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After Action Report: SPI's Pea Ridge


by John Leggat (originally published in Lines of Communication.)

Photos by Russ Gifford


     So how about a little more Pea Ridge? This time it's SPI's version, Pea Ridge, The Gettysburg of the West, March 7-8, 1862, from 1980. Ed Blomgren and I gave this, the first official volume of the Great Battles of the American Civil War game system designed and refined by Richard Berg, a try last month. SPI's version of Pea Ridge is one of the best of the series, both as an historical simulation and an enjoyable game. It's kind of a long game and can go up to 30 turns and 30 minutes per turn if victory hasn't been achieved at the end of the first day (18 turns). To win on the first day, either player must have at least 100 Victory Points and a minimum of 3:2 ration in VP's over his opponent. Holding Elkhorm Tavern is worth 50 VP's to the Union, but only 10 VP's for the Confederates. These points are reversed for controlling Curtis' headquarters at Pratt's store.

      Ed Blombren took the role of Van Dorn and the Confederate side while I played the Union. Starting at 0900 hours Ed began moving his troops; McCulloch from the northwest along the Bentonville Road and Price from the northeast along Telegraph Road. I surmised, from our discussions of the actual battle, that Ed would try to link McCulloch and Price near Elkhorn Tavern, ignoring Leetown. So, I moved Bussey toward Leetown to try to slow McCulloch down and Dodge moved toward Elkhorn Tavern from the Union positions in the south.

       On Turn 3 (1000 hours), Bussey's artillery took their first shot at McIntosh, but missed. This fire attracted Confederate attention and, on Turn 4, McCulloch sent McIntosh's brigade to engage Bussey's cavalry, dismounted  and in the woods. McIntosh's 2nd Arkansas moved into the heavy wood north of the cornfields and forced Fremont back. The Confederates form McIntosh's brigade engaged Bussey's dismounted cavalry, exchanging fire, but with no casualties. Bussey attempted to withdraw, but the 1st Missouri was pinned and so Bussey held his position and lost a gun to counterbattery fire. On the Union right flank, 24th Missouri moved to slow Van Dorn's advance along Telegraph Road.

        On Turn 5 (1100 hours), Bussey's division came under heavy fire, loving BCE and running. Ebert A had two guns captured, the 1st Missouri and the Benton cavalry brigades were destroyed, giving the Confederates their first 10 VP's.

        Meanwhile, Dodge had reached the Union's positions north of Elkhorn Tavern and engaged Little's brigade in an attempt to slow the Confederate approach. To the west, Union observers could see the dust of McCulloch's advance units.

       On Turn 8 (1230 hours), Dodge was wounded by artillery fire and his 3rd Illinois ran out of ammunition, unraveling the right flank! And McCulloch continued to close from the west.

      On Turn 10 (1330 hours), Little was killed by small arms fire from Dodge's 4th Iowa. McCulloch was delayed a little by Bowen who was in turn dinged by McCulloch's artillery.

       Finally, on Turn 11 (1400 hours), Osterhaus, leading the Union advance on McCulloch, was killed by small arms fire from Hebert's brigade. Ed and I called the game at this point, the Confederates leading with 33 VP's to the Union's 20 VP. A great game!  

1993, by John Leggat