Friday, October 6, 2017

Morning Action at Fox's Gap - Scenario for TFON

Early on the morning of September 14, 1862, Pleasonton's Federal cavalry division began probing Fox's Gap.  The only Confederate resistance was offered by Rosser's 5th VA cavalry and Pelham's two gun section.  Had Pleasonton pressed on, the Gap may have been his.  Instead, his troopers dismounted along the Old Sharpsburg Road and sent for help.
Federal help arrived in the form of Scammon's Brigade of Cox's Division. In an attempt to outflank the small Rebel force, Scammon sent forward the 23 OH along the mountain road to get onto the ridge. As the 23rd neared the crest line, it found that the Confederates had begun bringing up reinforcements.  Blocking his way to the Ridge Road was Garland's brigade as it filed into the sunken Ridge Road to seize the heights and thwart Federal attempts to pass through Fox's Gap.  Thus opened the early stages of the Battle of Fox's Gap. 

Rules: Norm Smith's Two Flags - One Nation.
Initial Deployment:
With the exception of USA Division Commander, Cox, all units begin deployed on table as shown in the game map above.  Cox is used as per standard rules governing divisional commanders.  There are no reinforcements. 

Game Length: Begins 0900 and ends at 1100.

First Player: Since both combatants were under attack orders, each rolls 1D6 before game begins.  High roll gets choice.

Victory Conditions:
  • Union Victory: Control the three Ridge Road hexes (where 5NCb, 12NC, 23NC are initially deployed) adjacent to Beachley fields and Wise's Farm (Fox Gap).
  • Confederate Victory:  Control the three Ridge Road hexes (where 5NCb, 12NC, 23NC are initially deployed) adjacent to Beachley fields and Wise's Farm (Fox Gap).
  • Otherwise, call it a draw.
  • Woods are heavy woodland and provide Cover for both small arms fire and close combat.
  • Ridge Road is lined with a stone wall providing Cover for both small arms and close combat.  Moving uphill onto the Ridge Road is considered Difficult for movement.
  • Artillery may only traverse woods along roads (trails).  Since most of these roads are no more than farm trails, no bonus for road movement.
  • The farm land in the clearing surrounding Beachley farms is heavily walled and fenced.  Classified as Difficult terrain for movement; Cover for Close Combat. 
Special Rules:
The CSA has no Division commander in this battle.  Garland acts as both division and brigade commander until he becomes a casualty.  Unlike a typical division commander, Garland remains on the field after each divisional commander action.  If Garland becomes a casualty, only a replacement brigade commander is available.
Pelham's artillery and 5 VA Cavalry are independent of Garland and operate as their own independent brigade.  The Federal West Virginia Cavalry is likewise considered an independent unit.      

Fox Gap Order of Battle
Unit Set Up Capability Size Weapon Type
CSA Garland BDE

5NC a see map Raw Standard Rifled Musket
5NC b see map Raw Standard Rifled Musket
12 NC see map Raw Small Rifled Musket
13 NC see map Veteran Standard Rifled Musket
20 NC see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
23 NC see map Veteran Standard Rifled Musket
5 VA Cav see map Veteran Standard Carbine
Pelham Artillery see map Veteran 2 guns Napoleons
Bondurrant’s Battery see map Veteran Standard 3” Rifles

USA Cox DIV off map

Scammon BDE see map

WV Cavalry see map Seasoned Standard Carbine
12 OH see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
23 OH a see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
23 OH b see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
30 OH a see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
30 OH b see map Seasoned Standard Rifled Musket
Gibson’s Batt C&G, 3US see map Veteran Standard 3” Rifles
1 Batt OH Light Artillery see map Veteran Standard 10lb Parrott

2Advance the Game Clock by 15 minutes
3Friendly fire – A unit (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union) in woods fires at an adjacent friendly unit in woods.
4Leader shot – If Garland still on field D6: 1-5 Garland; 6 Federal. Otherwise D6: 1,2,3 Confederate; 4,5,6 Federal. Randomly select the leader and remove from play using the usual rules for leader casualties.
5Up and at them boys' (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union) that player can modify one charge test by +2 this turn
6 No Event
7No Event
8No Event
9Adjust the line - (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union) that player may instantly move one unit of their choice 1 hex either sideways or backwards. This is a free move.
10A unit gets confused orders - (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union), the chosen player can pick any one enemy unit and move it one hex in any direction - though the move must be legitimate within the rules.
11Inspiring leadership - (D6, 1,2,3 it is Confederate, 4,5,6 it is Union), the selected player can remove 1 Heavy Casualty marker from any one unit of their choice.
12Out of ammunition - Randomly select one artillery battery currently on the table. Mark it as being out of ammunition, it will remain so for the next 30 minutes.
Historically, the opening stages of the battle represented by this scenario resulted in Federal troops of Scammon's Brigade pushing Garland's Confederates off the Ridge Road and threatening Wise's Farm.  The later arrival of two regiments from Anderson's Brigade at Fox Gap was not enough to counter the momentum of the Federals especially having been reinforced by Crook's Brigade.  Garland fell early in the action and Rutherford B. Hayes (later US President) suffered a wound.

