This Friday we got together for some more small-group gaming and played the Battle of Perryville using Pickett's Charge by David CR Brown. This battle was the largest fought in Kentucky during the American Civil War and was coordinated alongside the Lee's invasion of Maryland in the East. Perryville was fought on October 8th, 1862, under a month after Antietam.
For the past year or so our group has been enjoying the Pickett's Charge rules for regimental scale battles, but we decided to upscale this scenario to try and play an entire battle at once while allowing for flank maneuvers. At 10'x6' the table represented just under 3 miles wide of terrain and each unit was representing an entire brigade (with activation being done at the Divisional level).
|Initial positions of Union and Rebel forces
In the historical battle the Union army outnumbered the Confederates by 55,000 men to 16,000 at the end of day. While initially it was an even fight, with around 20,000 Union engaged it is still a very difficult scenario for the Confederacy to win as the attackers. The objective was for the Confederates to try and break one of the Union divisions starting on table as it would force Maj Gen. Buell to reconsider his position.
Ed and I took command of the Confederate forces, Ed as Maj Gen. Leonidas Polk commanding Maj. Gen Cheatem's crack division on the right flank, while I was Gen. Braxton Bragg overseeing Maj Gen. Hardee's Corps of two divisions commanded by Brig. Gen. Anderson and Maj. Gen. Buckner in the center and left flank.
Mark commanding Maj. Gen McCook's I Corps with Brig. Gen Rousseau and Brig. Gen Jackson's divisions on the Union left, while Myles was acting as Gen. Buell while controlling Maj Gen. Gilbert's Corps of Brig. Gen Sheridan's division on table as well as the Union reserve of Brig. Gen. Schoepf's division moving in to aid the Union lines.
The Confederate plan was to smash into Mark's green Union division on the right with Cheatem and Anderson's divisions while Buckner held off any Union flanking maneuvers.
|Buckner's Division deploys
|Cheatem's boys ready for a fight
|Jackson's division prepares for the onslaught
As the Confederates stepped off things immediately fell apart, Myles' accurate artillery fire (and amazing die rolls all night) put pressure on Buckner's division right away. Breaking the Rebel artillery and inflicting casualties on the infantry as they advanced in the open. My rolling was dreadful all game and I repeatedly failed to activate Anderson and Buckner to push in to support Ed's assault with Cheatem's division.
|Hesitant brigades...the downfall of any attack
|Buckner advances under sustained fire
Ed's attack on the right managed to get stuck in with several exchanges of fire and charges going back and forth. With the green Union forces of Jackson's division slowly giving ground effectively without breaking. Meanwhile, as my divisions advanced in the center repeated Union artillery barrages and a counterattack by Sheridan's division broke Buckner's men and sent Confederates streaming back to their initial positions. All the while Anderson's division was frozen in the woods after failing in subsequent turns to advance, only able to exchange fire with Union skirmishers, they left all the heavy lifting to Cheatem.
|Cheatem's division charges into the Union left
|Green Union brigades stand fast!
|Buckner's division falls apart in the face of difficult opposition
At this point we decided to call the game, Gen. Buell had arrived on board along with the Union reserve. With one of my divisions fleeing and another bogged down, there was little prospect for a Confederate victory.
Overall, we enjoyed the larger scale for the scenario and we are already thinking of doing the same with Seven Years War forces in the future. Being able to maneuver more easily at what is essential 15mm scale adds a different dynamic you do not get in regimental fights.
Now excuse me while I find some new dice!
|Gen. Bragg pours himself a stiff one as his men flee the field
|Positions at the end of the battle. Buckner is flight, Anderson frozen, Cheatem pushing up. All the while Union counterattack in the center.