Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Action at Fox’s Gap 0900-1000

After researching a few accounts of the morning action at Fox's Gap between Garland and Cox and devising a scenario, time to see if the scenario survives first contact.  For scenario specifics including map, deployments, OB, and special rules, see Fox Gap Scenario for TF-ON.
Initial Deployments
Note that a few mistakes were made during play primarily with respect to allowing out of command (OOC) units to initiate Close Combat.  Once discovered, I justified these irregularities based on the fact the brigade commander could have been properly deployed to allow such an action since he was typically otherwise unengaged.

The other two changes from the Rules As Written (RAW) address the tracking of disorder status and duration.

First, rather than track disorder via time chits, I simplified the process to a mathematical equivalency.  Since Disorder is typically dished out in increments of 15 minutes and the Game Clock advances at a rate or 8 + 2D6 minutes, a unit will be disordered only until the next advancement of the Game Clock if the Game Clock Advancement Roll is 8+ (16 minutes or more).  If this variable portion of the dice roll is less than 8, a unit will remain disordered after the next advancement of the Game Clock.  It will remain in a Disordered state until the second advancement of the Game Clock.  In simple terms, a Disorder Roll is introduced whereby a unit rolls 2D6 upon becoming disordered.  If this result is an 8+ on the Disorder Roll, the unit is disordered one turn.  Roll less than 8 and the unit is disordered for two turns.

Second, under RAW, a unit that passes its Capability Test (CT) in the Post Close Combat Capability Test maintains its position and remains in good order but cannot charge again for 15 minutes.  Rather than track the 15 minutes on a time chit, a unit now becomes disordered and follows the rule given above.  No longer is there a mandated, time moratorium on charging.  A disordered unit may now charge at its own peril.  My rationale is that even a victorious unit following close combat would likely suffer some effects of disorder and this change both addresses this inherent disorder and makes the effect easy to track.  Heresy perhaps but it works for me and fits in with my sense of a likely post-combat disorder.  Note that I implemented this change early in the game.

In the Battle Report photos, disorder is shown as either red 1 or yellow 2 markers denoting the number of "turns" of disorder.  Heavy casualties are depicted by white casualty counters.

With those clarifications noted, time to proceed to the solo replay.
Early minutes of battle
0900.  At the start of the battle, both players roll a D6 to determine First Player.  Commanding Scammon's Brigade and the West Virginia cavalry, Cox takes the initiative and will be the First Player throughout the game.

Cox attaches himself to the 23 OHa and prepares to attack the 5 NCa on the Confederate right flank.  In the center, the 30 OHa opens fire onto Bondurrant's guns causing one heavy casualty.  Bondurrant's guns stand firm partially sheltered by the stone walls and fences bifurcating the fields.

With Cox leading the charge, the 23 OHa attacks the Tar Heels.  Being raw, the 5 NC fires off an ineffective volley and then braces for the attack.  At close range, the Ohioans best the Tar Heels.  The 5 NCa takes two heavy casualties in the close combat, fails its Capability Test (CT), and then falls back in disorder suffering one additional heavy casualty.  For their effort, the Ohioans become disordered suffering two heavy casualties.
Ohioans attack the Confederate right
Garland moves to join the now disordered and shaken 5 NCa.  The other half of the regiment, the 5 NCb fires into the 23 OHb causing one heavy casualty.  Bondurrant's artillery returns the favor dished out by the 30 OHa.  Despite having protection from walls and fences suffers, the 30th suffers two heavy casualties.  Cover is not much help against artillery fire.  The 30 OHa's cohesion fails and it falls back from the guns in disorder.
Bondurrant's guns precariously positioned
0918. As the Game Clock advances to 0918, all units lose one level (turn) of disorder.

Cox leaves the 23 OHa and joins the 23 OHb at J. Beachley Farm. With Cox at the fore, the 23 OHb fires into the 5 NCb on the Ridge Road and then advances out from the woods to cover the 23 OHa's right flank.

