Hammering Sickles – Longstreet Attacks (Revolution Games)

Hammering Sickles is the grand campaign of Longstreet Attacks, showcasing the entire day’s fighting as Longstreet’s corps, with support from Anderson attempt to flank the Army of the Potomac’s position on Cemetery Hill. Victory is determined by seizing objectives and holding them, in addition to inflicting casualties on the opposing force.

4:00 pm

The engagement opened with a Confederate artillery bombardment, inflicting some casualties on U.S. batteries but leaving the small skirmish line in place to screen the eventual Confederate advance. Hood’s division began its maneuvering as Law headed northeast to occupy Big Round Top. However, Robertson was hampered by the Rebel Fatigue chit and was delayed. In response, Barnes was able to activate Vincent’s brigade, dispatching them towards Little Round Top.

4:20 pm

Ayres division was delayed but more batteries of the U.S. artillery were activated and moved forward to stymie the Confederate advance. Law’s brigade was hampered by the Rebel Fatigue chit and was unable to advance onto Big Round Top. The rest of Hood’s forces (Anderson, Benning and Robertson) pushed back the U.S. skirmish line and advanced towards Houck’s Ridge.

4:40 pm

Hood’s attack on the southern tip of the ridge was repulsed, battering both Benning and Robertson, while Law finally reached the summit of Big Round Top. McLaw’s division was made available for activation but made little head way as the advance of Semmes and Kershaw was plagued by Command Confusion and Rebel Fatigue chits. Barksdale and Wofford did close, with the former contesting entering and contesting the Peach Orchard. To the east, Ayres division was successfully activated, bringing Weed and Burbank on to the field. Weed diverted to the center of the line, while Burbank moved towards Little Round Top to support Vincent.

5:00 pm

McLaw’s continued the assault on the Peach Orchard, with three of his brigades engaged, with Semmes in support. The U.S. brigades reeled from the attack; their constituent regiments comprised of lower cohesion ratings. Ward’s brigade held onto Devil’s Den and its precarious position was aided by the arrival of Burbank just east of Big Round Top. This arrival forced Law to adopt a defensive posture, disrupting its ability to turn the flank. Compounding this development, Hood was wounded thereby hampering his division’s ability to activate and effectively attack.

5:20 pm

Turning away from counterbattery fire, the Confederate guns targeted the Peach Orchard and shattered Brewster’s brigade, forcing his regiments off the ground. Barksdale and Kershaw followed up by sweeping the Orchard and decimating Graham’s brigade. Wofford widened the Confederate possession of the Peach Orchard by moving in and engaging Carr’s brigade. Semmes failed to activate and waited in reserve. Just east, on Stony Hill, Anderson wrested control of the Hill from DeTrobriand but only tenuously. Further advances on Houck’s Ridge were repulsed with heavy Confederate casualties. An hour and a half since the beginning of the fight, the Confederate offensive had a hard time coalescing and Law’s brigade on the far right have been ensconced by 3 U.S. brigades, virtually halting any offensive opportunities Law may have had. But with the surprise recovery of General Hood, the right wing could threaten Houck’s Ridge and the overall U.S. positions in the hours to come.

5:40 pm

The Confederate firmly secured the Peach Orchard with the swift arrival of Semmes but Klingel Farm was still contested by Carr’s brigade despite pressure from Wofford and Wilcox. Across Hood’s division, casualties and disorder were mounting with repeated attacks so his brigades planned to pull back to recuperate in anticipation for a renewed assault on Houck’s Ridge. Meanwhile, the rest of Anderson’s division failed to activate and support the advance of Wilcox. The Army of the Potomac continued to bring fresh brigades up to form a new defensive line in the wake of the loss of the Peach Orchard. Losses among their batteries was steep but were able to extract equal or higher blood from McLaw’s forces.

6:00 pm

Carr counterattacked and reinforced its position on the Klingel Farm, pushing off Wofford from the rise. Before Barksdale could respond, a Fog of War chit prevented them from reacting. Wilcox moved forward and threatened Carr’s right. Intense fighting over Stony Hill has battered Kershaw, in part to the actions of Weed and DeTrobriand.