The Fox Gap scenario represents the distilling of my thoughts on this action for play under Two Flags - One Nation.  With a scenario foundation and its constraints in place, time to playtest the scenario.  Keep in mind, Fox Gap is simply an initial draft of the scenario as I stake out a baseline from which to build and refine.  Battle will be fought using Norm's latest addenda of limiting hits when defender claims cover.  With only one brigade per side, keeping one's brigade in command will be a challenge.  The Federals, with the aid of Cox, will have less difficulty keeping their command coordinated than will Garland.  Bondurrant's battery seems deployed a bit too forward at the beginning of battle.  Perhaps up on the Ridge Road would have made a sensible choice?    

In theory, the foundation and premise of the scenario appears reasonable and follows the historical situation.  Only multiple playtests will confirm this initial assessment.  Once the early morning scenario produces the desired results, Fox Gap can be expanded to include the later reinforcements of both Crook's Federal brigade and elements of Anderson's Confederate brigade.

Feedback on the scenario is encouraged.


  1. Great looking scenario Jonathan. Will you do this as a part of a series, including other action on South Mountain?

    1. Thank you, Mark. As for a series, I can foresee three or four scenarios based solely on the Fox Gap action. Turner's Gap could see additional scenarios.

  2. So pleased to see the amount of effort and support that you are giving these rules. The scenario and terrain mix look to give a very interesting situation and will help put some of the recent rule changes through their paces.

    I am dashing to get my Confederate cavalry primed, painted and on the table so that I can get this scenario underway. I have just washed them and they are drying outside.

    I only have one question, I am not sure exactly which are the 3 hexes being referred to as victory hexes.

    1. Hi Norm,
      Great to provide a bit of inspiration for painting Reb cavalry!

      As for the Ridge Road VP hexes, those are the three hexes occupied at start by 5NCb, 12NC, and 23NC regiments.

      Not to spoil the results of my play test but I am about one hour (game time) into my play through and the change to limiting casualties in cover is providing the raw 5NC some staying power.

    2. OK, perhaps that rule is coming under early pressure, there really is a lot of cover here, so the rule can likely be tested to destruction.

      I think when I play through it, I will try and compare the new rule with what could have happened under the two previous renditions (half casualty and half casualty plus any remainder).

    3. Testing using all cover/hit iterations is a good one but the raw 5NCb has been punching above its weight class.

      In the game in play, mentioned above, the 5NCa failed its CT and fell back as expected given its RAW status. The 5NCb has been stubbornly clinging to its ground having passed a number of CTs and beating the odds. Can it hold out? Stay tuned!

  3. Wow! That is a seriously impressive game, Jonathan. I'm not an ACW gamer, but it certainly looks like a great scenario.

    1. Thanks, Dean. We will see how it works when moved from theory into practice.

  4. Sounds like fun, I look forward to the AAR!
    Best Iain

    1. The first playing turned into an interesting contest. I have some writing to do....

  5. Cavalry painted. now varnished ..... Oh why does varnish take 24 hours to dry? Then another day for basing. I hope after all this my cavalry actually get into action :-)

    1. The scenario was a good motivator to get Rebel cavalry onto your painting desk. That’s good! The 5th VA saw action in my game.

  6. Sounds like a scenario worth having!

  7. Mounted cavalry painted and based etc. I will need to buy some dismouted Confederate cavalry, but for now will use a proxy. Looking at all of the woodland, I thought my collection of timber might be sorely stretched - so, per chance, last week I took a delivery of 20 of those cheap trees that you can buy on e-bay. ihad regretted the purchase as they are poorly flocked and had already started shedding in the package.

    But, needs must and they were immediately at hand. I have sprayed them with photo mount glue and added further flock, then when dry fully dipped them in a PVA solution and hung them out to dry off. Then they were based into MDF penny sized based and then mounted into 3’s onto irregular plasticard templates. These had a filler meix added to the base, followed by ink and at the moment are waiting for flocking. Phew! The various stages have taken several days with the drying out that was needed, but the results has been a fairly good rescue of these things and they will almost certainly get used in the game.

    1. Great progress on the cavalry front, Norm! In my initial game, cavalry remained dismounted throughout. The mounted stands were on stand-by if needed.

      Good to read that your foray into Chinese trees has paid off with satisfactory results. This battle, along with many in the ACW, are tree heavy, for sure. I found the number of woods' hexes along with my small, 2 inch hex pattern played havoc on moving through the trees. In my next game, I have come upon a different solution to hopefully reduce some of the "tree catching on my sleeve" frustration.