Friday, July 14, 2017

Nashville 1864

Hood’s army has been on half rations, dug in on the cold hills overlooking Nashville for nearly two weeks, waiting for a miracle to deliver the city to this ragged, outnumbered force. Instead, on December 15, 1864 Thomas’ blue-coated legions begin marching out of their fortified lines to attack the Confederates. This is not quite what Hood was hoping for.

We played this scenario Thursday, using the Bloody Big Battles rules. The notes said the Confederate CO might need some Southern Comfort to calm his nerves. I preferred a glass of Jameson’s and took command of the soon-to-be Lost Cause. The victory conditions make it hard for the Union to claim a win, although the Confederate “victory” conditions would mean a slower paced retreat, rather than the stampede that ended the actual battle. Either way, Hood’s army will fall back, barring a miracle. Union units/commanders hereafter and in photos are in italic.

Bill played Thomas and Rick played cavalry CO Wilson. I played Hood while Ken played Cheatham and SD Lee. Bill lobbied for some spirits too. I caved and poured him a Calvados. The wisdom of this will be discussed anon.

This is the scenario map showing objectives.
And my less than stellar rendering of it on the table:
The Union started with a major threat to our right flank.

More Union troops poured out of Nashville.

And here my troubles began.

Not seen in the photos, French’s division is pulled out of Redoubts 4&5 on the extreme left and sent over to the crumbling right. The move was completed under cover of night.
A new line was set up with most units entrenching. There was a considerable hole in the left center. Soon the Union host was on us again.
Bill graciously reminded me that I had forgotten Rucker’s cavalry unit on the extreme left. They began marching to rejoin the rest of the army. We rolled for a 50/50 chance to receive Forrest’s two cavalry divisions behind enemy lines. As in the actual battle, they didn’t show.

Things really heated up.

Not shown in the photos, Kimball’s division of IV Corps broke clean through the hole in our left center, shot Hood and seized the Granny Smith Pike objective on the last turn of the game. It was the only objective taken by the Union, who needed 6 for a win. Of course, this Confederate “win” was in scenario terms only. The tattered remains of the Army of Tennessee would have to fall back during the night. The Yankees would be too battered to pursue closely, especially since Wilson’s Cavalry had taken heavy losses. Hood was moderately wounded but died of the infection that set in after the bullet was removed. This would save a lot of ink in post-war arguments with Joe Johnston and others.

We played 10 game turns and one night turn in slightly less than 4 hours, 30 minutes. This argues against us having distilled spirits around the game table again. I do think some errors were made that can be attributed to elevated spirits, pun intended.
Confederate losses were 6 infantry stands, with 2 run off and 1 artillery stand. Union losses were 10 infantry/dismounted cavalry and 1 cavalry run off.

The Union flanking move on the first day was very successful, unhinging our line and virtually destroying Cheatham’s Corps. But then it came on frontally against our new line. I think that had they also threatened our left and forced us to stretch our lines, they would have done better. The hole in our left center was exploited too late, by too few troops. I wouldn’t mind playing this again from the Union side but no one seemed interested. I’m out of town next week so no game. We’ll see what transpires later in July.

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