The Battle Of Antietam

Stephen takes on the Union in this historical refight.

At a recent meeting we had an American Civil War game – the Battle of Antietam!

Being such a large battle, and the bloodiest in American history, we didn’t do the whole battle. Instead we focused on the action at the end of the day – the Union grab for Sharpsburg.

Our game took place after the battle for Burnside bridge. We set up the brigades as they were after the Confederates had been pushed back and Burnside’s corps advanced toward Sharpsburg.

Taking the Union were Jon Roche (Corps command plus Wilcox and Sturgis’ divisions) and Paul French (with Rodman and Scannon’s divisions). In control of the Confederates were Jeremey Claridge (Jones’ division) and Stephen Tucker (Hill’s division). There was no overall Confederate commander, with the two Confederate divisions (which were much larger than the Union divisions) acting independently.

The Union side also had a large artillery park with three batteries which were under Army command, so couldn’t be moved but would shoot at targets that came in range.

The Union objective was to get a brigade in Sharpsburg, the Confederate objective was to stop them!

Initially, Hill’s division was not deployed – his brigades were busily marching up the road from Harper’s Ferry to bolster the Confederate line. So at the outset the Union outnumber the Confederates. As such, the Union made an advance on the Confederate line. Not so on the southern edge – Scannon’s division was a bit tardy in its approach. Meanwhile, John deployed his artillery in a field, near to the Army artillery park, which would provide a powerful incentive for the Confederates not to counter-attack on that side.

Hill’s division came on, but was hampered in its deployment due to cramped conditions – it was proving hard to fit the brigades and artillery where they were needed.

Eventually the two sides came to blows – Jones’ division to the north around Cemetery Hill facing off against Wilcox and Sturgis, and Rodman (waiting Scannon’s arrival) to the south coming over Centre Hill.

The early part of the battle was going slightly in favour of the Confederates. The artillery to the north was making it hard to take the battle to the Union, so Jones’ brigades and artillery dug-in and pushed back the Union attacks.

On Centre Hill, Rodman came over the top, took a round of musketry, and then pulled back! Much to everyone’s amazement (not, least Burnside’s!). Paul did try to explain this (ahem) ‘cautious’ move.

But maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Because emboldened by this withdrawal, Hill advanced his brigades over Centre Hill and took the battle to the Union with a wild rebel yell. And paid the price for charging the guns.

Equally emboldened, Jones advanced Drayton’s brigade against the Union brigades and artillery to the north. After a round of pummelling from Union Corps and Army artillery they soon regretted it and hobbled back all but destroyed.

In the end our game had a very historical outcome – the battle just fizzled out. The Union didn’t have it in them to continue the push to Sharpsburg and the Confederates didn’t have it in them to counter attack. Like the actual battle itself, it was a no-score draw – both sides had taken so many casualties neither could carry the day.

My thanks to Jeremey and Andy for taking some pictures.

Gaslands Scenery

Andy makes some scenery for the Wastelands.

At Broadside back in June I bought some scenery pieces for Gaslands, as we have another of the Maidstone Wargames Society’s GASCAR’19 events coming up I thought I’d better get them ready. All paints are Vallejo matt acrylics unless stated otherwise.

First up is a set of four MDF gates from Blotz.

Each gate comprises eight pieces, the two halves of the gate, two connecting pieces, two bases and two number boards. These were assembled (apart from the number boards) using superglue.

Once assembled they were primed with Halfords grey primer, then sprayed with Rust-oleum metallic chrome. The bases were then painted with Black Grey, at this point I realised that spraying the bases with the Chrome paint wasn’t a good idea, as it was not a good surface to try painting with acrylics. After three or four coats the bases looked OK.

The number boards were given three thin coats of matt white; the numbers were painted Red one side and Green on the other, and the borders painted Black. Once all was dry, I added the number boards and gave them a coat of matt varnish.

Next up were some resin accessories from Debris of War; some Jersey Barriers, a Storage Tank and some Crates.

After cleaning up a little flash and filling a few holes I gave these a good wash in soapy water and once dry sprayed them with Halfords grey primer.

The Jersey Barriers were painted all over with Deck Tan, followed by a liberal wash of Army Painter Soft Tone wash.

The Storage Tank was sprayed Chrome, and, having learnt from the gates, I then undercoated the tank base and supports White. The base was painted Black Grey, the supports Deck Tan and the recesses of the ladder Black.

The crates were painted London Grey with Light Grey sections. I decided to paint the top panels in different colours, two each in Red, Intense Blue and Flat Green. The grey areas were then given a coat of Army Painter Dark Tone, and the coloured panels coat of the appropriate coloured tone.

I also did some scratch-built pieces. A while ago I found some sheets of corrugated cardboard in the recycling bin and thought “corrugated iron wall”. I also had some large lollipop sticks from a craft shop, 150mm x 18mm, bases I thought.

I cut the sheets into strips, scored the plain side of each strip along the centreline to make it easier to fold. I then coated one side of the carboard with PVA glue and folded the two sides together. When the glue had set, I trimmed the strips down to 20mm high, and cut them to length to fit the lollipop stick bases.

This left some short lengths which I ended up using to make some gate sections. I had enough sections to make eight wall and four gate sections. I then got the hot glue gun out, and assembled each base as follows: I laid a strip of glue down the centre of the lollipop stick and pushed a fence section into the glue and held it until it set.

The sections were undercoated Halfords grey and then the walls were painted Gunmetal Grey and the bases Black Grey. The walls were given a liberal coat of Army Painter Dark Tone wash. The excess hot glue was coated with PVA glue and some grass flock applied. Once all was dry they were sprayed with Matt Varnish.