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Battle of Enterprise MO

A game of Bloody Big Battles set in the ‘A71’ Alternative History 1871 Universe.

The ‘A71’ alternative timeline is detailed here.

A small section of Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma) lies outside the border of New France (red-dotted line) and adjacent to Missouri and Arkansas.

Enterprise MO Campaign context.PNG

Lead elements of a Confederate force have been spotted making a river crossing near Enterprise, MO.

Their objective is to secure the Eastern shore of the Neosho river and deny  Union expansion beyond Missouri borders up to the Neosho River.

Enterprise MO strategic situation.PNG

The Battlefield

For the purposes of BBB: All hills are steep.  Neosho is impassible. Cayuga can be crossed by infantry (-3″) or Cavalry (-6″). Impassible to Artillery.

Wyandotte is a built up area. Stone walls do not effect movement but provide +1 cover.  There are 6 objectives. (Shown with Red Stars.)    At the end of a player’s turn, if they have the closest unit within 6″ then they can a) Place their own flag on the objective if they don’t have one there already. b) If they do already have a flag there, they can remove an enemy flag if one is present.    An objective is contested if it has two flags present. It is Controlled if only one flag is present.

Enterprise MO Pre Battle.jpg

 

Belligerents

Confederates:

First Corps.

4 x State Regular troops. St 5, Trnd, A, ML

2 x CSA Regulars: St 5, Vet, A, ML

1 x CSA Art, RA

2 x Generals

Confederate Second Corps has the same composition as First Corps.

USA

Missouri Militia

6 x State Militia, St 5, Raw, ML

3 x State Regulars, St 5, Trnd, ML

3 x Art, RA

1 x General

Union I Corps

4 x State Regular St 5,Trnd, ML

2 x USA Regular, St 5, Vet, ML

1 x USA Veterans, St 5, S1, Vet, ML

1 x US Cavalry, St 3, Trnd, RC

2 x Art, RA

1 x General

 

The First Confederate Corps starts stretched out along the Cayuga river heading towards where it joins the Neosho. A solitary brigade holds the bridge in their rear.CSA 1st Corps heading past Cayuga in the direction of Neosho.jpg

A Second Confederate Corps crossed the Neosho further North and is marching down the East bank with the intention of joining with first Corp. 

CSA 2nd Corps wait their turn to come on the table down Eastern bank of Neosho.jpg

The Missouri Militia start the game from the Eastern table edge between the small settlements of Hart and Tiff. (Some hasty earthworks had been thrown up earlier).

Miisouri Milita starting position.jpg

The regular Federal Corps is marching double-time from Carthage and should appear soon.Union Federal Corps wait their turn to come on the table down the roaad from Carthage.jpg

(Note: 2 command stands = Veteran, 1 command stand = Trained, 0 command stands = raw.)

The commander of the first Confederate Corps is watching nervously for the first couriers from his allied Corps. A French flying column is reported to be active somewhere North from here on the West bank of the Neosho. Hopefully, he will see friendly couriers before he sees French scouts!

On the CSA Left Flank the brigades of First Corps shook out from column to Line and splashed across the shallow Cayuga.  The stream was wider than expected and by the time most of the Corp had reached the base of the ridge, the first Missouri Militia was already at the top looking down at them.  Sheltered in the shadow of the contours the brigade prepared to make the uphill assault. CSA gird their loins for an uphill assault. .jpg Note the two brigades of Veterans on the left. All other things being equal, they should clear the ridge.

Meanwhile, in the centre, large numbers of Missouri troops ‘gathered in their masses’, poured across the open terrain   By deploying the First Corps into line immediately the CSA player (me) had left the middle of the table empty. A clear route to the Neosho river.  Into this gap Union troops poured.

Gathered in their masses the flower of Missouri march across the centre.jpg

Two brigades of regulars and two of militia in column along with limberded artillery head for the river. The brigade on the right has deployed into line and is heading off at an angle towards the nearest CSA units.

