“Go in, Wolverines, give them hell!”

New Bridge, May 24, 1862

What happened?

At the end of May 1862, advance elements of the Army of the Potomac reached the Chickahominy River. On the southern side, Confederates occupied fieldworks defending Richmond. The Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, had ordered his troops to burn the bridges and guard the crossings over the river. While the Army of the Potomac’s left wing crossed the river at Bottom’s Bridge, the right wing under Gen. Smith drove the Rebels out of Mechanicsville and established a position on the northern banks. Smith needed information on the Confederate’s disposition and on possible places to cross the swollen river. On May 24, he launched several probing attacks. [1]

One of those took place at New Bridge, seven miles below Mechanicsville. [2] The reconnaissance in force was conducted by the 4th Michigan Infantry and a squadron of the 2nd U. S. Cavalry and was commanded by Lt. Nicholas Bowden of the Corps of Topographical Engineers. It was accompanied by a bevy of officers, one of them Lt. George Armstrong Custer, at that time an aide to Gen. Hancock.

Bowden and Custer took a detachment of the 4th Michigan half a mile up the river from the destroyed bridge. There, Custer with about 30 men of Company A forded the Chickahominy and formed a skirmish line perpendicular to the river, slowly advancing downstream toward New Bridge. The rest of Company A moved downstreams on the northern bank.

The skirmishers soon hit upon pickets from the 5th Louisiana Infantry, which had been ordered to guard the destroyed bridge. A lively firefight developed, in the course of which the Confederate pickets were initially driven back. However, the Rebels soon rallied and received reinforcements, so Bowden decided to send the rest of Company A across. Custer personally waded through the river and led the troop to the attack, shouting: “Go in, Wolverines, give them hell!”. With rifles and cartridge belts held above their heads, the men plunged across. At the same time, Company B of the 4th Michigan was ordered to cross at the destroyed bridge to attack the 5th Louisiana’s camp located there.

The combined effort drove back the rebels about 400 yards. The chaotic fighting got even more intense when the Confederates were reinforced by elements from the 10th Georgia Infantry. However, it seems that the superior Union muskets as well as the position of the flanking force, which had found cover behind a fence running along a drainage ditch, made it impossible for the Rebels to throw the Union troops back across the river.

The fight finally ended when the Confederates brought up an artillery piece. The 4th Michigan conducted an orderly retreat to the northern bank of the river, Lt. Custer being one of the last to cross.

The rebel casualties were at least 78 men, 37 of them prisoners. The 4th Michigan lost only 2 killed and several wounded.

Who fought?

Col. Dwight A. Woodbury (1825-1862): Born in upstate New York, Woodbury grew up in Michigan and Ohio. As a young man, he went to California during the Gold Rush and later worked as a conductor on the Michigan Southern Railroad. After marrying, he ran a hotel in Adrian. He also was a colonel in the local militia. When the war broke out, he offered his services to the state and was commissioned to raise a regiment of volunteers, the 4th Michigan Infantry. Little more than a month after the skirmish at New Bridge, Woodbury was killed at the battle of Malvern Hill while rallying his regiment. [3]

Lt. George A. Custer (1839-1876): Born in Ohio, he attended West Point and graduated in 1862 as the last of his class. After entering the army, he worked on McClellan’s staff and caught the eyes of his superior by his initiative and courage. A meteoric rise followed, with Custer being brevetted brigadier general of volunteers in 1863 and ending the war commanding a division as a Brevet Major General in the regular army. After the war, he stayed in the army as a lieutenant colonel, commanding cavalry on the frontier. He was killed on June 25, 1876 at the Battle of Little Bighorn. [4]

Col. Theodore G. Hunt (1805-1893): Born in 1805, Hunt worked as an attorney and was a member of the U. S. House of Representatives before the war. In 1861, he was elected colonel of the 5th Louisiana Volunteers. He resigned from the Confederate Army in August 1862 and became Adjutant General of Union New Orleans in 1864. He died in 1893. [5]

2nd Lt. Adolph Steinmark (or Steinwachs) (1819-1871): A clerk before the war, he enlisted in the 5th Louisiana Infantry in June 1861at New Orleans. He was quickly promoted to sergeant and, in October 1861, to 2nd Lt. During the fighting at New Bridge, he was shot through the chest. He survived this grievous wound but stayed in hospital until April 1863, when he was transfered to private quarters. He did not return to the regiment and was discharged from the army. [6]

Why did it matter?

