|The divisions of Syke's V Corps moving northwards towards Gettysburg.|
If you've seen the previous post, you'll know that I've made up some 6mm ACW armies to fight big battles with small figs, "in the grand style".
These I took in to our latest monthly Bonsor game night, where Chris (Union), Doug (A.P. Hill & Longstreet) and Gary (Lee & Ewell) were kind enough to give it a try.
Here's the vain pitch I made on our club website:
"Yep, three days of Gettysburg in three hours at Bonsor. 'Bonnie Blue Flag!' home brew big battle rules have been specifically written to accommodate our game night limitations, and these will hopefully allow us to finish the darned battle! They feature command & control, big operational moves, and fast combat on a 14 by 12 mile table top. Longstreet's dream flanking move to the right and Custer's cavalry battle on the 'East Field' are now do-able. Lots of commands are available, and late arriving corps are there for late joiners."
Well, it didn't go three days, for a start. The end of the first day was the best we could manage -- just four turns and a night phase. That's the bad news.
The good news is that just about everything else worked really well. The players appeared engaged, and really seemed to enjoy what was going on, even if the blood-letting on this July 1st was pretty minor. There were even two or three spectators who were engrossed, as if watching a movie, which I guess is a good sign.
|A view of the central part of the field, from the west. Chris's moves his troops up the slopes of Little Round Top.|
What happened, in brief:
Ewell and A.P. Hill moved in on Gettysburg from the north and west, as per the script. But this particular Union Cavalry commander, Buford (AKA Chris), was having none of it, and immediately retreated all the way back to Culp's Hill! That ended any historical resemblance right there (but that's what wargaming's all about isn't it? Why play, otherwise?). Most of the day was then spent with the Confederates maneuvering to lengthen the Union line in order to create a weak point, while the Bluebellies reinforced ("What? Another Union Corps?" cries Doug. "No, two." says I).
|Southern gentlemen pass through Gettysburg.|
If you've seen the movie you'll recall the point where the Confederate General complains "Give me one division... one brigade... one regiment, and I will take that hill!" Same here. Gary had a corps of 20,000 men and 90 guns sitting at the foot of Culp's Hill and Little Round Top -- each manned by about 4,000 Union troops -- and refused to move. All afternoon his corps sat, passing on about four opportunities to attack, with fresh Union reinforcements arriving all the while.
|The view from the east. Johnny Reb sits at the foot of Little Round Top, which is becoming increasingly infested by Yankees.|
Meantime Doug struggled to bring his troops online along the poor road net. Eventually (c. 5:00pm in game time) he found the weak spot he was looking for. The "hinge/elbow" of the Yankee I Corp's exposed left flank was hanging gloriously in the air! with empty heights and an open road to Washington in its rear. Doug threw Anderson's Division and whatever else he could bring to bear at it. But the dice Gods were rather unsympathetic, and a 'Bloody Exchange' was the best he could do.
I'll let Doug explain this inexplicable episode in his own words.
Chris put the seal on Day One with an equally bloody counter-attack in (what else?) 'Bloody Woods'.
Thus ended the game.
One of the reasons I chose to stage this very big battle was because I wanted to see how much I could fit into a single gaming session using my grand tactical rules. I think that one of the reasons we only completed a single day was due to the fact that players were handling very large commands. But if it can work with something this big, it can work with just about anything.
Perhaps something like First Bull Run would be more appropriate?
Thanks to all who showed interest.
|The field just prior to the attack of Anderson's Division, |
which took place just south of the Wheat Field.