Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Card from Sharpsburg

I received an electronic Christmas card from Joanne and Paul who are the proprietors of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn in Sharpsburg. Paul and I stayed two nights at their establishment during our ACW eastern battlefield tour last spring. Their hospitality was friendly and the breakfast was delightful. The Rohrbach Inn is shown in the photo below. The Inn was used as a hospital during and after the battle. My hunch is that most of the houses in Sharpsburg were utilized as hospitals.

The arrival of the card reminded me what a wonderful trip we had exploring the battlefields. Antietam was quiet and the weather was terrific. Below is a photo of the Bloody Lane looking towards the Observation Tower.

Scott, Austin, and I were joined by Kevin for a General de Brigade game at Scott's. The battle was Maida lifted from the Gd'B scenario book. Kevin and I commanded the French while Austin took command of the British. The French direct assaults against the British lines were mostly handled mostly with ease with the except for one singular moment. Kevin attacked one British line battalion with one regiment of hussars flanked by two French infantry columns. The Brits remained in line and won the melee. Reynier's one chance for glory melted away as his infantry streamed to the rear.

As for the scenario, itself, there is much to question about the attached OB. The Poles were under Peyri’s command and the 1st Legere was really a good unit. Circumstance during the battle was the cause of their sudden break. Also, the 2/78th had only 650 present and 600 of those were under-age (green and inexperienced) boys. The GdB scenario has them mustered as elites with 44 figured! The largest and one of the best units on the board. Although the 78th fought well, I think it more of a chance event than the resolve of the unit. The 81st and 58th weren't much better.

These ratings offer a chance to reflect on rating units for a given scenario. Do you rate them as they performed during the battle (i.e. Maida performance was a fluke) or do you rate them as they performed on balance knowing that to perform as heroically as at Maida would require a ‘chance’ event?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Battle Report Second Manassas

After a long hiatus, Paul and I returned to the Second Battle of Manassas game. We had left the battle at the Union 09:30 turn with Heinzelmann's Corps reaching the battlefield. Jackson's wing is still holding with continuing attacks from Sigel and McDowell. Reynolds and his division have been rendered hors d'combat both from vicious fighting on the Union left and in Federal attacks against Jackson near the Groveton Woods. Federals breached the Confederate defensive line along the unfinished railroad but without support, counterattacks from Starke and A.P. Hill recaptured the cut with heavy losses to the Federals.

Kearney reached the battlefield and swung along Bull Run onto Jackson's left near Sudley Church. In heavy fighting on this front, both A.P. Hill and Kearney panicked bringing the assault to a temporary halt. Porter arrives along the Manassas Gap Road and elements of Longstreet begin arriving along the Warrenton Pike.

By 12:30, Longstreet was approaching Lewis Lane and Porter began long-range artillery fire onto Longstreet's lead elements. Hooker's division has come up in a blocking position astride the Warrenton Pike/Lewis Lane intersection. With Longstreet securing Jackson's right flank, Early and Hays redeploy from the Warrenton Pike to north of Groveton.

Casualties to this point are roughly, Union 11,000; Confederate 7,500. It is very interesting to see historical mistakes repeated in the game. For example, Jackson's right attacks out of the entrenchments to meet the advancing Federals; Sigel throws his Corps into frontal assaults upon entrenched positions with little coordination or support; Union attacks are piecemeal and unsupported; Union attacks breach the unfinished railroad cut and without close support are isolated and counterattacked; Heintzelmann splits Kearney off to the right flank while the remainder of the Corps advances down the Warrenton Pike.

Perhaps hindsight is not 20/20.

Scope Creep And The Rule of Twelve.
How do you determine when a project is complete? I constantly wrestle with this dilemma. Over the years, I've found that combatants having roughly twelve foot units and proportional elements of horse and gun produce more enjoyable games. In a game with fewer units, a chance unit loss can have catastrophic consequences. In games with more units, the units in play are tended with less care.

Under the notion that more is better, my tendency is to continue building forces beyond this optimal project size. If about twelve units per combatant constitutes a "complete" project, which projects could I deem complete? Consider a few of my 28mm projects.  For the ECW, a quick count shows 11 foot, 9 horse, and 2 guns per side. I call that project complete although I do have a few more foot units left in inventory to paint. For FIW, I count 20 British foot, 16 French foot, 7 native foot, no horse, and only a couple of guns. This project, too, can be considered completed and fits closely to the Rule of Twelve with the excess foot units replacing the horse elements.  For Napoleonics, I have 8 foot, 2 horse, 4 guns (British) and 7 foot, 2 horse, and 4 guns (French). While this is approaching the Rule of Twelve, clearly I have room for expansion.

A recent Litko order arrived in near record time for Litko. In the past, orders have taken four to six weeks to receive. This order arrived within two weeks. Perhaps Litko is working out the logistics of order placement and fulfillment. With these new bases, I was able to complete the rebasing of the Russian cavalry. Only the Prussian cavalry contingents remain to be rebased.