Monday, 28 March 2016

Mustering and Deploying the Troops.

First of all I would like to thank everyone who made comments on this blog or on the various Facebook groups to which I posted a link, also for all the likes it received. I really appreciate that so many people are taking the time to read and show interest in my efforts.

With the table for First Bull Run/Manassas, created in the last post. Attention turned to mustering the troops and deploying them. As per the Altar of Freedom scenario book, the troops are not deployed as they were historically, though the correct units are involved.

In this scenario, the Confederate troops can deploy anywhere South of Bull Run Creek. The Union must then arrive on the scene and deploy to force their way across the creek. It may seem unfair that the Confederates are already deployed and waiting for the blue coats to arrive, but that of course was what really did occur. It also gives the Union commander the option of where to deploy his forces, He could attack all the fords and the bridge, or concentrate his force on just one or two crossing points, he has that option, the Confederate general has to defend all of them as he does not know where the enemy will strike.

It seems sensible to give you an Order of Battle (OOB) for the forces involved, beginning with the Confederate Armies, I say armies as there was indeed two armies that had combined to meet the Union advance. Although Brigadier General Pierre Beauregard was junior to Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston, the latter deferred command as the former was the man on the spot and new the area being contested. Johnston and his army had rushed to Bull Run via the railroad, and was even now still disembarking at Manassas Junction close by.

Brigadier General Pierre Beauregard (Combined Confederate Armies)

Army of the Potomac

Beauragard's Division

Benham's Brigade
Ewell's Brigade
Jones' Brigade
Longstreet's Brigade *
Cocke's Brigade
Early's Brigade
Evan's Brigade
Holmes' Brigade

Kemper - Artillery
Rosser - Artillery
Garnett - Artillery

* As can be seen the whole army of the Potomac, was formed into a single division under Beauregard, a chaotic state of affairs. So I have given Longstreet command not only of his brigade but also the whole Western end of the battlefield, giving him control of some of the brigades.

Army of Shenandoah Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston.

Johnston's Division

Jackson's Brigade
Bartow's Brigade
Bee's Brigade
Smith's Brigade

Pendleton - Artillery
Stuart - Cavalry

Now a few photographs of the Confederate deployment on the table.

The Left (Western) area of the table

Bonham's Brigade by Sudley Church and Ford.

Rosser's artillery on Stone House Hill covering Sudley Ford.

Ewell's Brigade marching up the Warranton Turnpike from the South toward the Stone Bridge.

Brigade commander Longstreet, (minus his brigade?) I put that right after looking at this photograph. He commands the brigades on this side of the table.

Kemper's artillery on Henry House Hill, covering the Stone Bridge.

Garnett's artillery on Chinn Hill, South end of the battlefield.

Evan's Brigade beside New Market.

Holmes' Brigade covering Ball's Ford.

The Combined Army General at his HQ.

Cocke's Brigade arriving on the field.

Pendleton's artillery covering Blackburn's Ford.

Jackson's Brigade close to Bull Run near Blackburn's Ford.

Bee's Brigade watching Mitchell's Ford.

Bartow's Brigade in position at Blackburn's Ford.

Early's Brigade in reserve at Johnston's HQ.

Stuart's Cavalry also in reserve at HQ.

Army of Shenandoah HQ with Joseph E. Johnston.

Johnston's HQ, Supply and reserve units.

Smith's Brigade currently on a train due to arrive at Manassas Junction.

Some general shots of the Confederate positions.

To the Union Forces which appear to be organised somewhat better than their opponents. A single army, The Army of Northeastern Virginia under the command of Brigadier General Irvin McDowell. The army consists of four divisions with the following OOB.

Tyler's Division

Keyes' Brigade
Schenk's Brigade
Sherman's Brigade
Richardson's Brigade
Carlisle's artillery

Hunter's Division

Porter's Brigade
Burnside's Brigade
Griffin's artillery
Palmer's cavalry

Heintelman's Division

Franklin's Brigade
Willcox's Brigade
Howard's Brigade
Rickett's artillery

Miles Division

Blenker's Brigade
Davies' Brigade
Tidball's artillery

Still off the table is the whole Union army, commanded by Brigadier General Irvin McDowell.

 Each divisional commander shown at the head of his respective division.

The massed ranks of the Union Army of Northeastern Virginia.

 You will no doubt have noticed that for both the Union and Confederate armies I have given each brigade three stands of infantry as opposed to one. Artillery batteries consist of three guns each and the two cavalry brigades, one for each side have two stands of troops.

First Bull Run was a small battle in comparison to what followed in the Civil War and I really wanted to convey the epic scale of the conflict on my table, also a little self indulgence! In later, larger battles I will have to represent brigades with just a single stand of course.

Well that is about it for this post, rather long, but hopefully not too boring. It would be fun if you put yourself in the boots of McDowell and came up with a plan of attack, let me know what you would do.


  1. That is one epic looking battle Ian, i can see why you painted up thousands of ACW minis. looking forwards to seeing the battle my friend

  2. Thanks Steph, all the painting pays off when you can lay them out to fight a big battle. It all kicks off tomorrow!

  3. Ian did you adjust any of the elan values from your playtest? I believe you were thinking of using 6 elan. Did you come up with anything to cover rifled artillery?

    1. Hi Richard, I am going with an elan of 6 for all infantry at the moment, but that could easily be altered to differentiate between veteran, conscript etc. Cavalry will be treated as Light Cavalry with elan of 4. Artillery will all have heavy trait and short range is extended to 3BW. Lots of ideas to try, any suggestions you can think of would be most welcome.

    2. Infantry volley range extended to 2BW as well. Arty commander can also carry out one action per turn per gun. (a) add a dice when firing (b) supply one point of ammo (c) rally a unit to allow it to fire on the next turn. Arty is silenced after two hits but can be rallied.

  4. Waiting in anticipation for Union troops to come splashing over the fords, the sound of drums thrumming and the clanking of tin cups against the varĂ­ous bayonet scabbards anfd haversackscas the Federals move up onto their attacks positions. Since the Unions is still in column, it will be at least an hour until they shake out into battle formation SP we mustn't hold our breath but we await with anticipation for the opening volleys.

  5. I shall employ you as the man on the spot for the Washington Post, I shall be thinking of those well written words as McDowell deploys his troops in the morning. Though I hasten to add, it will not be at 2am as he did on the day lol.

  6. Well this is turning out quite good. Have you marked the objectives in the pics? Just wow. Leave it to you to jump right in full tilt. Battle will be epic with LOTS going on. Can't wait till the dawn arrives... and with it the blue coats. Onwards...


    1. Hi Kurtus, Union objective is to cross the creek and open up the road to Manassas and the capture of Henry Hill. Rebs have to prevent the above as well as push up and capture Centreville, opening the road to Washington.
      I have a few chores to do first but should start it rolling this afternoon.