Sometimes, playing a Battlegroundô battle either against the computer, or against a human player via PBEM, can really turn out to be very interesting. I know I enjoy relating details of my PBEM games to others on particularly sneaky ambushes, gallant stands under dire circumstances, or thunderclap counterattacks by the tough guys. If youíre motivated to write these stories up and think others would be interested in reading them, why not submit them for posting here?
1st Brigade (Sturgis): 950 ; mostly on right flank (west) except for 1s US Reg Bttln, which is closer to Sigel's column
6 guns (Totten)
2nd Brigade (Siegel): 1275; in column on left flankt (east)
6 guns (Backoff)
3rd Brigade (Andrews): 1150; mostly in the center
4 guns (Dubois)
4th Brigade (Deitzler): 2400; in the rear behind Andrews/Sigel
1st Iowa Rgmnt.
Okay, here's my first stab at this (and I haven't even started the scenario!). This will take a while, as I'm going to be all anal about it and take notes and everything (otherwise I won't remember anything to write; one of my problems in the hobby and in military history is that I can never remember specifics, like leaders, units, etc).
The game in question is TalonSoft's Battleground: Shiloh, and the scenario is the "what if" Wilson's Creek varient.
August 8, 1861
General Lyon some how found out that I knew my letters and cyphers, and has ordered me to accompany him in the coming days and to record events as they happen. Just why I managed to end up a Private in the forces of Missouri, I just can quite fathom; I guess I have to say I got caught up in the furor up in St. Louis and joined in the emotional storm that Lyon helped create.
The campaign against the rebellious and traitorous forces of some in the Missouri state government has been largely successful; our forces, starting from St. Louis, have moved roughly southwestward through the state. Several "battles" have been fought, although I hesitate to give them that label; were it not for the deadly seriousness of the activity, I would almost call them farcical. We are tired, however, and at the end of a very long chain of communication; supplies and reinforcements from the blasted Fremont have been non-existant, and Lyon very much fears that we may be unable to hold against reinforced rebels here in our exposed and extended location.
We are currently stationed in Springfield, a large town that is the focus for the entire Southwest Missouri region. Surprisingly, the sentiments in the town are fairly strongly for the Union, despite the fact that the culture is Southern and that the damnable practice of slavery is supported. Of course, were we to be pushed from Springfield, I wonder how long it would be for sentiments to change in a southerly direction.
Because of the tenouous nature of our position, Lyon has decided we will move out against the Rebel forces gathering out to our west and south before they can come up and move against us in force. At best, Lyon would like to crush and scatter the forces, but as we've had reports of upwards of twenty thousand men or more, this is doubtful; instead, he hopes to be able to deliver a severe blow and then retire in good order back to Springfield, hopefully receiving reinforcements in time to hold the city.
August 9th, 10am
I decided it would be useful to note the forces at our disposal prior to the battle, and have spent the early hours of the morning with the Quartermaster and various others assembling the information. Total Federal forces scheduled to march out are about 5800 men and some 16 guns. There are a mixture of infantry and cavalry, regular Army and State troops. The breakdown of units is thus:
* 1st Brigade (Sturgis): 950, with Totten's 6 gun battery.
* 2nd Brigade (Siegel): 1275, with Backoff's 6 guns
* 3rd Brigade (Andrews): 1150, with Dubois' 4 guns
* 4th Brigade (Deitzler): 2400
Sturgis seems to be a solid commander, and his command is made mostly of solid US Regulars (and one regiment of Kansas mounted infantry). Totten is a favorite with the troops, swearing up a storm and always with a flask neer to hand (although I do wonder what he feels, seeing as that there are rumors that former gunnery students of his are included in the forces we are to face).
I'm little familiar with Andrews, despite his being my brigade commander. His brigade has my old unit (from which Lyon has removed me and attached me to his staff), the 1st Missouri, and the 2nd US Regular Battlion, in addition to Dubois' guns.
Poor Deitzler has no regulars to call upon; all his boys are state troops, and all from different states at that! I think the Home Guard is over-rated, quality-wise; it shall be interesting to see if they can indeed hold up. Kansans are all itching for a fight; indeed, they've been in a state of near war with Missourians (especially from this part of the state) for years. And of course there are the boys from Iowa, a more unorthodox set you've never seen (good singers, but the certainly do nettle Lyon!).
Then there's Sigel. Damned popinjay, thinks he's a germanic Napoleon. His troops are mostly an untrained rabble, recruit (I must admit with shame) mostly in the rush of events up in St. Louis; many of them are Germans, and while enthusiastic in the cause of Union, few can speak the language, which makes me wonder how things will go once the battle is joined. Luckilly he has some regular cavalry to help.
August 9th, 3:00pm
It's settled, we move out tonight, hoping to catch the Rebels at first light tomorrow. Reports have placed them encamped along a waterway called Wilson's Creek, near where the Telegraph Road crosses. The damned Sigel has argued all day for Lyon to detach his force and allow him to bring it around from the south, cutting off the Rebels and giving us a better chance to defeat them. Lyon was nearly swayed; despite the apparently larger numbers of their forces he was tempted be the possibility of us, by our surprise, crushing them totally.
Then one farmer's daughter, caught up in what she perceived of as the gaiety of it all, laughingly commented to one of the officers on the similarity of some of our units uniforms to those of some of the rebels. This smart-thinking fellow saw the immediate danger; what if, in the early morning gloom, the two seperate forces mistook an enemy unit for friendly, and didn't fire upon it, or even worse, thought that friendly was enemy and killed some of our own boys?! If we had some device like a telegraph this needn't happen, but of course we're an army on the move and have no such thing (besides, we'd need one without wires--could you imagine such a contraption?!).
The danger surprised Lyon; he'd not even considered it, but it was more than enough for him to decide to keep our forces together. We march out of Springfield this evening, and plan to go much of the night through, bedding down for a few hours within striking distance of the Rebel camp. Hopefully the Iowans will silence their voices for once.
August 10th, 5:20am
Well, the Iowans sang anyway, despite dire threats against giving away our movements via excess sound. We reached an area north of where we think the enemy is encamped; we bedded down after a wearying march only a few hours ago, but as the troops are eager fatigue is light. Hopefully we'll be able to bring this to a conclusion early, as the day is forming up as most days have this summer in Southern Missouri: extremely hot, and muggy. After time spent in town, bedding on the ground was a shock; I hadn't rememberd how many insects--and how many different kinds--made their homes in this region. During the day, things aren't as bad, as many of them are not winged but crawlers and jumpers instead; at night in a blanket, however, they join you looking for a home or perhaps a piece of your hide. Hopefully, too, we won't be fighting too close to the creek; I don't know what summer heat has done to its water level, but there are sure to be clouds of mosquitos in the creek bottom.
The troops are forming up just south of a house belonging to a farmer named Short; I assume the open land in front of us (to the south) is his. Looking across the open space I can just begin to make out a largish hill covered in what appears to be the scrub oak plentiful to this region.
On our right (to the west) is most of Sturgis' brigade in a column; why he and the 1s US Regulars are over to our left is unclear to me. In the forward center is Andrews brigade, with Lyon (and I) at the point with the 1st Missouri.
Our left flank (east) is covered by Sigel's troops; hopefully the Rebels don't probe our left. Deitzler and his troops are to the rear, and will act as a reserve (those Iowans probably need to rest up from all that singing).
I expect the order to move out to be given soon.
August 10th, 5:40am
Our army is on the march. While yesterday deciding to keep our forces together, the first movement Lyon order splits off some 400 men in two different directions. He first sent Co. I of the 2nd Kansas Mounted Infantry off to the west, with orders to scout the enemy's presumed left flank if the worst has happened and they know of our coming and have arrayed themselves against us. If the enemy remains unaware, or if the main force is able to distrct them, the mounted soldiers are to attempt to penetrate the enemy's rear areas and wreak what havoc they may. To me it sounds like a wild scheme, sending so few off on such a mission, but Lyon is hopeful.
Co. D of the 1st US Cavalry has been sent on a similar mission, only to the east. They have orders to cross Wilson's Creek and reconoiter the eastern bank. We do not know the disposition of the enemy, and Lyon feels it critical that we know if his forces are split on opposite sides of the Creek.
The main body was order to proceed directly forward, and largely kept to their assigned order. For some reason Totten's battery was unlimbered (perhaps he feared the dawn would reveal enemy lined up to our south, and wished to be ready for them), and has fallen somewhat behind. The regiments at the fore advanced in line, ready to meet any enemy they may fall upon, but none have yet been sighted. Those following, and all of Sigel's forces, are advancing in column; risky perhaps if the enemy should move upon their flanks, but useful if they need to move quickly to shore up the line. I expect Lyon to order most of them into line shortly, keeping only Deitzler's units as a mobile reserve.