The 12 OH charges out from the woods towards Bondurrant's guns.  As the 12 OH closes, Bondurrant's guns belch out canister.  The 12 OH suffers one heavy casualty but presses on.  Possibly benefiting from the closed nature of the fields on the approach to the guns, the Ohioans losses are minimal while Bondurrant suffers three heavy casualties.  Both combatants hold their ground.  Not in an EZOC and taking no other action, the 23 OHa attempts to rally from its disorder.  It succeeds.
Fight for Bondurrant's guns!
As the 23 OHb advances into the fields, the Tar Heels let out a volley from the woods.  The Ohioans take one heavy casualty but stand firm.  The 12 NC fires into the 12 OH causing one heavy casualty while the guns remain silent.  Garland attempts to rally the disordered 5 NCa to no avail.
Situation at 0932.
0932.  Unable to bring the Federal guns into a firing position, muskets continue to face off against Confederate artillery.   The 12 OH causes one more heavy casualty to Bondurrant but even with 5 heavy casualties, the guns stand firm.  Seeing opportunity at hand, Scammon attaches himself to the 30 OHa and orders a charge upon the Confederate guns. As the Ohioans hop fences and walls to come to grips with the guns, they suffer one heavy casualty but do not waver.
Attack on the guns!
In the close combat, the Ohioans suffer one heavy casualty while the guns take two more.  Both pass their Capability Tests.  Despite being the center of Federal aggressions and no concern for his own safety, Bondurrant coolly continues to keep his advanced guns in action.
Fight for Bondurrant's guns continues as casualties mount
On the Federal left, 23 OHa attempts to turn the Confederate right by flanking the 5 NCb.  The Ohioans close through the woods and the North Carolinians are caught off guard by the sudden threat to their flank.  The Tar Heels fail to bring their muskets to bear.  The Ohioans deliver a punishing attack but due to the cover only two heavy casualties are suffered by the Tar Heels.  Both combatants hold their ground in the close confines of the woods but become disordered in the entanglements of friend, foe, and underbrush.
Tar Heels of 5 NC flanked!
In flanking the 5 NC, the 23 OHa, themselves, offer up their own, exposed flank to Rosser's dismounted Confederate cavalry.  The Rebel cavalry fire into the Ohioans causing another heavy casualty.
Hot time for Confederate guns
To offer some support for Bondurrant's beleaguered guns, the 12 NC fires into the 12 OH fro the relative safety of the Ridge Road.  The 12 OH suffers one heavy casualty, becomes disordered, and falls back through its own guns.  The Federal guns watch as the Ohioans pass back through their position. 
12 Ohio repulsed!
Having 5+ heavy casualties, Bondurrant's battery must test its resolve during the Retreat Phase.  With 7 Heavy Casualties, Bondurrant fails and the guns are eliminated having taken their eighth and final heavy casualty.  While the loss of a battery is a tough pill to swallow, Bondurrant bought time for the Confederates while causing significant injury to the Federals in the process.
Bondurrant's guns scatter to the winds
0945.  Cox joins the 23 OHa.  Gibson's artillery, having the disordered 12 OH pass through its position, opens fire upon the 12 NC.  With the commotion of friendly troops falling back through their guns, the ensuing fire upon the Rebels is ineffective.  The OH Lt Artillery, having unlimbered within range of the Wise Farm, fires on the 13 NC with similar little effect.

With Federal musketry having no noticeable effect upon the sheltered Confederate line along the Ridge Road, the 23 OHb fixes bayonets and charges the 5 NCb.  The Federal attack goes in without having to endure any defensive fire.  In the close combat, the Ohioans dish out two heavy casualties while suffering one in return. While the Tar Heels maintain their ground, the Ohioans are bloodily repulsed suffering another heavy casualty as they retreat back into the cover, disordered.   The 30 OHa advances to the base of the Ridge Road with the West Virginian cavalry following closely.  The 30 OHb advances to maintain contact with the 30 OHa.
Federal left falls back as the center advances
Still in an outflanking position, Rosser's cavalry continues pouring fire into the Ohioans.  Succumbing to the harassing fire, the 30 OHa falls back disordered.

