Guisborough is today a bustling market town on the edge of industrial Teesside, in medieval times it had been a bustling market town thriving on the visitors from far and wide who came for pious reasons visiting the enormous Priory founded in the 12th century by Robert de Brus, an ancestor of the later and more famous, Robert the Bruce of Scotland. In the time of the English Civil War it was a shadow of it's former self, the Priory having been destroyed during the Reformation; however it was still important strategically. Positioned south of the Tees Valley it was a gateway to the River Tees and beyond that, to Royalist Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


Guilford Slingsby was a part f the Yorkshire gentry with estates around Hemlington ( now a suburb of Middlesbrough where we are based) , and had been the private secretary to the Earl of Strafford up to his forced execution by Parliament in 1641. When the Civil War broke out he naturally supported the Royalist cause and raised a regiment of his own, both foot and horse, and realising the importance of Guisborough, moved his men there to guard against Parliamentarian attacks on supplies crossing the River Tees between Royalist held Newcastle and Royalist York.


On the Yorkshire coast however, at Scarborough, loyalties lay with Parliament, and local commander Sir Hugh Cholmley, decided to take action, especially after hearing the the Royalists intended to send a garrison to nearby Whitby. After being reinforced by two troops of dragoons from Sir Matthew Boynton, he set out in mid January across the Moors, a forty mile march in mid-winter, to threaten Guisborough.


After what can only be imagined as a very challenging march across difficult terrain in freezing weather, the Parliamentarian forces arrived at Guisborough on the 16th January.



Suggested initial deployment for the Battle of Guisborough

Wargaming Notes

The Battle of Guisborough was quite a small engagement, with hundreds rather than thousands of troops being involved. It would lend itself to large skirmish rules such as Pikeman's Lament, or if fought with really small scale figures could even be recreated on a one to one scale.

For the purposes of our lists below we are suggesting a figure scale of 1:10


ORDERS OF BATTLE


ROYALIST ARMY

Guilford Slingsby - Commander-in Chief - Inexperienced, Inspirational Leader

Slingsby's Horse (100 men) - 10 figures - cavalry, experienced, good morale, sword, pistol, carbine

Slingsby's Foot (400 men) - 40 figures - 20 close formation infantry, inexperienced, basic training, enthusiastic morale, light armour, pike - 20 open order infantry, inexperienced, basic training, enthusiastic morale, unarmoured, musket.


PARLIAMENTARIAN ARMY

Sir Hugh Cholmley - Commander-in-Chief - Experienced, Respected Leader

Cholmley's Horse (80 men) - 8 figures - cavalry, experienced, trained, average morale, sword, pistol, carbine

Cholmley's Dragoons (60 men) - 6 figures - mounted infantry, experienced, average morale, sword, musket

Boynton's Dragoons (110 me) - 11 figures - mounted infantry, experienced, good morale, sword, musket

Cholmley's Foot (130 men) - 13 figures - 5 close formation infantry, experienced, average morale, light armour, pike - 7 open order infantry, experienced, average morale, unarmoured, musket


THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

When Slingsby saw the Parliamentarian forces approaching Guisborough he confidence was buoyed by the fact he knew he outnumbered his enemy, and consequently his force sallied forth out of the town and positioned themselves on the open ground about a mile south of the Priory.


The Parliamentarians formed up opposite and then both sides advanced on each other. Slingsby's Horse were made up largely of Dutch veterans he had employed as mercenaries and they charged forward into the mounted dragoons and halted their advance. A melee ensued lasting sometime between the mounted forces, until Slingsby happened to glance over his shoulder and saw his infantry behind him in total disarray.


The more numerous mounted troops of Cholmley, along with his infantry, had advanced beyond the cavalry melee and straight into the Royalist infantry. Despite their inexperience, the Royalists had initially stood their ground, before being gradually pushed back through the Priory ruins and to an area now called "Wars Fields" where they made their final stand. Slingsby could see that rallying his men was near impossible, but tried all the same, only to suffer gun shot wounds to both legs and fall from his horse while his men fled.


