Tim put on another outdoor 54mm extravaganza, this time covering the Union assault on the fortresses covering the critical port of Wilmington in 1864. Jerry, Tim C and I were the good guys, while Russell and Pete were the Rebs.
The fort from the southwest. An impressive array of redoubts and gun emplacements bristling with artillery and surrounded by sea and/or swamp on two sides with thick woods behind.
The mighty US fleet. Two monitors, an Ironclad, two battleships, a bomb ketch, a couple of transports and a mysterious two stacked steam ship.... I was notionally in command of the infantry brigade embarked on the transports and battleships.
The mighty bomb ketch! It had to be towed into position.
A massive Armstrong gun on 'The Pulpit' with a photographer in attendance.
And another Armstrong on the big hill at the top of the fort.
We spent at least two or three minutes planning how to attack this lot, and the eventual scheme was to mount a diversion using the screw ship, get the monitors in close for bombardment, then swoop on the centre of the fort for an amphibious assault. What could possibly go wrong?
The screw ship was a captured blockade runner packed with 300 tons(!) of gunpowder. Its task was to blow up the northern battery, and to aid it on its way, we sent it out in front decked out in a Confederate flag and 'pursued' by the two battleships.
The battleships emerge from the morning mist in pursuit.
On come the ironclads. Unfortunately the grey monitor got a bit too close to shore and ran aground. Oops! At least it attracted the attention of the enemy gunners.
The whole fleet was in action now as the transports followed behind the warships. Sadly a lucky hit had parted the bomb ketch towrope and it was drifting out of control.
The fort was bathed in sunlight which burned off the early morning mist and all the rebel guns were now blasting away.
By now the screw ship was beached and the crew were frantically paddling away having lit the fuse. The Union battleships headed for the beach as the infantry piled up on deck.
Boats away! The soldiers prepared to clamber down the sides as shells from the shore burst all around.
The brave crew of the floating bomb now realised that something had gone wrong as the ship should have exploded by now.
Sadly the beached monitor was stuck fast as the tide began to rise. The crew evacuated the hull as water lapped over the freeboard, and Sharky came for a look, licking its lips.
The boats from the battleships were finally away as the transports caught up. The big dice on the ships are the hits accumulating from the shore batteries. Four and above is bad....
We slightly ran out of little plastic boats so the other infantry units had to splash about in the 'ocean'. The other monitor ploughed right through the middle of the landings, which added to the confusion.
One of the battleships finally sank as the other ships manouvered around the wreck and headed for home. The landing force was well on its way by now and the shore batteries switched their fire.
One of the landing boats took a direct hit. Dinner time for Sharky. Oh dear!
The rest of the landing craft were largely unscathed though. The gunners started to look a bit nervous.
Meanwhile the crew of the bomb ship had returned to lit the fuse again. What heroes!
The first infantry units were ashore and formed up on the beach.
One of the transports succumbed to fire from the shore.
The bomb ship finally blew up in a great explosion. Sadly, just as in real life, this was far too far away to inflict any damage to the fort.
The guns switched to grape shot (aka Party Poppers). The first shots went right over the heads of the Union infantry.
The other boats were also unscathed.
The first battery was rushed and taken.
Unfortunately cannister from a flanking battery finally founds its mark. The First Regiment had taken the guns but then hunkered down. The Second Regiment had landed by now though and took up the fight.
They rushed the parapet while the Third Regiment formed up on the beach.
Some Rebel infantry put in an appearance now.
The Third Regiment rushed the central redoubt.
While the Second Regiment lined up across the parapet against the Rebs.
Cannister tore into the ranks of the Third.
While the Second exchanged musketry with the Rebs.
The Third heroically mounted the redoubt.
And cleared the battery in vicious hand-hand fighting, taking heavy losses in the process.
The Second was shot to pieces by the Rebs and the survivors took cover behind the parapet. The landing force had largely shot its bolt by now.
The southern end of the fort was still holding out, some of the gunners forming an improvised defensive force. As a large contingent of Confederate infantry was en route, we called it a day at that point. Although the fort had been damaged, it had held out. In real life it took two attempts for the Union to capture it, the second involved overwhelming force (dozens of warships and multiple infantry divisions - somewhat beyond our means).
Once again, that was really good fun and it was great to meet up face-face. Unlike last time, it didn't pour with rain, so we could stay outside all day. Many thanks to Tim and Sara for the hospitality and a fine game.