While no Rebels have been sighted, we have caught glimpses of an encampment several hundred yards directly east of the front of the force, apparently on the west bank of Wilson's Creek. Lyon's torn; if we continue the advance in our current direction, the first units to move through this encampment will by Sigel's; if the camp is abandoned, that is good news for Sigel's troops but means that the enemy has been alerted to our presence. If the enemy is still in camp, then our poorest forces may be the first to encounter them; a sore test indeed! His dilema; should he turn the main force to the left (east) to have Andrews' or Sturgis' more capable troops move upon this encampment, or should he continue ahead, skirting the base of the oak-covered hill to the southwest? Prior to spotting this encampment he was even considering turning to the right, and moving up the hill; the height would give the guns a better view to the south, although the scrub may prove problematic.
Dismounted enemy cavalry was just sighted! Due west of the main body, and in a position to threaten Totten's recently limbered battery (seems Totten was right about enemy across the field; too bad they were not visible, nor are they in the line of sight of his guns). That fixes it with Lyon; Sigel will have to be relied upon to deal with whatever may be in the encampment, as he is turning the main body to deal with this threat and then move upon the hill.
Oh, woe! The unit just pulled back, removing the pressure on Totten, but two more units were sighted just a few hundred yards to our front. The sighting units, however, are those still in column; those in line do not are moving through brush and are unable to see (or fire upon) this threat.
Luckily, the enemy was just as unprepared to deal with the sight of Union forces was we were to deal with them, and has not yet fired. Reports have them as belonging to Cawthorne's brigade, part of Rain's division of traitorous "Missouri State Guard." These troops may not be well equiped, formed as they were out of rabble, so may not have had the range to fire upon us. No matter, as whatever the cause we now may advance upon them directly.
There is as yet no report from either of the mounted units; Co. I was last seen sweeping west and south around the hill, and Co. D had crossed the Creek and was moving due east. Totten has unlimbered his battery, as the enemy retreated into his line of fire. Similarly DuBois has begun unlimbering and reports clear lines of fire to all visible enemy, and Backoff is moving his guns up with DuBois'.
The front is moving forward and is now in full contact with two of the three enemy units (about 600 men); the third is to the west and unengaged as Lyon wishes to deal with the larger threat first. He is with the 1st Missouri and, along with the 2nd, will likely assault one of the units; Sturgis with the 1st US and Andrews witht he 2nd US will attempt the second unit. Most of Sigel's and Deitzler's forces are now in line and will support with what fire they are able; the 1st US, 2nd US Drag. under Sigel have moved up on the left into the enemy encampment and have indeed encountered something, although we know not what as yet.
As we moved forward enemy defensive fire rang out; while a few of our units felt it, it was largely ineffective. Lyon is choosing not to respond, and is instead ordering a charge!
Amazing! All assaults were successful! Even Sigel managed to push the enemy from its encampment; while we lost some boys, the damage inflicted upon the Rebels was much greater. Not only was the enemy line was pushed back at all points, they appear to have taken to their heels and retreated across Wilson's Creek, leaving the one lone regiment to the west, which is foolishly moving to engage! While this unit moved out of Totten's line of fire, they did move within range of DuBois, and he obliged them by sending a volley their way (albeit for no apparent damage). Not to be outdone, Totten fired at one of the broken units that escaped across the Creek.
I am shamed; that last regiment of Cawthorn's moved up and fired upon the 1st and 2nd Missouri from behind (they were oriented to the southeast, in the direction of their assault), and the boys of my own units broke and fled a much inferior force! It will be up to Andrews and Sturgis and their regulars to deal with the threat as Lyon tries to rally the boys from Missouri before they blunder into even worse danger.
While Lyon continues to attempt to rally the Missouri boys, Andrews and Sturgis have wheeled to the right and moved up to confront the troublesome Rains unit directly. As they are still disorganized from their recent charge, it's doubtful they'll be able to do so again soon (amazing they could even rotate in line!), but perhaps they'll be able to bring some gunfire to bear.
For now, it will be up to Deitzler to carry the battle forward; Lyon ordered him to split his forth, moving half of it (the 1st Kansas and the boys from Iowa) to the fore of the main body in the position formerly occupied by Lyon and the 1st Missouri, ready to encounter any new threat from that direction, and to send the other portion (2nd Kansas and the Home Guards) off to the West, with orders to achieve the top of the hill that, with its view, will apparently become very important in the battle that is developing. Hopefully the forces will be brought together again, as these being sent to the top of the Oak Hill will not have Deitzler's immediate leadership. Being sent in support of them are Backoff's guns; Sigel has no need of them, as he and the 3rd and 5th Missouri are currently mired down in the Creek bottom. Totten and DuBois remain ready to fire in support of Andrews and Sturgis; hopefully DuBois has the elevation to fire over their heads as otherwise he'll be unable to fire through them.
Totten reports sighting cavalry far across the Creek, up on a rise, that we assume to be Co. D; we've received no reports from it, however, nor have we heard from or seen Co. I.
As expected, the regiment Andrews and Sturgis are facing fired in defense, and they returned; fire was ineffective for both sides. Neither Totten or DuBois, however, ended up with a line of sight on the enemy, drat the luck, but both were able to fire long distance across the creek at the troops still fleeing the earlier encouters with our boys; Totten didn't appear to achieve much, but DuBois unit (someone has a spyglass in the unit) reported that their fire felled some men, maybe even an officer. Could it be Rains? We can only hope. As expected, the men with Sturgis and Andrews were still too disorganized to mount an assault, and remain facing the enemy across a narrow space (he in brush, ours unfortunately still milling about in a field).
The main enemy camp has been spotted! Co. D sent back a runner informing us that many tents and some troops have been spotted about half a mile to our south, along side Wilson's Creek. From their vantage, the camp appears to be on the west side of the Creek, but they report that terrain blocks their view into the lowest portions of the creek bed.
For some reason the regiment facing Andrews and Sturgis has turned end on to them! Perhaps they feared that Deitzler would desend upon their rear from their west as they did upon Lyon, but now we'll be able to fire upon their flank. Unfortunately, the 1st US reports that they've spotted reinforcements moving up from the south; too far away to engage us directly at the moment, but not so far that they couldn't fire if their weapons have the range. Also, the enemy that fled across the Creek has kept on running, and is no longer in sight.
Hah! Why they turned we may never know, but the fire of the enemy was ineffective as only part of their line was able to bear on our troops (and the reinforcements either haven't the range or haven't the view, as they have not yet fired upon us). We returned fire, of course, but appear to have had little effect--the brush provides the Rebel forces ample cover.
As the main force gets ready to move, Lyon was just called aside; a runner from Co. I has just arrived, and reports that they are moving down Skeggs branch. They heard the sounds of many men, so sent a single scout forward (East) only to discover that they are within striking distance of the middle of the Rebel camp! The scout spotted a Confederate supply train, already hitched up; unfortunately it is currently protected by a unit of infantry flying the Missouri rebel colors. We're not sure, but Lyon believes that this is the same group spotted by Co. D from clear on the other side of Wilson's Creek. The runner reports that his company plans on remaining in position (they believe the Rebels have not observed their movements) with hopes of moving into the camp after the main battle begins and disrupting the rebel rear. Sigel will be incensed when he hears that Kansans are performing the maneuver he wished to attempt.
Co. D has continued to scout southward on the eastern side of the Creek; they crossed Telegraph road near the homestead belonging to a farmer named Ray, and are currently headed to the rise due East of the main Rebel encampment.
Lyon was able to rally the 2nd Missouri, but not until it crossed Wilson's Creek; he's sent it back to the western side but it will not reunite with Sturgis in time to support the assault on the regiment of Cawthorn's that caused them to run in the first place. Unfortunately, the 1st Missouri continued to run (back towards Springfield, it would appear). Lyon, always temperamental, started chasing after them; luckily he came to his senses and is returning to the main body where his command skills are more urgently needed.
Deitzler wheeled both the 1st Kansas and the 1st Iowa to the right (south west), and advanced them towards the second Confederate cavalry unit we spotted coming up the farm trail from the south. It looks like he and the 1st Kansas will be able to close on the unit's flank shortly, but unfortunately the 1st Iowa, which was trailing in the column, has yet to catch up. Sigel also wheeled, but as his units are still enmeshed in the brush choking the Creek bottom, it will be some time before he can bring up his troops.
Andrews and Sturgis, stung perhaps by the performance of the Missouri units under their commands, are going to take out the troublesome Rebel cavalry unit with Regulars; with the 2nd US providing support by fire (they are still too disorganized from the last assault), Andrews and Sturgis will melee with the 1st US from the northeast, on the Rebels' flank, while the 1st US, 2nd US Drag. (detached from Sigel) will attempt a mounted charge from the southeast, into the Rebels' rear. If they can get a clear field of fire, DuBois' battery will provide support; unfortunately Totten's view was blocked, so Lyon ordered him to limber and join Backoff's guns on the Oak Hill.
