Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reforming After the Sawmill Village Action

The Action at Sawmill Village was an early attempt at testing out the Grant Rules with particular regard to the Infantry and Artillery.

One outcome was that Grant decided that units which had taken heavy losses would be able to retire and reform with the fragments of other units.

The mechanism for this was that a unit which had sustained losses of 50% among it's rank and file would retire to a previously designated Base Point where it might be re-grouped with other fragments of the same arm. After spending four full moves at the Base Point to reorganise, the new provisional unit might return to action having been made up to at least 75% of full strength.

While retiring, should the unit were to be attacked, it us of course allowed to defend itself.

This rule seems to me to be an early version of the later "50% rule" where any unit reduced to 50% or less must cease it's actions and retire, taking no further part in the action. The unit reformation part would seem to have been dropped, I suspect because there would in reality have been little or no real advatage gained from them in a real war game. Imagine perhaps having to retire for two moves to the Base Point, hanging around for who-knew-how-many moves until sufficient refugees had arrived, then reforming over four more moves. The game might easily be over before your new provisional unit could come to action!

There are other intriguing snippets in the write up as presented in The War Game Companion. Grant mentions he was satisfied with the morale rule - there being only one instance of part of a regiment breaking. I assume this meant that units could be sub-divided (perhaps as skirmishing troops - Grant mentions skirmish screens) and perhaps these sub-divisions might test seperately for morale.

On the basis of his reading of "Wargame Tactics"* Peter B from the OSW group speculates:

"During the battle/wargame, he mentions part of a unit's morale failing. I get the impression that infantry units can act as a whole or in sections of 8 men and an officer (or 4 troopers and one officer for mounted men). This morale has something in common with his WW2 rules in BATTLE PRACTICAL WARGAMING."

Grant also goes into a little detail on morale and an "exhaustion" Rule:

"...after two clear moves of hand to hand combat, if neither side has fallen back through morale, then both sides both break off the fight and retire two moves and must "rest" a further two moves before returning to the attack. If, however, part of ONE side has fallen back, a further move of combat takes place, and if at the end of this third move, the two to one rule does not apply, both sides fall back as before. The two to one rule is simple - if one side is outnumbered two to one it must surrender. - this applying only after hand to hand fighting though."

As a final aside, I note that the original artillery rules were found to be "wasteful and ineffective" and that new rules and new devices were evolved. Was this the birth of the bounce-stick and the cannister cone?

*Currently on order!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Unit Organisation Updated

Peter Barkworth pointed out to me in a very useful post on the OSW Yahoo Group  what might be a later set of unit organisations for the Grant ACW Rules.

I reproduce them here:

Infantry 3 officers and 24 men (just like his light infantry units in THE WARGAME)
Cavalry 3 officers and 12 men
Artillery batteries 2 guns (all smoothbores - I suspect he didn't bother with rifled pieces), 3 officers and 8 men.

From this one could easily guess that a gun crew was four gunners and an officer; a battery was two pieces with an additional officer as a command figure. One might also guess that with the greater officer establishments that Grant had started using his officers as morale factors or as morale markers.

On officers, I mentioned the role of the Major- and Brigadier-General figures that Grant would use to staff his Divisional organisation*.

According to a snippet on p23 of The War Game Companion, their falling in action would cause their Brigade or Division to stall for one move until the next in command could pick up the reins. The rule did not apply to troops in combat as Grant considered at that point the general became unable to influence the outcome.

I've since purchased Wargame Tactics on line and am waiting on its' delivery with some anticipation as it seems to hold a fair old bit of information.

* two Brigades each of two Regiments.

Something About Troops

I am going to have to make a decision on this sometime fairly soon - what ACW troops will I buy?

Theoretical exercises with rules are great fun, but it would be nice to start buying some toy soldiers to push about as well!

The original Grant rules were written for use with his own home-cast 40mm troops. From what I can gather they were mastered from the Britains "W" scale figure which was built up using plasticine and lead and hazardously cast with plaster of Paris moulds. Separate arms were the order of the day and details such as hat brims were added separately.

No wonder the plastic SSMs were seized upon! Imagine - troops you can buy... and then just paint! Looking at some of the new plastics available these days, I'm wondering if we've really progressed all that much. OK, slight hypocrisy - I am happily assembling my Immortal Miniatures Greeks just now.

