Battle Report: Black Powder - Battle of Fort Donelson, febuary 1862

This weekend a few gamers gathered to play a American Civil War game, depicting the battle of Fort Donelson in febuary 1862. I'll give the background to the excellent introduction that our game master wrote for this.

February 15, 1862 Tennessee
"Come on you volunteers, come on. This is your chance. You volunteered to be killed for love of your country and now you can be."
Brig. Gen. Charles F. Smith

During the war the Confederate defence of the Western Theatre was to prove crucial to the outcome of the entire conflict. Unfortunately for the Rebels both the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers pierced their defences and were natural invasion routes for Federal forces. The Cumberland was defended by Fort Donelson, a large earthwork built on high ground just outside the small town of Dover.
After the fall of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River Union troops under Brigadier General U.S. Grant quickly marched on Donelson, laying siege to it on February 12. The Rebel bastion was commanded by Brigadier General John B. Floyd, a man not suited to military command. On the morning of the 15th the Confederates sprang a surprise attack on the besiegers and by midday had shattered the Union right flank and opened a route to freedom. Amazingly the Rebel commanders then decided against further fighting or escape and retired back within their defences.
At the height of the Rebel attack, in an attempt to relieve the pressure on his right, Grant ordered Smith's Division on his far left forward against the Rebel works. As Smith's men, spearheaded by the 2nd Iowa, struggled through the harsh terrain only one Confederate regiment stood between them and the fort, the 30th Tennessee, grievously extended to cover the near empty trenches. Nevertheless, the Tennessean's and the rugged topography held the Federals up long enough for the returning troops of Buckner's Division to stiffen the defence and bring the Yankees to a halt.

I took overall command of the Union side and handled one of our three brigades, while my second in command hand another and then the last was a joint command of whoever needed the troops when they arrived.

First turn of the game, and the Union advances with my reduced brigade on the right and some artillery on the left, the infantry had yet to arrive.

The rebel reinforcements arrive in good order along the road, and occupy the defensive line along the fort, just before the Union could get there.

The union left makes a valiant charge up to the defensive parameters to try to break through the lines, the manpower was on the union side, but the rebels are in a great defensive position…

And with a stroke of great fortune, the rebels break and flees almost immediately, leaving the line in the hands of the union troops.
This caused some panic on the rebel side, and reinforcements was thrown in to contain the breach and throw the blue coats out. At the same time more union reinforcements arrive, taking up position in the centre and advancing in the rebels.

The breakthrough and not a single rebel in place to contain it as more of the union troops get over the line and sets up a pocket to resist and rebel advances.

Rebel reinforcements, but the arrive to slowly for the southerners taste, and many battalions are used to stop the union right flank from cutting of their road, battalions that could have been used in other parts of the field.

Finally the artillery arrives as well as more troops, but at this time there is already another break in the lines, and the centre brigade has moved into the lines, making the rebel position untenable.

There was some militia troops in the fort and to try to delay the union advance they sallied forth and got into an engagement with the union regulars in what was to become a drawn out battle where the rebels held despite terrible odds!

Rebel left flank.

Hard fighting on the flank as the union tries to delay as many rebels as possible while the is centre reinforced.

With the centre reinforced and the first rebel attempt to stop it is blasted away, the rebels throws the hat in and withdraws from the battlefield. Victory to the union forces!
End of game pictures.

There are more pictures and a few more lines about the battle at my fellow commanders blogs:

Please take a look there as well for some more action!

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