As the cavalry battles on the left continued, the main battle developed in the center. The Confederate left flank, terribly empty for a couple of turns, was shored up by the return of the brigade that had fled the field. Union forces maintained a steady but slow pace as the dice did not go their way at all. This was a result of the decision I had made before the game to make the command ratings a 7 to reflect their inexperience. I attempted to make command rolls for the brigades rather than for each separate regiment but consistently getting 7 or less was difficult and both sides were slow to respond to orders
The Confederate forces got the first blows in in the infantry fight that was developing. Two of the center regiments unleashed withering fire against the Union forces because the Union commander could not make his command rolls and get his forces out of columns. One of the regiments quickly fled the field while the other two finally got deployed.
The battle for the center went back and forth for several turns. Initially it looked like the Confederates were going to sweep the battlefield, but this time Confederate command rolls slowed their advance. Once the Confederate artillery arrived the two remaining Union units on the hill dissolved in bursts of canister. It was this that made me decide that the Northern forces should stage a dignified retreat to save anything they could. Once again, bad command rolls left the Union artillery on the field facing an advance by three regiments of infantry. One Confederate regiment came under intense fire from the two batteries and fled the field.
The right hand Union commander redeployed his units to support the artillery and managed to get a regiment next to the batteries and one behind in support. Suddenly the artillery couldn’t hit anything and the Confederate advance began again. A final volley broke the defending Union infantry and one of the batteries and the Union army withdrew from the field.
A few thoughts on Black Powder. These rules play quickly and offer moments of suspense and frustration. Both sides suffered from poor command rolls and their maneuvers were halting. I think a higher command rating would have made the battle flow more smoothly but also more predictably. The sudden inability of commanders to motivate their troops was fun, however, and I may do another game like this to see how it goes. Combat between units rapidly degenerated into firefights where attrition played a major role. Hand to hand was rare. All in all, I think the rules reflected actual Civil War combat between green forces very nicely..