Monday, April 25, 2011

A Flames Of War Update!

Well, its been a while but I think I'm ready to head back into WWII. I've been inspired by Steve over at WWPD to put some time into my early war light Panzer company.

Check out Steve's Panzers here...

So to kick things off I've basecoated 7x Panzer IIs, 4x PzIs, 2x Pz IVs, 3x SdKfz221s, 1x PzBef. Next up I'll start inking and other details. It'll be a good army to work on since I'm on the countdown to my wedding next Sunday. This is a pretty simple army to do, especially with the help of this tutorial here ... I really like how this painter's colors and style bring out the most from a simple grey Panzer.

Anyway, hope to get started on this project tonight!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Iuka: The Wrap Up

By nightfall Sanborn's brigade was shattered. All but his 4th Minnesota had been broken on the field of battle and forced to regroup. The Federal commanders had also failed to establish a reserve line to fall back upon, something that could have been done by Fuller's brigade which was showing up at about this time.

On the far left flank, the 4th Minnesota was spooked by the fight for the 11th Ohio's position and had pulled back out of the clearing they were stationed in and into the tree line behind where the regiment became badly disorganized. This created an even larger gap between them and the rest of Hamilton's division further south. The regiment took no real part in the fight except to open fire on the advancing Mississippians moving up to exploit the gap that had opened up with the withdrawal of the 16th Iowa. The Minnesotan fire was largely ineffectual, but it did cause some confusion within the Mississippi ranks, which in turn resulted in some friendly fire incidents. The combination of friendly fire and the volleys of the Minnesota regiment compelled the Mississippians to withdraw, thinking they had run into a fresh Federal brigade.

Both sides settled into an uneasy night, the result of the battle far from decided. The north had suffered heavy casualties, but the regiments quickly bounced back and reformed, ready for the following day. The rebel regiments did the same, but they, as a division, had lost much more.

Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little (CSA)
During the charge of the 3rd Texas and 1st Texas on the 16th Iowa and the left section of the 11th Ohio battery, Brigadier General Henry Little, commander of Price's First Division, rode forward to oversee the attack and personally direct the approaching Mississippi regiments that were marching down the Iuka road. General Price met him at the road junction and began discussing the tactical situation. Little requested that he receive immediate reinforcements to follow up the Texans' and Louisianans' breakthrough, but Price resisted. Soon a small argument between the commanders erupted and Price began waving his arms about add a little emphasis to his point. Just then a Minne bullet passed under Price's raised arm and through the head Little. The general was killed instantly. Confusion swept through Confederate ranks as a shell-shocked Price struggled to get a handle on the situation. Instead he placed General Herbert in command and removed himself from the battlefield.

With the loss of Little the Confederate army lost its initiative. The reinforcements Little had ordered to push forward never received their orders and they simply stood down as nighttime approached. Campfires lit up and the men of both armies spent an eerie night amongst the dead and dying.

During the late hours of 19/20 September, Price's general staff tried to reason witht he grieve-stricken commander. He could not make any straight decisions, however he insisted that he would continue the fight against Rosecrans at first light. However, his advisors had received very convincing evidence that Ord's army was rapidly approaching from the north and with him General Grant. To stay where they were would certainly risk being cut off and surrounded by Union forces. After many long hours they finally convinced Price to retire from the battlefield. The withdrawal would begin at 5am.

Rosecrans, who was busily preparing his lines for the battle he was sure would come at first light, discovered Price's intention to withdraw only after most of the Confederate army was on its way south. Cavalry was sent out ahead to try and cut the rebels' retreat route, but they were unable to get through the Confederate rearguard. With a heavily damaged army, Rosecrans was forced to let Price go, a decision shared by Generals Grant and Ord.

Confederate losses at Iuka were approximately 520 killed, 1300 wounded, and 181 captured. Union losses at Iuka were 141 killed, 613 wounded, and 36 missing. By retiring, Price gave Rosecrans a victory, though the battle could have been won had he not frozen up after the loss of Little. He could have overrun the shattered remains of Sanborn's brigade and smashed into the approaching Union reserves while they were in column formation. It is very likely that he could have secured a decisive result, but instead he delayed and allowed Ord and Grant to threaten his flank.

And so ends the story of the Battle of Iuka. Price's defeated army retreated and eventually joined Van Dorn in an ill-fated attack on Corinth. Rosecrans' command returned to Corinth to oversee the city's defenses and once again met Price and defeated him. With the victories of Iuka and Corinth, the Grant was poised to establish his famous siege of Vicksburg and thus seal the fate of the western campaign and with it the hopes and dreams of those damned dirty rebels.          

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Center

As the battle of Iuka swirled about them, the gunners of the 11th Ohio Battery madly inflicted a devastating toll on the Confederate troops.

