Strategic Hex Game McClellan's Last Command (custom GCACW module) - community playthrough


Feb 18, 2017
Action on the 13th June:

Battle of Winchester
In the morning, McLaws advanced to just outside Winchester and attacked Mulligan's brigade, currently on the Berryville Pike. The attack caught Mulligan's forces by surprise and effectively routed them, forcing them north to Hopewell in disorder and with several hundred casualties.
McLaws followed this up with an assault on Winchester itself, and effectively forced the two brigades defending the town out in disorder and confusion. The defenders were not routed, and inflicted equal casualties on their attackers (around 500 each) but did not have time to destroy the supplies there which fell into Confederate hands.

Leigh Cole

Nov 9, 2016
Monroe, MI
The basic summary of the GCACW level is that for the most part here we'll be working with infantry divisions (though brigades can be detached) and cavalry brigades (though regiments can be detached).

Units move a random amount of distance per movement turn (which is increased if the corps is closed up enough to operate under their commander properly) and cavalry typically moves about twice as fast as infantry. Moving along roads in clear weather is always one hex per movement point, but going offroad (or bad weather) makes the cost much higher.

When fighting, you can either have one unit attack one enemy hex or launch an "assault" (with multiple units); assaults can fail to get properly organized. In an attack, all the things you'd expect (strength ratios, artillery, defensible terrain) affect the dice rolls; basically being able to threaten enemy flanks is good, while attacking a fortified enemy on the far side of a river is very bad. Simple enough to explain.

Units in good condition fight much more effectively than units which have been tired out by marching or in a fight. Basically a division (or smaller unit) that's been roughly handled or worked hard is going to need a day or two of rest in order to recover back to full potential (though casualties are permanent).

Unit strength is in multiples of 500 men.

The extent to which the gamesmaster (i.e. me) will be handling the back-end means that you don't really need to know the numbers, as such.
I think GCACW is the best Civil War game system ever devised, in my humble opinion!


Feb 18, 2017
Actions on the 15th June

Battle of White Hall

The somewhat tired 13th Pennsylvania cavalry moved into Frederick County VA to attempt to ascertain the strength of Confederate forces in the area, but were caught by surprise by an attack launched by Jenkins' cavalry. Riding through an area the 13th PA's commander thought to be covered by Mulligan's (also overtired) brigade, the Confederate cavalry smashed into the 13th PA and shattered them as an effective unit for negligible loss.

Attack on Apple Pie Ridge

McLaws' division attacked the brigades of Pierce and Elliot at the south end of Apple Pie Ridge. The Union defenders resisted stoutly and inflicted casualties on the Confederate lead brigade, aided by the elevated terrain of the ridge, but were forced back in some disorder though kept their formations. They retreated to the Pleasant Valley church some four miles away from the battle site.

Battle of Hopewell

Fearing a repeat of the cavalry charge just a mile or so away that had shattered the 13th PA, Mulligan's brigade was poorly oriented when Pender's division came marching up from the southeast. The Confederates did not even bother deploying into line, and effectively overran the Union brigade, destroying it for little loss of their own.*

Battle of Pleasant Valley Church

Driving McLaws' division hard, Longstreet pursued the retreating forces from Apple Pie Ridge. Jenkins and Pender closed in from the east as Elliott and Pierce attempted to rally their troops, and though tired and disorganized McLaws' men were able to smash into Elliott's line and effectively destroy the brigade (which was down to only about five hundred effectives). Pierce managed to lead the survivors of the force on an escape north over Greenspring Run and then through Bull's Gap, though the force was badly disrupted by the process.
The Union infantry brigades finally ended their flight south of Gerardstown.

* the Confederates had a +13 ratio bonus, a +2 flank bonus and a +2 tac bonus, so they went with a column of march attack. That means a -3 penalty, but it still meant that in the worst possible case (union rolls 6, Confederates roll 1) they'd smash Mulligan for no loss.
Not much you can do with a disrupted unit at 1 combat strength being hit by an entire intact division...


Feb 18, 2017
Actions on the 17th June:

Battle of Bunker Hill (Not That One)

During a pull back by forces of the Dept. of West Virginia and a field brigade from the garrison of Harpers Ferry, the rearguard brigade (Campbell) was caught in Bunker Hill VA by significant elements of Hill's 3rd Confederate Corps.
The overwhelming force of the attack, delivered from two directions, smashed the brigade and left almost the entirety of the 1,500 Union troops involved dead, wounded, or missing. There was no significant mass surrender, but with Union troops abandoning their weapons in their flight the brigade is unlikely to be an effective combat unit for weeks.

Battle of Darkesville
The remaining forces involved in the pull back were overtaken on the road around Darkesville, and McLaws' division launched a brief artillery barage over Bierly's Run before storming over the creek and smashing the Union formation - a destruction aided by the presence of Confederate cavalry, which helped cut off most of the escape routes.
One regiment of Pierce's brigade managed to escape the general chaos and fled over Opequon Creek to Leetown.

Snickers Gap

Sickles attempted to launch an assault against Confederate cavalry in Snicker's Gap. Hampton elected to hold position owing to having been recently reinforced by F. Lee's cavalry, and his nerve was rewarded when Sickles erred considerably in his organization of the assault and it hung fire.*

* Sickles rolled a 5 on his assault roll, which with his stats means that he failed to send in either division (lower numbers are better - if he'd got a 1-3 the whole of 3rd Corps would have gone in, 4 would mean one division going in, 5 and 6 mean nothing goes in. Longstreet rolling a five would have been able to send up to two divisions in).


Feb 18, 2017
Actions on the 18th:

Skirmish at Leetown

Pierce attempted to move his brigade nearer to the Potomac to preserve them as a fighting force, knowing of enemy troops in his vicinity, but his force straggled to destruction and fragmented. Few of the men were actually caught by Hill's men when they approached, but the sad remnants of the brigade are no longer combat capable.

Battle of Martinsburg
Longstreet had McLaws attack B Smith's brigade dug in at Martinsburg. The Union brigade was a more difficult target than others McLaws had overrun during the campaign so far, however, and in the rain he was repulsed with around five hundred casualties plus significant disruption (though the Union defenders are also disrupted significantly).


Feb 18, 2017
19 June

Surrender of Martinsburg
With a second Confederate division marching up from the south and indications of a third en route, B. F. Smith surrendered his brigade to avoid further loss of life. He made an attempt to destroy the stores at Martinsburg before the surrender, but was unable to do so to any significant degree.
The Confederates subsequently cut the Baltimore and Ohio railroad by destroying Martinsburg station instead.

(This brigade wasn't under the command of MG Andy Cardinal, so I rolled two dice to see if it would surrender - effectively using the Harpers Ferry surrender rules that already exist in the module. I got an 11 on two dice, which is several points higher than would be needed to make it surrender instantly.)