Not surprisingly, Deitzler's 2nd Kansas and Home Guards have reported encountering a Confederate unit of unknown size as they reached the top of the Oak Hill. Unfortunately, the confusion of battle kept them from receiving the order to switch from column to line, so the are ill-prepared to deal with whatever is before them to the south. Luckily, they are between the threat and Backoff's still-limbered guns.
Aha! More traitors to Missouri guard the top of the Oak Hill--they appear to be members of Rives' cavalry. They fired on our boys shortly after they made their appearance, but to little effect. In fact, all defensive fire from the Rebels was relatively ineffective, doing little more than making us duck our heads.
Perhaps emboldened by the ineffective Rebel fire, our boys charged ahead with a vengence. Dubois was unable get a clear line of fire, which may be the reason Andrews and Sturgis were unable to dislodge the accursed Reb unit to their front. They did, however, deliver further destruction upon them, as their are reports of many more unmoving enemy than before, but alas the same holds true of our own boys.
Deitzler and the 1st Kansas, however, met the Rebel unit they faced and emerged victorious; charging forward with bayonettes fixed, they hit them hard in the flank, pushing them back towards the south and causing many casualties. Even better, Deitzler's troops on the Oak Hill surprised us all by charging right into the Rives' unit instead of waiting to achieve a better combat formation; they too were quite successful, killing or wounding many, pushing them south, and capturing a Confederate standard near the top of the hill!
Alas! The success of Deitzler's units may have put them in jeopardy, as their momentum appears to have carried them right into contact with what may be the main Confederate line; starting at the top of the Oak Hill in the West and moving east, they report the remains of Rives' cavalry, an infantry unit flying Missouri Rebel colors (and this unit seems to be preparing to move north, perhaps for an assault on the flank of the 2nd Kansas and the Home Guards). Continuing due East, there appears to be a break in the line on the slop of the hill (I wonder if we can make use of it), then the line picks up again at the base of the hill. Straddling the road we've been advancing down are many men, perhaps more than 1000. These are directly in front of Deitzler and the 1st Kansas (which he reports is now under 800 men). Damn! If only Sigel could extract himself from the brush (what is he doing there, picking berries?) and move! Then they might be able to meet the enemy and route him!
Our defensive fire was for little effect, excepting Dubois, who was able to fire upon the Rebel infantry on the hill who are threatening the 2nd Kansas (the only defensive fire directed at these troops, as the 2nd Kansas and Home Guards have not yet moved out of column formation, and are still disrupted after their wild charge).
Glory be! The Rebels show what cowards they are. Deitzler and the 1st Kansas received intense fire, but all to almost no effect! Similarly, the 2nd Kansas and the Home Guards took close range fire for nary a scratch. Amazingly, the Rebel yellow-bellies didn't attempt an assault, not a single one! Perhaps there will be time for Sigel to move up. Even my old unit, the 1st Missouri, has finally rallied; now if only Andrews and Sturgis could route or destroy that Cavalry unit of Cawthorn's, we'd be in a solid position to deal with the threat to the south.
On the move again. No report from either of our scouts, although supposedly both of them have advanced. Up on the Oak Hill both the 2nd Kansas and the Home Guards have changed formation, and are now ready to fight the Rebels. Two guns of Backoff's battery have moved into line with them, but have not yet had time to unlimber; the other four are positioning themselves in the rear and are turning East to face any attempts to flank the line on the Hill.
At the base of the Hill Deitzler and the 1st Kansas are holding in place; unfortunately the 1st Iowa got ensnared in heavy brush and has not yet joined them in line. Sigel's main force has advanced but is still working through the Creek bottom, and it will likely take them at least 20 more minutes to advance to a position where they can be of use.
Lyon is going to participate directly on the assault on that stubborn dismounted Cavalry unit; he has positioned himself with Sigel's 1st US, 2nd US Dragoon. The 2nd Missouri, still in column, will not join in time to participate in the melee; the 1st Missouri, while rallied, is still on the other side of Wilson's Creek. DuBois' battery will be unable to provide support, but should be able to fire upon the Oak Hill. Totten's battery is climbing the Hill from the rear (northwest), but it will be some time before his guns are heard from.
Reports just in from our horsemen! Co. I advanced eastward, out of cover, a move that may prove to be a costly one, for they've revealed themselves to the Rebels in the camp, still quite numerous. Directly to their front (East) are a large number of mounted riflemen, over 500; beyond them is an even larger cavalry force, luckily facing away from them. Co. D., on the bluff overlooking the camp from the East, reports these two units (at the southern end of the camp) as well as a small infantry unit in line, at the southeast corner of the Oak Hill, a large infantry unit in column at the Telegraph Road ford, also facing towards the main battle to the northwest, and what appears to be a headquarters and quartermaster unit in the middle of the camp. Could this be where the traitorous ex-governor Price is?
From the front lines we received more defensive enemy fire; no significant casualties, but some of the units are wearying under the constant threat. While still early, the heat of another muggy day is already intense.
Our fire was ineffective all around, but at least we have pushed back that unit of enemy cavalry (despite having few to participate in the assault; Lyon found the 1st US, 2nd US Drag. too disorganized from their last charge to send in again, a problem also faced by Sturgis with the 1st US). Amazingly Lyon ran out alone, from the enemy's right flank, and encouraged our boys of the 2nd US Regulars (who were being exhorted by Andrews and Sturgis as well). The close in fighting resulted in casualties for both sides, but it was the Union that preveiled. DuBois reports that he can now target the unit, as it was pushed further up the northeast slope of the Oak Hill and into clear terrain.
Aha! Apparently Cawthorn's boys have had enough! After the assault we thought they were merely pulling back; instead they're routing! Perhaps a few rounds from DuBois will send them south or, better yet, to their graves. We've heard many reports of the sounds of movement, but few definite sightings. Co. I down in the Rebel camp seems to have caused quite a stir; they report that hundreds of dismounted cavalry men have crossed Skegg's Branch to the south and appeared on their flanks and rear; hopefully they will extract themselves before facing assault! Likewise, Co. I on the bluff to the east has had enemy appear several hundred yards to their rear, and are now reporting another thousand men and several guns down by Wilson's Creek. The Rebel commanders have moved and are no longer in sight; perhaps they are moving to add their leadership to the main effort.
Up on the Oak Hill, the enemy has pulled back some, moving most of his forces off the summit to the south and east; his defensive line is now solid and very strong, but Lyon is hopeful that we will at least be able to deal a strong blow before we need to pull back from what now looks to be a superior force (though not nearly as strong as we'd feared).
Ah! The Iowans are finally heard from, and for once it's not their singing! Still in the woods near the Creek, they were nonetheless prepared enough that they got off a volley at the retreating Rebel cavalry (now identified as 3rd Regiment of Cawthorn's Brigade), causing several yellow-bellies to fall. Otherwise our recent fire appeared ineffective.
Deitzler reports taking more fire; while taking no significant casualties, he says that the men of the 1st Kansas, so long the sole receipient of the massed fire of over 1400 enemy troops, are showing the strain, and he requests permission to pull them back. It seems likely that Lyon will give it once the Iowans and Sigel make it to the front.
In the south Co. I also took heavy fire, loosing a significant fraction of their force; in a movement barely different from a route, they have withdrawn to the northwest, luckily moving in the safest direction possible. Lyon will have them move some distance away and plans on having them move even further south, bypassing what we think is the main enemy force to scout what he may have positioned in the direction of the Sharp homestead.
It turns out that Co. I of the 2nd Kansas really was routed; luckily it's a barely controlled route instead of a total one, so their officers have been able to direct them westward, away from the Confederate encampment and likely destruction. Fearing a similar fate for Co. D of the 1st US, Lyon ordered them off the bluff east of the Creek, and directed that they swing first south then west to meet with Co. I south of the Rebel positions. There is another low rise there that should give a good view of southern approaches to the battlefield; also, Telegraph Road crosses the rise, so any units positioned there could, perhaps, interdict any reinforcements arriving from the South (or, at least, warn us of them).
Up on the Oak Hill the 2nd Kansas and the Home Guards, still disrupted from their assault, are maintaining position; the four guns that Backoff was able to fit into line with them are unlimbering, so should be available for fire soon. Totten moved his six guns and Backoff's other two to the western end of the line (right of the 2nd Kansas), and will unlimber there to bring fire down upon the very end of the Confederate defenses. Lyon considered ordering them to position on the eastern edge of the hill (to the left of the Home Guards); while this would have enabled them to bring fire down upon the center of the enemy line, it would have left them very vulnerable to counter-assault as there are no troops available to protect them. DuBois' Battery is remaining in position to fire upon those routed pesky boys of Cawthorn's.
