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Military Modelling – June 1979

Re-fight of the “Railway Incident” - Teaser #7 (March 1979)

C. S. Grant describes the


fighting of the wargame
proposed in the March issue.

Students of the American Civil War will


not find the action at Cornpore Junction
in the annals of the Valley Campaign or
in accounts of Bull Run. Nevertheless,
it was at Cornpore Junction that Dover
wargamers clashed in the enactment of
Teaser Seven —"Railway Incident".
Andrew Green contributed a
magnificent '0' gauge railway track and
carriages to make the terrain shown in
diagram 1. The '0' gauge layout was, in
fact, much more suitable than ‘00’ and
the sturdy carriages provided ample
accommodation for the concealed
forces. Peter Sheppard was given the
following briefing:
"You command a supply depot at
Cornpore Junction. A supply train
arrives at 1000 hrs. daily, passing
through Chickahominy, the last town
before Cornpore Junction.

the train has stopped just


short of the junction box '
and the battle rages for 1. 6th Alabama Infantry (5 officers Alabama regiment will attack and
possession of the points. and 40 men). capture the depot on the northern
Earthworks and barricades 2. 7th Louisiana Infantry (5 officers side of the town. They will be covered
have been built across the and 40 men). by the fire of the troops in the junction
town and the defenders box and train. The train will then, if
stand by. This force has successfully possible, return past the points which
ambushed the train after it left will be changed so that it can move
Chickahominy has just telegraphed that Chickahominy, and is now on its way on the left fork into Cornpore
the train left on time and you can towards the supply depot with the Junction. The half regiment on the
expect it at 1000 hrs. as usual. At 0945 two Confederate units safely on train will link up with the main assault,
you signal the Junction Box to switch board. Before entering the table, the finish off the enemy, load up the
the points Rebel commander made his plan as supplies from the depot and then
to allow the train to enter the town. This follows: withdraw."
is done." "The train will advance to the points We will see how this plan unfolds and
southeast of the town. Half of the 7th make some comments on it later.
The Federal forces are: Louisiana unit will dismount and With the preliminaries completed, the
A. 5th Vermont Infantry (5 officers and capture the junction box and points. game could now begin. You will
40 men). This half unit will check the points are remember from the March 1979
B. 12th Illinois Cavalry (3 officers and set to take the right fork and not into instalment of this series that the force
20 men). the town. The train will then move in the train, in this case the
C. 1 gun and crew. over the points and north until it is Confederates, must throw one die to
north-east of the Depot. The 6th see in which period they arrive on the
We can now turn our attention to the Alabama will detrain on the sheltered table. This throw would indicate the
Confederate forces led by Andrew side of the train leaving the half delay in fifteen minute intervals
Green and assisted by lan Osborn and regiment of the 7th Louisiana to caused by taking the train. Following
Chris Spickett. These consisted of: defend the train and to move it. The the chart in Teaser Seven one would
Military Modelling – June 1979
This1979)
Re-fight of the “Railway Incident” - Teaser #7 (March shows a
close-up of the
then see the degree of alarm caused in town and junction
in period 12. The
the town by the train's delay. At this
train has halted
point I feel bound to make a personal north east of the
comment. I have wargamed against depot and the 6th
Confederates for more years than I Alabama Infantry
care to remember. I have only deduced are1 in the act of
from this that if they had been as breaking in. The
incredibly lucky in real life as their lead 12th Illinois
or plastic counterparts seem to be on Cavalry are about
the wargame table, the shape of North to charge the 7th
America would be quite different today. Louisiana while
I digress but this occasion was no the 4 mounted
exception. The die throw was a 'one' Confederate
indicating the train's arrival on the table infantry wait on
only a few minutes late, thus causing the flank.
no alarm in the town (for details see slowed as it approached the junction behind the barricade but they pressed
Teaser Seven in the March issue). A box. Meanwhile, the 4 troopers had forward. Fire from the town had little
bad throw for the defenders if they did reached the box and these joined the effect on the train which slowed and
but know it. detachment of 4 infantry already halted north east of the depot
Recalling my experience once again— there in deploying round the points (diagram 2). In this period 9 the 6th
we ... I mean, the union commanders and in the box. They left their horses Alabama detrained from the side out
are as devilish cunning and wary as the unattended, of which more anon. The of view of the town and the train
blasted Rebs are lucky. Without having purpose of the train's slowing was began to reverse back to the points.
any advanced warning of the nature of soon revealed as it ground to a halt The Alabama and half of the
the game and working only from the before the-points and half the 7th Louisiana deployed and linked up
instructions given above, the Federals Louisiana Infantry poured. from the covering the whole east side of the
had smelt a rat. They had therefore told wagons while others scrambled to town. A heavy fire fight ensued with
the umpire prior to the start of the the , roof to fire on the enemy. By the garrison. The attackers at first
game that they had a previously now it was the 6th period (map 1) came off the worse, the Alabama
arranged signal which was given by the and a bloody battle raged around the regiment losing 6 men and an officer
train as it approached the junction box points for possession of the junction in one volley. Morale seemed shaky
each day. This signal, two long whistle box. The garrison of troopers and but the Rebels took fresh heart and
blasts, meant that all was well. The infantry put up a gallant defence but pressed on. The Federal defences
failure to produce this signal would were slowly overcome by the were weaker on the north side of the
alarm the town. Of course, the superior numbers. By period 8 the town and the commanders were slow
Confederates, being unaware of this, Confederates were able to change to reinforce this hard pressed and
approached in silence'. This indeed the points, but one solitary Federal vital area with men from the
was something that I had not expected cavalry trooper held out staunchly. barricade. Elsewhere in the
when I wrote the Teaser and it shows This hero dispatched the rebel dogs battlefield, the federal gun came into
how the wargamers own common in magnificent style giving them other action by the barricades but failed to
sense and imagination can add colour, reasons to yelp. Holding the small hit the reversing train. Our gallant
substance and the unexpected to the entrance to the top of the steps, he trooper continued his solitary defence
game. could only be attacked by one of the junction box and had now
The town's garrison, hearing the train assailant at a time. During this dispatched half a dozen enemy.
approaching slightly late and with no episode, the Federal forces in the In the twelfth period a strong assault
signal, at once mounted the 12th town, seeing the battle for the points, by the 6th Alabama succeeded in
Illinois. The cavalry moved out of the were digging like moles, throwing up getting into the depot though they left
town to the south, dispatching four a formidable obstacle on the south a few defenders in the main building.
troopers to make for the junction box. side of the town. I mentioned the The Federal Cavalry moved round to
As alarm bells were sounded unattended horses earlier and it was threaten the 7th Louisiana while the
throughout the town, the soldiers during this time that four bold ;four bold mounted Rebels on their
tumbled from their billets and fell in by Louisiana men grabbed the four Federal horses with some audacity
companies at their appropriate muster Union horses and mounted them. placed themselves in turn to threaten
points. As the train loomed closer, Although we will return to our the Federal cavalry. In the next period
quick orders were given to the infantry surviving lone hero in the junction the Illinois Cavalry came to grips with
who deployed to the south east side of box, the Rebels had now been able the 7th Louisiana as the train now
the town and set to preparing to change the points outside and, moved forward across the points
barricades and earth works to cover leaving half the 7th Louisiana to towards the town. Regrettably, at this
any hostile approach up the railway spread out and advance towards the time, our hero in the junction box
track. Wagons, carts, barrels and Union defences, the train moved off (yes, he had survived for 8 periods
boxes were all utilised to form a across the points heading north. The slaying all attackers) succumbed to
defence. Louisiana suffered considerably from the cruel thrust of a Rebel bayonet
To the garrison's surprise, the train the fire of the Vermont infantry and breathed his last. -
Military Modelling – June 1979
Re-fight of the “Railway Incident” - Teaser #7 (March 1979)

