Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I've been poking around the internet and have discovered the Imex rancge of wagons for the Old West.

They are probably a little out of period, but they look great and I think will do well with the style of figure I am using for this project, despite being slightly under-scale.

Has anyone got any they might be willing to part with? They are not available here at the moment; I'm really keen to get a couple of the Conestegas, Prairie Schooners, Chuck Wagons and so on. I think there is even a stage-coach and a Civil War Ambulance.

I think Airfix have re-issued their wagon train set, too, so I'll be on the lookout for that.

Any takers? One of my goals is to re-fight the "Wagon Train" scenario as retold in The War Game Companion eventually, and besides, I would like to have something to take on campaign.

In further news, my first Confederate Infantry unit has been ordered. Looking forward to getting them. There will be no prises for guessing that they'll become my own 6th Alabama in homage to Mr Grant. Next will be another gun battery to go with the (still) awaited rifled guns.

In the first place I am building to the order of battle to let me fight the Sawmill Village Scenario, then The Wagon Train. Enthusiasm hopefully still in place, I'll then be looking to fight Gettysburg.

NOTE: I have not missed the interesting responses to my post on Morale. I'm working on the Morale rules and will post something on them over the weekend.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Morale Again

I'm a bit troubled by my take on the morale rules.

Just for my own reference, here is what I want them to do:

I want dispersed units to be able to test by sub-units.

I want morale to be based on officer numbers, casualties and the roll of a single D6.

I want fleeing or retiring sub units to be able to fall back on the parent unit to rally.

I want retiring units to be able to rally if left undisturbed.

I want a General Officer to be able to rally a faltering unit.

Any suggestions?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eye Candy

You'll always take a better photo outside and under natural light than you will otherwise. Herewith then are some rather better photos than I've put up before!
My new gun battery. 12-pounder Napoleons by Mark Fenlon (unfortunately all but unavailable at the moment) with 25mm Stadden Gunners, organised per Grant. I love the gunner in his shire with the red braces.
The Union forces so far!
As I have already said, I'm now waiting on the delivery of a pair of 3" rifles. Once I've made a start on them I'll make my next order to Spencer Smith.

Plenty to do until then, especially considering I've just discovered a basic error in my calculations. The ground-scale is 25YARDS per inch, not 25 FEET...

Canister Cones

In my last post on the rules proper, I tried to take a comprehensive look at where we were and plug it all into the rules presented in "The War Game" which I am using as a template for this exercise.

This being done, I was re-reading the Grant Artillery rules and I came across this passage on page 70 in the chapter on Canister:
"... the Canister Cone. It is patently not a true cone, but the name reflects the original shape and is used for the very simple reason that I cannot think of another."
Furthermore, on pp 68-9, Grant states:
"For long in wargaming the general assumption seems to have been that the firing of canister produced a shot pattern similar to a kind of elongated cone... wargamers who, like myself, preferred to have an actual device to indicate the pattern and casualties of canister fire in their games."
It may well be that at the time he was using a canister cone for the ACW games, Grant may not have been using the familiar canister cone at all. Rather he may have been using something like an elongated  equilateral triangle. I do not know it's dimensions, but would guess that it would be 28" long, with internal sub-divisions at the 6.5" and 14" points along from it's apex to define the increasing lethality of canister as you approached the muzzle-end of the gun.

I'd guess 28" as Grant has canister range as about 240' which translates to about 28" at his 1"=25' ground-scale. The smaller sub-divisions are guess-work based on those of Grants' polygonal canister cone.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

At last, some lead to push around.

I'm glad to introduce my first ACW unit. Some Union infantry from a generic regiment who may well morph into something else sometime later. There is no State flag you'll note as I've not yet settled on one and the Grant Rules don't allow for a 4th "Officer"! Not that I'll let that stop me.
Marching past the camera in line. A Fenton 12PR SB in the foreground. Generic Union Flag proudly displayed! Courtesy of Warflag.
Gunners getting their uniforms in the background. Coincidentally a good match for the Fenlon 12PR SB gun-howitzers.
March-past. A fine sight.
Says it all really, Dr Who producer Barry Letts on DVD in the background, wine-glass, coffee cup and baby bottle in the foreground. Tools of the Trade! I think there are some toy soldiers there somewhere.

Next stop is to paint those gunners. A start has been made. I may have to do some cavalry next.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Irresistible Urge...

... to tinker.

Lying in bed last night as I tried to get to sleep after a heavy evening of painting Union Infantry my thoughts turned to "The Rules".

There are all those great figures out there. Berdans' Sharpshoopters, all those Zouaves, Rush's Lancers; virtually no end to them, is there? The urge to tinker is very strong, so I'll tell you what. We'll create a rules annex in which to house all those special bits and pieces that make "The Rules" special.

They are only to be used with the agreement of your opponent. I'd suggest only one of these "super units" per side. They are optional extras. More chrome. More stuff to remember...

