Monday, 18 August 2014


The fourth battle in our on-going Longstreet Grand Campaign saw the Confederates attacking to capture a crossroads, somewhere near Chancellorsville. The first campaign battle of 1863, both our brigades have now developed their own character and interesting features, like a unit with sharpshooters or a hero attached, some are now hardened (or weary) veterans, others are fresh new recruits. I have many Yankee guns, whilst the Rebs seem to have had no new extra cannons for ages, so have just 2 one gun batteries. But they have 3 cavalry units, including a big unit of eager veterans (the best troops in the game), whilst my cavalry has dwindled to nothing in previous battles and now been replaced by a newly recruited unit. This is all driven by the rather brilliant Longstreet campaign system, which is where a very good game system really comes to life and turns this into one of the best wargames I have ever played... truly excellent gaming with just about everything you could ask from a wargame. It is also driving along my collecting and painting schedule for ACW, as the campaign demands new forces, I get them and paint them up. Mostly this has been extra cannons, as the basic blue infantry get constantly recycled... all very cleverly done.

Anyhow, plaudits for Longstreet complete (Sam Mustafa’s cheque is in the post I’m sure)... to battle!

My boys would be holding Cherry Trees crossroads against a Reb assault, which turned out to be cavalry-led (unsurprising given that is my opponent’s brigade’s strength) on my right flanks (thus avoiding a horrorific crossfire from my cannon batteries covering the objective and giving him the most open flat ground to cross). Some small units and his guns would demonstrate on his left, to try to hold my units in place as he smashed his way through my right, over the small hillock (bristling with my cannons) and to the crossroads.

It was close battle, the weight of the attack looked unstoppable and his cavalry and fast marching infantry columns covered the open ground too quickly for my liking, as I sent my cavalry (deployed as a rapid, mobile reserve) to get out there quick and sent an extra infantry regiment to re-deploy quickly (which didn’t happen as they ran into a marsh and got stuck for several turns with me lacking cards to get them moving in difficult ground).

Meanwhile, my guns crashed (pretty ineffectively) and my small veteran infantry units deployed to meet the overwhelming attack. I played any card I could to slow the Rebs down, with confusion, delays and questioned orders all causing the Rebs problems and preventing a smooth advance. My cavalry got into place and I was tempted to charge first, but didn’t, seeing the weight of his infantry regiments and cavalry just aren’t very effective at the frontal charge against infantry, in fact using cavalry as shock troops is a poor tactic in the game, as it was in the war (nice historic touches prevail in the rules). Their job was to harry and threaten, and not get killed quickly. The longer they did this, the more cannon fire I could pour down from the high ground (also not great for my parrot rifles, which prefer flat ground) .

Also, seeing the weakness of his centre I decided not to sit back and wait, but to counter. The under-employed 17th Ohio recruits were sent to advance, around the woods and threaten his attacking units from the flank. It was a bold move, and my opponent thought it was mistake (he later revealed), that would see that regiment easily destroyed, but it meant the Rebs attack couldn’t have it all its own way, he had to deal with the Ohio boys, spend cards and actions and they were enough of a threat to cause the desired distracting effect. Yes, they took heavy losses and were almost surrounded, but the major distraction was well worth the sacrifice.

The rather distrubed Reb attack final struck, but by then his units had taken losses. My cavalry held firm, and the Irish Rifles pour in the volleys, before finally being charged and falling back up the hill. But the Reb casualties were mounting, and they were now a short range for a whiff of grapeshot. The thundering guns inflicted more damage and the Rebs shatter point (the point at which they have to fallback) was approaching. A last desperate counter-charge by my cavalry and the last of the blood-soaked 17th Ohio inflict the few losses I needed. The Rebs broke... phew, a win to the Union and now the campaign is 2-2 after 4. 

