Wednesday, January 16, 2019
2115 hours, 2nd June 1862. Briefing tent of VI Corps, Stockton/Clanfield crossroads.
Divisional, brigade and regimental commanders sat on camp chairs or stood where they could find room, most clutching a mug of steaming coffee, others enjoying a pipe full of tobacco. All stood and saluted as General William Franklin entered the tent.
'At ease gentlemen, you have earned it. I want to start by congratulating all of you and and your men for the excellent job done so far. We have defeated the enemy both on the Stockton Road and at Crow Bridge. We have destroyed or captured six enemy infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment as well as three batteries of artillery.' He paused to allow the figures to sink in.
'However, the enemy still has a substantial force that needs to be dealt with. Our own forces have suffered also, every one of our brigades has suffered losses to some degree but we still greatly outnumber the enemy. We are still in the process of interrogating the prisoners, but it seems the brigade that attempted to block us on the Stockton Road, was indeed their total reserve.
The enemy is now on the run, but has little room left in which to retreat to. Eventually he will have to turn and face us. It may well be in one of the towns or somewhere else, but he must face us at some point.'
The gathered officers nodded or grunted in agreement. General Franklin motioned the men to gather around a table on which was spread a map of the peninsular.
'The majority of the corps will move south in pursuit of the enemy toward Clanfield. One brigade will be detached to continue along the East Road, through Stockton , Witton and eventually halting at Port St Charles. Any vessels you discover on the march down the coast larger than a damn canoe, is to be burnt, along with any quayside or other installations that are of use to the enemy. I intend to chase down the remaining enemy troops and destroy them as well as achieving all our other objectives. We will move out at 0800 tomorrow.
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division under the command of Brigadier W.T. Brooks moves off east toward Stockton.
The remainder of VI Corps heads south in the direction of Clanfield.
At exactly the same time, in a tent of similar size, five miles south of the Union position, Major General Daniel Hill was also in a meeting with his senior officers, though far fewer in number than the former.
'We all know the situation gentlemen, although we have fought well, the enemy greatly outnumbered us. Courage and bravery alone cannot hold back superior numbers forever. A number of faces are missing from this tent, I only hope they are prisoners of the Union and not killed or wounded. You all know the peninsular well, there is no obvious location at which we can stand and hope to hold off the enemy. He can advance on any position we choose, from various directions.
I have no intention of fighting in any of the towns, I don't want any civilian casualties, nor loss of property to the townsfolk. It is my intention to fall back to the arsenal outside of Hampstead, it is far enough outside the town so any fighting would not directly affect the residents. The arsenal has a solid stone wall around the perimeter on which we can base our defence, if the enemy wish to take it and us, they will be made to pay dearly for it.'
Cobb's Legion cavalry lead the remnants of Hill's Division south through the town of Clanfield.
I can now set up the table to represent the arsenal at Hampstead.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Now attention moves to the Stockton Road/Clanfield Road/Crow Bridge crossroads. A pretty flat and featureless area with just the marshy area beside the Crow Bridge road of any real note.
My interpretation of the crossroads, the large amount of shrubbery is my attempt at depicting marshy ground. It can be entered on foot at a slow pace, but is impassible for horses and wheeled vehicles.
Rather than have a billiard table surface, I added a small hillock and a couple of low ridges.
The low ridge on the north side of the road, viewed from the summit of the southern ridge.
Looking down on the crossroads with the marshy ground at top, centre.
Looking east, turn left for Crow Bridge, right for Clanfield, straight ahead for Stockton.
Major General Daniel Hill rode ahead of his force to the crossroads. He could see troops already on the move south on the Clanfield Road. Colonel George Anderson, OC Anderson's Brigade rode forward to meet him.
I am pleased to see your brigade is on the move George.' Dan Hill said as he watched artillery limbers rumble across the crossroads. 'What's left of Sam's Brigade is about a mile behind me, with the enemy two hours behind them. They will be here by nightfall.'
