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Altar of Freedom – 1st Bull Run – 2nd Test game

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Here is the second game of First Manassas / 1st Bull Run.

Using the lessons learned from game one I made some changes.

First up I laid the scenery more carefully (you should be able to see the differences if you check the link to the first AAR). It does make a difference to deployment as the Union can only set up in a limited area, whereas the Confederates can set up anywhere south of the Bull Run river.

The main difference is that the hills under the table cover are gone. I just didn’t like them. Too big and making too many creases.

So with the table re-adjusted, the battle plans were changed a bit.

Johnston still set up to the west of the table using his cavalry to cover the Sudley area.

Beauregard had almost all his force covering the same crossing as last time – shortest route north to Centreville (!) His artillery supporting to the left of his flank.

For the Union, the main difference was the use of Hunter’s division to make a flank attack to cross Sudley Ford in the northwest.

Heintzelman would keep the approach from the west covered along with Hunter’s artillery and one infantry brigade.

Tyler and Miles’s divisions were used to defend the south of Centreville, but this time as a more coherent line.

The Map / table….

AoF v2 1st Bull Run (30)

Turn 1

Hunters’ cavalry move to the Sudley ford followed through the woods by supporting infantry.

Johnston sends two brigades over the Bull Run toward Heintzelman.

Beauregard crosses the Bull Run south of Centreville and intends to punch through the main Union lines with men and cannon. Union lines are disrupted but no severely.

Turn 2

Hunter’s cavalry push on to the ford.

Johnston has sent reinforcing infantry to Sudley to help stop the flank attack.

Jackson’s strong brigade pushes on in toward Heintzelman’s larger force (not sure how it got so close to the artillery without being affected by ZOC…?)

Heintzelman responds by shifting his force to stand-off against Jackson.

Somewhere a tired Union brigade is broken and goes to its HQ to rally.

Beauregard personally supervises the pushing of his right flank forward into the woods to outflank the Union lines (End of Turn adjustments are very useful and Beauregard has no choice but to save points for this action).

Turn 3

Jackson’s infantry brigade pull back to a newly formed Confederate line under Johnston’s watchful gaze. Union artillery is pretty disrupted with Heintzelman appearing to be on the defensive at this point.

The action at Sudley ford is vicious. Palmers cavalry attack Stuarts cavalry. The Union push back the defenders but now face a slightly surprised Bartow whose weak infantry are also pushed back. This leaves the two cavalry units now facing off again. The action swings back and forth but Palmer, without support is finally beaten back and the Confederates re-take the Bull Run crossing.

When the lines are drawn, Johnston and Heintzelman appear to have reached a stand-off in the centre of the table.

Beauregard pushes his attack and brings in his right flank infantry to bear down on the thin Union line.

Somewhere in the fighting, Jones’ strong infantry brigade are broken and at the end of the turn they rout from the table despite Beauregard’s presence.

Heintzelman’s rearguard are now close to the Union HQ on the edge of Centreville.

Turn 4

While the fighting goes on nearer Centreville, Sudley is again the centre of attention.

Hunter’s infantry brigade reach the ford and quickly force back Bartow’s weaker infantry who eventually decide to fall back toward their Divisional HQ.

Turn 5

The action is fierce in the centre ground this turn.

Beauregard orders Longstreet’s brigade to push the Union flank and does so in a series of combats that roll back waves of Union troops, tiring them as they fall back further toward Centreville.

Hunter and Tyler both lose their artillery this turn, a fearful blow.

Stuarts cavalry fall back from Sudley toward Johnston’s position. The Unions forces at Sudley are now over the river but a long way from their main force.

Beauregard pushes his infantry relentlessly across the river and toward the weakening Union centre.

Turn 6

Heintzelman moves to support the defence against the oncoming Confederates of Johnston’s force.

Jackson’s infantry have been successful in rolling back Unions forces over the last couple of hours but are now tired and taking the back seat by supporting other brigades.

Hunter loses Porters infantry when they break to sustained attack, weakening Heintzelman further.

Beauregard sends two rested infantry brigades (Longstreet and Bonham) through the woods to support Johnston’s attack on Heintzelman (these are pushed further along in end of turn adjustments).

Tyler and Miles remaining forces are now backed up to the town limits of Centreville.

The situation is looking grim for the Union who are on the edge of a major defeat.

(apologies for poor pictures here – the phone camera just isn’t making it this game).

Turn 7

Longstreet and Bonham’s forces move out of the woods to surprise Heintzelmans division. Making capital from this, Johnston withdraws back to the river to try to steady his tired troops and keep the crossing safe from the outflanking Union forces behind them.

Hunter’s cavalry and infantry move in on Johnston’s HQ, but so far from support there is little they can do but manoeuvre in the hope of finding a weakness and keeping Confederate forces pinned to this side of the river and away from Heintzelman.

Turn 8

Johnston keeps a rearguard to protect his HQ while sending the rest of his force forward to support Longstreet and Bonham’s attack on Heintzelman.

Beauregard himself has now joined his troops and supports them from the front line, the need for caution less now his other troops are pushing into Tyler and Miles’s lines.

The Union line near Centreville collapses with more breaking troops. The Confederates capture the Union HQ’ and the broken troops flee the field. To add insult to injury, McDowell is captured too.

Palmer’s cavalry and supporting infantry will have a long trek home as they are stranded on the wrong side of the Bull Run with a lot of Confederates around…

End of Game…

Less than half of the Union forces now remain on the table and with no General. A solid victory for the Confederate forces.

Final centre position and a look at the casualties racked up….


After two games, it seems pretty clear the Union have the harder game here.

Three key reasons I see are:

McDowell: with a weak General (and only one) commanding four divisions that he cannot give equal priority points to the Union commander has a hard time trying to move all his forces or to get control of the Turn Clock.

The Confederates have only two large divisions, and a general with each one. Both are able to move their forces, even if Beauregard has to use end of turn adjustments to do this. Beauregard’s forces may be slow but it is a large force.

Strong infantry: There are some five strong confederate infantry brigades that can really steamroller the Union forces. The only way of really stopping these is artillery, if the Union can get to shoot at canister range at them. Otherwise, they just seem to roll through the weaker troops of Heintzelman and Tyler.

Starting positions: the Confederates can start anywhere next to the river and can hold all the fords and bridges if they want. crossing the river can be done in one turn.

The Union start in a  limited deployment area and have to move to fill out their lines or to get to the river. This seems to put them on the defensive. To add to this, they need to protect Centreville. The Confederates could give up their side of the river and recapture it later if they wanted without the same morale and political effects of having a Town sacked or captured.

All in, the Union need to work hard to find a strategy that can win the game or even stand-off.

A fun game and some very hard fighting. The only rule that might have been forgotten at one point was Zone of Control but it wouldn’t have made a difference in that case.



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