Super skirmishers.
May only operate in open order.
May only be present in detachment size - ie, an officer and eight privates.
Are subject to the morale rule for detachments.
May add one to their dice rolls when shooting vice the Skirmishing Infantry Musketry Rules.

Assault Infantry - rules pinched from the Supplementary Rules for Grenadiers.
May add one to their dice roll in melee.
No reduction for the Morale Index for rank and file casualties until losses have reached 25% (6 figures), when 1 id deducted from the throw for morale.

In further news, I'm nearly finished painting my first infantry unit to go with a couple of 12 PR SB guns I've had from another life. Just the trousers and metallics on the muskets to go. Black straps on a dark-blue coat are a pain to make stand out - you get a very dark figure. I'm really relying on the trousers to brighten things up, but have put in some fairly bright blue highlights to improve contrast. I expect to post pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The American Civil War Game

Please note that the following are basically "The War Game" rules from the condensed ruleset from the Battlegames Website with those parts of the that I feel  are authentically the ACW rules"plugged in".  Many of the changes are fairly small. 

For example, infantry weapon ranges have gone from 18" to 24". 

There is a morale rule for detachments. 

There has been a change to the rule for cavalry breakthoughs. 

I have substituted Skirmishing Infantry for Light Infantry. The light infantry firing rules have been taken on untouched, although I am considering making them for detachments only as they might spell the end of close order infantry as they are very offensively powerful and unbalancing.

There is no longer any Light Cavalry, although the argument might be made that all cavalry is at this time "Light". 

I have made no provision for dismounted cavalry rules as I've not yet seriously considered them.

Detachments count as Skirmishing Infantry. 

For want of information I have kept the morale and terrain factors from "The War Game".

I realise this is a very long post, but I would encourage everyone to please take a look and to comment freely.

