The Blog of Michael T. Murphy and his lifelong obsession with "little army men" and their imaginary glory, miniature wargaming, and other things...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Battle of Tasselville

The Battle of Tasselville...

On a sunny afternoon, I once again found myself at my good friend (and Yankee nemesis), Bill Rosser’s house to face off with the forces of Old Abe once again.
Using our beloved “Rally Round The Flag” Rules, we were playing a variant of the Owl Creek-Tuckerville scenario that we had played earlier.

So after drinks and the usual pre-game chit-chat, we adjourned ourselves down to the game room table, and we traded the Summer of 2010 for early Fall in the year of our Lord 1862...
Gen’l Rosser, under pressure from Pres. Lincoln, had been ordered to take a division (+) (approx. 22 regiments of Infantry, plus 3 batteries of artillery), against my 9 infantry regiments, 1 cavalry regiment, 2 batteries of artillery and 1 battery of horse artillery.
I once again, like a true Southerner found myself outnumbered, out manned, and outgunned, but ready to “give ‘em hell” all the way across the field…as I took on the role of Gen’l Belvedere B. Belvedere, Commander of Southern Forces.

Tasselville is a small little hamlet-town in Northeastern Virginia. Originally settled by mostly Dutch and German immigrants, its original name was Van-Tasselville, but after the first 20-30 years and around 1800, the “van” was dropped. It sits on the South side of what is known as Dutchman’s Creek, a shallow but slippery sloped almost waist deep creek; A small bridge, (known appropriately as Dutchman’s Bridge), spans the creek. To the West of Tasselville is Otto Hill, and to the Far East is Rigners Hill.

(The battlefield looking from West to East; Union forces on the left, Confederates on the right. In the foreground is Otto Hill, with Capt. Butlers artillery, and the Texas, and Louisiana Troops in reserve.)

Rosser’s Orders were simple: Cross the creek, take the town, and push me off of the board.
My orders were just as simple: Keep him from taking the town and kill his men where they stand…

Although I was outnumbered, Bill was using a “unit activation” sequence (ala Per Burnside), to activate his units. At the beginning of each turn, he rolled dice for each brigade. When one die rolled a six, he would consult his table and then that brigade would be activated. Units also could cross the creek at ANY location, but had to stop and form column before they could cross.

It was the slowness of activation that would be his first major issue.

My men were dug in behind soft cover of field fortifications. I had Capt. Butler’s artillery on Otto Hill, and Presley’s Tupelo Mississippi Artillery on Rigners Hill. My infantry were stretched across from hill to hill with my left flank two deep in regiments. I once again had my valiant Texans with me, and they were determined to show these Yankees the business end of their pumpkin slingers…

(Confederate defenses along Otto Hill. Butler's Artillery along with Texas and Louisiana Troops in Reserve. Two forward regiments in cover, keep the enemy held up with musketry fire.)

The show started with activation of part of his right flank. Onward came the Zouaves, and his center, as they marched down the road. His artillery went into action, against mine, but a lucky hit from Presley’s 12lb rifled gun detonated a limber, which resulted in havoc within one battery.
To the left the Zouaves boldly moved towards us, rushing towards the creek in column, determined to get across and into our lines before we could react. Determined fire by the two forward regiments plus a good volley from Butler’s artillery, shattered the first wave…this was to be repeated over and over on this flank…quick movement forward only to be halted and then routed. To the right flank, my cavalry began a long slow leisurely ride down through Tasselville, and towards Otto Hill, taking some casualties from a few errant Yankee artillery shells that were fired into the town.

(Union Right Flank, The Zouaves would be the first in, and the first to be shattered. Eventually almost 95% of these units would flee the field due to losses.)

(A close up of Butler's Artillery Battery in action against the Zouaves and right flank. It was this battery that was the key to victory against the enemy right...)

