American Civil War


Experimenting with Kriegsspiel

A year ago, I ran a freeform map Kriegsspiel (inspired by Paddy Griffith and Verdy Du Vernois) for my mates Sigur and Virago. The game went on for several months and was fun, although it had some problems – one of them being that it petered out without a real conclusion. Now the fascinating and for me central thing about Kriegsspiel is that it is double blind, the umpire being the only person who has complete knowledge of the positions and actions of both sides. It’s fascinating as well as entertaining to see players act with a limited knowledge of what is actually happening, something that is hard to model in conventional in tabletop wargames. The umpire’s set-up. So I wanted to try Kriegsspiel again, but in a more streamlined form. Mark Backhouse did some very interesting Twitter Kriegsspiels, so I decided to try this route – a game that would only take an evening, with orders being received and transmitted via Facebook Messenger. I wanted to have structured rules for a change, so I

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Games n Dice Historical Demo Day 2019

As Gregor is sharing the images from their Longstreet battles and going for quite some length to do research on his regiments, it was about time, to give this ACW rule set a try. Therefore he invited me to join them on their Games n Dice Demo day on historical tabletop systems to Düsseldorf. The […]

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A Dark & Stormy Night – Sharp Practice AAR

On July 4, 1863, the Union cavalry was in hot pursuit of the Confederate army retreating from Gettysburg. Judson Kilpatrick’s division had information about a rebel wagon train making its way through the South Mountains and set out to capture the wagons. Due to a rainstorm, the Union troopers arrived at the approaches to Monterey Pass in the evening. When they slowly made their way up the pass road, a lone Confederate cannon opened fire. Thus started the Battle of Monterey Pass, one of the most dramatic small cavalry actions of the Gettysburg campaign. The unusual circumstances – a fight at night, in very difficult terrain, while a torrential rainstorm was raging – made this “a night never to be forgotten”, as one participant in the action later wrote. For Sharp Practice, I have decided to divide the action into three parts. This was a playtest for the first part, the approach to the pass road and the Confederate ambush. The results of the game will have an effect on the next sce

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On parade! Troops of the American Civil War

I’ve been wargaming since the 1990s, and during that time have amassed many miniatures across a range of periods. However, I’ve never really catalogued them all, and some of them haven’t seen the light of day for many a year. So I’m now parading each army for inspection so as to take stock of what I’ve got. Some of my earliest wargaming figures were for the American Civil War. My original plan was to paint both sides in 28mm, but by the time I had finished these three units, my interests had moved onto other periods, and that was that! But they’re still beautiful units, and so I’ve kept them all these years for old time’s sake.   1st Maryland Infantry at Gettysburg At about 10.00am on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the 400 men of the 1st Maryland Battalion launched their attack on Culp’s Hill. They charged towards the Federal breastworks, but were eventually repulsed and had to fall back. By that time, they had lost nearly 50% of their number. The sacrifice of

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ACW Camp Scenes

I’m researching and preparing yet another scenario for Sharp Practice. This one is going to be about the Union cavalry raid on Port Republic during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1862. This was one of the few moments when the Union showed aggression and they almost managed to capture Stonewall Jackson himself. The Union cavalry surprised the encamped Confederates, so I need some camp scenes for the game. I procured tents from QRF/Freikorp15 and stacked muskets from Irregular Miniatures. Incidentally, Irregular Miniatures have great stuff, but some of it is well hidden – the musket stacks are in the 15mm napoleonic section. Add a couple of crates and spare figures, and I had two camps.   As the Confederates were surprised, I wanted to convey frantic activity. In this scene, a drummer is beating the long roll while soldiers hurry to get into formation: While tents look nice, I’m actually not sure the Confederates camped at Port Republic had them. Maybe they only had bedrolls an

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The Spirit of ’61 – A Big Game of Sharp Practice