Slingsby was taken prisoner and due to his wounds had both legs amputated above the knee; three days later, aged 32, he died of his injuries and was buried at York Minster. Victorious, Cholmley advanced his men to Yarm, another market town in the Tees Valley and at in that time the site of the first bridge from the river mouth over the River Tees, which they secured to stop supplies from Newcastle to York.


Post Script

As said earlier, this isn't a grand battle, more of a large skirmish, but an interesting one and certainly not a forgone conclusion depending on your own tactics and dice rolls. It grabbed our attention having taken place just a few miles from where we are based.



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General Ambrose E. Burnside

Union thinking in the early part of the American Civil War was to bring it to a speedy end by blocking Confederate supplies and the movement of men and materials. The area around the city of New Bern presented itself as an ideal target for such a tactic, with the Neuse River being a potential thoroughfare for Confederate ships bringing up supplies, bit also the North Carolina Railroad ran only a short distance inland. The capture of this area could inflict a double hardship on Confederate logistics.


Union General, Ambrose Burnside put together a plan of attack which would involve combined operations. On the 12th March vessels of the US Navy transported and disembarked Burnside and his men about 15 miles away from Fort Thompson at New Bern, the ships then proceeded upstream and on the 13th began a bombardment of the initial Confederate positions which lay several miles south of the battle area, The Confederate forces were largely made up of fresh recruits and militia who soon took fright at the naval shelling and pulled back to another defensive line along Butler's Creek and across to the fort itself on the river bank. This retreat allowed Ambrose to make a rapid and unopposed advance on to the fort and surrounding area, and the night of the 13th both armies lay only a short distance from each other. At 7:30am on the 14th, General Ambrose launched his attack.


Suggested initial set up for the Battle of New Bern

ORDERS OF BATTLE - as we have recently, we are describing unit size generally, rather than specific, allowing our information here to be used for a variety of rule sets and personal preferences.


Confederate Forces

Brig.General Lawrence O'Bryan Branch - Commander in Chief - experienced, inspirational leader


Latham's Brigade

26th North Carolina Regiment - trained, inexperienced, good morale, rifled musket

33rd North Carolina Regiment (large regiment) - trained, inexperienced, average morale, smoothbore musket

7th North Carolina Regiment - trained, inexperienced, good morale, rifled musket

27th North Carolina Regiment - trained, inexperienced, good morale, rifled musket

4 gun artillery battery - trained, experienced, good morale, 6lb smoothbore


Brem's Brigade

35th North Carolina Regiment - trained, inexperienced, good morale, rifled musket

37th North Carolina Regiment - trained, inexperienced, good morale, rifled musket

4 gun artillery battery - trained, experienced, good morale, 6lb smoothbore


Harding's Brigade

1/2 North Carolina Cavalry (small unit) - trained, experienced, good morale, sword and pistol

2/2 North Carolina Cavalry (small unit) - trained, experienced, good morale, sword and pistol

Carolina Militia (large unit) - poor training, inexperienced, brittle morale, smoothbore musket

4 gun artillery battery - trained, experienced, good morale, 6lb smoothbore


Fort Artillery

2 gun battery - trained, experienced, good morale, 24lb cannon


Union Forces

Brig.General Ambrose E. Burnside - Commander in Chief - experienced, good tacticain, respected leader


1st Brigade

25th Massachusetts Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

24th Massachusetts Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

27th Massachusetts Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

23rd Massachusetts Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

10th Connecticut Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

6 gun artillery battery - trained, experienced, good morale, 6lb smoothbore


2nd Brigade

21st Massachusetts Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

51st New York Regiment - trained, inexperienced, average morale, rifled musket

9th New Jersey Regiment - trained, inexperienced, good morale, rifled musket

51st Pennsylvania Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

2 gun artillery battery - trained, experienced, good morale, 6lb smoothbore


3rd Brigade

4th Rhode Island Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

8th Connecticut Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

5th Rhode Island Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket

11th Connecticut Regiment - trained, experienced, good morale, rifled musket


THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED


The battle opened at 7:30am on the Union's left flank with an assault on the 26th NC who were dug in on high ground across the creek. The initial artillery barrage made little impression firing up to the elevated position of the Confederates and the infantry were soon called to cross the creek and attempt to scale the slopes on the opposite bank. The Confederates had made crude field works along the ridge with felled trees and undergrowth which they found good protection from the advancing Union musketry. Their advance was halted by determined fire from the 26th NC and were forced back to regroup and rally.


