Encounter at Gap’s Crossing – Sharp Practice AAR

Last weekend, Sigur came over for a game of Sharp Practice. It was his first game, so we played the Encounter scenario, which I hadn’t played for a while.

We rolled dice for sides and Sigur got the Union, which had five groups of regulars, one of skirmishers and one of Cavalry. My Confederates had five groups of regulars, two skirmishers plus a physic and a preacher (whom I forgot to use in the excitment of the battle…).

The game started with me deploying one group of skirmishers inside the toll house while Sigur sent a huge five group column of regulars down the road.

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The set-up.
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“… His soul goes marching on …”
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Rebel skirmishers firing out of the toll house.

The skirmishers took a couple of pot shots at the column while I deployed a line in the wheat field.

Sigur’s skirmishers meanwhile trodded through the woods, where their Sergeant stepped into a badger turd. Jumpin’ Jehosaphat! As his status would be reduced by one until he found water to wash it off, he headed towards the church, hopeful that holy water would not only do the trick but also bless his further endeavours…

pilgrimage
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3)

His men meanwhile took position and made ready to fire at my line which was approaching through the wheat field.

earlyoverviewearlygame-sit

Despite my skirmishers and my line shooting at them, Sigur cooly marched his colum into position on the road. Suddenly, two groups broke from the formation and stormed the house where my skirmishers were holed in, driving them out and routing them. However, in the fight, the Union Force Commander was hit by a bayonet thrust and bit the dust. Lots of Bad Things happened in Dixie that day – both our Force Morales took a first plunge.

Meanwhile, my second formation was deployed to my left as I wanted to march them around the farm yard and take Sigur in the flank. Sigur however finally deployed his cavalry, which rushed forward. Fortunately, my lads were fast enough to form a line, which deterred the Union gallopers from making a head-on charge. His troopers dismounted and took cover in the field.

leftflank

My remaining skirmishers were hit by another mishap: A sudden gust of smoke errupted from their muskets, making them realise they had damp powder (two random events in a row!). Despite their firepower being reduced, they did a great job harrassing the Union troops and holding my center while my left flankers slowly wheeled around. Sigur’s guys proved to be fleet of foot and at first managed to heel out of my firing arc, but I finally got off a salvo, catching the Union regulars deployed on the road in the flank.

lategame-overview

Unfortunately, Sigur’s skirmishers, which were a nimble bunch and a major annoyance, spotted my Colonel sitting on his horse (my primary deployment point). Their Sergeant had meanwhile returned from his pilgrimage (which had involved a theological discussion with a church-goer) and, being dapper and in good spirits, decided to charge towards the fellow, who immediately legged it. So much for Southern chivalry! Again my Force Morale dropped. Morale-wise, we both were pretty much on our last legs now – we both had taken a lot of casualties, leaders had been wounded or knocked out and groups had been routed.

lategame-deployment-point-taken-2
Union skirmishers take my Primary Deployment Point.

In a last effort, my regulars in the field fixed their bayonets and charged the Union troops on the road. One brutal melee later and the Union guys were running, passing right through their friends and causing even more havoc and loss of Force Morale. Seeing this, my skirmishers fired at Sigur’s dismounted cavalry, driving them back. This proved to be the final straw for the Union: their Force Morale gone to zero, they packed it in and retreated. A victory for the Rebels!

end-overview-leftflankend-overview

This was a very hard-fought game. It could have gone both ways until the end. In the beginning, I felt like I had a decent plan and things were going fine, but then I somehow lost momentum and Sigur took the initiative. He manouvred his men with great skill and, despite having some problems with command and control due to dead and wounded leaders, handled his groups in a flexible if sometimes a bit unorthodox way – perhaps his many games of Chain of Command showed, as it seems he didn’t want to stand still in line and take the bullets like a Gentleman, but darted around, evading the firing arcs of my unwieldy formations and enfilading them. Especially his skirmishers dealt a lot of damage, culminating in them taking my primary deployment point. However, in the end I regained my momentum and managed to pull off a sufficiently coordinated final attack which sealed the fate of his Force.

It was a great pleasure playing with Sigur, who embraces the narrative and sometimes funny side of Sharp Practice as much as I do, so we had a lot of laughs. Hopefully, we’ll get in another game some time!

The photos were taken and provided by Sigur, thanks mate!
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