On the occasion of my birthday, I invited Sigur, Virago and Stephan to a big game of Sharp Practice. I’ve always wanted to play a game with four players and more units than usual and this was a perfect opportunity to try this. Our forces’ objective was to confiscate a whiskey distillery. Both had a wagon to transport the destillery as well as an assortment of infantry and one unit of cavalry. Sigur and Virago played the Confederates, while Stephan and I took the Union. I split the commands, Virago and Stephan playing the C-in-Cs and each getting three Leaders (apart from Sigur, who had four). I took the opportunity to field my 5th New York Zouaves, a colourful troop I just finished painting. Deployment started a bit slow for the Confederates. They were still crossing the bridge while the Union cavalry was rushing forward and Col. Bendix (Stephan) moving his men into line and into the field. As my cavalry was rather wimpy in close combat, I had them dismount and advance on foot. When SigurR

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Small Scale Wargaming – Wargaming Recon #224

Adrian & Jonathan discuss using Et sans resultat and Altar of Freedom for wargaming in 10mm and 6mm. These rules are intended for the Napoleonic wars and American Civil War respectively. Wargaming Recon Army members get newest episodes FIRST Don’t want to wait? Support Wargaming Recon through Patreon. It costs… Read More» The post Small Scale Wargaming – Wargaming Recon #224 appeared first on Wargaming Recon.

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Wall’s Bridge Revisited

Almost two years ago, I played a Sharp Practice scenario from Grierson’s raid. While a fun game, the scenario suffered from several issues. The publication of a new book on the raid by Timothy Smith prompted me to revisit the scenario. My staunch Sharp Practice opponent Sigur took the Confederate defenders (and he also took the pictures), while I played the Union attackers. Last time, one of the problems was balance: the Union is equipped with breech-loading carbines, which offer a severe advantage in firefights. I wanted to keep the technical superiority of the Union, while also taking into account the state of their troops: at that moment, they had been in the saddle for almost two weeks, moving hundreds of miles through enemy territory. They were exhausted, but had to act quick and decisively, as large numbers of Confederate troops were hot on their heels. Therefore, I introduced two special rules: The idea behind the Exhausted special rule was to skew the distribution of random events a bit in the

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First Game of Over Malvern Hill

You will remember that I backed the Kickstarter for Over Malvern Hill, the new ACW rules from Stand to Games. The rules arrived and I liked what I saw, so I roped Sigur in for a test game. Unfortunately, he had to cancel, so I decided to run a solo game. This was probably a good idea for a first game, as I had to look a lot of stuff up… I used the Battle of Big Bethel as a scenario. It’s a good scenario for solo gaming, as the Confederates have a rather static defense position. However, it’s a bit difficult to balance, as the Union had a huge advantage in numbers and should, by all accounts, have won – which they didn’t due to the difficult terrain and severe command problems. So, while the Union player has a lot more forces, it should still be quite difficult for him or her to win the game. To spice it up a bit, I introduced a deck of friction cards (I got the initial idea from John Drewienkiewicz’ Wargaming in History Vol. 10: The Shenandoah Valley 1862, a most splendid b

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Scratch Building Wagons in 15mm

Wagons are cool: They can be used as scenario objectives, but they also look nice as pieces of scenery. Unfortunately, wagons are also among the most expensive models a wargamer can own (at least, for those of us who play periods before the 20th century). So I decided to scratch build my own. I found some examples of scratch-built wagons in 28mm on the internet, but I couldn’t find any in 15mm. Fortunately, 15mm is a very forgiving scale and you can get away with a lot, which is a good thing for a sloppy person like me. I didn’t use a lot of materials: For the chassis, I used balsa wood, match sticks and polystyrene. The wheels come from Langely Models, who offer a good selection of sizes. Several miniatures producers offer spare horses, e.g. Alternative Armies or QRF/Freikorp15. Drivers are a bit more difficult to find and I’m not really happy with what I got, but it will work. The first thing I made was a simple hay wagon. The hay was made out of dried tea leaves, which were covered with

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Relief Force – Sharp Practice AAR