The fun doesn’t end there. The post-battle campaign system is always another highlight, seeing each side’s brigade develop further. My commander (me) was promoted for his stirling efforts in the cause of freedom and saw his battered infantry regiments replenished, disbanded or generally lose their eagerness for the fight. The Rebs finally got some desperately needed new guns and broke my codes for the next battle, meaning he’d be choosing whether to attack or defend in game 5, due in a couple of weeks time... just enough time to get my first unit of coloured infantry ready to join the brigade, now these boys are eager for a fight, so Johny Reb beware!

Here are some snaps of the battle as it progressed... another great afternoons gaming. Longstreet rocks! 

 The guns on Cherry Trees Hill line up the distant deploying Rebs. Irish Rifles are at the base of the hill.

 My Irish, the senior regiment of the brigade, battered but still up for the fight. Here they await the main attack.

 The rest of the line, including the hero of Sudbury Hill, Major de Vries. A quiet game down this end.

 Jonny Reb, ready to attack.

 Eek, the assault force massed on the Reb left.

 Redeploying to meet the attack, the 9th Pennsylvania cavalry in column, all greenhorns about to see the elephant...

 Steady Boys... Steady!
 17th Ohio will advance... straight up the centre, a distraction tactic that worked, at a cost.

 Reb cavaliers, leading the attack on the hill and facing the wrath of the guns.

 A lone Reb gun in a losing dual with the yankee guns, counter-battery fire eventually got it.

 Give Fire! The Rebs coming on strong in the distance.

 The Ohio boys swing right, drawing off cavalry from the main attack. They destroyed this small cavalry unit before taking on infantry in a short range dual of volleys.

 In line, ready to counter-charge on the far right, something I thought better off for a more defensive approach.

 Quick march, Rebs still waiting to change formation.

 Battle lines are drawn, still badly outnumbered.

 Stuck in a marsh, reinforcements from the far left that never arrived.

 Birds eye view, before the main assault stuck.

 My cavalry get some action, and are thrown back, but they would stand again next turn.

 The last of the 17th Ohio, two stands from eight, still shooting (and getting shot).

 Light artillery fire harasses the 3rd Pennsylvania, still in place covering the objective.

 Load cannister, a whiff of grapeshot for his cavalry... messy.

 The last of the Reb cavalry try to breakthrough again, and fail. Heavy losses would be blow for the campaign's future battles. His best regiment is gutted.

End game, the Rebs still haven't made the hill, and my guns were making them pay too heavy a price. The crossorads is in the extreme top left. Time to fallback. Hurrah - Union Forever!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Glozow, Spring, 1945. FotR at the Kildare big weekender...

This was a battalion-level historical scenario seeing a Russian armoured attack against the defences of Golzow, with the aim of closing the Kustrin corridor. Facing the big Russian tanks would be local defenders of the Golzow Volkssturm  and behind them, the far more (we thought) hard fighting forces from Panzer Division Munchberg, backed by 502nd Schwere SS Panzers’ King Tigers.

Below is the board and some shots of the battle. Each Russian player took one of the four waves, arriving from turns 1 to 4. I volunteered for the honour of the lead, taking the lightest and fastest tanks, 2 SU-85s, an infantry platoon (they would have to run) and some other scout assets with the OP team, all to get into position quickly and get our off-table guns and mortars firing.

Following would be the strike forces of JS-IIs, T-34/85s, ISU-122s and 152s. The second wave would overrun the Volkssturm trenches, then waves three and four would crash on through towards Glozow, with the fourth wave storming the town itself. That was the plan, but we all know plans don’t survive contact with the enemy.

My speeding first wave had to take an objective on the right hand hill, held by a dug-in PAK-43. That gun, and its twin on the left ridge, next to the big church, would kill 9 advancing tanks before finally being knocked out, when their crews abandoned them with the Russians just outside. The line of my in-cautious advance was marked by burning T-34s, although our repair halftrack (captured SdKfz251/1)  did fix an SU-85 and get it back in the battle.

