Civil War Book Review: The Road to Atlanta: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Atlanta Campaign May-June 1864

by Brett Schulte on January 30, 2015 · 2 comments

Butkovich, Brad. The Road to Atlanta: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Atlanta Campaign May-June 1864. (Historic Imagination: January 2015). 104 pages, 10 scenarios and orders of battle, 20 maps.  ISBN: 978-0-9904122-3-6. $13.99 (Watermarked PDF ) and $20.13 (Paperback)

Available at:

RoadToAtlantaCoverMiniatures gamers hoping to war game the Atlanta Campaign now have, as of late January 2015, another (excellent) option available to them.  The Road to Atlanta: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Atlanta Campaign May-June 1864 is a new scenario booklet by Brad Butkovich covering the early battles of the Atlanta Campaign in May-June 1864 from Rocky Face Ridge to Kennesaw Mountain.  The scenarios range from the well-known and historical (McPherson at Resaca, assaults at Kennesaw Mountain) to those which will be new to many gamers, including what-if scenarios.  The book doesn’t adhere to any particular set of rules, instead offering up a variety of time scales and basing scales in order to appeal to the vast majority of American Civil War war gamers out there.  A second volume covering the Battles around Atlanta is expected later.

Brad Butkovich (http://www.historicimagination.com) is no stranger to war gaming scenarios or the Atlanta Campaign.  He already has scenario books out on Chickamauga (The River of Death: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Battle of Chickamauga) (TOCWOC review HERE), Pickett’s Mill (Criminal Blunder: Wargame Scenarios for the Battle of Pickett’s Mill), and great fictional battles focusing on common tactical issues encountered during the Civil War (Musketry Like Thunder: The Greatest Civil War Battles Never Fought).  In addition, he is the author of detailed tactical studies of Pickett’s Mill and Allatoona Pass in the History Press series of Civil War books.

SCENARIOS

There are ten scenarios in this scenario book, covering the well-known to the less than well known.  Note that there are NO scenarios involving the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.  Mr. Butkovich already covered that battle of the Atlanta Campaign in detail with Criminal Blunder: Wargame Scenarios for the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.

Crow Valley, May 9th, 1864 (What If?): The Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Cumberland skirmished with Johnston’s main Confederate army near Rocky Face Ridge and Dalton while McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee launched a flanking move to Snake Creek Gap.  In this what-if scenario, Butkovich explores the question of, “What if Schofield’s Army of the Ohio had launched a more vigorous attack in Crow Valley rather than simply engaging in heavy skirmishing to hold Johnston’s attention?”

 

Map Size: 5’ x 7’

Start Time: 1 p.m.

# Turns: No end time.

 

Stevenson’s Attack, May 14th, 1864 (Historical):

This scenario covers the attack of Stevenson’s Confederate division against the Union left flank, manned by Stanley’s Division, at the Battle of Resaca on May 14, 1864.  The scenario is a medium-sized game with the potential for two divisions to participate on each side.

 

Map Size: 4’ x 6’

Start Time: 5 p.m.

# Turns: [19/13/10]

 

McPherson at Resaca, May 14th, 1864 (Historical):

After failing to take a relatively undefended Resaca days earlier, McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee formed the right flank of Sherman’s army group at the Battle of Resaca, nestled up against the Oostanaula River.  McPherson ordered several brigades to take a hill in front of them manned by Cantey’s Brigade in Polk’s Corps (or the Army of Mississippi).  Historically, they did so, and the hill commanded the bridge out of Resaca across the Oostanaula, Johnston’s only retreat route.  This historical scenario pits McPherson vs. Polk in a battle for the key high ground on this end of the line.

 

Map Size: 5’ x 5’

Start Time: 6 p.m.

Camp Pope Publishing

# Turns: No end time. Game ends when neither side can advance.

Note: Sun sets at 7:30 p.m. on turn [10/7/5], and twilight lasts until turn [13/9/7].

 

Lay’s Ferry, May 15th, 1864 (What If?):

Sweeney’s Union division of the Sixteenth Corps crossed the Oostanaula River with two of its brigades on May 15, 1864.  Historically, Walker’s Confederate division responded less than aggressively to this challenge, and Johnston evacuated Resaca as untenable that evening.  What if Walker’s division had aggressively attacked Sweeney’s bridgehead?  This scenario explores that possibility as a Battle of Resaca what-if.

 

Map Size: 4’ x 4’

Start Time: 12 p.m.

# Turns: No end time.  Game ends when Confederates can no longer advance or all Northern units have been destroyed or forced north of Oostanaula River.

 

 

Gilgal Church, June 15th, 1864 (Historical):

The Battle of Gilgal Church is recreated in this historical scenario.  Joseph Hooker’s Twentieth Corps attacks mostly Cleburne’s crack division, which is well dug in.  Historically, Geary’s Division performed well and Butterfield’s performed poorly.  Can you do better as the Union commander?  Do you have what it takes to capture the Confederate works?

 

Map Size: 4’ x 8’

Start Time: 5 p.m.

# Turns: [19/13/10] (8 p.m. ending)

 

Latimer Farm, June 18th, 1864 (Historical, heavy skirmish):

The heavy skirmish at Latimer’s Farm, fought in a downpour and remembered as a battle by veterans who participated, occurred between French’s Confederate division, defending a salient near the left or southern end of Johnston’s line protecting Marietta, and elements of the Fourth Corps, Union Army of the Cumberland.  Butkovich chose this scenario as an example of the massive skirmishing operations on the lines Johnston held in early to mid-June 1864 between the “Hell-Hole” fights and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.  Rules for fighting in the rain are included.

