The Action at Shiloh Church, 6th April 1862 (Part 2)

In my last post I described the initial stages of our refight of the action at Shiloh Church, which was part of the Battle of Shiloh, fought on 6th April 1862.  The rules used were Brigade Fire & Fury (2nd Edition) and the scenario was taken from Fire & Fury Games’ Great Western Battles (2nd Edition) scenario book.

Although a relatively small scenario, the map is rather ‘busy’ and took quite a bit of time to set up.  The scenario is also then quite involved, with reinforcements marching on to table and taking time to get into action, so it was rather ambitious to get this done in a single club night!  But by luck, we reached a stage in the game where the entire Union force had fallen back to a second defensive line and had completely disengaged with the Confederates.  This enabled us to easily set the game up again for a continuation of the scenario.

In the meantime, I had a query regarding the scenario for the author, Rich Hasenauer and he was kind enough to send me a prompt reply.  My question was regarding the initial setup of the scenario: There are scenario rules for Union forces being surprised on the 1st turn and suffering reduced firepower as a direct result.  I was therefore wondering if this meant that Confederate units were meant to be able to charge them on turn 1?  Our interpretation of the scenario map meant that it was impossible for most of the Confederate units to reach the Union units on turn 1 and only Cleburne’s Brigade was able to get within sighting-distance of the Union units.

Rich’s answer is YES, the two leading Confederate brigades (Pond’s and Cleburne’s) should be able to (just) charge the Union lines on a ‘Well Handled’ manoeuvre result.  Pond should also be able to reach McDowell on a ‘Double Quick’ manoeuvre result.  He’s going to post some errata to clarify that point.  So we did that wrong… Ah, well…

Above:  The full Battle of Shiloh scenario map.  The Shiloh Church sub-scenario happens on the lower left-hand side of the map.

Above: On the Confederate left flank, Pond’s Brigade, having beaten back McDowell’s Union Brigade, busies itself with looting McDowell’s former camp.  As McDowell conducts an ordered withdrawal across the open ground of the Howell Field, the Confederate corps commander, General Leonidas Polk arrives to survey the scene, followed by Johnson’s Brigade.  However, Pond’s Brigade belongs to Ruggles’ Division of Hardee’s Corps, not to Polk, and can’t be persuaded to move any further forward.

Above:  In the Confederate centre, Russell’s Brigade (of Clark’s Division) also conduct a little light looting (of Buckland’s camp) before continuing their advance.  A battery attempts to deploy on the road alongside Russell, but is immediately driven off by Union artillery firing down the road.  Undeterred, more Rebel artillery moves forward, accompanied by Cleburne’s battered brigade, which in game terms is already ‘worn’.

Above:  A little way to the right, Stewart’s Brigade (of Clark’s Division) is freshly-arrived and moves forward to plug the gap between Clark and Ruggles.

Above:  On the Confederate right flank, General Ruggles leads Anderson’s Brigade across the Shiloh Branch and into the woods beyond, aiming to turn the Union left flank at the Review Field.  Behind him, Wood’s Brigade of Hindman’s Division arrives on the field.  Hindman’s Division was manoeuvring to outflank Sherman’s original line along the Shiloh Branch, but has been overtaken by events.

Above:  Despite the initial repulse of Sherman’s Division, a second Union defensive line is now starting to solidify beyond Shiloh Church, stiffened by the arrival of McClernand’s Division.  On the right of the picture, Raith’s Brigade, reinforced by an artillery battery, is forming up along the line of their camp.  Behind Raith, Marsh’s Brigade is deploying along with an artillery battery, to cover the open ground of the Review Field.  Behind them, Hildebrand’s routed brigade has rallied and now waits in reserve.  In the centre, Sherman’s two batteries have fallen back and have re-deployed to fire down the road.  In the distance, Ullyssees S Grant can be seen galloping to the battle along the road.

Above:  On the Union right flank, Buckland’s battered brigade is falling back across the corner of the Howell Field to a new position alongside the central battery.  Behind them, Hare’s Brigade is taking up positions along the edge of the Howell Field and McDowell’s Brigade has now successfully fallen back to the edge of the wood, from where it can sweep the open ground of the Howell Field with rifle-fire.

