Saturday, April 18, 2015

Shellbyville concluded

Turn 11- The struggle has become desperate at this point.  Divisional commander Cash is pushing forward his last reserves in Herringshaw's brigade while Karas is pressing his men to attack the rebel right flank which is being held by the battered rookies of the 4th Va cavalry who have taken up a line at the edge of a wood.
The depleted 4th Va holding the wood

Karas's men unleash a volley that does still more damage to the 4th Va
At the bridge, the 3rd NY charges the 5th SC.  The fighting becomes hand-to-hand. the 3rd is driven back, but they have bought time for the 118th NY to cross the bridge and form a line, but this fresh regiment of Heringshaw's is immediately disordered by well aimed cannon fire.
After the repulse of the 3rd NY, the 19th MS is able to go into line of battle
In the Confederate half of the turn, Dinwiddie tries to organize his men into an organized defense.  As he is doing so, the 2nd NY Lt. Battery hurls forth another deadly fusilade.  Dinwiddies is struck by a shell fragment and dies instantly. Now both infantry brigadiers are dead, leaving the foot soldiers leaderless.

Turn 12- Karas leads one of his regiments in a charge on the fragile 4th Va.  The Virginians hold their fire until the last minute and surprise the yankee infantry with a stunning volley.  When the smoke clears, Karas's horse is seen galloping off riderless.  His men press on, but are only able to just barely push back the rebel cavalry.

At the bridge, General Freeman is desperately trying to give orders to the cowering men all around him.  As he does, a reb cannon ball finds him and mortally wounds him.  There  is now no one to sort things out on the west side of the bridge.
The moment when Dinwiddie is killed at the head of his Mississippians

The 9th SC blazes away at Karas's men

The carnage just west of the bridge

The success that cost Karas his life
Turn 13- Too much has been spent to turn back now, so divisional commander Cash makes his way to the chaos west of the bridge.  He tries to rally the 108th Pa, but the men from the Keystone state have had enough and flee back across the bridge, leaving two thirds of their regiment dead on the field. One of Herringshaw's last regiments crosses the bridge in hopes of being able to tip the scales in the Union's favor, but the march column provides a delectable target for the southern gunners.  Scores of men are knocked down including the bold General Cash.

The rebel battery rolls a "10"

Cash rolls a "10" on the leader loss chart.  He is killed instantly
 And with his demise the battle ends.  All of the Union's general officers have been killed in action.  Freeman's brigade has suffered the highest number of casualties.  Herringshaw's men have faired only slightly better.  Karas's brigade is almost completely intact, but having no one to lead them can do nothing more than form a solid line in anticipation of the counter-attack that never comes.  The 2nd NY Lt. Artillery still holds its excellent firing position, but is critically low on ammunition.
The Union left flank is secured

For the Confederates, their losses have been moderate.  Culbert's cavalry has fought well and paid the price.  Herringbone's South Carolina brigade will need to be pulled out of the line to refit.  It will be up to Dinwiddie's Mississippians to hold the line until reinforcements can arrive.  Shelbyville has been saved, but just barely.

The casualties for the battle were as follows:
            Purdy's Cavalry                            360, including 2 guns
            Herringbone's (k) Brigade             360
            Dinwiddie's (k) Brigade                 80

Union   Cash's (k) Division
            Freeman's (k) Brigade                   880 (entire 6th NJ killed or captured)
            Karas's (k) Brigade                       120
            Herringshaw's (k) Brigade             600

The Union clearly paid a very high price in their effort to take Shellbyville.  Though most of the yankees were either trained or green, they fought bravely.  They suffered from the narrow approach to getting into the battle.  The Confederates, on the other hand, had the advantage of the higher ground and could find cover in the defense.  The most significant statistic, however, is the number of general officers that were lost on both sides.  I have never had such a staggering percentage of commanders fall in the same battle.

Final thoughts- This was a fun battle.  The random arrival of troops added an element of suspense.  The biggest problem for the Union was that they just had one crossing point.  That bottleneck proved to be their downfall.  The Confederate cavalry was hard pressed, but managed to tie up the yankee infantry long enough for help to arrive.

The Union artillery was splendid.  Time and again it bested its southern counterparts and then punished any infantry that tried to take up a position overlooking the bridge.  But the Confederate gunners certainly got in their licks, and three "10's", though depleting their ammo, also took out three yankee commanders.  And that was the real difference in the game.


  1. Excellent battle report Duke and splendid figures!!!

  2. Yes a very enjoyable report and an excellent table too!