Friday, January 1, 2010

Kernstown, 1862

A few friends and I gathered to play a little ACW the other night. The rules dujour were Rally 'Round the Flag. A little background on the scenario from Wikipedia:

The First Battle of Kernstown was fought on March 23, 1862, in Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia, the opening battle of Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's campaign through the Shenandoah Valley during the American Civil War.

Attempting to tie down the Union forces in the Valley, under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, Jackson received incorrect intelligence that a small detachment under Col. Nathan Kimball was vulnerable, but it was in fact a full infantry division more than twice the size of Jackson's force. His initial cavalry attack was forced back and he immediately reinforced it with a small infantry brigade. With his other two brigades, Jackson sought to envelop the Union right by way of Sandy Ridge. But Col. Erastus B. Tyler's brigade countered this movement, and, when Kimball's brigade moved to his assistance, the Confederates were driven from the field. There was no effective Union pursuit.

Although the battle was a Confederate tactical defeat, and in fact Jackson's only defeat in the war, it represented a strategic victory for the South by preventing the Union from transferring forces from the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce the Peninsula Campaign against the Confederate capital, Richmond. Kernstown started Jackson on the road to being one of the most celebrated Confederate generals.

Battlefield layout

The Confederates racing up the Union right side to get good position on Sandy Ridge.

Union soldiers in the center prepare for the eventual Confederate charge.

The Confederate charge in the center finally comes. This wasn't to last for long. After a few rounds of melee, the crack Confederate troops broke the morale of the Union troops in contact with them and the Union troops in reserve behind. The cannon to the right of the melee would be lost as well and eventually another command would be required to shore up the Union center.

The Confederates manage to get their riflemen and cannons in excellent position on the Union right flank. Something would have to be done about this ....

The most immediate threat in the center had been answered and a whole lotta Union troops are poised to make their way to Sandy Ridge on the Union right flank. Off in the distance on the left flank you can see the makings of what eventually became a failed cavalry charge.

With the Union cavalry out of the picture on the left the Confederates advance. The Confederates are advancing in the center as well, but fortunately the Union troops had some time to manuever.

The stage for the final skirmish in the center.

On the left the Union troops move forward to meet the Confederate advance. In the center, Union troops were finally successful in routing the Confederates.

In the end, the Union would control the center and the right, and the confederates controlled the left. This ruleset does not have an army morale system (that I know of) and we unanimously agreed the Confederates would have left the field to the Union. I believe this game effectively captured essence of the real historical conflict and was great fun. I wouldn't recommend these rules for further ACW play without some modifications though.

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