Much has been written about the battle of Gettysburg and about the delaying action that the 1st US Cavalry Division fought during July 1st of 1863 under the command of the iconic General Buford. As usual, you are better off reading elsewhere about the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. If you are really into it, let me recommend you David Pfanz's trilogy on Gettysburg. These books are the best tactical accounts of the battle.
Scourge of War is currently the only and best serious 3D tactical wargame about the Battle of Gettysburg. The past weekend I started playing the game's canned scenarios and I thought of sharing some of my misadventures here.
This scenario starts at 9:45 a.m. on July 1st 1863. In real life, after a couple of days of taunting between Confederate and Federal cavalry patrols, actions were just starting to shape into a battle. The Confederates started pushing towards Gettysburg with Maj. Gen. Heth's Division. The US Cav. Gen. Buford understood that the high ground around the McPherson's farm was crucial real estate to be held until the federal infantry arrived. In the game scenario, I'm playing as Gen. Buford and I am in command of the 1st US Cav. Division. My troopers are spread thin and for this battle I have only one brigade and a tiny 6-gun artillery battery.
|Our mission: block the enemy forces attempting to seize McPherson's ridge until friendly infantry arrives.|
For starters, there is the issue of weapons range. Back in the American Civil War, the troopers were armed with carbines that, despite being able to deliver higher firing rates than the infantry muskets, had shorter ranges and less stopping power. Second, there is the issue of limited numbers: cavalry formations were in the receiving end of the attrition equation. If there is an advantage that the US troopers have in this scenario, that is mobility.
Deviating my tactics from the ones used in the historical battle, and eager to catch the enemy infantry with their pants down while they cross the Willoughby run, I deploy my line of defense between the McPherson ridge and the run. I count on my troopers mobility to disengage and rapidly fall back towards the ridge. I even move my artillery battery forward.
I will go through my line of defense from left to right flank. Please refer to the above birds eye view of the battlefield to follow.
|The 8th Illinois and the 8th New York Cav. Regts.are deployed in the center along a worm fence, overwatching the Willoughby run. In a thin skirmish line, they cover from the Mc Pherson's woods to the right of the Chambersburg pike.|
|To the right of the railroad cut, the 3rd Indiana Cav. Regt.covers a wheat field.|
|The Confederates pushing towards the center of my defense line come under fire from the 8th New Yorkers. Despite the good shooting, the New Yorkers will have to show more than this to repel the enemy.|
|Confederate forces advance towards the railroad cut (between the green corn field and the brown wheat field in the background). The men on the foreground are troopers from the 8th New York.|
|A bird's eye view of the Confederate Brigade's move towards our weakest spot.|
|The Confederates deploy slightly in the right flank of the 6th New York. Although we are outnumbered, the deployment of the Confederates will buy us some time.|
|Confederates (background) deploy in front of the 3rd Indiana.|
|The 3rd Indiana Cav. Regt. bugs out in all haste.|
|The 12th Illinois Cav. Regt. mounts up and move towards where they are needed best. The men on the right are dismounted troopers from the 6th New York, still standing in a skirmish line after all the fighting.|
|Our center has become our flank. Note the Confderates in the far background, now relieved by the retreat of the 3rd Indiana, moving to join the onslaught.|
|The 12th Illinois arrives and tries to recover a semblance of a protected flank.|
|The 12th Illinois charges the enemy.|
My center falls back, we are even thrown back to the reverse slope of the McPherson's ridge. The only option is to conduct some dis-functional counter-attacks to disrupt the enemy's deployment.
|Friendly infantry is within sight. Note the routed troopers in the background.|
|Troopers from the 8th Illinois fighting their way back to the McPherson's barn.|
|A terrible price to pay for the McPherson ridge ... But it needs to be done.|
|Friendly infantry (background) arrives and joins the fight.|
|The arrival of our infantry shows up the real status of the enemy's morale. A Confederate regiment retreats from the McPherson's farm after a short fire exchange with Federal infantry troops.|
My mistake was to push my troopers to fight as infantrymen ...