Saturday 6 August 2022

SHARP PRACTICE II - ACW Somewhere Down the Crazy River

On Saturday 23rd July I headed back over the Peak District to my good friend Richard C's house in Storrs for a game of Sharp Practice 2. Followers of Richards' will no doubt have seen his recent work on converting some Perry ACW figures to represent the Mississippi Marine Brigade and for this scenario I was going to take on the role of Captain Daniel R Rosebush in charge of a unit from the Mississippi Marine Brigade tasked with thwarting Confederate operations along the river.

Union Briefing 

It is May 1863 and for nearly 12 months the Union has been unable to establish complete control over the Mississippi River. While the Confederates continue to hold the fortified heights at Vicksburg, the Union plan to cut the Confederacy in half remains incomplete. Despite patrolling by Union gunships, vital supplies from the West continue to cross the mighty river. However, difficulties in coordinating cross-river and overland traffic mean that supplies often wait in riverside warehouses and barns while onward transport is arranged. These temporary stashes of supplies represent targets of opportunity for the Mississippi Marine Brigade. It is believed that Confederate smugglers have been moving supplies across the river near Hackspit, Mississippi. A Marine Brigade unit under Captain Daniel R Rosebush is ordered to identify and destroy any supplies in the area. Union Deployment Between towns the river bank is pretty featureless. It’s not easy to be sure exactly where you are coming ashore. As a result you will roll a d6 to determine the location of your Deployment Point. The levee at Hackspit is steep-sided, impassible to mounted cavalry and an obstacle to deploying your artillery. When the artillery Leader’s card comes up they may be deployed as usual in contact with the Deployment Point but only if a non-artillery Group has previously had its chance to deploy onto the table and not done so (simply state that the Group in question are “assisting their colleagues”). The assisting Group may deploy as normal when its Leader’s card is drawn again after the artillery has deployed. 

Union Forces 

Capt D R Rosebush (Level III Leader) Blue 1 with Musician, Physic, Spirits & Tinderbox 2 Groups of Union infantry 1 Group of Union skirmishers 

Sergeant Walter Jones (Level I Leader) Blue 2 with 1 Group of dismounted cavalry 

Sergeant Wade Deeply (Level I Leader) Blue 3 with 1 Group of artillery

Ron took charge of the Confederate forces in the area as Sergeant Salmon A Wartner with a couple of units of Confederate infantry plus a large unit of cavalry that eventually arrived later in the game.

As I was slightly hampered by the fact that I was required to keep one Group of non-artillery troops off-table until they had used up an activation helping the artillery into position I decided to initially deploy a unit of skirmishers and push them up the Union right.

Sgt Jones and the dismounted cavalry were sent out on the Union left to take position on the edge of a small wood with a clear field of fire to the barn. 

Capt D R Rosebush  deploys on to the table with his drummer and physic.

View from the levee showing the two skirmisher units pushing out to the left and the right flanks.

Eventually I managed to get Sgt Wade Deeply and his artillery deployed along with the remaining two units of the Mississippi Marine Brigade. 

Confederate infantry move out from behind the barn and fire upon the Union skirmishers.

Another unit of Confederate infantry move out from behind the barn and start to fire on the Union dismounted Cavalry.

Luckily I had managed to get them into the woods before they were fired upon.

Return fire from both my skirmisher units start to cause casualties and also quite a lot of shock!

The Confederates were now coming under fire from all directions with the main infantry group and the artillery joining in.

After forcing the Confederate infantry on my right flank to retreat I immediately pushed the skirmisher unit towards the objective, the barn housing the supplies.

The artillery continued to lay down fire on the other Confederate infantry unit to the left of the barn.

It was at this point that a Confederate cavalry force that were in the area decided to put in an appearance and they immediately charged my main body of infantry. 

Despite causing a few casualties and some shock the cavalry came thundering onwards!

It wasn't looking good for the Mississippi Marine Brigade! One bit of luck saw a random event roll for the Confederates result in the barn containing the supplies catching fire! 

Slowly with continued fire from the skirmishers and the artillery I had begun to reduce the Confederates force morale but with the cavalry charging towards my main force I decided to try and take the Confederate deployment point and reduce their force morale even further.

As expected the cavalry charged forced my main infantry force back up the steep banks of the levee. Luckily the cavalry were unable to pursue. As you can see I had managed to inflict quite a few casualties on the cavalry but not enough to stop their charge.

As the Confederate cavalry tried to re-organise themselves at the foot of the levee my skirmishers continued to inflict casualties and shock on the two Confederate infantry units as well achieving hits on leaders further reducing the Confederate force morale.

A chapter end saw the roof collapse destroying the Confederate supplies within and my skirmishers, accompanied by Capt Daniel R Rosebush himself, were successful in capturing the deployment point.

At this point, with the Confederate force morale at 1 and the Union still on 7 Ron took the decision to retreat his remaining forces. A successful mission for the Mississippi Marine Brigade, although when the Confederate cavalry arrived I did fear the worst, but both skirmisher units proved invaluable in putting sustained fire on the Confederates throughout the game. 

Great game and I look forward to playing some more ACW Sharp Practice.

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