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After Action Reports

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After Action Reports

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:55 pm

This is an account of an American Civil War game played online/multiplayer on Monday 13 February 2012 using the excellent real time computer wargame "Scourge of War: Gettysburg" made by NorbSoft. Players were Martin James (Union commander) with Blaugrana and Shiastone as his subordinate brigade commanders. CoB4thTexas took the roles of Longstreet and Pickett for the Confederacy with Jack Baylor as Kemper's brigade. I commanded Armistead's brigade.

The OOBs are from the Gettysburg main OOB but we fought a fictional division-sized enounter action on the rolling farmland studded with small woods and deep muddy creeks on the East Cavalry Field map.

===========================================

Report on the action of the morning of 22nd June
Wilmington House
Harrisburg, Maryland
26 June, 1863


To Genl James Longstreet
Army of N Virginia


Sir,

I am pleased to report on the encounter with enemy at Spangler's Farm, Pennysylvania of four days ago. Maj-Genl Pickett's division was advancing north by farm roads some ten or fifteen miles south east of the town of Gettysburg when our cavalry patrols reported contact with the enemy some miles north. Maj-Genl Pickett therefore deployed his division into line. My brigade was allocated a post on the left with my left resting on the Noel Farm (see attached plan). To my right was the brigade of Brig-Genl Kemper with artillery posted in rear.

For some time I did not advance, the situation being uncertain and no orders to move off being received. I deployed my regiments in line, three forward along a fence on rising ground with a field of view towards the Little Farm. The 9th Virginia on the right, the 14th Virginia in the centre in a copse of trees and the 38th Virginia to the left flank. The 53rd and 57th Virginia were posted in rear some hundred yards back in a hollow below a steep bank.

At 8.30am one of Genl Longstreet's officers arrived at my headquarters conveying orders to advance west of north to the George Howard Farm, I therefore set my brigade in motion, passing between the Brinkerhoff and Little Farms and through a dense wood of ash and silver birch that lay beyond. The ground was undulating but rising and to my right I was able to keep visual contact with Brig-Genl Kemper. The Hampden and Virginia Fayette Artillery also moved up on my right.

At about 8.50 in the morning the sound of artillery was heard to my right front. I therefore hastened my regiments forward through the ash wood and into a hollow on it's north edge. Beyond and covering (that is, I do say, concealing) this low ground was a knoll and riding to the top I had an excellent view down into the valley of a creek flowing from my left towards my right, beyond which, in a north-east direction, rising ground led to the Spangler Farm, about which Union infantry were deploying some 400 yards or 500 yards distant.

Brig-Genl Kemper's brigade was advancing north-west in closed columns of manoeuver and was about to come into contact with my right as though to pass behind my brigade. His formation however reversed direction and within a short time had deployed on my right, partly across the creek (which I am taken to understand is known as Buck Creek) with some regiments in reserve. In front of my position the creek ran west to east and then turned south-east towards Kemper's position. In front of Kemper the creek swung east again, the lane by which he had advanced crossing the creek via a ford. Thusly my position was somewhat advanced further north than that of Brig-Genl Kemper, with the creek and the steep north-facing slope of the knoll protecting my front and right front. I saw at once that by occupying the fences on the east face of the knoll my troops could put flanking fire down into any enemy that should move upon Brig-Genl Kemper. I was struck at once by the soundness and the great good fortune of this position.

I ordered my regiments to deploy along a rail fence that ran across the top of the knoll, the 9th to the right on the lowest ground towards the creek and facing Kemper's position, the 14th to their left and the 38th atop the highest part of the knoll where an excellent view commanded the lower slopes in front of my position.

I sent the 53rd out onto my far left, advancing them to marshy ground in a stand of small trees where the creek rose. Here Col Wm. Aylett took up a position on a fence. The 57th I kept in reserve in the hollow behind the knoll and in front of the ash wood. I observed two Union regiments moving downslope to a fence on my left, which was why I extended the 53rd forwards. The 53rd opened a brisk musketry but after a few minutes of shooting the enemy withdrew to a fenceline some 300 yards distant and remained there observing us for some time.

At about this time my position came under artillery fire and the 9th and 38th Virginia men were ordered to lie down.

Shortly the enemy advanced downhill from Spanglers Farm in brigade strength and struck against Kemper's brigade. I wheeled the 9th and 14th Virginia to the right and they put musketry into the exposed right flank of the enemy who was beyond the creek but on lower ground and somewhat in the open. The right flanks of the most advanced two enemy regiments were completely in the air and we appeared to do much execution on his ranks at this point.

With the withdrawal of the two Union regiments from my left front I also sent orders to Col Aylett to fall back his regt. to take up a refused post as my left flank where a fence ran back from the high point of the knoll to the north-west corner of the ash wood. My left was thus refused. At about this time a party of mounted Federal officers were observed directly behind us in the ash wood. I sent a party from the 57th Virginia to discomfort them and they withdrew. At no time did I see any troops accompanying these officers. The Richmond Fayette Artillery had taken up a firing position to my right rear with an excellent field of fire across the creek at short range into the flank of the attacking enemy. Further south about the Little Farm I saw that the Hampden Artillery had likewise come into action.

