Thursday, 30 September 2021

A return to Mill Creek (ACW)

Another go of the ‘Action at Mill Creek’ scenario, taken from the Two Flags - One Nation rules. This is an outing with the open table (i.e. non-hexed) version of the rules as part of ongoing refinement of some new introductions to the rules.

The table is just 4´ x 3´ 8´´  and the figures are Kallistra 12mm, with 40mm frontages for bases and two bases forming a regiment for a total frontage of 80mm. Note, in the Resource Section below, there is a link to a previous post on the same battle that uses 3 bases per regiment, for a frontage of 120mm if those using the 60mm Epic bases would like to compare the impact on this playing space (negligible).

Essentially, the Union have two brigades to defend the high ground and bridge. The Confederates have three brigades making their assault. The Union have a third brigade, which will arrive randomly in dribs and drabs. Can the Confederates do all that is needed before Union reinforcements arrive?

Please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post.

Setting up.

The Confederates roll on the arming table and three units get smoothbore muskets, two of those units form Kershaw’s

Brigade, who also has the divisional artillery. The Union do

not get any smoothbore muskets.

The Commanders roll for any special abilities. Richardson (Union) gets ‘Leads from the front’ and Kershaw (Confederate) gets ‘Superb tactician’.

Above - this is our battlefield as described in the rulebook. The Confederate objectives are to get two regiments onto the high ground and to control both ends of the bridge.

Above - this is how that translates to the table. You are seeing the end of turn 1. All three Confederate brigades are on the table and the Union can now see where the emphasis of attack is coming from, which is a two brigade attack against the hill and a single brigade push up the road towards the bridge.

Opening Moments to battle!

Union - Porter held the area of high ground and the creek bank to the left of the bridge. The Union artillery was on the hill crest. Richardson originally set up along the banks of the brook to the right of the bridge, expecting the attack to come across the fields.

They were taken by surprise by Kershaw’s aggressive movement up the Creek Road, moving directly on the bridge. Richardson realised his deployment mistake and his regiments urgently dislocated to better cover the road / bridge.

You may notice in the centre of the Confederate line that there is a two horsed, flagged command base. This is Elzey, the Divisional Commander. He had deployed with the 6th Louisiana to boost their movement, which immediately attracted the attention of the Union artillery. They inflicted a Heavy Casualty, causing the unit to test their ‘Capability’. They fail and fall back disordered. Elzey tested for Commander Risk, but was fine.

Moving to contact!

A random event occurred that advanced the game one complete turn, so now the Confederates had less time to do what is


Seibal’s Brigade (Confederate right) had been advancing in supported line to assault the hill, but on his far right, he had sent 13th Virginia right up to the creek edge, in column, to hasten their advance, but they ran into deadly accurate fire from the high ground and took four Heavy Casualties (devastating), though they stood their ground.

Grey Confederate uniforms started to pour over the bridge. Richardson, defending the far end with a single regiment (9th Indiana), cursed the delayed Union reinforcement! moments later, his regiment was pushed back by the charging Confederates, who now controlled both ends of the bridge.

Note - the Confederates on the bridge have turned to
use the wall as cover and fire on the regiment below.

In the creek, the brigades of Holmes and Seibals, gather, increasingly becoming disordered by the creek and the fire from the high ground before them. Never-the-less, supported by artillery, the Confederates made a concerted push from the creek uphill and Union troops were either pushed back or chose to fall back. The artillery, the anchor point of the defence, limbered up and withdrew.

Uncertainty at the bridge.

While a volley from Richardson’s 7th Indiana forced the confederates back onto the bridge (crashing into

52nd Virginia) causing significant disorder, his

7th Ohio applied some fancy foot work and re-captured

the foot of the bridge.

The question now was whether 7th Ohio could hold out long enough for the reinforcements to arrive. It was going to take the disordered confederates some time to sort themselves out. 

The battle had reached a finely balanced point. All the Confederates need at the moment to win is to capture the Union end of the bridge.

Victory at the high ground.

Having re-ordered their regiments at the hill, Holmes and Seibals pressed on and started to push the heavily shaken Porters

brigade from the table - this sector was theirs!

A great cry of Huzzah! was heard from the bridge, what can it mean?

Not only had Richardson’s 7th Ohio held the foot of the bridge, but volley after volley into the restricted gateway took a very

heavy toll on the Confederates, who in desperation tried one

more charge, but they got a ‘half hearted’ result and things

rather fell apart after that.