Line Infantry
In line 6”
In line and firing 4”
In column 7 ½”
In open order 7 ½”
Charging 9”
Normal 9”
Battle move 12” (for each period of rest)
Charge 18”
Team 6”
Manhandle 1”
All types 6”
Up River 6”
Down River 9”
Canal 7 ½”
Hill contours
Uphill moves for all troop types are halved
On the level all moves are normal.
Downhill gives no distance advantage but note the impetus when charging.
Scenic Terrain
All movement is halved.
Line infantry half move
Light infantry normal
Heavy cavalry no movement
Light cavalry no movement
Artillery/Wagons no movement
Infantry only, in open order at half move distance.
If fordable, infantry and cavalry take 2 moves while artillery and wagons take 4 moves.
Maximum garrison of seven infantry figures per building section
Line 24”
NOTE: potential here for Carbines to be less effective. 6, 12 and 18” range bands?
Ball 60”
Canister 24”
Howitzer 20” to 50”
Infantry 3 officers and 24 rank-and-file
Cavalry 3 officers and 12 rank-and-file
Artillery Battery 3 officers and 10 rank-and-file (2 guns)
Players throw dice to determine who fires first in a mutual exchange. When the decision is a draw the firing is simultaneous.
The firer throws one dice for each group of 6 firers and deductions are made for range and cover as follows:
Open Cover      Open Cover
0 to 8”               2          3          1          2
6 to 16”             3          4          2          3
16 to 24”           4          5          3          4
Each target group is numbered 1 to 6 and dice are thrown (one for each casualty caused) to determine which men are hit. In this way a figure may be hit more than once. If firing has not been simultaneous, the side to fire second does so replying with those figures left after removing the casualties inflicted on him.
Entire units or detachments may act as skirmishing Infantry.
Skirmishing infantry fire as individuals using a single dice for each figure firing.
Firing at organised bodies of troops (in to the brown).
Range 0 to 12” 5 or 6 kills
Range 12 to 24” 6 kills
Firing at specially selected individuals (picking off officers etc).
Range 0 to 12” 6 kills
Range 12 to 24” Cannot be done except for mounted officers when 6 kills
Firing at line infantry in cover (in houses, behind walls or earthworks)
Range 0 to 12” 6 kills (no picking off)
Range 12 to 24” nil
Open Order Infantry firing at Open Order Infantry:
In the open 0 to 12” 5 or 6 kills.
12 to 24” 6 kills.
In cover
0 to 12” 6 kills.
12 to 24” nil
Infantry may only charge if they are in column, they may however move a normal move to contact. In the latter case they get none of the advantages of the charge. Rules for this are covered separately.
In column, the head of the column, that is the front rank, are moved directly forward to make contact with the enemy. The two men from each flank of the second rank are moved forward and outwards to meet the enemy to either side of the original column, while the centre men close up behind the centre of the column. Similarly, one man from each flank of the third and
fourth rank is moved outwards and forwards, the centre men closing up to their front and behind the remaining column up to the full extent of the 9” move.
Firing at a charging unit.
An advancing unit is fired on each move until the move in which the charge comes to contact. On this occasion, both sides throw a single dice. If the defender wins he fires at close range; if the attacker wins he comes to contact without receiving a volley.
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 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 heavy cavalry charge infantry who are formed less than 3 ranks deep and the distance is 12” or less, they may actually ride down the men and burst through.
Each cavalry figure moving up to contact throws one die.
• 2 ranks deep: throw of 5 or 6, breaks through.
• 1 ranks deep: throw of 4, 5 or 6, breaks through.
In the event of a breakthrough, the front figure is removed as a casualty. The second and third rank figures are moved back and to the side a total of 3”. The horsemen continue through to the extent of their charge move to contact another enemy if possible. They may veer up to 30 degrees to do this.
Mêlée occurs when two sides are in base contact either as a result of one or both sides charging or coming in contact within a
normal move. The mêlée is resolved by throwing dice for each individual combat in the following manner:
1 inf vs 1 inf: straight throw, highest wins 2 inf vs 1 inf: add 50% of 1 die for the 2 inf
1 cav vs 1 cav: straight throw 1 cav vs 2 inf: cavalry doubles throw
1 cav vs 2 inf: straight throw 1 cav vs 3 inf: infantry add 50% to throw of one die
1 cav vs 2 cav: latter adds 50% to throw of one die
1 inf vs 1 cavl 1d6 vs 2d6
It is not possible for the same troop types to fight more than 2 to1.
In all cases the higher throw (or score) wins.
Before mêlée can take place in a building, each attacker must first dice to see if they can break in. A 4, 5 or 6 means they have been successful, and can fight on equal terms. A 1, 2 or 3 means they remain outside and the occupants gain the +2 bonus.
The attacker always requires the 4, 5 or 6 to enter, even if a particular section of wall appears undefended.
Advantages in mêlée
Charging +1
Attacking downhill +1
Infantry behind a wall +1
Attacking exhausted troops who have had only one move of rest (see Exhaustion) +1
Attacking exhausted troops who have had no rest +2
Defending in a house against an attacker outside +2
The second move of mêlée
The first move of mêlée is quite formal, whether infantry vs. infantry, infantry vs. cavalry or cavalry vs. cavalry, there is little scope for independent movement. Musketry and artillery casualties inflicted by the defending unit which is contacted count towards the mêlée.
In the second move, however, the combat is free flowing. If both sides stand and continue the mêlée for a second move, then each throws a single die to determine who moves first. The winner may move 4 figures of infantry or 2 of cavalry into contact with the enemy. Once contacted, a figure is pinned, and may not be moved. The other side then does the same,
moving 4 figures of infantry and so on until all that can move to contact within the normal move distance have done so. The aim of each side will be to get as many advantageous combats as possible (that is 2 to 1). This mechanical system represents what is in reality a simultaneous flowing together of the two sides.
The second move of mêlée is conducted as the first except that the charging impetus of +1 is lost.
Duration of mêlée
A mêlée will last no more than 2 moves unless it is taking place in a built-up area, in which case it can continue for a further move. This is because fewer troops will actually be engaged at one time because of the defiles.
Deciding the outcome of a mêlée
The outcome of a mêlée may be decided by one of the following ways:
First move
• If one side loses twice the casualties of the other side including those casualties inflicted by artillery and musketry, then it must withdraw on the next move.
• If any casualties have been inflicted then the side in question must test for morale. If the result is bad, the unit must withdraw in the next move.
Second move
• If one side loses twice the casualties of the other in the mêlée then it must withdraw on the next move.
• If either side has bad morale then that side must withdraw on the next move.
• If neither of the above factors apply, then the result is a draw. In this case both sides will retire unless one is a defender who has written orders to hold ground.
Actions after a mêlée
Units that have had two moves of mêlée and have drawn the combat will fall back two normal moves and will then rest a further two moves before being allowed to take part in further offensive action. They may defend themselves of attacked.
If a unit is attacked by fresh troops during their four moves of exhaustion (two of retreat and two of rest) the attackers add 2 to each individual combat throw if the move is immediately following the fighting moves of the exhausted side, and 1 to each throw if the exhausted side has had a clear move without combat. If fighting is continued for another move, the additions are increased to 3 and 2 respectively.
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.

