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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2023 6:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:58 pm
Posts: 80
Location: From the Blue Waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the Hills of Tennessee
Although I've had Campaign Chancellorsville for some time, I've never looked extensively at the map for the Fredericksburg battle. I opened it up this afternoon and noticed several things around Marye's Heights that have me puzzled.

First, from everything that I've read about the battle, the distance across the open plain in front of the heights (and the stone wall) was in the neighborhood of 900 yards. At the game scale, that would be about 7 hexes. Yet the map has the edge of town 3 hexes (375 yards) from the wall. This makes the wall reachable by the end of the Union's first turn. At this rate, and assuming average Auto-Defensive Fire, Confederate units at the Stone Wall will get one, half-firepower shot at the advancing units. Once the turn advances, the Federals have the benefit of the wall's -40% modifier - a wall that, during the battle they did not come within 75 yards of reaching.

Modern Google Earth reveals a couple of things. In GE, the distance from the wall to the near (west) bank of the Rappahannock River is approximately 1375 yards, or 11 hexes. On the game map, the edge of the river is 7 - 8 hexes from the wall, or about where the edge of town should be. Again from GE, current-day Prince Edward St., lies about 900 yards east of the wall. This street is the fifth North-South road distant from the edge of the river. Period maps, one by the US Army Corps of Engineers (1867) and another by Jed Hotchkiss, both show the edge of the built-up town lying along the fifth street from the river. From maps and my readings about the fight, Prince Edward Street was the edge of the built up portion of town in 1862 and is about 900 yards from the wall.

Link to maps:
https://unwritten-record.blogs.archives ... ricksburg/

Second, the Stone Wall (in-game) covers two hexsides along the two interior hexes, and one hexside on each of the flank hexes, 6 hexsides in total. At the game scale, the length of a hexside is equal to approximately 72 yards. Following along the wall (again, in-game) this makes the wall about 430 yards long.

The Fredericksburg Visitor's Center (adjacent to the southeast terminus of the wall) is 1.1 miles from my house, I've walked the length of the wall several times. Battlefield guides have told me that the end of the wall during the battle was close to where it now stands - this portion of the wall has been rebuilt. The far end of the wall is part of the original wall. Google Earth measurements confirm that the wall is currently about 430 yards long - the length of the wall seems to be okay, but there is another issue. A few lines from a Fredericksburg Battle Guide (by Chris Mackowski, et al.), Simply Murder, explains...

...Union assaults attempted to flank the Sunken Road. Howard's Division moved out of the city, Straight into Gordon's Marsh. This attack bogged down in the marsh and further attempts were switched to the other end of the line.

This flanking attempt was directed toward the left of the Confederate line, but the attack was aborted because the Federals could not get past the marsh. As it stands now, there's room for Union troops to march out of the city, skirt the marsh and turn this flank. A unit in column can march out of town and be on the Confederate flank in one turn, and back in line if not disrupted.

Third, and I think the most problematic, is that cannon starting the game on the military crest of Marye's Heights cannot see beyond units located on the Sunken Road/Stone Wall. This, I believe, is due to the vertical scale of 20 feet used in this scenario. Washington Artillery occupy the heights one hex behind Cobb's Georgians stationed along the wall, but can see no further than the backs of the Georgians. I believe the height difference might be close to correct (if anything, the hilltop elevation is more than 20' higher), but the embankment to the top of the hill is so steep that guns can easily see over the top of the wall and anyone standing at it. Guns placed at that position could easily see into the center of Fredericksburg were it not for the sprawl that covers the ground that was open fields during the battle.

In real life, both infantry and artillery had set out range markers on the field in front of the line, with artillery opening up at a range of 600 yards. Even if the guns could see over the infantry, at 600 yards, they would be firing into hexes at the edge of town. Plus, since the Union is Side 1, Auto-Defensive Fire for artillery is set (by the scenario) to minimum range - CSA guns wouldn't be able open up on Turn 1 (at longer range) even if they could see more than one hex.

There are several other things in this part of the field that combined to slow the Union advance upon the Stone Wall. Temperatures that day were in the mid-fifties after colder temperatures and light snow in the days before the battle. This turned the plain into a slippery mess that got muddier as the various assaults took place. There were also several fences that had to be crossed/torn down that slowed the advance. Confederates had also removed planking from the few bridges across the Mill Race. They left in place the steel supports which Union troops could walk across like a balance beam, but this too was slow and left soldiers ripe for sharpshooters and artillery fire.

Lastly, this battle starts at 6 am. The order to begin the advance on this flank was given just before 11 am. There are 15 Union brigades in Fredericksburg at battle start and none are fixed. They get a 5 hour head start over real life against one small brigade (of 3 regiments) that starts at the wall.

I do understand that some adjustments need to be made in the scenario to give the Union player a chance in this scenario. In fact, reading Rich Walker's Design Notes confirms that he has made changes in this game to make most scenarios competitive. It seems to me, that the Union has plenty of material advantages, so perhaps the best way to make this a more competitive battle (rather than a map that doesn't fir real life), is to change Victory Conditions, i.e. point totals and adding other victory locations. On this end of the field (I've not yet looked at the Slaughter Pen in depth), I don't think the CSA has a much hope of holding off the union hordes. Far too many of the advantages of this defensive position have been negated by the map as it currently exists.

One of Hooker's many errors this day was in launching piecemeal attacks. A competent Union commander in this game is going to march all of his brigades shoulder-to-shoulder, front-to-back, and simply overwhelm the rebels.

While I have no experience whatsoever in scenario design (except for editing PDT's), I would love to give editing this one a shot. But, without a way to move the river and town to the east, I don't think much can be done for this game. I have some ideas, but I first have to learn what, if anything, can be done to change the map.

(For the record, the DoR lists 24 games played, including variations - 13 Union wins (10 Major), 5 Draws (only one went the distance) and 6 CSA wins (5 Majors)).

Lt. Colonel Mike Terhune
New River Greys - 24th Virginia Infantry
Army of Northern Virginia

"Up, men, to your posts! Don't forget today that you are from old Virginia

MG George E. Pickett, July 3, 1863

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