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The First Battle of Kernstown, 23 March 1862

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Tripoli:
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/



Tripoli:
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.




Tripoli:
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.

MengJiao:

--- Quote from: Tripoli on April 11, 2022, 06:22:26 PM ---
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.


--- End quote ---

  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.

Tripoli:
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.....

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