Before the battle as the lines were being formed, Sanborn rushed up his brigade's artillery battery, the 11th Ohio. Sanborn ordered the battery's commander, Lieutenant Cyrus Sears, to set up his guns on the hill, which he faithfully did. The battery rolled its guns up nearly wheel to wheel and opened fire on the approaching rebels.

Sears's first target was the dismounted skirmishers of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. They opened fire when the rebels were only 100 yards away with double canister shot. Hundreds of Texans fell forcing to gather its skirmishers and reform the regiment, buying the Sanborn the vital time he needed move up the 5th Iowa and the 48th Indiana on the battery's flanks.

Lieutenant (later Colonel) Cyrus Sears
following the war.
The 11th never stopped firing, despite intense incoming musket and cannon fire. When the Iowa and Indiana regiments' infantry were in place, the fire on the battery slackened as the rebels diverted their attention. The battery's guns tore into the Texas and Louisiana infantry.

As both the right and left flanks gave way, Sears's men stood to the last man. A few squads from the 26th Missouri found themselves alone after the rest of the regiment retreated off the hill. They too stood to the last man.

Vengeful Confederate troops charged the battery and failed on their first two tries. Finally on the third try the Texans overwhelmed Sear's left section. The ferocity of the Ohioans' defense shocked the Texans. Muskets and bayonets crossed with gun swabs and ram rods. In one instance, David Montgomery, a lone ammunition carrier, had reached up and pulled the lanyard of his cannon and fired a double load of cannister into the approaching Texans that were within an arm's reach of the gun. A Texan raised his rifle to club Montgomery, but the cannoneer dodged. He picked up a cannister round and smashed the Texan's skull and then beat a hasty retreat into the nearby brush.

The battery opened fire at 5:15pm and fought non stop until 6:30pm, 20 minutes after sunset. After an hour and a quarter, of the battery's 97 personnel, 18 were killed and 39 wounded. Of the 54 cannoneers, 46 were hit during the engagement, and only three of the battery's 80 horses survived the fight. So impressed witht he Ohioans, the Texans took pity on them and released all of their prisoners.

The fight for the center was finished. Sanborn's brigade was shattered, but the Confederates were badly mauled and their attack faltered. Each of the assaulting regiments had lost about 100 men. The assault was halted and a strange lull took form on the battlefield.    


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Iuka: The Right Flank

The fight on the right flank of the 11th Ohio Light Battery was just as fierce, if not more so, than the one on the left. Sanborn moved his 5th Iowa Volunteer Regiment up to protect the battery's right flank. Unlike the 48th Indiana, there were no other regiments guarding its flank. The regiment knew that its position was critical and that they held the key to the Union line-failure was not an option.

The Confederates hit the 5th at the same time they hit the 48th Indiana, coming on in full force. Opposite the Iowans was the 3rd Louisiana Regiment, both veterans of the western campaign. The Confederate troops met with stern resistance and were forced back several times. This was due in large part to the leadership of Colonel Charles (Karl) Matthies, commander of the 5th Iowa.

Colonel Charles (Karl) Matthies
5th Iowa Regiment
Matthies, a Prussian military veteran, who could only speak in broken English, really knew his stuff. He was well loved by his men and took great pains to speak with them as often as he could to gauge their morale. Now, fully knowing the importance of the situation, the Prussian turned to his troops and commanded his men to hold to the last against all hazards.  

The Iowans delivered volley after volley into the Louisiana regiment, and in turn took horrendous casualties. Smoke from both sides obscured the battlefield to such a point that one veteran recalled that he couldn't distinguish the lines but for the flash of the musket volleys. Soon the Texas Legion, opposite the 11th Ohio Light Battery, began to push into a position where it too could fire onto the Iowans. Matthies withdrew some of his most badly exposed companies back to cover the small gap between the artillery and his main line, but that was not enough. The Confederates smashed the Iowans as they moved and the Fifth began to waver as a large gap developed between them and the cannon.

Colonel George Boomer
26th Missouri Regiment
Positioned directly behind the 5th Iowa was Colonel George Boomer's 26 Missouri Regiment. Boomer, upon his own initative, rushed four of his companies up to fill the gap between the Iowans and Ohioans. No sooner had these companies marched up the hill and into place than they received a volley of fire from the 3rd Louisiana. The Missourians went to ground to avoid the worst of it, but the Louisiania troops' fire grew accurate and more casualties mounted. Boomer rode to retrieve the rest of his six companies, but found they had disappeared for where he had left them. Upset and with no time to go find them, he returned to the fight.

The Missouri companies began to break and Colonel Boomer attempted to rally the men. Some stayed and fought, others skulked off. Suddenly, Boomer was hit by a minnie ball through the lung and only then did he reluctantly order his four companies to retreat. Of the 162 Missourians that rushed to the top of the hill, 97 were killed, wounded, or missing.

