Saturday 30 July 2016

ACW Campaign: The Battle of Auckland Junction (Glory Haleluja!)

Paul made it up to the frontier for this week's game, the next in my mini campaign in the fictional Durham Valley set during 1862.

Last time Union forces finally gained a foothold in the valley after wrestling Stanhope Tavern and the vital supply route into the valley from the Confederate forces. These had put up a magnificent resistance and then executed a swift withdrawal in the face of the much bloodied Union Army of the Northumberland under Major General 'Bloody John' O'Reidy. The Confederate commander directed the battle from his litter as he was still recovering from a wound received a week earlier. His successor Lt. General Thomson van Paulus, had been 'otherwise engaged' at the time of the battle but appeared to take over command as the Confederates slipped away towards the important railhead of Auckland Junction.

I threw a few dice to see if the Confederates would all retreat in the same direction and unfortunately only the Texans and one of the veteran brigades withdrew on Auckland Junction. The cavalry and the freshly raised brigades were nearby but the other brigade has taken a more easterly route and was too far away to offer any support. No further reinforcements were available at this time.

The Union forces had pursued the retreating Confederate army, splitting into two corps in order to try and catch the enemy between them. Major General O'Reidy took the northern force that ended up pursuing but single brigade of Confederates, while the previously disgraced Major General Ashton Collins was, as next senior, reluctantly given command of the southern corps. Collins' forces moved slowly and arrived at Auckland Junction piecemeal. The cavalry and a brigade of rather dubious quality 'green' troops were first on the scene, the former approaching the town down the railway line while the infantry appeared to the west. There was no sign of the remainder of the Union force. The Confederates decided to stay put and await the Union attack. The cavalry dismounted and began to skirmish with the troops holding the town, while the infantry brigade moved (swept it wasn't as that implies some speed, which was sadly lacking!) around the Confederate left flank.

 The battlefield looking south. Union cavalry skirmishing in front of Auckland Junction. In the far distance a brigade of infantry advances down the road.
 Confederate defenders of Auckland Junction.
 The leading Union troops break down into skirmish order and occupy the orchard.
 More Union troops pour (more like dribble) onto the battlefield.
 Zouaves advancing in the centre with elements of the 'Iron Brigade" in the distance.
 The Union attack on the Confederate left is stalled by the arrival of the their cavalry. The Union troops are badly shaken and with three out of four regiments 'whipped' the brigade pulls back broken.
 The 'Iron Brigade' in the centre unable to make any progress against the dug in Rebs!
 The Union right in disarray! And out of the battle!
 In the centre the Zouaves take a hammering and fail a break test, becoming 'whipped'. The rest of their brigade and the dismounted cavalry trade shots with the Confederates, now reinforced by a freshly raised brigade. The Union troops get the worst of the exchange and the dismounted cavalry are broken and obliged to pull back.
 More Union troops push towards the Confederates in the town.
 Meanwhile, my remaining troops had been making very slow progress through the woods before bursting out of them onto the Confederate right flank. They surged forward, taking heavy fire, but slowly gained the upper hand, forcing the Rebs (who were mainly freshly raised) back and overrunning a battery of artillery.

 The Confederate right pulls back.
 The Union centre is unable to make any progress towards the town and grinds to a halt. The bungling Union commander Major General Ashton Collins is mortally wounded by a stray shot (but from which direction?)
 The whipped Union right, going nowhere.
 The Confederate defenders are being slowly worn down by Union artillery fire.
 Hanging on, despite being disordered and one casualty short of being shaken.
 The Iron Brigade supported by artillery poised to make another attack on the weakened Reb defenders.
 Back on the other flank the Union troops continue to push their enemy back.
 The Iron Brigade assault the town. Closing fire from the defenders is ineffective and in the melee they are broken.

 The Union left sweeps along the Rebs lining the fence line and breaks them.
A counter attack by the Confederates to try and eject the Union troops from the town is shattered.

We had to finish the game early but I played out the last couple of moves myself to see if the Union attack would succeed or not.  Fortunately it did better than I could have hoped for. Paul and I had fully expected the attack on the Union left to succeed and roll up the Confederate flank, but the collapse of the garrison was an unexpected bonus.

The Confederates were able to extricate their battered forces, covered by their cavalry. The Union troops were in no state to pursue so busied themselves looting Auckland Junction. 

Again the new rules in the supplement worked well. It wasn't the most exciting game for Paul as the defender but it was a pleasant way to spend a very rainy July day.

I now need to decided what course the campaign will take.


  1. Cheer, Boys, Cheer! Grand looking game with the right outcome of course too! I look forward to the next one.

  2. Thanks David. I was waiting for SOMEONE to comment and I knew you'd be the first! Thank you.

  3. Sounds like a great game, like the period photos aswell!

  4. Very nice report Colin. The table and figures look wonderful. Would love to see a few shots of them in all of their colourful glory as well if you get a chance.