Friday, 14 February 2020

The Battle of Wilson's Creek, 1861

Witha pretty good handle of the core mechanics of BPII, it was time to move on from our mini-campaign and try some historical actions. The first scenario in the 'Glory Hallelujah!' book looked to be good, so we thought we'd give this a go.
Scenario Amendments
To keep things simple for a mid-week game, we tweaked things a bit, which were as follows:
  • The Union troops were all armed with Rifled Muskets. On the Confederate side, only the 3rd Brigade were armed this way, the rest having Smoothbore Muskets.
  • Only the Union and Confederate 3rd Brigades had 4 units per Brigade, the rest having 3. This was dictated by the number of bases we had to play the game.
  • The Cavalry Brigades were armed with Rifled Carbines. 
  • Both Generals were given a Command Rating of '9'.
All other scenario rules were as per the 'Glory Hallelujah!' supplement.
With both of us having the option to have troops come on as flanking forces, it was interesting the we both went for them to be on the table at the start and both over Wilson's Creek protecting the flanks of our respective forces.

The Union troops were deployed as follows, with the 1st Brigade on the right flank, moving through the 2nd and 3rd with the 4th Brigade on the left flank over Wilson's Creek.

For the Confederates, their left flank was covered by the 1st Brigade, with the 2nd and 4th in the centre and the 3rd Brigade on the left flank by Wilson's Creek. The 5th Brigade was held in reserve on the hill and the 6th Cavalry Brigade provided the flanking force over Wilson's Creek and parallel with the 3rd Brigade.
An overview of the table and the deployment.

The Confederate left and centre, with the reserves on and around the hill.

The 3rd Brigade on the left flank by Wilson's Creek.

The 6th Cavalry Brigade as the flank protection.

The Confederate battle line in all its glory.

Turn 1
The Union troops moved first, with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades all advancing and their guns unlimbering ready to shoot at the Confederate troops. The 4th Brigade failed to move, so the General moved over to the flank to give them some encouragment.

As the firing erupted along the line, the 1st and 2nd Bde's caused hits and Disorder on their opposite numbers, with the 3rd Bde diving their fire across the Confederate 3rd and 4th Bde's, again causing hits and Disorder. A good opening salvo from the Union troops.

A mixed amount of movement from the Confederate troops as the 1st, 5th and 6th Bde's all failed their orders to advance, with the 4th Bde failing their passage of lines roll. Despite this, the shooting was effective, with the 1st and 2nd Bde's combining their fire and cuasing hits and Disorder on the Union 1st Bde. The 3rd and 4th Bde's fire caused hits and Disorder on the Union 2nd and 3rd Bde's. So a good response from the Confederate boys.

The end of Turn 1.

Hits and Disorder across both lines of troops.

The same is true over by Wlison's Creek.

Turn 2
Once again the Union 4th Bde failed to move, even with the General in attendance, which was not good news as their presence was needed to help offset the Confederate advantage in numbers. The 1st Bde failed their passage of lines, but the 2nd and 3rd Bde's all succeeded. However their shooting was less effective, but the 2nd Bde did cause one of the Confederate 2nd Bde's units to become 'Whipped'.

The Confederate 6th Cavalry Bde again failed to move, but at least the 5th Bde did start to move towards Wilson's Creek, but only one move. The 1st Bde crossed Skegg's Branch to put pressure on the Union right, but the 2nd and 3rd Bde's failed to move. However the 4th Bde  moved a unit over to cover the hole left by the 'Whipped' 2nd Bde unit.

The Confederate 2nd and 4th Bde's shooting left Union units with hits and Disorder, whilst the 1st and 3rd Bde's left units Shaken and Disordered. Definitely this round went the Confederate way on the shooting front.

The end of Turn 2.

The Union line has lots of troops Disordered and Shaken.

The 2nd Bde's 'Whipped' unit as denoted by the yellow die.

The Union 1st Brigade.

The Union 2nd and 3rd Brigade's.

Turn 3
Finally the Union 4th Bde moved forward to help cover the left flank and their supporting gun caused some hits and Disorder on the Confederate 3rd Bde. With the rest of the Union troops Shaken and or Disordered, some units made a voluntary Disordered Retreat to the rear, to try and give them chance to rally of hits etc. The 3rd Bde failed to cause any hits from its shooting, but at least the 1st and 2nd Bde's did manage to cause some hits and Disorder.

The Confederate 6th Cavalry Bde recovered from its stupor and advanced towards the Union 4th Bde to engage them whilst dismounted. The Confederate 1st and 3rd Bde's advanced to keep up pressure on the Union 1st and 3rd Bde's, whils the 2nd and 4th Bde's held their positions. As fire erupted across the line, the Union 3rd Bde became Broken as did the 1st Bde when a unit became 'Whipped'. 

With 2 Broken Bde's, the Union army was now itself Broken and, with no way of offering any meaningful resistance, it quit the field of battle.

The end of Turn 3 and the game.

A rash of red and yellow marks the Shaken and Disordered units.

The Confederate left flank has destroyed the Union right flank.
The view from the Confederate 4th Bde.

The 3rd Bde pushes forth as the Union left flank collapses.

End of Game
The end came far more quickly than either of us thought possible, with the Union army collapsing in short order in Turn 3. If only the Union 4th Bde had moved forward more quickly iy might have been a different ball game.
Post-Game Thoughts
Well a short and action packed game that led to a very quick and emphatic victory for the Confederacy. At the end of Turn 2 the Union were not in a bad position, so it was a surprise at how things turned out in the following Turn. Still a fun game which we enjoyed and gave up lenty of time for a post-game chat, which is always nice. So as always so thoughts on the game etc:
  • When I lost the first unit of the 2nd Bde 'Whipped', I thought " Oh no, here we go again!". But for once the Confederate line held and this time the Die Gods were definitely on their side. It could have easily gone the other way, if the Union shooting die rolls had been better at the start of Turn 2.
  • This scenario would make a good multi-player game, due to the large number of units on each side, with 2 per side working well and maybe 3-a-side a possibility. To do this you would need to field all the units as per the scenario, which means a lot of units.
  • I think our tweaks worked well and certainly we had more than enought units per Bde to make for an entertaining evenings gaming. Any more and I think we would have struggled.  That nominal 12 units per side has a lot going for it for mid-week games that can be played to a conlcusion in an evening.
  • Once again I think the 'Whipped' ruls works reall well. As we had few this game we started to call it 'Mr Whippy' after that favourite childhood ice cream and reminisced about the 99p Flake! (Apologies to friends 'over the pond' who have no idea what I'm on about!). 
  • Black Powder II does provide for a fast and furious game. The more I play it the more I'm tempted to add in things from Honours of War, such as choosing whether to move first or second, movement penalties when moving the the flank or rear etc. I'm wary to do this yet as I may end of playing a hybrid of the two that is neither one nor the other. Still it keeps crossing my mind.
  • You need lots of trees and scrub for many of these ACW games. I can make more of both in the future, but I want to concentrate on my Spring Objectives first and not get distracted. Maybe this will happen later in the year.
  • Dave's 6mm ACW collection really does give the feel of a big battle, rather than a skirmish. I'm too far down the 10mm route to change now, but if I was to start again, I think 6mm would be my chosen route. Whether my eyes would be good enough to paint them is another matter entirely.

We're due to have another game this week and I'm going to suggest we try the New Market,
1864 scenario from the 'Glory Hallelujah!' supplement, as the terrain is more open and there is a nice mix of forces to play with. So until next time...


  1. It looks an entertaining scenario, probably favouring the Confederates and the AAR in Glory Hallelujah was not too dissimilar to yours, with a struggling Union and an early end (turn 4). Interesting as to your thoughts and support of 6mm. It is the case that Black Powder likes to see a lot of brigades on the table and 6mm helps that.

    1. I think the Confederates have a big advantage, with 5 Bde's vs 3 Bde's at the start, although it is pretty hard to deploy 4 Bde's. So the Confederates can (hopefully) recycle units before the possibility of the 4th Bde arriving, either in the rear or on the table.

      I love 10mm, but can easily see the attraction of 6mm as I mentioned in the post. The only tricky thing I would find is having to re-do lots of my scenery; not a deal breaker but not something I fancy tackling given my lead mountain!

  2. Well! Wilson's Creek seemed to be over before it actually began! That was a quick resolution to the battle.

    6mm armies do provide great scope for recreating large battles but, like you, I prefer 10mm over 6mm for this type of gaming. I went the 10mm route for my ACW gaming and have not looked back.

    Having walked the New Market battlefield, I look forward to your interpretation and recreation.

    1. It was over too quickly, that's for certain. The only real criticism I have of Black Powder II, is that the games are over far too quickly, with little chance of manouevre, counter-manouevre etc. Hence my interest in adding in some HoW bits to give it some more give and take.

      My 10mm Imagi-Nations are coming along, but not as quickly as I would like, although they are all undercoated now. It will be interesting to compare the visual spectacle of the two scales when I can field a Brigade or two.

      We will be using the scenario from the GH! supplement, so can't vouch for it's accuracy or not. I look forward to your comments when we've played it through!

  3. Wonderful stuff Steve, you certainly get a sense for the dramatic in this scale.
    Best wishes

    1. Thanks Stu and 6mm really does give the feel of a big battle.

  4. A good looking game and tabletop. While three turns is a short game, how many turns would you expect to play with BPII?

    1. Thanks Peter. As a broad guide the scenarios are about 7 Turns long. I suppose we are used to other rulesets where you will get to at least Turn 6 before a decision is reached, sometimes more.