 

Map Size: 4’ x 3’

Start Time: 8 a.m.

# Turns: No end time. The Confederate objective is to inflict as many casualties on their Union counterparts as possible.

 

Noonday Creek, June 20th, 1864 (Historical, cavalry):

This fight occurred on the first day Johnston’s Confederates occupied the imposing Kennesaw Mountain line on its far right flank.  Joe Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps faced off against the Second Division of the Army of the Cumberland’s Cavalry corps, commanded by Kenner Garrard.  Wheeler was stationed behind the overflowing Noonday Creek, a particularly formidable obstacle given the recent torrents of rain, but he did not contest the crossing.  The Federals advanced across, at which point Wheeler attacked.  Two Union brigades armed with repeaters, including the famed Lightning Brigade, managed to hold out until dark.

 

Map Size: 5’ x 4’

Start Time: 5 p.m.

# Turns: [19/13/10] (8 p.m. ending)

 

Bald Knob, June 20th, 1864 (Historical, skirmish):

Bald Knob was one of two hills which dominated the skirmish lines between the opposing armies on the Kennesaw Mountain line.  As such, it was a key point to hold.  On June 20, 1864, the Federals attempted to take this height from its Confederate defenders, elements of Hardee’s Corps.  After multiple rounds of back and forth fighting, the Union troops from Stanley’s Division were ultimately driven from Bald Knob, requiring a second, successful attack the next morning.  Can you do better as the Federals, capturing both of these key points on the skirmish line?

 

Map Size: 4’ x 3’

Start Time: 4:30 p.m.

# Turns: [27/18/14] (9 p.m.)

 

Pigeon Hill, June 27, 1864 (Historical and variants):

One of the major attacks at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, this one by the Army of the Tennessee,  is represented by this scenario.  Butkovich produces a strict historical version but also offers up several variants to provide a more balanced fight.

 

Map Size: 4’ x 5’

Start Time: 8 a.m.

# Turns: No end time. Scenario ends when one side or the other can no longer continue the battle.

 

Cheatham Hill, June 27th, 1864 (Historical and variants):

One of the major attacks at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, this one by the Army of the Cumberland, is represented by this scenario.  Butkovich produces a strict historical version but also offers up several variants to provide a more balanced fight.

 

Map Size: 4’ x 5’

Start Time: 8 a.m.

# Turns: No end time. Scenario ends when one side or the other can no longer continue the battle.

 

 

ORDERS Of BATTLE

RoadToAtlantaPg11OOBs

The orders of battle in the book are designed to allow for a wide variety of miniatures rules sets.  Time is represented in 10, 15, and 20 minute increments per turn.  Turns are expressed as Turn [a/b/c], with a representing the 10 minute turn scale, b representing the 15 minute per turn scale, and c equaling the 20 minute per turn scale.  Each unit’s strength is expressed in historical numbers (Present for Duty, Equipped) as well as figure ratios for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100 historic men per figure/stand.  A Status column gives ratings in terms of 1-4, with the best units being given a 4 and the worst a 1.  Some gamers might need to adjust a bit if their core rules use more or less than 4 ratings. A last column displays weapons used by the infantry formations.  Units with mixed weapons were simply given the weapon which more of their men used.  Artillery battalions simply have a status column, which is similar to the infantry status column, and an Armament column which lists out the number and type of artillery tubes a battery possesses.

 

MAPS

RoadToAtlantaPg13MapTerrainKey

Map scale is 33 yards per inch.  Butkovich mentions that this size “might seem unusual,” but he did this to help fix the tendency of the size and frontage of units in miniatures games being too large. The scenarios are generally designed for use with 15 mm miniatures.  The elevation of hills differs per scenario.  See the specific scenarios for details on how elevation works.  Most of the fences are post and rail fences, easily climbed over or taken down.  The woods are generally open and allow greater movement than one might expect.  For each scenario, one map shows unit setup and entry points for off map units.  A second map displays the ground without the units so gamers can better see the terrain.

The Road to Atlanta: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Atlanta Campaign May-June 1864 is a well-designed scenario book on the Atlanta Campaign which allows users of many ACW miniatures rules sets to quickly and easily set up games in their format.  The color maps are professionally designed with views showing all units and no units so you can better see how to create the playing surface.  The Orders of Battle provide both PFDE and figure strengths for easy conversion to any basing model.  Ratings are based on a four point system with suggestions for how to convert these to other ratings systems.  Butkovich picks a wide variety of scenarios from the possible list, including skirmishes and a cavalry action but also giving users some of the major actions of the major battles of the campaign, including Resaca and Kennesaw Mountain.  If you’re a miniature war gamer using any rules set and any basing model, you’ll find that this scenario book works for you with very little conversion needed.  Anyone interested in the Atlanta Campaign, even non-war gamers, will find value in this book.  I’ve often found that utilizing the maps in a war game scenario booklet helps me better understand the flow and initial setup of a given fight.  With The Road to Atlanta: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Atlanta Campaign May-June 1864 continues his line of excellent scenario books as well as his work on the Atlanta Campaign.  The best part is this is only part one!  Keep an eye out for the second installment focusing on the battles around Atlanta, coming soon…

Note: A copy of this book was provided gratis for the purposes of this review.
Camp Pope Publishing

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Butkovich January 31, 2015 at 6:47 am

Thank you Brett for the detailed review. I hope players enjoy running these scenarios as much as I enjoyed designing them!

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Brett Schulte January 31, 2015 at 10:10 am

You’re welcome Brad. Keep up the good work!

Reply

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