Tuesday, July 8, 2014

VIP Week Two: Antietam's Sunken Road

Week Two features a recreation of the vicious battle of Antietam, fought back in September of 1862.  D.H. Hill's division, with support from Ewell's division, were given the task to hold a sunken farm road that was an naturally fortified position.  The Union II Corps had the unenviable job of making the attack.  This corp was made up primarily of men seeing combat for the very first time.  What a baptism of fire awaited them!

Our game had 12 players, 6 Union and 6 Confederate.  For most of the participants this was their first wargame experience.

Hays' Brigade in reserve in the West Woods

Early's Brigade on the extreme left flank of the Rebel line

Looking north from Sharpsburg

The Union masses ready to attack

The Irish Brigade on the Union left.
Things did not go well for the Yankees from the very start.  A veteran player commanded the Confederate left flank, Early's brigade, and audaciously attacked the Union right flank.  This took the starch out of the Union attack almost immediately.  Scores of blue clad stands were lost with very little expense to the men from Virginia.
Hill's men poised to receive the attackers

In go the men in blue

Casualty stands reveal the severity of the Confederate musketry

To the left of this, long lines of men in brand new blue uniforms marched over a small ridge and into the range of Hill's excellent infantrymen.  The rookie soldiers were literally blown away.  The only bright spot the Yankees was the performance of their artillery.  They were able to blow away Hill's outgunned batteries. 
The apple orchard provided insufficient cover for Hill's guns.
On the Union left things looked much more promising as the most veteran Union division launched an attack there, led by the vaunted Irish brigade.  But the rebel commander on this end of the field, our only female player incidentally, was more than up to the task.  Though by day's end the gray line was battered, it had not broken.  The Irish brigade commander had been mortally wounded, and all but one assault turned back with heavy loss.
The sunken road is seemingly impregnable

Rebel reinforcements arrive just in time to stall a formidable Union attack
We will fight out the conclusion of the battle tomorrow with a post to follow.  A third Union division has arrived, Early's brigade has been driven back with heavy losses, and the rebel left has been stripped of reserves to fend of the threat on the right.  The outcome of this battle is still very much up in the air!

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