Monday, March 25, 2019

The Battle for Oak Ridge: TWO FLAGS - ONE NATION ACW Rules

Have a "dental thing" I am getting taken care of today so this morning after the children and wife cleared out, I had an opportunity to play the first half of the TWO FLAGS - ONE NATION American Civil War rules.  The last few days, I'd been analyzing and building this scenario from a Johnny Reb III Scenario taken out of Scott Mingus' excellent "Enduring Valor" Gettysburg scenario book.

Rolling on my random events table for this battle, "piecemeal advance" is rolled and that means each Regiment from BOTH Brigades (there are options for just O'Neal and Daniel's Brigades to get piecemeal advance) Regiments must roll a 4+ to do anything but fire this turn.  The rebels move out.  It's not far to close the distance between Oak Hill and the ridgeline that anchors the extreme right of the Union flank at the moment.  Most of O'Neal's units roll fine and begin their attack.  Iverson's Brigade claws through the orchards and fields around the Forney house, and the Artillery limbers up.

26th Alabama Moves Out!

O'Neal's Brigade advances, tied in with Iverson on the right.
 The grid isn't being too finicky although I'm finding my eyes naturally move towards the grey colored markers instead of the flock ones.  Not that it matters much here, but the gray markers mark the center of a 1 foot square, they are not the squares themselves.

Iverson's men at the Forney house.  Next turn, small arms fire will break out between the 5th North Carolina and the 97th New York (upper left)

Daniel's men really are not feeling it today.  One regiment, the 2nd North Carolina, advances.

The limbered King William Battery at the Forney House.  There's an excellent firing position for the battery in the gardens behind the house.
The Union don't do much except re-position a Regiment from Baxter's Brigade to face O'Neal's onslaught of Confederates, who are within small arms range and are approaching their positions.

The random events for turn 2 yield a "advance turn clock by 1 result!"  The leisurely rebel advance is going to have to pick up the pace.  A sharp firefight breaks out at the 12th Mass' position and they fall back!  The Union have their backs to the wall, and the arrival of Paul's Brigade, while welcome reinforcements, mean that any failure of a Union Capability Test and the Regiment will retreat off the board!  There is just nowhere to go.

The rebels are on the Union positions in a flash.  So far, Baxter's Brigade has been invovled in the most fighting.
Rebels have gained the fenceline at the Hagy Orchard in front of Baxter's positions!  Next up they will have to carry the ridge!

General Robinson, commander of the 2nd Division, I (US) Corps, supporting the 90th Pennsylvania with his staff.  Pauls' men are in position behind them.

88th PA moves up to hold the line

The Rebels close and get an impressive "5" sixes!  Although the Union only accumulate 2 due to cover.  The 88th PA runs for the hills since they have nowhere to retreat to...

The Rebs push into the Union positions and the 12th Alabama has a toe-hold and is 1 square away from their primary objective.
 Meanwhile Iverson's men are skirmishing with Cutler's Brigade behind stone walls and in cover on the ridgeline.  The shooting is inconclusive for 2 straight turns and Iverson's men will have to go in with the bayonet.
Rebel toe-hold on the ridgeline.  A counterattack by the 88th PA fails 

Iverson's Brigade fans out!  He's facing tough troops behind stone walls.

The 12th Alabama, of O'Neal's Brigade, prepares to push further into COL Baxter's positions.  Iverson's Brigade, so much the talk of the actual battle for the casualties they suffered, have not featured prominently in this fighting.

rebel supports.  an assault by the 6th Alabama (lower left) against Union troops of the 90th Pennsylvania is beaten back.

You can just see elements of Daniel's Brigade as they change facing to orient themselves towards the Union positions.  The 147th Pennsylvania are anchoring Cutler's left flank.

90th Pennsylvania's new motto - "The Rock" given by Gen'l Robinson Jul 1st, 1863

Daniel's Brigade picking through neat, tidy farm fields.

The mess at the Wills-McPherson Woods as O'Neal's Brigade makes another push!
Well in game terms, it's 3pm and so time to get moving.  Top of Turn 5 where we will leave off.

  Paul's Brigade has come up, although not quite where I need them.  They'll force any Union unit that fails a cap test from casualties to rout off the table...  Ugh!

We've already lost 2 x Union Regiments from Casualties so far and the Rebels are starting to apply pressure to Cutler's Brigade now as well.

The game has played very well although I would have benefited from a hard copy of the rules instead of playing off my tablet completely.

One question I had was about leaders - A unit that must rout off the table (page 13 - due to friendly units blocking any square or hex for them to retreat into) has an attached Brigade Commander.  He passes his casualty check and so is still alive.  Can he just move to another hex or square?  What happens to him?  Page 16 says he may freely accompany the retreating unit.  What if they're routing?  Does he just go with them?