Perhaps to my irritation, my horse artillery battery, (which had performed so well at Lumpkins Junction), showed no stomach for fighting this day. They broke on the first turn and it was only three turns later that I was barely BARELY able to rally them. One more turn and they were off the board.
The infantry though fought magnificently.
The center stride was being pushed by none other than that Yankee Blowhard, Gen’l Owen Sodbucket, (also known as “Old Seconds For Supper”). This time however, unlike Owl Creek, and Lumpkins Junction, his men actually moved forward to the creek…and then they stopped and dawdled…trading shots with my entrenched riflemen. Even with cover, my regiment of men from South Carolina was taking hits, and would soon break from the losses. They would rally one turn later.

("On to Richmond!" They cry as they march quickly down the road towards the bridge and their objective of Tasselville, unaware of the soon to be hellish fight they shall be in...)

(Moving the Brigade quickly down the road, as Union guns provide cover fire and the Brigade Commander watches their progress...)

Towards the center Ol’ Rosser was able to push men over the bridge and into an almost point blank exchange with another unit of South Carolinians.
While on the right, he pushed a unit of Rhode Islanders across the Creek and into the woods, followed up by a Pennsylvania Regiment.

(A rear view of the Rhode Islanders going across the creek into the woods and the Texans just beyond...)

(The 2nd Union Brigade, Pennsylvanians I believe; cross Dutchman's Creek to support the Rhode Islands just to their right in the woods, confident of victory...)

(...and unaware that hard fighting men from the Lone Star State stand ready with their .69 Caliber M1842 smoothbores, to teach them a deadly lesson...Texas will be heard from this day...)

("Myself" (aka. Gen'l Belvedere B. Belvedere) astride my trusty white steed, "Cornbread", watching the oncoming attack upon the Texans by the Rhode Islanders and Pennsylvanians. My staff officers direct Capt. Butlers 12lb rifled guns towards the enemy...)

(With the breaking of the Rhode Islanders, the Pennsylvanians grit their teeth and push forward to meet the Texans head on...the sound of minie-balls whizz through the air, buzzing like angry bees as men on both sides drop by the score. But with the artillery support from Butler's guns, the boys from the Keystone state cannot take much more and quickly fade back across the creek...With this, the battle is essentially over...)

Earlier on, I had noticed this weak spot in my line and had slowly moved my Texas Regiment to plug the gap. Behind them I had a regiment from Louisiana, just itching to get into it. (This unit never fired a shot or took a hit during the game).
The Rhode Islanders were pushing out of the woods when they exchanged a volley with the Texans, and then were treated to a 12lb shell fired from the rifle guns of Butler’s artillery. This was more than they could stand and they skeedaddled back across the river…
Now it was up to the Pennsylvanians…They pushed forward towards the Texans. Within 2 inches of each other, and exchanged devastating volleys. The Texans returned fire, as did Butler’s artillery once again, and their spirit broke.

The game ran for approximately 11 turns, and with the breaking of the last of his right flank, and the units that had crossed the creek sent splashing back across, Gen’l Rosser had finally realized the futility of this assault, and withdrew his men.

("Sir! The men have done all they can do for today! We've got to get off of this road sir, or you'll be killed!" Cries the aide to Gen'l Rosser as he tried valiantly to rally the last of his right flank, (seen fleeing behind him). The seriousness of the situation is realized when a bullet strikes his canteen...Reluctantly he rides off of the road onto the field and begins the withdrawal of his troops...)

Being a Southerner and a gentlemen I offered a truce to allow his medical orderlies to collect the wounded. It was a fearful bill. Looking at our casualty rates, I had lost approx. 1250 men, while Bill had sent a little over 4000 to their deaths…

Observations: RRTF is a very dated set of rules, but fits rather well in our games. It also, (for it’s age), seems to pretty accurately give the historically correct results for casualties, etc. It’s still perhaps one of my most favored rules-sets.

I have no foolish thought in my head that this will be the last time that I square off against Rosser. His men call him “The Snappin’ Turtle”, while mine call him “The Ol’ Buzzard”…He’s a good opponent and friend…(even if he is a Yankee!)

(All for the Union! One last hard charge as the Union Right Flank goes in three regiments in line to force the objective. A beautiful pic of some fine minis in line...)

Comments are appreciated.

1 comment:

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