Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Hat Baptism, Battle of Brawner's Farm - Regimental Fire and Fury

This past Wednesday evening my son, Justin, and I finally had the opportunity to play Regimental Fire and Fury Battle of Brawner's Farm using our 10mm ACW armies.  This has been a scenario I have wanted to play for along time and finally have enough troops to make it happen at home.  I have been a long time ACW history buff with a focus on the Iron Brigade which was composed of three WI regiments (2nd, 6th and 7th) along with the 19th Indiana and latter the 24th Michigan.

The Battle of  Brawner's Farm took place in the late afternoon early evening of August 28th 1862 as a prelude to the Second Battle of Bull Run/Manasas as the Union Army searched for the Confederates.  It is commonly referred to in Iron Brigade history as the Baptism of fire as it was the first action the entire Brigade fought in under BG Gibbon.  In the following weeks they would fight on and earn the famous moniker the "Iron Brigade".  On the afternoon of August 28th 1862 they were simply Gibbon's Black Hat Brigade and although they drilled superbly they had not been tested in battle.  That evening the four regiments of the Gibbon's brigade along with two regiments of Doubleday's Brigade along with Battery B 4th U.S. Artillery would face off against a majority of Stonewall Jackson's Corps in the fields of the Brawner farm and prove their merit fighting the confederates to a standstill until darkness prevented further fighting.  

To learn more on the battle there is a great article here:

The scenario is published in the Regimental Fire and Fury Scenario book and does a great job setting up the situation and giving troop placement along with historical movement restrictions.  The Union troops are greatly outnumbered, but the OoB limits the Confederate and Union reinforcement entry points as well as movement to allow historical results.

Justin saw the set up and decided he would play the Confederates.  I think he thought that with that many troops he should be able to come up with an easy win over dad.  We even recruited grandpa to come over and help the Rebels manage their large force.  Justin soon learned that history and good die rolling would prove difficult to overcome.

Below is a pictorial record of our results:
Scenario set up with initial deployments
Stonewall Brigade faces off against 2nd WI while the 19th IN and 7th WI move up
Wasting no time the Rebels aggressively Charge into the 2nd WI
At the same time Confederate Reinforcements move to threaten the Union right
The crack 2nd WI held firm against the charge and then fell back to align with the other regiments to poor in a tremendous fire that quickly thinned the Rebel ranks
After reducing the Rebel ranks Gibbon counter charged and drove the Stonewall Brigade back
This time the 2nd WI achieved a breakthrough while sweeping the rebels from the field
There were plenty of rebels on hand to meet the threat and push the 2nd WI back again
While the 2nd WI regroups the 7th WI and 19th IN dress their lines to meet the mounting threat
Gibbon pushes his line forward to the fence line to exchange volleys while the first of Doubleday's units moves up to support
On the Right Union Artillery proved overwhelming and broke up the initial advance while the 6th WI moves up to meet the next threat
Rebel troops move into the woods to escape the Union Artillery while the Rebel batteries deploy 
By the end of turn 3 the casualty count was 21-2 Union Artillery and devastating volley had proved overwhelming.
Knowing the casualties were mounting and he had to take the field the Confederates launched another massive charge
On the right without support the 6th WI would soon be over powered
The Union ranks were thinned, but the held strong and repulsed the Rebel push on the left
The 56th PA and 76th NY moved into position on the far left
By the end of turn 5 the casualties had risen to 36-10 reaching the 30% heavy causality mark for the Confederates
The Confederates tried one more time to charge the far left
On the right the 6th WI conducted a fighting withdrawal while union Artillery reduced the advancing rebels
The Union lines still held strong and the Confederate leadership realized their situation was desperate
After 6 turns all the Confederate reinforcements were on the board.  The numerical superiority that once loomed was now reduced to almost even.  The difference though was that every Union unit was still fresh while many of the Confederate regiments were now worn or even spent.  Facing four turns remaining the Confederates wisely decided to concede the field to the Union and preserve what was left for future battles.

In this game history sort of repeated itself with even better results for the Union.  Much of this is due to lack of experience on the part of my opposing commander.  In his defense we had played AWI the two weeks previous where Artillery was not that effective.  ACW Artillery was much more effective at a greater range.  He learned the hard way that moving troops in the open in front of Union guns was not a wise move. I will also fully admit that the first two turns my die rolling was exceptional with a lot of 7,8,and 9s never once  rolling low ammo once.

Overall a great evening bonding with family over toy soldiers


  1. We played this scenario from the book twice through, and both times the Union got absolutely clobbered. I think the scenario book has it all wrong.

  2. Hi i have shared your work on my 10mm Wargaming page and 10mm Wargaming group

    As always, comments are appreciated

    Take care