A real nail-biter so far.  The casualty conditions (40%) and the nature of the table really mean that the Union cannot afford to route another 2 units or they're toast.  Let's see what happens.  I'd love to play tonight and finish the battle.  Only 4 turns left.  The Rebs could technically push deeper into the position, well supported by their comrades (although no Brigade-to-Brigade supports since Rodes, their Division Commander, is not present.  All Brigades must use only internal supports).


  1. Exciting action, Steven!

    For your question regarding attached leaders exiting the board, the rules state (bottom of my P4), "commander will stay with and retreat with that unit - except if the unit retreats off board, in which case, the commander will remain in the current hex." I take that "current hex" is the hex from which retreat began.

    1. Cheers, Jonathan! Thanks for keeping me honest. The game has been a real nail-biter so far. Can't wait to see how it ends!

  2. Jonathan has that exactly right as per the Feb 2019 rules. I have just noted a line on page 16 that gives a leader more freedom. Page 16 is wrong and will need to be changed to reflect the text on page 4 (thanks).

    Enjoyed the action, especially as it must have been a big effort to get all the pictures and associated text done, with your busy schedule, so thanks again for giving this so much attention. Hope the dentist things goes well.

    The scenario is giving a tense game, helped by the 'right' die roll on the Events Table perhaps, good idea to move those events to the 6,7,8 slots.

    I am wondering whether on shallow battlefields, there needs to be an imaginary 'safe' row of the grid immediately off-board, to catch units that are still pretty viable that retreat off-board and are lost simply by virtue they are off the board, when in reality they would have moved just one more cell and be safe to return. Or in other words, do battlefields need to be either a tad deeper or have initial deployments a bit further in, off the base-line, or both? My typical board is 9 cells deep.

    1. THanks for your kind comments, Norm. I think the answer to your question lies with your intent. Do you want units, even with only 1 heavy casualty marker, to be able to exit the field quickly? If that's the case then probably best to leave it.

      In this case, the battlefield was condensed to 8 x 8 because of the way it shook out. Even had I expanded the length to 12, the width still would have been 8. The belligerents started roughly 4 squares away from the Union positions, which I would sustain because it lends a sense of urgency and distance to the Rebel mission.

      I was tempted to add casualties for every hex that the unit could not retreat, a la Commands & Colors, but I didn't know how badly that would evade from your intent, so it's good that your commenting!

      This rule does, however, bring the yanks perilously close to breakpoint and all the Confederates must do is shoot the *ell out of them and get them to fail Capability Tests. They could then walk onto the objective.

      I can think of historical precedents where reinforcements were so stacked up behind the frontline trace that this problem would resurface itself (Pickett's Charge at the Angle and the Copse of trees, where Union Regiments were in reserve packed behind the trace).

      The game has been a nail biter because every action is "important" if that makes sense. Every volley of musketry really needs to do something, and every charge needs to be effective. It's a lovely scenario!

      The events table has really helped set the stage and make the battle more historically plausible (even though Daniel and O'Neal were spectators to Iverson's assault). One could probably make a cracking TFON game with just Iverson's Brigade smashing into Baxter and Cutler's Brigades.

      What do you think about the casualty-for-hex if retreat is blocked idea?

  3. I think the idea is good if it stops a (very) viable unit from leaving play for good. I tend to think of units with zero to 3 or possibly 4 heavy casualties as still OK for offensive action, but beyond that, a defensive posture becomes increasingly necessary and once units start taking the retreat test each turn (5+ heavy casualties), then they really are on their last legs. So perhaps a compromise or a softening would be to only apply your rule to units that have say zero to 4 Heavy casualties on them when they reach the board edge. Those with 5+ can be thought of as having gained a certain momentum for flight that is hard to stop and they will exit the table. This better preserves the normally 'fighting fit' units, while still 'encouraging' the players to be mindful of the perils of that baseline and the cumulative effects if using the Brigade Cohesion optional rule.

  4. Thanks Norm. I totally forgot the retreat test rule this game as you will see in the next post.

  5. Fantastic pics and narrative, and those random events can really screw things up lol.
    These look like a fantastic set of rules.

    1. Cheers, Darren. These rules definitely scratch an itch of mine, that being larger games where a stand is an ACW regiment. I like the game because the combats are more drawn out. Everything you want to do takes time and you must manage your time and resources to win. Units are tough to dislodge and you have to use all of the tactics in your tool box - musketry, artillery, close assaults, and supports, to get an advantage. I really have enjoyed these rules so far and hope Norm puts out his AWI and updated Napoleonic rules soon!