Boomer's withdrawal exposed Matthies' flank to the 3rd Louisiana and the Prussian was forced to pull back himself, leaving the Ohio gunners on their own in the center of the line.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Iuka: The First Two Hellish Hours on the Left

Rosecrans's Army of the Mississippi (US) had stumbled into Price's Army of Tenessee (CS) at 4:30 pm on 19 September 1862. Leading the Union's vanguard was Hamilton's Third Division and with them my great-great-great uncle, Private George Bedford of the 16th Iowa Volunteer Regiment (Infantry). General Hamilton, as was noted previously was a bit of a jerk, but he nevertheless kept his division moving forward. The Fifth Iowa had established a perimeter along with the 26th Missouri, securing a ridge overlooking the battlefield.

Colonel Sanborn, the brigade commander, quickly set up the cannon of the 11th Battery, Ohio Light Artillery on the crest of the ridge and flanked it with the Fifth Iowa on the right and the 48th Indiana on the left. Both of these infantry regiments were relatively fresh troops, and the 48th was as green a unit as they came. Still, the men fell into line and readied themselves for the attack that was sure to come. Sanborn placed the 26th Missouri on the extreme left flank to protect the line from a Rebel flank attack. He then placed his only veteran regiment, the 16th Iowa, behind the Ohio gunners in reserve. The remainder of his brigade, the 10th Iowa and the 4th Minnesota, to the left of the 48th Indiana.

Meanwhile on the Confederate side, Herbert's Brigade, consisting of amalgamated 14th and 17th Arkansas Regiment, 3rd Louisiana, 40th Mississippi, and two dismounted Texas cavalry regiments (Texas Legion and 3rd Texas), all lined up in front of the Federal line and made ready to attack. The 3rd Texas Cavalry was broken up to provide a picket line of skirmishers ahead of the Texas Legion and the 3rd Louisiana. The other regiments formed a second line behind.

Almost immediately the Texas skirmishers came under fire from the Ohio gunners, and soon the regiment was pulled back behind the others and reformed to take on the left flank opposite the 48th Indiana. All at once the Confederates charged the Union line, their own cannon supporting the attack from a nearby hill. These guns could fire over the heads of their comrades and hit the exposed Indianians on the opposite ridge. To add to the Hoosiers' (Indianians) problems, they had been deployed too far back from the crest of the ridge, which blocked their line of sight to the advancing Texans until they were virtually on top of them. It also allowed the Confederate gunners to fire on them until the last possible moment before the Texans charged.

The Hoosiers began receiving fire from the Texas Legion as they advanced into musket range. Meanwhile the 3rd Texas Cavalry, itself as battle-hardened as the Indianians were green, managed to find a gap between the 48th and the 4th Minnesota and moved some companies in to exploit it. The Hoosiers now had artillery breaking up their ranks, Texans shooting from the front and the flanks, and could still not see their enemy. Then, suddenly the 3rd Texas sprang over ridge line and into the Indianian lines. The 48th disintegrated completely and the survivors ran as fast as they could, Texans hot on their heels.

Sanborn reacted quickly and rushed to rally the Hoosiers. When they refused to obey he shot two soldiers with his revolver, but still they fled. The regiment's own colonel managed to rally a few squads and began to form a new battle line when he was struck five times by Confederate bullets (which he miraculously survived!). That was it. The 48th packed it in and broke for good. Overzealous Texans were running amongst the retreating Indianans causing further confusion.

Realizing the 48th was a lost cause, Sanborn rode to the 16th Iowa and ordered them to be ready to give the Texans a volley once the Indianans were out of the way. For reasons obscured by the fog of war, but most likely because of the confusing nature of seeing Texans mixed in with the Indianans, the Iowans let loose their volley before the 48th could get clear. The Indiana regiment lost more men in this volley than they had up to this point and were now flatly and fairly demoralized. Still, the Texans were halted and forced back over the ridge, chased by the 16th Iowa which moved forward to reoccupy the 48th's old position. It was 6pm, with only 10 minutes of daylight remaining.

When the 16th arrived they ran flat into the advancing Texas Legion, which was taking fire from the Ohio battery. The veteran Iowans fired first, shattering the forward companies of the Texas Legion. But the dismounted cavalrymen gathered themselves and returned fire. The two regiments exchanged volley after volley, and it wasn't until the 3rd Texas regrouped and joined the firefight that the Iowans were slowly pushed back. With a few well aimed volleys, the Texans had cut through the Iowan line, and the regiment was forced to retire, having lost 72 killed and hundreds wounded. Private George Bedford was among the 16th Iowa's dead.

Despite this, the sacrifice of the 16th Iowa had completely depleted the two Texas regiments. Furthermore, while victorious,  the Texans were unable to push forward due to the arrival of Rosecran's fresh Second Division. Instead, the cavalrymen were forced to shift their attack to the right and assault the Ohio battery head-on with the darkness of night only minutes away...