George nodded, 'Sir, Brigadier Rodes is holding the bridge with 5th Alabama and 12th Mississippi to allow my brigade to withdraw in accordance with your orders. It is not much, but enough to hold the enemy for a time. We did manage to get the jump on them as our camp was out of their view. This allowed me to break camp, and prepare my brigade to move. The enemy only realised something was happening when our artillery batteries, in plain sight of them, began to limber up.'
Dan listened grimly, he had already lost Sam Garland, it sounded like he was about to lose Bob Rodes too. 'Very well George, keep your boys moving, I want the road clear for when my force arrives. As darkness falls I intend to make camp just north of Clanfield, after that I am still undecided, but we can discuss that later.'
At that moment the unmistakable boom of artillery could be heard from the north, the Union assault on the weakened defenders of Crow Bridge was getting underway...
4th North Carolina, 49th Virginia and Carter's Battery approach the crossroads.
27th and 28th Georgia lead the column heading south.
The column hastens by General Hill and Colonel Anderson.
The remainder of Garland's Brigade hove into view on the Stockton Road. 2nd Mississippi, 24th and 38th Virginia along with 12th Alabama of Rodes Brigade.
The sound of enemy artillery can be heard to the north above the crunch of feet and wheels.
Garland's Brigade can be seen arriving from the west, they will follow Anderson's Brigade to Clanfield.
The same location two hours later.
Union VI Corps commander General William Franklin, rode ahead of his troops on the Stockton Road, arriving at the Crow Bridge crossroads as the light began to fade. He was met by Brigadier John Newton, OC 3rd Brigade, 1st Division.
'Situation John?' General Franklin said as he returned the salute.
'Sir, the enemy were able to pull out the majority of their force, including two batteries of artillery before we knew what they were up to. Their camp was hidden from the sight of our pickets and so we were blind as to their movements. Once it became obvious that they were preparing to withdraw, General Slocum ordered an attack.'
'The attack was obviously successful,' Bill Franklin said watching a regiment of cavalry move off south down the Clanfield Road.
'It was eventually sir, the rebs fought like devils on that bridge, Brigadier Taylor was badly wounded, mortally I fear, leading the men of his brigade. Eventually overwhelming numbers told and once we forced the bridge, the enemy was forced to surrender. Their commander Brigadier Robert Rodes was killed during the fighting.
Bill was saddened to hear about both William Taylor and Bob Rodes, the latter had been a friend in earlier, more pleasant times. 'Where is General Slocum now?
'He is back at the bridge sir, he has taken personal command of 1st Brigade with Brigadier Taylor so badly wounded. he is organising the care of the wounded and also the transportation of prisoners.'
'Very good John, I will go and find him. In the meantime, I want you to make camp here on this crossroads, it is too dark now to move any further, beside which, the men of 2nd Division need a hot meal and a decent night's rest. When General Smith arrives with his division, inform him to also make camp here.'
Union 1st Division moving south to the crossroads.
General Smith's 2nd Division heading east for the crossroads.
6th Pennsylvania Cavalry move off south to scout in the direction of Clanfield. General Franklin and Brigadier Newton have their discussion as 18th and 32nd New York halt and await orders.
Pickets protect the approaches to VI Corps camp.
Artillery also deployed in the event that the enemy should return this way.
In the command tent there was much to discuss, a similar discussion was taking place in another tent, six miles south of here.
I now have to decide the strategy for both sides as the campaign continues. A couple of maps to allow you to see the remaining ground. Not a lot of obvious places for the Confederates to make a stand. The Union could use part of their force to chase down the enemy, whilst the remainder carries out the objectives of capturing the major towns.
Friday, January 4, 2019
In the brief lull, the Union took the opportunity to pull 7th Maine and 77th New York out of the battle line on the road, replacing them with 2nd and 3rd Vermont respectively.
