Tuesday 27 March 2018

ACW action: Cedar Creek

I needed a small ACW scenario to amuse some new players for a morning. One that I hadn't played yet was Cedar Creek (1864), written by Crispin Matson. This is just 8 turns long and has 8 units a side, ideal for a small learner game with 4 players.

Confederate column intent on acquiring Yankee food, shoes and tobacco.
Pendraken figures painted by Jean-Louis - nice job!

It also includes a couple of units of cavalry for both Union and Confederate, which is a bonus; quite often in ACW battles the cavalry is limited in numbers or absent entirely. Historically it was a real see-saw "game of two halves". Initially the Confederates achieved total surprise while the Union commander General Sheridan was over 20 miles away, routed or drove off 7 Union divisions taking many prisoners and guns, and overrunning the Union camps. While they were reorganizing (aka pillaging the camps), Sheridan turned up, sorted out his army, and launched a devastating counterattack. The Confederates were crushed.

The battle is nicely summed up by a quote from a Confederate veteran, the gist of which is "There were two errors on that day. The first, on the Union side, that General Sheridan was absent; and on the Confederate side, that General Early was present." Jubal Early's own version was "The Yankees got whipped and we got scared."

Our game generated some of that see-saw feel. Our newest recruit, Theo, playing Early's subordinate, Gordon, indeed routed some Union troops and overran some camps. Our Early himself displayed a mix of recklessness and passivity, first getting half his cavalry killed trying to storm a bridge in mounted column, then once his nose was thus bloodied, hanging back and failing to support Gordon. Despite this, one of Gordon's brigades managed to get into Middletown in the Union rear. At game end it was still there, but nearly every other Confederate unit had been driven off or destroyed by superior numbers once Sheridan arrived to get them moving. This was close to a par historical result and therefore a glorious and sanguinary draw.

I was impressed by Theo who grasped the rules quickly, despite not even being a regular wargamer beyond a bit of Warhammer (I think). I hope the club will see more of him.

Crispin's Cedar Creek scenario is in the BBB Yahoo group files.