-baked’s lodge!

The battle was intense and therefore I devoted all my energy to the game and none to pictures or notes on the battle so the report will be sort of brief and of course seen from the Norman perspective….Joe can post his rebuttal in comments below…

Nor94a

My Normans were led by Lord Bluster.

We started with terrain, of course the Indians wanted as much as possible and the Normans as little as possible, so we ended up with 3 pieces, 2 woods and a marsh. I picked a marsh, a mistake that I would suffer with all through the game as it plugged up the center for quicker movement of my troops. Good for my normal Norman strategy of delay and counter attack but this time I was forming a “Panzer Wedge” of armor and attacking. I hoped this would throw Joe off his game a bit and figured that a quick closing with his warlord was my only hope.

The Skraelings have the ability to mimic your battle board in SAGA and can be much like fighting a mirror image of your own army. They also regenerate units (some say like zombies) from their dead pile but this is really to represent other near by villages joining the fight. On my side I felt the Normans would be a tough fight for the Indians since my mounted troops could outdistance them (if they could stay out of the woods!) and quickly exploit opportunities as they appeared. I also realized that much of my battle board would be useless to them since the battle board abilities were tailored to mounted troops and could not be used by them at all. I also decided to not use the usual “levy bowmen” as I figured the Skraelings could out shoot me easily and a rapid close into hand to hand where my superior armor and weapons would quickly tell on his lightly clothed warriors was best. Instead of the levies I brought out the “Flemish Mercenaries” a fun unit that is much like an armored tank for the Dark Ages. Hard to kill, painfully slow, but if you can close packs a punch in melee!

The complete unit of "Flemish Mercinaries" for SAGA. I painted the group using a limited color palette to create a sense of a professional unit for hire.

The complete unit of “Flemish Mercinaries” for SAGA. I painted the group using a limited color palette to create a sense of a professional unit for hire.

The game started with me winning the setup roll and placing my Warlord in the center, and followed with my force of 12 Hearth guard (1 x 8, 2×4), 8 Warrior crossbow men, and 8 Flemish Warrior Mercenaries. All in a sort of wedge formation in the center aimed at the marsh between the woods. Infantry forward with cavalry in the rear.

Joe setup in typical Indian fashion Javelin armed warriors to the sides behind the woods with 2 huge bands of bowmen covering the center, his warlord to the rear with the women and children…ohh I mean he was protecting the helpless ones.

From the start of the game I pushed forward just a bit at first, Joe and the Skraelings also moved forward into the woods on either flank. I had led with my crossbow men which proved to be a mistake as they died under a hail of Indian arrows but kept the Skraelings busy. I had forgotten how SLOW the dammed Flemish were and had to rethink my plans for them. I pulled them out of the marsh and funneled them up the center towards the Skraeling bowmen. If I remember this was the point that Joe pulled his bowmen and his Warlord back to the left behind his warriors. I pushed up the middle while feinting to the right with a small hearth guard unit to keep his warriors grouped there interested and away from the left. My second Hearth Guard unit had ventured into the woods, immediately being brought under attack by Joes Warriors javelins there but some good saving rolls by me kept them together long enough to Melee with them, succeeding in pushing them back with heavy losses. My Normans were closing the ring on the Indians and if I could just move fast enough.

NormVSkrae1

Most of the battle it was interesting that I never really rolled that well with the SAGA dice to get a lot of ability board use and found myself just using activations to rest and move as fast as possible before the Skraelings could re deploy. My 8 man Hearth Guard unit was making the end run up the open land left of the woods on the left.

The fight was intense and Joe played hard, he didn’t get any better dice then I did and when he did I managed to counter with great saving roles, once my Normans closed into close combat it was pretty much decided but Joe once again showed his ability by bringing a fresh unit onto the board just as I was about to close with his Warlord. This last fight was on the edge of the Skraeling rear board and showed how important and chess like the rules can be. After meleeing the “fresh” unit Joe’s unit having “lost” should have retreated but given that in the rules that if a defeated unit cant because of enemy troops or terrain be pushed back the winning unit moves back. This had the effect of allowing me to move out of his units zone of control therefore not forcing me to attack him but being able in my last move swing over attack and defeat his Warlord! Pheewww! What a game, well fought and a nail biter to the end. Many have fought Joe and his “Skraelings” and nearly all have fallen to them. I’m lucky to have won…I was happy midway to just have pushed him back and caused some concern never thinking I would carry the Chiefs “beads” back to Normandy. Thanks Joe! A great battle with a great warlord!