6:20 pm

To further lodge their hold on the Klingel farm, Brewster was sent in to support Carr but both retreated in a panic under withering fire and close combat from Wilcox. Semmes shifted eastward and retook Stony Hill. The bulk of Confederate artillery was brought up into the Peach Orchard to support the next phase of the offensive and deter any potential U.S. counterattacks. Anderson was able to move the rest of his division forward, positioning Wright and Posey for an attack across the Emmitsburg Road. Two other Confederate batteries, (Latham and Reilly) were positioned and trained on Houck’s Ridge. Robertson and Benning of Hood’s division were able to recuperate morale hits and material losses and are ready for a renewed attack against Houck’s Ridge with the artillery in support.

6:40 pm

The battle continued to rage. Robertson’s assault on Devil’s Den pushed Ward back. In the center, Kershaw was attacked by Weed, leaving the brigade severely depleted and Semmes momentarily isolated on Stony Hill. Wilcox, using the Rebel Yell pushed forward and attempted to take the Trostle Farm with severe casualties on either side. The other elements of Wilcox failed to displace Seely’s battery. Wright and Posey of Anderson attacked across the Emmitsburg road, slowly pushing back Smyth’s brigade. With these renewed attacks and despite the heavy losses, more momentum was injected into the Confederate advance. However, the U.S. defenses are strong and holding, with the brigades of Fisher and McCandles marching to the sound of the guns. Daylight is fading for the Confederates as they scramble to push forward.

7:00 pm

In the midst of evening, the Confederates gained much ground. Robertson swept up Houck’s Ridge, disrupting Ward’s entire brigade, finally claiming this crucial element of the Union defense. Wilcox pushed forward and took the Trostle Farm but sustained heavy casualties. To buttress his right, Woffrod also came forward in support. Responding to the loss of the farm, Carr launched a disastrous counterattack against the Confederate regiments and was forcefully repulsed, the brigade essentially disintegrating in its combat effectiveness. Further north on the line, Wright pushed onto Cemetery Ridge to mixed and undecided results. A fierce contest between Weed, DeTrobriand and Semmes had significantly diminished the Confederate brigade and left the U.S. in control of Stony Hill. Both Barksdale and Kershaw were able to rebuild and recover, positioning them to renew their attacks on the center. Despite the slow progess the Confederate advance was making, they are still in striking distance to win the engagement- while they continue to eat into the U.S.’s objective points, mounting casualties for the Army of the Potomac may give Longstreet the edge to win.

7:20 pm

The hours of fighting have taken a toll on the forces engaged. The Lull in Battle chit was added to the cup that ends the turn prematurely the moment it is pulled. In addition, the Lull in Battle reduced the effectiveness of artillery due to the lack of ammunition. Virtually no actions were taken as the battlefield witnessed the first semblance of calm since the battle was joined hours before. Fisher’s brigade was able to move up to seize the northern elements of Houck’s ridge, bracing for a push by Robertson but the Confederate were not able to continue their offensive.

7:40pm

After a brief exchange of artillery fire, Barksdale was committed to Stony Hill and drove DeTrobriand back with the help of multiple Confederate artillery. The remnants of Smith’s battery miraculously survived a flanking attack from Robertson, managing to inflict heavy losses on the 4th Texan and retreated with only 2 cannons. Zook retook the Trostle farm and withstood an attack from Wofford. McCandles and Fisher were able to move and reinforce the center. Before the Confederates could hammer the center further, the Lull in Battle chit ended the turn.

8:00 pm

Barksdale led the charge against the Weichert farm and took it with the 18th MS. Kershaw and Anderson’ brigades were able to move forward, positioning themselves for one last attack against the U.S. center. Robertson held onto Houck’s Ridge while Kelly continued to push against Lang and elements of Wilcox.

The victory points remain close and if the Confederates can organize and activate before the last Lull chit is pulled the following turn, they have a chance to swing the battle their way.

8:20 pm

The battle ended with the pull of the Lull chit rather early in the turn with most of the Confederate brigades not having the opportunity to activate and strike with the combined forces of Kershaw, Anderson and Barksdale. However, the 17th MS of Barksdale attempted a last-ditch attack on the Trostle farm but was repulsed. With over 4 hours of fighting, the Confederate assault was spent and forced to withdraw under the growing darkness.

Summary

The Union emerged victorious with 12 points, earning a Minimal Victory. Casualties VPs numbered 70 for the Confederates, while the Union earned 69 points, with the rest coming from aggregate objective VPs. The battle was close but winded up swinging towards the Union when they were able to activate more divisions, despite their inferior command ratings compared to the Confederates and contest the ground they needed as the Confederates pushed forward. It was a bloody struggle and the final lines mirrored those at the close of the real battle on July 2nd, 1863. Good game, good simulation.

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