Friday, 23 September 2016

Game in Progress - August Fury - Second Battle of Bull Run, Day 2 - Part 1

Hot on the heels of our completion of a 1st Bull Run scenario from Three Battles of Manassas (MMP/The Gamers), gaming buddy Roger and I elected to graduate to a larger scale battle, allowing us to make full use of the Civil War Brigade series command rules. Logically enough, the choice was a scenario from August Fury II, covering the 2nd Battle of Bull Run:  6.2 The Second Day.

We opted to increase the uncertainty by adopting the variable arrival rule for reinforcements - requiring 10+ to be rolled before each due formation can enter the fray.

Here is a Vassal snapshot of the field of battle and objectives at 5am on the 29th of August, 1862:

Thanks to Pope thinking that Jackson is retreating westward, Union troops face a tough job in what amounts to hurried and piecemeal assaults against a Confederate corps holding strong defensive ground. Not only that, but one expecting reinforcements to soon come a marching down the Warrenton Turnpike. 

As the initial orders for the Union corps have already been accepted, the Union player has little choice but to follow through in the hope that the rebel line can be penetrated. Attempts could be made to exercise divisional command initiative, but the odds are not good and there is an element of risk (rolling snake eyes activates the 'loose cannon' rule, allowing the opponent to control said division for one turn!).

The Union troops advance and carry out their assault. 

7:00 am

Here is the situation two hours later:

On the Union left, the Rebels are pouring fire into Reynold's much so, that they are already running low on ammo! But they are getting results and Reynolds' boys are crumpling under the withering fire...but not before Union artillery deal out some harsh treatment to Johnson's extended line (in the current turn, he will become disorganised). 

Meanwhile, Sigel's corps has elected to ram into the centre of Jackson's line, hoping that a solid push on a narrow front will get results. The Rebs are dishing it out and Schimmelfennig's men have pulled back, disorganised. Yet, the Union are scoring hits too, with Trimble and Archer's veterans bearing the brunt.

The Union desperately needs its awaited reinforcements to arrive - now! But instead of Pope and two welcome corps, all that has shown up so far is Kearny and his three brigades, now advancing to join in the attack.

And Jackson is still sign of Lee and Longstreet.

9:00 am

Two hours later, little has changed. Kearny's brigades have badly bruised themselves attempting to push back A.P Hill's brigades defending south of Bull Run. Reynolds succeeds in cancelling the attack and has pulled back to Groveton to lick his wounds. In the centre, Union troops have sent Trimble packing, forcing him to abandon the railroad line....but Early and Gregg promptly fill the gap, robbing the Federals from securing their hard-won gain.

And off to the West, there are signs of an approaching column, while still no relief in the East for the Union.

11:00 am

By 11am, Lee and part of Longstreet's L-Wing has appeared on the scene and deployed on the Confederate right flank, forming a hinge. Un-nerved by the slaughter, Sigel has called off the attack (via a stoppage roll) and pulled back in front of Chinn's Ridge, east of Groveton.

Finally there is significant Union activity in the South, as Porter's 5th corps advances NW up the Manassas-Gainsville Rd. It has orders to occupy Gainsville  to hold any rebel advance from the west. But the cat is already out of the bag!

13:00 hrs:

By early afternoon, Porter's corps has taken up position at Gainesville, waiting for rebels that have already passed them by. In fact, Longstreet's entire corps is now on the battlefield - half moving to a rendezvous with the Federals at New Market, while the rest are blocking the Manassas-Gainsville Rd.

As both Lee and Pope are on the map, each can issue orders to their commanders as soon as their HQ's take up a position. Just west of Groveton wood, two of Jackson's blooded divisions have received orders (Jackson initiative) to push Union troops off Chinn Ridge and move on New Market. It looks like a pincer movement....Civil War style.

Pope has appeared east of Hill's position....but it's too little, too late.

My next instalment will reveal how the rest of the battle plays out.  So far, the result seems to generally reflect that of history: piece-meal attacks robbing the Union of the cohesiveness it needs to overwhelm the rebels, in tandem with an inability to swiftly adapt to the rapidly changing situation. The rebels get a jump on them, sweeping eastward in superior numbers. Jackson's high initiative value plays a telling role here, as does Lee's overall command superiority ('4' to Pope's '0'). Porter sitting there out west at Gainesville, doing nothing.....seething at the idea of taking orders from boastful Pope! In the end, it cost Porter his command...and career: court-martialed and cashiered from service.


  1. Great storytelling narrative Greg. Union very much hamstrung by Pope's 0 rating and the even greater piecemeal nature of variable reinforcement. Maybe the Union should have dragged its feet in the initial attack and waited for further forces before the big push.

  2. So much rests on the ability to roll 10+ on the dice to release each group of reinforcements. Command ability, as you observe, also wields significant influence. I reckon the Union has to go hell for leather with initiative rolls to try and countermand some of Pope's crazy pre-ordained orders before they can do a lot of damage. THEN, marshall forces and coordinate an attack - as you observe -hoping for minimal delay. But then of course, there remains the prospect of a rebel relief column looming out of the west. Tough!