Sunday, December 12, 2010

Antietam Scenario September 17, 1862

This is an American Civil War scenario I designed for Piquet Hallowed Ground. The scenarion is ideal for Hallowed Ground's Grand Tactical scale.

At this scale, units represent brigades and artillery battalions. The commands marked on the map are Confederate divisions and Union corps. The scenario lasts 10 turns.

The Battle of Antietam was a battle where General McClellan's Army of the Potomac had a tremendous numerical advantage over the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan squandered his advantages and attacked the Rebels without coordinating his corps. Any Antietam scenario needs to simulate the delays of Hooker's sister corps in coming to his support as well as the absence of Burnside's 9th corps for much of the battle.

Initially, Hooker has a significant numerical advantage near the West Woods. He is no slouch as a leader and his 1st Corps is very capable. The Confederate player should be biting his fingernails as he throws his available divisions against the 1st Corps tide as he tries to stem it. If Lee stops Hooker, there should be no time to breathe before those divisions then have to rush to stop the slow-starting Mansfield and Sumner in the center. Then the clock begins to count down to see if A.P. Hill will arrive in time to stop Burnside.

The Union army has the following troops divided among four corps and an off-board grand battery:
  • Hooker's 1st Corps: 1 elite rifled artillery battalion, 2 skirmish stands, 1 elite infantry brigade(Iron Brigade), 5 regular infantry brigades, and two militia infantry brigades. Hooker is Skilled.
  • Mansfield's 12th Corps: 2 regular infantry brigades and 3 militia brigades. Mansfield is Poor.
  • Sumner's 2nd Corps: 1 skirmish stand, 1 elite infantry brigade (Irish Brigade), 3 regular infantry brigades, and 4 militia brigades. Sumner is Poor.
  • Burnside's 9th Corps: 1 regular rifled artillery battalion, 3 regular infantry brigades, and 4 militia brigades. Burnside is Abysmal.
  • McClellan is rated as an Abysmal commander-in-chief.
  • Artillery Reserve: 3 heavy rifled artillery battalions fire at long range from off-board at any Confederate units east of the Hagerstown turnpike(The road running from the south board edge to the north board edge.) Treat as if it is a grand battery. The grand battery's line of sight is only blocked if a Union unit is within 9" of the target. All of its shots are treated is if they were frontal shots regardless of the target's facing..
The Confederate army has the following troops divided among 9 divisions and 1 grand battery:
  • JR Jones' Division: 1 skirmish stand and 2 regular infantry brigades. Jones is Average.
  • Lawton's Division: 1 skirmish stand, 1 elite infantry brigade (Hays' LA) and 2 regular infantry brigades. Lawton is Average.
  • Hood's Division: 1 skirmish stand and 2 elite infantry brigades (Texas Brigade and Law's MS Brigade). Hood is Skilled.
  • DH Hill's Division: 1 regular smoothbore artillery battalion, 2 regular infantry brigades, and 1 militia infantry brigade. DH Hill is Skilled.
  • DR Jones' Division: 2 regular infantry brigades and 1 militia infantry brigade. Jones is Average.
  • McLaws' Division: 2 regular infantry brigades. McLaws is Skilled.
  • Anderson's Division: 1 skirmish stand and 3 regular infantry brigades. Anderson is Average.
  • Walker's Division: 1 regular smoothbore artillery battalion and 2 regular infantry brigades. Walker is Average.
  • AP Hills's Division: 1 skirmish stand and 3 regular infantry brigades. Hill is Superior.
  • SD Lee's Grand Battery: 2 regular rifled artillery battalions. Grand battery. SD Lee is Skilled.
  • Robert E. Lee is rated as a Superior commander in chief.
Total strengths are:
  • Union: 1 elite artillery battalion, 1 regular rifled artillery battalion, 3 off-board heavy rifled artillery battalions, 2 elite infantry brigades, 13 regular infantry brigades, and 13 militia infantry brigades. 33 units.
  • Confederacy: 2 regular rifled artillery battalions, 2 regular smoothbore artillery battalions, 3 elite infantry brigades, 19 regular infantry brigades, and 2 militia infantry brigades. 28 units.
It's also important to note that designations like militia and regular don't describe the regular/volunteer status of the brigades. In Hallowed Ground, regular brigades are slightly better at melee than militia brigades. In this order of battle, the large proportion of Confederate regular brigades in the ANV reflects that most of the Confederate troops that followed Lee across the Potomac River were the battle-hardened veterans who were most committed to the Confederacy. Many of the Union troops were fresh with little combat experience. (Of course, this is Piquet, so your regular brigade might turn out to be Tired while the hopeless militia brigade next to those jaded vets rolls up as Determined and they fight like tigers!)


I determine the armament of my infantry units when I make the Troop Quality Check for each unit. I roll a d10 for each unit and if I roll a 6 or less (Confederates) or a 8 or less (Union) the unit is armed with rifled muskets.

The battle is a large battle and I recommend using two Sequence Decks per side. The Union forces should use two Abysmal decks and players can split the commands between themselves based on table location (maybe Hooker with one and Mansfield/Sumner using the other). The Confederate players should use two Superior decks. One deck should apply to Jackson's Corps in the West Woods and the other should apply to Longsteet's Corps near the Sunken Road and table area south of the West Woods. Divisions can switch from one corps to another for 1 Impetus on an Officer Check card as they are committed to battle.

The Confederate army gets 45 morale chips in its army pool. The Union army gets 60 morale chips.

West Woods and East Woods are Class II Woods.