The morale of a unit is based on three factors. These are:
• Command and control
• Losses in action
• The imponderable
Command and Control is based on the number of officers and supernumeraries present. Each is worth a certain number of points:
Colonel 3
Two other officers the first at 2, the second at 1
Colonel 3
Two other officers the first at 2, the second at 1
Losses in action affect morale as follows:
• One sixth of original rank & file strength lost: -1 point
• One quarter of original rank & files strength lost: -2 points
• On half of original rank & file strength lost: see 50% rule
The imponderable is determined by the throw of one ordinary die.
Morale is calculated by the following:
Command Points - Points for Losses + Throw of 1 die.
• If the result is 6 or better the morale is good, the unit continues with its task.
• If the result is less than 6 the morale is bad! The unit must fall back or behave as follows:
• If it is actually at grips, in a mêlée with the enemy, it breaks off the struggle and makes a complete move the rear.
• If it is advancing, or stationary and firing, it remains halted on the following move and cannot fire.
Once a unit has incurred a bad morale it must be tested on each successive move until it rallies or flees the field, but on each of the ensuing moves the requirement to rally increases by 1, i.e. 7, 8, 9 and then 10, after which it is considered dispersed.
The 50% Rule
When any unit is reduced to 50% or less of its rank and file it must break off from whatever it is doing and move directly to the rear in the next move. It will play no further part in the action.
The exceptions are:-
1. If it takes place in the first move of mêlée it may complete the second move of the mêlée.
2. If occupying houses, the unit may remain in the houses.
General’s rally
A general may rally a retiring unit (unless it is at 50% or less) by moving to the unit and attaching himself to it. When he reaches the unit a single die is thrown to see how many moves it will take before the unit is fit for action. Once this happens, the General may not leave the unit during the battle.
The Saving throw for Officers
A saving throw is allowed in the case of officer casualties. When an officer is hit in combat or from enemy fire, the player may throw a single die to save him. If he throws a 5 or 6 he is saved and continues in the battle; on a 1-4 he is dead and is removed.
Morale and Detachments
An infantry unit may make a detachment of an officer and 8 privates who may act as Skirmishing Infantry who have to retire should either the officer or four of the privates be made casualties.
Roundshot (ball fired from cannon)
Roundshot range is 60 inches.
Rules per “The War Game”.
Ranges as below:
0-24” 3, 4, 5 or 6 kills
24-36” 4, 5 or 6 kills
36-48 5 or 6 kills
Range 48-60” 6 kills
Each figure is thrown for individually
Counter-battery fire
Counter-battery fire uses the system above except that when working out the effect on the gun it is done as follows:
If the gun is hit a single die is thrown and the result from 1 to 6 is noted. When the accumulated total reaches 10, the gun is reduced to firing on alternative moves. When 20 is reached the gun is destroyed.
Because of the reduction in velocity with distance however, damage is reduced by 1 from 36” to 48”, and by 2 at 48” or more.
The device is placed with its apex at the muzzle of the gun.
Figures within the device are diced for as follows:
Near 4, 5 or 6 kills; Middle 5 or 6 kills and; Far 6 kills
Howitzer (shell)
Howitzer range is 20” to 50”. The centre of impact is worked out using the Shell Burst Indicator (SBI) which is shown at annex A. The SBI has 5 sectors numbered 2 to 6. The centre sector is numbered 6 and the outer sectors clockwise from 5 to 2.
The firing procedure is to place the SBI on the chosen target with the centre section over the point of aim and with the 5 section furthest from the gun. A die is thrown to show area of impact (1 is a misfire). Dice are then thrown for the effect of each figure within the sector in which the shell impacted. A 1,2 or 3 has no effect while a 4,5 or 6 kills.
It can be seen from the above that with the device a 5 is an overshoot, a 3 an undershoot and 2 and 4 are errors to the left and right. Nevertheless, casualties still occur if troops are in the particular sector.
For counter-battery fire the procedure and accumulation of hits is as for roundshot.
Round Shot effect on houses
When a house is hit by round shot a single die is thrown with the following results:

Die Roll
1 and 2
No Penetration
Penetrates, Kills 1, Stops
Penetrates, Kills 1, Stops
Penetrates, Kills 2, Goes on
Penetrates, Kills 3, Goes on
No Penetration
No Penetration
Penetrates, Kills 1, Stops
Penetrates, Kills 2, Goes on
Penetrates, Kills 2, Goes on
No Penetration
No Penetration
No Penetration
Kills 1

Kills 1

Houses are destroyed by an accumulation of hits on the target until a total of 20 points are achieved using the above table in the same manner as with counter-battery fire. At this point, the body of the house is removed to leave a ruined shell.
With howitzer fire the same accumulated score system is used but the effect and casualty systems are different. The SBI is placed on the house if that is the target and a die is thrown to see if a hit has been achieved. If a hit on the house occurs then a second die is thrown to determine the effect:
Throw of 1,2 or 3 no casualties
4 1 killed
5 2 killed
6 3 killed
In addition to determining the number of men lost, the hits are added as for roundshot to determine the effect on the house. (This includes 1, 2 and 3 which count towards damage although killing no men. When the total reaches 10 the house is set on fire. All the troops in the house must leave retiring at least 3” away from the fire. The house will burn for 15 moves during which time no troops may move within 3” of the house.
When a house is in 2 sections there is a strong chance that the second section will catch fire. In each move that the first section burns a die is thrown to see if the second section catches: 3, 4, 5 or 6 means that the second section catches fire: 1 or 2 it does not.
Model flames are placed on the building for the duration of the fire. At the end of the 15 moves the flames are removed as is the building to reveal the ruins.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

John Brown's Body Lies a-Moulderin' in the Grave...

This is one of the posts you do when you don't have much to say on the central topic of the blog you are meant to be writing about.

