Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Distractions and Diversions: Or What I am doing instead of completing what I started

Once again, I have drifted off from my hobby to do list and ventured into something different. Since the release of The Coming Thunder, I have been aimlessly drifting between projects. A little work here, a little work there but nothing coming close to completion. Then I found myself on the most dangerous of websites - Google.

Taking a few minutes, I wondered, "Hey, what happened during the Civil War in my county (Gwinnett)." A quick Google search came up with the answer - not much. There was one action that occurred at the very edge of the county near a small town call Jug Tavern.(August 2, 1864) The name of the town alone caught my attention. But how big was this fight? Since it was a part of the overall Battle for Atlanta in 1864, surely it is WAY too big to game with Terrible Sharp Sword, right? Not entirely.

It seems that this battle took place following the dispersion of General Stoneman's force following his defeat outside of Macon. A Brigade of Cavalry under the command of Colonel Horace Capron was fleeing around Atlanta with Colonel Adams Brigade of cavalry. The two got separated in an attempt at attacking Athens. Capron had a local guide who led him astray. Capron's men raided the small town of Jug Tavern (now Winder, Georgia) and moved on to a spot called King's Tanyard to stop for the night.

So far, it looks too big. Capron's men included the 14th Illinois Cavalry, the 8th Michigan Cavalry and McLaughlin's Independent Ohio Cavalry Squadron. Plus they had some remnants from the 6th Indiana Cavalry Regiment with them. All had fled the Battle of Sunshine Church where General Stoneman was captured.

This seems like a huge force for a skirmish game. But how many men were in it? Well, the 8th Michigan had hacked their way through Confederate lines to escape from Sunshine Church.(Sunshine Church. Not really a name you would associate with battle is it.) They were down to 70 men lead by Major Buck. Colonel Capron's was not only the Brigade Commander but the regimental commander of the 14th Illinois Cavalry who numbered some 300 men on the 31st of July. The 6th Indiana cavalry had an additional 350 men or so. This gives Capron's force a total of about 720 men or there about. This is WAY to many figures to paint in 15mm and I am too lazy to even paint that many in 6mm. Things do not look good for a scenario here.

The Confederates that engaged them were another Brigade of cavalry under Breckinridge that had been pursuing them since Sunshine Church.(Each time I read this, I picture a brightly painted structure with a big yellow sun painted on the side with a smiley face and a large children's playground to the side. Not a site of blood and slaughter. But I guess that is just me.) He had the 1st Kentucky Mounted Infantry (I think. They may have been true cavalry), the 16th Georgia cavalry and Major Cook's Armory Battalion Cavalry.

But wait, there is hope!

From the description of the action, it seems that only about a company of the Confederates engaged Capron's Brigade. A company! That is doable. But wait, why would about 50 to 100 guys charge 700+ men? That seems suicidal? Well, it seems that the Confederates found the napping Yankees after they finished pillaging the town. They charged through a large group of camp followers and escaped slaves and made a huge noise that panicked the bulk of Capron's force. It seems that in their haste to flee, the stormed across a nearby bridge that collapsed dropping many into the river to drown. A small group did mount and form a line and engage the Confederates. In this smaller action, the Confederates beat those that chose to stand. Over the next day, hundreds of troops were captured and taken to the University of Georgia as prisoners. Capron, his son and five others walked back to Marietta four days later. Capron fled at first noise and hid in a ditch with his son. It seems he was not in command of those that stood and fought.

William Tecumseh Sherman with typical aplomb, wired Washington after their arrival stating, "On the whole the cavalry raid was not deemed a success." Sherman is normally a name, that as a resident of Georgia, I am not permitted to say without surrounding it with appropriate profanity has earned a little more merit in my eyes with that dry humor. However, Capron must have had some friends in high places as he was again given a new command almost immediately even though he lost his entire command and fled from battle not once but twice!

I think I can make a good scenario out of this action. Stay tuned for it and an associated action at barber's Creek.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Coming Thunder: Opps

I had it pointed out to me that the Campaign section was... well, missing something. He was absolutely correct. I have now corrected that mistake. I am making this available as a download from right here.

