Friday, 16 March 2012

The War between... the stairs and the kitchen.

This was not the ultimate in architectural conflict but a lame, civil-war-ish title for this blog entry. Rob and I played this game on tables set up in the living room late in March Break. It was first time to use Mr. Lincoln's War for an American Civil War game. I'd played the rules before, but Rob was new to them and -as usual- he caught on quick.

Mr. Lincoln's War is a brigade level game of the ACW. Infantry are based four to a stand, representing 80 men or one company. Cavalry are two to a base, and artillery is represented as one model to 2 actual guns. Command and control are very important as is brigade cohesion. Ranges for weapons are really long, i.e. up to 80 inches for 3" Rifles or 10-pound Parrots. Good rifled muskets - like Enfields or Springfields - have a long range of 24 inches while smoothbore muskets top out at about 10 or 12 inches.

Rob commanded the Union forces - a division of 4 brigades, a cavalry regiment, and 4 batteries of 3 stands each. One of the brigades was the famous Irish Brigade whose regiments were tiny, between 2 and 4 stands, but all veteran. There was a brigade of Regulars (Veterans), a brigade of Zouaves (with the Garibaldi Guard attached), and a brigade of Pennsylvanians, including the 42nd ("the Bucktails" - Average, sharpshooters, with breachloaders) and the 54th PA, which I'll say more about later. The cavalry were Average led by a Colonel Custer. Attached to the division was the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters (Berdan's - 4 stands, Elite, sharpshooters, breachloaders) and Robby was impressed, if not in love.

Bredan's skirmishing. Crack shots, all.

The Irish Brigade advances. Veterans but some were armed with smoothbores!

The Pennsylvanians with artillery support. (Since I was born in
Pennsylvania, you'll excuse me for having a few regiments from
the Keystone State.)

The Zouave brigade - 114th PA, 11th Indiana (Wallace's), 146th NY (in light
blue) and the 39th NY (The Garibaldi Guard - not Zouaves, but colourful)

My Confederates (3 brigades, a cavalry regiment, and 4 batteries, 2 bases each with mixed guns, i.e. Napoleans {12# smoothbores, and 10# Parrots or 3" Rifles}) were holding a town with one brigade (Virginians, based on the "Stonewall Brigade"), while two brigades (Texans and Georgians/Mississippians) rushed to re-enforce. Oddly I ended up getting the initiative every turn.

The  Virginians in the un-named town with a regiment in reserve. As for the
town, Robby liked "Spotsylvania", but that was taken already.

The Texas Brigade - 4th, 5th, and 1st Texas from left to right.

11th Mississippi, 23rd Georgia (skirmishing sharpshooters) and 7th Georgia.
The light green felt was rough ground, dark green was forest.

I deployed the Texans to the right of the town toward a large hill awaiting the Irish, the Missi-Georgians to the left with the cavalry in support facing the Pennsylvanians. The Virginians took to the buildings and waited for the Zouaves and the Regulars. Their battery sighted down the road and hit one of the Union batteries in counter-battery fire, but they were too busy after that to maintain that fire.
Here's a "satellite view" of the field that Robby took, standing in a chair.

Top - The Irish and the Texans move to face each other with the barn between
Centre right - the Regulars and the Zouaves converge on the town.
Centre Left - the Pennsylvanians hold the forested hill and the Mississippi
unit has already been cut up. The Georgians deploy and begin to come up.

Here you can see the Virginians defending the houses and the bivouac of
tents outside of town.

My Mississippi-Georgia brigade was cut up by the Pennsylvanians and three artillery batteries early in the game. Later events destroyed the brigade and the supporting cavalry. The Virginians held tough but took casualties steadily as the Zouaves, Regulars and Cavalry advanced. The Texans faced down the Irish, punishing them, but being tied up by them for the whole game- my biggest brigade with elite troops (1st Texas) fell into my son's trap! The Zouaves were about to assault the houses, while the cavalry charged the surviving gun (it's mate having fallen to counter-battery fire a few turn earlier). The Virginians' commander had been shot out of the saddle early on - by friendly fire no less! The cavalry overran the gun, continued through the town in the next turn, capturing the divisional commander, hitting a battery from behind and sending it routing. In their breakthrough, they met the 11th Mississippi which was being rallied from a rout by the cavalry and hit both the infantry and cavalry in the flank. Neither lasted long. Custer's horsemen swept away the whole flank, leaving the town and it's Virginian defenders cut off and the Texans hanging in air. We called it at that point.