Meanwhile on the CSA Left Flank….. Delay in arrival slowed the advance of the second CSA Corps.    An unseemly rush took place trying to secure the small town of Wyandotte.  Stonewalls to the East of the settlement were chosen as the anchor for defence.  It seemed like an unending stream of Union troops were appearing directly en route to the town and also on a commanding rise overlooking the chosen defensive line. 😦

Delays in deploying creates a rush to get into position.jpg

Back on the CSA right, the two Veteran brigades had stormed up the slope and established a demanding position. The advance had come at a heavy cost. Fresh units diverted from the centre are closing fast.  Further along the ridge, a determined assault was driven back. (I’d forgotten about the +2 in combat if the attacker crossed a contour line within 6″ of contact.)

Veterans rally for another push.jpg

All along the ridge, the Militia put up a strong defence. They even managed to push forwards towards the Objective Marker at the bridge that had been in CSA hands since the start of the game.

Missouri Milita put up a credible defence.jpg

Back on the Left hand of CSA line, the massed Union advance was held at bay. Mostly helped by an excellent round of Union firing that caused many units to go low on ammo. They retired out of musket range to replenish their supply of cartridges. [In BBB you remove low-ammo condition from infantry by withdrawing till you are free from the threat of enemy small arms fire.]

Tired confederates rushed to the battered stone walls and filled the gaps caused by withering Union fire.  (At the same time securing the objective!) One brigade charged on in an attempt to make contact with enemy that had been left exposed due to a mishandled withdraw order. Unfortunately, the combined defensive fire on approach halted the attacker and the Brigade following it in support.

Union held at bay.jpg

Back on the Right flank, the end of the CSA line collapsed, allowing a surge of militia to capture the objective point on the road to Enterprise MO.  Isolated CSA started to execute a fighting withdrawal back across the Cayuga river.

Milita surge to secure objective point.jpgOrders to withdraw to the river hadn’t reached the two Veteran Brigades who had now driven all Federal forces in front of them off the ridge.  Unfortunately, the Union brigades had only fallen back as far as a prepared gun-line in the valley beyond.

Reports that the woods on their flank were now full of troops in blue uniforms convinced the local commander to withdraw slightly and secure the objective at the western end of the ridge.  Just in time since more Federal forces had been closing in behind as well.

CSA Veterans Job Done- At a cost.jpg

Light began to fade and both sides withdrew along their lines of supply.

Conclusion:

USA: 3 objectives held.

CSA: 3 objectives held.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable evening of BBB.  We hadn’t played with these rules for a while but we only had to open the book once or twice.  One of my favourite sets of rules. I highly recommend them.  It seems most people use them for refighting historical battles. (We have done that with several ACW battles.)

In terms of the ‘A71’ Alternative History 1871 campaign, the result means neither the USA nor CSA has decisive control of the Eastern bank of the Neosho in this part of the country. If the CSA had won decisive control it would have provided them with a more secure route into the central plains.  If the USA had won decisive control it would have forced the CSA over to the other side of the Neosho river into closer conflict with the French forces. (The French are establishing a corridor from Louisiana up to Kansas.)

The ‘A71’ alternative timeline is detailed here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fort Stephens Day one (Part two)

part two.

In the centre of the table French advanced. Clearly they wanted to hold as much land as possible beyond the objectives while at the time of securing it with irregular forces. Their Militia unit nearest the enemy stared to come under concentrated fire. The French flank was looking fragile. If the infantry  go they will lose their artillery.  Urgent messengers were sent off asking for support from the central reserve holding the villageConfederate lines extend.jpg.

One aspect of Bloody Big Battles that I particularly like is the way little dramas unfold across the table top. On the south side of the battlefield, next to the lake, there were only two units on each side.

Lakeside close up.jpg

The Louisiana Militia were able to engage their Mississippi counterparts and drive them off. Having skirmishes proved to be a significant advantage.  They ended up perfectly poised for a flank assault on some regular CSA troops. Their target also had French veterans advancing on them through woods to their front.  Despite being outnumbered and flanked the CSA regulars were able to bounce their attackers. The breathing space gave them time to retire and regroup, able to take their place in the overnight battle lines.

Critical Swamp encounter.jpg

Things had reached a critical situation in the centre swamp. The French and Louisiana troops had committed to a strong defence. The Confederates were positioning to apply concentrated fire. It looked like one of the Louisiana Militia units was getting the worst of it.  In fact, the Militia unit on the north side of the swamp soon ran off as a result of a failed test. The French regulars held their ground under a withering fire from many units. To start with their skirmishers were driven off. This made them more vulnerable during the next round of shooting.