My infantry fared well in casualties having run miles, until a Nebelwerfer strike landed closeby and caused carnage, then a VS MG-42 added to the death-toll, leaving my platoon gutted down to 6 survivors. By the time the VS had finally been assaulted at close range and destroyed, all I had left was my SU-85s, which positioned themselves by the road in the gap between the hills and engaged the waiting gun line of big German tanks at long range. Here they fared well, in a battle of heavyweights as the JS-IIs and King Tigers pounded away, they scored two StuG kills (more their league really).

By now it was late, we had played hard all day, we were hungry, weary and any assault on Golzow itself looked like another huge game with what we had left (probably not enough). The big tank engagement lasted for about 3 turns each, and I kept track of the ammo. 54 German AP shells fired scored just 2 kills (and lots of unlucky glances on JS-IIs – whoo-hoo). 20 Russian shots fired scored 4 kills (2 Panthers for the JS-IIs, 2 StuGs for my SU-85s). A small victory, but Golzow just couldn’t be stormed. 

We called it a day, a German win, but we had lost 59 BR, the Germans had lost 50, surprisingly close given the losses!

 First blood, an SU-85s encounters a Pak-43 round at 60+"s. Later it got repaired and rejoined the battle.

Urrah! Frontoviks following on as fast as they can.

Scout team, carefully into position for mortar spotting.

T-70s and T-43/76s lined up for the race up the table. Might as well let the weakest tanks face the big guns first and see if they can't save the following waves the damage. That didn't work!

Back in Golzow, Panthers arrive and deploy on ambush fire for the later battle.

Second wave, T34/85s and SU-76s for direct fire support on the trenches. 76mm guns barely dented them!

  Recce T-70s go first, hoping to find minefields... they didn't, and neither survived the fusillade of German fire. Beyond are the Volkssturm trenches in front of the big church.

Old men and boys, dug-in. They fought to the last and died to the man, but what a fight!

The SS big cats await the Russian onslaught at Golzow.

Infantry support on their way into the town.

Dug-in 88, tank-killer and immoveable, despite Katyusha fire, SU-76 fire, MG fire, they just hung on and kept firing, dam-them!

 My T-34s head for the hill objective, just before they began to brew-up from 88 fire.

 Wave three arrives behind me, the heavy metal. This was our main breakthrough wave 
to face the big cats waiting them at Golzow.

 Ouch! First T-34 goes up from the 88, still at long range.

Motorised rifles, our reserve for deployment for the assault on Golzow, held at the back most of the game.
 Big guns... targeting the church to bring it down, our 203mm howitzer caught a direct hit from a 120mm mortar shell and the crew fled! Thwarted again!

My SU-85, on ambush fire, should any German armour push forwards to support the Volkssturm. They didn't, leaving the locals to the Russians... harsh!

 The view off the hill into the valley, full of red armour.

 Third wave, still rolling!

T34s and tank riders move up to face the trenches, and MGs let rip. This attack stalled, 
and the fourth wave, following behind, pushed through to finish it.

Even the SU-76 fire support couldn't help much.

 T-70s close in on the Pak-43, MGs blazing, to no effect.

Return fire has dramatic effects... boo!

and still they come!

 and still they wait for targets, soon there will be many.

not just for big cats either.

even ambushing infantry were waiting with remarkable patiences to get into the game. Sneaky.

 Whilst these did get into the game, every 3 turns battering our advance with rocket strikes until the OP team was found and killed.

Russian infantry stormed the trenches, at great cost. 
Volkssturm finally destroyed and the advance to Golzow is on!

PT-34 mineroller comes forwrad to clear a way, then caught a StuG 75mm shell and thus ended its war!

Finally targets for the ambush fire... a fusillade that scored, erm, no kills!

SU-85s finally engage... as the JS-IIs move up to join them.

The gun duel about to begin as the JS-IIs finally come face to face with the Panthers and King Tigers.

 AA defences for Golzow, but no aircraft showed up, for either side.

Ammo truck comes up to re-arm the King Tiger panzer ace.

 A hit, scratch 1 Panther... 122mm AP shells - nice!

 My SU-85's first kill, winning its dual with a StuG - at least my guys did something beyond just dying!