Thursday, 24 November 2016

OHW - The Campaign - Part Three.

With the victory gained by General Norbeck's Division at the Battle of the Two Brothers, the Union forces pushed on. Both sides replaced their battered divisions, and fresh troops were moved up to take their place. The Union division commanded by Brigadier General Stephen Smith, consisted of the 1st and 2nd Brigades. General Smith personally commanded 1st brigade, with command of the 2nd, falling to Brigadier General Alex Kostopoulos. Both brigades were approaching the Hog's Mouth River.

The Confederacy had rushed up troops to throw back the Union incursion, Brigadier General Steve Clay with his two brigades, one commanded by General Sonny Campbell, were also approaching the Hog's Mouth River from the South.

I am acutely aware of the fact that I am photographing each scenario in the OHW book, which is probably a breach of copyright, not wanting to incur the wrath of either the publisher or the author, I shall from now on create the scenario on my table, or a representation of it. The first is Scenario Three, the other brigades will actually be fighting Scenario Five, they link nicely as both have the river running through them.

So here we have the piece of countryside on which the battle will be fought. In the SE corner, bottom left, and probably difficult to see from this angle, is a small hill. The Hog's Head River splits the board in half. and can only be crossed by the bridges. To the NW is a small wood. No troops start on the table, but on each sides turn one, they can deploy their forces anywhere on their table edge. In this case, the Union approaching from the North at the top of the table.



A view looking NW from the top of the hill.


A roll of the die, gave the following forces for each side.

Union 2nd Brigade, Smith's Division, commanded by Brigadier General Alex Kostopoulos.

1 unit of Zouaves
4 units of Infantry
1 unit of cavalry.


Campbell's Brigade, Clay's Division Commanded by Brig Gen Sonny Campbell.

1 unit of Zouaves
4 units of Infantry
1 unit of artillery.

The battle lasts a maximum of 15 turns per side, with the Union going first. The objective is to control both the bridges.

'My dearest Flo,

I reckon you may already have read about our victory over the rebels at the Battle of Two Brothers, as it is being called. I wasn't involved, but with Johnny in full retreat, our division was ordered to chase after them.
It is evening here now, warm and still. Much like our farm on a Summer's evening. If I was with you, we would, right as not, be sat on the old swing by the porch. I do miss sitting there with you, watching the Sun go down and the stars begin to twinkle. Some of that homemade lemonade of yours, would be a fair treat right now.
One of the boys in my section, knows this area pretty well, and says we are approaching a river with a pair of bridges. I do believe that is our objective. We are to hold the bridges open until the rest of the army moves up. I have no idea how far behind us they are, but once this task is done, we may be pulled back to the rear. I am hoping that leave is given as I miss you so.
I need to go and check on the sentries now, so will finish this letter tomorrow, hopefully sitting beside a cooling river...'

Alex Kostopolous scanned the two bridges before him, they would need to be taken and secured to allow the rest of the army following along behind to cross the Hog's Head River. He deployed two regiments of infantry, one of which were Zouaves, behind the wood on his left. Somewhere beyond that wood should be General Smith with 1st Brigade. He saw a chance for his cavalry to ride forward and secure the right hand bridge, supported by two units of infantry.


The Union cavalry contemplate their objective.


Alex kept one regiment central, to allow him to deploy them as was necessary.


Sonny Campbell had no intention of allowing the Yankees free access to either bridge. He deployed his battery of artillery on the low hill, his intention was to lay down fire and weaken any enemy assault before deploying his own troops to the river.


He massed his five infantry regiments to the centre and right of his line.


From beside the low hill infantrymen and Zouaves alike, could see the enemy deploying.


Brigadier Kostopolous ordered his cavalry forward to secure the Northern approaches to the bridge on his right flank. They moved into position and dismounted. The rest of the line was ordered to advance.


The two units on the left began picking their way through the wood.


Brigadier General Campbell, watched the enemy cavalry approach the bridge and ordered his artillery battery to engage them. However, the first volley missed completely, many of the Union troops hidden behind the bridge.


He too, ordered an advance along the line.


The Union right and centre now quickly approached the banks of the river.


Whilst the units in the wood continued to pick their way through it.


Again the artillery engaged the enemy cavalry, but scored only a single hit.


The breast works of the bridge are giving the dismounted troopers some cover.


The Rebel lines also continue to advance to the river.


Right along the line, the Union troops advance.


On the left, the leading regiment emerges from the trees.


Once again the artillery open up on the dismounted cavalry troopers.


This time causing significant losses.


The only Reb infantry regiment in musket range, sends in a devastating volley.


The troops reel, but dress ranks and continue to advance.


Sonny Campbell orders his line to take up positions on the South bank of the river.


They are met with a storm of Union musketry.


