Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Monday, December 18, 2017

ACW Peninsular Campaign - Part Four.

The table will roughly be  reference A4 with a touch of A5.

Privates Don Haver and Pat Morgan of the 6th Alabama, sat on a couple of old wooden chairs, furniture that must have been purloined from a nearby house or cabin, by previous sentries on this post. They were sat by rocks at the top of Choke Heights with an excellent view down to the East Road and also out beyond the cliff, to the Atlantic Ocean. By the position of the rising sun, Don reckoned it to be close to 8 am, they would be relieved soon to grab a bite to eat and, if the sergeant was in a good mood, a couple of hours shut eye in their tent.

They had been awoken at four, grabbed a hot coffee and made their way to this post before first light. As the sun rose, the land and sea slowly became visible, as did a small cabin down beside the East Road. Once Don and Pat could clearly see the road, the latter had climbed on top of one of the rocks and waved his hat. Down beside the cabin, a tiny figure waved back. The signal for the night patrol, who had guarded the eastern entrance to the peninsular, to return up the slope to camp.

Don and Pat had watched the dozen soldiers and two horses, make the long climb up the slope. Very little moved on the road after dark, it was all too easy to stray off the road and fall off the cliff into the ocean. The lieutenant, sergeant and ten men had the job of stopping and checking anyone brave or foolish enough to travel the road in the darkness. The two horses were to be ridden the six miles to Bourne and the telegraph office, should the enemy attempt to travel the road.

Those twelve men would be now well fast asleep, thought Don as he lifted the telescope and focused on the road. Not a damn thing had come south since dawn, which was unusual, the mail coach as well as supply wagons, would normally have passed by now. Some riders and a small pony and trap had moved north en route out of the valley, as well as two men with a team of oxen pulling a large wagon loaded with timber.

He swung the lens upward slightly and the water of the Atlantic Ocean came into focus, the sun causing the gently rolling waves to glisten and shine. Eventually the glass stopped on a ship, about five miles offshore, nothing unusual. The Yankee frigate was always there or thereabouts, preventing the use of Stockton, the small port at the south end of the North Inlet. As far as Don could tell, it was the same frigate as had been there the past eight or nine days. Not a large ship, probably no more than 28 guns, but big enough to cause trade in and out of Stockton to cease. Another frigate would be stationed further down the coast, doing the same job at Port St. Charles.

'Is that another of them Yankee Free-gates Don?' 

Pat's voice interrupted his thoughts, he lowered the glass and looked to where Pat was pointing. Another ship had come into view to the north, he quickly located it with the telescope, once settled and in focus, there was no mistaking the flag she flew, The Yankee Stars and Stripes. This was a larger ship, though still a frigate this one had two decks and more gun ports. He handed the scope to Pat and fished out the log book and pencil from his pack. They had been instructed to note any ship sightings and movements, as well as watching the road. The information would be passed onto the Navy. This new vessel was probably here to relieve one of the ships patrolling off the peninsular, or simply heading further south on other duties.

'Horses and riders Don...lots of 'em!'

Don quickly put the pencil and book down and took the offered glass. Swimming into the lens were horsemen. They were on the road and fanned out along the lower slopes. More importantly they were wearing blue uniforms. The leading horsemen on the road, stopped some distance from the cabin used by the night shift, the men dismounted, drew carbines from their holsters and advanced toward the empty cabin.

'Pat, run and find the sergeant and lieutenant, ask them to come as quick as they can. Tell them Yankee cavalry are on the East Road, probably a full regiment!'...

My interpretation of the map square, the sea appears to be falling off the table!

The cabin used by the night shift, guarding the East Road.

Don and Pat watch the Union cavalry.

Troopers of 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, dismount and advance carefully toward the log cabin.

Lieutenant McGuire quickly answered the summons and now gazed down the slopes at the enemy cavalry.

'Two full regiments at least,' he said moving his binoculars from the troops on the lower slope, to the troopers who had now satisfied themselves that the cabin was empty, and were remounting. At that moment Major Gustas and Captain Styles also appeared at the observation post. The former was in overall command of the east side of Choke Ridge.

The two officers also began to scan the lower slopes, satisfied with what he was seeing, Major Gustas turned to Lieutenant McGuire.

'Have a rider sent at full speed to the telegraph office in Bourne, tell them to inform all locations and army units on the peninsular that two regiments of enemy cavalry are advancing down the East Road, currently six miles north of Bourne.'

The lieutenant was hurriedly scribbling down the message.

Major Gustas once again scanned the enemy far below, 'Nothing moving on the West Road,' he said aloud to no one in particular, 'I find that odd, very odd.'

'A patrol in force perhaps Major,' replied Captain Styles,

'Maybe, or the covering screen for a larger force.'

Just then movement to the north by the trees on East Road, caught his attention. Enemy infantry with flags flying came into view.

'I think we have our answer gentlemen, the enemy is making a major push into the peninsular. Add to that message lieutenant, that enemy infantry are also moving south, two battalions sighted so far. We will continue to observe and report.'

Lieutenant McGuire hurried away with the dispatch, moments later a rider was racing down the southern slopes towards the small town of Bourne.

'I sent a messenger informing the colonel of the situation here, in the meantime, I want as many men as we can muster, to assemble at this spot.' Major Gustas once more lifted the binoculars to his eyes, a third enemy infantry regiment was now moving into view from behind the trees down by the road. 'I fear the enemy will move up the slopes to investigate this position, I know I would!'

18th & 31st New York of 3rd Brigade, 1st Division advance south along the East Road.

The view from the confederate observation point.


  1. Good to see the campaign under way!

    1. Thanks Andy, I little delay due to moving, but it should be good to go now.

  2. It really is great to see what can be achieved with 6mm. Looking good and I like the way you have built up the atmosphere. Also like the snake fencing. I am experimenting with mine at present and I think I am settling on something not dissimilar to yours.

    1. Thank you Grymauch, I always like to add a little narrative to go along with the photos, especially as not a great deal is going on yet. The snake fence is lengths of matchstick on a lolly stick, it does the job, though of course the timber is way out of scale really.

    2. I have the same problem with mine. The look is important though and I think it looks fine the way you have them. I also like the look of the hill. If I had not invested so much in a modular system that is the way I would have gone. It looks so much more natural. What you are doing is superb and just demonstrates the versatility of 6mm figs.

    3. The Cigar Box Battle Mat is probably the best investment for wargaming I have ever made. It was quite expensive at £60, but has paid for itself over and over, a few cushions and tea towels beneath and you have great looking hills, ridges etc.

  3. I like the pictures. I imagine the country around the isthmus is quite spectacular and picturesque.

    1. Thank you my friend, I reckon the peninsular to be quite picturesque too, high hills, woods, farmsteads and small ports. I did get a lot of inspiration for this by following your Jackson in the Valley campaign.

  4. O boy, there's gonna be a dustup - no mistake about it!
    That brief calm before the storm and the chaos of battle.
    Fortune favors the bold !
    Many thanks for keeping us up to date - Stay warm and stay happy!

    1. There sure is Fred, a skirmish up on Choke Heights and the rest of the Union column moving south at speed will have to cross the defended Crow River Bridge. The mixed terrain mat is fantastic, I have one with roads too, but prefer my own roads and rivers.

  5. I also second your comment about the Cigar Box - best mat I've even owned.