NormVWelsh4

My “hero” bowmen up left and the woods they cleared of Welsh warriors!

The evening was coming on but I stayed for one more battle with Dave D. and his Welsh! The Welsh are a real tough fight and Dave knows how to use them! Fortunately my levy Bowmen got their range and nearly wiped out some of his units!. Using nearly the same type of aggressive tactics coupled with good roles be me and poor ones by Dave the Welsh nearly went down but in the end, Warlord on Warlord I bit the dust……

It was a good day at the “Dog Pound” and “a good day to die!” thanks to all.

NormVWelsh3

The last moments in the battle with the Welsh. I thought that with this force I could crush the Welsh warlord but he used his Hearth Guard block me and ran for cover behind some other troops. My band fought well but lack luster dice, time, and good shooting by the Welsh did them in. The point were even up until I lost my Warlord.

AOE Napoleonic’s “The Battle of Souffel”

In an attempt to guard Frances borders while he defeated the main Allied force (British and Prussians) Napoleon had stationed several “Observation Corps” on the most vulnerable approaches. On June 28th 1815 French General Rapp and 19,000 French infantry and around 2,000 cavalry squared off against Austrian Crown Prince Eugene, 34,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry, this was the very last battle of the Napoleonic wars.

Newly conscripted French infantry prepares to defend the town and river crossing

Newly conscripted French infantry prepares to defend the town and river crossing

 

An English reporter for the London Times (Percy Wordsmith) sent this eye witness report while traveling with the Austrian army.

Map showing initial French deployment (Yellow) and Austrian advance (Orange).

Map showing initial French deployment (Yellow) and Austrian advance (Orange).

French troops had spent most of the early morning pushing civilians out of their homes and out of the villages. Other French units set to work clearing fields of fire building barricades, and improving their lines along the river until the scouting Hussar units galloped back across the bridges with reports of Austrian columns fast approaching. As the French hunkered down in their defensive positions the far side of the Souffel river bristled with the bayonets from half a dozen Austrian columns. Huge Austrian brigades nearly the size of French divisions maneuvered around each other in an attempt to quickly close with the French. The French artillery opened up on these columns, seldom causing real damage but throwing them into disorder and slowing them down. In the center Austrian heavy cavalry pushed to the center causing the French horse batteries to withdraw and French heavy cav to counter the move in order to guard the flanks of both towns.

AustEarly1

Austrian commanders position their supporting Artillery battery’s with a cheer ans a “Hats off” salute!

FrenchEarly2

French Cavalry and a Horse battery cover the center

Austrian forces in the center had finally started to push across the bridges but were repulsed at both crossings by stubborn French resistance losing a few troops along the way. The Austrians retreated back across the bridges to regroup and await the redeployment of their gun batteries in a better supporting position. Over two hours had passed by now and as general Rapp anticipated the Austrians had detected his weak undefended left flank. Reports of Austrian cavalry and guns crossing there in force were now coming into his headquarters, Rapp quickly dispatched an ADC to Colonel Merlin commanding the French cavalry to move west to block the Austrian flanking move. Rapp also gave orders to send a brigade from each of his other divisions to also move into a blocking position to the west allowing his cav to resume their job as a mobile reserve in the center.

AustBridge2

Austrians mass and move to the assault. Austrian Cav gives french Cav something to think about in the center.

