Thursday, 5 August 2021

Assaulting Herbst Woods - Gettysbur

Having just completed the Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy survey, I happily spent my ‘thank you’ voucher on WSS issue 66 as a PDF download, an issue that gives special focus to the first day at Gettysburg and a superb read it is too.

The first day has always interested me and magazine contributors Mike Evans and Don Effingen, provide 7 linked scenarios that cover the first day of fighting. Scenario 3 covers the fight over Herbst Woods between Archer’s Brigade and Meridith’s Iron Brigade.

The fight through wooded terrain only needs 4 units per side. I initially saw this as an ideal action to use the Perry 28mm ACW Battle in a box set, that just happens to give each side 4 infantry regiments and I will do that - but it struck me as an interesting battle to also run with my Two Flags - One Nation rule set on a hexed table.

The rest of this post covers an AAR of the hex game. Please use the ‘read more’ tab for the complete post.

We are a little later into the first day. Archer has already come up against Buford’s skirmishing dismounted cavalry and taken some losses. This delaying tactic by the cavalrymen has given time for Meredith to bring his ‘Iron Brigade’ up to block Archer’s advance. Now Archer and Meredith are about to face each other.

Our table (6' x 4' for the 28mm game and less than 4’ x 3’ for the hex game) is completely filled with light woods, with a few sporadic areas of denser woodland, plus some marshy ground adjacent to Willoughby Run, which is a shallow waterway that mostly runs width ways across the table. The only other addition are two rocky outcrops which are placed randomly. I used D10 for width and D6 for depth to identify placement hexes.

For terrain effect, I had the light woods block vision so that firing could only be done at short range, it also slowed down movement. The denser woodland and rocky outcrops are rough terrain and provide cover against attack. The waterway is fordable. Any terrain that is not light woods, disorders a unit that moves into it.

The basics of the scenario are that the Confederates enter the table and get two turns of movement before the Union can move. At that point the Union regiments dice for entry onto the table and that die roll gets easier each turn until units are guaranteed to enter. So the first part is a meeting engagement.

For my rules, I have the Iron Brigade as Veteran and Archer’s brigade as seasoned, so that when capability tests are taken, there is an advantage to the Union and some of the casualties already suffered by the Confederates at the hands of the cavalry, especially within the command structure, are represented.

The victory conditions are that the Confederates must get at least one unit off the Union board edge.

At the start of play the two Brigade Commanders took ability tests and Archer gained an ability …. ‘Leads from the front’. This will give any regiment that he is with a +1 on the charge, but it also increases his own risk of becoming a casualty.

Opening turns. 

The Confederate come on in line on the left side of the above map. The Union dice rolls to get onto the board go fairly well, though 24th Michigan lag behind and become late arrivals. Meredith takes his 2nd Wisconsin and occupies the rocky outcrop. This will anchor the centre of his line.

Archer moves up to Willoughby Run without incident, other than a Random Event causes one of his regiments to suffer ‘Command Indecision’ allowing the Union to push it back one hex, so that it is now out of line and lagging behind.

Mid game.

The Confederates get amongst the dense trees that line the waterway and then they enter Willoughby run. From there the Rebel Yell goes up and the Confederates charge into the Union line. The Confederates will suffer penalties for charging out of a waterway and for any disorder they still have on their units. Over on their right, the disordered 14th Tennessee fail their Capability Test and only put in a ‘half hearted’ attack.

Surprisingly, the veteran Iron Brigade do not do particularly well on their own Capability Tests upon receiving the charge and it is only 2nd Wisconsin with Meredith that get off organised defensive fire.

Archer’s attack is a success. They clear the rocky outcrop and push the Union back. They are now just two hexes away from the Union baseline and the prospect of them getting off the table edge is very real.

End game.

1st Tennessee continue to push, pressing 24th Michigan to the table edge. Archer has become so personally committed to this attack, that he is leaving his right flank out of command. It is with Archer, that the Confederates will win or fail.

To get out of their mess, 24th Michigan have to counter-attack, but it goes badly wrong. They hit a wall of musket fire and then their assault collapses to one of being ‘half hearted’. They take the greater loss and are forced to fall back …… off the board. 

The way is now open for 1st Tennessee. Meredith tries to intercept, but they can’t be stopped unless a lucky (unlucky) Random Event occurs before they get a chance to move and exit the table …… and that does happen - almost!

Another Command Confusion Random Event result occurs, but this time it goes against the Union side and so 1st Tennessee in their movement phase advance off the table without hindrance and a Confederate win is declared.


