Monday, 2 April 2012

The War with many names.

   So Martin says to me: "Is this the Civil War or the War of Northern Aggression?" I answered in the neutral, saying "It's the War between the States." Even the name of this conflict has political repercussions! In some places in the USA, one must tread lightly. I have to do so since a quarter of my mom's family lives in Louisiana and my wife is from Texas, insisting all the while that Texas is not a "Southern" state. She also (rightly) says that Texas could leave the Union since it's entry had that as a condition. I'll leave such things to the constitutional scholars. I'll play a game in the meantime.
   Rob and I introduced Mr. Lincoln's War to the Games Group on Saturday. The troops were pretty much the same as last we played. I added two stands of Union Cavalry and two stands of the 1st US Sharpshooters, as well as a 7-stand regiment of North Carolina's best. Bear and I ran the Confederate troops, with Kevin joining after a short time. I had the mixed Georgia/NC/Mississippi brigade while Bear ran the cavalry and the Stonewall Brigade. Kevin was given the Texas brigade and an extra battery of guns. On the Federal side, Rob took charge of the Irish brigade (newly upgraded to 'elite') and the 1st USSS. (My son loves them Greencoats with their breach loading Sharpes Rifles and status as elite sharpshooters!) Martin handled the Zouave brigade and the Regulars, while Rich skippered the Pennsylvania brigade and the Union cavalry. The objective was to take and hold the town, each building  holding two stands except the city hall/manor house which held 3.

The table before the battle - Union on the right, Confederate on the left.

The rubber road leading through town.

The farm, its dirt road, and the ford. Yes, mit Hexsiegen einmal.

   The Confederates got the initiative and we advanced, although I was delayed by the "friendly fire" damage done to my brigadier's staff. (In MLW, you check every turn for your own side shooting generals.) This slowed me down for a turn, since my general couldn't issue orders for that turn. We played about 6 turns and got close enough to exchange musketry, but not close enough to go into hand-to-hand. Rich's brigadier suffered the same fate a few turns later which slowed down his advance and the recovery of a unit that was fired on while in column by Confederate artillery. I eventually advanced past the farm and it's ridge and held off Rich's cavalry with artillery and a regiment of sharpshooters. Martin pushed the Zouaves into the town with the support of the Regulars. Rob distracted Bear's cavalry with his cannon, did incredible things with Bredan's Sharpshooters, and pushed the Irish Brigade - which is quite tiny - up towards the Virginians. Bear pulled his cavalry back behind a grove of trees, since they were taking casualties, but his infantry held firm in skirmish order, exchanging long distance fire with the Yanks. Kevin pushed his Texans forward to threaten the town, and they were about to "warm to their rebuttal" of the Zouaves claim to holding the town as time ran out.

Martin's Zouave Brigade, including the Garibaldi Guard. I haven't bought
limbers for the cannon yet, so they move by magic!

Rich's Pennsylvanians  prepare to advance.

Kevin's Texans advance "most belligerently, suh!" under the eyes of the
divisional general.

Robby's Irish Brigade... with the Sharpshooters on the tree line.

My extreme left -  a battery and the Georgian sharpshooters.

   We called it a draw and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Some well thought out criticism came out:
  • The town was too close to one of the sides. (a common fault of mine.)
  • The game might go better with a smaller scale, say, 6 to 10mm figures, or the ranges should be doubled. {A legitimate concern, but I wonder if that would make musketry even more deadly and make artillery incredibly long-ranged.} Long range musketry for average quality or lesser troops is really impossible. Long range stuff is best left to the sharpshooters, elites, and specialised hard-ware. The point is moot because I don't have any such small figures.
Some "resolutions" for consideration:
  • I must be careful to put objectives where they can really be contested. I should start the troops off closer to each other as well. It always seems to take forever to get to close ranges.
  • Sharpshooters might be best added to brigades in small packets, 1-2 stands as expert skirmishers. I need to research how those specialists on both sides were deployed. A regiment of sharpshooters is a truly deadly weapon. Things might go more realistically if I spread the specialists out more.
  • Need more cavalry... hate to paint horses, but need more cavalry.
  • Cannon can do incredible destruction at incredible wargames ranges. You don't need a lot of batteries to cause havoc in this game. I may finish the unpainted artillery I have on hand and leave it at that. I should paint some limbers, too. ("Hate to paint horses." Where did I hear that before?)
Some last photos:

Rich's brigade advances with the band in the lead.

Bear's Virginians hold the woods with a battery in support.

My Georgians face down the Yankee cavalry. As usual, I took the bait
and put too much manpower to face too small a threat... unless it rounded
my flank!

Another view of Bear's Stonewall Brigade.

Martin's Regulars advance past the Zouaves.

Another nice view of Kevin's Texans pushing forward. The divisional
battery offers encouragement.

The Pennsylvanians finally deploy into line.

The band of the 54th Pennsylvania - the Millerstown Cornet Band (a.k.a. the Macungie Band) - Essex figures.
They have no value on the table except to satisfy me and my desire to field a band. Although the photo isn't
too clear, note the over-the-shoulder Saxhorns of the period. (The valves are in front of you, but the bell - where
the sound comes out - is behind your head.)


  1. Great report. I would agree with you and say that War Between the States is the best and least contentious name for the war, but I well recall from my ACW reenacting days how spun up about this some folks could get.
    My wife is also a southerner, raised in Mississippi, but she has spent the last thirty years in Canada and has little love for her native South, and in any case her folks were in Illinois during the war and fought in blue.
    Nice looking figures. I take it they are 15mm? And I love the fact that you took the time to paint a band!
    I don't know the MLW rules. For large battles, I like They Couldn't Hit An Elephant published by TFL. It works for me.
    Thanks for sharing,


  2. Good to hear from you, Mike. Beth is a Texan and quite proud of it. Here early heritage takes her back to the AWI and an ancestor who married a Deleware/Lenni-Lenape woman.
    The figures are indeed 15mm and I HAD to do a band, for the reasons I explained in a previous blog entry.
    I don't know the rules you mentioned. We've been using a variant of "This Very Ground" by Iron Ivan for ACW skirmish and they work well for us. You seem to be sold on the TFL rules. I'll have to take a look.
    John G