This now has options for Not only the Confederate forces but Union forces as well. Numbers of troops available for the artillery batteries are also present. Also starting troop ratings are present for each company type.

The Union troops are all based on troops that fought in the area throughout the time. While the New Jersey troops were technically in reserve, they did participate in several actions in the area of the Peach Orchard Battle that occurred along the Taylor's Tavern, Munson Hill, Mason's Hill and Falls Church line. The Union Cavalry, while not a New York or New Jersey unit was split up in penny packets (as was typical Union practice at the time) and two companies served with the New Jersey regiments.

Please take a look. This replaces the last few pages of The Coming Thunder.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

French & Indian War AAR: Caravan to William Henry

Many of my readers may remember that a few weeks ago I posted about a discovery of two separate documents relating to a battle during the French and Indian War. (Click here for the reference) I received many e-mails asking for more information about the battle and the prominent men featured in the action. After searching online and library sources I have finally found a reference to a few of these men. In particular, I found an early reference to Sergeant Duncan Kelley. This reference also contains mention of Jerome Long Tree, the Indian chief from the Abenaki Indians.

The reference was found in the memoirs of Captain Blaine Downs. It seems that this was an unpublished memoir that he wrote some years after the war but before the Revolutionary war. It is unclear as to the exact year he wrote the memoir but Captain Downs had left the Colony of New York and moved to Scotland by this time. The details of the events must have been blurred over the years but his account of the action is quite interesting.

His account begins as follows. "It was two years before the beginning of the war that I had joined the county militia. I was elected Lieutenant for our company. Militia service was one of the best times of my life. Our unit was far less martial and far more social. Most of our musters took place in the local tavern than on any parade field. As the Provincial units were being assembled in the year before the war, I was offered a commission with the Provincial unit as a captain of infantry. I was told my experience as a militia officer was valuable."

Given this background the following report of the battle that follows is slightly more clear. Captain Downs continued with his description of the training that they underwent. It seems that despite his lack of military efficiency, his battalion officer was an energetic officer and managed to teach the rudiments of drill to the company. We will skip on to the interesting bits.

"It was in the first year of the war, prior to the fall of Fort William Henry. My company was selected to escort a party of civilians and some essential military stores forward to Fort William Henry. From the edge of civilization it was over 14 miles through the darkest wilderness to the fort. It is no wonder that we could not hold the place."

"It was before our departure that I had the dubious honor of meeting Sergeant Duncan Kelley of the Rangers. The Rangers at this time were not the most military of units. None of Kelley's men had uniforms. Yet these backwoodsmen were reputed to be among the best troops when engaging the Indian in his natural habitat. I was not to find this to be the case. Kelley, a mere sergeant, accosted me before we left and informed me that he was related to my new ensign. Now I believe his name was Moss. Yes, Tyler Moss. The lad was not yet fifteen years in this world and his father had purchased his ensign's commission. The boy was worthless. Yet he was some kind of cater cousin to this Kelley who appeared to be fond of the boy. I was actually threatened by him to ensure that nothing would happen to him. Well, I informed him that my duty was to my King and my orders were to supply the fort and not play nursemaid to some pimply boy who had no business being an officer. I do not think this was a stellar beginning to our professional relationship."

"The trees were absolutely stunning as it was a crisp fall day. We approached the river we had to ford in order to reach the fort. We were still miles from the fort. The Rangers were no where in sight. I was told that if I could not see the Rangers, then they were doing their job. Needless to say, I was skeptical."

"I had deployed my small company with two thirds of the men at the head of the column and the remaining third in the rear under the capable command of Sergeant Mike Iggluden. The man was huge. A giant of a fellow. Just the thing to lead when under the guns of the enemy. Had to have come from some kind of foreign stock with a break teeth last name like that. The men took to calling him Sergeant Iggy. I could not disapprove as I could not pronounce that name either. I placed Moss with the men to for fore and myself directly behind the leading group. Behind myself was two cannon and their limbers, two ammunition wagons and many civilians. Also a strange Mohawk warrior was with us. A dour individual that barely spoke a word the entire trip."

