"There Stands Jackson" - The Battle for Henry Hill
Battle of First Bull Run (1861) - Fast and Easy Rules for Students

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by Matt Fritz

Historical Background: When the American Civil War began both sides were expecting the issue to be settled quickly, by one decisive battle. The Union was enlisting men for just three months! The first battle took place around Bull Run river (the battle is also known as First Manassas). The battle was a chaotic affair. Neither army had been properly trained, and the bewildering assortment of uniforms led to confusion. The main battle centered around Henry Hill. General Jackson's brigade occupied the hill and held the position against a series of piecemeal Union attacks, leading to the comment "There stands Jackson, like a stone wall." Jackson had his nickname, and the Confederates had their first victory. The many civilians that had come to watch the battle were sent fleeing back to Washington DC in a panic. Both sides realized the war was far from over. In fact the war would go on for 4 years and claim more than 400,000 lives. This scenario focuses on the fight for Henry Hill from noon until about 4 PM, when Early's Brigade arrived to seal the Confederate victory.

Battle Report: General Beauregard ordered the 33rd VA and Pendelton's Battery to move up and engage the approaching Union forces while the remainder of his forces on Henry Hill waited behind the crest line. General McDowell ordered Porter to lead the attack on the Confederate position while Sherman was sent to try and turn the Confederate right. Rickett's battery unlimbered and began firing at Henry Hill. The 2nd NH charged up the slope and overran Pendelton's battery but they were unsupported and were quickly eliminated. Jackson ordered a counterattack to break up the uncoordinated Union advance before they could bring up reinforcements. The tactic worked brilliantly.

The Louisiana Tigers tried to slow Sherman's advance on the Confederate right but were swept aside by overwhelming numbers. Colonel Elzey marched onto the battle field with reinforcements and was immediately sent to oppose Sherman. The battle in this area turned into a static shooting match with both sides taking heavy casualties. JEB Stuart led the Confederate reserves onto the left of Henry Hill. On that flank the Union had separated its artillery battery into individual gun sections. Stuart and the cavalry were able to successfully charge them out, and their infantry supports, in a series of daring maneuvers. Imboden's battery was brought into action to support Stuart.

The battle had been an even one up until this point, but the Confederate situation began to worsen. Stuart was finally stopped by Colonel Keyes and the 2nd ME, although Keyes was killed in the engagement. Colonel Elzey, who had been anchoring the Confederate right, was killed in a melee. The Union noticed a large gap between the Confederate units on Henry Hill and the Confederates on the right flank. Beauregard ordered his men to exploit the gap, which they did very aggressively. Colonel Wilcox was ordered to assault the hill with his fresh brigade. The Union launched a coordinated attack across their entire front. Wilcox personally led the advance onto the plateau. Jackson's men ran rather than receive the charge. A shocking development. A furious Jackson halted the retreat at the base of the hill and rallied the men for a counterattack. They charged back up the slopes and engaged the Union forces in deadly hand to hand combat, but they couldn't dislodge Wilcox's men. The battle was a Union victory.

The Map: The battlefield was 7.5' x 5'. You should model the stream (Young's branch), woods, and Henry Hill. The hill was a broad plateau. The Confederates were able to deploy on the back of the plateau, out of sight of the Union armies, and blast the enemy as they came over the crest. The hill should be represented by two contours - the base of the hill and the plateau. Henry House was a small structure and was not a factor in the battle.

Building the Armies: Mount two figures on each base for infantry, cavalry, and gun crews. Infantry and gun crews should be on bases 1.5" x .75". Cavalry should be on bases that are 1.5" square. Mount commanders on bases by themselves. Commanders on foot can be based on .75" squares, mounted commanders can be based on .75" x 1.5" bases. There are many companies that have manufactured 1/72 scale plastic figures. Visit the Plastic Soldier Review to see what's available. The figures I used were from Imex. Here are some paper soldiers you can print and user.