On the opposite wing the artillery exchange was fairly evenly matched and both sides inflicted casualties, but again it was the Union troops who advanced, only this time to a similar number of defenders. The exchange of musketry began to swing in the Confederate's favour and with brief but determined charge of bayonets, the Confederates sent the Union troops back to their starting positions.


Burnside was getting increasingly frustrated with the situation, afterall, his forces outnumbered the enemy over two to one and he took a moment to ponder how to break the line. He noted that the battlefield was divided in two by the North Carolina Railroad, which by its nature required flat and easily crossed terrain. The Confederates defending this rail track were the North Carolina Militia, an inexperienced and rather battle nervous unit. Burnside therefore brought up his 3rd Brigade to attack in column through the gap of his two other brigades and straight up the rail track to attack the militia unit. An assault he led personally


Burnside directs the assault along the rail track

His plan worked; the militia were not willing or able to fend off the Union attack for long and soon broke, opening a gap for Burnside's men to exploit and get behind the Confederate line. The 33rd NC were sent to help plug the gap but the Union assault became so intense they too fell back. Regiments within the 3rd Brigade found themselves having to "leapfrog" to the lead position of the assault as their leading units ran out of ammunition, so fast were their volleys into the defenders ranks.


Facing a renewed frontal attack from the 2nd Brigade and hearing fighting off to their left, the 26th NC began to get nervous and soon were falling back into the woods behind them before turning in retreat to the city of New Bern to the north.


Swinging right, the 3rd Brigade were threatening the flanks of the 35th and 7th NC, while the 1st Brigade once again attacked from the front. Despite courageous efforts from the rebel regiments it soon became apparent that they would be surrounded and cut off if they stood their ground much longer. They too, opted to retreat to New Bern, destroying bridges on their way to prevent a speedy pursuit by Burnside. Unfortunately this left some Confederates trapped behind to be taken prisoner.


It had been a hard victory for Burnside with 90 killed and almost 400 wounded. The Confederates had lost 63 killed and 100 wounded, but over 400 were taken prisoner in the retreat.


WARGAMING THE BATTLE


Despite all focus currently being on Warlord Games Epic Battles series, this battle would lend itself to any rules and any scale. Terrain is relatively simple, with no extreme hills, just a few gentle slopes along the waterways, the most dominant feature being the rail track, so depending on which scale you play it may be time to get the old Hornby set out the loft for this one.


The fort played little to no part in the land battle, so at a push could be omitted from the table if yo wish.


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The battle of Gettysburg is probably THE most famous and well known battle of the American Civil War. It was the high tide mark for Confederate forces and probably the best opportunity for the South to win the war. As the battle lasted for three days and involved close to 200,000 men, it is a challenge to wargame in full for all but the most determined and committed of wargamers, usually involving an entire club or team effort. So today we have selected one section of that epic battle; Culp's Hill.

From the map on the left of the entire battle, you can see that Culp's Hill stood at one end of a ridge of high ground south of the town which extended west then south to include the probably more well known Cemetery Ridge before ending with the two promontories, Little Round Top and Big Round Top.


The Battle of Gettysburg was actually not planned, but rather an escalation of opposing scouting parties meeting and through engaging, gradually sucking in more and more reinforcements from their respective main armies, until eventually one of the largest battles of the war was created.


The first day of battle largely saw a build of men on both sides and initiatives being taken by divisional and brigade commanders, as both the Union's General Meade and the Confederate's General Lee were some way back in their respective lines of advancing troops. Like I said, this battle wasn't planned, or even desired at this location, but happened purely by chance and circumstance.


As evening drew in on the first day, the Union realised that the high ground south of Gettysburg was critical if the battle was to be won, and so they took up defensive positions along this long ridge, using timber and rocks to create a line of barricades where they could, and then readied themselves for the Confederate assault that would surely come the next day.