The battle lines in the distance as General Hill leads four regiments east along the Stockton Road.
The withdrawing force can hear the battle restart as the Union troops once again assault the rebel lines.
The fresh Vermont regiments are both partially obstructed and protected by a small copse of trees, as are 6th Alabama and 2nd Florida. The resulting musketry is poor from both sides.
No such obstruction on the hill as 27th New York and 96th Pennsylvania exchange fire with 5th and 23rd North Carolina. All four regiments suffer a single hit, that leaves 5th North Carolina with an elan of just two resulting in a drop to a single dice from now on.
Hampton's Legion Cavalry and 9th Virginia Cavalry swarm around the hill in an effort to protect the flank of the infantry.
5th Maine followed by 16th New York halt to allow 'F' Battery 5th US Artillery a clear field of fire into the left flank of the confederate line on Stockton Road.
The damaged and retiring 7th Maine and 77th New York relieved from the firing line, make for the rear and a well earned breather. 'G' Battery 4th US Artillery get into action on the road.
Looking across the field from south of the farm.
Troops blinded by smoke, cough, splutter and reload.
Powder smoke and trees block the view of the firing lines on the Stockton Road. As once more the artillery engage in a duel.
'F' Battery 5th US Artillery fail to hit on their first flanking salvo.
Bondurant's Battery scores a hit on 'G' Battery 4th US Artillery, temporarily disabling it.
2nd Alabama closest the road take a hit, as does 2nd Vermont on the left of the Union line.
On the hill 27th New York and 96th Pennsylvania both suffer their first loss, but in devastating return fire against spasmodic and disorganised volleys by the rebels, score two hits each, this virtually destroys both 5th and 23rd North Carolina, down so a single point of elan.
Movement at the rear of the union lines, as relieved units move back and artillery and cavalry attempt to move forward.
Looking north across the Stockton Road and the farm.
Seeing the depleted and disorganised enemy regiments before him, Colonel Bartlett officer commanding 2nd Brigade, 1st Division orders a bayonet charge by 27th New York and 96th Pennsylvania into the beleaguered 5th and 23rd North Carolina.
For the rebs on the hill, the fat lady has already begun to sing.
Looking east from behind the union position.
The surviving, battered and beaten North Carolinians throw down their weapons in surrender. The left flank has fallen and in accordance with Brigadier Garland's orders, Hampton's Legion Cavalry and 9th Virginia Cavalry are to withdraw east and attempt to join up with General Hill.
Another volley of musketry on the Stockton Road, both confederate regiments are now down to, or are below half strength, but both manage a hit of the two Vermont regiments.
The scene from the last stand of 6th Alabama and 2nd Florida.
On the hill, 27th New York and 96th Pennsylvania round up the rebel prisoners.
9th Virginia Cavalry accompanied by Hampton's Legion Cavalry hastily move east.
They leave the battlefield behind.
Brigadier Sam Garland knows the time has come, his two regiments are close to breaking, not to mention being exhausted. With the left flank now gone he has little option but to surrender to prevent further pointless loss of life.
With Union troops all around the Dixon Farm, the Confederate position is now hopeless, but they have done the job they were assigned by allowing part of the brigade to escape.
6th Alabama and 2nd Florida along with Bondurant's Battery, lower their battle flags and drop their muskets.
Brigadier Sam Garland CS Army surrenders to Brigadier Brooks of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division US Army.
A silence falls over the Dixon Farm.
General Franklin OC VI Corps and General Smith OC 2nd Division agree to stand the men down for one hour to rest and take refreshments. There are still almost three hours of daylight left and both men are anxious to reach Crow Bridge before then.
The prisoners are also to be fed and watered, then put to work collecting wounded and burying the dead. Two depleted regiments will remain here to supervise the prisoners and erect a field hospital so the wounded of both armies can be treated.
All cavalry are to move east to find, scout and report on the enemy.
Now a swift rearranging of the table ready for the next part.