"We had barely advanced far enough to have the river in sight when the woods to either side of the road erupted in gunfire. It was quite alarming. Reacting quickly, I placed the lead units in a line and halted the caravan. In addition, I called Sergeant Iggy and his men forward. As the gun fire continued to either side of the road, I decided to utilize the assets that we had. I ordered one of the guns to be unlimbered and brought forward. Being unfamiliar with artillery, we had a gun crew with us as part of the caravan. They rushed forward to get the gun into action."

"I was to learn several days later that the fight on the right hand side of the road went very poorly for the Rangers. It seems that they had stumbled upon an Indian and French Marine ambush on both sides of the road. Hopelessly outnumbered, the Rangers on the right were routed. However, most of those men survived the action. I was assured that they stood and fought for as long as they could but one has to wonder given their extraordinarily light butchers bill. I believe that the group on the right only lost one man of the twelve."

"Kelley, I was to later learn, led another group of twelve men on the left hand side of the road. His men fought on much longer than those on the right. But they too were repulsed. Kelley himself stayed to fight even though his men had fled the field, or so I have been told. I did hear the odd pop of a musket from the left apart from the shooting from the French and Indians."

"My men were engaged from the right hand side of the road by a large party of Indians. In their first volley, the Indians cut loose with a ferocious war cry that turned our bowels to water. Their musketry left much to be desired but one round did happen to find the young Mr Moss. The Ensign was struck between the eyes with a single shot and dropped dead at my feet. Not one man in the formation he was with even noticed the loss of the boy. My drummer was shaking in his boots yet he stood beside me throughout the entire fusillade."

"Our men fired back into the woods but not one man saw an Indian fall. Sergeant Iggy was able to get his men in a line on our left. The gunners were struggling to get the artillery into position. It seemed to take forever to move the gun and each second that ticked away cost my men their lives."

"Half of the men on the right had fired so much that their barrels were fouled and fighting was no longer an option. The other half had lost four men. Neither group could remain in the line and began to flee to the rear regardless of the encouragement and threats shouted at them. I ordered Sergeant Iggy to fall back but he was so involved in the firefight with the Indians to his front that he could not move. Finally, the gun was in position and loaded. A beautiful target presented itself. The French Marines formed a line near the road that was directly in line with the gun. We promptly fired on this target before it moved and we saw several men fall."

"The civilians had fled back down the road. Most of my command had fled as well. I was able to save Sergeant Iggy and his men and pull them back from the engagement. Unable to save the guns, I ordered them spiked and we set the ammunition carts alight as we fled the field. I was to later learn that the only Indians killed in this action were those that perished when the ammunition carts detonated. A French Marine officer that was captured two years later spoke to me of the skirmish. It seems that he was present at the time. The Indians rushed the ammunition carts looking for loot when the carts exploded. Three of the savages simply disappeared. So there was no bodies to be found. The French officer informed me that the Indians were lead by some fellow named Jerome Long Tree. A fierce individual that proved a terror to the settlers in the wilds of New York for years to come."

"The outcome of this embarrassing episode was that I was posted to a provincial unit guarding an island in New York harbor for the next year."

==============================================================================

Saturday I had the privileged to play one of Mark's French and Indian War games. I commanded the Provincial unit and led them to ignominious defeat. The game was great fun even though my Captain's card seemed to cling to the bottom of the chip bag as if it were glued there. The player commanding the Rangers by pure luck destroyed the carefully planned ambush set up by the Indian and French players. However, his forces being so split had no real chance to win the fight against the Superior numbers of French and Indians.

Mark has more images of the game on his Flicker site. It was great fun. Sergeant Kelley attempted to use his Longue Carbine ability several times but failed to hit both times. The Rangers and Provincial troops could not buy good die rolls. The French rolled very well but the casualties were very light. Mostly alarming amounts of shock were accumulated that led to both units of Rangers breaking and nearly all three groups of Provincials breaking. I look forward to the next game in this series.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Coming Thunder: Scenarios for Terrible Sharp Sword

