Following the Federal defeat at Fox Gap in my most recent game (see: Action at Fox's Gap) and a rules' clarification from Norm regarding Line of Sight to and from elevated terrain, a new Federal plan of attack surfaced. With both artillery sections capable of bringing their tubes to bear from the beginning of the battle, the Federals may finally have the punch necessary to properly soften up the Rebel positions on the heights.
As I formulated the Federal response, Norm, the author of Two Flags-One Nation, gave the Fox Gap scenario a try (see: Fox Gap 1862 On A Smaller Grid). Norm's battle result was the same seen in previous outcomes. That is, the Federals were unable to take and hold the high ground long enough to claim victory. Undaunted by another Federal loss, I stuck to the revised Federal plan of attack.
The Federal plan was to compromise Bondurrant's gun position early on and then maintain a steady bombardment on the heights until an opportunity arose to breach the Confederate defensive line. Key to the plan was to use the Division Commander, Cox, aggressively to bolster Federal chances of success. Recall, the scenario does not provide a Divisional Commander to the Rebels so this is an advantage to be used to further Federal goals.
The battle opened up with both Federal batteries firing. The Ohio Light Artillery (OHLA) targeted the small, raw 12 NC in the center of the Confederate line causing one Heavy Casualty (HC). The 12th NC passed its Capability Test (CT). Gibson's guns opened up against Bondurrant's guns but did no damage. For the success of the Federal plan, this is a bad omen! The WV Cavalry across the field from the Rebel guns manages to cause light casualties. Bondurrant stands firm.
With Cox leading the 30 OHa on the Federal right with 30 OHb following in support, the Ohioans use the cover of the woods to mask their approach and then pop out of the woods on Bondurrant's flank. As Cox emerges from the woods, Bondurrant turns a gun to face his attackers and gets off a few rounds. Bondurrant's impulsive fire misses the mark. Cox and his Ohioans crash into the guns causing two HCs on the guns while taking one HC. Bondurrant limbers and retires through the Confederate lines.
|Federal opening attacks|
Garland's boys return fire from their solid defensive position lining the stonewall. With no artillery to bring to bear, the Rebels must rely on small arms. The 12 OH takes one HC while the 30 OHb suffers two HCs and falls back in disorder.
|Bondurrant's guns are driven off|
|Rebels return fire|
Having driven off Bondurrant's guns in the center, Cox leaves the 30 OH and rides over to join the 12 OH. The Federal guns maintain their bombardments of the Rebel positions in anticipation of Federal attacks. OHLA puts two HCs upon the 12 NC while Gibson's guns gift the 5 NCb with three HCs. Three hits on three dice. Fine shooting!
|Gibson finds the range!|
Not only are the 5 NCb and 12 NC drawing fire from the guns but a hail of lead is also aimed in their direction. The 30 OHa hits the 12 NC with one more HC. Its nerve fails and the 12th retreats back into the woods. The 5 NCb takes a fourth HC but stands its ground. With the 5 NCb weakening, Cox leads the 12 OH up the ridge. The 12 OH gives better than it takes and the Tarheels are pushed off the ridge having sustained a total of six HCs.
Notice in the photo above that the center victory hex is unoccupied. Due to the stickiness of Enemy Zones of Control (EZOC), a Federal regiment could not move into the empty hex. No movement from EZOC to EZOC is allowed.
The 12 OH regiment's success is short lived. At canister range, Pelham's guns open up on the Ohioans as they clear the stonewall. The 12th suffers heavy casualties (four more HCs) but remains undaunted. Off to the 12th's left, Rebel dismounted cavalry open up causing a further HC.
|12 OH (foreground attacks the 5 NC|
|Rebels pound the attackers|
The Ohioans can take no more! They recoil back down the slope looking for any cover they can find. Rebel musketry does not end there. The 23 OHa suffers two more HCs while the 30 OHa absorbs four HCs.
Having sustained devastating casualties in the center, the Federal attack peters out. Union guns continue causing casualties to the defenders but only the 20 NC is pushed back from cavalry carbine fire on the right.
|30 OH takes four for four!|
The destruction in the center is too much. The 12 OH scatters while the 30 OHa retreats. The Federal center is gone. Bondurrant unlimbers his guns along the wall in the center. With the Federal center gone, only the guns are keeping up a hot fire. OHLA hits Bondurrant's guns again but the gunners maintain their position. Gibson hits the 23 NC and it has seen enough. It falls back from the ridge.
|Heavy casualties in the Union center|
With Cox still leading the 23 OHa, the regiment goes in against the end of the Confederate line. The raw, 5 NCa manages to repulse the Ohioans and Cox goes down in the clash. In coordination with the 23 OHa, the 23 OHb charges Bondurrant's wavering guns. The remainder of the Rebel guns are destroyed. On the Federal right, the WV Cavalry causes the 13 NC to retire back toward Wise's Farm.
|Federals hold two of the three objectives|
With two of the three objectives in Yankee hands and a number of Rebel units scattered, the Rebels take an (optional rule) Brigade Cohesion check. All along the Rebel line, regiment after regiment fails its test and retreats in disorder. Although battered, the Ohioans have succeeded on this day.
As in the previous contests, this proved to be a bloody affair. Casualties were high with more than one combat result hitting on all dice. In the end, the Federal plan worked. Bondurrant's guns were taken out early and the ridgeline defenses softened up sufficiently so that a concerted attack had a chance of success. Scammon's Brigade was able to give the Rebel defenders a one, two, three punch on more than one occasion. First artillery, then small arms, and then finally Close Combat was utilized in sequence to first soften up and then push the Rebels from their defensive position. Combined arms at its finest.
For future games, the victory conditions will be modified. I found the Rebels could take up a "Reverse Slope" tactic and simply attempt to blow away any Federal regiment making it onto the ridge. Pelham's battery did just such execution against the 12 OH when it took the Ridge Road. Even though this tactic ultimately failed, a better victory objective criterion is warranted. To prompt the Rebels to defend these crucial hexes, if at the end of a turn all three of the objective hexes are either occupied by Federal units or unoccupied, the Union wins the battle. With sticky EZOCs, this is still a difficult task for both in controlling these crucial hexes.
As in the other iterations of this scenario, a lot of action in a little space!