OOB: By noon, when this battle begins, many of these units had been in battle and taken a beating. These units will have only five bases to represent the damage done to them. All other units will have six bases. There was much confusion caused by the uniforms. The uniforms hadn't been standardized, and many units had distinctive outfits. Some were mistaken for the opposing side. You can model these units with figures from the opposing side and let the students get confused. Don't answer any question about which side these units are from, and if a student forgets and shoots a friendly unit then too bad. The hits count.

Union Army
Overall Commander: Gen. Irvin McDowell
(all units 6 bases except where noted)

At Start:
Sherman's Brigade (wore grey)

Commander: Col. William T. Sherman
2nd WI, 13th NY, 69th NY, 79th NY

Burnside's Brigade (5 bases)
Commanders: Col. A. E. Burnside
71st NY, 1st RI, 2nd RI, 2nd NH
Griffin's Battery 3 gun models (rifles)

Porter's Brigade (5 bases)
Commanders: Col. Andrew Porter
3rd CT, 2nd ME, 14th NY (Zouaves), 27th NY, 38th NY
Ricketts' Battery 3 gun models (rifles)

Reserve (behind stream):
Franklin's Brigade

Commanders: Col. W.B. Franklin
5th MA, 11th MA, 1st MN

Wilcox's Brigade
Commanders: Col. O.B. Willcox
1st MI, 11th NY (Zouaves), 38th NY

Keyes' Brigade
Commanders: Col. E.D. Keyes
2nd ME, 1st CT, 2nd CT, 3rd CT

Confederate Army
Overall Commander: Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard
(all units 6 bases except where noted)

At Start:
Jackson's Brigade

Commander: Gen. Thomas Jackson
33rd VA (wore blue), 4th VA, 27th VA, 5th VA, 2nd VA
Pendelton's Battery 2 gun models (smoothbore)

Bee's and Bartow's Brigades (5 bases)
Commanders: Col. Bartow and Gen. Bee
4th AL, 7th GA, 8th GA
Imboden's Battery 3 gun models (smoothbore)

Evans' Brigade & Hampton's Legion (5 bases)
Commanders: Col. Evans, Wade Hampton
4th SC, Louisiana Tigers (Zouaves), Hampton's Legion

Commander: Col. JEB Stuart
1st VA Cavalry
49th VA, 8th VA (Cocke's), 2nd SC, 8th SC (Bonham), 6th NC

Reinforcements Enter Turn 2:
Smith's (Elzey's) Brigade

Commander: Col. Arnold Elzey
1st MD, 3rd TN, 10th VA, 13th VA

Objective: The Union must drive the Confederates off Henry Hill. If they fail to do it in two hours the battle is a victory for the Confederates.

Deployment: The units in the OB should deploy as shown in the map. Units can start in line or column formation. No unit should start closer than 18" from an enemy unit.

Turn Sequence:
1. Confederates Move
2. Confederates Shoot
3. Union Move
4. Union Shoot
5. Charges
6. Melees

Formations: There are only two formations - line and column. The names of these formations can be very confusing for the students. At school, when they are told to "get in line" they line up one behind the other, in what we call column formation. With the kids I call the formations "firing line" (like a firing squad), and "marching column." Units may change formation at the start or end of their movement, but can only change formation once per turn.

Movement: Infantry can move 6" if they are in line formation or 12" if they are in column formation. Commanders and cavalry may move 12". Artillery can move 12" but it may not fire on a turn when it was moved. Turn the gun model around to show that it can't fire this turn. Artillery can pivot in place during movement and still fire. Units may about face (turn 180 degrees) once per turn. Units may move backward while still facing to the front at half speed. Units lose half their movement if they cross the stream (pay this penalty only once, the first time they get to the stream). Units may not move within 1" of an enemy unit except when charging.