One of the Stonewall Brigade's regiments defending the town.

The Zouave Brigade masses to assault the houses. The Garibaldi Guard
were dressed in uniforms based on the Italian Bersaglieri. Wallaces' Zouaves
were distinctive in their grey outfits.

The Union Cavalry meet -and capture- the divisional general.

The Brigade of US Army Regulars follow the cavalry through town.

A Pennsylvania regiment flanks the Georgia skirmishers and captures a
stand, already removed.

End game! The Union cavalry flanks both the routing 11th Mississippi and
the rebel cavalry, sending them both packing. Behind Custer, the gun from
the routed and cut up battery remain.

This was a good game to play, even if I lost! Rob and I like this set of rules, even if the sequence of events takes a bit of getting used to. (Check for friendly fire casualties to generals> Counter-battery fire for batteries on "Defend" orders> Give orders> Role for initiative> winner moves> other player moves> all other firing> Close combat> Breakthroughs)
  • Artillery ranges are incredible, but probably reflect the reality
  • Small arms ranges are long too, especially for better quality rifled muskets.
  • Union cavalry get carbines, Rebel cavalry can have pistols and shotguns.
  • Morale is tricky and very important. The rules aren't always the clearest as to disruption/distress/like that for assessing morale. The morale grades are logical - Elite/Veteran/Average/Raw/Militia. How badly you fail morale determines what sort of nastiness you deal with. If a unit routs, it actually loses more stands, reflecting the tremendous disorganisation involved. Non-routing "bad" morale units bounce back fairly quickly. We ended up using coloured bingo chips to show morale states.
  • Generals die; do they ever! Every turn you check for friendly fire and generals standing alone, unattached to a unit, can be sniped at. Generals with a unit can take a hit as well. I've heard that the ACW was hard on general officers; This game sure is.
  • I'd recommend Mr. Lincoln's War if you want to play ACW. A friend of mine is an ACW reenator and he just about jumped out of his skin playing this game.
Some last photos:

The Texas Brigade and the Pennsylvania Dutch barn - please don't ask why
a barn with hex signs ended up in Virginia!

The 7th Georgia in better days. The white ring is a casualty cap - each stand
of Infantry or unlimbered artillery can take three hits, cavalry and limbered
artillery, two.

Union Signal Corps tower - a model done by my wife, Beth - a nice
atmospheric piece!

The other side of the Signal Corps show piece -again by Beth.
I am truely lucky to have married a wargamer - except at conventions,
when we have to split the money!

The Rebels unleash their secret weapon - the dreaded WARHAMPSTER.
Robby's hampster, Rous, takes a stroll in the town.

A final word on the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteers. When I lived in the States, I played tuba for about 16 years with the Macungie Band of Macungie, PA. ( It's a town concert band, the 6th oldest in the nation, founded in 1854. In that part of Pennsylvania, almost every town has or had a band. Allentown, the largest city nearby, has FOUR! When the Civil War started, the band -then called the Millerville Cornet Band- volunteered and became the regimental band of the 54th PA. All but one member mustered out after a 6-month enlistment. So I HAD to do the 54th! I even have a miniature band done in Essex figures, although they didn't appear on this table. Next time! ...and they'll play "Grafulla's Quick Step"!


  1. Also a thanks to John for painting the Texans. and for movie fans - who can guess the meaning of the hampster's name?

  2. Some excellent photos, looks like a great game, I've not played Lincoln's War rules, but they do sound pretty cool!!!

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Barn with the Hex Signs on it... Only Pennsylvanians will know the significance!! Thanks John - you made my day with this.

    1. Thanks,Steven. If I'd worked harder, it might have been a stone barn,but Die Hexsiegen work for colour.