I received two little items in the mail today. One was the Paul Stevenson title from the Wargaming in History series "The American Civil War" which Ross suggested I get. Without doing a formal review, I am just going to say that I'm very impressed. A 110-page A5 soft-cover that is bursting with every kind of information a complete new-comer such as I am could hope to buy, and a snip at GBP2.00 (plus shipping and handling to Australia).

The other was some sample 25mm Union infantry and a pair of Whitworth guns and limbers from Tradition. The former are really true 25mm and very much in the Stadden style. I was a little insure of them at first, but when I lined them up I think I was reassured to go with them instead of the Spencer Smiths - although my heart still gives a little pang when I write this! I'm not so sure about the Whitworths, they are 30mm scale and, while utterly lovely, really are too big to stand alongside the infantry and gunners I purchased.

I may have to buy some Lyzards' Grin guns instead - being more a "true 25mm" they may be more appropriate.

Please forgive the blurry shot, my camera is well and truly on it's last legs. You can see though a Grant Union battalion of 24 privates led by an Officer, a Standard-bearer and a Drummer. The latter three replace the "three officers" of the Grant organisation as I find this sort of setup easier on the eye. The mounted officer could be either a brigadier-general or the officer commanding an artillery battery.

Only remaining question is what unit ought they represent? Any suggestions? I'm not after a flashy unit of Irishmen or anything like that, just some ordinary blue-bellies. I'll add Fire Zouaves and Garibaldis and Berdans Sharpshooters sometime later. Zouaves are a bit of a necessity in this sort of setup - name one old school ACW army without them!

In other news, I've really squeezed the sources available to me until the pips have squeaked. The only other leads that might be able to be followed up would be to source some copies of The Wargames Digest ca1957-1961 (folorn hope) or to get onto CS Grant and see what he can tell me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tobacco and Corn

I hit my pet store today and bought a few plastic aquarium plants. they were $AU3.95 each - very cheap.

As you can see, you can combine nore than one to form a large field. In my mind, this is tobacco while the one at top is corn. All I need is some toy plastic hogs and I'm made.

The idea is to glue it to a rigid base with the trusty hot-glue gun, give it a light overspray with some tan paint to tome it down a bit, terrain things a bit with some filler-in-a-tube then build a split-rail fence around it. I might cut out the centre of it so it can be removed to admit troops, per one of the "Touching History" Book/Magazine things.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Old Actions Re-Examined

I have finally taken Ross Mac’s advice and tried using some of the Grant ACW battle reports as a means of extracting information on his rules.

What follows is fairly rough and includes a fair amount of guesstimation in terms of the precise locations of units from which measurements were made. Also, it was not possible to plot the precise moves of every unit as the descriptions were not precise enough to allow that to happen. I just suppose GPS wasn’t available in 1960!

Nonetheless, here is what we have from “The Action at Sawmill Village” and “Gettysburg Refought”:

In the former action, skirmishers were able to threaten a gun crew from about 12” range.

The First US Infantry engages in a firefight with the 7th Louisiana at a range of approximately16-18”. The Louisianas chose to fight from behind a stone wall – presumably this offered them a cover save of some sort.
In the Gettysburg action, musketry ranges seem to be about 16-18”.

The Confederates coming onto Seminary Ridge at the start of the game are said to be 5 moves from Gettysburg while the Yankees coming on from the South East via the Baltimore Road are 7 moves away. Depending on where you measure from, the relative distances seem to be roughly just over 2 ft and about 4 ft respectively. This would indicate to me a move of roughly 8" which is pretty close to The War Game's column move of 7.5” for the Union and a light infantry move (also of 7.5”) for the Rebels who are said to be in open order.

Infantry attacked by cavalry in the flank and open order are in a pretty poor position; the 6th Alabama is all but wiped out. When this happens, a General Officer is taken prisoner. One assumes he surrendered in the melee.

Two Confederate units retreat after being fired upon by Union skirmishers. This makes me think that skirmishing infantry in numbers must be as disproportionately powerful in this version of the Rules as they are in The War Game.

Artillery has a long range, being effective at something like 40”.

Ross kindly pointed out that I’d missed the simple fact that ground-scale in this version of the rules was not 1”=10yd, but rather 1”=25’. Thus an 18” range for musketry translates to at least 450’; plausible for rifled muskets.

Likewise, artillery range is at least 1000’; possibly as much as 1500’; it would seem to me that Grant’s ACW artillery might well be only SB guns.

Ross also noted that the Texans in McMillan's wood are able to trade rifle fire with the 28th Mass who based on the map are about 24" away. At 300yd per ft this is 600 yd so it looks like ranges are rifled muskets not smoothbores.

Split Rail Fencing

Here's a little break fom trying to reconstruct the Grant ACW rules. Now, I've some figures on order from Spencer Smith, but little terrain which you might recognise as being specifically North American in it's looks. Sure I've heaps of trees, but nothing that really cries out "America" to me. I had been considering buying one of the Perry plastic houses, but to me that's a bit of a cop-out. Terrain is easy to make, really, and for this sort of project, it really ought to be home-made.

