GAJO Games

GAJO Happenings and Ramblings Blog

2012 - Number 27


The View from the McGehee House Hill

Black Powder Mega-Game:
Gaines' Mill, 1862

As 2012 is a year with a lot of 150th Anniversaries of American Civil War battles, we thought it would be fun to do a re-fight of one. We selected the popular Black Powder rules, as they are quite easy to teach newcomers to play, and very customizable to reflect the unique historical and unit factors for ACW battles.

Fought as part of the ongoing series of actions near Richmond, during Union General McClellan's ill-fated Penninsular Campaign, Gaines' Mill saw an interesting action as the Confederates under Lee assulated a Union force holding a strong position behind Boatswain's swamp. A Confederate success / breakthrough would split the Union Army in two.

Union Forces Await Jackson's Assault

The Union Positioned Supporting Brigades in Several Key Areas

The action opened with Jackson's Division ready to assault and pin the most accessible part of the Union position, while successive follow-up forces would move up and assault across the swampy stream covering the rest of the Union position. As is quite common in Black Powder, Jackson experienced some difficulty coordinating his assault at first, as his divisional commanders failed several of their activation rolls.

Eventually Jackson got well stuck in, and launched a nicely supported assault that took a portion of the Union Earthworks, and threatened to turn into a real breakthrough. Meanwhile, the supporting CSA forces had arrived and were doing their best to fight their way across Boatswain's swamp to get to grips with the Union forces.

Jackson Deploys

The Confederate High Water Mark

The action hung in the balance, but slowly and surely began to swing back toward the Union. Jackson's assault met large supporting brigade and was pushed back out of the Union works, while the rest of his forces were blasted at close range by concentrated Union artillery fire. He was finally forced to pull back in order not to lose his entire corps.

Meanwhile, a strong Confederate push in the center finally managed to seize the critical bridge and get a strong foothold on the opposite bank. Tough resistance from elite US Sharpshooters slowed them down, though, and the Union reserve cavalry moved quickly to the area, dismounted, and managed to shore up the defenses.

The Main Confederate Forces Arrive

Confederates Reach the Swamp

On the far south flank the story was much the same, struggles to get significant forces over the swamp led to heavy fighting, with heavy casualties on both sides. As evening arrived, it was clear that no breakthrough was going to occur, giving the Union forces a hard won victory.

The game was quite exciting and back and forth. At several key points the outcome hung in the balance, and slightly different rolls would have dramatically altered the situation. The player commanding Jackson's force was playing his first game of Black Powder, and after some quick explanations and experimentation quickly picked everything up. That I think is one of the great virtues of the game.

Across the Swamp!

The Critical Central Bridge

Both sides fought hard, yet maintained a gentlemanly approach that made the game a pleasure to run. And the massed forces on interesting terrain certainly made a very impressive visual spectacle, as you can see from the pics.

Take the Bridge!

The McGehee House

Sharpshooters and Dismounted Cavalry Halt the Breakthrough

The Southern Works Under Assault

Close Up of the Advancing Rebs

Heavy Fire As the Works are Reached

More Rebs Move Up in Support

The Union Forces Are Taking Casualties

Support Arrives Near the Bridge

Union Cavvalry in Reserve at the Start

Union Forces Rush South After Seeing off Jackson

Unable to Break Through, the Rebs Fall Back

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