Monday, August 26, 2013

Maneuvering Towards St. James Chruch - Scourge of War Brandy Station

We are Cavalry. We live and breathe dashing and bold maneuvers ...

I suppose that is how it works for real troopers. In this Scourge of War scenario, I am in command again of the 1st US Cavalry Division and my mission is to clear the Confederate cavalry from their defensive position at St. James Church. I played this mission at "grognard" difficulty, which forces the player's view to the commander's one (no panoramic, birds eye view or free camera view). At this difficulty level, the orders are distributed by couriers.

This scenario is from the Brandy Station module for Scourge of War (available at Matrix Games). Mild spoilers follow.

After my personal recon of the Confederate position, it is clear that they have a strong one, supported by artillery.

From the saddle: I'm tethered to my character and if I want to see some particular part of the battlefield, I have to ride there. The rebels are across the Hubbard's Run, still moving in cavalry to reinforce their position.
Because of the fog of war at this difficulty level, neither the enemy nor mine own troops are shown in the map. In this image, I took the in-game map and added some symbols. My Division is composed of 2 Cavalry and 1 infantry Brigades. We crossed the Beverly Ford and we are positioned along the Beverly's Road. The rebel position (yellow stars) is centered around St. James Chuch.

A frontal assault from our current axis of advance would not end up very well. The enemy has plenty of artillery to repel us.

So I decided to engage the enemy's position at its left (west) flank. The thick dotted arrow in the figure above shows the scheme of maneuver for the First Brigade (Maj. Mc Clure): a wide flanking westward movement that pivots south towards the St.James Church and then follows the road towards the church itself. The thin dotted arrow is for the Reserve Brigade (Maj. Whiting) and the Infantry Brigade (Brig. Gen. Ames). They will hit the left (west flank) of the enemy position through a less convoluted route, due directly south via a small road.

Orders out! This is the courier message interface of Scourge of War. I'm sending Mc Clure's Brigade to the west, to a point near the Thompson farm. The coordinates in the map are entered by clicking on a map.

The other two brigades (Ames and Whiting) also receive their movement orders. But because they are closer to their destination, I do not order them to doubletime.

I gallop with my staff along the First Brigade (McClure). I thought they would require a closer look and a tighter rein than my other two brigades. In this picture, two regiments are passing through the Thompson farm.

All the movements of the First Brigade, although closely watched by me, are executed flawlessly by Maj. McClure (the game's AI). Here is the first brigade at the St. James Church road. They are readying to move towards the church.
The First Brigade moving towards the St. James Church, at full gallop.
McClure's Brigade is within sight of the church, some 500 yards west of it. It took this brigade some 19 minutes to complete their route.
The woods, the neutral stance that I ordered to McClure and probably other factors too are holding McClure in place. Which is good news, the least thing that I need is a premature engagement.
The realization that I have left two brigades (Whiting and Ames) to their own devices for twenty minutes chills my spine. I haven't got any messages from them, but I can see a courier galloping towards me from the north. Agh! Whiting has just spotted the enemy. I hope he doesn't get to eager or forced to engage.

At full gallop, I move north towards Whiting and Ames. This gives me an opportunity to inspect McClure's left flank (leftmost unit is shown in the foreground). Those rebels in the background appear a bit distracted.
Fortunately, neither Whiting and Ames have moved forward enough to engage those rebels in the background of this picture. That rebel cavalry is the flank of the enemy position. In the far background, the eagle icons indicate the objectives of this scenario (including the Confederate positions near the St James Church).
Whiting and Ames Brigades are ordered some 300 yards forward. This is my staff in the foreground and a Cavalry Regiment from Whiting's Brigade in the background. St James Church is located in the opposite direction of the road.
I'm very proud of my division's maneuvers, and particularly thrilled that not a single portion of my force is engaged in combat so far (I tend to stumble upon the enemy and get prematurely engaged). At this level of difficulty, it is extra difficult to control your own forces.

To be continued. Stay tuned.

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