“There’s The Devil To Pay” (First Clash at Gettysburg): Our First ACW Game

Things have been slow on the painting, wargaming and blogging front just lately due to a wedding, an eye infection and tropical heat (anything better than ‘damp’ is considered tropical in these parts), but last week I managed to play my first 10mm ACW game down at the club!

I wanted to keep things small in order to get a grip of the Fire & Fury 2nd Edition rules (and in any case, my eye infection has kept me from finishing off my second division of Rebs), so I set up a small scenario based on the initial clash at Gettysburg, on the morning of 1st July 1863:

General Heth’s division of A.P. Hill’s Confererate III Corps is advancing on the Pennsylvanian town of Gettysburg, but has encountered General Buford’s Union 1st Cavalry Division who are deployed across the road and are spoiling for a fight.  Heth’s leading two brigades have deployed for battle and the rest of his division is hurrying to the sound of the guns.  On the Union side, Wadsworth’s 1st Division of Reynolds’ I Corps is also deploying to support the hard-pressed cavalrymen.

If we were playing the full battle, troops would continue to pour on to the battlefield (the rest of Hill’s and Reynolds’ corps, as well as the Confederate II Corps and Union XI & XII Corps), but we’re keeping things small-scale for now and we’re saving the full 1st July battle for another day.

In terms of rules, I had originally thought that I would first try Fire & Fury 1st Edition and then move on to the slightly more complicated 2nd Edition.  However, on reading 2nd Edition, the subtle changes really appealed to me, particularly with regard to unit quality and weaponry.  It was also noticeable that unit firepower has been significantly increased over 1st Edition.  From my limited experience of the 1st Edition, it seemed that engagements were decided by close assault rather than fire-fights, so this seemed an improvement, but would it add too much complexity and slow down what is meant to be a game for big battles…?  We would see…

Union Forces – Major General John F Reynolds (I Corps) [Exceptional Leader]

1st Cavalry Division – Brigadier General John Buford [Exceptional Leader]
Gamble’s Brigade – 8 bases [8/5/3, Breech-Loaders, Veteran]
Devin’s Brigade – 6 bases [6/4/2, Breech-Loaders, Veteran]
Calef’s Battery [Horse Battery, Light Rifles, Veteran]

1st Division, I Corps – Brigadier General James S Wadsworth
Meredith’s (Iron) Brigade – 9 bases [9/6/4, Mixed Muskets, Exceptional Leader, Crack]
Cutler’s Brigade – 10 bases [10/7/4, Rifled Muskets, Exceptional Leader, Experienced]
Hall’s Battery (attached from I Corps Reserve) [Light Rifles, Veteran]

Confederate Forces – Brigadier General Harry Heth (2nd Division, III Corps)
Archer’s Brigade – 6 bases [6/4/2, Rifled Muskets, Veteran]
Davis’ Brigade – 11 bases [11/8/5, Rifled Muskets, Experienced]
Pettigrew’s Brigade – 13 bases [13/9/6, Rifled Muskets, Exceptional Leader, Experienced]
Brockenbrough’s Brigade – 5 bases [5/3/2, Rifled Muskets, Veteran]
1st Battery, III Corps Artillery Reserve [Light Rifles, Experienced]
2nd Battery, III Corps Artillery Reserve [Mixed Rifles & Napoleons, Experienced]
3rd Battery, III Corps Artillery Reserve [Light Rifles, Experienced]
4th Battery, III Corps Artillery Reserve [Mixed Rifles & Napoleons, Experienced]
5th Battery, III Corps Artillery Reserve [Napoleons, Experienced]

Note that all units start the game ‘Spirited’, so have the best possible Brigade Effectiveness ratings.  Note that the Gettysburg First Day scenario in the F&F 2nd Edition rulebook starts from a point slightly later in the morning, so some units have lost bases and are pegged slightly lower as ‘Reliable’.

For a bit of ‘local colour’, we also decided to use the ‘Rebel Yell’ and ‘Faulty Confederate Fuses’ special rules, which add a +1 close combat bonus to Confederate infantry charges and a -1 penalty to Confederate artillery when firing at Shot & Shell ranges (i.e. beyond canister range).

