Author Topic: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862  (Read 2197 times)

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Offline Tripoli

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The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« on: April 11, 2022, 11:29:32 AM »
Kernstown 23 March 1862

This is an ongoing AAR of PBEM game between Arizona Tank and myself playing  the First Kernstown  scenario using WDS’s “Campaign Shenandoah” game (https://wargameds.com/products/campaign-shenandoah).    Arizona Tank is playing the CSA, and I’m playing the Union.  We started this game after some of the comments.  We decided to play this game after a discussion in the “Books and Reading” thread on the battle.  See here: http://www.grogheads.com/forums/index.php?topic=26128.msg702149#msg702149  for the thread.

A bit of historical background regarding the battle. The battle was the result of Jackson’s orders to prevent General Nathaniel Banks from withdrawing his forces from the Shenandoah to reinforce McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign.  On March 21, Jackson received information that Banks had split his force.

 Jackson received incorrect intelligence that a small detachment under Col. Nathan Kimball was vulnerable.  In fact, Jackson was facing a full infantry division more than twice the size of Jackson's force. In command was Colonel Nathan Kimball, who was given temporary command the day before after B.Gen Shield was wounded.  Kimball had ten rifled artillery pieces on Pritchard’s Hill, a dominant position just west of the Valley Pike.  These guns drove off the CSA cavalry, which was trying to flank the position from the east.   

Jackson, seeing the Union position on Pritchard’s hill was too strong to flank from the east, tried to maneuver his two infantry brigades to flank it from the west.  Kimball, harassed by the fire of the Rockbridge Artillery and believing that Jackson outnumbered his forces, launched an assault on Sandy Ridge in an attempt to silence the battery. Colonel Erastus Tyler’s3rd brigade was ordered to attack the Confederate.   Tyler’s brigade advanced in column, and suffered significant casualties from the Confederates positioned on Sandy Ridge, behind a stone wall.  However, reinforcements from Kimball and artillery fire from Pritchard’s hill eventually allowed the Union forces to form their line.  The Union’s superior numbers, and the artillery on Pritchard’s hill eventually wore down the CSA.. After several hours of fighting, exhausted and running low on ammunition,   CSA BGen. Richard Garnett, concerned about his ammunition and the potential for an disorderly retreat, ordered the CSA forces to withdraw from Sandy Hill.

Partially in response to the battle, the Lincoln administration, concerned about the safety of Washington, DC sent substantial reinforcements, troops originally meant to support McClellan’s campaign against Richmond, back to the Valley.  Consequentially, despite being defeated, Jackson actually accomplished his mission.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/cebe/learn/historyculture/first-battle-of-kernstown.htm
https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-battle-of-first-kernstown.html
https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/kernstown-battle-of/



« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 11:56:50 AM by Tripoli »
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2022, 11:50:20 AM »
1300L 23March 1862

Since I’m playing the Union, and on the defensive, plan is pretty simple: wait to see how the CSA deploys, and use my superior numbers to blunt the offensive, then counterattack.  I anticipate that the CSA attack will largely develop along historical lines.  Because of the Union artillery on Pritchard’s Hill, I think Arizona Tank will have to flank the Union from either the east or the west, and the area to the east lacks sufficient cover and has a Union brigade (Sullivan’s 2nd Brigade) already holding the ground.  Because of this, my best guess is that Arizona Tank will flank me to the west, where there is more cover and concealment.  One of the interesting things about the deployment is that units of the 1st Brigade (84th PA and 67 OH) and 2nd Brigade (5 OH) are intermingled west of the Valley Turnpike.  And 1st Brigade 14th IN is for some reason deployed east of the Valley Turnpike.  This will potentially cause me problems as somebody (likely the 5th Ohio) is going to be out of command range of their brigade commander.  Additionally, Col. Kimball is so far to the rear that most of 1 Bde will be out of command range for a 1-2 turns.




« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 12:09:00 PM by Tripoli »
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2022, 06:22:26 PM »
Confederate Move, 1300L 23 March 1862

Arizona Tank opens up with an aggressive move straight up the middle, almost completely surrounding the detachment of the 8th Ohio located in Kernstown.  I had planned on pulling them back across Hoyle Run and forming the skeleton of a defense line  along the Valley Pike during my movement phase.  But it doesn't look like I'm going to get that chance.  They aren't even going to be a speed bump for the Confederate Brigade that will melee with them.  The only good news is that the 2 gun detachment of the West Virginia light artillery located along Hoyle Run scores a lucky shot, destroying one gun of one of the Confederate batteries deploying along the Pike.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 06:25:19 PM by Tripoli »
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Offline MengJiao

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2022, 08:48:38 AM »

Arizona Tank opens up with an aggressive move straight up the middle, almost completely surrounding the detachment of the 8th Ohio located in Kernstown.  I had planned on pulling them back across Hoyle Run and forming the skeleton of a defense line  along the Valley Pike during my movement phase.  But it doesn't look like I'm going to get that chance.  They aren't even going to be a speed bump for the Confederate Brigade that will melee with them.  The only good news is that the 2 gun detachment of the West Virginia light artillery located along Hoyle Run scores a lucky shot, destroying one gun of one of the Confederate batteries deploying along the Pike.


  I think in the Great battles boardgame version of this battle, I took the earlier start option, so the Federals can deploy much farther back and it takes the Confederates awhile to put an attack
together.  Plus I pretty much ignored the flanks as much as possible...But those stone walls can be very useful.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2022, 12:35:13 PM »
1300 23 March 1862 Union move
Sure enough, the 8th Ohio was overrun.  Now there is nothing blocking the CSA forces from charging up the Valley Turnpike, splitting the 1st and 2nd Brigades and threatening the artillery on Pritchard's Hill.  I shift both brigades closer to the pike to close the gap, but none of my units have enough movement points to close it. It is almost like Arizona Tank planned it that way.....

« Last Edit: April 14, 2022, 12:38:16 PM by Tripoli »
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2022, 08:43:45 AM »
I am unreasonably happy to be reminded that the JTS/HPS legacy rolls on!  :dreamer: :notworthy:

(Also with the "Campaign Series" at Matrix/Slitherine, of course.)
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2022, 04:54:01 PM »
I am unreasonably happy to be reminded that the JTS/HPS legacy rolls on!  :dreamer: :notworthy:

(Also with the "Campaign Series" at Matrix/Slitherine, of course.)

Yes, the John Tiller series is nice in that it provides a pretty good civil war game, and you can play just about any USCW or Napoleonic  battle on it.  I only wish the AI was better.

As I go through this game, I'm I'm going to try to illustrate some interesting "factoids" about the Civil War.  The first of these mini-essays is about the 8th Ohio, the 1st Battalion of which Arizona Tank overran on Turn 1. 

Historically, this unit was one of the more famous Union regiments in the Civil War.  Originally a 3 month unit, it became a 3 year unit in June 1861.  Its first real action was at Kernstown, where  it attacked and defeated a portion of Stonewall Jackson's force, while suffering almost twenty-five percent casualties.  It later fought at Antietam at the Sunken Road, where it took 50% casualties, but captured the road.  It participated at both Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville, largely as part of the the reserves.  At Gettysburg, the 8th Ohio helped to repell Pickett's charge, routing Brockenbrough's Virginia brigade.  It also participated in the 1864 Overland Campaign, including fighting in both the Wilderness and at Cold Harbor, where it suffered significant losses.  It was then placed in reserve until its enlistment expired in July 1864.  The hard fighting experienced by the unit gave it a dubious honor: more of its men died from hostile action than of disease.
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Offline W8taminute

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2022, 05:57:01 PM »
John Tiller.  Is he the guy that used to make those Civil War games for Talonsoft?

Offline Grim.Reaper

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2022, 06:10:56 PM »
John Tiller.  Is he the guy that used to make those Civil War games for Talonsoft?

Yes, he started there

Offline W8taminute

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2022, 09:13:55 AM »
^Cool.

I always like those short videos of re-enactors firing muskets everytime you ordered one of your units to fire.  That, for me back then, was really immersive. 

Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2022, 09:21:37 AM »
 On Turn 2, the CSA did exactly what I feared: He blitzed up the Valley Turnpike through the hole left by the routed 8th Ohio with a Brigade-sized force in column.  It looks like he will try to flank the Union artillery position on Pritchard's Hill.  Although I have the 2nd Brigade shift to the left, and 1st Brigade shift to the right as quickly as possible, the gap between the two brigades is too large to close before the CSA brigade pushes through it.  However, the 5th Ohio is in a position to melee part of the confederate brigade.  My plan is to try to disrupt AZ Tank's flanking move by meleeing and disrupting one of his regiments.  Hopefully, the Union artillery can deal with the other two. 

A second confederate brigade, supported by artillery is forming near the foot of Pritchard's hill.  I have a thin line of two regiments from the 1st Brigade form along a stone wall north of Opequam Church to hold.  The Union cavalry and 3rd Brigade enter the map, but are still several turns away.

 
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2022, 10:31:57 AM »
My melee attack on the confderate brigade on the Valley turnpike routs one of the CSA regiments.  But ArizonaTank's aggressive move by this brigade against my weak center means that his other two regiments have successfully flanked my artillery position on Pritchard's Hill.  Without any infantry support, it is very questionable whether the position will hold.



Meanwhile, on my right flank, two regiments of a second Confederate brigade have flanked my position on the stone wall.  Fortunately, the US 3rd Brigade has entered the map, and elements of the Cavalry Brigade are approaching the battle line.  On my left flank, the 13th and 14th Indiana are approaching the Valley Turnpike.  I should be able to seize the victory hex at Kernstown, which is a small consolation for the loss of Pritchard's Hill

More importantly,  his aggressive move has opened a gap between the CSA brigade on the Valley Turnpike, and the brigade that is flanking my right.  I'm hoping to throw  together what will effectively be a Union "Kampfgruppe", made up of a mixture of 1st and 2nd Brigade regiments on my left, and drive in this gap between his brigades.  I will then use the 3rd Brigade as the "hammer" to hit the CSA Brigade on the Valley Turnpike.  Right now, this gap is being covered by 3 batteries of unsupported CSA artillery.    I'm planning on keeping the 14th Indiana in column to attack this position before they all unlimber.  As an aside,   I'm surprised by the amount of artillery the CSA has.  Hopefully, the Union can  attrite some of the CSA advantage in this department.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 10:34:45 AM by Tripoli »
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2022, 11:36:50 AM »
1340 local time, 23 March 1861 (turn 3)

As I feared, ArizonaTank's two regiments successfully attack and destroy one of my unsupported artillery batteries on Pritchard's Hill, and are posed to take the second battery, and there is nothing to stop him.  My two regiments at the stone wall at the foot of Pritchard's hill are similarly at risk of being flanked and defeated by his second brigade.  However, I have several pieces of good news: 1) The 8th Ohio rallies and will be able to offer some support at the stone wall; 2) The 13th and 14th Indiana were able to close a Confederate battery before it could unlimber and will be able to melee it; and 3) Most importantly, my cavalry, and Tyler's 3rd Brigade are arriving on the field.  I'm going to move the cavlry brigade to my right flank to shore up the defenses at the stone wall, while the 3rd Brigade moves into the center.  My plan is for it to attack and defeat the unsupported Confederate brigade that advanced across  Hoye run.



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Offline Tripoli

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Re: The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2022, 11:04:40 AM »
1400 23 March 1862

ArizonaTank is on a roll.  His Confederates overrun the second Union battery on Pritchard's Hill.  And his attack on the stone wall routs  the 84th Pennsylvania on the far right position along the stone wall north of Opequam Church.  The 67th Ohio is my only combat effective unit on my entire right flank.  And the Confederates have just flanked it's position......

1400 23 March CSA Move


The 67th Ohio is going to have to hold on at the stone wall to buy time for Broadhead's Cavalry to deploy.  I'm gambling that the Confederates on my right flank are disrupted after their successful attack on the stone wall and Pritchard's Hill, so they will not be able to fully exploit their success. The Third Brigade deploys along the Valley Turnpike.  My hope is to squeeze the disrupted Confederate units between Broadhead's Cavalry and the 3rd Brigade and defeat them. As a first step in this plan, the 3rd Brigade surrounds the 42nd Virginia along the Valley Turnpike.

1400 23 March USA Move





« Last Edit: September 01, 2022, 11:08:41 AM by Tripoli »
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” -Abraham Lincoln