Refought by the big game fanatics from Mosborough
"I need not detain my readers with a narrative of the events and skirmishes immediately preceding the great battle of Gaines's Mill. The three or four days previous were mainly occupied in bringing the army to the situation which brought on this battle. Leaving all this, I beg my young reader's company while I transport myself back in memory to the morning of that bloody day. At 12 o'clock, A. M., our army was advancing by three roads. The immortal Jackson commanded on the left, Longstreet in the centre, A. P. Hill on the right.
When our forces had approached to within a mile of the Mill, they were deployed in line of battle, skirmishers thrown forward to feel the enemy and the whole line moved slowly but steadily on. Lightly and joyously did those gallant men advance. Instead of the sober faces and silent mien that one might have expected would be worn on so solemn an occasion, everything was gay and joyous. This was owing in part to the fact that all knew that the enemy was retreating in great confusion, and few, if any, anticipated the fearful strife and bloody scenes that would take place in the next few hours. The enemy was posted in an apparently impregnable position, about half a mile beyond the Mill, which is situated on a small creek and from which the battle-field takes its name.
Defiling over the little bridge that spanned the creek, our little army was again drawn out in the long line of battle, and with the same light indifference that host of gallant hearts moved on. A noble band were they. There mingled the sons of every State in our country. The orange groves of Florida and Louisiana had sent forward their offering, and the broad prairies of Texas had given their noblest hearts. The Arkansas boys, with their famous big knives, with the trusty Mississippi riflemen by their sides, were there. Stalwart forms from the grain clad hills of Tennessee, and the white cotton fields of Alabama, were there; while from Georgia, the Carolinas, and the Old Dominion, warm hearts and true, were on that fatal ground. Alas! how many of those hearts were soon to beat their last throb in death! But little thought they of that. Nerved by the justice of our cause, and cheered by bright thoughts of the loved ones at home, for whom they were to battle, that mighty band of brothers marched on. At 2 o'clock, P. M., the firing became quite heavy between our advance guard and the enemy, and at half past two it became general all along the line.
The rattle of the musketry was terrible and incessant, while the roar of at least three hundred guns formed a bass at once grand but appalling. The idea that any one man can form of a battle, from participating in it, is necessarily faint and imperfect. He sees what is going on immediately about him, but the flashing of guns, the roar of artillery, the whizzing of bullets and screaming of exploding shells, all combine to throw him into a state of excitement not the most favorable for accurate observation. In this battle our line extended from the Chickahominy on the right, across the country more than two miles to a junction of roads called Coal Harbor. Being in General Hill's division, I was on the right and in full view of the ground occupied by Hood's brigade and over which they fought.
In order that my readers may the better understand and appreciate the heroic deeds of the Texans on that day, I will give a short description of the ground. There were two hills of considerable height facing one another, the one occupied by Hood's brigade and some other regiments, and the other by the enemy. The hills were about four hundred yards apart and separated by a valley of considerable depth. Through the valley flowed a small brook and along the brook ran an old snake fence. The side of the hill occupied by the enemy and confronting our line, was covered with large oak trees, which sheltered and screened them from our view. You will see the magnitude of the deeds of the Texas Brigade when I state that the enemy were drawn up in three lines of battle. The first was in the valley and immediately behind the fence; the second was posted half way up the hill and hid from view by logs and the thick foliage; the third line was very near the summit and behind a small breastwork of earth and logs. Just in the rear of this last line, and on the highest point, were planted their batteries of artillery which played over their heads on our troops stationed on the opposite hill.
General Hill, seeing the havoc made by these batteries, and knowing the importance of gaining that position, had ordered brigade after brigade to storm it, but in vain. Our troops had dashed down to the brook several times in the face of the concentrated fire of the three lines and the batteries, but decimated and broken, had been compelled to retreat, followed each time by showers of bullets and the shouts of the exultant enemy. At last came the order, at about 5 o'clock, P. M., for Hood's brigade to move forward to the attempt. It was the last brigade of A. P. Hill's division, and with their failure, would end the success of our attack on the left wing of the enemy.
Never shall I forget that scene. It was a little after 5 o'clock. The sun was declining with that brilliancy peculiar to the early summer, but even his rays could scarcely penetrate the sulphurous clouds of smoke that floated here and there over the field. Amid the smoke and dust I could just catch glimpses of the line as it pressed forward into the very "jaws of death." Over the brow, down the bare sides of the hill they poured with cheers that rent the very heavens. Heedless of the leaden shower that rained upon them, the living mass sped on. The brook was reached, but they waited not. Through it they plunged, and scaling the fence, leaped right amidst the first line of the enemy. Amazed and panic stricken, the foe broke and fled up the hill with the brave Texans at their heels. The second line, confused at seeing their own men thus rushing headlong among them, and unable to fire from fear of killing their comrades, broke also and joined in the flight. Pell mell they came plunging upon their third and last line drawn up on the summit. Little time had they for explanations.