The center ridge is a Class II hill for movement and LOS only and allows artillery to shoot over intervening units, but it is a gradual slope toward Sharpsburg and does not count as Class II terrain or superior/inferior position for melee or shooting.

The Sunken Road is Class II defensive terrain and superior position facing to the east only. The Sunken Road does not affect movement and offers no advantage whatsoever to the rear or flanks. The only section of the road that is treated as "sunken" is an area two brigades wide marked by the words "Sunken Road" on the map. The rest of the road is just a road with no combat effects.

Sharpsburg is a Class III town.

The Dunker church, and most roads have no effect on the game. You might want to give a road bonus to units moving in road column along the Hagerstown Turnpike. It runs from the south board edge to the north board edge.

Miller's Cornfield was in the north end of the battlefield and was a large field with tall corn. If you wanted, you could make the Cornfield on the north end of the table block LOS as if it was Class II woods, but it should have no other effect. Even that LOS effect is probably gone once a brigade has marched through it and trampled the corn.

The Confederates have to defend the following terrain objectives:
  • West Woods. If they lose the woods, the Confederates must give the Union army 4 morale chips.
  • Sunken Road. Worth 5 victory points to either side.
  • Road intersection just east of Sharpsburg. If they lose this intersection, the Confederates must give the Union army 10 morale chips.
The historical battle led off with Hooker's morning attack on the Confederate left wing in the West Woods. 12th Corps and 2nd Corps start the battle with all units out of command. Both of these corps took a while to get into the fight and when they did fight, their attacks were disjointed and/or poorly led.

Burnside's 9th Corps is a special case. Burnside spent much of the morning stalled behind failed attempts to capture the bridge that now bears his name. Eventually, the 9th Corps discovered it could cross the Antietam Creek at other locations. How do you simulate these delays?

In this scenario, Burnside's Corps becomes available on Turn 5. The Stratagem card is inserted into the Turn 5 Union Sequence Deck. After it is flipped, Burnside's corps appears on the east board-edge marked with his name after the Union pays the following impetus in any one Initiative: 14 impetus in Turn 5, 12 impetus in Turn 6, 10 impetus in Turn 7, 8 impetus in Turn 8, 6 impetus in Turn 9, and 4 impetus in Turn 10.

Robert E. Lee was also waiting for A.P. Hill's Division to arrive from Harper's Ferry. Hill is available on Turn 7. The Stratagem card is inserted into the Turn 7 Confederate Sequence Deck. After it is flipped, Hill's Light Division appears on the west board-edge marked with his name behind Sharpsburg after the Confederate player pays 4 impetus in any one Initiative.

NOTE: It is important to ensure that the Stratagem cards are in the Sequence Deck, so be sure to insert them AFTER you have removed cards and degraded the decks with additional Dress Lines cards.

Hill's Division arrives with its own supply of 10 morale chips. Burnside's Corps must be allocated morale chips at the beginning of the battle from the army supply like any other Union corps.

Union routers rout back toward their corps' entrance area. Confederate routers rout toward Sharpsburg. Once they reach Sharpsburg, Confederate routers are treated as if they routed off the table.

Advice for Union players:
  • You have several Command Indecision cards in your deck so never miss an opportunity to close with the Rebels and cause damage.
  • You face a tough decision concerning whether you want to wait to completely reorganize Sumner and Mansfield before they attack or throw their troops in gradually as they get brigades under command.
  • Give Hooker's 1st Corps plenty of morale chips. He can receive a lot, his troops are your best, and he can do a lot of damage to the rebels if you give him the resources. He is also pretty good at rallying his brigades, so his casualties might not impact your deck quality as much as the other corps.
Advice for Confederate players:
  • Get McLaws and Anderson moving north as soon as possible. Keep them in good movement formations to speed their arrival. You have good troops and leaders, but they need to be in the right places to help you.
  • Keep Lee near the action where he can transfer morale chips to divisions that are wavering.
  • Keep gambling. You're Robert E. lee.
  • Don't worry. Those flags you see are A.P. Hill's Division. Right?
So who wins? After 10 turns, add victory points to your remaining morale chips. Subtract the Confederates' remaining morale chips from the Union's remaining morale chips:
  • Greater than or equal to 30 = Crushing Union victory. McClellan eventually becomes president. He then makes himself King. Hooray for democracy.
  • Greater than or equal to 20 = Decisive Union victory. Great job. Lincoln ignores the fact that there is no pursuit. McClellan gets his triumph.
  • Greater than or equal to 10 = Marginal Union victory. McClellan is replaced by Burnside who obviously saved the day.
  • Less than 10 = Marginal Confederate victory. Historical result.
  • Less than or equal to 0 = Decisive Confederate victory. Great job. Your Piquet skills bested RE Lee's battlefield experience. Go buy yourself a beer and tell people all about it.
  • Less than or equal to -10 = Crushing Confederate victory. Army of Northern Virginia winters at the Lancaster Host.
Alternate victory conditions: If Lee dies in the battle, the Union player wins. If McClellan dies in the battle, the Union player wins. Just kidding!!!

Amended 12/18/2010 (Added skirmish stands. Reduced McLaws Division from three to two brigades.)

Amended 12/25/2010 (Changed impetus cost for Burnside's arrival to a sliding scale in order to make it possible for Burnside to actually arrive. :) )

Amended 01/15/2011 (Reduced J.R. Jones' Division from three to two brigades. Adjusted morale chip numbers in favor of Union. Clarified size of the Sunken Road)

Amended 01/31/2011 (Added Piquet notes for musket armament and sequence deck advice)

Playtests: 3

1 comment:

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