I’ve adopted an excellent scenario published in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 85 for the ACW. The idea was that a small Union force was holding out in a fortified blockhouse guarding a railway station. Union reinforcements were on the way.
A small band of Guerrillas has led a somewhat rugged force of Confederates towards the fort. However, the Rebel cavalry went looting the train station, so they were out of control. The WS&S scenario included a unit of cavalry without a Leader attached, which I rationalised as the officer being busy trying to collect his troops.
The primary Confederate deployment point was at the road to the opposite of the blockhouse. We diced for the location of the Guerrilla (Confederate secondary) deployment point, which ended up to the right of the barn. I used the ‘moveable deployment point’ ability to move it forward and deployed the Guerrillas in the woods.
Unfortunately, my main force was very slow to deploy. Due to unlucky cards, I barely managed to get the line into position but was unable to advance them. The same was true for the gun, which I brought in limbered, as I wanted to get it into a good position to cover the blockhouse without being blocked by my advancing infantry. However, it crawled along at a deplorable rate and entered the fight pretty late.
At the beginning of turn 3, not much had happened and K. brought in her relief force. Dicing for their position, they entered in the field on the eastern edge of the table. She swiftly deployed her small mountain howitzer and her skirmishers and attacked my Guerrillas in the woods.
The Union boys put up quite a pressure, and when my Guerrilla leader was wounded, my guys no longer posed a real threat to K.’s flank. She deployed her regulars in line and marched them across the field and over the fence, where they started firing into my main line attacking the blockhouse.
K.’s relief force came just in time, as the Confederates had stormed the breastworks and made short thrift of the defending group of bluecoats.
However, the Rebels were now caught between a rock and a hard place, receiving fire from the skirmishers holed up in the blockhouse as well as from the Union line approaching from the right. After my Leader was knocked out, the Sergeant commanding the skirmishers rushed forward and took command, but to no avail – the Confederate Force Morale was plummeting fast and I conceded defeat when it was at 1.
This was a very exciting game for both of us. Often, games with one side defending a stationary object can a bit dull for the defender, but thanks to the relief force there was lots to do for the Union commander. Perhaps I should have delayed my main attack to bring my cannon into position and also to use Command Cards to apply more pressure on my right flank so as to stall K.’s relief force. I never used the leaderless group of dismounted cavalry, as I felt that I needed all available Command Cards for my main attack. I wanted to get the job done quickly, but as always, my attack was a bit unorganised. K. deployed her troops well and used her skirmishers and her mountain howitzer to do away with my threat to her flank pretty efficient.
Other noteworthy things: We both had few casualties, which is another thing I like about Sharp Practice, namely that games can be decisive without being bloodbaths. The Rebel commander however, poor Col. Trenholm, was very unlucky: Entering the fight thirsty (first random event), he got shot by a Union skirmisher (minor wound), then sprained his ankle (second random event) and then got knocked out by a second minie ball. Ouch! The very light gun performed well and K. told me that she was happy to have it, as it boosted her morale and gave her confidence – and that’s exactly what those small guns did historically!