Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Battle of Wilson's Creek - 1861 (Part One)

The first battle in the new abode, my table is now just 43 inches by 28 inches, a small table for sure. Well I have been going on about small tables, so for the time being, that is all the space I have. A little tight for 28 mm, but great for 6 mm.

So for my debut at the new place I have chosen a scenario from the Glory Hallelujah supplement for Black Powder. The Battle of Wilson's Creek, though I have chosen only to show the tributary of Skegg's Branch, I have also omitted the hills and added a wooded area. The troop formations are however, as per the scenario. I intend to fight the battle twice, once using the modified Blucher rules, which I really like, and then again using Black Powder with the GH supplement amendments, or at least some of them.

The deployment shown in the book has been followed as best as I can. I have chosen to represent the regiments of each brigade.

The whole table looking from the Confederate side of the table. The units are shown in their starting positions, but the artillery is not yet deployed. As you can see, there are five Rebel brigades facing only three Union.

The Union 'Army of the West' under the command of Brigadier General Lyon, comprises from left to right, 1st Brigade - 3 infantry regiments and one artillery brigade, 2nd Brigade also of three infantry and one artillery and finally 3rd Brigade comprising six infantry regiments.

The Confederate army under the command of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch has five brigades, from front left to right, 3rd Brigade - six infantry and one artillery, 4th Brigade - three infantry and one artillery and furthest from the camera is 1st Brigade of three infantry regiments. At the rear nearest the camera is 5th Brigade of three infantry regiments and finally, 2nd Brigade of three infantry and one artillery.

Looking over the farm along the Confederate lines.

The Union forces too.

Off the table is a brigade of Confederate cavalry who will enter the table behind the Union right flank, near the trees, at some point during the battle

Also off the table is the Union 4th Brigade - four infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment and one artillery battery. Who will at some point enter the table behind the Confederate troops. McCulloch had sent them off on a wide encircling movement, the aim being to catch the rebels in a hammer and anvil situation.

An on the hoof change of plan regarding rules. I failed to bring my pack of playing cards for use with Blucher, this is the way of determining when a command phase ends, so instead I shall use the 'Officer Commanding' ACW rules by Robert Lloyd. This is version 1.6 and has a few modifications from the previous sets I have used.

Turn One
Confederates won the initiative roll and attempted to activate both brigades on their left flank, however a roll of one + one for being experienced troops, meant that only one element (in this case, regiment) from each brigade could advance.

The single regiment from the two nominated brigades (marked with a red disc), move forward.

The Union commander also wanted to activate two brigades, but he has no intention of advancing, instead he wants to deploy his artillery. A roll of 1 + 1, split between the two brigades, means he can do just that.

The two batteries are unlimbered and prepared for action.

Turn Two
Confederate initiative, the same two brigades are nominated to advance and this time a 6 + 1 enables the remaining units of each brigade to advance.

The two brigades are now close to the stream and back in line.

Turn Three
Union initiative, but movement declined and as even the artillery is out of range no firing. The Confederates attempt to advance the large 3rd Brigade and with a roll of 6+1, all six infantry and the artillery can advance.

The Reb's now have three brigades at the stream in good order.

Turn Four
The Confederates attempt to activate two more brigades, and with a dice roll of 4+1 are able to advance the whole of 5th Brigade and two regiments of 2nd Brigade.

So the Confederate advance to the stream continues.

A close up of the now disjointed 2nd Brigade.

Turn Five.
Both sides could now roll to see if their reinforcements would arrive, both failed. However, the rebel commander, confident in his greater numbers on the table orders two brigades to advance across the stream. With a roll of 6+1, this is achieved.

The left and central brigades are now across the stream and the artillery battery unlimbers.

This move puts both side artillery within range of the enemy. Reb guns max range is 20 cm whilst the Union is 24 cm.

Batteries open up on both sides but only one scores a hit. The Union battery at the bottom is successful in counter-battery fire.

Forcing the rebel battery back across the stream.

Turn Five
The rebels anxious to get to grips with a numerically inferior force, attempts to advance two brigades but a roll of 1+1 only allows on regiment of each brigade to advance.

With only the two Union batteries now in firing range, both open up, once again the battery at the bottom of the photo scores a hit, this time on the infantry, forcing them back.

The rebel infantry regiment is now back across the stream alongside the battery driven back in the last turn.

Turn Six
For the Confederate commander, the dice god is once again against him. A 1+1 only allows one unit of each brigade to advance. On the left an infantry regiment and he also chooses to advance the artillery battery back across the stream and into range of the Union guns.

On this occasion both Union batteries fire with no effect.

Turn Seven
Amazingly, both fail to activate their reserve (off the table) units. Taking no chances, the rebel commander activates just 3rd Brigade, he rolls a 5+1 and so all, bar the artillery battery can advance.

The four leading regiments are across the stream, the two behind have also taken the movement penalty for crossing, so can move their full distance when next activated.

Mixed fortunes in the artillery exchanges. The two batteries engaged in counter-battery fire both hit! The battery is a miss.

Consequently, both batteries have to fall back 8 cm.

Turn Eight
Finally a successful reinforcement roll. The Rebs have it.

A Confederate cavalry brigade appear on the Union right flank.

The Union commander is now forced to give a brigade order, he orders the far right regiment to turn and face the new threat.

Nervous troops obey the order, well aware they now have the enemy on two fronts!

The Confederate commander, seeing the confusion and re-alignment of the Union right flank knows it is time to strike. Unfortunately for him, I am throwing the dice with my normal aplomb. He attempts to advance two brigades but with a 2+1, can only advance three regiments into musket range.

With the Union right now threatened on two fronts, the rebel troops push forward.

The crash of muskets and and the roar of cannon, fill the air with smoke, (well four white discs actually, you need a good imagination).

Only the Union artillery battery scores a hit, forcing one of the rebel infantry regiments to recoil.

A good time to bring part one to a close. If you would now indulge me in a few low level shots of the troops and battlefield.

The Brigadier General of the Confederate cavalry surveys the scene before him.

'Forward boys!'

Massed ranks face each other across the field.

'Sure as Hell, seems to be a lot of em.'

The threatened Union right flank.


  1. Excellent write up, Ian. It'll be interesting to hear how the battle goes from here. I like games that have a simple pip system each turn. I think it can often create quite an exciting unpredictability regarding how the battle will develop, which makes it more fun especially when you're playing solo. Great looking table and armies, too. 6mm figs are just the ticket for smaller playing areas. Is that a cloth mat you use?

  2. Thanks Kevin, the mat is cloth a type of lightweight felt, from Cigar Box Battle Mats. Quite expensive, but looks good and is 6 x 4 feet. I am enjoying this rule set, written by a fellow You tuber, excellent for solo play.