And speaking of those bothersome foes, the 2nd Missouri finally deplyed into line and has moved up to face the routed enemy; perhaps we shall either crush them utterly or push them back into the main Rebel line. The 1st US has also moved up, although both they and the men of the 2nd are still too disorganized (and tired) after their ceaseless assaults to do little more than provide fire any time soon. Even my old unit, the 1st Missouri, may enter the fray sometime this war; they have finally recrossed Wilson's Creek, but are still some distance from the fighting.
At the eastern base of the Oak Hill, the 1st Iowa moved up while the beleagured 1st Kansas moved back (north) into line with the 1st US, 2nd US Drag.; we now have a continuous line that forms a backward "J", with Lyon, Andrews, and Sturgis and the 2nd Missouri and the 1st & 2nd US at the top, Deitzler and the 1st Iowa at the elbow, and Sigel (who has finally moved into line) in the hook with his 3rd and 5th Missour. Assuming we can soon push back Cawthorn's 3rd Regiment, Lyon and his group and the (hopefully rested) 1st Kansas can swing south, and we will have formed a complete West-East line from the top of the Oak Hill nearly to Wilson's Creek.
Facing us will be an enemy line as long as ours but, apparently, not yet as strong (although Sigel reports a unit of unknown composition anchors the Rebel right on Wilson's Creek); the question will then be how long it takes the Rebels to bring up reinforcements; if they tary we can deal with this line and either withdraw in good form or, if our supplies hold out and our men hold up, advance to take on the rest. Could it be that we will totally defeat the Rebels in Missouri?
Rebel defensive fire was weak and generally ineffective, but it is tiring; hopefully our return fire will let off some of the pressure. Sigel reports that the unknown unit has been identified as infantry flying the colors of our rebellious neighbor to the south, Arkansas. This confirms that the Missouri traitors have at least joined forces with the Confederacy, and that the South is actively trying to pull Missouri from the Union through violence. I hope the politicians in the East take note; to lose Missouri is to lose access to the wealth of the West.
Our gunfire was ineffective, and Sigel's units (not unexpectedly) are the cause of woe; the 1st US, 2nd US Drag. charged forward alone against the routed Rebels facing them and were killed to a man! They were outnumbered, but must have believed the routed troops would melt before them. Sigel's main force assaulted and pushed back the units to their front, piercing the Rebel line (but leaving their rears exposed to that one unit anchored on the Creek).
Well, Cawthorn's 3rd Reg. finally fled, unfortunately for us to the northwest and into our rear; Lyon will have to keep them in mind if we need to withdraw. It turns out it was that he did not put Totten on the Eastern side of the Oak Hill, as a small unit of Missouri Rebel infantry has moved up to the position they would have occupied; unfortunately, this now cuts our hoped-for continuous line, but it also breaks up the Rebel line. At the base of the Hill it appears that the Rebel commander has moved some units out of the line, perhaps to rest; unfortunately we really do not have that luxury. There were more reports of sounds of movement, but no units were sighted; by shifting our scouts to the south, Lyon has also lost their reports on activity in the enemy camp.
Ah! The artillery speaks at point blank range, and I don't the the Rebels like its breath! A full load of canister has swept forth from Backoff's four guns, decimating the dismounted cavalry to the front (south) of the line on the hill and leaving only a handful of men. Elsewhere, though, our defensive fire was ineffective.
It seems we are into a phase in the battle where only gunfire is exchanged, and for little effect. The Confederates fired up and down their line, but caused no significant casualties; they are also at no single point strong enough to attempt our lines with a charge. Our supply train has entered the area from the north; welcome news as our ammunition is running low, although Lyon has to fear for its safety with that routed enemy cavalry loose in our rear. Unfortunately, they will have to fend for themselves, as all units are now either engaged on the line or will be needed shortly.
Our line is now nearly complete, and goes as such from West to East: Totten's 2nd US Art and part of Backoff's battery anchor the end, with the rest of Backoff's guns and the 2nd Kansas and the Home Guards holding the very top of the Oak Hill. There is something of a gap, which Lyon hopes to plug soonest. The remnants of one of Rives' cavalry units is directly in front of these troops, and a hundred or so infantry to the left (East) of them--these are the ones threatening the gap, but hopefully fire from the hill top, the slope, and Dubois' battery (which Lyon has kept unlimbered for just this reason) will prevent them from advancing. On the eastern slope of the Hill are the 2nd Missouri, the 1st and 2nd US Regular Battalions, and the 1st Kansas (they have no enemy to their immediate front), all in a northwest to southeast line; Lyon, Andrews, and Sturgis are together with the main part of this force, where they hope to urge the boys on in an assault up the hill to clear the top. Next in line, at the base of the hill and on the left (East) flank of the 1st Kansas, is the 1st Iowa; it is faced by several hundred infantry, with more apparently moving up behind them through the scrub oak. Next, an in the gap he created earlier, is Sigel and his 3rd and 5th Missouri; because they've pushed into the enemy lines, they ended up with forces both left of forward and on their flank, so Sigel has had the 5th Missouri swing around to face the threat on the flank (due east), creating a fish hook at the end of the line. The 1st Missouri has finally marched back to the battle, and should be moving into the line soon. The supply train has moved up near Dubois, and so far hasn't been threatened by the Rebels running in our rear.
A rider has come in from Co D; they have captured some high ground due West of a farmstead apparently owned by a man named Sharp; they are currently astraddle the Telegraph Road south of the main Rebel encampment and, as soon as the missing Co I joins them, will reconoiter back towards the Rebel camp.
Rebel defensive fire claimed some of Sigel's men, but could have been much worse. Still, it's wearying and causing confusion in the line--hopefully we can put an end to it before Lyon is compelled to withraw.
Incredible luck! Dubois' fire upon the infantry at the top of the Hill was ineffective, but Backoff's guns caught them full in the flank, laying low the entire unit! Lyon advanced with the 2nd Missouri and 1st Regulars and captured the one person left standing: Brig. Gen. Mosby Parsons!
The 1st Iowa also charged, successfully overcoming the enemy to their front with few losses. Sigel, however, was not so lucky; he ordered the 5th Missouri to charge (through dense cover!) and the were thrown back, with grevious loss of life. Our line is now whole, however, although Lyon fears a flanking movement around Sigel.
Lyon was mistaken! The enemy flanks us in the West, around behind the hill! Totten reports limbered artillery to his immediate right, moving along a small dirt track; he and Backoff fired on them, but the because they had to reorient their guns the fire was hasty and they achieved no results. The few cavalry to their immediate front (south) have pulled back, but moving up behind them are several hundred previously unseen infantry.
In the center, the unit the 1st Iowa pushed back has fallen back out of view, but there are reports of the sounds of many more men moving out of sight. The enemy bedeviling Sigel remain firmly in position; his defensive fire remains ineffective (but then, so is their fire; the dense brush confounds both sides).
Co. I reports from their vantage point sighting units moving through one spot of the enemy camp that they can see, but none are currently there now; there are, however, about six hundred men and a supply train in line across Wilson's Creek, on its East bank just opposite the enemy camp. Why they are in line there and facing that direction is a mystery; perhaps they thought that Co. I was a much larger force, and are holding back to "defend" against it? We don't complain--we're just glad they're not here!
With the threat on the extreme left and extreme right, Lyon has decided to consolidate the line where it stands instead of pressing it foreward. With nearly continuous combat for the better part of an hour, the boys on top of the Oak Hill should welcome the respite, but the units on the Left, at the bottom of the hill in the Creek bottom, are still in direct contact with the enemy. Lyon ordered the 2nd Kansas to shift westward along the line, to protect the artillery on the extreme right from the enemy moving directly on their flank.
The 2nd US have rejoined the 1st US and 2nd Missouris upon the eastern edge of the Hill's crest; Sturgis is back in conference with Lyon and Andrews discussing our next moves. Instead of rejoining Andrews, Lyon ordered the 1st Missouri to move along the road skirting the eastern base of the hill; they are to reinforce Sigel on the extreme Left as soon as possible. With no enemy units within their field of view, Lyon ordered DuBois' battery limbered and brought forward; they will support the units at the base of the Hill and along the Creek unless other opportunities present themselves (the supply train follows in their wake--no sign of the enemy that routed towards our rear). Our cavalry maintains a position astride the Telegraph road in the south.
Little fire upon the line, except on the Left where the enemy thus in contact did fire upon Sigel; no significant casaulties but he reports his men are extremely fatigued. They returned fire, also to no avail. A runner from Co. D reports that they decided to reconoiter the enemy encampment; upon crossing Skegg's Branch they ran head on into a line of infantry (approximately 600 men) and a column of Texas cavalry numbering near 1000! They received some fire but no casualties, but we fear they will not be able to extract themselves. The 2nd Kansas and the artillery on the right fired upon the Confederate limbers, to no effect.
The 2nd Kansas sallied forth against the Rebel artillery; they were unable to advance but caused the Rebs terrible casualties, including an unidentified Colonel.
