Wednesday 23 July 2014


Miller’s Farm and the Hagerstown Turnpike

This is actually the third battle of my on-going Longstreet Grand Campaign, but the previous two games were ‘away days’ at my opponent’s house, and I forgot my camera both times.

But, as the campaign is fought over 9 battles, here is a quick catch-up. Battle One, 1861, was the narrowest of narrow defeats for the Union in a fight for Sudbury Hill which saw me capture the hill, overrun the Rebel artillery battery, then lose it to a Confederate counter-attack, then almost get it back again, only to come up just short when my brigade was ordered to withdraw.

Battle Two, 1862, was a solid win, holding the line of Opequon Creek against a Confederate advance to capture the fords and bridges. My howitzers and stoic infantry saw off Johny Reb who barely got his feet wet in a rather shambolic attack.

So, Battle Three, 1862, would be set during the morning of the Battle of Antietam, in the to-and-fro fighting around Miller’s Farm and along and across the Hagerstown Turnpike. My brigade had orders to attack into a gap in the line and drive a wedge between the Confederates at Miller’s Farm and those further south, and to clear the road for following attacks towards the Dunker’s Church, further south.

So ‘Fightin’ Billy’ led his various battered or newly recruited raw regiments, with two potent 3 gun artillery batteries, but just 3 stands of cavalry (against 11 southern horse) into the attack, to drive them southern boys away from the main road and take the farm.

It didn’t work out like that. After a good start and solid shooting from the artillery, the Union attack floundered. Hit hard by cavalry on the left, and with veteran, sharpshooting Virginians holding the farm buildings with great determination, my two assaults were repulsed with heavy losses.

Meanwhile, on the Hagerstown Turnpike, my infantry regiments saw-off the Reb cavalry, but were then struck by a juggernaut of Reb infantry, yellin’ all the way as these eager new recruits smashed the infantry holding the roadside wall and caved in the centre of my line. Even as my artillery did great slaughter amongst the last enemy cavalry with their cannister fire, my battered infantry regiments couldn't hold and my brigade was beaten into retreat.

So, after 3 games, I’m down 1 and 2, but all have been truly excellent affairs, Longstreet really is an excellent set of rules and the campaign system just brings it all to life. I love it.

Here are some shots from a bloody hour at Miller’s Farm. 

The battlefield, Union attacking from the right, Turnpike road up the centre, Confederates deployed in the top left and around/in the farmhouse.

 The blue battleline formed, ready to step-off when the guns open fire.

 From the other end, around the walled orchard. Guns limbered to race to the road.

 Rebs, thousands (well hundreds) of 'em... behind Miller's Farm.

One of the Reb's two guns, they are heavily outmatched in artillery in the campaign so far. 

On boys! The 87th NY advance in line through the orchard. To glory... and death (but mostly death today). 

 The new recruits of the 17th Ohio are urged forward towards the farmhouse, held by some mighty tough Virginian veterans.

 Union cavalry move through the woods to try a sneaky outflank on the far right and overrun one of the Reb's guns. It is a heavy rifle, which out-ranges anything I have... it must die!

 Reb cavalry raced to plug the gap on their right and deny me an easy route to the objective. They would pay a heavy price for being the first into battle, but stalled me just long enough.

 Here they go, at speed across the ploughed field, not a race my infantry could hope to win.

Guns in action on the turnpike road, lashing Reb cavalry with cannister. Not pretty. 

 Ohio Forever! The farm boys try their luck at the farm buildings, and get a whoopin' from Old Virginia (not the tobacco).

 Charge! The Union cavalry attempt to overrun the small artillery guard (best use for a 2 stand infantry unit), failed to win the fight, fell back, got shot and quit the field... rubbish! That gun remains to menace me.

 In the centre a big Confederate unit of eager recruits smashes headlong into my poor infantry holding the wall, turning the battle as my boys fall back across the road and into the orchard.

 A bastion, Miller's Farm held by sharp-shooting veterans, lethally accurate and unmovable today.

 The Irish Rifles, pushed back into the orchard and threatened by the last 2 stands (of 11) of Rebel horse.

 The objective, so close, one more turn and I would have had it, but my brigade's morale gave out a turn too soon.

Monday 7 July 2014


The blitzkrieg rolls east... 

Battlegroup South has been and gone, and this year I was running a BG Barbarossa demo-game, set at a bridgehead over the Berezina river at the industrial town of Borisov. The Germans had taken the bridge intact, but now the Russians would be counter-attacking to retake it.

The board was a 10x6 table, with the river and bridge at one end, then the heavily shelled town, then the suburbs, then the countryside at the far end. The game was a static display on saturday and we played a 1000 pt battle on sunday, joined by Fred (Russian with me) and Sean (another Hun with Piers).

Here are a lot of photos of the table, Piers providing the bulk of grey tanks and men, with my Russians facing them (with Pier's superb T-35s to help - by breaking down!).

The table from the German end.

The Russian end.

 SS cavalry on the move, they didn't feature in the game though.

 Supply trucks heading over the bridge

 Clearing the rubble of stragglers...

 The ruined main street of Borisov.

 Panzers forwards, into the fields were the Russians are waiting. Note captured British cruiser tank.

 Scouting T-37 goes to take a quick peak at the Germans.

 Whilst a PO-2 gets the bird's eye view of the suburbs.

 More grey vehicle's roll off the bridge

 BA-6s on the road, first to contact the enemy.

 AA HMG waits, covering for the inevitable Stukas, as BT-7s head towards town.

 Russian Forward HQ in the rear trench line, all very relaxed.

 Whilst the signals truck and dispatch rider do all the work of planning the attack. 

Next are shots of sunday's game, a meeting enegagment outside Borisov. The game was very close, 38 BR lost to the Russians, 34 to the Germans, but when time ran out in the afternoon as the show wound-down the Russians looked in the far better position to win it (but then I'm biased).

 BT-7 platoon rushes the suburbs and arrives first, then go onto ambush fire, making the Germans cautious. Infantry have Ura'd their way along in support.

 First contact. Pz-II knocked out, then a BA-6 goes up on the road, from return fire from a 37mm AT gun.

 Reinforcements, but oh-so slow. Note NKVD squad lurking at the back.

 The fight in the suburbs was the 'hot-spot' of the battle, Pz-IIIs and grenadiers vs BT-7s and infantry, all at close range.

 The fight for the village in progress. Note the second BT-7 platoon on the far right, racing forwards and swinging to their left, around the vllage then through the woods to outflank the Germans and expose those half tracks.

 BT-7 wins this duel at point blank range by the church (an objective).

 Sturmovik air support wings in, then gets hit by 20mm flak fire and returned to base, achieving zip!

 A T-35 rolls into the village, dwarfing houses, but hitting nothing.. useless! Bts and Pz-IIs still trying to hit something!

 The German's other tanks, on their far left, heavily pinned by arty and mortar fire, whilst below the T-37 miraclously lives as it sneaked forwards unnoticed in the maelstrom. Quite why, who knows?  The Pz-Iv burns after a 122mm shell landed on it - ouch!