The fighting at New Bridge made Custer’s name known to the press and the higher echelons of command. It also established the reputation of the 4th Michigan, who emerged from its first fight with self-confidence: Not only had they pushed back the Confederates – none less than the famed Lousiana Tigers! -, they had also conducted an orderly withdraw in the face of artillery fire.

As part of a series of reconnaissance operations, the skirmish at New Bridge showed that the Confederates had no real desire to defend the line along the Chickahominy. However, the destroyed bridges posed some difficulties and delayed the movement of the army’s right wing. On May 31, the Confederates attacked the left wing of the Federal army, which was already across the river, at the Battle of Seven Pines, halting McClellan’s advance.

The Scenario


The river counts as a wide obstacle, the ditch as a major obstacle. The ditch also provides light cover for troops positioned within.

The lightly wooded area along the river banks blocks LOS. Troops standing within, however, can shoot out and and can be shot at (getting light cover).

The Confederate Deployment point is located at the picket’s camp in the southeastern corner of the table. The Union Primary Deployment Point is located at the road in the northeastern corner. The Union Secondary Deployment Point is in the northwestern corner of the table. If playing with an umpire, keep the existence of a second Union deployment point secret from the Confederate player.

Victory Conditions

The Union has to capture the Confederate Deployment Point to gain a major victory. If the Union reduces the Confederate Force Morale to zero, it achieves a minor victory. The Confederates have to reduce the Union Force Morale to zero to win.

Special Rules

Artillery Support: The Confederates will receive artillery support some time after the fighting starts. Beginning with the turn during which the first shots were fired by Union troops, roll 1D6 each Tiffin and add the numbers. As soon as the sum reaches 30, the Confederate player may use 2 Command Cards to activate off-table artillery. The artillery may fire at any enemy unit within 30cm and LOS of the Confederate Deployment Point. It counts as a medium gun firing solid shot with 12 dice and hitting on a 5+.

Custer takes the initiative: As aide-de-camp to Gen. Hancock, Custer may rally or give orders to any Union unit, regardless of other command hierarchies.


As always, stats are given for TooFatLardies’ Sharp Practice.

Confederates: 3x 5th Louisiana (Leader 1), 2x 5th Louisiana (Leader 2), 1x Skirmishers (Leader 3)

Union: 6x 4th Michigan, 1x Skirmishers (allocate to Leaders 1-4 at will)

Unit Rosters

[1] Sears, Stephen W.: To the Gates of Richmond. The Peninsula Campaign. New York: Ticknor & Fields 1992, p. 110.

[2] OR I:11:1, pp. 652-654 and 664-666; Barrett, Orvey S.: Reminiscences, incidents, battles, marches and camp life of the old 4th Michigan Infantry in War of Rebellion, 1861 to 1864. Detroit, Mich.: W.S. Ostler 1888, pp. 12-14; Bertera, Martin N. & Crawford, Kim: 4th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press 2010, pp. 63-67.

[3] Bertera & Crawford: 4th Michigan Infantry, p. 1f.

[4] Wert, Jeffry D.: Custer. The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer. New York: Touchstone 1996.

[5] Jones, Terry L.: Lee’s Tigers. The Louisiana Infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge 1987, p. 237.

[6] Service records, accessed via fold3.com.

The 45th New York’s First Fight

Annandale, December 2,1861

What happened?

Probably soldiers of the 45th NY at Centreville, Va. (Library of Congress)

The 45th New York, initially called the 5th German Rifles, entered service as part of Julius Stahel’s brigade of Louis Blenker’s division of the Army of the Potomac in October 1861. It was mainly composed of men from Austria and the German states. Its commander, Col. Georg von Amsberg, was an experienced military man, as he had been an officer in the Austrian army and, during the revolution of 1848, the Hungarian army. At the end of 1861, the regiment was stationed in the defenses of Washington. The men – there were about 900 present for service at the time – were still green when they went on picket duty in the area around Annandale [1].