All this blather aside, I'm not wanting to go down the home-cast 40mm road; nor am I willing to go down any 40mm road on the basis of expense. I'm looking at Old School 28s or at a pinch 20mms, although not Airfix plastics. I'm not that Old School!.

I'm looking seriously at 28mms, specifically Spencer Smith or the 25mm Staddens. 20mm - well, I like Jacklex.

I like the Staddens and the Jacklex for the breadth of their range the Spencer Smiths for their dorky coolness. I've got a problem with the Spencer Smiths because their cavalry is so limited - one staff officer and a Confederate and a Federal trooper...

I have a feeling I'll vote my heart rather than my head here, but I need to see the Staddens before I decide. Anyone got some or have some photos of some? Or of the Jacklex?

More tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


No, not the book.

I found on the TTG website (courtesy of a Grant bibliography in the Files Section of the OSW Yahoo Group) an article written by Mr Grant in June of 1959 in the War Game Digest on the Cavalry Charge. I won't post the full article here as I don't know what the copywright situation might be and don't want to upset anyone! However, for those who may be interested, the full version can be found here.

In short though, the charge plays out over two moves.

In the first, the Cavalry move to within 18" of their target. If infantry, this takes them within Rifle range (another fact to docket away...) and naturally they take a volley. Casualties are removed as normal.

In the second, morale is tested for by the attacker. The charging cavalry and the defender dice off to see whether the  defenders are cool enough to get off another volley. If all is well, the charge goes home and the cavalry are moved to contact.

If the distance moved is 12" or less, the attacking cavalryman throws a D6. If the infantry are in one rank, on a 4+, he is considered to have been ridden his infantryman down. Ha! The blighter!If this is the case, he may ride forth a further 6" or into contact with another infantryman.

If the infantry have been wise they will have formed in two ranks and a breakthrough will occour on a 5+ only. If a breakthrough occours against the first line, the second ine infantryman id moved aside 2" to allow the trooper to pass.

No break-through is possible with infantry formed in three ranks.

Cavalry in contact with infantry will melee by throwing 2D6 against the 1D6 of the humble infanterist. Highest score wins.

Note that this proceedure is almost identical to that set down in The War Game with the no notable changes apart from allowing breakthroughs on a 6 against infantry formed three ranks deep, but not against troops in four ranks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Welcome back and a big thank-you to those of you who have been stopping by and who have joined this blog as followers. That's most unexpected and very pleasing.

Just as soon as I can work it out, I'll try to get commenting turned on so that you can all join in the discussion.

Down to business then.

From various sources, we see that the Cavalry might have as many as three types of move;
A Normal Move of 9";

A Battle Move of 12" and;

A Charge Move of 18".

Note that the "Battle Move" is not a part of Grant's original nomenclature. I am using it though with some justification (and trepidation as I am not sure whether Grant's fatigue rules might have applied so early in the Rules career) as the distances mentioned match perfectly those of "The War Game".

I have not been able to find any mention of infantry move rates. Since however the cavalry rates seem to match up, I am provisionally going to assume I can import the infantry move rates unchanges. Thus:

Infantry in Line move 6";

Infantry in line and Firing 4";

Infantry in Column 7.5";

Infantry Charging 9" and;

Infantry Skirmishing 7.5".
Ditto the Artillery - 1" when manhandled and 6" when drawn by a team.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Hello there, how's it going? As you've probably already gathered, I'll be working on this blog to put together what might be termed my vision of an Old School American Civil War Campaign. I'm aiming to base this as much as possible on the Grant ACW Rules as can be found scatterd across various issues of The War Games Digest, The War Game Companion by CS Grant, and the Fontenoy book by Charles Grant Sr.

Where available sources lack, I'll try to reverse-engineer from his great work The War Game and perhaps from Featherstones' works.

This will probably be an impossible task, but the chase is the thing.

Well, let’s kick off shall we?

From The War Game Companion we are able to derive the major unit organisations, to wit:

Infantry Regiment: 24 soldiers, one officer and a flag-bearer

Cavalry Regiment: 12 troopers, one officer and a flag-bearer

Gun Battery: 2 guns and a caisson, all pulled by 4-horse teams

Grant attempted to incorporate higher formations into his rules. A Division, which was commanded by a Major-General, was made of a pair of Brigades, each in turn of two Regiments. The Brigades were of course commanded by each a Brigadier-General. The role of these general officers will be expanded upon in a future post.

That will do for now. I will be trying to post regularly, so I hope you come back and see what's happening here.