Above:  McDowell’s Brigade in close-up.

Above:  On the far Confederate right flank, Shaver’s Brigade of Hindman’s Division (Hardee’s Corps) has appeared on the edge of the Review Field.  This flanking move could have been fatal for the Union position, had McClernand not specifically placed Marsh’s Brigade, together with a battery of artillery there as a flank-guard against just such an occurrence.  Marsh immediately takes Shaver under fire and the supporting artillery knocks out a battery of Rebel artillery that tries to establish itself at the edge of the field.  Shaver is unable to reply, as his men only have short-ranged smoothbore muskets (Marsh has a mixture of smoothbores and rifles).

Above:  In the Confederate centre, Clark’s Division (Russell’s and and Stewart’s Brigades) pushes forward past Shiloh Church, while Cleburne’s Brigade moves to support Ruggles’ and Hindman’s attack on the right flank.

Above:  Behind Russell’s Brigade, a few damaged artillery batteries wait in reserve; there is precious little opportunity to use them in this terrain and as casualties are mounting, the Confederates can’t afford to offer such easy targets to the Bluebellies.

Above:  On the Confederate left, Pond’s Brigade is still resolutely refusing to move forward and Polk lacks the authority to order it to do so.  However, Johnson’s Brigade has now deployed at the edge of Howell’s Field and is ready to renew the assault against McDowell, who waits on the opposite side of the field.  Rebel artillery has also deployed at the Howell Field, but proves incapable of hitting anything…

Above:  Grant’s army has now formed a large salient around the central crossroads.  On the left of the photo, Hare’s and Buckland’s Brigades line the edge of the Howell Field.  In the centre, two batteries dominate the central road, flanked by another battery and Raith’s Brigade guarding Raith’s camp.  On Raith’s left, Marsh’s Brigade and a battery of artillery guard the flank at the Review Field.  Hildebrand’s and Veatch’s Brigades wait in reserve.

Above:  At long last, a massive coordinated Confederate assault erupts against the Union line!  On the Confederate right, it becomes very apparent to Shaver that he is totally out-gunned by Marsh, so he opts to decide the issue by bayonet.  On his left, Ruggles personally leads Anderson’s Brigade forward against Raith, while Hindman brings Wood’s Brigade up in support.  On the Union side, Grant manoeuvres Veatch’s Brigade to support Marsh’s left flank at the Review Field.

Above:  In the Centre, Russell’s Brigade attacks Buckland, though Stewart has a crisis of confidence and fails to join Anderson’s assault on Raith.

Above:  On the Confederate left, Johnson joins in the fun and charges across the Howell Field to engage McDowell.  He expects to suffer some flanking fire from Hare’s Brigade on the right, but by sheer luck, Hare’s is the only Union brigade in the battle to be equipped with smoothbore muskets and they simply don’t have the range!

Above:  Despite the odds being generally against the Confederates in the centre, the Union salient is utterly smashed and the Bluebellies fall back in disorder (severely trampling Raith’s tents, as can be seen…)!  Russell in particular, breaks through Buckland’s line and pushes deep into the Union position, overrunning one of the Union batteries [Peter, playing Grant, suffered some of the most appalling dice-rolling ever seen in the club, rolling 1 after 1 after 1…].

Above:  However, despite having the odds in his favour, Johnson is beaten off by the redoubtable McDowell.  Hare now advances against Johnson’s exposed right flank, hoping to enfilade Johnson’s line and crush him under the weight of fire.  However, Johnson manages to pull back to the safety of the trees without serious loss [Peter’s dice-rolling again…]

Above:  However, Union retribution is swift and Grant throws Veatch’s Brigade forward to stabilise his left flank.  Shaver’s Rebels suffer heavy casualties and are thrown back across the Review Field, disordering Wood’s supporting brigade in the process.  Hindman rides forward, seizes a Battle Flag and leads Wood’s Brigade forward against Veatch!  However, Hindman’s efforts are for naught as Wood is pushed back after a dogged struggle.