After their victory at the Battle of Bull Run, the Confederates had cautiously followed the retreating Union army to the area around Washington. They established the so-called “Alexandria Line”, a thirty mile long perimeter to the West of the capital. The winter of 1861/62 found both armies eyeing each other, with numerous skirmishes erupting at different points of the line. On the Confederate side, the man responsible for cavalry patrols was Jeb Stuart, who had been promoted to brigadier general in September. An aggressive leader, he endorsed and encouraged his subordinates to harrass the Union pickets and make small-scale attacks and raids [2].

Such an attack hit Co. A of the 45th New York, which was picketing the area around Annandale, on December 2nd. One day earlier, one of the regiment’s lieutenants, a German-born baron named Marcel Wilhelm von Haxthausen, had deserted to the enemy, taking with him a horse belonging to the orderly of the 4th New York Cavalry. Maybe Haxthausen, who after the war would turn up as an editor of a German newspaper in Texas, had informed the Confederates of the pickets’ deployment and the weak points of the line. In any case, around 1 p.m. the pickets at Annandale spotted cavalry approaching. At first they thought it belonged to the 1st New York Cavalry, which was at that time patrolling the area [3].

The horsemen, however, belonged to the 6th Virginia Cavalry under Col. Charles W. Field. The 150-200 riders approached at a gallop and hit several picket posts at the same time. One detachment passed barricades erected on the Little River Turnpike about a mile beyond Padgett’s tavern, another one broke through at the unfinished railroad and a third dashed through the fields north of the turnpike.

The Rebel charge panicked the pickets, who fled into a nearby woodlot. There, they were rallied by Capt. Hermann Weller, after which they began to shoot at the enemy horsemen. Meanwhile, drummer Henry Feuerstein had, seemingly on his own initiative and with “commendable zeal”, beaten the long roll to alert his comrades.

The signal was heared by two companies of the 45th stationed at Cox’s farm, which, under the command of Capt. Adolphus Dobke, rushed to the site of the fight. They were joined by about 30 men from the 4th New York Cavalry under 1st Lt. William Parnell. After a short fight, the combined infantry and cavalry force drove the Rebel horsemen out of the Union lines. Passing the barricades again, the Confederates retreated in the direction of Centreville.

The fight had cost the 45th New York one killed. Twelve men were missing and presumed captured; however, eight of them seem to have returned by the next morning. According to Blenker’s report, the Confederates had lost two killed, which were found outside the lines, two prisoners and seven or eight wounded.

Who fought?

Col. Charles W. Field: Born in Kentucky in April 1828 to a wealthy family, he graduated from West Point in 1849 and entered the army, where he served with cavalry on the frontier. In 1856, he became an Assistant Instructor of Cavalry Tactics at West Point. When the Civil War broke out, he sided with the Confederacy and at first served as a cavalry instructor in Virginia. In November 1861, he became colonel of the 6th Virginia Cavalry. He quickly rose through the ranks and participated in many battles, finally surrendering as a division commander at Appomattox Court House. After the war, he mainly worked as an engineer [4].

Drummer Henry Feuerstein: The drummer is an example of the many men who served without leaving many traces in the public records. We know that he enlisted in September 1861 at New York and mustered in as a drummer. His age is given as 25 years. He didn’t stay long with the army, though: on March 1, 1862, he deserted at Hunter’s Chapel near Fairfax Court House, where Blenker’s division was stationed for winter quarters. There is a possibility that he is identical with the Henry Feuerstein who arrived in November 1852 at New York on the steamer Atlas. Hailing from Drulingen in the Alsace, at the time a largely German-speaking part of France, this man later ended up in Colorado, where he worked as a farmer and raised a family with three children [5].

1st Lt. William R. Parnell: Born 1836 in Ireland, Parnell joined the British army and participated in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. He went to the USA in 1860 and, when the war broke out, joined the 4th New York Cavalry as 1st Lt. After the action at Annandale, he was promoted to Captain and continued to distinguish himself as an audacious fighter. He was heavily wounded and captured at the cavalry battle at Upperville on June 21, 1863, but managed to escape from the Confederate prison and rejoined the army. After the Civil War, he stayed in the army and participated in campaigns against Native American tribes, where he earned a Medal of Honor. He died in San Francisco in 1910 [6].

Why did it matter?

