I like this tribute to a tribute.
Back home now after a total of about 24 hours gaming Gettysburg at the Wargames Holiday Centre in tribute to Donald Featherstone.
We started the battle on 2nd July and I was in command of Rhodes’ Division of Ewell’s Corps holding the town of Gettysburg, in partnership with veteran gamer Charles Wesencraft with Early’ division on my left. To my right was a gaping hole in our line as far as the Peach Orchard. The rest of our army was concentrated on taking the area immediately north of the Round Tops.
I (Rhodes) managed to push the Yankees back at the “Angle” at the North end of cemetery ridge, but for one turn only. When Johnson’s Division was discovered in the woods North of Culp’s Hill I inherited Early’s already shot-up division and concentrated on assaulting Cemetery Hill.
Returning Sunday morning we were informed that it was now 3rd July and that overnight we Confederates had retired back into Gettysburg and the woods in the North-West.
Further South our friends had fallen back to the Emmitsburg Road and had to fight through Devil’s Den all over again. Picket had arrived and was sent to reinforce Longstreet, but we did regain some losses from the previous day.
The good news was that Stuart’s cavalry also arrived, handled by new arrivals Ron Miles and Chris Scott, guests of honour at the Saturday evening dinner and close friends of Don Featerstone.
Stuart brought so many horsemen that Union models had to be impressed into the Confederate army until replaced by the numerous artillery casualties.
The Union troops who had lined Cemetery ridge for two days wheeled right into the area of the historic “Pickett’s Charge” to meet the new threat.
With most of our infantry out of action the cavalry hurled themselves at the enemy infantry, who were all in defensive positions and supported by artillery. Two charges failed to make contact and the third was hurled back. My last intact infantry brigade assaulted the Angle again and after a struggle at odds of 1:3 pushed the Union back and held the place for one turn only.
I did get one brigade through the cemetery gates, but they were surrounded and wiped out.
The game time ran out. The Confederates were deemed to have won because in the South they were in sight of the road to Washington and little to stop them. Hancock ‘s men would be fighting Stuart with minimal support to their rear.
From my end of the field, Ewell’s corps was all but wiped out, but special mention in despatches to Rhodes’ artillery who fought for two days without loss or penalty and single-handedly wiped out a large infantry brigade piecemeal, in addition to supporting the infantry attacking Cemetery Hill.
I am looking forward to the weekend, when I have been fortunate ( or quick enough) to secure a place at the inaugural Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre in Kingsclere (about 10 minutes drive from my home).
The battle will be Gettysburg and the rule system Regimental Fire and Fury. I have never used these rules before, although I did once host a game of Gettysburg using the original F&F rules, “bathtubbing” the battle so that a division became a brigade.
But I digress. As a practice run I downloaded the playsheet from the Fire and Fury website and have been getting my head round the game mechanisms.
So far I have used infantry and cavalry, albeit all of the same quality and the same weapon. This evening I intend to explore artillery.
And for this exercise, what better scenario than this?
No prizes for identifying the layout.
If you need a hint, go back to a 1970 publication (page 61) and remember to whom we are paying homage.
And yes, some of my new bases are not yet painted. Time was of the essence.
We interrupt the Peninsular War to bring you news from Pennsylvania, USA, in July 1863, where large Union and Confederate forces have fought for three days at Gettysburg.
A full battle report is available on the American Civil War page.