Thursday, 18 June 2015

Return to Cloyd’s Mountain – Wargaming in 1864 with Johnny Reb II

A few weeks ago I dusted off some regiments from our 15mm Johnny Reb collection, set up the table and invited a few friends for a trip down memory lane.

The Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, which took place on May 9th, 1864, was the very first ACW tabletop game we played, many years ago, with completely painted armies in 15mm. This was the result of a coordinated group effort that quickly produced the regiments needed. Our first club project! Before we had gamed with Johnny Reb for a few years, using more-or-less painted 1/72nd plastic figures.

While the first time around the scenario was based on our own research, I used the scenario published by Scott Mingus in Charge! Magazine (No. 19) this time. The scenario is very well researched and balanced and was great fun to play, although the special rule never applied that anyone started accidental fires in the undergrowth.

The table was 3’X4’. I laid out the rough and broken terrain of southwestern Virginia in styrofoam, which was then covered with a green felt cloth and some model trees, lichen and flock. The roads were sand, fences, houses etc. scale models.

 A heavily outnumbered Confederate force, led by Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins defends the formidable high ground to block off a Union attack on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. The Northern forces, led by Brigadier General George Crook have to break through in order to win. Historically it was a hard-fought battle, with the Southerners initially successful in fending off the Yankees, but turning to a rebel rout and successful Union Breakthrough after the death of General Jenkins.

In our game the deployment was historical. The Yankees attacked first on their left flank, where the rebel line appeared weakest. The dismounted Kentucky Cavalry that held the Confederate right flank decided to push the Yankees back down the slopes in a wild charge, but they were beaten back. A Union counter-charge then broke the Kentuckians and turned the Confederate flank, now defended by a mere handful of homeguard militia. Meanwhile the artillery batteries dueled with each other to little effect from mountain to mountain over the valley and the main union force waded the narrow but steep and rapid Back Creek stream.

Along the fences and hasty works that protected the Confederate center a series of desperate firefights broke out, with great casualties on both sides. Historically accurate this included Brigadier General Jenkins, who fell from his horse mortally wounded. Not so historically accurate was the equally spectacular death of the Union commander, Brigadier General Crook!

 While the Union right flank crumbled after taking heavy casualties, the strong reinforcements on the Union left finally overwhelmed the home guard, drove back the rebel center and occupied the important ground (in terms of victory points) in the rebel deployment zone.

 So after 6 rounds the game produced a surprisingly historical outcome and despite a brave struggle the Confederate player shared his historical counterpart’s fate in defeat.

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