With the Federals at close range, both the 12 NC and 20 NC open up on their attackers.  The 30 OHa suffers one heavy casualty, becomes disordered and falls back.  The 30 OHb takes one heavy casualty but holds its ground.  Garland joins the 5 NCb to bolster its resolve.  Even with Garland's presence, the 5 NCb has had enough and breaks for the rear suffering one more heavy casualty as stragglers fall from the ranks.
Both sides have regiments breaking for the rear!
1004. To be continued...

Well, that was a lot of action in the first hour of battle and a cracking game.  Well suited to solo play.  To allow the combatants and the chronicler a chance to catch their breath, the retelling of the action will be broken into two parts.  The second and final hour of battle will be resumed next time.

While the Ridge Road is still firmly in Confederate hands, the loss of Bondurrant's guns significantly weakens Garland's position.  The game is producing great drama as both sides fight tooth and nail to hold the heavily enclosed, Beachley fields.  The raw North Carolinians on the Confederate right could not stand up to the attacks by the 23rd.  Fortunately for the Rebels, the timely appearance by Rosser's dismounted cavalry put an end to that Federal flanking threat.  For now, that is!

Casualties inflicted have been heavy.  Many of the Federal regiments are already reduced to 50% effective.  Is there enough fighting "punch" left in Scammon's Brigade to wrest control of the high ground from the North Carolinians?  We will see next time when we pick up the action once again.


  1. What a very full first hour, right from the get-go. Bondurrant's artillery is a loss to the Confederates, but their resolve was pretty spectacular, holding their position for so long. At the start of the game, they look almost out of position, but it has worked well for them.

    Your first hour confirms my suspicions that the ridge wall will be a tough nut to crack, but you have given me some ideas on how to proceed (solitaire) with my opening moves.

    The scenario seems to be holding up very well and giving plenty of nuanced interest. Scammon looks like he only has enough offensive capacity for one more push.

    I have literally just started the 0900 hours turn and just came to the computer to check Google as to whether the 10lb Parrott's were rifled or smoothbore, so it was good to see your opening progress.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement with respect to the scenario, Norm. Very much appreciated!

      Even in the first playing of the scenario many decision points pop up and tough choices must be made. The first hour was really a tough fight for both. I expect nothing less in the second hour.

      I am really enjoying the compact design of the scenario in particular and your push towards wargaming in small places in general. In a small contest, every unit and every casualty sustained can make a difference to the outcome.

  2. Very, very detailed game, Jonathan. I know it would be a hit with a lot of the locals here - they love ACW - I think some of them have a monthly RF&F game at Fort Steilacoom - same venue as the game day I attended last month.

    1. Dean, when you speak of "hit with locals" are you referring to Norm's rules or the Fox Gap scenario?

      Thanks for looking in!

    2. Both, they love to try out different rules too.

  3. Nice report Jonathan, and a great-looking game. Looking forward to the next instalment.

  4. Super game Jonathan. I played this scenario many years ago. Your game might just provide the inspiration to play it again.

    1. Thanks, Mark! Try Fox Gap again; a small game with a lot ofaction.

  5. Lots of close combat, seems very suffocating in the woods,looks great a lot has happened in an hour!
    Best Iain

    1. With all of the close terrain, it does seem a bit suffocating. Most combat is occurring at close range and casualties can mount quickly.

      Much activity did occur in that first hour. Will the second hour be any different?

  6. Thanks for sharing Jonathan a very different style of gaming to my normal approach. It leaves me with some interesting food for thought going forward as I develop my ACW figures 🙂

    1. An occasional change-up in gaming style is a good thing! Glad you found something of interest and food for thought in this BatRep. I need to finish off this exercise to demonstrate how it concluded.

  7. Great battle report. I'm waiting for the next turns!

    1. Glad you are enjoying the battle report! Part II tomorrow.

  8. I'll simply echo what others have said - great pictures and write up, with interesting rule concepts!


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