Sunday, April 7, 2019

Tardee tarries: Rebels and Patriots AAR

We played our second ACW game for Rebels and Patriots yesterday. We got the situation from fellow local gamer Mitch Berdinka, who designed it for AWI using the Sharp Practice rules. You can see Mitch's blog post about it here.

I got a chance to use my freshly painted Sash and Saber Confederates. I painted 110 minis and two guns in about two months, in addition to working on and competing minis for other projects. For me, this is incredible productivity only made possible through the dip method that I finally adopted a few years ago. To the ur-dipper I offer my profound thanks, whoever you are.

Eric Donaldson, too, got some lead in the fight with his beautiful Union dismounted cavalry with horse-holders. The rest of the Union side was provided by Bill Stewart, who supplied all the minis we used in our first ACW game, Hardtack Hill.

In our game yesterday, Eric and Bill were the Union and Dave Schueler and I were the Confederates.

The terrain was mostly open with some woods, wooden fences, and one enclosed field enclosed by a stone wall.

The field of battle

Detail of the central position
The Union's task was to get a wagon of gunpowder across the ford and off the board. Hindering this was a Confederate blocking force of three line infantry units commanded by Lt. Beauregard LeMieux, run by Dave Schueler. One unit was ensconced behind an ersatz barricade, which counted as hard cover, and the remainder were behind some rail fences, counting as cover.

Post of honor
In hindsight, I should have positioned the barricade with its right refused and/or let the Confederates deploy on either side. As it was, the position had a dangerously exposed flank.

The Hated Yankees™ deployed next in the central position. Eric with his dismounted cavalry, a light gun, and a unit of line infantry on the river side of the central road. The line infantry was within the stonewalled field; the other units were in reserve.

There stands Donaldson like a stone wall
Bill had four line infantry units and the wagon on the other side.

The starting forces
The remaining Confederates, inably commanded by Lt. Jubal Tardee, CSA, were to come up behind the Union on turn 2.

The Union started things off by moving against Dave's blocking position. Bill had three line infantry to Dave's three, but Eric started moving his dismounted cavalry and light gun (with limber) towards Dave's open right flank.

On turn 2 when the Confederate chasing force was supposed to come on, things were not as expected, or desired. Jubal Tardee's unit failed to activate as did the other line infantry unit. However, two light guns, three skirmishers, and some light cavalry came on.

"Hey there! Rebs a-comin'—mebee not."
By turn 3, with Dave hotly engaged to front and flank, Tardee again failed to come on the field, although the other line infantry did. I started peppering the Union infantry with my two guns and skirmishing against Bill, hoping to get my cavalry in charge range and take on one of Bill's infantry in the open.

There stands LeMieux like a rail fence
The gun firing at Eric's infantry behind the stone wall was ineffective throughout. At long range (about 20") and with a target in hard cover, I had a pretty poor change to cause casualties. However, I was taking a toll on one of Bill's units. He'd put it in close order to get the extra discipline and volley fire, but that put him in greater vulnerability to my gun.

"Give 'em blizzards, boys!"
On turn 5  Jubal Tardee finally came on the field with banners flying—but too little, too late.

Hurrah, boys! Hurrah!
I managed to sneak a skirmisher unit around the flank of Eric's position behind the stone wall. I finally had a chance to open fire on it without benefit of cover. I moved the cannon up to within close range (12") to get a better chance while Eric was engaged with my skirmishers and a line unit (the other one, not Tardy Tardee's).

Sneekin' 'round the flank
My dismounted cavalry (skirmishers) and light cavalry were operating against two of Bill's line units. Not to much success, I must add. My plan was to advance the skirmish line with the cavalry behind until I got into charge range.

Itch'n fer a scrap with them damn Yankees
That happened once in the game. I was within 11" of a line unit that was just outside the woods. My "3" activation wouldn't cut it. On his next activation, Bill moved into the woods where the odds weren't in my favor. The skirmishers, too, got shot up a bit. One was reduced to half strength (permanent disorder) and the other nearly so. The cavalry, screened as it was, remained untouched.

Eric's line unit behind the stone wall eventually succumbed to the flanking fire and close(r) range artillery and rifles. He popped into half strength and failed a morale check that caused him to skeedaddle—taking "Stonewall" Donaldson along in the rout.

Fire at the blue of their bellies, boys!
Dave's force was being cut to pieces by Bill's three units and the flanking fire of Eric's gun and dismounted cavalry. He was ultimately left with just one figure—Beauregard LeMieux holding off the Yankee horde with revolver in hand and faithful cat by his side. Despite his desperate situation, he defied destruction and kept passing morale/rally checks.

With the Confederate blocking force pushed aside, Bill got the wagon moving off road towards its exit point with nothing to hinder it. As he did that, he pulled back from engaging with me. Jubal Tardee, who had managed to throw just a few ineffectual shots in Bill's direction before this, warily followed supported by a light gun.

They's showin' us their backs, boys! Advance!
Eric was bringing back his forces that had flanked Dave's position. His dismounted cavalry was exchanging shots with my skirmishers and he'd positioned his light gun behind the stone wall at the other side of the field. I placed one of mine opposite his and we were all poised for a artillery duel.

Light artillery at 10 paces, fire!
But we called the game at this point. The Rebs had no chance of catching the wagon. We didn't have the strength to engage more closely without getting shot full o' Yankee miniƩ balls and 10-pound Parrott bolts.

We played 8 turns in just a couple hours. The game was fast-paced and moved along very smoothly. The changes I'd make in the scenario is to make the blocking position less vulnerable on the flank and to start the chasing force on board on turn 1. The lack of any serious pressure on the union for the first three turns of the game let them overwhelm the blocking force. Instead of escaping from the jaws of a pincer, they just had to punch their way out of a wet paper bag.

I'm happy that my forces weren't completely cursed by failure in their first appearance on the game table. Dave's force was wiped out except for LeMieux and his cat, but I incurred only light casualties. None of my units were destroyed or routed—although nearly so. On the Union side, only Eric's line unit—and officer—got routed. Otherwise, they took casualties on several units, but I don't think any were at half strength yet.

Pity the Reb cavalry never got a chance to get in close with pistols 'n' shotguns. It might have been glorious—or in.