008F - Battle of Fredericksburg
Why Should You Play This Scenario?
This historical Battle of Fredericksburg scenario is really just a straightforward bloodbath of a scenario. If you enjoy a very violent scenario where both sides are pushed together then this one is going to appeal to you for sure. You will also enjoy being on the defensive while the Yanks will have to come at you.
Historically speaking, Lee's Army of Northern Virginia won a major victory at Fredericksburg. And on paper, this scenario seems to favor the Rebels as well. But according to the Department of Records, we have lost here more than we have won. Something seems strange here. Let's examine this more.
The Federals have an entire corps, plus more than a division of another, FIXED on the map north of the Rappahannock. Otherwise, these numbers would be lopsided in the Union's favor.
The Rebels have well over 40,000 high-quality infantry while the Yankees have just under 10,000. The difference in quality here is striking.
With a huge chuck of their infantry FIXED north of the Rappahannock, the Federal army lacks their usual domination in numbers in this battle. Their average quality is over a full grade lower than the Rebels as well.
While the two sides do have some cavalrymen, neither will be able to use them to much advantage where they are positioned. They can be used for emergencies but they are better left out of this fight (or protecting wagons and artillery).
Did you know?
Almost all of the Union artillery north of the Rappahannock is FIXED in place. They are nearly all long-range guns though and can still damage you from far away.
You probably wouldn't guess the Rebels have more available pieces to move here than the Federals do. But it's true. The Yankees still have far more ammunition than we do - but only 36 turns to use it! If they are smart they will fire all they can each turn so as not to waste a single round. But I'd still rather have readily available artillery to move up on the front lines.
Both sides have more than enough ammunition to fight from beginning to end in this matchup.
The Confederate high command is far superior here. They are much more likely to consistently pass command tests and to pass on bonuses to those beneath them. Lee + Longstreet + Jackson = lots of bonus points for morale checks.
Did you know?
Lee has a rating of double A's at Fredericksburg. This will make the Army of Northern Virginia very effective from a command and control standpoint.
For a major battle, on a very large map, the two sides start distressingly near one another. Probably 90% of the map area is completely wasted in this 36-turn scenario.
Both sides start with their forces less than ideally positioned. The Federals, if aggressive, can rush forward on turn one with a few regiments and bag some Rebel guns for easy points. The infantry regiments making these rushes might end up being gobbled up themselves so it is a calculated risk. But you should expect a rough turn one.
The Yankees are massed in Fredericksburg with all or parts of six divisions. On the Federal left is the Left Grand Division under Hooker with the First and Sixth corps lined up for battle. Luckily, only Birney's Third Corps division is in support of them.
The Confederates have Longstreet on the left with Jackson massed on his right flank in the thick woods opposite the Federal flank.
Neither side is setup ideally. But at least we have more freedom of movement and our backs are not to a river.
It really does feel like we have all the advantages in this scenario. We should be achieving more success then, right? Then why aren't we?
If we assume the results have nothing to do with the skill of the players involved then it must be some other factor within the scenario which puts us at a disadvantage.
If I had to guess I would say that the expectation of this scenario does not meet the reality of this scenario and it likely confuses, disheartens, and ultimately defeats some Confederate players. The expectation is a battle of great slaughter as the Federals charge up Marye's Heights. But the reality is that the Federal player can charge up Mayre's Heights with relative ease as the only Confederates in the area are a thin line of troops with less than ideal artillery support. With a few turns to prepare the Confederate position can become a bastion, and maybe your Yankee opponent gives you a few turns, but if they come straight at you then it will be a real miracle if you can hold them back for long opposite Fredericksburg. The Federals have 26,301 infantrymen in Fredericksburg opposite your 6,070. Your position will increase in strength if you can buy enough time to shift forces around, but there is no guarantee you will have that time.
Because the expectation that you will hold Mayre's Heights is shattered in the morning then the reality of the battle becomes a grueling slugging match over poor ground, through thick woods, with almost no easy way to move (or save) your artillery if you must move quickly.
You can see how easy it would be to become disheartened by this scenario and give in to the impulse to surrender early on.
1) NO MELEE IN COLUMN HOUSE RULE!
By implementing this rule you might save your battle. If the enemy player is smart they will come barreling out of Fredericksburg and right up Mayre's Heights in column formation. They can then melee their way through Cobb very quickly and begin to bust up your positions on turn one. They will pay a heavy price but they will have knocked a hole open in your lines. By not allowing melee in column you can stop this from happening.
2) Defend Mayre's Heights if you can.
Anderson's Division is stretched to the north from Mayre's Heights though it is almost impossible they will be attacked where they are due to the river in their front. Shift them to the right immediately and condense your lines. The longer you can hold the heights the better your chances are of winning the game in the long run.
3) Should Jackson Attack?
Jackson wanted to attack the Federals in his front during the battle. Should you do this? Maybe. If the Federals are repulsed in their first wave against Jackson then you may want to consider following them back to their lines and trying to push them right into the river. They have no escape route over the Rappahannock and the panic might cause them to flee the field, resign the game, or take large losses. The Federals have plenty of guns to make you miserable though so if you do decide to attack, be aware that you will run a gauntlet of fire.
Although this is not one of my favorite battles, it's not bad. While I don't recommend it to everyone, it is worth exploring if you really enjoy playing the historical setups.