The melee was now in full swing by the barricade—they learn quickly these
barricades and the Rebel troopers Dover lads. However, the use of the
joined the fray and the flank of the cavalry in the conventional role
Illinois Cavalry. While this progressed, deprived the defenders of a
in the depot the Federals had suffered considerable number of infantry who
heavy casualties and had pulled back could have, perhaps, been used to
leaving only a couple of ^soldiers alive defend the weakly held depot. In this
in the house. The cavalry, having been respect it is difficult to change years
badly mauled, withdrew west along the of treasuring one's cavalry and start
south side of the town, a spent force. considering them only as infantry
The train, having reached the centre of with horses.
the town, disembarked the fresh half Finally, the lone hero in the junction
regiment of the 7th Louisiana. The box and some of the action jn the
Federal gun had lost its gunners in the town will indicate a change from
fire fight and the remains of the more normal rules. While the 50 per
Vermont infantry fell back abandoning cent rule is normally used in Dover, it
this line of defence. The whole of the was decided on this occasion that
east side of the town was now in fighting in built-up areas could go
Confederate hands (see map 3). down to two-fifths of its strength
By period 18 the town and depot was in before becoming inoperative. In
the Rebels' possession and the few houses, individuals could fight to the
remaining Federal soldiers were end if escape was not possible. This,
limping off to the west practically I feel, is a realistic reflection of the In period 18, the train has
decimated. The train and depot was confusion and shorter visibility which reversed back over the crossing,
undamaged and the successful prevails in such fighting and also the points have been changed
Confederate soldiers were soon busy shows the morale advantages and it has entered the town
loading stores, rations and ammunition accrued from fighting from inside a breaking through the barricades
on to the wagons—a decisive victory house. It certainly added to the and bringing half the 7th
for the Rebels. excitement of the game! Louisiana to link up with the
Alabama now in the Depot. The
MM 12th Illnois make good their
Conclusion escape with what few Union
The action at Cornpore Junction
could not in any way be described as
the Way I had envisaged the Teaser
unfolding, It really proves that any
Teaser or situation has dozens of
facets. I would have expected the
Confederates to go for the bold
approach, driving straight into the
town. How wrong I was is shown by
the deliberate and careful plan which,
far from wanting to drive into the
town, went to the trouble of changing
the points to ensure they did not. One
would have thought that with that
lucky die throw of 'one', they would
have succeeded if then they had
driven straight in. But no one would
have thought that there would be a
secret signal arranged from the train
for "all's well". It was fortunate,
therefore, that the Confederates chose
the plan they did. A very enjoyable
game with unexpected developments
for players, umpire, and writer alike.
I have commented before on the
reluctance of some of the Dover
wargamers to adapt to the methods of
less familiar periods. In this game, no
sooner had the alarm been sounded
than the Federals were digging like
moles and piling up a formidable