Note that for ease of play, I wrote the essential unit information on squares of card.  These aren’t quite as photogenic as my usual unit labels printed on green card, but for our first game I wanted them to be easily read.

Above: Being a card-carrying idiot, I forgot to take photos until well into Turn 2, so missed the opening action… Prior to this photo, Calef’s Union Horse Battery, deployed on the Chambersburg Pike alongside Devin’s dismounted cavalry brigade on MacPherson’s Ridge (here on the left), had opened the engagement in fine style by rolling a 10 and damaging one of the Confederate batteries unlimbering on the Herr Ridge (on the right).  However, this meant that Calef was already low on ammo and the Confederate gunners exacted swift retribution, silencing Calef’s battery and forcing it to fall back from the ridge.

With the Union artillery threat silenced, Davis’ large Mississippian brigade, straddling the unfinished railroad, surges forward across the Willoughby Run, with the intention of assaulting Devin’s presumptuous cavalrymen.  The cavalry manage to cause casualties to Davis’ brigade, though are in turn disordered by the Confederate artillery, who now have two batteries established on the Herr Ridge.  To add to Devin’s problems, Brockenbrough’s small brigade of Confederate veterans is also now crossing the Willoughby Run north of the railroad and will undoubtedly attempt to flank Devin’s position.

Above:  South of the Chambersburg Pike, Gamble’s cavalry are also coming under extreme pressure from Pettigrew’s and Archer’s Confederate brigades.  It seems that Pettigrew is a little more cautious than Davis, as he waits for Archer’s brigade and two supporting batteries of artillery to deploy before pushing across the Willoughby Run.  Gamble orders his cavalrymen to fall back in the face of this considerable threat.

Above:  Help for Buford’s cavalrymen is at hand!  General Reynolds arrives at the head of I Corps, accompanied by General Wadsworth, commanding I Corps’ 1st Infantry Division.  they take post on Seminary ridge, near the Lutheran Seminary itself, to observe the developing battle.  Note that I can’t yet find any suitable models of the Lutheran Seminary, (nor indeed any other Gettysburg landmark buildings such as the Pennsylvania College or the Cemetery Gatehouse) so the stone house is standing in for the Seminary.

Above:  With artillery support now deployed on the Herr Ridge, Pettigrew’s and Archer’s brigades wait at the bank of the Willoughby Run as they wait to see what effect the gunners will have on the Bluebellies.

Above:  The Confederate artillery deploys on Herr Ridge in support of Heth’s right flank.  Heth’s own divisional artillery is still someway back down the Chambersburg Pike, so instead has Colonel Walker’s entire III Corps Artillery Reserve in support, as they were simply closer to the front of the column.

The guns here comprise a battery of bronze 12pdr Napoleons and a battery of mixed Rifles and Napoleons.  In game terms, the Napoleons are excellent close/medium range weapons, while the Light Rifles have longed range, but less close-range firepower.  The mixed Rifle/Napoleon batteries are a ‘happy medium’, having the same range as Light Rifles (though with less long-range firepower) and decent close-range firepower (better than Light Rifles, though not as good as a ‘pure’ Napoleon batteries).

Above:  Wadsworth’s division is split to bolster Buford’s flanks.  Here, Cutler’s brigade (represented by the ‘Red-Legged Devils of the 84th New York (14th Brooklyn Militia) ) deploy across the Chambersburg Pike, with Hall’s battery deploying in support on Seminary Ridge.

Above:  Meredith’s crack ‘Iron Brigade’ deploy on the left flank of Gamble’s cavalry.  However, they are immediately taken to task by the Confederate artillery.

Above:  The Iron Brigade suddenly find themselves in deep water, as they’re equipped with Mixed Muskets and are therefore outgunned by Pettigrew’s more numerous Rebs, who are armed with Rifled Muskets.

Above:  As Davis’ Mississippians advance, Devin’s beleaguered cavalrymen finally fall back into the dead ground behind MacPherson’s Ridge.  To their rear, Cutler’s infantry are forming up along with Calef’s horse battery and Hall’s battery.  However, the Confederate artillerymen are earning their pay this day, as they manage to seriously damage Calef’s battery.

Above:  As Devin’s cavalry fall back to the left, Davis and Brockenbrough turn their attention to Cutler’s Red-Legged Devils.