Keyes did get the first two of his reinforcing regiments to the bridge and with four good order Union regiments in that locality and a state of great disorder and loss amongst Kershaw's Confederate brigade, the bridge was secure.

There were not enough turns left for the Holmes and Seibels at the high ground to re-direct their attention towards the bridge and so despite their great success at the hill, the game was marked up as a Union victory due to the Confederate failure to also capture the bridge, though from this generals seat, the final situation might best be described as a draw.


The Open table rules continue to work well, though I didn’t really use the new skirmisher rules except for one unit that wanted

to have an easy route through the wooded part of the hill.

The multiple disorder markers is also working well. The two brigade attack across the creek and uphill left the two Confederate Brigades very disordered, with multiple markers on them and they took a couple of turns to sort themselves out, which brought a natural lull in the sector.

There were nuances such as the regiment that was thrown back in disorder, that disordered the unit it ran through and then picked up another disorder by re-entering the creek in their retreat.

On the flip side of that, there was the instance of one unit rolling off all three of their disorder markers in one go, suddenly bringing new options and they became a lead unit in the renewed advance.

I diced to match the three Confederate brigades to each chosen jumping off point and it was perhaps unfortunate that the smallest brigade (2 regiments with Kershaw) got allocated the axis of attack for the bridge. Had they had another fresh regiment on hand to rotate into the resulting inferno, they may have won the day at the bridge.

Also the artillery was with Kershaw …. not the preferred part of the battlefield for its deployment.

The Union reinforcement was a nightmare, with the first unit not arriving until turn 6 (the earliest it can arrive is turn 2) and then taking two turns to get into meaningful fighting positions. However, ultimately, the arrival of Keyes did ensure that the bridge would stay in Union hands.

At the end, on the Union left, Porter was very hard pressed. Two of his regiments were on 7 hits and at the table edge, so very likely to fully rout any time soon and his third regiment was about to be hit in the flank, so Union defeat on the left was pretty much total. I had them vacate the high ground, rather than fighting to the last, simply to replicate the realistic decision that would be taken as part of a campaign, but it wasn’t enough to save them.

All in all, an enjoyable game. I may return to the initial set-up positions of these forces in the near future and re-run this with the Pickett’s Charge rules, for comparison.

The cast;

Table mat by Geek Villain, river, roads and fields are latex from Timecast, the hill and trees are from S&A scenics, the bridge is from Battlescale and the figures are by Kallistra.

Resource Section.

A previous fight at the creek using the same rules, but using 3 bases for regiments instead of 2 and giving a bit more explanation of the system. LINK

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. For such a simple scenario, this is proving to have lots of re-playability too it, which is great to see. The rules are certainly working well and the multiple disorders feels right to me. As always a lovely looking game too:)

  2. Thanks Steve, the scenario was originally created as an introduction to the rules and by default it serves as a good bench test scenario for a variety of rules and helps pull out the essential elements of systems.

  3. A great looking game Norm, table and figures are lovely. It seemed like a hard task for the Confederates - they did a pretty good job getting across the stream and successfully assaulting the high ground - I would vote for a draw too!

  4. Hi Keith, yes, I think taking one out of two objectives should give them a draw, plus for a brief moment, they did actually have both ends of the bridge. The scenario continues to entertain.

  5. Crossin a bridge is not always easy...but it can be epic, like here!

    1. Hi Phil, I was just reading the last account of this game and it pretty much went down to the last die roll at the bridge - I must like them as I have about 7 different bridges now! :-)

  6. Thanks Michal, I think I should have used an extra base in each regiment, like I did in the previous game.

  7. Great ACW action! It’s a lovely sight. Well played. 😀

  8. Thanks Stew, ACW presses your buttons :-)

  9. Looks great and reads like an interesting and plausible engagement. Can't ask much more.

  10. Thanks Ross, it was indeed a good session.

  11. A splendid read Norm, certainly getting the ACW vibe from the game and rules.

  12. Thanks Phil, that is good to hear.

  13. Nice game and table Norm! The Confederates might have been penalised by the random setup but the system makes for uncertainty and enables different scenario replays so all in all I would say that it’s a fairly balanced mechanism.

