Having played a few games of Dave Brown’s Pickett’s Charge at the club I decided to give the rules another run out with a few new players.
The Union army consisted of 4 brigades. 1st, 2nd & 3rd brigades – each of 4 infantry regiments plus 1 artillery battery. 4th brigade– 3 infantry regiments plus 1 cavalry. Five of the regiments were large and most of those were rated as Green. On dicing for the quality of Brigade Generals we discovered that the commander of the 2nd brigade was Poor.
The Confederates also had 4 brigades of similar make up but each of which had at least 1 small regiment. This was compensated for by raising the quality of the units with a good portion of Veteran overall and some Elite in the 1st brigade who also had an Excellent Brigade General. They received a permanent extra Staff Officer from having an Auspicious Divisional Commander.
So, the Union had the advantage in quantity; the Confederacy in quality. The objective for both sides was the same; take the farm and try to clear the enemy from the field.
Pickett’s Charge insists that you deploy your division in line of battle with the brigades, both on-table and reserve, allocated their own deployment area. Brigades can be redeployed during the game but it can be a slow and expensive business. The commanders drew their maps and considered their options.
The Union (Richard, Mike & Alex) deployed as follows with the 1st brigade on the right, the 2nd brigade on the left, the 3rd in the centre and the 4th brigade as in reserve but deployed on-table.
The river was shallow and rated as an obstacle, the woods were light woods. The main farm buildings area had a low stone wall around 3 sides.
The Confederates (Shaun & Dave) deployed with their 1st brigade on the left, 2nd in the centre and 3rd next across. The 4th brigade was deployed at the rear behind the 1st. It soon became apparent to the Rebel commanders that the cursed Northerners had outfoxed them and that they would need to use Redeploy and Double Quick taskings to shift it across the field to counter what looked like a strong Union left hook. The availability of an extra Staff Officer from their Auspicious C-in-C would prove a godsend in this regard as their dice rolling for Staff Officer availability would prove mediocre at best.
It was a chilly evening at DWG and Dave has wisely decided to keep his hat on for a while.
Early on and for reasons best known to the Union command themselves, their 4th brigade was Double Quick marched to their right to pass behind the 2nd brigade who were reluctant to move from their hill.
In front of them the cream of the Confederacy, Shaun’s 1st brigade, was advancing towards them with menace.
Dave was pushing forward with the Rebel 2nd & 3rd brigades in the centre and despite losing a regiment almost immediately to a devastating Union cannonade and a subsequent Hesitant roll he was beginning to make progress.
On the Union left flank Alex had marched his mostly Green 1st brigade through the woods and across the river. Dave was compelled to withhold his 2nd brigade from the general assault to try and counter this move. Would the Rebel 4th brigade arrive in time to help?
At last, the 4th brigade completed their redeployment and arrived in columns with some dismounted cavalry deployed in skirmish line.
So ended the first evenings play with things still very much in the balance. Had the Confederate 4th brigade arrived in time to relieve pressure on the right of their centre or could the Union press on quickly? Would the massively reinforced Union right bring its numbers to bear and assault the isolated Rebel 1st brigade?
The next evening saw a change of personnel. Family commitments and the bad weather meant none of the Union generals were present. Luckily there were willing volunteers in Martin, Bob and Phil, all experienced General d’Armée players. Surely the strains of The Battle Hymn of the Republic would be echoing from the walls of our now much warmer room (we’d remembered to switch the heating on this time!)
Alas, things went wrong for the Union from the start. Assailed by bullet and shot the 1st brigade faltered and a perfectly disastrous roll for Staff Officers saw them Chewed Up and forced back nearly off the table.
In the centre the Confederate 3rd brigade was slowly pushing back the Union troops to their front.
On the Union right Phil, hampered by a Poor Brigade General, simply could not get the dice he needed to clear the log jam of bluebellies and this was to prove disastrous when Shaun eventually assailed him with his veteran 1st brigade.
Shaun’s dice rolling for the entire game is probably best described as idiosyncratic. Swaying wildly from the ridiculous
to the sublime.
But at the right time he pulled himself together and managed to deliver a few well aimed punches.
So the evening drew to a close and the South was given the nod for a job well done.
The choice of the Union commander to send the reserve brigade to their right was to prove costly. Stuck behind the 2nd brigade that either wouldn’t or couldn’t advance they found it almost impossible to make their numbers tell. In hindsight (always a wonderful thing) they would have fared much better in the centre where they could have gotten a clear run at the enemy. C’est la guerre.
A good game played in a good spirit with plenty to take away and talk about. I look forward to playing more Pickett’s Charge.
p.s. I almost forgot to include Shaun’s finest moment. The one and only time he decided to deploy his sniper(!)