Above:  Brockenbrough’s tiny brigade of Rebel veterans moves quickly to outflank Cutler.  The Red-Legs soon find themselves being whittled down and disorder spreads through the ranks.  The ‘Rebel Yell’ is heard as Davis’ Mississippians launch their charge!

Above:  Despite being themselves disordered by defensive fire during their charge, Davis’ brigade succeeds in throwing Cutler’s Red-Legs back to Seminary Ridge.

Above:  Suffering constant disorder from the Confederate artillery and Pettigrew’s infantry, Gamble’s cavalry brigade and Meredith’s Iron Brigade fall back to the fence-line marking the crest of the middle ridge.  Devin’s cavalry meanwhile swing back to protect their right flank from Archer’s brigade, which has moved up to join Davis’ assault up the Chambersburg Pike.

Above: Heth repeats his previous manoeuvre, engaging Cutler frontally with Davis’ brigade, while moving Brockenbrough’s veterans along the railroad cutting to flank the Red-Legs.  However, Devin’s cavalry have now fallen back to the woods in front of the Seminary and are themselves in position to flank the Rebs as they advance on Seminary Ridge.  Archer’s brigade is hammered by the cavalry and by Hall’s battery and beats a hasty retreat back to MacPherson’s farm.

Above:  Calef’s depleted battery tries unsuccessfully to stop Brockenbrough’s flanking move against Cutler.  The Red-Legs are hammered yet again, but manage to wheel back in order to avoid being flanked again.  Hall’s battery fares a little better as it knocks out a Confederate battery as it attempts to redeploy on MacPherson’s Ridge.

Above:  At long last, Meredith’s Iron Brigade, which has been suffering from near constant disorder thanks to Reb artillery, manages to avoid disorder long enough to manoeuvre against the enemy.  Wheeling down the ridge in concert with Gamble’s cavalry, the Iron Brigade charges Pettigrew’s brigade.  Hall’s gunners again find their mark and silence the battery of Napoleons at MacPherson’s Farm, while Gamble’s cavalry provide excellent support, disordering Archer’s brigade.

Above:  As the Iron Brigade charges home they suffer yet another disorder from a combination of Pettigrew’s infantry and the Reb artillery stationed on Herr’s Ridge.  Nevertheless, they manage to put effective fire back into Pettigrew’s brigade and disorder them before contact.  The melee is close-fought and while the Rebs lose, they only fall back a short way into the woods – far from the decisive victory that the Union commander had hoped for.

Above:  That was where we had to leave it, as we’d run out of club-night time, but all in all, it was a most successful play-test of an excellent set of rules and a cracking little game.

Models and Figures:

The figures are all Pendraken 10mm figures, painted by me.

The buildings are all by Timecast Models.

The cloth (also having its first outing) is by Tiny Wargames.

The rubber roads and rivers are by Total System Scenic (TSS).

The snake-fencing sections are excellent (and very cheap) laser-cut MDF items by Blotz Models.

The bridges and stone wall are by Battlescale Wargame Buildings.

This entry was posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Scenarios. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “There’s The Devil To Pay” (First Clash at Gettysburg): Our First ACW Game

  1. Excellent report and game. Looks good as well. I’ve got 2nd Ed but have yet to try it.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Andy. It’s well worth a punt – it’s a solid, unambiguous set of rules with exactly the right period ‘feel’. As mentioned, I’ve only played one or two games (of 1st Edition) in the far-distant past and my oppo had never played before, but we had a solid grasp of the Manoeuvre, Firing and Combat concepts within the first two or three turns. I’m very much looking forward to more games.

  2. Tony Miles says:

    Great looking game, the update does make shooting much more effective than the original version doesn’t it.

    Ref buildings have you seen these https://bnturmoil.webs.com/gettysburg-1863

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Tony,

      Yes, the firepower rules are superb and from my limited experience of the original, it does seem to cut down on the desire to ‘decide it by bayonet’.

      I had seen those buildings discussed ‘in concept’ on a couple of fora, but didn’t realise that they were available. I wonder what the footprint is for the larger buildings? It’s a tricky one, but like the famous Waterloo buildings, you need a scaled-down version, so they don’t completely dominate the table. I’ll try to get an answer – some photos of them with troops on the table would be good.

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