It feels like the right thing to do.

Now for me, nothing says rural America the way split-rail fencing does. A quick Google search gave me a pretty good idea of the principles involved - it looked pretty simple and the materials were cheap. A trip to my local craft store yeilded a bag of 2000 match-sticks for $AU4.95 which really ought to be enough fencing for a lifetime. I calculate I could build almost 20 metres of fencing with this much material!

A picture tells the story of a thousand words, but I'd add to the images below that of course you'll need end-posts to slot the rails into - an ice-cream stick suitably cut down and perforated to take four of the match-sticks ends at one sticks' spacing would do. Note that the finished product will be fairly fragile if left free-standing and really needs to be built onto a base of either mounting board or really thin ply.

Spray the fencing tan or brown and dry-brush it with grey to imitate weathered timber and you ought to get the look you want. If you're really on your game you could distress the rails with craft knife and file for a more random look to the individual pieces.

I think this might look really good surrounding a crop made from coir matting or some short leafy stuff from the aquarium centre serving as maize/corn or tobacco and mounted on a roughly square base.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Following on from yesterdays talk about "The Grant View of the ACW", I’ve been thinking a bit about partial units and morale.

In "The War Game" Grant is looking to reflect unit morale through a triple lens of command, casualties and that war gaming favorite, "the imponderable". Simply put, each unit has a number of officers (I like to borrow a term from The Sword and the Flame and call them key figures) sharing among themselves a varying number of "Morale Points" that total up to 6. Deductions are made from this total for officer losses and a percentage of casualties (one sixth the unit strength equals -1 MP for example). To these deductions is added a throw of the dice. If the resultant figure is greater than 6, the morale test has been passed.

I'd like here to note in passing the "50%" rule whereby a unit reduced to 50% of it's starting strength must proceed to the rear (unless in the middle of a melee!) where it may reform with other fragmentary units of the same arm. Six moves are required for the unit to reorganize. Sound familiar?

Having noted yet another direct correspondence between the rules of The War Game and the Grant ACW rules, how might we try to deal with the morale of detachments to which Grant makes frequent reference in his various writings about his Civil War fights?

A regular commenter on this blog, Ion, suggests making use of a commanding officers' "command radius". This is an idea not without merit I feel, but I think it is a little alien to the style of Grant's rules. My objection is one of style rather than of substance.

My memory was tweaked by something written on morale for small units in "Wargaming in History" where very simply a detached unit would be an officer and six privates and would retire on the basis that the Officer or 50% of the privates became casualties.

Perhaps then for the Grant ACW rules one might have a detachment of infantry of an officer and 8 privates who might have to retire should either the officer or four of the privates be made casualties.

Perhaps a halt could be checked if the unit were joined by re-enforcements or a fresh officer or if the retiring sub-unit could rejoin the parent unit? Perhaps a retiring unit might re-test it's morale for a rally?

All food for thought.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Grant View of the ACW

Yesterday I was pleased to take delivery of a copy of Charles Grants' "Wargame Tactics". You'll remember that Peter B recommended I lay my hands on a copy. I've really only had a chance to read it in a cursory way due to various non-hobby, real-life pressures. I did stop and look fairly carefully at the chapter in which Grant explains the American Civil War to his audience.

This is interesting to me as it tells me something of what he believes to be the main points of interest in the weapons and tactics of the Civil War differentiating this conflict from others for the wargamer. It goes without saying that these points will form the underlying assumptions for his ACW rules.

It seems to me that central to his understanding is the role of infantry firepower. The accuracy and relatively rapid firing of the rifled musket made a close order approach in column or even conventional line suicidal. He cites the Union experience at Fredricksburg as evidence. Open order was the new formation for attacks over open ground.

The topic of open order infantry tactics leads Grant on to talk a little about sharpshooters as used by both sides, dwelling especially on Berdan's Sharpshooters. Considering they get most of a page to themselves, one may doubtless assume rules appertaining to their use!

Grant spends some time on entrenchments and their role in the war. In the following battle set-piece, Grant's Confederates make use of field fortifications in the form of three redoubts. Some of the rules for their creation are in fact alluded to.

Then there is the cavalry. His understanding was that cavalry could no longer fulfill its' role on the battlefield and became a dragooning force of mounted infantry. Of raiders who, when confronted would dismount to fight. Cavalry fights became the exception rather than the rule. Cavalry were now for reconnaissance and for employment as mobile infantry. This was down to a few factors as he saw it. The heavily wooded and rugged nature of the North American landscape made cavalry operations difficult whilst the increase in infantry firepower made conventional cavalry tactics out of the question. In the chapter he dwells at some length on the role of the Union Cavalry's superior repeating carbines and I think we might assume some bonus here.

The Gatling Gun gets a mention and therefore also I would guess, a pertinent rule. No clues, though although he mentions a 600RPM rate of fire and note that surely this could only be kept up for a short time.

