Thursday 1 June 2023

Blocher’s Knoll

 It’s been quite awhile since my last ACW game but I’ve been slowly working through the scenarios in the excellent publication Summer Storm by Brad Butkovich.

Blocher’s Knoll is the third scenario in the book and sees elements of the Union XIth corps clash with Early’s division to the North of Gettysburg.

Whilst the Union 1st corps was fighting to the West of Gettysburg Howard’s XIth corps approached Gettysburg from the South. Upon learning of Reynold’s death Howard assumed command of the Union forces on the field leaving one division on Cemetery Hill he ordered the other two divisions to advance to the North of Gettysburg to protect the flank of First Corps. As the Union divisions deployed to the North of the town Brigadier General Francis Barlow saw a prominent rise North of his position, deciding it would be a better defensive position and without orders he advanced his two brigades and took position on the hill known as Blocher’s knoll (later called Barlow’s Knoll).

It was an exposed position and men from Early’s division with artillery support converged on the hill throwing Barlow’s men back and despite a Union counter attack Eleventh corps were forced back through Gettysburg onto Cemetery Hill.

So the question was could the Union troops do any better? I continue to use Bonnie Blue Flag as they give a neat game, ranges and movement have been reduced to fit 15mm and optional rules re unit sizes have been incorporated.

Union troops are at the top of the map, both sides receive reinforcements, Hay’s brigade ( Confederates) arrive on bound 2 in the bottom left and Coster’s Union brigade arrive bound 7 in the Union centre. In addition the Confederates have two off board batteries  they can fire in from the shaded areas bottom right. The Union can order counter battery fire with their two batteries on their left flank and this will suppress the Confederate guns but it also means they can not move or fire at deployed enemy troops.
So onto the game.

The above shows the troop deployments, I haven’t put as many fences on as per the map but I have put all the ones I felt would impact on the game. Rock creek slows movement and provides some light cover for troops in the creek, everything else is pretty open. ( For the eagle eyed I used my Berdan figures to represent skirmishers as I haven’t finished my regular troop bases.

The Union plan was to hold the knoll, Ames Brigade would advance to support Von Gilsa. On the Union left Von Amsberg’s was to advance and threaten Doles brigade whilst Krzyzanowski would advance up the road and punch a hole between Doles and Gordon turning the flank - at least that was the plan.
The Confederate plan was for Doles to advance and hold the fence line protecting Gordon’s flank whilst they stormed the knoll.

Gordon’s Brigade make for Rock Creek whilst Ames stands in reserve behind the fence line.

Gordon’s brigade supported by Hay’s brigade push up through the creek to assault the knoll all the while supported by artillery fire from their three batteries which start to cause casualties on Von Gilsa’s men and causes the 153rd PA to fall back. Ames moves his men up sending the 17th CT to the right of the knoll .

Meanwhile on the Union left their attack on Doles brigade was being pushed hard the Union artillery had ceased suppressing fire to support the attack however the off board Confederate artillery seemed to be extremely effective slowing down the Union troops.

The Confederates were pushing hard on the knoll forcing the Union troops back.

On the Union left the attack on Doles brigade met with some success driving the brigade away from the fence line however Hays Brigade had detached some regiments to the right of Gordon to secure their flank and to prevent Krzyzanowski from attacking the flank.The attack on the knoll was unforgiving for the Union, two of Von Gilsa’s regiments were broken and fled the field an the and battery G was over run. Ames’s troops were also taking casualties and forced to retreat to their starting position. At this point 7 bounds had elapsed and Union reinforcements were due to arrive -Coster’s brigade and three regiments. I felt they were too little too late. Gordon’s brigade had secured the knoll 3 batteries of rebel artillery were about to be deployed on the knoll. Even though Doles brigade had been forced back the Confederate force were now in a strong defensive position so Barlow called for his men to withdraw through Gettysburg.

Very much a historical result and once again Bonnie Blue flag gave a most enjoyable there were a number of cinematic events the 17th CT defending against 3 Confederate regiments for two bounds and holding ground only being forced to retire when the knoll was taken and they were on the verge of being cut off. Likewise it didn’t help the Union cause when the 153rd PA holding the centre of the knoll just evaporated when they threw 00 on their dice whilst being fired at.

A great game with replay value and some options for additional forces or Barlow not deploying so far forward.

Workbench update soon.


Norm said...

Graham, that scenario book looks excellent, I see the author has several others on other battle like Shiloh and Antietam.

An enjoyable account and the scenario seems to work really well at 15mm.

Note to self ….. build more fencing ….. and then some more :-)

I put all the blurb up for my Epic ACW to go onto e-bay last week and then at the last minute had a change of heart …. How fortuitous 🙂

Graham C said...

Very fortuitous, I have his Antietam book as well. Both are full of detail, well researched and presented and flexible enough to be used with a multitude of rule sets.
Yes I need more fencing still! Whilst Bonnie Blue flag doesn’t afford fencing any benefits against firing it slows movement even if you take it down so it does have an effect on the game. I also give the defender a slight benefit when in melee.
I’m adding epic to the PP collection.

Jonathan Freitag said...

Graham, this is a dandy looking game! I agree that the scenario books are very helpful additions to a wargamer's library. I walked Barlow's Knoll not three weeks ago!

Graham C said...

February 2019 my son took me there, walked 15 miles that day ( certainly impressed the Rangers 🤣) 19c that day and when we drove home the snow was chasing us - crazy. Brilliant battlefield though.

Tiberian general said...

A very interesting and informative game, a very good ACW eye candy fix.
Thanks for sharing Graham, looking forward to catching up at Kenilworth almost two weeks to go.


Stryker said...

A great looking game and glad to see that Howard put up a half decent fight as XI corps always gets a bad press! You can never have too many snake fences...

StuartInsch said...

Nice looking game Graham. You can never have enough fencing for ACW! Correct ratio 1 fence per stand of figs 😂

Aly Morrison said...

A lovely looking game Graham…
The fencing certainly tells you your in America…

All the best. Aly