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Old 12-07-2015, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 12,932,297 times
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In ACW battles, naturally, full precision of unit location at a given time is an elusive goal. A brigade or regiment might be divided; how deep does one seek to drill? Sources can be inexact, and commanders on the scene had more urgent concerns than logging their units' locations each hour. I accept all those caveats, and that some digging and skepticism is always needed with any account.

With all those realities understood, has anyone seen a resource that would tell me what good scholarship says are both sides' unit dispositions at nightfall, April 29, 1863? That's just as Hooker's men were preparing to cross the Rappahannock, by way of pontoon bridges, fords, wading, and assault boats. A map would be great, the more detail the merrier.

Considerations include the locations of assault boats, equipment for pontoon bridges in addition to the one already in place where Howard, Slocum, and Meade would cross, whereabouts Stuart's main cavalry body (one brigade and his horse artillery) was ranging while keeping an eye on the latter, and Union dispositions down to the division and battery level, including the small cavalry contingent not off on Stoneman's errand, and the reserve artillery. Confederate dispositions by division are fine where they were united, though in the case of Anderson's division it seems Mahone and Posey were screening before Chancellorsville. Also the location of positions on both sides that had by this time been fortified in the fashion of the day: entrenchments, abatis, and so on, and the locations of Lee's and Hooker's HQs.

Some of you old boardgamers (and in this forum, there will be some) have already picked up on why I would want this. In my search to best understand the battle, I hunted up an old copy of Avalon Hill's last edition of the eponymous boardgame. The game allows some liberties of troop placement, with optional rules to restrict Confederate dispositions for a greater challenge to the ANV player. That's great, but I'd like to see how it plays with the historical dispositions on both sides at game start. I have map references, but they have less precision than I seek. Even partial information would help move this forward.
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:29 PM
 
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I've read this blog on and off a couple of times over my wargaming career. They did an entire setup on Chancellorsville. The link is to the introduction, but the sidebar will let you navigate through their entire setup, scenario and all of their turns.

Brother Against Brother: Chancellorsville

It might not be exactly what you're looking for, but their contact info is on the page, maybe they could steer you in the right direction.
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Old 12-07-2015, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
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Looks like a great site, and it's probably a safe bet they've done some digging. I will check it out, thanks.
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Old 12-10-2015, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Willow Spring and Mocksville
275 posts, read 345,708 times
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I recommend contacting the Chancellorsville visitor's center and battlefield museum. I had similar questions about the locations of the pontoon bridges at Fredericksburg, particularly where the Irish Brigade crossed, and one of the park rangers at the Fredericksburg visitor's center was very knowledgeable.
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Old 12-10-2015, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Aloverton
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That's an outstanding idea, Strelnikov. I will do it.

If the game's map and terrain rules are realistic, the assault boats would have to be in the Fredericksburg area because there are fords most everywhere else. The game rules say you have to have troops on the other side to emplace a pontoon bridge, and you could not get them over at as non-ford without the boats. Thus, to get two corps across near Fredericksburg, if they have rendered it accurately, that might be why the game issues the Union two assault boat units. One per corps.
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:38 AM
 
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Does the Official Records atlas map have the troop dispositions?
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Old 12-10-2015, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
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It does not, unfortunately, though it looks gorgeous. The biggest problem is finding the dispositions at the exact time in question: nightfall or dusk, April 29, 1863. That's when the game starts, so if I'm going to create a fully historical setup, need to figure out where everyone was. There are tons of maps (including some in several of my own library references) that show where everyone was during the main engagements thereafter, such as Jackson's left hook that kicked Howard's butt, or the attacks on Marye's Heights, but those all came later.
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:34 PM
 
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There are highly researched PC games that replicate the order of battle for each day:

Matrix Games - Scourge of War: Chancellorsville

"Complete Order of Battle with extensively researched unit and leader ratings as well as unit strengths correct for each day of combat."

They would have scenarios for each day and show who was where, perhaps some that start in the afternoon. I think that is at the brigade level. Not sure if it has a scenario for nightfall - Civil War combat rarely happened at night, troops would typically fall back to camps or fortified front lines, with only skirmishers out, and get into position the next morning.
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Old 12-10-2015, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
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Well, there wasn't any combat to speak of that first night; it was mostly Hooker's people getting across the drink(s). I had seen that game but hadn't thought about getting it. Looks interesting, but seems only to be a series of scenarios that do not go back as far as the night of 4/29/63, just to 5/1.

Last edited by j_k_k; 12-10-2015 at 04:29 PM..
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Old 12-10-2015, 10:28 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 12,932,297 times
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Okay, let's try it another way. Let's go with what I currently have, and maybe people will be in a position to adjust it or tell me where I am flat out wrong. Here is what I know of the dispositions of the Army of the Potomac and its primary combat support stuff, at dusk (thus about 1930, DST was not yet a thing) 29 April 1863. All Union forces are north of the Rappahannock unless noted:
  • AOP XXXX HQ (Hooker): ?
  • I XXX (Reynolds): facing S toward Massaponax Creek, artillery on east flank, assault boats, bridging equipment
  • II XXX (Couch): facing US Ford, artillery to rear, bridging equipment
  • III XXX (Sickles): facing S toward ground between Deep Run and Massaponax Creek, artillery out front
  • V XXX (Meade): near Kelly's Ford, positioned to cross bridge after XI and XII Corps
  • VI XXX (Sedgwick): facing S toward just SE of Deep Run, artillery forward, assault boats, bridging equipment
  • XI XXX (Howard): first in line to cross emplaced pontoon bridge at Kelly's Ford
  • XII XXX (Slocum): second in line to cross at Kelly's Ford bridge
  • Cavalry XXX (Stoneman; minus 1/Cav XX and horse artillery): roughly eight miles SW of Todd's Tavern, trashing bridges and capturing stuff
  • 1/Cav XX (Pleasonton) with horse artillery battalion: somewhere N of Rappahannock?
  • Fortified ground: ?? (I have five Union fort markers to place)
  • AOP Arty Reserve (12 arty batteries): ???
  • Other bridging equipment: ???
Those in italics are where I'm completely in the dark. The regular text, I am pretty sure, but there could be errors. If you can shoot it full of holes, gentlemen, unlimber your fieldpieces and let me have it.
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