Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Cannon and Manoeuvre.

Welcome back for turns four through six. Once again thank you very much for the positive comments, especially about the fictitious letter extracts. I wasn't sure how they would be received, but I can now happily continue with them. So back to the battle...

Brigadier General Longstreet surveys the Union troops on the Warranton Turnpike, beyond the Stone Bridge.

Message delivered by hand.

From Brig Gen Longstreet

To Brig Gen Beauregard

Info Brig Gen Johnston.

Sir, The Union now have two divisions opposite me in the field, with more seemingly approaching down both the Warranton Turnpike and the Old Warranton Road. They have made it plain by their movements that they attempt to cross the creek by Ball's Ford or the Stone Bridge. 

I am in a good defensive position and consider I have enough troops to hold the crossings.


Brigadier General Beauregard watches an artillery battery engage enemy infantry advancing through the woods.

Message delivered by hand.

From Brig Gen Beauregard

To Brig Gen Johnston

Info Brig Gen Longstreet

Sir,  I am concerned with how McDowell is currently deploying. Everything that has arrived on the field has proceeded East towards the Stone Bridge and Ball's Ford in Longstreet's area of operations. Could this be the Union main thrust to cross the creek? Longstreet assures me that at this time he has the strength to hold his ground. 


Brigadier General Johnston at Mitchell's Ford, looking down the Manassas Road. The Union troops are all moving East towards Longstreet's position.

Message delivered by hand.

From Brig Gen Johnston

To Brig Gen Beauregard

Info Brig Gen Longstreet

My dear Pierre, we both know Irvin well enough, he is keeping his cards close to his chest. He is still deploying and I suggest we wait until his intentions are known. I wish he would, but doubt very much, that all his efforts will be focused against the Stone Bridge and other fords in the area. He is trying to discover your deployment. He has no idea that I am here with the Army of the Shenandoah, so thinks he outnumbers you significantly. If he does concentrate all his divisions against Longstreet, I will happily cross the ford with my army and hit him in the flank and rear!
Stay calm my friend, let us await developments.


The Confederates open turn four with another salvo from Pendleton's battery against the luckless Porter's Brigade, hunkered down in the woods.

Extract from a letter.

...I was still flat on my belly, trying to dig straight down with my bare hands into the soil, in an attempt to get even lower. When the boom and whistling of more balls came crashing through the trees. I have never felt so afraid in all my life and was sure I was about to die! Once again splinters of tree and branch, cruelly carved into missiles by the blast filled the air. More men received hideous injuries and others died where they lay...

Private Strombo, Porter's Brigade, Hunter's Division, Union Army of Northeastern Virginia.

Porter's brigade suffer another loss of one elan point.

Union turn, and Tidball's Battery deploy across the Old Warranton Road.

Davies' Brigade moves up behind Tidball's Battery.

Heintzelman's Division move onto the Manassas Road, whilst his artillery, Rickett's Battery heads across country toward a commanding hill.

Heintzelman looks at where to deploy his men.

Rickett's Battery have orders to advance to high ground overlooking the creek.

The rest of Heintzelman's Division traverse through the town of Centreville.

Porter's Brigade are pulled back out of range of the enemy artillery.

Burnside's Brigade continue to move forward.

Palmer's Cavalry also continue to pick their way through the woods towards Sudley Ford.

They are moving into dangerous ground with Rebel infantry in the woods by the ford.

Griffin's Battery fire a salvo at the Jones' Brigade who are defending the Stone Bridge. (The 1 on the dice is to show it is the first time the battery has fired, and does not represent elan)

The dice will increment up by on on each firing by the battery.

Extract from a letter.

...We all stood mesmerised as the Union artillery on the turnpike before us, unlimbered and prepared their guns for action. Every one of those barrels seemed to be pointing right at me. We had prepared some makeshift earthworks before us, but that had been to counter musket balls, not cannon! Suddenly I heard the sound of cannon fire to my right, one of our batteries had opened up. Hooray, I thought, they are going to destroy the Union guns before they can fire. But no balls landed among them, they must have had a better target elsewhere. One by one those menacing barrels before us belched out a cloud of smoke, I buried my face down into the dirt and prayed....

Private Clay, Jones' Brigade, Beauregard's Division, Confederate Army of the Potomac.

One hit and a loss of elan on Jones' Brigade.

Turn Five and the Union initiative.

Heintzelman's Division continue to advance along the Manassas Road.

His artillery head off for the high ground.

It will be a tough climb, but will give them an excellent shooting position.

The rest of his division are still negotiating their way through the town.

Brigadier General McDowell decides to make his HQ just outside the town of Centreville.

Blenker's Brigade begin to deploy in the woods close to the creek, they cannot cross but can engage enemy infantry on the far bank.

Davies moves his brigade up behind the artillery.

Burnside is also still on the move, the Union divisions are getting ready to launch an assault on the bridge and ford.

Palmer's cavalry continue to advance slowly, they are now aware of rebel infantry ahead at Sudley Ford.

Not a very inviting scene for the troopers.

Griffins' Battery once again scores a hit on Jones' Brigade, which is pulled back out of range. 

It leaves the Stone Bridge vulnerable, but the Union artillery would have decimated the whole brigade had it stayed in situ.

However, Pendleton's battery opens counter-battery fire on Griffin's battery. 

And scores a hit!

Heintzelman's lead brigade commanded by Howard begins to deploy on the Manassas Road.

Whilst his battery begin the climb to higher ground.

Things are finally starting to become clearer on this side of the field.

More of Heintzelman's brigades move toward their positions.

Finally, the last Union division, commanded by Tyler arrives on the field.

Sherman decides to avoid the bottleneck in the town and sets off across country.

Tidball's Battery engage in counter-battery fire with Pendleton's battery.

Causing a hit!

With the rebels pulling back from the Stone Bridge and out of range, Griffin's battery swing their barrels and let fly on Holmes' Brigade covering Ball's Ford.

The result is a devastating loss of two elan.

 Some high level photographs of the battlefield at the end of Turn Six.

From the Western end.

From the Eastern end.

Thank you once again for reading this rather long post, I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to make comments or suggestions.

With the Union now rapidly taking up their attack positions and their artillery forcing the defenders of the Stone Bridge and Ball's Ford back. I expect an infantry assault to soon take place. At the other end the last of the Union divisions is arriving and deploying for an assault on Blackburn's and Mitchell's Fords. One artillery battery is also heading for a commanding position.


  1. Great report Ian loved reading it

    1. Cheers Andrew, pleased you enjoyed it.

  2. another great read Ian things are starting to take shape the union troops are gradually taking ground. keep up the good work my friend

    1. Thanks Steph, I am really enjoying the actual arrival of the Union army, it is taking so long, but of course, it would have done in real life. Makes it all come alive.

  3. Good stuff Ian. I have enjoyed this report and the letters.

    1. Thank you very much, I hoped the letters would be well received and they certainly have been, I shall continue to add them to the AAR.

  4. Thanks for the reports. I am amused at the reports of how long it takes the troops to shake out their formations. Players fail to realize how long it took infantry formations to change from columns to lines with two brigades up and a brigade in reserve. I would take a division around an hour to make a basic formation change like that. I know because I have commanded Battalions of troops in the field as re-enactors and it takes a long time.

    1. Many thanks Dale, it sure is taking a long time on the table too, very realistic in my opinion, which is why i haven't allowed it to be rushed. Very easy to bang all the troops on the table in formation.

  5. ... and so the drama continues to unfold. I LOVE IT! Lots of good overview pics, coupled with models eye view shots really adds to the effect. I think the "letters" also add something. Something that brings the drama to life and adds to the report. I have to do more of this myself. I have another question and perhaps I missed this from the previous post. Are you allowing formation changes here? I mean column and line formation seem to be the order of the day here as the units move on to the battlefield and deploy.


    1. Hi Kurtus and thanks, I am representing infantry brigades with three stands as opposed to one, this is to try and recreate just how large the formations were. The are shown in column whilst traversing the battlefield and then changing into line for battle etc. It is really for effect and the changes do not really mean anything.

  6. Brilliant Ian I'm enjoying this aar so much. Like Kurtus says the mixture of photos from the balloon and the soldiers eye views are great. Looking forward to the next installment it's getting addictive.

    1. Cheers Richard, I am really enjoying the battle, it is still being played out and lots more photos to come.


    1. Thank you John, getting at the Reb's is proving difficult for McDowell's four divisions, however his feints against the Stone Bridge and Ball's Ford have kept the Confederates busy whilst the main thrust of the attack is deploying.

  8. Further down in the Pvt Strombo's letter:
    "So sure of my demise that I took my possessions and wrapped them with a note for my beloved wife. But providence spared me, and tomorrow we will reform and bring this cursed rebellion to its knees!"
    Pvt G. Strombo

    1. Lol,afraid it all happened in one day, and your brigade paid for its bravery and suffered badly as you will find out in the next post.