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!


Mosstrooper said...

This has the makings of a detective novel ! . I assume the firing system is similar to Grant's SYW rules ?.

Old School ACW said...

There's the issue!

All I know for sure at the moment is that musketry range is 18"...

Archduke Piccolo said...

I just formed the impression that the causes of morale failure might have a limited range, hence affecting only the part of the unit within that range.

This might be particularly true if the unit in question was in a single rank line (which I gather was not at all unusual in the ACW), or even in skirmish order.

I recall a simple Geo.Gush 'Victorian set' in his introductory book (very good despite its lack of pictures). Although it covered the ACW, its illustrative game was a Franco-Prussian affair. At one point a French unit in skirmish order had extended its frontage such that part of it was beyond the command reach of its C.O. He could control only part of the unit.

Perhaps this idea was similar to whatever Charles Grant had in mind.