While our Right is secure for now, the enemy is moving in force upon our Center; over 2,000 troops have appeared at the base of the Hill, and there are reports of guns as well. It appears our respite is short. Much of the line has begun firing upon the advancing foe, to little apparent effect; unfortunately our artillery is currently massed on the Right and unable to bear upon the advancing columns. Also, Sigel reports that his 3rd Missouri is running low on ammunition.
The Rebels are getting organized after their initial surprise; their fire this time was much more effective, laying low many men around Lyon but thankfully sparing all our senior leaders. Sigel reports that his command is now thoroughly exhausten and running low on ammunition; Lyon will likely pull at least one regiment out of the line to rest some and resupply from the train that should soon reach our immediate rear. During a short lull gunfire was heard off to the South, but we know not the source or results of the exchange.
Lyon has firmed up our line, which is now in the shape of a question mark: the stem is on the western edge of Oak Hill and proceeds straight east to the eastern edge (the middle of the line); from here the curve bows south and ends up hooking back north at Sigel, along the creek. Sigel wanted to withdraw one of his fatigued units, but their passage was blocked by the 1st Missouri. Lyon had originally planned to have the 1st move into the place of either the 3rd or 5th (Sigel), but instead had them take up a flank position on the extreme left, at the end of the question mark. Sigel could withdraw a unit now, but then Lyon fears the other would be left exposed to assault, so they will both stay in place for the moment.
All of the artillery on the hill was badly positioned to direct fire upon the enemy, so Lyon ordered Totten to limber his battery and move it to the center of the line, at the eastern edge of the hill; this has been done but the guns are still being positioned. Dubois' battery has moved down the road and is about to be placed in the line, near the furthest edge of the question mark's bend (either with Sigel or with Deitzler and the 1st Iowa).
There have been no reports from our scouts in the South.
The "question" has been answered! While both sides exchanged ineffective fire, the 5th and 1st Missouri charged and pushed back the unit to their fore, causing many casualties and forcing the Rebels across Wilson's Cree. The "question mark" has been uncrooked, and now our line stretches from the Creek (a nice feature upon which to anchor a line, as it will be difficult for the Rebs to assault across it) to the Western edge of the Hill.
Another assault is forming up. The enemy has moved within close range along much of our line, and is unlimbering artillery at the southern base of the Hill. The heaviest concentrations are due south of Sigel and the 1st Missouri (nearly 1000 men) and to the southwest of Deitzler (again nearly 1000 men). Whether by luck or observation, they have chosen to concentrate on the most exhausted part of the line. Even more fearsome is a large body of men across Wilson's Creek and north of our lines; if they cross they can take us in the rear and perhaps cut off our line of retreat. From the top of the Hill Lyon has also spotted a large body of men forming up across the Creek; they are, however, well to the south and do not immediately threaten our position (perhaps they are being kept in readiness against our "flanking force" in the south?). Unfortunately, it appears that our defensive fire against these units has been largely ineffective.
Disaster! Without even charging, the Rebels have caused the nearly the entire eastern end of our line to crumble! The fatigue and low spirts built too high, and under fire the 3rd and 1st Missouri (again!) and the 1st Iowa have taken to their heals! Much to my surprise (and grudging respect), Sigel held the 5th Missouri in place--a position that is now extremely vulnerable. The line still holds on the hill top, but the units thereupon are generally smaller in strength, so now Lyon must decide whether to stay and fight or to retreat the entire command back to Springfield.
Sigel has pulled back with the 5th Missouri, and will provide defense for DuBois' now unlimbered battery. Totten has also unlimbered and should soon be providing much-needed support to the center of our lines. Lyon order the 1st and 2nd US and the 2nd Missouri to wheel to face the main threat to the southeast. Lyon isn't sending Andrews or Sigel back to rally the units that have broken; perhaps he feels their leadership is needed on the line, but I wonder if the line can hold for long without those units.
Co. I is now holding the heights in the south, and reports that the enemy still has significant forces (some 1200 men) and supply trains on the eastern side of Wilson's Creek; they've not moved, however, and are currently well south of the battle. Given our position there's nothing Lyon can do about them anyway. Co. D has rallied and is again probing north into the enemy camp--Lyon wishes to know what reamins there.
By throwing back our Left, the Rebel commanders were able to concentrate significant fire on our Center, including their first effective use of artillery (several guns only a few hundred yards off but firing uphill). The fire doesn't seem to be causing many casualties, but it does reduce the effectiveness of our return fire. Also, given the strength the enemy has brought upon the base of the hill, Lyon isn't going to order any charges right now; even if one were to succeed, it would leave the units exposed to a counter assault we can ill afford.
Curious! Most of the Rebels at the base of the hill have withdrawn out of sight! The Arkansas cavalry in contact with our line (the unit Lyon chose not to charge) remains, as do the guns at the base of the hill and another group of men apparently guarding the right of the artillery. Have the rest pulled back to flank us on the right (left), or are they crossing the Creek and moving up to catch us in the rear? Also, the units on the East bank of the Creek to the south have moved out of view of our scouts--it would seem almost certain that they are moving north, unless they have recrossed the Creek and re-entered the Confederate camp.
With the movements, Lyon orders that fire in the line be concentrated on the dismounted cavalry to our immediate front. Totten's guns cause some grevious casualties, and the fire from our infantry adds to the Confederate's woe. We received only minimal return fire; luckily the Rebel artillery was unable to fire as they are apparently reorienting their guns to fire more directly up the Hill.
Lyon is frustrated at not knowing the location of the majority of the enemy force, so he ordered the 2nd Kansas (on the right (western) end of the line) to advance down the hill; they are reporting encountering enemy forces at the base of the hill, hidden from view from the top. Deitzler is returning with the 1st Iowa and should reenter the line soon; of my boys from Missouri I'm ashamed to say there is no word.
The Rebs were trying to flank us on the Right! The units the 2nd Kansas found include an artillery unit in limber between a week cavalry scout unit (unmounted) and a larger follow-on force of infantry. Lyon has ordered them to prepare for a charge on the artillery. The main part of the line took fire, including artillery shot from the guns which are back in play. We have also heard quite a bit of gunfire from the south, in the direction of the enemy encampment--perhaps our cavalry has found something there?
Alas! Enemy defensive fire disrupted the 2nd Kansas, so they were unable to form up for a charge on the artillery unit to their front. However, Sturgis lead the 1st and 2nd US Regulars and the 2nd Missouri on a charge against the unit to their front, causing many casualties and pushing it on down the hill. If we can push hard enough, Lyon hopes to threaten the artillery arrayed at the base of the hill, either directly or by causing the enemy to withdraw it.
By moving the 2nd Kansas down the Hill, Lyon has forced the Confederates to stop their movement around the western flank and deploy in line of battle. Unfortunately, the 2nd Kansas is out there by itself; Lyon plans on ordering it to pull back, but the enemy may have other ideas. The large infantry unit that was guarding the Confederate artillery at the base of the hill has shifted westwards a hundred yards or so, coming into line with the battered cavalry unit we just finished pushing down the Hill; apparently the enemy commanders recognize the threat to the artillery and are moving to block us. From the south Co. I of the 2nd Kansas Mountant Infantry reports that the Rebel supply trains on the east bank of Wilson's Creek have moved off, apparently to the North--could an enemy force be moving up the opposite bank in order to cross the Creek in our rear? Also, Co. I says Co. D disappeared north in the direction of the enemy camp and hasn't been heard from since, but that there has been much gunfire from that direction. Is this what distracted the enemy into moving forces from the main battle?
Much activity. More gunfire was heard to the south, but no idea what is causing it. Our defensive fire focused on the men in front of the Confederate artillery position, dropping some but otherwise having little effect. The Confederate guns focused on antibattery fires, raining shells down upon Totten's unit but having no appreciable effect. Surprisingly, the units that the 2nd Kansas encountered attempted a charge, but were thrown back with heavy losses to the Rebels but few to the boys in blue.
The 2nd Kansas is pulling back but, as they don't want to turn their backs as they do so they could fall back but a hundred yards or so in the same time it took them to advance down the whole hill. This, unfortunately, leaves them still exposed to future Confederate maneuvers, but does get them out of sight of the Rebel guns for the moment.
Still hoping to take out those Rebel guns, Lyon is adjusting our line in the east forward. Sigel has moved southeast, and reports encountering an enemy unit of unknown strength along the Creek--it looks like he won't be able to flank the artillery as Lyon had hoped, becuase now that threat must be dealt with. Deitzler formed the 1st Iowa into line of battle and has moved it passed DuBois' battery and onto the right flank of that cluster of butternut in front of the enemy artillery. The 1st Kansas has moved downhill to protect DuBois from any enemy action (an unlikely event, unless the enemy has been able to cross the Creek undetected in our rear). Still, the 1st Kansas can fire upon the enemy, so the move isn't a total waste.
