My nine year old son Jack and I had a fab game of Pickett's Charge yesterday. We had perhaps three hours tops, so a small game was required. I tinkered with the excellent Garnett's Farm scenario from the Guns at Gettysburg 'On To Richmond' scenario book. The action took place towards the end of the battle of Gaines’s Mill, 27th June, 1862 during McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. Table size was 4’ x 4’. This is a good sort of scenario for getting your head around the basics.
Essentially the Confederate force was tasked to probe the Union lines south of the Chickahominy, but it turned into a full-on attack instead.
Both sides must get their units across the stream onto the enemy held side. The winning side has more steady units (Not Whipped, Retiring, Withdrawing or Routing), with not over 50% of their dispersal total in casualties, than his opponent. The game ends after twelve turns.
Two Confederate regiments arrive at the start of turn 2 to join the two artillery batteries (Mixed Guns) but together are brigaded and classed as an On-Table Reserve and require one Staff Officer attachment to commit them. Until committed the artillery batteries may not fire.
Union units mostly covered by rifle pits and hasty defences. Classed as Cover. Artillery and Close Order infantry apply a -1 modifier to their firing.
Game start. No Fog of War cards, to keep it simple.
STREAM – Crossable but considered as Rough Terrain. WOODS – Are classed as Rough Terrain
Right from the start the Union troops on the right and left were hesitant about going forward.
In the woods on the Union extreme left...49th PA plus rapid firing Agar gun. When the regiment fires at Long range add 1CD, effective range 2CD and at the 5cm point 3CD. Roll any double though with an Agar Gun and the gun is jammed, until the regiment rolls another double for firing. If unit they are attached to evades or is whipped, routed, dispersed or unable to enter the terrain, then the guns are lost obviously.
Confederate reinforcements arrive at the start of turn 2 to join the artillery batteries but are classed as an On-Table Reserve require one Staff Officer attachment to commit them.
Union right. Still Hesitant.
Flanking fire from the wooded area, not very effective.
Confederates charge the Union 49th PA Sharpshooters to clear them out of the wood. The 49th take an Elephant test to enable them to Evade. They pass but are forced to leave the Agar gun behind.
Flanking fire from Berdan's Sharpshooters ensures that the Confederates must take an Elephant test. They fail and the surprise ensures they are Whipped withdrawing 30cm.
Rebel reinforcements advance. Close Order Infantry move at standard speeds (no movement is lost) when crossing over walls and fences but will require a Formation Test after crossing. Both units fail, and are Unformed as a result.
Confederates advance in line. Union forces advance piecemeal due to a lack of co-ordination from their Brigadiers
Battle rages in the centre. Red flash markers indicate that a unit has fired. We play the option for First Volley - When firing the first close order infantry volley of any engagement, the player adds one Casualty Die to his fire.
Casualties begin to stack up as firefights break out. The fluff/smoke indicates a unit has lost fire discipline as the player rolls ridiculously low on the fire effect chart. Any final modified score that results in “FD” means the firing unit loses its fire discipline. This can be seen as officers losing control of the firing process, smoke and individual soldiers starting to fire on their own initiative. If a unit remains stationary for the full movement phase (it may still conduct a formation change or reform), it will automatically recover its fire discipline at the end of the movement phase. If infantry that has not recovered fire discipline fires and receives another loss of fire discipline result, it will take one fatigue casualty instead.
Confederates charge on their left. Union stand and fire and the charge is halted.
Another failed attempt to charge. The Confederates are forced to halt and volley with 5 Casualty Dice, requiring them to roll 4+ on each for a hit.
FIVE HITS! Ouch. The Union 6th Maine will be dispersed if they receive a total of 14 hits. Half way there.
The Union right holds. Another Confederate unit charges but is Whipped and retreats 30cm.
Jack shifts a large (7 base) Elite Confederate regiment to plug the gap. Elite troops can change formation and make a full move without penalty.
Union right outflanks. Another flank fire. Another Elephant test for the Rebs. Another test passed. They're hanging in there, then again this is to be expected from such Veterans.
Federals leave the wooded area behind and begin to bear down upon the Confederate right.
Rebel centre charges, again.
Both sides roll low. Confederates Halt and Volley again.....Another 5 CD.
5 More Hits!.....AGAIN. One casualty away from Dispersal.
Confederate centre in disarray.
Rebels survive another Elephant test caused by flanking fire and manage to inflict the one casualty they need to disperse the 6th Maine. Any brigades that have suffered a unit rout or dispersal are immediately marked with a Falter marker. The brigade is in command confusion due to individual regiments being Routed, Dispersed or Whipped. This status is permanent until the brigade regains Steady status via a successful command roll. Whilst faltering no charges are permitted. No forward movement or any movement that brings units closer to the enemy is permitted. No long range fire or artillery Assault Fire is permitted and Arc of fire restricted to straight ahead. Fortunately, the next command phase sees the brigade rally Under Orders
Another rebel charge fails. Forced to Retire 30cm..
Union approach the stream, at last.
Confederate guns are ready. They've incurred casualties already due to Fatigue as a result of rolling poorly earlier in the game. For most of it their own troops have masked their guns.
Confederates go prone in an attempt to reduce casualties. If they go into skirmish order the Federals will simply sweep them away with a charge.
The fight is desperate at the ford across the stream, but the Rebels hang on.
Dusk approaches. Turns eleven and twelve are played with reduced visibility in woods and movement. In our game both were halved. Also, Long Range fire from artillery is prevented.
Near the ford a successful Union charge sees their opponents rout. Now the Rebels are faltering and must take a Brigade Falter Test. They fail spectacularly with a 1. Result = Catawamptiously Chewed Up! All brigaded units retire 30cm to their rear and lose two casualties each. Routed/ Whipped units Disperse. Artillery will also go Low on Ammunition. No other actions are permitted this turn. Game almost won for the Feds.
Vicious canister fire forces the 7th Michigan to retire 30cm.
Union right licks it's wounds.
Another Union charge on the guns. And another retire result.....The Confederates hold....
Confederate unit advances back over the stream, to fullfil the game’s victory requirements. It's turn 12. The Rebels win in a cracking game.
Casualties were incredibly heavy due to a lack of cover and the need to repeatedly advance and charge before dusk set in.
Fantastic fun with the son and heir. All figures 15mm Peter Pig, owned and painted by moi.
If you’ve not tried Pickett’s Charge I strongly urge you to do so.