Those of you who’ve followed along with me over the years know I’ve been involved first in the “Take Command” series of games on First Bull Run and Second Manassas and then in the “Scourge of War” series, which until recently had produced Scourge of War: Gettysburg along with add-ons for Pipe Creek and Antietam.
I say until recently because the latest in the Scourge of War series, Scourge of War: Chancellorsville, was released several weeks ago and is available via Matrix Games. It is a stand alone game but can also be installed as an expansion to Scourge of War Gettysburg. I’ve written more than one article on the Take Command and Scourge of War games in the past, so I’ll briefly mention that these games are near real-time tactical simulators which allow you to take command of leaders and units down to regimental or single gun tube level. Other leaders are controlled by the AI, and with the scripting system in the game, it makes for some very interesting situations. Playing a brigade level scenario makes for a VERY different set of problems than if you take charge of a division or corps. I think the best way for me to show those new to the game exactly what it’s about is to select some images from the various scenarios in the game and let you decide if it looks interesting.
First, let’s look at a screenshot of the scenario list. You’ll notice that the Scourge of War games do this visually on a map, showing day and time of the scenario and marking which side you’ll be playing with a Union or Confederate flag.
The Chancellor House and Crossroads
The Chancellor House and its vicinity saw a great deal of violence on May 2-3, 1863, with Union commander Fighting Joe Hooker getting knocked senseless on the Chancellor House porch when a column he was standing near was struck by Confederate artillery.
The first image is taken looking east early on the morning of May 3, 1863. The Chancellor House and the all important crossroads lay just out of site to the east. Bloody fighting to control the Chancellorsville Crossroads would occur here throughout the day. In the right of the picture you can see Union troop deployed on Fairview Heights. This position was critically important because it served as a great place to deploy artillery to protect, or destroy, the Chancellor house and troops in its vicinity.
This image is taken south of the Chancellor House and Crossroads looking north towards Union positions around 1 PM on the afternoon of May 3 1863.
Frederickburg and Marye’s Heights
On May 3, 1863, Jubal Early’s reinforced division attempted to hold Marye’s Heights during an attack by the Union Sixth Corps. This was the same ground the Union had failed so miserably to take in the bloody battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862.
The view here is from the Confederate lines looking east into the city of Frdericksburg, Virginia as the Union assault begins. Loom for the Union regiments attacking in column in the distance.
The next view is one many people are probably wondering about, the city of Fredericksburg itself. I can’t comment on the accuracy because I haven’t had a chance to look over some of the excellent posts from John Hennessy’s Mysteries and Conundrums blog about the battlefields around Fredericksburg, a site run by the NPS personnel working on those battlefields.
Toll Gate East of Salem Church
After the Union capture of Marye’s Heights on the morning of May 3,1863, Union forces pressed west down the Orange Plank Road. Their mission was to press all the way to the Chancellor House, catching Lee’s army in a vise between Hooker’s main body to the west and the reinforced Sixth Corps to the east. For Lee’s army, stopping the Sixth Corps well short of their goal was not only preferred, but absolutely critical to the survival of the Army of Northern Virginia. This image depicts early fighting near the Toll Gate, east of Salem Church on the Orange Plank Road. You are looking west, as the Orange Plank Road meanders west-southwest, viewing fighting between the Union Sixth Corps division of W. H. T. Brooks and Confederates under Lafayette McLaws. Continuing west down this road woould take you to Salem Church.
Wilcox’s Brigade of Anderson’s Division retreated southwest from Fredericksburg after the Union assault on Marye’s Heights. Wilcox was tasked with organizing a delaying action around the Toll Gate until reinforcements could arrive near Salem Church. This view of the delaying action looks east-northeast up Orange Plank Road from the vantage point of Wilcox’s men. Brooks’ Division of the Sixth Corps attacks, intent on driving west to Salem Church.
I hope to have much, much more on this game in the coming weeks, including after action reports of various scenarios. One strong point of these games are the famous places and the game creators’ desire to accurately portray these sites in the game. A future post will compare real photos of some of these places side by side with their in game representations. Lastly, I’ll also take a look at Jackson’s famous May 2, 1863 destruction of the Federal Eleventh Corps in its own set of images and cover the brief fight around Catherine’s Furnace.
I’ll end this post with some of the high points of the game from the Matrix Games’ SOW: Chancellorsville game page:
Scourge of War: Chancellorsville Game Features:
- Covers the Battle of Chancellorsville
- Stand-alone release, can also be installed as an expansion for Scourge of War: Gettysburg
- Twenty single player scenarios set around the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1-May 4, 1863, including night action.
- Six Multiplayer scenarios.
- Three highly detailed and historically accurate overlapping 5 mile x 5 mile maps to cover all areas of combat in the Chancellorsville area
- One 5 mile x 5 mile map for the Second Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battles of Salem Church and Scotts Ford.
- Complete Order of Battle with extensively researched unit and leader ratings as well as unit strengths correct for each day of combat.
- Use the versatile Sandbox Battle feature to find endless variations of battles on these map.
- New Replay function to allow you to save, review and share your battles. Available in both single player and multiplayer.
- Realistic weather
- Courier system for dispatches
- Extensively researched historical order of battle for each day of the battle.
- Real time combat command of a brigade, division, or corps in one of the most intense battles of the Civil War.
- New Routing server for flawless multiplayer play
- Multiplayer online combat in several modes, including: Standard opposite sides, cooperative play versus the AI, and play embedded within historical battle scenarios.
- Random play mode to generate battles of brigade, division, or corps size on any of the included maps.
- Extensive option set to tailor the game experience to the players preference and to allow good game performance on a wide range of systems.
- Carefully modeled rifles, carbines, and muskets as well as smoothbore and rifled artillery.
- A full set of infantry and artillery tutorials to get you started.
- Sandbox mode with at least 2 maps to create your own battles
- Full modding support with new friendlier interface
- Each weapon of every regiment painstakingly researched and implemented
- Sounds and Smoke effects to bring the battles to life