Infantry in Line


Infantry in Column


Artillery, Commanders


Mounted Cavalry



Dismounted Cavalry: Cavalry can mount or dismount at the start or end of their turn but they cannot mount and dismount in the same turn. When cavalry dismount they should be placed in line formation with one base behind the unit to represent the men holding the horses. The dismounted bases can be indicated by tipping them forward or replacing them with infantry bases. Dismounted infantry fight and move just like infantry. The horse holder base does not count in shooting, morale checks, or melee. The horse holder stand can not be attacked but it does count as a base for purposes of the "remove last base" rule. This means the horse holder base is removed only if all the dismounted bases are eliminated. When cavalry remounts the horse holder base is added back into the unit.

Fire: Units that are in line formation and artillery that didn't move this turn may fire. Range is measured from the center of a unit to the nearest part of the target unit. Units may only fire to the front and may not fire through narrow gaps between friendly units, or over the heads of friendly units. Roll one die per base or two dice per gun model. Mounted cavalry may only fire the front rank bases (3), units on foot may fire all bases in the unit. The chart indicates the number needed for a hit. Remove one base for each hit rolled by the firing unit. It takes three hits in the same turn to remove an artillery base. Note that you only use the 1" firing column when shooting at a charging unit. If a unit is reduced to a single surviving base then the last base is immediately removed.





Infantry  5-6



Mounted Cavalry  5-6



 Artillery (2 dice)  4-6  5-6  5-6


The Woods: Targets in the woods get saving throws. Roll one die for each hit. Ignore the hit if the roll is a 6.

Henry Hill: The hill was a broad plateau. The Confederates were able to deploy on the back of the plateau, out of sight of the Union armies, and blast the enemy as they came over the crest. The hill should be represented by two contours - the base of the hill and the plateau. Units on the plateau that aren't at the edge can't be seen by units off the plateau. Otherwise normal line of sight rules apply.

Charges: Both sides may charge during the charge phase. A unit may not declare a charge unless it is in line formation and within 6" of an enemy unit (12" if cavalry). If it matters the Confederates charge first. A player may measure to see if a unit is within charge range. One enemy unit must be chosen as the target of the charge. A unit that wishes to charge must first pass a morale check. If the unit fails morale nothing happens, it cannot charge this turn. If the unit passes its morale check then the target must pass a morale check. If the target fails it loses one base and immediately retreats 12", the charging unit is moved into the position vacated by the retreating target unit. If artillery is the target and it fails morale it is eliminated. If the target passes the morale check it has the option of firing at the chargers or counter charging. If the unit counter charges the two units meet in the middle and fight a melee. If the target decides to fire at the chargers it does so at a range of 1". If the charging unit survives the fire it moves into contact with the target and they fight a melee.

Morale Checks: If a unit has to take a morale check Roll one die. If the roll is less than or equal to the number of bases (plus a commander if one is present), then it has passed. If the role is greater then it fails. Artillery must roll a 4 or less to pass a morale check (test each gun model separately).

Melee: Each side rolls one die and adds in any bonuses. High roll wins. The loser removes one base and retreats 12". If mounted cavalry defeats infantry or artillery the loser removes two bases. If it's a tie each side loses a base and rolls again. When counting bases each gun model counts as one base.

Melee Bonuses

 Die Roll Modifier
Has more bases than the enemy

Terrain Advantage (higher ground, in cover, etc.)

Officer attached

Hitting the flank or rear

Mounted Cavalry charging

Opponent is artillery


Removing Casualties: When a unit is reduced to a single base this last base is automatically removed.

Commanders: Each Commander is represented on the table. A Commander may join or leave one of his units during movement or charges. The exception is JEB Stuart, who must stay with the cavalry at all times. A unit with a commander gets a +1 bonus on all melee rolls and the officer counts as a base when testing morale. Every time a unit with an attached commander is completely eliminated by enemy fire (last base removed), or is engaged in a melee (win or lose) roll one die. If the roll is a 6 the commander is a casualty and is removed from play. This is the only way a commander can be eliminated.

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 Resources: This battle was suggested by visitor to the website. A search of the library and Magweb, turned up some useful resources for simulating First Bull Run: