Fall In! is one of the largest miniature wargaming conventions in North America. Sponsored by the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society’s East Chapter, it has more than 300 different wargames, with nearly a thousand gamers. Other features include a huge dealer area, as well as a flea market for gamers to sell and swap their spare figures, gaming accessories, historical books, games, and other military hobbyist items. The convention is held at the Eisenhower Inn and Conference Center just south of Gettysburg.
I hosted a 15mm Johnny Reb 3 wargame depicting the hypothetical attack that Ike Trimble wanted to make on Cemetery Hill in the early evening of July 1, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. We had seven players for the game – three Yankees and four Rebel commanders, and had unfortunately to turn away several other gamers who had wanted to play, but missed out during the on-line pre-registration phase.
The game began with remnants of the Union I and XI Corps desperately fighting to pass through the southern part of Gettysburg via Washington and Baltimore streets, leaving behind young Col. Charles Coster‘s valiant band of New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians to slow the oncoming Rebels as much as possible to buy time for the rest of the exhausted Federal troops to reach Cemetery Hill and begin to form battlelines behind the stone walls and fences.
Confederate attacks quickly swallowed up Coster’s tiny brigade, which surrendered after one last stand at Breckinridge Street that wrecked part of Mahone’s Virginia brigade. Determined Confederate attacks along Baltimore Street (launched from the vicinity of the Culp Farm) overran Heckman’s Ohio battery and captured it, as well as a supply wagon train. The remainder of the XI Corps artillery quickly routed well to the rear and were useless for the next couple of hours before rallying and resuming their place in the Union line.
As darkness crept in and the shadows lengthened from the sun descending behind South Mountain, Major General Trimble launched a major assault from three directions, sending Early’s two brigades (under Hays and Avery) directly at Stevens Knoll and Menchey’s Spring, held by the Iron Brigade, Cutler’s Brigade, and what was left of Robinson’s division of the I Corps. On the far right flank, Trimble sent in half of Anderson’s division, with Posey’s Mississippians routing two tired brigades of the XI Corps and advancing up the western slope of Cemetery Hill as far as the Taneytown Road, despite fierce losses.
In the center, Wilcox’s Alabamians and Lang’s Floridians swept down the Baltimore Pike and Washington Street and launched a series of vicious charges up the gentle northern slope of Cemetery Hill. Colonel Lang’s Floridians were all but wiped out, but to their left, Ike Avery’s Tar Heels punched a gaping hole in Union line as they destroyed Ames’ XI Corps division, which vainly tried to defend the stone walls on the steep eastern slope. Generals Hancock and Howard desperately tried to steady the hard-pressed Union line, which was wavering and showing signs of collapsing under the relentless Confederate swarms.
Sending the end, Wilcox’s hard-hitting assault then cleared Smith’s Brigade and Dilger’s Ohio battery, as well as Weidrich’s New York guns from in front of the Evergreen Cemetery, and the Rebel yell filled the air as the Yankee defenses crumbled. Ike Trimble, given a division of Anderson and two brigades of Early, had taken Cemetery Hill. “I will take that hill!” he had boasted, and now he had succeeded, at least temporarily.
What went through Trimble’s mind when in the darkness and battlesmoke, a long line of Union soldiers emerged from the east and southeast, arrayed in battleline and heading quickly towards the exhultant, but exhausted Confederates? The XII Corps had arrived, and the fight for Trimble to stay on the hill he had just won promised to be bloody.
This scenario was loosely based upon one I wrote for Issue #11 of the hard copy Charge! newsletter, the official publication of the Johnny Reb Gaming Society.