The 1st Missouri has finally reformed, but is so far back that Lyon is considering having it cross the Creek to block any enemy movements to flank us from the East.
The unit Sigel encountered turns out to be a large force of infantry; Sigel estimates it at nearly twice that of his 5th Missouri. There goes Lyon's plan to take the Confederate artillery in a flank assault, as this body of troops is a much more immediate threat. The enemy artillery again rained down upon Totten, to little effect, but Lyon still chooses to have Totten fire in support of the infantry instead of returning counter-battery fire. There was more gunfire to the south, but it has slacked off now; Lyon fears for Co. D.
Lyon has blundered! In his focus on taking out the enemy artillery, he ordered a charge against the infantry guarding it; unfortunately, our boys are just too tired and they were thrown back (and some units thrown into confusion), taking grevious casulties in the process.
A very small group of enemy cavalry has been spotted to the west; it, however, seems to be directed south, so it's hard to tell if it is part of a flanking force or perhaps part of a unit that had fled north and is only now making its way back south. Despite the failure of our charge, one of the Rebel units has pulled back from direct contact, and is now co-located with the artillery--proof against an assault directed at the undefended artillery.
Sigel and the 5th Missouri were assaulted by the infantry; we are uncertain of his fate but if he survives there is now a strong Confederate force between him and the main line. Elsewhere, we took fire upon the line and more counterbattery fire, but the units disrupted in the earlier assault have reformed; Lyon will likely pull them back; he wants to straighten out the line again and await the enemy. From now on we are probably on the defensive.
The light is straightening back up on the Hill, but there is no sign of Sigel or of the units that broke for the rear, excepting the 1st Missouri which has just crossed Wilson's Creek. Given the confusion in the line due to the fatigue of our units, we were able to deliver little fire upon the enemy ranks; aside from their artillery fire, which is beginning to wear on Totten's gunners, their fire is also having little effect.
Odd! The Rebel troops have pulled back many of their units from the base of the Hill, and even the guns are being shifted to point more towards the creek. Perhaps Sigel has escaped and is causing trouble in their rear? They've left the main line with few targets, but it will give the boys something of a respite.
Further consolidation in our lines: the 2nd Kansas has moved up to the very end of the Right (west) end of the line where they can protect that flank and bring fire upon that small unit of dismounted cavlary scouting our position. Lyon has ordered some of Backoff's guns limbered and moved to the center of the line; their fire won't be available for some minutes yet, but they have had no targets for well over an hour and are quite well rested. We can see the 1st Missouri, on the other side of Wilson's Creek, moving in column down a dirt track that skirts a cornfield there. No word from our scouts in the south.
The Rebels have changed their tactics; the artillery was directed now against the infantry, causing casualties to the 2nd Missouri (which is down to only a few dozen men). Otherwise there was little fire upon the main body, but the sound of many guns is coming from the south, as are clouds of gunsmoke. What are our scouts--and Sigel?--doing down there?
The main line now has direct contact with only two enemy units; on the Right (west) there is the small scout unit and on the Left (east) a large body of infantry. The 2nd Kansas has fired upon the scouts, but to no avail; the 1st Kansas and Dubois' Battery have fired at close range upon the large unit in the trees and has caused some casualties, but we are in no position to exploit this success.
The enemy cavalry has moved off our Right flank, but the large body of infantry still holds, thereby pinning our largest available unit. This is causing Lyon no end of frustration as the enemy artillery is again left unsupported--the unit of infantry with it has moved off to the south and out of sight.
More artillery barrages--and fire from the infantry on the left--but strangest of all is the continued volume of fire heard from the vicinity of the Rebel camp. Surely this can't be cause by just our scouts and cavalry; is there a sympathetic force in the area completely unknown to us?
More artillery fire, but little else; there are, however, reports of men forming up at the southern base of the hill, out of site of most of our line. The fire from the area of the Rebel camp has slacked off--is this a sign that the forces operating there have been defeated?
The forces at the base of the Hill have reoriented themselves eastward--even the artillery. This will let us fire upon their flanks almost without concern, although we are in no shape to advance.
There is no firing upon the line now; a brief spattering of shots was heard a few minutes ago, but it wasn't directed at any units now in contact with us. The unit on our Left has broken and appears to be running for the rear; it remains to be seen if their officers can rally them and turn them 'round. At this point the line is quiet; it would be a good time to quit the battlefield and withdraw back towards Springfield, as we've accomplished the objectives Lyon original set forth. Even so, he chooses to have us stay, at least for the while. The 3rd Missouri is moving up to take a position on the left end of the line, and the 1st Missouri was seen crossing onto the prominence due east of the enemy encampment, on the other side of the Creek.
Three cheers for our artillery and for the boys of the 1st Missouri! Backoff and Totten fired down upon the Confederate artillery, knocking one gun from its mounts and sowing confusion in the midst of the gunners, while DuBois' guns lit into the fleeing enemy's rear and delivered a telling blow. And the 1st Missouri has captured one of the Rebel wagon trains, and reports that another should fall to it soon! We should eat well tonight.
The line seems quite secure for now; the only enemy units in direct line-of-sight are the Confederate batteries, and they're facing in the wrong direction! We, however, continue to catch glimpses of movement at the southern base of the hill, where the enemy is likely massing his forces. The 3rd Missouri has finished moving up to the line, and that is the only movement we will make for now. Our artillery on the Hill fires yet again upon the enemy batteries at the base, something that cannot continue much longer as we are almost out of ammunition for the guns (something we no longer have to worry about for the infantry).
Hmm, whatever was threatening the Confederate flanks seems to have stopped, as they are turning their guns back in the direction of the line atop this blood-soaked hill. Our guns have fired in response, to no effect.
And so the game ends, with a reported Union Major Victory. I took 680 negative point hits (340 for lost infantry points (850 men) and 340 for lost cavalry points (425 men)), while I had 300 objective points, 360 points for losses inflicted on Confederate infantry (900 men), 1260 points on enemy cavalry (1575 men), and 100 points of enemy artillery (5 guns total). As Union I needed 450 points or higher to score the major victory, something that's usually easy to achieve against the computer once you've fought the battle at least once. Ironically, I almost ended up with a lower score than if I'd quit the battlefield and given up the VP hexes; at one point my score was some 1610 points, but because of losses I took I lost 280--a little more and my losses would have been more costly than losing the 2 VP hexes I did hold.
I realized that the "reports" from the units I sent south were coming in with a bit too much frequency (in the actual battle, where Sigel's force was split from the main body and attacked from the south, there never was any communication between the two Union groups). Because of this, I decided to decrease the frequency of "reports," especially when a unit was involved in close combat.
My mounted infantry "captured" and held the southern VP hex on the Telegraph Road near the Sharp house; in the regular game this is an oft-contested point, but the Confederates never fought for it this game. I kept sending these two companies north to probe the Confederate camp, something that kept the computer "worried" enough that it kept much to much force south to deal with the threat--at one point Co. D was surrounded by over 2100 men and an artillery battery. When I was reporting gunfire to the south, it was usually one of the two Companies getting whaled on. Eventually D was wiped out, but Co. I, which was the last one I sent in to "investigate," escaped back to the victory hex. Everytime I moved a unit (or it ran) from this southern edge of the enemy encampment, it was never followed.
Sigel and the 5th Missouri did survive getting cut off from the force, and it was to this small force that the computer kept over reacting, even to the point of turning its artillery battery away from the main force on Oak Hill (which is now known as Bloody Hill).
While I did win, if the battle had continued I would have had to start a pull back/retreat--I was down to only two artillery shots, and my units had extremely high fatigue. Against a human player--who would never have concentrated a force of 21:1 on those little mounted infantry units--I wouldn't have faired so well. Many historical commentators fault Lyon for splitting his force, but against the computer in BG: Shiloh I have done much better in the split-force historical scenario than I did in this combined force, ahistorical one--there I can usually capture and sometimes hold the VP hex in the middle of the Confederate camp, and often send the computer into a tizzy so bad it completely scrambles its forces. Against a human, however, it would probably be another story (then again, against a human player I've always been whupped no matter which side I play in the historical scenario!).
If anyone wants to know the final disposition of all the forces and the strength figures for the units remaining, let me know and I'll post them. For now, though, this is enough!
Jeb Stuart was as mad as he could be. As he looked out over the small valley that now separated him from the Union forces holding Nicodemus Hill, he bitterly recalled the events earlier that day. At dawn, he had been the possessor of that hill, with his cavalry and artillery holding the left flank of the Confederate army around Sharpsburg. But there, through the mist he had seen elements of the Union First Corps, coming straight at him. With explicit orders from General Lee to hold that hill and anchor the left flank, he couldn't just withdraw. But his cavalry was no match for the Union divisions of the First Corps and so eventually, after losing too many men and guns, he had to concede that hill to Hooker's men.