At the end of the game, night fell and the two forces separated. They each tried to: recover lost stands, remove disrupted markers and replenish low ammunition.

– – – – –

We are still very much new to these rules and learning all the time. I used the point system produced by someone on the Bloody Big Battles Yahoo group. Force size was 500pts each. Any less than this and we think there will be less flexibility for manoeuvre. More than this and things would slow down too much. If there had been two players per side then 500 points might be too much. We are thinking of trying 500 points for the first to arrive and then 400 points for players who arrive a little bit later.

We found that the benefit of skirmishes to be quite significant and wondered if the points cost should be a little greater.  I think perhaps we will try that and see how it works.

Close combat is quite random and deadly.  I like that it makes it decisive but risky enough that it needs good preparation before contact.  You can mitigate the risk by making sure you have numerical advantage, you’ve reduced your opponent to spent, you’ve disrupted them and ideally flanked them as well. Even then, you’re probably going to win but there’s always the risk of the dreaded   6 : 1 roll.

That concluded day one of the battle. Day two of the battle will find the forces starting in their overnight positions. (Using the BBB night time rules.) It will also find two additional forces arriving. The French force will arrive along the Baton Rouge Road.  The CSA force will arrive along the road either from Mobile or Jackson.  I plan to take more photographs and share the results.

In conclusion, I would say I am very happy with the Rules and the progress so far with the narrative.

Bigger picture..

A decisive victory for the French with their Louisiana allies would secure the territory on this side of the Mississippi. The French commander has been tempted to abandon all land east of the Mississippi as being indefensible.  The problem with this approach is that Baton Rouge just happens to be on the East Bank of the river. With the French minor victory during the first day, the stage is set for a decisive French victory.

This AAR has been the first entry in the narrative campaign of A71 (Alternative history 1871.)

Details of the full alternative history should be ready to post soon.

 

Fort Stephens day one. (Part one)

Fort Stephens day one. (Also known as the Battle of Ponchatoula) 

Word of the arrival in New Orleans of French forces had spread fast. Militia units from Mississippi and CSA regular units from Alabama moved quickly to block the bottleneck between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas in LA. Field fortifications were rapidly thrown up in an effort to block passage Northwards. The forces were deployed, waiting for the invading French forces to arrive .

The French commander sent to clear the road was met by the local commander of the local Louisiana Militia who suggested an alternative approach. He identified a route around the north of Lake Maurepas, bypassing the bottleneck and arriving behind the defenders.

LA1.png

The battlefield was on a 6′ by 4′ table. To the West was Baton Rouge. To the East was Mobile, To the North was Jackson. New Orleans was to the South. There were victory points for each road exit from the table and 2 Victory points for holding village of Ponchatoula.

FortStephens Pre game.jpg

The table before the start of the game. North is on the left hand side. Half of the South table edge is covered by the edge of Lake Maurepas  and is impassible. Streams are passable by infantry (-3″) and impassible to artillery.  The dark green templates with trees are woodland. The light green templates with ponds are representing Marsh.

The road running north to south has a stream on it’s southern edge and swamp on it’s northern edge. In the the distance on the right hand side you can see confederate forces deployed, along with field fortifications. The Louisiana Militia and French forces will be approaching from the west. (Still sitting their box.) There are additional forces prepared for any other players that arrive later. One is a French force arriving from the West the other is a Confederate force from the North (Jackson) or the east (Mobile). The additional forces were not required.

French Arrive From the West.jpg

The French crossed the river, advanced to the small town and deployed ready to advance on the Confederates or hold the centre. The red markers in the village show the locations to be held for Victory Points. Closest to the camera is a unit of militia which has skirmisher stands (Cajun). The  French regulars deployed on either side of the village and expected to carry the bulk of the fighting. The French also brought had one piece of rifled artillery and a Mitrailleuse machine gun.

Confedeartes abandon Fieldworks.jpg

 

The Confederate forces abandoned the field fortifications when they realised they’d been outflanked during the night. They redeployed on a broad front heading towards the village.

The mixed force of Militia, State Regulars and CSA regulars spread out. Some headed for the woodland cover while most splashed through the swamp.

end – of- part – one