In short the Union army of Tennesee bumped into the confederate army of Mississippi at a remote location in Southern Tennesse. The South called it the battle of Shiloh. They took the name from a church building present on the battlefield. The Union refered to this battle as the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing. The battle raged for two days. On the first day it seems like the CSA commander General Albert Sidney Johnston's plan to crush Union army led by Ullysses S Grant was going to be a success. In the end it did go that way. The Cofederates did deliver a massive blow to the Union army, but as they day drew to close it became obvious that Confederates had come close to a full success, but not close enough. The table turned when the Union recieve reenforcement on the second day. The stout defence of the Union position at the so called "sunken road" had given the union time enough to rally it's remaining troops and together with the reenforcement the table turned on the second day and the battle ended with a Union Victory. Not only was a Union victory, the commander of the Confederate forces had been killed at the end of the first day. Albert Sidney Johnston was killed by a shrapnel in the leg and bled to death. This event probably caused some confusion on the Confederate side that contributed to the Southern failure at Shiloh.
|The tranquilty before the battle.|
The game we staged was in essence based scenario presented in an article from Miniature Wargamer( may 2012). The scenario focused on a particular situation the first day when the two siides competed for control over a section of the battlefield known as "The Hornets Nest".
The scenario wasn't based on Black Powder. Thus I had to convention it to the Black Powder rules and the minature resroutes we had at hand. In the end we had roughly 20 units on the Southen side and the North had significatly less. The basic unit in this game was the Brigade. Usually the basic unit in Black Powder is a regiment/battalion, but it fairly easy to relable them and called them a brigade and then you have the ability to stage larger battles. The main theme of this game is confusion and unreliable reenforcements. The orginal scenario provided a system that would generade the renenforcements rather in a unpredictable pattern. I added a few rules to each present general that somehow would represent the general confusion and in some cases sheer stubbornness of the commander.
The gaming table main feature is the "Hornet's Nest" and "the Sunken road". In front of the Hornet's
nest is an open field. There are couple of roads running nearby. The rest is mainly woods or some
other kind of dense vegetation.
Moving anywhere than in the field or along the roads would cause considerable trouble for the side trying that kind of stunt. In our game no one tried anything foolish like that.
|Union troops moving in....|
Most of the fighting went on in front of the sunken road and along the nearby roads. As long as the Confederates tried a frontal assume at the sunken road the Union forces managed
to hold their ground. This is fairly accurate compared with the real thing. The Confederate General Braxton Bragg ordered a number of attacks head on towards this strong Union position. It was all in a piecemeal fashion and the losses were significant for the attacking side.
|The Confederates have formed a line on the field in front of the sunken road.|
|The Confederates close in on the union forces|
|The first attempt to capture the Union positions....|
In other game things turned ugly for the union when the Southerners attacked the flanks. In our game they managed to field two seperate flank attacks as well as pinning down the Union forces along the sunken road. Both sides lost several units. There was a slight chance in this game that the Union would stop the Confederate onslaught. However reenforcements comming to the southern side and some succesfull marching dashed the hopes of the Union. In the end the Union forces got flanked, swamped and broke down.
|The Cofederates starts to move in on the flanks|
|The Union flank is under attack|
|Things are Getting a bit too intense for the Union troops|
|The other Union flank is attacked as well|
The game was the second major ACW battle we managed to staged using Black Powder rules. The first one was Chancellorville. In that game we managed to change history. The Union won. In this game the Union was not as lucky. The whole affair ended more or less like the Historical one.
What are the lesson of these two sessions? Well first of all one need a whole day to stage in all. An evening session won't do. Secondly one must find a way to accuratly render the balance of power between the two combatants without bogging down in too much detail. The gaming table is always a compromise and so will also the representation of the present units be. You can not have each and very battalion represented(not on this scale anyway).