Another outing to the Western ACW campaign, this time Stones River/Murfreesboro. This battle was fought in late December 1862 after the failure of Braggs invasion of Kentucky. Rosencrans led the Union Army of the Cumberland from Nashville to fight Braggs Confederate Army of Tennessee camped outside Mufreesboro in the depths of winter.
Battlefield from the south. Stones river runs north-south down the middle, Murfreesboro is at the road junction on the right and the turnpike to Nashville runs off the northwest corner. Although there are woods, it is late December so little undergrowth or foliage so they just restrict LOS. The rivers are fordable to infantry and cavalry and crossed by numerous fords and bridges, but still an obstacle.
Both sides had decided on similar plans, to mass on their left and attack the enemy right. Here the Union has the bulk of its force concentrated against Withers and Breckenridge. Rosencrans HQ is with Negley in reserve. Three more Union divisions are en route down the turnpike (one cavalry and two infantry).
In the south are most of the Confederate forces, three infantry divisions and Whartons cavalry brigade against two Union divisions (Johnson and Davis). In the real battle the Confederates were quicker off the mark and 13,000 Confederate infantry closed with the Union positions before they had time to react. This flank had been screened with dummy camp fires so Wharton found almost no opposition in front of him. Bragg is with the units on this flank to keep them in command.
The entire Confederate right flank is held by only Breckenridges division and Pegrams cavalry brigade.
The Union reiinforcements straggling up the Nashville turnpike, led by Stanleys cavalry. By now most of the troops are experienced so rated as 'Seasoned', Stanleys bunch of looters and bushwackers are rated as 'Green' however.
From the Union positions it all looks fine.... for this game John took the Union and Tim the Confederates, and various other players (Simon, Pete, Mark) dropped in to watch on consecutive nights.
The action opened with Wharton pulling a wide outflanking manouvre. McGown took Johnson under fire to cover the advance of the other two CSA divisions.
In the north Breckenridge advanced to the river bank. He had a large division (five bases) and were the only Veteran rated unit, but outnumbered 3:1 he needed all the help he could get. Pegram also moved to the northern flank.
Like any good ACW battle , the entire front now erupted into a monumental firefight as both sides blazed away at each other.
This went on for a while but slowly the CSA got the upper hand thanks to their (slightly) larger formations. Sheridans division in the centre lost two bases (the black puffs) and Woods division opposite Breckenridge also lost one. Meanwhile the Confederate cavalry had worked around both flanks (Whartons brigade is just visible in the Union rear on the far left of the photo).
Just as well as in the south the Confederates were taking heavy casualties and both Withers and Cleburne fell back in disorder.
At this moment the Union centre collapsed as both Wood and Sheridan fell back to reorganise. Negley pushed up to Stones river accompanied by the Army artillery to hold the front.
The fortunes of war now swung in the CSA favour as Davies took heavy losses from Whartons cavalry charging them in the rear, while Johnsons entire division routed under withering Confederate fire and was removed from play.
The Union was now back in a tight arc across the Turnpike, but couldn't rally off any hits due to the proximity of enemy units. Pegrams cavalry were well over Stones River now.
Negley was pushed back by fire from Breckenridge who had also lost a base by now, but his Veterans stood firm. The rest of the Confederates closed with the enemy.
In the confused fighting in the south, Davis turned his Union division to face down Whartons cavalry who promptly dismounted and poured revolver and carbine fire into the Union infantry. This was followed up by a bayonet charge into their rear by Cheatham and Davis's division disintegrated.
The line now stabilised a little as the Confederates reorganised themselves. Whartons cavalry were finally sent packing by rifle fire and withdrew to rally, only two hits away from complete destruction.
In the north, the fighting was all over the place. Breckenridge was still on the river, now faced by the Union Army artillery and Sheridan, but Withers had managed to get his entire division across the Nashville turnpike. This left Negley and Woods sandwiched between Pegrams dismounted cavalry brigade in their rear and Withers large division to their front. Ouch.
Massed infantry fire soon despatched another Union division in the south. They were now taking Army break tests every turn.
And another in the north!
This was another unfortunate unit sandwiched between Confederate cavalry to the rear and infantry to the front.
Pegram then kept on going and overran the Union Corps Artillery from the rear. Breckenridge had been unable to do this as 'Veteran' units are very reluctant to make frontal assaults - there is a reason they are veterans.
Stanleys cavalry now made an appearance, but it really was too little too late by now.
Rosencrans was now hemmed in with what little remained of his command and at this point the survivors finally became exhausted and the battle ended.
Negley was still hanging on in the north, and with the arrival of more reinforcements later that evening, astonishingly, the Union army would probably be able to match the Confederates the following day.
That ended up being a fairly historical result, and in the real battle both sides remained in contact another day before Bragg tried to attack again and was repulsed. Rosencrans refused to retreat and Bragg eventually marched off in disgust leaving the Union to claim a 'victory', of sorts anyway.
The mechanisms are all tried and tested now, the only thing which felt a little odd was the army break tests, which were too easy to pass given the extent of damage inflicted. It is extremely hard to actually destroy units in these rules, and I need to reflect that in the break penalties.