    1. Hi Mike, the random set-up did deal them a problem ….. but that problem entered on the road and moved quickly, which caught Richardson on the hop and prised him out of position, so perhaps all is fair in love and war :-)

  14. Really nice figures and an interesting scenario

    1. Thanks Gary, the scenario would make a good throw down challenge for several periods.

  15. Tough ask for the rebels,surely they deserve a draw!
    All the best

  16. Hi Iain, yes, well earned I would say.

  17. Hi Ray, yes, very enjoyable and a table size and figure count that is within reach of many gamers.

  18. Boy, have I played this scenario (or derivatives of it) a lot. This is a tough scenario for the attackers. Great looking game, Norm.

  19. Hi Jonathan, I do get some close results, but I think you are right that it favours the defender (Union). Today the Confederates were helped by very late arrival of the Union reinforcement.

  20. Another great article by you that has served to pique my interest in miniatures war gaming - never even really gave it much thought before. But now I’m lost in “where do I start?” land.

    I (and I’m sure many others) would appreciate a “getting started” type article from you. Maybe suggest books, rules, starter sets, etc.

    Personally I find ACW and similar/earlier periods most interesting for this type of gaming (even naval miniatures too), which is strange since I overwhelmingly prefer ww2 for board wargaming.

    The aspect that is least exciting to me is that of painting the miniatures, though I imagine that is a key attraction for most. I can hardly paint a bare wall in our house well enough.


  21. Thanks Edwin, I’m pretty sure that as someone who would simply rather game and not have to paint to get there, you are in good company. I include myself in that group, for me, the painting is a means to an end. I undercoat, then block paint the main parts and then put on a wash, which does a huge job in tidying up a basic paint job. To increase contrast you can then go back into the figure with the same colours lightened, just dabbing here and there to pick out the high spots.

    Even though that makes it sound easy, the reality is that there can be a lot of painting, especially if you have wide interests and want to paint several armies.

    There is a book by Neil Thomas called One Hour Wargames, which is often quite cheap on the kindle. His book has sets of VERY simple (too simple for some tastes) rules and 30 generic scenarios. he proposes a 3’ x 3’ playing space with between 4 and 6 units per side. It seems a good place to start, as there is not a lot of painting and it is a quick entry to get a game started. Once you have these ‘starter’ type forces, they can be built upon, but at least you are getting some early gaming done.

    Another way is to use the above rules, but just buy some boxes of the cheap boxed plastics and play unpainted - it is the fastest way to see whether it is something you want to progress with.

    I did this article with unpainted units, just to give you an idea of look. LINK

    I will give some thought to a ‘starting out’ type post, though decks are full at the moment with some design work.

    1. Thanks for this information and the article link (I hadn’t seen it before). I had assumed that the OHW book was for more experienced folk than myself, so now I’ll definitely give it a perusal.

      I like the idea of starting very light in quantity and with plastics. Plus you have another article comparing rule sets that uses a small battle - that’s probably more my speed, even if I need to spray paint each side blue/grey to get going.

      That EPIC article makes that starter set sound interesting, but I would receive a pronounced eye-roll from my wife if that showed up at the door. Baby steps…

  22. Hi Norm,

    As an update I acted on your recommendation for "One-Hour Wargames" and have been enjoying the book and starting to "make a game" of it all. I chose to go a very-low-cost-of-entry" route and posted an article on my efforts here:

    Be forewarned my results so far aren't in the same league (likely not even the same sport) as what I've seen on your blog and others, but hey! it's a start!


  23. Hi Edwin, an excellent start to your blog and you have tapped into an area where there will be a load of like minded folk who need a bit of inspiration and direction to get going and your 'real world' minimal approach will serve that.

    You may want to visit some of the big forums such as TMP and the Wargames Website and start a thread on this, so that interested parties can be directed to your site.

    You offer the perfect start to exploring miniatures wargames. Too often we gamers buy a load of miniatures, spend too long painting them and just lose mojo along the way.

    With paper armies, you can 'immediately' explore whether these games suit and what rules you prefer and over time, each paper unit can be replaced by painted bases if that's what you want.

    There is a web site called Junior General that offers a lot of top down paper wargame items and you may find these useful for a game against your dad. LINK

    1. Hi Norm,

      Thanks for stopping bye the new site and for the feedback.

      I will check out TMP and Wargames sites for sure (new resources!)

      Thanks, Norm, for stopping by and the additional recommendations.

      Alex over at had already pointed me in the direction of Junior General and Peter Dennis, and I also found some other “top down” paper unit resources over at that I might check out too. His blog(s) have been inspirational as well as yours.

      And the “gradual replacement” strategy is how I plan to proceed.




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