Culp's Hill saw some of the most ferocious and continuous fighting of the battle, starting on day two and going on throughout the third. Our Battle For Wargamers today is the beginning of this two day struggle for Culp's Hill, with the forces initially deployed on the morning of the 2nd July. On the following day both sides would send in reinforcements, but for the purposes of this article and to keep the battle to a manageable size for most, we are looking at just the first day and as to whether the Union defenders can hold the hill against the Confederate attacks long enough to be reinforced that night for the next day.



Suggested initial set-up for "Culp's Hill" Gettysburg

As there are so many different rule sets for the ACW including the much awaited Epic Battles by Warlord Games, with regiment sizes ranging from maybe a dozen figures to sixty, we have opted this time not to suggest unit sizes by the number of figures, leaving that to your choice depending on your preferred rules.


ORDERS OF BATTLE


Union Army


Brig.General James S. Wadsworth - Commander In Chief - experienced, inconsistent, respected leader


I Corps - 1st Brigade - (The Iron Brigade)

Brig.General Solomon Meredith - Sub-Commander - experienced, determined, inspirational leader

19th Indiana Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

24th Michigan Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

2nd Wisconsin Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

6th Wisconsin Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

7th Wisconsin Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

Steven's Artillery battery - experienced, solid morale, 12lb Napoleon guns


I Corps - 2nd Brigade

Brig. General Lysander Cutler - Sub-Commander - experienced, excellent tactician, respected leader

7th Indiana Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

76th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

84th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

95th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

147th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

56th Pennsylvania Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket


XII Corps - 3rd Brigade

Brig.General George S. "Old Pappy" Greene - Sub-Commander - veteran, excellent tactician, inspirational leader

60th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

78th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

102nd New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

137th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

149th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

Kinzie's Artillery battery - experienced, solid morale, 12lb Napoleon guns

Rugg's Artillery battery - experienced, solid morale, 12lb Napoleon guns


XI Corps - 1st Brigade

Colonel George Von Amsberg - Sub-Commander - veteran, experienced leader

82nd Illinois Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

45th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

157th New York Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket

61st Ohio Regiment - experienced, solid morale, musket


Confederate Army


Major General Edward "Clubby" Johnson - Commander In Chief - veteran, temperamental, respected leader


II Corps - Steuart's Brigade

Brig.General George H.Steuart - Sub-Commander - veteran, inspirational leader

1st Maryland Battalion - veteran, solid morale, musket

1st North Carolina Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

3rd North Carolina Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

10th Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

23rd Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

37th Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket


II Corps - Williams' Brigade

Col. Jesse M.Williams - Sub-Commander - veteran, inexperienced of brigade level command, respected leader

1st Louisiana Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

2nd Louisiana Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

10th Louisiana Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

14th Louisiana Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

15th Louisiana Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket


II Corps - Jones' Brigade

Brig.General John M. Jones - Sub-Commander - veteran, inspirational leader

21st Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

50th Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

42nd Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

44th Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

48th Virginia Regiment - veteran, solid morale, musket

Union troops defend Culp's Hill

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED


Most of the Union soldiers defending Culp's Hill had seen action the previous day before being ordered to take up position on the high ground. Brig,General Wadsworth had followed the orders but in line with his inconsistent leadership, he failed to order his brigades to "dig in" and it was only thanks to his brigade commanders, such as "Old Pappy" Greene who had been a civil engineer for a period, that orders were given to create field fortifications. As his brigade had been given a mile and half stretch of the ridge to defend, it was good foresight on his part.


The Confederate division commander, Major General Edward Johnson was also not without his failings. On the first day he had failed to attack Cemetery Ridge before it was properly defended; action that if taken could have ended the battle there and then, but then on the evening of the 1st July, having re-positioned at the foot of Culp's Hill, he directly refused superior orders to attack immediately, stating he would rather rest his men and for morning, which gave the Union soldiers time to create barricades and fortify their position.


Lee's plan on the morning of the 2nd July was to attack the ridge at opposite ends simultaneously with Longstreet's I Corps attacking Little and Big Round Tops while Ewell's II Corps would attack Culp's Hill. However Lee did not want II Corps to fully commit, but rather just cause enough of an attack to hold all the Union troops on the hill in place and not be sent to the other end as reinforcements. Ewell initially used artillery (off map) to shell the hill, but this failed to do the job intended and several Union brigades left Culp's Hill to reinforce further along the ridge, leaving the troops as laid out on our suggested set-up map. At this point Ewell saw no alternative but to launch a frontal assault, and the three Confederate brigades made their first attempt at scaling the slopes. By now it was late afternoon and in the wooded slopes visibility became strained, especially with the clouds of gun smoke that hung in the air.


On the Confederate right flank, Jones' Brigade found things the hardest going. It was here that the slopes were steepest and littered with boulders, which although offered some protection also broke up their formations as they advanced. Advancing and firing as they went, the Confederates were suddenly confronted by Greene's fortifications which seemed impassable. the 60th New York regiment poured fire down on the southerners from behind their barricades and Jones' men were forced back. Jones himself suffered a serious leg injury and was carried from the field. Despite the apparent ease with which the Union soldiers had stopped Jones, several of their officers admitted that had it not been for the barricade Greene had insisted on, then they would have been overwhelmed on the ridge by both the ferocity of Confederate charge and the density of their musketry which had largely been absorbed by the fortifications.


In the centre the Louisiana regiments made their assault, dusk was turning to darkness and for the Union defenders it was only when flashes of musket shots appeared that they could see where their enemy was. The ground here was a little easier than where Jones had tried, but was still an exhausting challenge, especially in the dark. Upon closing in on the Union positions, Williams' men were also aghast at the substantial defences running along the ridge, but a firefight that lasted several hours ensued. Finally the Confederates began to fall back as their casualties grew from the musket fire of the 78th and 102nd New Yorkers.


Steurat's men on the left flank made the best progress, advancing again in the dark, they were a difficult target for the Union defenders. The 3rd North Carolina regiment made contact first, but unfortunately where the defences were strongest and a point blank range volley of muskets from the Union men felled them in droves, scattering the survivors down the hill. Further to the left though, the 23rd and 10th Virginia regiments managed to outflank the 137th New Yorkers, forcing them back to a new position at 90 degrees to their original one in an attempt to hold back the Confederates. This was the most success of the night for the southerners, and they inflicted over 30% casualties on the 137th NY. Miraculously, the regiment held the line, for had it fallen at this end it would have likely opened up a route that that Confederates could have exploited to get behind the Union fortifications and capture the ridge, not just at Culp's Hill, but potentially all along the Union lines.


The intensity of the fighting here, was heard along Cemetery Ridge, causing so much concern that Union reinforcements were sent along the line to support the Culp's Hill defenders. Likewise, for the Confederates, that tenuous but definite foothold on the ridge on their left flank, would give them sufficient hope to bring up reinforcements too. The following morning the battle would recommence in even greater numbers and would see some of the most sustained and intense fighting of the entire Battle of Gettysburg, but we will share that scenario another day.


Confederates attack Culp's Hill

WARGAMING THE BATTLE


At first glance the battlefield may look a challenge for recreating, but it is in simple terms just a long piece of high ground easily represented with foam blocks or "books under the cloth" as we did back in the day, with a few trees scattered along the slopes to represent the pine trees covering the hill. The creek on the right plays no significant part in the battle so could be omitted is it makes life easier.


The important thing is to play to an agreed time scale, so you represent the passage of time and to end the game at around midnight when reinforcements for both sides would start to appear and completely reshape the engagement for the following day.


If the Union manages to hold the line as it did on the 2nd July it should be considered a Union victory, but if the Confederates manage to either break the line or turn the flank as they almost did that evening then a Confederate victory should be declared.


Even though this is just a small section of the overall Battle of Gettysburg, it is still quite a sizable tabletop game to play, probably lending itself to smaller scales such as 10mm or the new "Epic" scale when it releases next month. But whatever scale you use we would love to see some pictures come in of your recreation of this engagement and we will feature them in our new "Gamers Gallery" that we are starting soon to share the hobby with others.


And finally don't forget you can still pre-order the Epic Battles Bumper Bundle for just £99.99 if you hurry, we have only a handful left at this price. Just click on the image below to see the full details and order yours.



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