I have finished the supplement for the Too Fat Lardies Rules: Terrible Sharp Sword. There are 17 scenarios plus a campaign background to use with the campaign generator that comes with the rules. The scenarios are all from the first year of the war as is the campaign generator.
The campaign generator is focused on the "Battle of the Peach Orchard" in the Fall of 1861. The battle was no one battle but a series of linked skirmishes that occurred across numerous orchards of peaches in Northern Virginia. It is an entertaining piece of history as the skirmishes had basically come to a stop once the troops had picked the peach trees clean of fruit.
The scenarios cover the following skirmishes:
1) The Battle of Fairfax Courthouse - June 1, 1861
2) Ball's Crossroads - August 27, 1861
3) Bailey's Corners - August 28 - 30, 1861
4) Munson's Hill - August 31, 1861
5) Lewinsville Part 1 - September 10, 1861
6) Lewinsville Part 2 - September 10, 1861
7) Lewinsville - September 11, 1861
8) Lewinsville - September 25, 1861
9) Munson's Hill - September 28, 1861
10) Springfield Station - October 3, 1861
11) Little River Turnpike - October 15, 1861
12) Doolan's Farm - November 16, 1861
13) A Running Skirmish - November 18, 1861 (on the Fairfax Courthouse road)
14) Hunter's Mill - November 26, 1861
15) Dranesville - November 26, 1861
16) Falls Church - November 27, 1861
17) Annandale - December 2, 1861

All of these occur in a relatively small area of northern Virginia involving many of the same units. I am selling this for $10.00. Just send the money via Paypal to my cstoesen@corecard.com address and I will send you the PDF. The PDF is just over 3MB in size. I can split the file if needed.
Now this is availible for direct download:

*** Update ***
Just a reminder, I have Rich's permission to use the Terrible Sharp Sword name and though published by me, it has his approval.
******Update 11/21/2011*******
I had a request for a sample of the scenario pack for folks to see what they would get. Click the link below for a sample from the document including the table of contents and most of a scenario.
Download Sample file
******Update 12/21/2011*******
I have created an errata page for a couple of other issues that have been pointed out. You can download the errata here:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Italians in the East: Pokrowskoje