The winter of 1861/62 saw an “obstinate petite-guerre of picket fighting” in the no-mans-land west of the Potomac. Both the Union and the Confederate high command were unwilling to commit themselves to a real battle, but both kept up a low-level probing and show of aggression. This early in the war, the press covered even the small skirmishes and careers could be made or destroyed by the outcome of such actions [7].

For the men of the 45st New York, as for many others mustered in after Bull Run, it was their first taste of war. The constant skirmishing was dangerous and exhausting. Some, like Haxthausen and Feuerstein, discovered that soldiering was not for them. Others, like Parnell, found it exhilarating. Most adapted to their new lives and learned to work together and to rely on each other.

However, fault lines already began to show. Germans had a mixed reputation – they were rumored to be boisterous and to love beer too much – and there was prejudice against them among American born soldiers. The report by Brig. Gen. Newton, whose brigade provided pickets alongside those of the 45th New York, raised doubts about the courage of the “German pickets of Blenker’s division”. He claimed that the Germans ran without firing a shot and insinuated that their pickets were drunk [8]. This, however, smacks of slander. There is no reason to doubt Blenker’s report, which is coherent in its details. Also, Newton obviously wanted to shift the blame for the embarrassing incident from his brigade, as the whole picket post of one of his regiments (the 31st New York) was found asleep and his own brigade also lost two men captured.

The Scenario


The unfinished railroad to the southwest of the map forms a shallow ravine. The gentle hill to the north of the turnpike does not form much of an obstacle, but blocks LOS. The barricades blocking the Little River Turnpike count as light cover and a minor obstacle.

The Union Primary Deployment Point is on the eastern edge of the table at Cox’s Farm, while the Union Secondary Deployment Point is placed on the Turnpike directly behind the barricades.

The Confederates have three deployment points: one on the turnpike, one on the unfinished railroad and one on the northerwestern edge of the board.

Victory Conditions

This is an encounter battle. To win, reduce the opponent’s Force Morale to 2 or less.

Special Rules

Pickets: Union Leader 1 and the Union skirmishers can only be deployed at the Secondary Deployment Point. No other units may be deployed there. If the Secondary Deployment Point is lost before all skirmishers are deployed, they are considered lost. Roll on the Bad Things Happen table for “Loss of Support Option”.

Reenforcements: At the start of the game, the Union player has only the Leader 1 card and the flags in the deck. After turn two, roll 1D6 for each of the other two Leaders. On a 4+, his card is added to the deck. Next turn, the target number is reduced to 3+, then to 2+ and, at the end of turn five, if any Leader is not yet in the deck, he will be added automatically.

Coordinated Strike: Before the game, the Confederate player must assign each of his Leaders to one Deployment Point. No other Leader may use this Deployment Point. The Confederate Cavalry must also enter the table mounted. It may do so at any gait.


As always, stats are given for TooFatLardies’ Sharp Practice.

Union: 2x Skirmishers (Leader 1, musician), 3x 45th NY (Leader 2), 1x 4th NY Cavalry (Leader 3)

Confederates: 4x 6th Virginia Cavalry (Leader 1, Leader 2, Leader 3)

Unit Rosters

[1] Halpin, William J. „A German Regiment in the Civil War: The 45th New York State Volunteer Infantry ‚5th German Rifles‘“. Military Images 21, Nr. 5 (2000): 20–23.

[2] Longacre, Edward G.: Lee’s Cavalrymen. A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of Northern Virginia. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole 2002, pp. 51-62.

[3] OR 5, pp. 451-455; National Republican, December 4, 1861; New York Times, December 29, 1861; The Union army. A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States, 1861-65. Volume V. Cyclopedia of Battles. Madison, Wis.: Federal Publishing Company 1908, p. 32. See also Longacre: Lee’s Cavalrymen, p. 60. For Haxthausen, see the records on fold3.com. His career as a newspaper editor in Texas is briefly mentioned in a city of Houston report: https://www.houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/landmarks/PLM_2120_Sabine_St.pdf

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_W._Field

[5] New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, accessed via fold3.com. See also the Petition for Naturalization, which can be found at https://de.findagrave.com/memorial/57045941/henry-feuerstein.