Losses are amazingly light for two of the recipients.



Far worse on the right flank.


The artillery open up again on the luckless cavalry troopers, the only target open to the cannon.


More hits are recorded.


The volley of Confederate musketry across the river is brutal, Union troops cut down in droves.



The Union response after their mauling is not so impressive, but for the first time the dismounted troopers have a target in range.


The fire is still enough to batter the Rebel line.



Sonny Campbell, can see this is going to be a toe to toe, knuckle fight, and rides up and down his lines, urging the men on.


More artillery and musket fire rips into the Yankee troops.


More and more of them fall dead or wounded.



Alex too is riding up and down his lines, encouraging his men, but he is horrified at the casualties his brigade is suffering. The Rebs must be taking casualties. though it was impossible to see much through the smoke hanging over the water. He sent an aide with orders for his Zouaves to advance and cross the bridge.


The Zouaves leave the wood and head for the bridge, as another storm of bullets flies across the river into the Confederate positions.


More screams and cries from the wounded, silence from the dead.



Sonny is alarmed to see enemy Zouaves approaching East Bridge. His own elite troops are being readied to assault the West Bridge


The see-saw of musketry continues, with another volley into the blue bellies.


More and more casualties until...


The Union regiment by East Bridge routs!



The Zouaves pour across the bridge. (Ignore red arrow, I changed it later)


Whilst the rest of the Yankee line, piles on the agony with another volley.


With its foe to the front gone, this Rebel regiment alters facing to meet the Zouaves who have successfully crossed the bridge.


 More Reb casualties are taken on the right flank.


The scene at this point in the battle.


The units on both sides, have almost destroyed each other, but the firing continues.




Carnage all along the lines.



This time Union fire routs the regiment defending the West Bridge.




The Maelstrom of lead and iron continues without mercy.


It is too much for the dismounted Union cavalry, they are forced to retire the field.


Quickly joined by the central Union infantry regiment, who wither under a final storm of ball from the far bank.


The Zouaves got off lightly taking only a single hit, from the Reb regiment, still unbalanced from its swift turn.

 Again and again the fury continues, and another unit flees the field broken, this time on the Confederate side.


The Union Zuoaves, poured a short range volley into the enemy causing horrific casualties.


On the Rebel right flank, another regiment had taken as much as it could, it too broke.


The position for Sonny was fast becoming untenable, true his artillery could have a say on who crossed the bridges, but it was low on ammo, his only uncommitted and fresh troops were is Zouaves, but the Union were across the East Bridge and another regiment was in the process of crossing the West Bridge.


The artillery caused casualties, but not enough to stop the Yankees crossing the West Bridge.


The weakened regiment facing the Zouves, fired a ragged volley causing some casualties.



The battle as it stands, The Union now control both bridges, though the Confederate artillery has a commanding view of both, though desperately low on ammo.


The  West Bridge is breached, and Union troops now stand on the South bank of the river at both bridges.


A badly battered regiment also crosses East Bridge to aid the Zuoaves.


The Zuoaves show their worth and totally destroy the regiment before it.


Sonny has seen enough, he orders a general withdrawal, leaving the bridges in the hands of the Union troops.


General Kostopolous' brigade is in poor shape, but has achieved it objectives.

It all ended after just ten turns, and cannot be claimed as a Union victory until we know the outcome of the other brigades in the next scenaro. That will take place a little further East on the river.



'Florence Davies received the unfinished letter, as part of her husband's belongings, returned to her, some three weeks after the battle. There was also a letter from the commanding officer of the regiment, describing how Corporal Hugh Davies was killed in action, leading his section across a bridge at the Battle of Hog's Head River.

Florence would read those pencil written words many thousands of times, over the coming sixty years. Even when the lead had faded, unreadable to the naked eye, Florence knew every word off by heart. In 1921, aged 82 years, Flo was found dead, sat on the old swing by the porch, the pages of that letter, still held in her arthritic fingers, and an untouched glass of  homemade lemonade by her side.'

6 comments:

  1. Huzzahs to the brave Zouaves :D

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    1. Cheers buddy, the Union victories just keep on happening at the moment, though we won't know until the other scenario is played through.

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  2. Oh the drama!!! That fight at the river line was deadly! Back n forth. I expected as much. Again, HUUUURAAAAH for the Union BLUE!!! lol

    Great writing, Ian. Enjoyable read. Makes me wanna set up another game tonight! :()

    ~K

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    1. Thanks again Kurtus, these battles really are deadly, it is literally a stand up fight to the death.

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  3. Awesome, and I especially love the flavor text through the letter

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    1. Thanks Alex, the letter at the beginning and its implications at the end of the report, made it feel more personal. Not all the suffering is on the battlefield.

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