Then we move onto the artillery. As I see it, Grant thought the artillery had a lesser role than during - say - the Napoleonic Wars. It looks to me as though he viewed the 12pr "Napoleon" MLSB as the main arm of both sides. As he seems to have viewed the matter, the new rifled artillery, although a vast improvement from the twin standpoints of range and accuracy, was rather let down by the nature of the ammunition. Poor fragmentation characteristics lessened the lethality of shell. Shells tended to bury themselves and lessen the force of their detonation and so forth.

Canister was used and could be deadly, but the canister blast was outranged by the minie ball, and the gunners suffered accordingly. This led to them being protected by field fortifications with negative consequences for the mobility of the guns as those serving them would be naturally reluctant to expose themselves.

In terms of morale, he views the Southerners as having the edge at the start of the war that made them more battle-worthy than the Federals who would start to turn their situation around as the War progressed. By the end of the conflict, as defeat and exhaustion took their toll upon the Confederates, Grant is of the belief that there may have been little to choose between the two sides. Indeed for a wargame, he believes it sufficient that the same rules apply to both.

He leaves us to ponder the dispersed nature of a regiment as it fought might make it possible for different parts of it to have different morale results. Indeed, this seems certainly to be part of his rules as his recount of the fight at the Sawmill Village illustrates.

Grant briefly mentions the effects of the steam locomotive and the electric telegraph on the strategic scene for those interested in running a campaign.

To sum up then, what was Grants’ conception of the American Civil War? We’ll allow him to sum up as is his right:
…an American Civil War battle on our wargame table will be much infantry skirmishing, attacks in open order, and possible entrenching in defensive positions by infantry and artillery, the latter having less effect on the fighting than it might have done in former years. Cavalry – sometimes in considerable numbers – will be used as mounted infantry and at times have a decisive effect on a battle; the overall action will be dominated by the very effective fire of the Minie rifled musket.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Brief Interlude

I was saying in last nights' post that i would try to present something of the Firing Rules for the Grant ACW project.

Before I do, I want to go ahead and make some general comments that have been percolating about as I've cycle to and from work and taken the baby out on her evening pram ramble.

For a start let me say that I know very little about the performance of the small arms and field artillery of the American Civil War. I chose this period as much from a desire to learn about it as I did to resurect Charles Grant Seniors' ACW rules. That being said, I am trying to fill the gaps in my knowlege as fast as I can. The internet has been very useful to me on tactics and though I blush a little to say it, the weapon data in Airfix Magazine Guide #24, American Civil War Wargaming by Terence Wise. I know, I really ought to be reading Paddy Griffiths, but I can't afford him at the moment and TW is at hand!

My understanding of the basics of the period was that rifled muskets and breech-loading rifles had sufficient range and accuracy to make serving smooth bore (SB) and the newer Breach Loading (BL)artillery sufficiently dangerous that it could no longer be used offensively - that is it could not be prolonged forward to support infantry attacks. BL artillery could play on attackng infantry at a distance from which they could not easily reply, while the cannister discharges of the SB guns made them quite formidable defensive weapons still. These with entrenched infantry who were using more accurate and faster-firing long-arms meant the defensive was the stronger tactical means and accounts in large part for the huge casualties sufferd by both sides.

It is currently my belief that the war began with smooth-bore percussion cap muskets being the most common infantry small-arm with rifled percussion muskets and then breech-loading rifles superceeding them as the Civil War progressed.

Looking at some of the more common weapons of the war, we see that the standard weapon in the early months of the War was the M1842 percussion, muzzle-loading smooth-bore. This weapon had an effective range of 150yds and a battle-field range of 75yds. The most common weapon on both sides (so Mr Wise says!) was the M1861 Springfield Muzzle-loading rifle. It had an effective and a battle range of 500 and 250yds respectively. The performance of the  Enfield and Remington muzzle-loading rifles was comparable. All weapons had similar rates of fire to the M1842 of 3 rounds per minute. The Sharps and Henry Breech loading rifles has similar ranges to the Remington M1862 of 600yds effective and 350 "battle", but vastly superior rates of fire; 16 and 20 rounds per minute respectively.

Turning now to the most common field artillery of the period we can see why the Guns were forced onto the defensive. The following are maximum effective ranges:

Shot: 1000yds
Shell: Min - 250yds Max - 800yds
Cannister: 250yds

Shot: 1200yds
Shell: Min - 250yds Max - 900yds
Cannister: 300yds

12PR RBL Whitworth
Shot: 2000yds
Shell: Min - na Max - na
Cannister: 300yds

3" RBL Rodman
Shot: 1800yds
Shell: Min - 250yds Max - 1400yds
Cannister: 300yds

20PR Parrott Rifle
Shot: 1900yds
Shell: Min - 250yds Max - 1400yds
Cannister: 300yds

I could continue, but I think that really the artillery (especially the SB types) was in a tough spot supporting attacks with the classic blast of cannister to soften things up! Shell couldn't help at rifle battle ranges, and shot couldn't blow huge holes in the more dispersed infantry formations of the time. They could do considerable execution upon charging infantry however.

