donderdag 7 augustus 2014

A Corps level test - final battle before nightfall.

Claiborne and Beaumont’s evening battle, situation 21.00 hours.

Claiborne’s three brigades are formed in echelon with the veteran brigade on the left leading. This formation and approach would allow the artillery to bombard the base of the woods known to have Federal Troops.

Cummings 12th Division had two brigades behind their makeshift barricades with the sole veteran brigade held back as a reserve. The artillery would have an unobstructed field of fire on the approaching rebels.

The stalwart 10th held the left flank and were in a similar defensive position as the 12th.
The reserve artillery were parceled out to assist both divisions with their task.
Facing them were Beaumont’s division with two brigades forward with a third in line formation as reserve. Their artillery were to aid the main bombardment signaling the assault.

Situation at 21.15 hours.
Battle was well underway. The Federals behind their field works looked on in awe as the rebel line advanced. Their cheers were soon muted by the deafening roar of the artillery barrage.

Situation at 21.30 hours.
Two rebel regiments, one formed as skirmishers, took the first line of barricades located at the far Federal right. The situation looked promising as the bombardment was having an effect clearing the woods of Federal troops and destroying a battery.

Beaumont’s attack had reached the line of barricades. Having moved up in rushes, half the brigade moving full distance while the other moved far enough forward to render supporting fire, they were able to send some Federal units deeper into to forest seeking cover.

Situation at 21.45 hours.  
The 10th was facing a grim situation as the last unit of veterans fell to heavy rebel volleys. Likewise, to the right of the artillery position, another Federal unit succumbed and this meant further pip expenditure would be used to “hold” troops in place.

Situation from 22.00 to 22.30 hours.
General Gordon keeping a cool demeanor despite being the target of rebel fire still held his troops in check. Enduring the hell for another 30 minutes was too much for the 10th and they bolted with General Gordon leaving being the last to leave the field.

On the left, Claiborne’s troops finally cleared the woods and in doing so, destroyed a complete brigade of 4 units. The 12th now had the dubious honour of acting as rear guard for the 4th Corps as twilight was fast approaching.   

A quick evaluation
In a sense, the line of woods and breastworks delivered a false level of security. The breastworks were rendered useless if an artillery roll was favorable. Recoiling troops would return to their position now leveled flat.

The line of woods also hampered optimal control as some units in woods and further than 4BW required extra pips to move.

The combat outcome termed “edging forward” was used in the test which meant green troops behind breastworks would still leave them if seeing the opponents recoiling.  Most cases they would scurry back on the next shooting phase, themselves recoiling back, however, if caught in hand to hand combat the indiscipline would cost dear as it did for one unit.

Federal losses: 10th = 7, 11th = 5, 12th = 4, res. = 1, total losses 17/41 elements = 41%
Confederate: Anderson = 4, Beaumont = 1, Claiborne = ½, total losses 51/2/41 elements = 13%

Looking at total losses you could argue any reasonable Federal commander most likely would not have risked a third engagement and left the field to march north. At that moment, casualties would have amounted to 27%, but such calculations would not be known until days after the engagement. 

The Corps commander does have an idea to the state of affairs concerning his divisions. Two of the three were beaten but could stand and fight if the circumstances were good, hence the search for favorable ground. 

Next test
Two corps of unequal size simulating near historical strengths. 


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