The Whirlpool is the second scenario from Longstreet Attacks and depicts the Confederate attack against the Peach Orchard, Houck’s Ridge and Stony Hill. Beginning at 4:20 pm and lasting until 7:20pm, this game spans 10 turns with a tightly contained play area centered around these geographic features. Victory is determined by control of objectives at the end of the game.
After a preliminary bombardment that disrupted some of the Union’s gun line, the Confederate attack made some progress with Anderson’s brigade pushing up to Stony Hill, Benning’s threatening the Peach Orchard and Robertson approaching Houck’s Ridge.
Having introduced artillery for this scenario, it proved deadly and effective at checking the Confederate advance. The Union continued to hold the line as Kershaw and the rest of Benning arrived to buttress the Confederate positions. In a stunning display of bravery, the sole 68th PA drove Anderson off Stony Hill but was repulsed after a hasty firefight. Meanwhile just south of the Peach Orchard, Kershaw collided with a gun line consisting of the 5th Light batteries, taking steep losses but effectively putting that battery out of action. Ensuing enfilade fire from the 9th Light battery sent Kershaw back, thereby leaving the Peach Orchard unoccupied.
Approaching 6:00 pm, Benning’s attack on Stony Hill was blunted by a timely activation by Sweitzer’s brigade which took positions along the heights. Kershaw was able to rally and moved forward to occupy the Peach Orchard and attempted to push against Brook’s brigade but was forced back into the orchard. By 6:20 pm, Cross’ and Kelly’s brigade counterattacked into the Peach Orchard, mangling Kershaw in the ensuing carnage. Out of 6 regiments, Kershaw had only 2 hanging onto the Peach Orchard.
2 more Confederate brigades arrived on the field, with Wofford’s thrown straight into the action. But after their first attacks, they failed to inflict major losses on the Union. Semmes brigade arrived as well and positioned itself to attack Stony Hill the following turn. Robertson and Anderson took the time to recuperate and ready themselves for another attack on Houck’s ridge. When that attack finally materialized, Hood was able to only activate Robertson, which had to go in by itself. Despite this, they were temporarily able to seize Devil’s Den before being shaken, depleted, and forced back.
During this time, several large Union brigades were able to arrive and solidify their positions. Playing this solitaire, I called the game on the penultimate turn as the Confederates were low on manpower and unable to secure the requisite objectives to force a draw, much less a victory. Essentially, the Confederates were unable to capitalize on early gains and did not disrupt the Union’s defensive lines enough to balance for the larger brigades that eventually arrived. Command activations were in favor of the Union, despite their obvious command deficiencies. With this scenario done and some more rules practice, I am ready to get the grand campaign, Hammering Sickles onto the table. By not focusing on a narrow front of an already narrow battlefield, hopefully we can get a fuller picture of the battle and Confederate battle prowess.