Now as he observed the Union infantry and artillery posted on that hill, something caught his eye. The Union forces were not properly positioned on the hill. They were too close to the summit of the hill and blocked their line-of-sight to the hill's base. A revengeful grin grew on Jeb's face. There was a perfect opportunity to counterattack the hill. Stuart ordered his cavalry to mount and with a certain quiet they rode along the base of Nicodemus Hill around to the northern side. Then, with everyone in place, Jeb yelled the charge command! Perhaps it was his deep desire for revenge, but he must have given the order a bit too enthusiastically for his horse reared at the sound of it and ungraciously dumped him on the ground. No matter, there his forces rode, hooping and hollering to the top of the hill. There they encountered the most surprised Union forces they had ever seen, perfectly arrayed with infantry and artillery, but all with their backs, and the backs of their cannon, facing the other way. Jeb's troopers greedily took as much as they could of the infantry, artillery, and even some supply wagons. But there was no time to dally, here came Union reinforcements with their own notion of revenge. So quickly now, skedadle down the hill. The supply wagons couldn't keep up, but here came the Union reinforcements so they are on their own. Crash went the Union volleys and Jeb, now properly situation on his horse, saw too many of his boys fall, too many really to justify the raid. But later with his boys safely back to Confederate lines, they smiled and slapped each other on the back. They had evened the score on Nicodemus Hill.
Authorís note: The story is in diary format from someone in one of Sam Hood's units. It is best read using Martin Sheen's accent from "Gettysburg" the movie. Or even Nicholas Cage's in "ConAir." To set the mood...
Somewhere in southern PA, June 29, 1863 p.m.
What a splendid march it has been into Pennsylvania. We're spoiling for a fight. Morale is higher than I recall seeing. Maybe it's the rejoining of old comrades to the army, maybe it's the thought of taking it to the enemy's homeland for a change, or maybe it is just how confidant we feel with Marse Robert and our own Pete Longstreet at our head. I never thought the army would be like this a few weeks ago.
It seems like just yesterday we were wondering what we'd do without Jackson! Of course we'd always thought Ol' Pete didn't get the attention he deserved and Jackson seemed the darling of the press. But you can't argue with success! And Jackson always seemed to create success. His death was sure a blow to us all. Ain't it funny though how things work out. Everything we've done has seemed to go just right even though Jackson ain't here. Why from what I've heard Ewell's movements at Winchester would have stunned even Jackson. And our marches in to Pennsylvania have been pretty much unopposed. Then to top it off what Marse Robert did was just pure unbelievable.
Marse Robert convinced Jeff Davis he'd need more men if we were to invade the north without Jackson. Davis was at first hesitant, but then relented! So just two days south marches the new 4th Corps Army of Northern Virginia. Under Daniel Harvey Hill, of all people. He'd always been a fierce fighter, but what a big pain in theÖ. But he brings back to the army some regiments that used to be under Pete, so we're happy to see them. Word is he's got more'un 21,000 men with him, and that's more'n any of the three corps with us now. I think we now got more people in this army then ever. More'n we had on the Peninsula when Lee took over for Johnston.
But Lee insisted on Harvey Hill. Lord, I still don't believe they caught up to us so fast. I'd never expected them boys to get here when they did! They brung them from all over the Carolina's and Georgia, and even the Richmond defenses I'm told. Moved 'em to Richmond and then to Charlottesville via the railroads. Ol' Harvey Hill must have pushed them hard down the valley to get here. Old Jack would have been proud of the speed of that march. Looks like we got us a new 'foot cavalry' in this army. I almost doubt JEB could have moved his cavalry as fast.
Speaking of JEB, everyone is aflutter wondering were he is. I bet Marse Robert is beside himself. He don't know where JEB is, or, worse, where Hooker and that yank army is. If it was me I'd skin that fool alive. Imagine leaving us blind like this. Don't he know we're like children stumbling around in the dark. So if any thing is wrong with our invasion so far it is Stuart. Mark my words we'll have hell to pay for having no cavalry.
The only other problem with this invasion is Marse Robert's orders that we ain't supposed to treat the yankee citizenry the way they've been treatin' ours. We can't loot and rob and do other unmentionables like them no account cowardly bluebellies done to the people of our beloved south. We have to pay or give vouchers, whatever they are, for any item we take. But seeing as how we came up here with no real baggage train there may be a point to that. Anything we pick up will only slow us down.
Near Cashtown, PA, June 30, 1863 p.m.
Today has been eventful. Seems that a day or so ago some spy informed Lee that Hooker had been replaced with George Meade, and that the yank army is closer'n anybody knew. So ol' Marse he order a concentration of the Army at a little crossroads named Gettysburg.
Heth's division will be there early tomorrow, with only some local militia to slow him down. Those lucky dogs. I here tell there is a large supply of shoes there. My poor feet could sure use a pair. Ain't had none since that picket duty down the Rapidan when Hooker near bout marched all the way around us. I was still sleeping when those New Yorkers stormed the ford. I was lucky enough my self to escape much less stoop down and pick up my rifle, or even my shoes. Aw who am I kidding, they were so worn I'd been barefoot by now anyway. At least I got a rifle from a dead yank a couple days later! Too bad we didn't have proper enough time to get some shoes off'n the dead.
Harvey Hill is only a day and a half behind us now. Maybe they should slow down some to rest so they won't be exhausted if we need them in a fight.
Still no word from Stuart!
Near Gettysburg, PA, July 1, 1863 p.m.
We got them Yanks real good today. Made 'em run all over again just like down in Chancellorsville in May. Meade, Hooker, Burnside, McClellan, Pope, it don't matter we'll whip 'em all, anytime, anyplace!
It sems that Heth sent his brigades in this morning and got into a terrible fight. Heavy casualties on both sides. Seems it wasn't just militia in that town, but a division of union cavalry. From what I've pieced together among the campfires tonight this is what happened:
Heth sent Archer's & Davis' brigades in early followed by Brockenbourgh and Pettigrew. The union cav fought like demons. I guess we're used to pushing on union cav and they fall back. But then we usually have some help from Stuart. They sure didn't get pushed away easy today. Reynold's I Corps troops arrived and pounded Heth mercilessly. Pender's divison came up and we started to beat them back again. Then Doubleday's union division tried to flank Heth, but Archer and Thomas (from Pender's division) prevented that, they hit him a little bit unexpected and hurt Doubleday pretty bad. Though both brigades are fought out for the duration. Some of the regiments are down to 25 or 50 men each
Anyway, Doubleday's men hooked up with the rest of the yanks on a ridge near some church college. I heard that Pettigrew's and Davis' men took a pounding trying to push them off that ridge, and in the woods north of there. It looked pretty bad for our boys, cause a whole new yank corps came up the road and was forming on our left. These was Howard's XI Corps, so we couldn't have been luckier. Them's the ones that skedaddled so bad in May at Chancellorsville.
However, about the time they started getting in line, two divisions of Ewell's corps began to arrive from the north and northeast. They slammed the yanks pretty good on the flank, again it seems like old Jack was still here. Then the yanks reformed and we hit them hard agian. And then they run just like before. Only they ran pretty straight through the town right up a big hill, called Cemetery Hill. When they ran, the yank I Corps troops withdrew in an orderly fashion to the same hill. I ain't seen it yet but they say it is darn near suicide to attack that hill straight on if'n they get artillery up there. Someone said it would be like Malvern Hill all over again.
So by then Heth's & Pender's divisions was pretty shot up. Anderson's division came up then. And Lee planned to hit that hill with Anderson, Early, Rodes, and the remnants of Heth & Pender.
Then the bottom fell out. Just when Rodes and Early were about to hit the hill from the north, the XI Corps counterattacked! And now it was our turn to run like dogs. I hear that had Rodes and Early formed up and attacked together they might've made good on their attack, but that both Early and Rodes sent their brigades in too piecemeal. To be beaten back by the XI Corps! Those boys should be shamed. But who'd have thought it possible! I guess Meade is smarter than we'd thought to send the XI Corps out like that on the offense!
The other divisions ran into some trouble too. Anderson was going to attack from the west and Pender had moved around the hill to attack from the south. So'd if the XI Corps hadn't done what they'd done we'd have hit it from three directions at once. But damn if not having no cavalry didn't catch up to us. As Pender and Anderson were lining up the union III Corps hit Pender in the rear. Pender lost over half his men, most all of his brigade commanders, and he himself got captured. I always liked Dorsey Pender. He'll be missed. At least the union corps commander, Sickles his name is, was captured by the remnants of one of Archer's brigade. He was just out there leading from the rear with no guard so they moved in real fast and got him. Maybe after this fight we can exchange Sickles for Pender. We'd sure get the best of that trade!
Anderson then had to fall back. Or he'd been shot up too. He is a tough fighter, and he has the largest division in the army, but they couldn't take on three army corps by themselves. The yanks had the I, III and XI corps all on that hill by then.