I stumbled across a very interesting site: http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com. This has both Soviet and Pre-War German maps of Eastern Europe. I was able to find a 1:50,000 scale maps of the first two battles fought by the Italians in Russia.
The map above is taken from the map L36-16C from that site. In addition to that, I have finally been able to translate some of the Regimental history that I have for the 80 Roma Regiment. The regiment was mounted using the all truck transport allotted to the Pausubio Division and the Torino Division. This enabled them to keep the timetable set for them to move from Voznesensk toward the port town of Nikolaiev. The terrain was very difficult with the roads nearly dissolved in the rain and the constant threat of a Russian attack from the rear guard troops. August 11, 1941 - The Battle for Pokrowskoje The Battle for Pokrowskoje was begun when elements of the 1st Bersaglieri Motorcycle Company was performing a reconnaissance of the town. From the descriptions that I have found of this reconnaissance, it appears that it is possible that only one rider was forward rather than the whole company. Bersaglieri Alfredo Santino Lutri and his riding partner were leading the reconnaissance element when they triggered an ambush by the Russians. Apparently, his partner (Germano Narduzzi) was hit early on in the ambush. According to his medal citation, Lutri, continued his mission and returned back to his company commander to report his findings even though he himself was wounded. He insisted that Narduzzi was seen to before he had his wounds examined. While brave, it ultimately led to his own death. His actions provided vital intelligence to the Pausubio Division as it advanced on the town of Pokrowskoje. His actions of putting his wounded partner first sealed his fate and earned the young man the first Gold Bravery Military Medal of the war in Russia. Interestingly, Lutri's remains had been buried in an Italian Military graveyard in the Ukraine for 60 years. In 2001, as part of the improving relationship with the Ukraine and Italy, many of the Italian dead have been brought back to Italy. Lutri's body was one of those returned. As part of the remembrance ceremonies, a play was written to celebrate the man's life and his selfless actions on his final day. Once the information was relayed back to the Colonel Epifanio Chiaramonti, of the 80th Roma Regiment, the 3rd Battalion of Major Minchiotti was dispatched to deal with the Russian rear guard. He was reinforced with the 75mm/27 artillery from the 3rd Battalion/8th Artillery Regiment (Pausubio Division), the battery of the 80th Regiment's 65mm/17 artillery and the Bersaglieri Motorcycle Company. The description from Armando Rati's "L'80° Fanteria. La lunga Storia Eroica di un Reggimento Mantovano Diventata Leggenda" does not mention the presence of the 141st Anti-Tank Company. Other sources do mention the presence of the 141st at this first encounter. Rati does mention that they were approached by seven Russian tanks that were driven off by the guns of Captain Caranci. It is unsure if Captain Caranci is from the 141st Anti-Tank company or the battery commander the Divisional 75mm guns. It is not likely that he is the battery commander of the 65mm guns from the Regiment as his name does not appear on the officer roll presented by Rati in his book. I need to search for this name earlier in the book to see if I can find out more. This (Rati's) is the only account of this battle where the Russian tanks are mentioned. Most record the battle of Jasnaja Poljana as where Russian tanks appear. Instead Rati mentions the presence of Russian Armored Cars at the later battle and no Tanks. One other interesting tidbit from this all to brief account of the battle, Rati mentions that the Battalion was lead by its scouts (esploratori). Some wondering of what such a unit was, I went to http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com for some answers. They list the scouts as consisting of 1 Officer and 42 men. The best guess of this unit was that it was divided into three large squads of 14 men each. It does not appear that these men had any kind of support weapons such as a light machine-gun. This presents an interesting unit to attempt to field on the table top. Rati's book contains a nice picture of Italian troops clearing the town of Pokrowskoje on page 72.
The end result of this first battle was the loss of 2 men killed and another three wounded for the Italians. As to Russian losses, this is completely unknown. Rati mentions that many corpses were found the next day and that the enemy fell back to Jasnaja Poljana, the sight of the 80th Roma's second battle. Given this, it is possible to make a guess that the unit fought on the 11th was 469th Rifle Regiment. One of the few accounts where the Russian unit that was fought has been made clear. I will be making a series of scenarios using this information. Another interesting source that I found was the diary of a medical orderly from the Pausubio Division (http://www.maserada.com/pasubio.htm). He notes that the first action of the division took place in a field of sunflowers. Rati places Jasnaja Poljana as a battle field that was between wheat and sunflower fields. The map at the top shows field boundaries. It is quite possible that both battles took place mostly outside of the towns themselves. I am trying to figure out if I will be making this into a scenario booklet through the TFL's or just releasing bits and pieces out in Specials or attempting to publish it myself.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tinkering with Terrain

What little hobby time there was this weekend, I was able to make a few small terrain pieces. I need more trees. So I started with this in mind. I began to create a small orchard, a small wooded area and an open field. I began each of them with a section of fiber board (have no clue of the name of the stuff anymore. It is the fiberglass board that they make computer motherboards with). Then I glued the bases of the Woodland Scenics trees to it. Then covered the whole mess with a mixture of Elmers glue, sand and small fine rocks - all mixed together. Once that dried overnight, I painted the result with a Woodland Scenics ground paint. and flocked it. The small stand of trees came out quite nicely.
The orchard still has work as I did not have a chance to finish out the trees. I just finished the orchard out last night. The Raw Ochre Woodland Scenics paint, when dry, left some of the sand from the glue mixture a lighter sand color than I wanted. I repainted those areas. It came out better than I expected.
The field is also not done. Here I was experimenting with a scenic kit that I had purchased. I had some standing grass that I attempted to use. That was a miserable failure. I ripped that up and glued a bush over the attempt. I will add some more bushes on it later. It is supposed to be a spot of rough ground with a path. The rough ground was finished out with an additional tree.
The pictures came out so bad, that I will have to update this later with new ones. I had some time and tinkered with some trench sections that Terry had given me about 4 years ago that I had sitting in a box. I have several more pieces to work on but this was just a couple of test sections that I needed to try out.
Well, the pictures are up. Please let me know what you think and what I can do to improve them. I have several more wooded pieces that I want to do to have a decent stand of woods for my table.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Checking In

Not much to report lately. Family and work have kept the hobby side of things to a minimum lately. Been working on furthering the Desert War Air Campaign for 1940. It is really coming together.