The Austrian commanders however had planned this diversionary attack on the French left flank to do just exactly what it had done, weaken the center, and they choose that moment to launch a renewed assault, a much more coordinated, powerful, attack. The Austrian batteries roared, slamming shell after shell into the French defenders. The French defense remained firm and the artillery had little effect but that of making a shambles of the town. Now over the bridges came the renewed attack of the Austrians, two brigades now reformed into assault columns (thanks AOE Yahoo group) and combining their numbers for the assault against the small French brigade left in town.
On the eastern side of the battlefield the Austrians were finally sorting out the traffic jams caused by their massive and unwieldy brigades. One of the Austrian brigades charged forward across the bridge but suffered the same results as the Austrian attacks across the bridges there. The eastern Austrian push settled down to an artillery dual with the Austrian commander waiting for developments elsewhere on the field. To the west the French and Austrian forces squared off and waited for one another other to see make the first move.

Auststare

Austrian troops across the river at Souffelweyersheim spend most of the battle just tossing angry shouts and an occasional cannon ball at the French.

The center now erupted into pitched battle over the bridges of Mundolsheim and again the Austrian dragoons once attempted to cross the Souffel in the center, succeeding in causing the French cavalry to move back from their blocking position in the east  to the center, again countering the Austria dragoons. This time the Austrians Dragoons charged, the French Hussars counter charged and after a brutal fight the weight of Austrian heavy cav succeeded in crushing the French Hussars. The Austrian commander had watched intently this clash and was now joyous with the possibility of splitting the French center and even falling onto the rear of the French line to the west. However he had no cavalry reserve to push across the center and the Dragoons were far from fresh. The Austrian Dragoons sensing that this was the moment, their moment shook off their disorder and preparing too charge the rear of the French defenders to the west.

Austrian columns assault and shatter the french center, the french Officer and gun battery in the picture have been "captured" survivors flee to the rear.

Austrian columns assault and shatter the french center, the french Officers and gun battery in the picture have been “captured” survivors flee to the rear.

Meanwhile the Austrian infantry attack on the French center had succeeded in forcing the crossings, nearly destroying the defending French brigade, the French losing two regiments, their guns and their commanding general captured, the remnants falling back out of the town.

The final positions just before dark and the close of the Battle. French / Yellow, Austrians / Orange

The final positions just before dark and the close of the Battle. French / Yellow, Austrians / Orange

The Austrians now sensed the French were in trouble and pressed on, their infantry columns flooding through and out of the town in pursuit, forming up in line of battle preparing to roll up the French left flank. Once again as they had done several times already this battle French forces despite being of less than normal quality (50% of the infantry were conscripts) rose up in defiance and struck back.

French Infantry and Cavalry make a last ditch counter attack to stem the Austrian tide!

French Infantry and Cavalry make a last ditch counter attack to stem the Austrian tide!

The French reserves had finally arrived in the center and deployed with a heavy battery with in effective range of the reforming Austrian dragoons and just as they were about to charge, delivered a devastating combined volley killing several stands, throwing the Austrian dragoons back into disorder, and pinning them in place where they stood till they died. A small victory for the French but it had little effect overall the Austrians had pushed back the french left flank and now four huge Austrian brigades had were in position to move forward taking the rest of the French positions in the flank or rear…. Fate and darkness intervened at this point with the battle ending at 7:30 pm. General Rapp ordered skirmish screens and a general withdrawal towards Strasbourg.

From the Austrian camp,

Percy Wordsmith, London Times

When the victory points were added up the French were ahead, coupling that with their success in keeping at preventing the Austrians from archiving a quick crossing of the Souffel and possibly trapping Rapps main force gave the French an overall win. Herr Gausche playing the part of Archduke John did a splendid job in forcing the river crossing against a determined opponent. We learned how to do a few things within the rules that we had not come across before. Once again the “Age of Eagles” rules rose up and proved to be equal to the task and provided us with one of the best Napoleonic battles yet played by us over the years.

Rules: Age of Eagles (AOE) by Bill Gray from Fire and Fury

Scenario courtesy of the Susquehanna war-gaming group

French, 5 Commanders, 50 infantry stands, 11 Cavalry stands, 4 Batteries

Austrians, 6 Commanders, 90 Infantry Stands, 25 Cavalry stands.

A Balloons eye view of the Battlefield at the end

A Balloons eye view of the Battlefield at the end