Someone also said there is even a bigger hill just west of the cemetery one and Gordon's brigade attacked and took it for a while, but he had too few men and no other support and had to fall back.
I hate to question Marse but maybe he should have waited to hit that hill with all four of our divisions at once. Because as luck would have it Johnson's division came up and could have leant support to hold it if'n the yanks counterattacked if'n we took it. It seems like the army, after such spectacular results from early afternoon, fought too disjointed, sorta like "The Seven Days" all over again with a first time commander.
I hope we aren't ordered up that hill tomorrow. All night long we been hearing them digging and cutting, they got a whole lot of hurt planned for us. I hate to see what that hill looks like in the morning.
Gettysburg, PA, July 2, 1863 p.m.
My po' po' feet. We've marched for two days, and then had a tough fight at the end of that. We did get a slight break this morning, but arrived too late to get shoes off the yankee dead and wounded from yesterday's battle. Johnson's division got here late yesterday afternoon while they was still fighting and had a chance for some "battlefield requisitions". Johnson's whole division is newly shod, like they were horses or something.
We are fought out, but unlike normal battles, I doubt we'll pull back for bivouac tonight. We gained some good ground this afternoon, at least via our march. I'm not sure we have any more ground captured due to our fighting. We've put a hurting on them yanks. But it sure didn't look so good for us this morning.
We had finally caught up to the battlefield just after first light. We were ordered over behind that college place, I think it is called Seminary Ridge. Once the sun was full up Marse Robert ordered an intense bombardment of Cemetery Hill. We were to go in with McLaws', Anderson's, and Johnson's division after the arty weakened up the defenses. I climbed the ridge and got a good look at the hill. I'm eternally grateful we didn't have to charge up that thing.
We had more'n eighty guns pounding away. It looked like we were in luck at first. We drove battery after battery off the front of that hill. But just when it looked like we were about to go forward, a whole bunch of fresh batteries took their place. I reckon that the whole Potomac's army artillery reserve was moved forward. Marse Robert was very disappointed and decided to change his plans. Goodness, there were more guns on that hill after that than when we'd started.
So Lee called in Longstreet for a discussion, and dang if all the top generals showed up at about the same time and they had some kinda war council. I was running courier duty this morning for Pete so I heard most of what was discussed. Pete initially wanted to go way around the union and block them from Washington. A.P.Hill & Jubal Early wanted to attack up that hill from as many sides as possible. Early said, "If we take that hill they will be forced to pull back."
But Lee overroad that argument. "General Hill, we didn't take it yesterday when we had the advantage in numbers and before they dug in. How can we do it today when they have their whole army here? We tried to force them this morning, but their reserve artillery is now up and they would hurt us badly. I will not allow a repeat of Malvern Hill. We are still short Pickett and D. H. Hill. Four of our divisions are pretty used up from yesterday and will be of little use to us today. Please remember I did not want a fight here, I wanted the whole army together before we fought those people."
But then Sam Hood (my own general of division) spoke strongly about letting his and McLaws' division, under Longstreet, go around this big wooded hill they could see to the south. "By the time we get into position Pickett will be up and able to support us. And Harvey Hill will be here tomorrow to exploit the gains we make today. Our march will be like Jackson's at Chancellorsville all over again." I just happened to look in at that moment and saw peculiar look on General Lee's face at the mention of that episode from May. He had a wistful look in his eyes, and at the same time a great sadness also. But Hood was very persistent, he'd missed the fight at Chancellorsville and wanted so badly to do something. Longstreet, reluctant at first and must have gotten caught up in Hood's mood, agreed (he'd been gone at Chancellorsville too) and once he said so nearly everyone else did too. Pete had argued that Lee would have two fresh divisions, Anderson's and Johnson's, available, and the others, to stop any advance by the yanks. Lee was hesitant. He agreed that a flank attack was the best strategy but thought that Hood's idea was too ambitious. So Pete spoke up, "General Lee, you know my feelings that we should make the yankees come to us and attack us on this ground, but with Harvey Hill close behind us, I think we can afford to attack as Sam says."
So after some thought Lee said, "Gentleman, I really don't like the idea of splitting the army and marching around the union again. I'm concerned that we may, to quote a phrase, 'go to the well one too many times,' but I don't see any other way to get at those people. I'm certain that Heth's, Rodes', Pender's and Early's divisons will be of little use to us this day. However, we must drive the enemy here, now, from this field, so General Longstreet, you may proceed with your march. I am convinced if we can cripple Meade's army we can bring this war to a close."
So they formed up a plan to send the remnants of Pender's division, now under the command of Col. Abner Perrin, as a vanguard. Perrin's men would move out ahead to scout, and cover our march. So late this morning we set off for the union left. It was a long march that was purposely led through as many woods as possible to hide our movement. We were in this one fold, or small valley, when some union infantry was reported arriving from the south. We were very lucky to not be seen. So we rested again to allow those men to move into their lines. We could have attacked and captured them, but it would have given us away.
By now Perrin's men had moved toward the yanks to draw their attention. I personally wished them well. Some of them guys looked even too tired to pick up their rifles, much less march or fight.
We had just started marching again when someone in the front saw three yank batteries coming up the same road that that infantry had been on. And again we were lucky to not be spotted. Then to top it off they started to follow almost the same route we were going to use around the wooded hill. They must have seen Perrin's men and decided to go around via the rear also. I guess even the yankees want to go around their rear!
Longstreet prodded Perrin to use a small detachment to follow and harass the batteries into moving along. The unit was small enough to not draw their ire, yet large enough to not risk stopping to unlimber. If they had it'd put a stop on all our plans. So we sat down again for awhile while Perrin's men watched those batteries. After they lost track of them in the woods back behind the lines we started moving again.
I guess Perrin was successful in making the yanks believe we'd attack across the area in front of those two hills, the big wooded one and it's little sister. Found out only a few minutes ago they are called Big Round Top and Little Round Top. There is some tough looking ground out there and we'd been hard put to hit the front straight on. The yanks were dug in with plenty of arty for support.
Anyways, it was a long slow march through the woods. We had riders out front who kept watching for yanks and making sure we ourselves couldn't be seen. I guess we now know what Jackson's men felt like when they was sitting on the yank flank and rear. It is very exilerating.
So we went about quietly and slowly and were forming up for battle when all hell broke loose.
We weren't completely ready to attack just yet, and were just behind the crest of the littler hill (that was were the yank line ended) when a yankee regiment, marching backwards (facing out to where they thought we were coming from), backed right up into my own regiment. They were really surprised to see us. Then yanks started coming from everywhere.
It was a desperate back and forth fight for a couple of hours. I thought we'd sweep the flank just like Jackson did. But we didn't. Meade is a lot tougher than anyone thought. And they were expecting an attack over this way, but not in their rear! So they'd been shifting men our way and we didn't even know it. We'd walked almost into a trap ourselves. I'm not sure but I think we fought parts of 3 or 4 different army corps this afternoon. Meade launched attack after attack. I've never seen so much close-in and hand to hand fighting in all my time in the army. Wave after wave of blue kept coming after us. We never even had time to form up and launch a strong coordinated attack.
We actually lost a little ground behind the hill, but held onto, and even took some from the yanks on the hill. But it hasn't been easy. But the yanks now only have one road out of here. Longstreet says the hills will be empty come morning. I hope so, because he is in force in front of us now.
However, now that I think of it if he is so strong on our front (we've bent his flank a full 90 degrees) that he has to be weak somewhere else. The whole yank army is in peril of being encircled.
Towards the end of the day Ewell's corps hit the other end of the yank line. Meade must take men from somewhere to reinforce that part. The way I figure it is that he has strengthened his left, and will strengthen the right, so that the center should be about ripe for Harvey Hill to pour through. Though I did hear Pete say that Ewell's and A.P. Hill's corps would attempt to cut the other road come sun up. We might bag the whole union army.
I had more courier duty this evening as Longstreet sent a situation report to Lee. As his clerk was drafting the report Pete was pretty talkative. He said that after consideration of the situation he is surprised that the union didn't attack today when we were on our march. He thinks the only reason they didn't was that they were either just as tired as we'd been, or that they know Harvey Hill is coming. But he finished by saying we may never know the answer to that.
Last bit of news, somebody said Stuart finally arrived late this morning! We haven't seen any cav on our end so I really can't confirm that rumor. We sure could use some to protect our flanks and rear. We still don't even know where the main union cavalry is. But one courier from Lee said that Stuart stopped a union probe on our own left. But another one said that Ewell had decided to feel out the union right to see if there was any opportunity on that end, and was replused. That was when Stuart arrived and shored up the line and prevented a union advance out that way. But like I already noted, we still ain't seen no cav over here so until they get here and protect our backside I won't be happy.
To be continued...
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