Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Battle of Five Forks - ACW

Tonight we played two games based around a scenario reflecting the Battle of Five Forks in the American Civil War. The battle is described on Wikipedia thus:

The Battle of Five Forks was fought on April 1, 1865, southwest of Petersburg, Virginia, around the road junction of Five Forks, Dinwiddie County, Virginia, during the end of the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign (sometimes called the Siege of Petersburg) and in the beginning stage of the Appomattox Campaign near the conclusion of the American Civil War. A mobile task force of combined infantry, artillery and cavalry from the Union Army commanded by Major General Philip Sheridan defeated a Confederate States Army combined task force from the Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Major General George Pickett. The Union force inflicted over 1,000 casualties on the Confederates and took between 2,400 and 4,000 prisoners[ while seizing Five Forks, the key to control of the South Side Railroad (sometimes shown as Southside Railroad), a vital Confederate supply line to, and retreat line from, Petersburg.

Both games were played on a hex table.

In the first game, using Kalistra rules, Julian and I were the Union forces and Chris the Confederates. Julian made the mistake of adding a house rule that we could roll up each unit for morale type on a 12 sided dice - 1-3 = Green 4-9 = standard and 10-12 = elite. The game was lost right here, as Chris rolled 11 or 12 time after time to have a force comprised almost entirely of elites troops, sheltered in either woods or behind defensive earthworks, whereas the Union force had several green units and only one elite! With a force of maybe two additional units, and NO artillery, we had to attack the Rebs holding a strong defensive position with elite troops and supported by guns - what could possibly go wrong...well everything really!

I skulked around in the woods on our right, opposite the Confederate defensive earthworks, trying to snipe away at Chris's defenders, but he had more units in position to fire AND hit on lower die rolls, so that was never going to work unless I had some lucky rolling - and I didn't!

Meanwhile, Julian had a cavalry brigade on our right but within the first couple of move, the four units had been reduced to two by withering fire, and the survivors were forced to dismount and fight as infantry.

Julian had our one minor success after about six moves when his dismounted cavalry charged and managed to defeat a unit of elite Reb infantry, but that was it. In the end, we just "gave it a go" and launched a WW1 style frontal assault - Julian's two units made it into contact but were severely shot up on the way in and pushed back in the melee - my two units suffered 6 and 5 hits from defensive fire respectively, and were blown like chaff form the field! Game one over......

 My force in their starting positions
 Julian rolls to move his cavalry brigade on our left

     The Confederate force in the woods opposite Julian's position

 The Confederate strongpoint in front of my position that we were supposed to take.....

My troops move forward - within a couple of moves two or three of them had suffered 50% casualties and were shaken!
 Julian's cavalry advance on our left - again, shortly after the start of the game, a couple of these units were no longer with us.....
 Chris's Rebs wait in the woods for our cavalry......
 Another view of my forces - stalled in the woods trying to engage in an exchange of fire that proved fruitless
 The Union centre - not much action here
 One of my units went out onto the extreme flank - out of range of the Confederate infantry - and managed to get a hit on the cavalry to push them back
 Union reinforcements arrive - Berdans Sharpshooters in their green uniforms
 Julian tries to put together an infantry advance
 The Rebs in the woods hold on grimly
 Julian's dismounted cavalry and Zoauves mount an attack that pushes back one Reb unit
 My flank is still stalled
 In we go! A mad charge across open ground against elite troops occupying prepared defensive positions......
 Julian also launched a frontal assault on the other wing
 And the result - both my units were wiped out before even getting into contact!
Julian made it in but was shot up and then pushed back with losses and shaken morale - this is when we gave up and called the game - a decisive win for the Confederates!


  1. The problem was, I am sure, that Custer's cavalry was not there.

  2. Well actually....that is who they were supposed to be, I believe! Game two was more to my taste Mark - just loaded the details now :)