That was a really enjoyable little action. There was more nuance going on than I reported here and it just goes to show how even with just 4 units per side, a scenario can draw you in.

It was a bit of a surprise result as the Iron Brigade had the better Capability Status, they were holding the defensive position and they didn’t have to advance through dense wood or across the waterway that brings disorder status with it, yet they did lose. They did have a few unlucky rolls, especially when taking Capability Tests upon receiving the initial charge.

Most of the units were just getting to the point through casualties, where performance drops and certainly offensive capability gets lost, but the Confederates managed to keep the Union on the back foot.

Whether by fire or melee, an affected unit that takes hits and then fails their Capability Test has to withdraw and will go disordered, with the disorder factor then feeding into their performance. A goodly amount of Confederate fire was causing this and so the Union seemed to be permanently disordered! 

Less that half the table width was actually used, so this could go onto a smaller table.

I will play this one more time while it is set-up and then redo the table for a 28mm version with the Bonnie Blue Flag rules. 

Resource Section.

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and give a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. Link.


  1. A nice little action, Norm. Ironically I just sent you an email about TFON, played without hexes!

  2. Thanks Steve, 6 AM here,I have just picked up your e-mail and will reply later today once I can gather some thoughts :-)

    It was my intention to replay the action with Bonnie Blue Flag, but perhaps it might be more prudent to put my latest TF-ON (non-hexed) text to test instead.

  3. That's a nice little action there Norm and good to see such scenarios being played. The board looks great too. I imagine it would play well using BPII and the GH! supplement. I've been wondering what to do with my voucher, so I think this back issue is one worth getting, so off to peruse others later on today.

    1. Thanks Steve, from the 7 scenarios provided, there is a good mix of army size, but the 4 regiments per side gave surprising interest, together with the terrain mix and limitations that it caused. I think the WSS issue is a cracker, I also picked up the one that covers AWI, issue 63 I think and just added 2.90 euros to make that happen. Last year I bought two napoleonic issues. At this rate, in around 10 years time, I will have a nice little collection :-)

  4. Nice work Norm. You have found one of my favourite back issues and I think we have played nearly all of the scenarios from the series over the last few years, they are well written and work well.👍

  5. Hi Matt, I am a big fan of the mag, but this issue is amongst the best ….. providing you have an ACW interest :-)

    The scenario package is probably the best that I have seen in a mag.

  6. Good stuff, Norm! Four units is a small game but a lot of interesting situations can drop out of small packages. After I work through my planned series of AWI games on Shoemaker's Farm, I am considering swapping AWI troops for ACW troops and refighting the battle using TFON.

    For my certificate from WSS, I did the same as you. Used the 5 euro credit to pick up two issues of WSS. I picked up the one your mention here along with #89.

    1. Hi Jonathan, despite 4 units, there were some really engaging moments and it is a great sized scenario for smaller collections or Neil Thomas scenario enthusiasts.

      I just had a quick look at issue 89, I have that in hard copy, a great issue that I haven’t been able to bring myself to dispose of yet!

  7. Great little action there Norm, small and perfectly formed.

  8. Thanks Phil, indeed it is. I played it twice yesterday and this evening will put up a 28mm version on the table, so I reckon I already have my moneys worth out of the scenario.

  9. Seems like you had a good game Norm, it certainly looked very nice and good to see a Rebel underdogs catch a few breaks and grab a win!

    1. Hi Keith, yes, surprisingly enjoyable for a small action. I have spent some 8 hours today going through my February edit of the conversion to open table (non-hex), so this small scenario might see several outings as those are put to test.

  10. Interesting scenario, more Americans getting off the table, seems to be the in thing! I'd be interested to see it in Blackpowder if you get to it!
    Best Iain

  11. Hi Iain, I was surprised to see Archer get through the Iron Brigade! I would normally go straight to Blackpowder for a re-run ….. but! I find in very small games, they can see off a unit in a single turn and so some nuance is lost, plus (for me) for a while anyway, I might like to see how TF-ON going to an open table works out with small games, as units can absorb a bit more damage to give a bit more of a too and fro type engagement. I may of course find my bubble bursts after a couple of games :-)

  12. While that’s a nice little write up the real treat for me was learning about the WSS issue. That sounds like something I should have. Plus I have the same thank you voucher! This might be the first time your blog costs me money. 😀

  13. Hi Stew, I like the mag anyway, but this issue is tops, money well spent I think …. Plus instant delivery on the the old PDF thing.



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