David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

A Fierce Engagement at Rawnsley Gap

The friendliest of hostilities resumed in GHQ this week, with Phil tactfully choosing an ACW game to kick off the new year. The game is another of our series of loosely linked games, forming the 'Robinson in the Valley' campaign. An indifferent performance by both commanders so far sees neither worthy of promotion and so their basic command remains the Division of two or three Brigades'. The action sees Robinson's Rebs presented with an opportunity to defeat Bykleigh's Union force at Rawnsley Gap and so open the route into the valley for much needed reinforcements. If he succeeds the Rebs win and he is promoted, receiving a further Brigade in the next game. If Bykleigh can hold the gap then he is the winner, promotion and a possible Medal of Honor might be his fate. Defeat might see him sent out west...

The opening scene of the game. Robinson's difficulty is effectively deploying his troops into the narrow Gap, all the while being harassed from Union positions to his front. He has a Brigade deployed for a flanking attack on his left, but the going is difficult over broken ground and a wooded ridge making progress slow. Now, as is customary, the usual annotated photomontage to convey a sense of how the battle panned out ~

Calder's Brigade advances briskly past Lender's Farm, where the Staff are hard at it trying to work out where they will head after brushing 'those people' aside.
Paddock's Brigade are making heavy going of their advance. It seems there is some confusion when it comes to orders being received.
Brecher's Brigade takes the centre of the Union position around Aston's Farmstead with Moore's Brigade in support.
The 1st USSS are thrown forward in Open Order along a wooded ridge. They will hopefully slow down any advancing Rebs on the Union's right.
The Rebs' artillery opens the battle with a furious bombarding of both Brecher's and Desch's positions. Despite losses the boys stand firm. "They shall not pass!"
With Desch's command coming under heavy fire Bykleigh orders the Pennsylvanian cavalry forward with a view to occupying Aston's Farmstead and bringing some added fire on the advancing Rebs 
On the Rebs' right O'Brien's Brigade is making slow progress forward shadowed by the 1st USSS.
Calder's leading regiment shakes out into line as it prepares to move forward across the open fields towards the enemy 
Desch's command is coming under increasing pressure and some Disorder ensues. Support is now at hand though as the Pennsylvanians reach the farmstead.
Just in time they occupy the farm house and gardens as Calder's attack gets underway. If their left is turned Brecher's position will be difficult to defend and 'PJ' may seize the Gap!
Under growing pressure from O'Brien's Brigade the Sharpshooters are forced to fall back on their supporting infantry. There is real tension in the ranks as they hear the Rebs approaching through the woods!
A Fierce firefight breaks out as the Rebs close in on the Sharpshooters. The Rebel Yell rings out and under pressure the Sharpshooters fall back behind their supports. 
Calder's Brigade has come under increasingly effective fire causing much Disorder in the ranks and stalling progress on the Rebs' right 
Despite continuous artillery fire the Union boys are standing firm as the game nears it's halfway point.
Calder's Brigade is struggling to reform under steady Union fire. The Rebs'right is looking very shaky now.
At last Paddock's Brigade shakes out into line and begins to bring real pressure to bear on the Union centre and right. Moore's Brigade moves out to support the threatened flank.
In the centre the Rebs of Paddock's Brigade advance with determination but the western boys under Brecher stand firm.
On the Union's left Desch's command and the Pennsylvania cavalry have done their job, Calder's Brigade falls back Whipped!
On the Union's right and in the centre heavy firing is taking its toll on both sides! Once more the Rebel Yell rings out as they charge forward into contact.
Despite their advantage in numbers though the Rebs'first attack fails. The western boys sure fight hard!
A moment of disaster unfolds for the Union as in fierce fighting Brecher falls and his Brigade, without command, falters. O'Brien senses his moment has come to press home his attacks and beat back the troops on the Union right 
However, he has misjudged the boys in blue. Despite mounting losses they put up stiff resistance. Their steady fire sees O'Brien's Brigade fall back Whipped! Of all the times for the dice gods to desert Phil this was the cruelest, as victory turns to defeat...

As Turn 12 and thus the game concludes both armies are badly mauled. As the scenario did not allow for a draw the win goes to the Union who have held the Gap, just...

Order of Battle :-

Union ~ Brig Gen'l 'Useless' S Bykleigh

1st Brigade - Col Brecher

6 Wi

7 Wi 

10 Mi 

19 Ind 

2nd Brigade - Col Moore 

20 Mass 

76 NY 

94 NY

23 Pa Vol, Burney's Zouavres 

1st USSS 

3rd Brigade - Col Desch 

8 NJ Vols 

Battery L NY Light Artillery

Rebels ~ Brig Gen'l 'PJ' Robinson 


1 Va Cavalry 

Sussex Light Dragoons

1st Brigade - Calder 

3rd Lo 

3rd Ark 

18 Ga 

Crump's Battery 9lb Napoleons 

2nd Brigade - Paddock 

2 NC 

10 NC 

16 NC 

28 NC 

36 NC 

Anderson's Battery 3" Rifles 

3rd Brigade - O'Brien 

1 Ma 

14 Va 

33 Va 

Another really close and taxing game which might in the final two turns have gone either way, but for the dice... A few bonus pictures to finish as a reward for my loyal reader making it through to the end ~


  1. Great looking table. Fantastic report of a brilliant game.

    1. Thank you for those kind sentiments Andy, much appreciated.

  2. A cracking scenario, finely balanced for both sides which resulted in a grand game. One fir the annals and no mistake. I fear both Generals may wallow in mediocrity at this rateπŸ™‚

    1. Mediocrity? I shall be lucky to reach even that at this rate. A grand game though, might have gone your way but for the 🎲🎲🎲

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you Jon! Hope to entertain you in GHQ soon.

  4. That is indeed a joy to behold David! Superb figures and scenery for us to enjoy. I love the little details like the dovecote and the small graveyard, which really make the game 'pop':).

    1. Pleased you enjoyed your visit! It's nice when the small things that contribute to the look of a game are noticed.

  5. Lovely set up David. It makes me want to get out my neglected ACW armies.Some lovely terrain pieces. Well done.

    1. Many thanks Robbie. I look forward to seeing your armies in action.

  6. Lovely to see the ACW back on the table πŸ‘

  7. Splendid stuff and a knife edge ending, hope to get some ACW done in February.

    1. Thanks George, hope you're feeling better soon too.

  8. Cracking stuff David…
    It was certainly a close sounding game…well right up until Phil snatched defeat from the jaws of victory…
    You can definitely see why this is one of your favourite periods.

    All the best. Aly.

    1. Thank you Aly. Yes, those dice gods certainly deserted Phil late in the game. If there is a Wargamers' Valhalla and I make it through the door the ACW will be the period I want to play.

  9. An eipc start to the year at GHQ there Dave by the look of it. A wonderfull looking table and an excellent narrative to enhance the flavour of the game! Even though Phil's luck deserts him at the critical moment (I know the feeling) it looks like the rebs took some holding back! Well played to you both.... (love the farmstead)

    1. Thank you Paul! Looking forward to our AZW game next month!