Last week-end, Sigur and I had another game of Sharp Practice. I had devised a short and simple scenario: A Union held fort was attacked by a Confederate force, but a relief column was on its way. Sigur decided to command the attackers and got a couple of infantry, a unit of cavalry and a small mountain howitzer. I had three rather weak units in the fort. To make things more interesting, I drew card for the composition of the relief force, which gave me three units of regular infantry and one unit of cavalry armed with breech-loading carbines – quite a potent combination. The set up. Sigur’s cavalry moves along the road towards the bridge. … and there goes the cavalry! Having been shot to pieces by the Union soldiers in the fort, it flees to never be seen again. Sigur’s skirmishers adopt a more methodical approach. With the cavalry heading towards the rear, it’s up to the poor bloody infantry. Hurrah! At the earliest possible moment, the Union cavalry arrives. The Confederates ha

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Stealin’ Horses – A Sharp Practice AAR

Having finally finished painting the Native Americans, we decided to have a game of Sharp Practice to try them out. K. played the Union defenders, with four groups from 2ndRegiment, Indian Home Guard (irregular skirmishers) and two groups of 1stKansas Colored Infantry (regular line infantry). I played the Confederates and got 4 groups of Cherokees (irregular skirmishers), one group of cavalry and one small mountain howitzer. To make it more interesting, there were two objectives and I randomly drew one of them. K. wouldn’t know which I had. Turned out I had to steal the horses! I also had a moveable secondary deployment point, which I cunningly positioned in the woods to the left, near the house where the second objective was located. For the first couple of turns, I had very bad cards and was unable to deploy my troops. K. meanwhile put most of her skirmishers to cover the house and keep my moveable DP in check. Fortunately, that was what I wanted. As my cards were so bad, I didn’t move my secondary DP but

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Booknotes – Historical Books

One of the things that keep me running with ACW is the fact that there are so many good books on the subject. Not only is the quality of academic research very high, many of the books are also eminently readable. One of those is Barbara Brooks Tomblin’s Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy. While there is substantial research in African-American soldiers, sailors have for a long time been neglected. Tomblin provides a comprehensive overview on the activities of African-Americans in relation to the Navy’s war effort. Her decision to not just deal with the 18.000 black sailors that served the Union during the Civil War, but also to include the wider context, is very rewarding. She deals with the Navy’s contraband camps, with informants and pilots as well as all sorts of informal help provided by slaves and escaped slaves. It is really fascinating to see how the Navy’s policy towards African-American fugitives developed in the field. One case in point is Flag

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Review: Lee’s Invincibles

I recently discovered a series of board wargames called Blue & Gray. They are published by Worthington and cover a range of American Civil War campaigns. Now I always wanted to play a more operational-level game, but – as you probably know – wargames of the hex-and-counter variety somehow put me off. Those games looked nice, quick and simple, though, so I decided to pick up a copy of Lee’s Invincibles, the game that covers the Gettysburg campaign. The game uses point-to-point movement, so no hexes! Instead, there are places connected by roads or railroads. The playing pieces are blocks. Each block represents one corps for the Union and half a corps for the Confederates. Each player also gets cavalry, which can be used for screening actions and a commander. The game is rather simple: Spending action points, each player may activate and move a certain amount of blocks each turn. If a block moves to a location occupied by the enemy, a battle is fought. There is a simple battle resolvement

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ACW Vignettes

I’ve recently made some terrain vignettes for the ACW. The first one is a smithy. I didn’t do much research, I just looked at images from 19th century American blacksmith shops and then built a simple hut. The blacksmith figures are from a medieval blacksmith set from Donnington Miniatures I’ve had lying around for years now.   As always, I made the building out of plastic sheet and covered it with match sticks. The chimney is sculpted out of green stuff. I’m not completely happy with it, but it looks ok. The other vignette is a small scene that links to the topic of friction. A limber broke down on a road and the crew is working (more or less) frantically to replace the wheel. As always when such things happen, two guys are actually working on the problem while the rest is standing around and doing other – certainly important! – stuff. A straggler is chatting with the horse holder. A sergeant is stopping the traffic and securing the scene of the accidentR

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