Above:  Unfortunately for the Rebels, orders arrive from General Hardee, calling Hindman’s Division (Wood’s & Shaver’s Brigades) away to another sector of the battlefield.  It’s now left to Anderson’s Brigade and Cleburne’s Brigade (which suffered heavy casualties during the initial stages of the battle on the Shiloh Branch) to retake the Review Field.  In the meantime, Hubbard’s Battery makes life miserable for Veatch.

Above:  The initial Confederate jubilation in the centre was also short-lived as Russell’s Brigade was subjected to canister fire by the two surviving Union artillery batteries, plus Raith’s and Hildebrand’s Brigade.  Russell’s men broke and ran, but the gap was quickly plugged by Stewart’s Brigade.

Above:  Once again, Stewart was subjected to fire by the Union artillery and by Hildebrand’s Brigade, but a short, sharp charge soon got rid of Hildebrand.

Above: On the Confederate left, Johnson’s Brigade had by some miracle, managed to escape destruction in the Howell Field and had retreated back to the safety of the woods.  By another miracle and at long last, Pond had managed to rally his brigade and now charged McDowell!

Above:  But once again, McDowell’s green troops held their ground and Pond was thrown back from the Howell Field.  With the field clear of friendly troops, the Confederate artillery re-commenced their ineffectual fire across the Howell Field…  On their left, Trabue’s newly-arrived Brigade had formed column and was driving into Owl Creek Swamp in an attempt to outflank McDowell, but it all seemed too little, too late…

Above:  Over on the right flank, Ruggles once again had his sabre in hand as he led Anderson’s Brigade in a charge against Veatch’s Brigade at the Review Field.  Cleburne’s Brigade hadn’t had time to change formation from column to line, but joined the attack regardless!  However, Cleburne’s men suffered for their boldness, as their column was shot to pieces and halted in the open ground of the Review Field.  Cleburne himself narrowly avoided death for a second time (having already received a flesh wound during his failed assault across the Shiloh Branch), as one of his staff officers was killed alongside him!  Anderson’s Brigade charged on alone and threw back Veatch’s Brigade, but it wasn’t the killer-blow that it could have been, had Cleburne been there with them.

Although the Confederates were still steadily pushing forward, ahead of them, Marsh’s Brigade had already re-formed along the Pitsburg-Corinth Road and would no doubt prove to be yet another tough nut to be cracked!  Veatch’s Brigade was also already reforming at the far side of the Woolf Field, alongside some fresh reinforcements in the form of the 15th & 16th Iowa Regiments.  Hare and especially McDowell were also still standing firm on the Union right flank.

At 24 stands lost, the Confederate army was now well past its Heavy Casualty threshold of 17 stands and was therefore suffering an additional penalty on every Manoeuvre roll.

On the Confederate side, Pond’s, Stewart’s, Anderson’s and Johnson’s Brigades were still Fresh, but Anderson and Johnson were only 1 casualty away from becoming Worn.  Pond also had severe command and control issues that would only be solved by bringing Ruggles (who was busy leading Anderson’s Brigade) over from the opposite flank.  Cleburne’s and Russell’s Brigades were both Worn, with Russel being only 1 casualty away from becoming Spent.  Shaver’s and Wood’s Brigades had both been withdrawn.  The Confederates had lost two batteries and two of the five remaining batteries were damaged.  The Confederates still had Wharton’s Cavalry yet to arrive (in rear of Pond et al on the left flank), but with a strength of just 3, they were hardly going to tip the balance!

On the Union side, Marsh’s, Hare’s and McDowell’s Brigades were still Fresh, as was the newly-arrived composite brigade formed by the 15th & 16th Iowa Regiments.  Hildebrand’s, Veatch’s and Raith’s Brigades were Worn, with Hildebrand only 1 casualty away from becoming Spent.  Buckland’s Brigade was Spent.  The Union army had lost one of its four batteries, though the remaining three were intact.

The Union forces had suffered the loss of 15 stands against their threshold of 17, but were still in possession of the key terrain; namely the Highman Creek, running diagonally across the corner of the table in front of Veatch’s camp. The Confederates therefore decided that there was no possibility of them achieving victory and so were forced to concede the field.

I lose again… 🙁

Thanks to Andy, Peter and Alan for a great game! 🙂

All models are Pendraken 10mm from my collection.

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

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