Now, looking at the Grant Rules with this in mind, I have decided to adopt the Grant 10yds to the inch ground-scale.

Knowing little about ranges other than that the "musketry" range is  18", what must we deduce? 18" translates to 180yds which is close enough to the 150yd range of the M1842 percussion musket for me to assume that this is what Grant may have had in mind.

The 60"\600yd range he gives SB artillery in "The War Game" is obviously quite conservative, but I could swallow this as an effective range for unsighted SB artillery. Likewise I can but the 24"/240yd cannister range sufficiently to import the rules complete into the ACW rules.

This begs the question though, did Grant bother with additional rules to handle rifled weapons? Part of me thinks he may have; he always seemed on a quest for realism in all his writings. Another part is discouraged from this view when I think of what material may actually have been available to him in the late 1950s! this is even more the case for Featherstones' Horse and Musket rules which claim to be able to be used up to the Franco-Prussan War yet which apart from a mitraieuse rule seem terribly generic.

I am inclining to the belief that Grant probably had no reliable or complete information on the rifled weapons of the ACW and that he probably ignore them. If this is so, I might be able to look at importing the Musketry and artillery rules directly from The War Game. The only thing stopping me at the time of writing is a small comment that CS Grant makes in the War Game Companion on the transition of the ACW Rules to those of The War Game:

"The rules were new but a number of the mechanisms had been established. at least to some extent, during our American Civil War Games. Of course the style of warfare was different and that meant serious changes. The rules for movement and manoeuvering of troops needed to reflect the ratherstylised and rigid formations of the mid-eighteenth century. The use of cavalry as shock troops rather tha as mounted infantry needed to be catered for. Both artillery and musketry would be seriously less effective one hundred years earlier than they were in the American Civil War, and then there was the issue of morale..."
More information might be necessary!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Movement and Charging

Well, here we go. This is my first pass at combining the Grant Rules as found in The War Game with the earlier ACW version. The overall rules layout is based on the playsheets on pp188-190 of the War Game Companion for ease of comparison.

Those parts of the rules I've been able positively to identify as part off the original ACW rules are highlighted in red.

I've not yet gotten to digesting the firing rules yet, so I'll carry them on over to tomorrows' posts.

Any comments or queries would be very welcome.

Infantry in Line move 6";
Infantry in line and Firing 4";
Infantry in Column 7.5";
Infantry Charging 9" and;
Infantry Skirmishing 7.5".

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".

Ditto the Artillery - 1" when manhandled and;
Drawn by team 6".

Wagons also 6", as do Barges Upriver and 9" dowriver and 9.5" via canal.

Uphill - -50%
On contour levels - 0%
Downhill - 0%, chargers add impetus.
Scenic terrain - -50%
Line Infantry -50% (I'd suggest this applies to infantry in close order - line or column)
Light infantry - none (likewise, open order infantry)
All others - Not permitted
Swamp or Marsh
Infantry in open order - -50%
Fordable Rivers/Streams
Inf and Cav - 2 moves to cross
Artillery and Wagons - 4 moves to cross

May only charge in column, but can make a normal move to contact (no impetus).
The front rank move directly forward to make contact. The two men from the flanks of the second rank are moved forwards and outwards to contact the enemy. likewise one man from each flank of the 3rd and 4th ranks moves into contact. All centre men close up to their front to the full extent of the 9" infantry charge move.


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 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 line infantryman is 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.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fighting House-to-House

Survivors of defenders volleys move up to the doors and windows.

Each attacking figure rolls a D6. On a 4+ he enters the building and melees on normal terms (winner of a dice-off) with the defender.

If the attacker fails the thow, the defender is allowed to add 3 to his throw in the melee dice-off. I assume this is the bonus for a defended obstacle.

And that's it in terms of what I've been able to glean from soures that are direct from the horses' mouth so to speak. Oh, apart from the musketry range being 18". Until I get my hands on a copy of Wargame Tactics, I'll be moving into speculation/reconstruction mode.

Now, note that the house-to-house fighting rules are the same as those in The War Game, as is the musketry range.

I also note that the infantry unit size is the same as that for Light Infantry in the War Game.

In my next post, I shall see what I can do for reconstructing both the melee and musketry rules.

Taking the Plunge

Well, I've gone and done it and put my money down.

I've ordered a  two-gun Confederate Battery - with limbers, 10 crew and a mounted officer and 24 Union infantry and 3 command figures (an officer, a drummer and a standard bearer) from Spencer Smith. Not Spencer Smith miniatures, but the Stadden 25s which I really like the look of. The artillery are 30mm models, so we'll see how they go.

The guns themselves look very interesting - they seem to be Whitworth12-pounders with very neat limbers. I'm looking forward to getting them.

More this evening.