Old McDonald had a farm – E-I-E-I-O……….. Part one

And on that farm there was a scrap – E-I-E-I-O……

I’ve been waiting to play an ACW game for quite some time. It’s been such a long time in the offing despite having painted both armies in 15mm a few years ago. Whilst I’ve been painting over the past few months I’ve been listening to an audio-book trilogy on the ACW by Shelby Foote but the final impetus came when I bought Dave Brown’s “Pickett’s Charge” rules a few months ago.


These are available from the Too Fat Lardies website https://toofatlardies.co.uk/product-category/reisswitz-press/

I’m an huge fan of Dave’s rules, he’s produced quite a few over the years and though I’ve had an early version of Guns at Gettysburg for years I’d never got around to playing them. (As an aside I’m looking forward to seeing Dave’s Napoleonic Version “General D’ Armee” which is aimed at large Napoleonic battles and will be out sometime in 2017). So with a few days off I decided to play a solo game in order to get acquainted with the rules.

For the Union side I took the historical OOB of Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, chose Reynolds’s 1st Corps  of 3 divisions and added Gamble’s Brigade from Buford’s 1st Cavalry Corps though have made no adjustment for actual numbers just choosing to field units of a standard size either 24 or 20 figures strong.

For the Army of Northern Virginia I did the same, choosing to start with Hood’s division of Longstreet’s Corps, consisting of the Texas Brigade, Law’s Brigade and Anderson’s brigades deployed on the table with plans that Benning’s Brigade should follow. Depending how the game goes there is the option to add some of Pickett’s Division later on. Again units have been fielded with no reference to their actual historical strengths but just as standard units as defined under the rules

Initial table set up:

This gives a starting strength of 3 Confederate infantry brigades and 1 artillery brigade and 3 Union infantry Brigade and a Cavalry Brigade, with the later being deployed well in advance. While it seems daft to set up so near the table edge and waste time moving it has the advantage of allowing me to gradually familiarise myself with the rules as things cropped up. The table dimension is  8 x 5 feet and the features on its surface arranged somewhat haphazardly to provide some cover and tactical challenges. My plan is to let the game unfold  as I learn the rules and add new brigades as it seems sensible though with random dice deciding on both their timing and point of arrival.

So far I’ve managed 4 turns this afternoon at a leisurely pace

Turn 1 

The Union side won the initiative though the Iron Brigade fails a brigade command roll and hesitates while Robinson commanding the 2nd Division makes every effort to get the 1st Brigade (Paul’s) moving as Buford’s cavalry is vulnerable being totally unsupported and under effective artillery fire.

Fortunately on the Rebel side Anderson’s brigade being closest also fails a command roll and becomes hesitant giving Buford some breathing space. The Rebels decide to use most of their available staff officer postings to get the artillery on assault fire

Turn 2 

Union initiative again but this time Paul hesitates as does the artillery brigade and Law’s Brigade on the Rebel side possibly leaving the Texas Brigade  in the centre of the table exposed though they seem to be winning the race for Old Man MacDonald’s Farmstead. At least Anderson gets moving this time and the 8th Georgia take the first fire casualty of the game closely followed by the 76th NY as Hood’d skirmishers open up.

Its a good thing that this is a solo game – I seem to have forgotten to deploy the union artillery and decide that it must be lost and will come on according to dice throws – needless to say these are miserable!

Turn 3

Oops…. still no Union artillery but at least this turn the 2nd division’s 2nd brigade under Baxter arrives on the table and the dice determine that its near the middle back edge rather than on the left side of the table. Once it gets going it might push on through the centre and add help to Cutler’s Brigade in trying to drive Hood out of McDonalds!

Again the Union win the initiative, neither side has any hesitant brigades this turn so Hood pushes Law forward to protect the flank of the advancing Texans from the Iron Brigade by using the Double Quick Order whilst the Union distribute their staff officers to go for safety with brigade re rolls all along the line.

Casualties are now starting to mount up and crossing open ground the 8th Georgia take another 3 hits from the fire of 2 cavalry regiments.

Meanwhile on the Union right the advancing Iron Brigade despite being in the distant attracts the attention of the Confederate artillery situated on the hill

Turn 4

Where is that damned artillery? Somebody has really blundered with some shoddy staff work. By now the Union force has 3 brigades on the table but no supporting artillery. Baxter gets 3 of the staff officer points allocated to ensure the brigade would get a re roll if it failed its activation and  a double quick move to get it into the fight

There are recriminations on the Confederate side as well as Benning’s Brigade still isn’t up and there won’t be enough troops to hold this line at this rate but at least Anderson is now pushing forward and threatening to flank one of Buford’s cavalry regiments.

The cavalry continue to hold off the infantry with good and disciplined volleys , wisely the 8th Georgia dropped back as the 9th Georgia passed through it and take its share of fire. Forced to take a morale test, they see pass despite heavy losses. On the whole though, Anderson is getting the upper hand as Buford’s regiments are weakening, It’s high time Paul’s brigade got up to relieve them.


Finally on the Union right flank, the 19th Indiana retire whipped by the combined fire of the long range battery and a sneaky burst of canister fire by an artillery support just unlimbered aside the trees…


Oh where in the hell is the 1st Corps’ artillery?



About valleyboynz

A Welsh wargamer living in NZ
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10 Responses to Old McDonald had a farm – E-I-E-I-O……….. Part one

  1. Chris Gregg says:

    It all looks and sounds very nice indeed.

  2. cptshandy says:

    Splendid setup! And sounds like a good game.

  3. Purparama says:

    Absolutely awesome vb.

  4. Russell Briant says:

    Very fine site.
    In the process of listening to the “Britannia’s Fist” trilogy an alternative history by Peter Tsourgas of the American Civil war where Great Britain and France attack the Union (who are supported by a couple of Russian naval squadrons). Basically Union technology keeps defeating the darstedly Brits.

    It’s either this series or one like it that have inspired the Perry Miniatures British ACW what if figures.


  5. Very photogenic vb. Well done that man.

    “Pickett’s Charge” has been getting some good reports on the ‘net but what I’m more interested in is the incoming related “General D’Armée” rules.

    von Peter himself

  6. Carlo says:

    Cracking post Kerry and one close to my own heart as I am desperate to get some of my fellow gamers to play “Pickets Charge” as well. Your table is as good as any I remember seeing anywhere Mate – stunning!

  7. valleyboynz says:

    Cheers, its a great rule set I think and GdeA looks to be similar – can’t wait for that

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