[6] O’Neill, Robert: “William Parnell – A Forgotten Hero,” online at https://smallbutimportantriots.com/2016/08/05/william-parnell-a-forgotten-hero/

[7] Cooke, John E.: Wearing of the Gray. Being Personal Portraits, Scenes and Adventures of the War. New York: E.B. Treat & Co. 1867, p. 194.; Poland, Charles P. Jr.: The Glories of War. Small Battles and Early Heroes of 1861. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse 2006, pp. 89-116. Parnell’s courageous behaviour during the skirmish at Annandale was reported in the National Republican, as was his promotion to captain. See National Republican, December 9, 1861.

[8] OR 5, p. 455.

“Feel it and drive it, if possible”

Fairfield Gap, 30 June 1863

What happened?

John Buford and staff.

On the evening of 29 June 1863, the men from Brig. Gen. John Buford’s first and second brigades encamped on the eastern slopes of Jacks Mountain. They had travelled more than 35 miles from Middletown, Maryland, through Boonsboro and Monterey pass to within three of miles of Fairfield, Pennsylvania. Although the inhabitants of Maryland and Pennsylvania had so far been enthusiastic to see Union troops and had greeted and fed them when they passed towns and villages, the locals around Fairfield kept away from the troopers and seemed cowed.

The area of operations.

The next morning, Buford’s regiments started out in the direction of Fairfield at about 3 a.m. The unusually foggy morning may have contributed to the mutual surprise as the Union advance guard, Company C of the 8th Illinois Volunteers, stumbled upon Confederate pickets from Maj. Gen. Heth’s division which were posted at the Peter Musselman farm along Tom’s Creek, two miles southwest of Fairfield. The pickets – men from Company B of the 52nd North Carolina under the command of Lt. William Kyle – fell back before the Union skirmishers. However, when men from the 42nd Mississippi reinforced them, the skirmish began to intensify [1].

The location of the skirmish.

Buford was at first tempted to escalate the fight. “I determined to feel [the enemy force] and drive it, if possible”, he wrote in his report [2]. Angry with the locals, who had not told him of an enemy force nearby and therefore denied him the surprise, he pondered deploying his artillery to dislodge the Confederates. However, he feared that bringing on an engagement at this point “might disarrange the plans of the general commanding”. He therefore disengaged and drew back in the direction of Emmitsburg. The enemy did not pursue and soon both of his brigades followed the Emmitsburg road to Gettysburg. They left behind one stubborn trooper, Thomas Withrow, who had been knocked off his horse by a minie ball. Unharmed but furious, he took cover in a barn and fired at the rebels while his comrades retreated. When the Confederates searched the barn, he managed to hide and witnessed wounded being brought into the building. From this, he surmised that the Confederates had lost one man killed and three wounded during the fight. Withrow hid until the Confederates left and rejoined his regiment at Gettysburg [3].

Who fought?

Maj. John L. Beveridge: Born in 1824, he practiced law before the war. In September 1861, he joined the 8th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry and was immediately promoted to Major. He left the 8th Illinois in November 1863 to raise a new regiment, the 17th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, where he served as a colonel. He mustered out of the army in 1866 as a Brevet Brigadier General. After the war, he went into politics, serving as republican Governor of Illinois from 1873 to 1877. In 1895, he moved to Hollywood, where he died 15 years later.

Sgt. Portus J. Kennedy: Born in 1836, he was a farmer before the war. In September 1861, he was mustered in the 8th Illinois cavalry as a Sergeant. He was later promoted several times and had reached the rank of Captain when he left the army in 1865. At first, he returned to farming, but then moved to Texas and for a time to Las Vegas, where he dealt in building materials. He died in 1893 in Texas, leaving behind a widow [4].

Col. Hugh R. Miller: Born in 1812, he practiced law before the war, was active in politics and owned a large estate. In 1860, he was involved in writing the Ordinance of Secession for Mississippi. He helped form the 2nd Mississippi Infantry in 1861 and served as captain of Co. G until the unit was reorganised one year later. In May 1862, he raised the 42nd Mississippi and was elected its colonel. Leading his regiment during Pickett’s charge on 3 July, he was mortally wounded and died two weeks later in a hospital in Gettysburg [5].

1st Lt. William E. Kyle: Born in Virginia in 1842, he enlisted as a private for six months in the 1st North Carolina Infantry in April 1861. After he was discharged, he mustered into the 52nd North Carolina as a 2nd Lt. in April 1862. He was promoted to 1st Lt. and stayed with the army until the end of the war, being present at the surrender at Appomatox [6].

Why did it matter?

On June 28, General Lee had set in motion his plan to concentrate his army near Cashtown. Heth’s division reached the place one day later. To protect his right flank and safeguard against an attack from Maryland, he posted two regiments and a section of artillery at Fairfield [7]. General Buford’s division, meanwhile, was approaching from the south, screening the left flank of the Army of the Potomac and at the same time gathering information on the strength and movements of the Confederate army. The chance encounter at Fairfield, combined with the prudent and deft disengagement of his troops, gave Buford exactly this: he knew that two regiments of infantry without a cavalry screen could only mean that a much larger infantry force was nearby. Buford had found the Army of Northern Virginia and could accurately report its massing in the Cashtown and Fairfield area. One day later, he would have another opportunity to tangle with Heth’s division to the west of Gettysburg.

The scenario


Tom’s Creek counts as a wide obstacle. The woods on the eastern banks of the creek north of the road block line of sight.

The Union Deployment Point is placed on the road 6″ from the western table edge, the Confederate Deployment Point is placed on the road 6″ from the eastern table edge.

Victory conditions

The Union will achieved a victory by meeting both of the following requirements and then retreating off the western or southern table edge west of the creek with its Force Morale not below 3 and at least two groups intact. 1. having shot at at least four enemy units (if a formation is shot at, each group counts separately) and 2. having an officer successfully reconnoitre the enemy force. The Confederates will achieve a victory by denying the Union their objectives.

Special rules

Reconnoitring the enemy force: A Union officer (not NCO) must be in LOS and within 35″ of the enemy deployment point to be able to reconnoitre it. An officer can spend one command initiative to roll 1D6. As soon as the sum amounts to 18, the enemy force is considered to be reconnoitred.

Fog & surprise: For the first two turns of the game, the Union may deploy only one group of cavalry under the command of Sgt. Kennedy, while the Confederates may only deploy their skirmishers under the command of 1st Lt. Kyle (leave the other Leader cards out of the deck). At the end of turn two, each player rolls a dice: if the result is 4+, he or she may deploy the rest of their units normally (add the rest of the Leader cards to the deck). If the result is lower, roll again at the end of the next turn, adding a +1. Repeat each time until you succeed. At the latest, all units may be deployed normally in turn six.


As always, stats are given for TooFatLardies’ Sharp Practice.

Union: 4x 8th Illinois Cavalry (Leader 1, Leader 2, Leader 3, Leader 4)

Confederates: 6x 42nd Mississippi, 1x Skirmishers (Leader 1, Leader 2, Leader 3)

Unit rosters

Design notes

This scenario pits a small cavalry force against a numerically superior infantry force. The Union doesn’t have to win this fight, but it will have to disengage and fall back without taking too many losses.

[1] OR I:27, part I, p. 922 and p. 926; Hard, Abner: History of the Eighth cavalry regiment, Illinois volunteers, during the great rebellion. Aurora 1868, p. 255f.; Cheney, Newel: History of the Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteer Cavalry. War of 1861 to 1865. Poland Center, N.Y. 1901, p. 101f.; Clark, Waler (ed.): Histories of the Several Regiments and Batteries from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865. Goldsboro: Nash Brothers 1901, vol. III, p. 236; Martin, David G.: Gettyburg July 1. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press 2003, p. 40f.; Wittenberg, Eric J.: The Devil’s to pay: John Buford at Gettysburg: a history and tour guide. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2014, p. 42.

[2] OR I:27, part I, p. 926.

[3] Hard: History of the Eighth cavalry regiment, p. 255f.

[4] https://de.findagrave.com/memorial/24582978/portus-j_-kennedy

[5] http://opac2.mdah.state.ms.us/phpmanuscripts/z2215.php

[6] Compiled Service Records, accessed via fold3.com.

[7] Coddington, Edwin B.: The Gettysburg campaign: a study in command. New York: Scribner, 1968, p. 195.

“Brilliant Services”

Seneca Mills, 10 June 1863

What happened?

Some of Mosby’s men (LOC)

In the winter of 1862/1863, John Mosby got Jeb Stuart’s permission to take a small cavalry command and harrass the Union troops in winter quarters in Loudoun County, Virginia. This started his career as one of the most notorious partisan rangers of the Civil War. Using speed and deception, Mosby time and again hit Federal outposts, causing some casualties, but first and foremost causing panic and distress among the Union command. Several times, cavalry detachment were sent to catch him, but despite an occasional minor success, they could not corner the swift Confederate horsemen.

On June 10, 1863, Mosby finally organised his band into an independant command as Company A, 43rd Battalion Partisan Rangers, with Mosby in the rank of a Major. Planning to conduct a raid into Maryland, he was joined by another partisan group, the Prince William County Rangers under Capt. William G. Brawner [1]. Mosby had received intelligence that a detachment from the 6th Michigan Cavalry was encamped near Seneca Mills along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. He had originally planned to cross the Potomac at Rowser’s Ford at night and attack the Federals in the early dawn. As his scout got lost, the expedition did not get across the river before daybreak.

The site of the skimish.

Still, his advance guard managed to capture a Federal patrol without drawing attention. When they tried to take a towboar going up the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, they came upon another Federal patrol. Shots were exchanged, which alarmed the Michigan troops in their camp. As the retreating patrol had raised a small drawbridge over the canal, Mosby’s men were delayed and the Federals had time to saddle up. When Mosby’s men charged, they fled and retreated across Seneca Creek. While Mosby ordered his men to destroy the camp, some of them pursued the Michigan troopers, who had taken up a position on the far side of the river. Shooting from cover behind trees and brushes, their superior firepower stalled the Confederates’ attack, causing some to fall back until Mosby personally arrived. He rallied them and led them into a charge across the bridge. The Michiganders fell back again, but made another stand in a road cut. In the resulting melee, the Federals lost a flag before they finally broke and fled. In a running fight, Mosby’s men followed the Michiganders to within three miles of Poolesville [2].

Both sides had taken casualties. For Mosby, the loss of Capt. Brawner was especially troubling, as it was difficult to maintain command over the Prince William County Rangers without their leader. From a personal point of view, however, the raid was a success: After sending his report and the captured flag to JEB Stuart, Stuart forwarded it to Jefferson Davis with the note: “In consideration of his brilliant services, I hope the President will promote Major Mosby.” [3]

Who fought?

Capt. Charles W. Deane: Born in Vermont in 1837, he moved to Pentwater on Lake Michigan and worked there as a lawyer. In August 1862, he mustered into the 6th Michigan as Capt. of Company I. After participating in many battles with the famous Wolverine Brigade, he mustered out in January 1865. After the war, he seems to have returend to the law and for a time represented Oceana in the State Legislature. He died in 1914. [4]

Maj. John S. Mosby: Born in 1833, he worked as a lawyer before the war. He inlisted in the Confederate cavalry in 1861, fought in several battles and bcame a scout for Jeb Stuart. In July 1862, he was captured by Union cavalry but was soon exchanged. In January 1863, he began his operations as an independant partisan, a form of organisation that, according to the Partisan Ranger Act, allowed him to retain captured property. Derided as a “horse-thief” by the Union command, his daring raids were widely admired by the Confederates. After the war, Mosby entered politics and for a time served as consul to Hong Kong. He died in 1916. [5]

Capt. William G. Brawner: Born in 1832 in Prince William County, he seems to have been an influential person in his community. Working as an attorney before the war, he served as a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention in 1861. In May 1862, he organised the Chinquapin Rangers, a partisan ranger troop in his home county. When the company was mustered in as the Prince William Partisan Rangers in September 1862, he was elected Captain. Participating in several raids and small-scale engagements, he died during the fight at Seneca Mills. [6]

Why did it matter?

At the time of the skirmish, the 6th Michigan was part of Major General Julius Stahel’s division, which, as part of the Corps defending Washington, had tried to catch Mosby for some time. Mosby knew of Lee’s plan to invade Pennsylvania and wanted to stir up trouble so as to pin Union troops around Washington: “it was my policy to keep up a state of alarm about the capital” [7]. According to one author, the raid on the Union camp at Seneca Mills might even have been made directly upon Stuart’s request. Mosby’s objective would have been to scout fords to prepare for the advance of Stuart’s cavalry, which was to screen the infantry of Ewell and Longstreet. The timetable, however, was brought into disarray by the cavalry Battle of Brandy Station [8].