The crisis of the encounter now approached and on orders from Genl. Longstreet I sent both the 38th and the 57th Regts to my right to line the rail fence and pour in musketry to the stubborn enemy who would not go back. Only the 53rd now held my front and left. Col Edward Edmonds volunteered to push his 38th regt forward down the front face of the knoll to the fenceline of a small track that ran along the south or right bank of the creek. From this post his men poured in tremendous fire from short range (I would judge less than 80 yards) and by 10.00 am I was gratified to see the enemy attack falter and withdraw in some confusion back to the west of Spangler's Farm. I believe four or five enemy regiments were thrown back in this action.

I had, just before this moment, observed the two Union regiments to my left front move away to the west and suspecting an enveloping move around my left I issued orders for the 38th and 57th regiments to fall back to the fence on my left and to line the fence on the west edge of the ash wood in expectation of an attack from this direction. The 9th and 14th Virginia were the most tired and had used more of their ammunition, I therefore ordered them to remain on the fence and rest.

At this time a heavy thunderstorm broke over the field and with powder much wetted firing died down and the enemy was seen to be contented with holding his position about Spangler's. The left flanking move did not materialize. I did observe that Brig-Genl Kempers brigade had taken heavier losses than my own but the enemy brigade between us, which advanced into a closed pocket and was fired on from two sides, and by artillery, suffered far greater casualties.

The attached plan shows the advance of my brigade in red, Brig Genl Kemper's in yellow and from what I later understood of Brig-Genl Garnett's brigade which hit the far left of the enemy attack from Spangler's, in peach. Known enemy moves are depicted in blue. The knoll from which I commanded the action and on the east face of which my men were principally deployed, I have marked with an orange-brown tone. The black line shows the fence I intended to line so as to cover my left flank, should it be threatened.

I also attach a photograph taken two days after the battle showing a panoramic view of the field as seen from my command post. This is the view from the highest point of the knoll with the white wood barn of Spangler's Farm in the left distance. The enemy attack developed from the farm and proceeded across my front almost to the ford that is seen at the right where the dark muddy bed of the creek is visible. Kemper's men deployed to the left of the creek.

I am pleased to report that all regiments of my brigade are fit and ready for duty and the men most eager to be at the enemy again.

I am, sir, and remain, yr humble svt,
Brig-Gen Lewis A Armistead.

===========================================

Maj-Genl George Pickett's Division, Order of Battle:

http://www.atomic-album.com/showPic.php/22426/Pickett.jpg

The map:

http://www.atomic-album.com/showPic.php/22426/EastCavMap.jpg

Photograph of Spangler's Farm:

http://www.atomic-album.com/showPic.php/22426/SpanglersFarm.jpg
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Re: After Action Reports

Post  Ike on Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:58 pm

Very nice, sir! Beautifully written and the maps etc attached were most instructive. Well-fought in addition! Smile
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Re: After Action Reports

Post  MJ1 on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:50 am

Thanks for this Mr Digby.

Would you object if at some stage I put this onto the web site?

http://kriegsspiel.org.uk/

It would be good to try and expand the player base for you gents and show that Kreigsspiel (for me anyway) is not just about the original game, it is a style of play / command.

I have yet to get into the game myself as I am enjoying the CMBN but I do have the demo and at some stage I might join in with the games....

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Re: After Action Reports

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:48 am

Yes, by all means upload it wherever you think it will do most good.
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Re: After Action Reports

Post  Martin on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:50 am

Bravo Diggers. Excellent AAR, and I agree with Mark that it would make a worthy addition to the website.

It reads very much in period style, and could easily have been lifted form the Official Records of the Union & Confederate Armies.

Being on the Northern side in that battle, it was especially interesting to get the view from the other side of the hill.

It was a fun game. The main memory I have, as Union commander, was the difficulty of managing a battle with a 'flat' command structure. I had 7 formations reporting to me (4 infantry brigades & 3 artillery batteries), of which 2 of the brigades were commanded by human players. In the heat of battle the 5 under my direct command proved too much for me to handle, and suffered from a lack of attention. Perhaps Wellington could have done it, but then I'm no Wellington.

Very authentic though. Those big Rebel divisions sound good in theory, but you need good commanders to handle them.

Martin

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Re: After Action Reports

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:53 pm

Yes, the Reb divisions of 4 brigades and 3 or 4 batteries are a lot for one player to command from a HITS perspective. In the campaign that I'm designing divisions will be the basic player command and will be much smaller than that.
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Re: After Action Reports

Post  Blaugrana on Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:58 am

Brilliant AAR, Digby.

I'd like to post a link to it in the AAR section of the NSD forum. May I?
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Re: After Action Reports

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:42 am

Yes, of course, be my guest.
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