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"Burnside's Bridge" Topic

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Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2024 10:46 p.m. PST

I am planning to do Burnsides Bridge in 15mm regimental using "Mr. Lincoln's War." I searched for this topic and unfortunately, most of the threads were several years old and the links to photos and blogs were broken or the photos expired.

I went to Antietam a few years ago. To my disappointment, NPS workers were rebuilding part of the bridge and we couldn't get near it.

I am trying to figure out how to approach this scenario. Where do I place the Confederates? How should I rate them? Elite sharpshooters? Do I need Burnside's entire Corps?

What are the victory conditions, besides getting across the bridge? Casualties or number of turns? Points?

Turns are 15 minutes. So how long should I give the Yanks to get across it?

Would it be better to combine this scenario with an up came Hill scenario?

I read Tucker's book on it and it was helpful but I wanted to solicit any advice or photos of games before I jump on this project.

skedaddle Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 6:48 a.m. PST

I don't know if it will help, but the battlefield trust has a map of the bridge action here: link

The terrain on the confederate side is steep and wooded. The road wraps to the right and stays near the creek after crossing the bridge. Fording the stream would be difficult as the banks are steep.

The bridge is narrow – no more than 4 men across, so the units crossing the bridge would be in column.

I think that it took about an hour to an hour and a half for Burnside to get units across and drive the Georgians off. Several units got to the near side, only to be driven off with significant loses.

I don't know if you need to rate the Georgians as elite. It depends on the rules you use. They definitely should get a bonus for higher ground and shooting at a column. If a union unit gets across and follows the road, then it would be shooting at a column in the flank.

The distance from the foot of the bridge to the Georgia positions on the hill is no more than 40 or 50 yards, so fairly close.

If your turns are 15mins, then the union side should get 2 units across within 5 or 6 turns to match the historical result. Anything longer would be a Confederate victory, especially with Hill on the march.

This drawing may give some insight into the layout:


skedaddle Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 6:49 a.m. PST

Sorry about the image – its a drawing from the wikipedia page on the bridge here: link

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 7:43 a.m. PST

Find someone who has a copy of the game "terrible swift sword". It has a Burnside Bridge scenario. Have them take a picture of the map, unit set up and regiments and strengths. Should have everything you want. Ratio is 1 to 50 if I remember correctly.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 9:05 a.m. PST

What is so perplexing is that there was/is a ford just about 50 yards downstream that could have outflanked the Rebs. The trees would have masked the crossing from Bee's position. Eventually, it was discovered. "

"About 1:00 p.m., with Union soldiers crossing downstream and another attack made on the bridge, Toombs and his men had to retreat. However, the strong delaying action provided much needed time to allow Gen. A.P. Hill's Confederate soldiers, marching from Harpers Ferry, to arrive on the field." (See this link for more and great pics of the bridge and terrain: link Source- US Park Service.

Bee was able to make the most out of his position. I walked the area of the bridge with a close friend who was a park ranger there. Was lucky enough to save a brick from a pile of scrap during a repair of the Dunker Church.

Hope some of the above helps you.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 12:05 p.m. PST

I think this is a really hard battle to game. I did it once as part of the entire battle of Antietam, but, on its own, I don't think so. I admit to not being well read on this engagement but, it seems to me, that this is a series of poor Union morale rolls as there were more than enough troops to force a crossing on and beside the bridge. The fatal funnel, if you will, had a dispropotionate impact on morale. Add in that the 11th Connecticut was a reportedly ill disciplined unit that had its commander killed in the engaggement, and I think you have a series of events that cannot accurately be reflected in a gaming table.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 4:28 p.m. PST

I have "Terrible Swift Sword." I will check the scenario out.

I'm not sure if it is worth doing alone. I thought maybe combine it with Hill's attack. Although it wouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone who has read anything about the battle.

Should I rate the Union troops below average and their brigade commanders below average?

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 4:53 p.m. PST

I apologize I meant "Gleam of Bayonets". "Terrible Swift Sword" was Gettysburg.

If I remember, the game rates them lower. I mostly played the opening scenario, attack of 1st Corp and 12th. I liked it. I tried playing the whole battle by myself, just too much.

Personal logo KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 5:11 p.m. PST

Antietam is my favorite battle. Been to the battlefield around a dozen times (brother-in-law lived in Shepherdstown).

The fight for the lower bridge is a tough one for most game rules. The confederates only had two regiments from Toombs brigade, under the command of Col. Henry Benning. Benning ha only around 400 men, 100 men of the 2nd Ga. and maybe 300 in the 20th Ga. These were strung out in a skirmish line about 600 yards wide on either side of the bridge. The Georgians built up a defense of logs and rail fences and around 30 men took a position overlooking the bridge in a rock quarry.

The were also around 100 men of the 50th Ga. from Drayton's brigade facing southeast to the right of Benning covering a line of similar length down the creek to Snavely Ford. The Confederates had at least 4 batteries positioned to cover the bridge and able to fire over the heads of their own men.

As Joe (79th PA) pointed out, the 11th Ct. with about 450 men, also spread out in skirmish order, made the first attempt to cross at the bridge position. The creek is shallow here, but the banks are step. The bridge itself is only 125 feet in length. The regimental commander, Col. Henry Kingsbury tried to lead his men across the creek, but strong fire from the defenders easily repulsed the attack and Kingsbury was mortally wounded. The regiment lost around 300 men in less then a half hour in the attack.

A second attack was then attempted with the 11th Oh. And half of the 28th Oh. These attacks were uncoordinated and led to similar results. Confederate artillery was instrumental in helping repulse these initial attacks.

Rodman's division from 9th Corp moved southwest to try to force a crossing where the 50th Ga. was holding the line, but Rodman decided against an attempt due to the steepness and rocky terrain and moved further west.

Finally, Burnside made a coordinated attack north and south of the bridge and across the bridge itself with the 51st Pa. and 51st NY charging across on column side by side. And the vastly outnumbered Georgians withdrew from their position.

Once the Union is across in force might make for a better regimental scale game. The initial actions might play better with more skirmish rules like Sharp Practice, Brother against Brother, or Rebels and Patriots.


Personal logo KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 5:16 p.m. PST

Should I rate the Union troops below average and their brigade commanders below average?

The Union troops are not inferior, nor are their brigade commanders any less then the confederates. The union high command at Army and Corp level, and some of the division commanders was the primary reason the Union failed to achieve greater success.


Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 8:52 p.m. PST

"Terrible Swift Sword" is Gettysburg

"Gleam of Bayonets" is Antietam. I have it too.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2024 8:59 p.m. PST

Perhaps I should do it as a skirmish game. Probably with "Rebels and Patriots" since it is being played locally. Thanks for all the advice. It will be a while but if I do it I will post a link to the game photos.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2024 10:13 a.m. PST

I'd love to see pics whenever you get around to it.

Cleburne186326 May 2024 6:06 a.m. PST

There is an Burnside Bridge scenario in my book here with all this information.


Also here


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