However that may have been, Mosby’s raid on the 6th Michigan’s camp indeed caused alarm in the Union command. Several units were dispatched to catch him, but none was successful. The raid cemented Mosby’s reputation among friends and foes alike as the swift and elusive “Gray Ghost”.

The Scenario


The most imposing landmark of the area was the Seneca aqueduct – or, more precisely, naviduct – which carried the water of the Seneca Creek over the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and into the Potomac. There seems to have been two small bridges near the aqueduct and several mills along the Creek, which was an important source of water power.

In game terms, the canal as well as the creek count as impassable obstacles for all troops. However, as it forms the Southern border of the playing table, there is no real need to represent the canal on the tabletop. The trees and bushes along the banks of the creek block line of sight. The sunken road to the west of the creek should provide complete cover for men on horseback.

The Union Primary Deployment Point is located on the road at the western edge of the table, while the Union Secondary Deployment Point is at the camp. The Confederate Deployment Point is on the road at the eastern table edge.

Victory Conditions

This is an encounter battle. Each side has to reduce the enemy’s Force Morale to 0 while keeping its own at 3 or greater.

Special Rules

Camp: At least one Union group must deploy from the Union Secondary Deployment Point (camp). If this DP is taken by the enemy before a group is deployed from it, the Union automatically loses one group (so it may only deploy three groups from the Primary Deployment Point) and has to roll on the Bad Things Happen Table for Loss of Deployment Point.

Cavalry vs. skirmishers: Skirmishers (including dismounted cavalry) count as fighting without bayonets if attacked by mounted cavalry.


Union: 3 Leaders, 4 groups of the 6th Michigan Cavalry (Co. I), Support: Colour Party

Confederates: 4 Leaders, 4 groups of the 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion

Unit Rosters

Using Rebels and Patriots

Use Skirmishers with the unit upgrades Good Shooters and Mounted (=6 points) for the 6th Michigan and Shock Cavalry with the unit upgrade Veteran (=8 points) for the 43rd Virginia. One Union unit is deployed at the camp, the rest deploy at the site indicated as Union Primary Deployment Point.

Design Notes

The idea behind the scenario is a clash between two different tactical doctrines: The lightening strike of Mosby’s raiders, which relies on speed and the shock of a direct charge, versus the dismounted drill of the 6th Michigan, which relies on the firepower of repeating carbines (represented in the scenario as breech loading carbines, as those are powerful enough in Sharp Practice). The Confederate player will have to be fast and decisive, as it will be difficult to withstand the concerted fire of Union troopers in good positions.

My good friend and regular gaming partner Sigur has written a report of us playing this scenario which can be found on his blog Tabletop Stories.

[1] Petruzzi, David J. and Stanley, Steven A.: The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses. El Dorado Hills: Savas Beattie 2012, p. 10-11.

[2] OR I: 27, part 2, p. 787-788; Scott, John: Partisan Life with Mosby. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston 1867, p. 99-101; Mosby, John S.: Mosby’s War Reminiscences and Stuart’s Cavalry Campaigns. Boston: Geo. A. Jones & Co. 1887, p. 157-161; Williamson, James J.: Mosby’s Rangers, a record of the operations of the Forty-third battalion of Virginia Cavalry from its organization to the surrender. New York: Ralph B. Kenyon 1896, p. 69-70.

[3] Wert, Jeffrey D.: Mosby’s Rangers. New York: Simon & Schuster 1990, p. 86; OR I: 27, part 2, p. 788.

[4] Pension records accessed via fold3.com; Hartwick, L. M. and Tuller, W. H.: Oceana county pioneers and business men of to-day, Pentwater: Pentwater News Steam Print 1890, p. 216.

[5] Wert, Jeffrey D.: Mosby’s Rangers. New York: Simon & Schuster 1990.

[6] Fortier, John B.: Story of a Regiment: The Campaigns and Personnel of the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, 1862-1865, M.A. thesis, College of William & Mary – Arts & Sciences 1968, p. 48 (available online)

[7] Mosby: Mosby’s War Reminiscences, p. 158.

[8] O’Neill, Robert F.: Chasing Jeb Stuart and John Mosby: The Union Cavalry in Northern Virginia from Second Manassas to Gettysburg, Jefferson: McFarland & Co. 2012, p. 211.