With wild shouts of victory our
gallant boys came on, but the Yankees waited not for the bayonet. Their whole
left wing gave way, and terrified, fled down the rear side of the hill towards
the Chickahominy. Then followed a fearful scene of slaughter. Between the bullet
and the bayonet many a Yankee found a grave that evening. The pursuit continued
until long after dark that night, and the next day, on walking over the track of
the flying foe, I saw terrible proofs that the pursuit had not been a bloodless
one. Well were the gallant men who fell that day, avenged. Almost simultaneous
with the rout of the enemy's left wing, old Stonewall pounced upon their right,
and flanking them, drove them headlong before him. Thus was won the battle of
Steve from the Mosborough and District wargames club Sheffield we spoke at Newark.
Sorry it's taken so long to get this together for you but I've had to wait for the pictures being sent through from my photographer, which can take some time, he's a very busy chap.
Right down to the nitty gritty, the following is the account penned by one of our resident gamers Martin Howroyd. The article appears on our website at the moment and is a taster of some of the stuff that appears on it. It is only a small site, (a mere 9 pages including the home page), but it does it's job to show who and where we are and what we do as well as let members and none members share opinions etc. on various aspects of gaming. So the article now follows.
Here's the battle report of the Gaines Mill run through.I hope this is okay, as I've never done this before. Before I start I must point out that anything that happened at the other end of the table is a rough account as I was busy trying to get a union brigade out of a wood so here goes...
General Lees advanced party, (commanded by Phil G), was already on the field by 12 o'clock on a hill overlooking the enemy redoubt in the centre of the field.General Jackson's advance brigades arrived from the valley on the left hand side of the battlefield, (and threatening the union right flank), at around 12 o'clock commanded by myself, (Martin H). I advanced my command to a farm on the union right and decided to halt there, unsure where General Lee actually was, and I had come under a little fire from Steve C's brigade.
Phil G's battery opened up at long range in an attempt to soften up the union defences, (mainly the redoubt), before the big push. Phil had also come under fire from Steve H and John's Brigades. By the 1o'clock turn Martins brigades began to arrive on our right marching down a road, threatening we hoped the union left flank. Unfortunately for Martin he could see the Union Brigades under the command of Brian H advancing towards him, so he quickly manouvered himself into supported line formation and took up defensive positions.
Luckily for Martin, Brian's advance was greatly slowed by swamps and broken ground.
Phil in the meantime started to advance on what looked like a weak spot to the left of the redoubt, unfortunately this weak spot started to get stronger as more of Johns brigades began to arrive. On the far, (Confederate), left, the rest of Jackson's brigades had arrived with Dave T's command arriving and moving along the road to the right of my position at the farm, so Steve C moved slowly towards us to engage. By 2 o'clock Martin had got all his brigades on the battlefield and in a position to hold off Brian's troops, (who were still having trouble with the swamps and broken ground. This factor enabled Martin to aid Phil, who was now ready to start assaulting the redoubt, which we Rebs really needed to take, But Steve H had got the redoubt heavily defended and it was not going to be an easy task.
Phil's other brigades were already engaged with John and Steve C's troops and they kept getting pushed back.
Hearing all the artillery and musketry fire, General Jackson decided to advance, so Dave T and myself began to go forward towards Steve C. Now Steve C had only had two brigades and a couple of artillery batteries to hold the union right flank, surely not enough to hold Jackson's entire army, which numbered some 14 brigades for long, how wrong we were!
After three or four hard fought turns Steve C's two brigades were still there and us Rebs were getting nowhere fast. In the centre Phil and Martin kept charging the redoubt turn after turn but kept getting pushed back, Martins other troops were still holding off Brian's command that were still having trouble with the adverse terrain. Phil was also attacking John's brigades but by now John had got the rest of his brigades in position so the "weak" spot had now gone and Karl's arrival meant more support for John. By now Steve C's two brigades were slowly getting weakened but Karl was now reinforcing him and the union right flank.
By now it was starting to get late in the day and the confederates were loosing on the casualties front, so we had one last great effort to try and take the redoubt, (this would be thirty victory points for us if we could get the union out but also thirty for them if they had a fresh brigade in it at the end of the game), so we went for it!
Phil and Martin charged the redoubt yet again and after a couple of hard fought melees, finally got a foothold in the redoubt. Phil also managed to sweep one of John's brigades from the field. Dave also charged one of Steve C's brigades, which finally could hold no longer and crumbled, Dave sweeping it from the field. This act enabled him to break onto one of Karl's units and to our delight swept that from the field also. I charged on of Steve C's artillery batteries and captured them both, but it was a little too late, although we closed the gap on casualties it was not enough and there was still a fresh union brigade in the redoubt.
So it's congratulations to the union players who played really well, Brian put Martin under a lot of pressure early on despite being hampered by the terrain. Steve H defended the redoubt very well and he made sure he wasn't going to give it up easily.
John, playing his first wargame did very well and got on with the rules, (Fire and Fury), no problem. Steve C supported by Karl on the right flank, I don't know how he managed to hold up so many brigades with only two of his own, but he did brilliantly. A great game had by, and played by all.
See you soon Martin H.
I must point out that when we played the same game as a demo at Newark we union players had a damn good stuffing by the Rebs.
If you enjoyed this battle report and are interested in our gaming etc... the following link will take you to our website...
ps the photos were taken at Partizan.
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