Friday, October 7, 2016

The Battle of Salem Church or 2nd Fredericksburg

The Battle of Salem Church or 2nd Fredericksburg

Historical Situation

In the spring of 1863 the Army of the Potomac opened it’s offensive against Richmond with a huge turning movement to unhinge Lee’s defenses overlooking Fredericksburg. The maneuver worked and Hooker took the Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock River and into the tangle of woods known as “the Wilderness”.  At a point marked on the map as Chancellorsville Hooker came to a halt and promptly lost his nerve.

Lee responded by leaving only a covering force near Fredericksburg and turned to face Hooker. The result was one of the most startling victories of the war as the Army of Northern Virginia broke Hooker’s army. But Hooker had left the VI Corps under John Sedgwick to pin the Confederate forces. Realizing that the bulk of the Confederates had been drawn off Sedgwick’s men carried the high ground above the town on May 3rd, and then pressed on to join the rest of the army to the west. The Confederates withdrew before the Union advance and, once reinforced turned at Salem Church with the aim of destroying VI Corps. (From Black Powder. Glory Hallelujah)

Map from Library of Congress. Our game board concentrated on the relatively open area around Salem Church and the road. Woods flanked the open areas which contained small buildings, fences and fields.
Scenario Notes

The scenario was a composite drawn from a number of sources. The game scale was 22mm. or 1/72 and played out on a 8' by 4' table. Figures used were Airfix, Musket Miniatures, Italeri, Revell, IMEX and probably a smattering of other manufactureers. The rules used were an early version of On to Richmond with some modifications including organization.


On to Richmond is based on a basic six (stand) element brigade. As the game organizer I divided a historical brigade into two "wings" thus creating two halves of a "demi-brigade. For example Wofford's Brigade or McLaw's Division had an "A" component of 6 stands and a "B" component of 6 stands.

I diced for unit ratings and commander ratings to add to the Fog of War aspect.

Since this was the first ACW game I was running in about 25+ years (with the assistance of JZ) I wanted a straight forward, stand-up fight to learn the rule basics. That's exactly what I got!

Order of Battle

Confederates  JimZ and MikeS

McLaws Division (Command Figure-McLaws, MP=  5 )  JZ

Wofford’s Bde-5 regiments (6 stands x 2)
A. Regular CV 4
B. Regular CV4

Semme’s Bde-4 regiments (6 stands x2)
A. Regular CV4
B. Veteran CV6

Kershaw’s Bde-5 regiments (8 stands x2)
A. Regular CV4
B. Regular CV4
3” gun battery

Anderson’s Division (Command Figure-Anderson (MP=5  )  MS

Wilcox’s Bde-5 regiments (6 stands x2)
A. Elite CV6
B. Green CV3

Mahone’s Bde-5 regiments (6 stands x2)
A. Regular CV3
B. Regular CV3
12# gun battery

Batteries to be attached to the bde  (A or B but not in same bde) of your choice

Federals (Major General John Sedgwick-present, MP= 2  ) BruceR and JustinR

1st Division General Brooks (Command figure-Brooks, MP3   )  BR

Brown’s Bde, 5 regiments (8 stands x 2)
A. Regular CV4
B. Veteran CV6

Bartlett’s Bde-4 regiments, (8 stands x 1)
A.Green CV3

Russell’s Bde-5 regiments (8 stands x 2)
A. Green CV3
B. Green CV3

1-3” gun battery
1-12# gun battery

3rd Division General Newton (Command figure-Newton, MP= 5  ) JR

Shaler’s Bde-6 regiments (8 Stands x 2)
A. Regular CV4
B. Veteran CV6

Browne’s Bde-4 regiments (8 stands x 2)
A. Regular CV4
B. Regular CV4

Wheaton’s Bde-5 regiments (8 stands x 2)
A. Veteran CV6
B. Regular CV4

1-3"gun battery

Batteries to be attached to the bde  (A or B but not in same bde) of your choice

Because I was running the game I had not planned on taking pictures. About 1\2 of the way through I snapped 6 quick pictures with my iPhone-all from the Union side looking across at the CSA forces.

The center of the game board around the church. The labels are used to ID the command figures and units. CSA Anderson is on the CSA right, McLaws just to the right of the road as you view the picture. Mahone's command is split to either side of Salem Church. On the Union side Brook's Division is split with Brown and Bartlett on the left while Russell's two green units or on the extreme right. Newton's Division is coming up the road in the center but hindered in a traffic jam.

The bulk of Mc'Law's Division with Kershaw's Brigade on the extreme right of the picture. Semmes and Wofford are facing Browne from Newton's Division in the center of the picture. Russell of Brook's Division is on the right facing Kershaw.The Rebs would eventually seize the fence line and along with Mahone's units "just would not leave" according to JustinR playing Newton's role.
Brown's Brigade from Brook's Division facing Wilcox's Brigade of Anderson's CSA Division. One half of Mahone's Brigade is adjacent to the church facing Bartlett's Brigade which is out of sight.
A nice shot of Brown's Brigade on the left and Bartlett's single unit behind the church represented by the 5th NY Zouaves. Bartlett would eventually route as would 1\2 of Brown's Brigade. Mahone's Brigade (CSA) would be severely punished between Brooks and Newton but held thus clinching a CSA victory.
Elements of Newton's Division stacked up. The Union was never able to deploy it's numerical superiority. This was compounded by the fact that McLaw's Division was able to take out Newton and 5 morale passes at a critical juncture. Brooks and Sedgwick were also taken out and that cost the Union another 8 morale passes. It was a bad day to be a Union commander. The CSA commanders all survived.
Kershaw's Brigade anchoring the CSA left. The 1\2 brigade in front would suffer 50% casualties but not before it routed 1\2 of USA Russell and driven back Russell's supporting artillery.

Which ever side controlled the church and road would get a major victory. Anything less than that would be determined by units routed and casualties. The center of the board obviously became a focal point and as it it turned out it was a major CSA victory. The Rebs controlled the key part of the road and the church as well as routing three Union units. No CSA units routed although a couple were reduced to half strength or less. A splendid time has had by all.