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Maj Gen Hardee's Attack – 1st Day of the Battle for Stones River (31 Dec 1862)


Yesterday the myself and three of the other lads from the club (Brian Buskell, Dave Lowe and Dave Hancox) played a great little ACW scenario based on Maj Gen Hardee’s morning attack on the Federal right flank at the Battle of Stones River 31 Dec 1862. The table was set up to have both Maj Gen McCown’s Division and Maj Gen Cleburne’s Div attack along the lines of attack they took on the actual morning, however my table was just a little too narrow to place Brig Gen Rains Brigade of McCown’s Division in the right position, so they had to fill in behind Brig Gen Ecton’s Texan Brigade.

The Federal forces however under the command of Brig Gen R.W. Johnson (command stand pictured above) were all positioned in roughly the right positions they held at the opening of the battle that morning. Brig Gen Willich was position with his five regiments to the north of Brig Gen Kirk’s four regiments and was position to guard the extreme right flank of the Federal Army. Kirk’s Brigade was positioned in the tree line facing south west watching for rebel movement. There was also another infantry brigade under the command of Col Post, with four regiments off the table and to the east, who would be acting as re-enforcements for Brig Gen Johnson’s Division.

The first two moves of the game were solely for the Confederates side with no reaction allowed by the deployed Union troops until they came into contact. This was done just to catch the Federals off guard as they did so on the day and allow the rebels the maximum amount of movement before receiving effective fire. The first units to engage were the from the Brig Gen McNair’s all Arkansas Brigade onto the  Federal troops of Brig Gen Kirks Brigade (pictured below).

Brig Gen Kirk’s Brigade deployed in the limited cover of a rail fence and light woods (Pictured above and below with B Battery of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery in support). They were to stand their ground well, beating off no more then three separate charges and even making two counter charges themselves against Mcnair’s Arkansas Brigade.

The first three moves of McCown’s Division was across fairly open fields with only rail fences and a cornfield to provide any form of cover from view or fire. The Federal positions were direction to the north amongst the tree line.

The Helena Battery from Maj Gen Celburne’s Div (Brig Gen Polk’s Brig) was the only artillery support I allowed for the attacking Confederat divisions. There was probably more but my research was a limited to what I had at home on the bookshelf. However the did place some well directed fire onto the Federal positions.

In the fore ground is two of Brig Gen McNair’s Arkansas regiments and the far ground can be seen the four dismounted Texas cavalry regiments from Brig Gen Ecton’s Brigade. These four regiments of dismounted cavalry proved to be the shock troops of our game and were to make a number of successful charges on the Federal positions…..and I would say winning the day for the Confederates.

A great view of the McCown’s Division advancing towards the encamped Union lines on that early morning of the 31st December 1862.

The first shoots of the Battle for Stones River are from two regiments of McNair’s Brigade onto the unsuspecting Union lines.

Slowing down the otherwise steady advance was this damned corn field.

A view from the Union lines south towards the advancing Confederate lines.

After four turns McNair has his whole brigade up and posed to attack the Federal line???

A the same time the Texans are within small arms range and start to receive casualties.

Ecton’s Texans halt to deliver well aim fire in return onto the Federal line sheltering behind the a rail fence.

Turn five and Brig Gen McNair, after delivering a slightly less then well aim volley at the Union troops, charges with cold steel only to be beaten back three times and his himself charged in the flank by Union re-enforcements under the command of Col Post.

Col Post, on hearing heavy firing to the west of his position, moved his brigade of four regiments towards the firing on onto the flank of McNairs Brigade. Then with a load Hurrah! the 77th Pennsylvania  charges into the flank of the 2nd Arkansas sending the regiment to the rear. Losing four (out of six) stands or 200men in the hand to hand fighting with the 77th Penn the 2nd Ark receives the largest loss of troops in the whole game for a single action. They did however rally around the battle flag and remained on the field of battle until the end.

But while all the fighting was going on to the direct north Maj Gen Celburne’s veteran division , of three brigs, arrived to tip the balance in favour of the Rebels by almost 2-1.

Over on the west side of the battlefield things however were getting pretty hot for the contestants on both sides. Devistating fire had reduced the once proud 10th Texas to a shadow of itself, loosing over 200 men or four stands during it’s advance. However fresh regiments of Texans were not far behind and their sacrifice was noted by the regiments around them.

With the situation hotting up across the whole Federal line Brig Gen Johnson moves right up to the front lines to help steady the troops.

But then on the sixth turn Brig Gen Ecton’s Texans give a blood curdling Rebel yell and charge the Union position. They soon break through all across the line of the charge and send two Federal regiments of Brig Gen Willich Brigade streaming to the rear.

Ecton urges his Texans forward

Union troops break and stream rearward.

Celburne’s Division still moves forward, they have not yet moved forward enough to support McCown’s Division but their presence makes the Union Generals very nervous.

Brig Gen Johnson’s  all Tennessean Brigade however soon advance and charge Col Post’s Brigade and slowly force them back.

Brig Gen Polk’s Brigade advance is slowed down by the nervous rail fences and then a corn field. It will take his brigade precious time to deploy in support of Johnson’s attack to his right.

With the victorious Texans advancing and brushing aside all resistance before them Brig Gen Willich’s Federal Brigade soon breaks and is forced to withdraw (or flee) from the field. And on the last two turns the Celburne’s troops deploy and deliver a number of successful charges onto Col Post’s Brigade slowly forcing his brigade back.

Brig Gen Ecton and his Texans clear the field of Union troops.

Two brigades from Celburne’s Division advance in unison pushing back the remaining Federal troops

Piles of dead and wounded litter the battlefield.

One of the last charges of the day and a long morning for Brig Gen McNair’s Brigade, after being repelled three times and charged in the flank twice, his brigade still remained on the field of battle fighting gallantly against all odds until the arrival of Celburne’s veterans.

The battle ended for us with a victory to the Confederate Commanders. However casualties were high with over forty bases lost or 2000 troops hit was a hard win.

19 thoughts on “Maj Gen Hardee's Attack – 1st Day of the Battle for Stones River (31 Dec 1862)”

  1. Thanks for the comments everyone and I am happy to know you liked the images.

    FINS not sure what you meant when you said "pity that the typing was not magnificent!"? as I have not completed writing up the AAR?

    all the best


  2. Thanks again for the great comments guys. The club might slow down a bit now as it has been quite a hectic month of gaming.

    All the best and happy gaming



  3. Thanks once more guys for the great comments and to read that you have enjoyed the images and post of our clubs last battle. More to come over the next few months.

    All the best


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