Monday, August 31, 2009

ACW Cavalry

I have been reading two books lately: "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I - Volume V" prepared by Ltc Robert N Scott (1882) and "Cavalry Tactics as Illustrated by the War of Rebellion. Part I" by Captain Alonzo Gray (1910). These two books are both availible on

They give many examples of the small skirmishes involving cavalry and how they were employed. Captain Gray gives an interesting review of the employment of cavalry weapons of the revolver and saber. The Saber is a shock weapon that after the initial round of combat is less useful. The revolver appears to win in every encounter between saber and revolver. He extends his analysis to those of the early plains engagements prior to the American Civil War.

My question is, how many people actually use cavarly formations in their games other than a line formation? Does anyone move their cavalry in column formation and switch to line to charge?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mud and Blood Terrain

Well I decided to try to create some trenches. Equipped with the handy dandy guide provided in the recent Lardy special, I have purchased some foam and some thin plywood at my local Lowes. I am gaming M & B in 15mm but decided to go with the 2' by 2' squares for the trench complex. My next step will be to draw out the trenches. My thoughts are to do two squares of trench lines and two of no mans land. The No man's Land will have some shell holes connected by some impromptu trenches to give my Germans some cover.

Anyone have a good reference for what French Trenches looked like?

Friday, August 21, 2009

ACW Drill for SP

Well a little surfing turned up an interesting site: This shows marching drill, Firing Drill and Skirmishing Drill.

The skirmishing drill looks like it will be easy to apply to the table top. The firing drill is interesting. There is fire by company/platoon, fire by rank, oblique fire and fire by file. Company/platoon fire would match rather well to firing as a formation in the existing SP rules. Oblique fire would allow a formation to fire on an angle rather than directly ahead. The fire by rank seems also easy to replicate as only one rank would fire per initiative at a time. The firing by file though would seem to be much harder. I was thinking that only 1/4 of the formation would be allows to fire per initiative. This way a portion of the troops will be able to fire at every initiative for muzzle loading rifle armed troops (most troops).

Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SP for ACW

Here is an old scenario that I have been kicking around for a while.

This is a smallish battle between some regular Army US Cavalry and several groups of Confederate militia. This proved to be a draw for both sides but each side proclaimed that they won. Once I get around to ordering some Perry figures, this will probably be my first scenario I play.

I will probably include this in some form once I get to work on a supplement for the ACW. Take a look and let me know what you think.

This brings up something I am curious about. How to represent friendly fire on the table top. In 1861, it seems to be very problematic for the Union more so than the Confederates. several Yankee units had gray uniforms and several Confederate units had blue uniforms adding to the potential confusion. The Battle at Big Bethel is an excellent example of two entire Union regiments blazing away at one another before some officer restored order. How would one include this in a scenario where it could happen? Surely some restrictions to spotting.

SP and ACW

This week I have found a gold mine of Drill Manuals for the ACW on and These are awesome sources for things well out of print and best of all - they are free downloads. Definite money saver there. They have both volumes of Hardee's manual for Infantry as well as the progression of Northern manuals as the war progressed. In addition to infantry manuals, they have some Cavalry manuals as well.

What was fun is that is lists out the proceedures for skirmishing and the formation to use. I think that a sample scenario set similar to what Rich did in Stout Hearts would be interesting to demonstrate the tactics that the sides would have been trained in.

I am planning to order some of the Perry 28mm ACW plastics for this period instead of my normal 15mm.

In looking at what I already wrote in the Ball's Bluff scenarios in the Summer 2009 Lardy special I was thinking about the Rebel Yell Card. Should this be more than allow a volley and charge? I have found numerous references to where Northern units (especially green ones) would panic at the sound of the yell and scamper off. Should we add a test to this? Say any troops that are Regular or less quality will take 1d6 of shock per group of rebels using the Rebel Yell card? Would that make it too powerful and unballance the scenarios?

Enough for now. Back to work.

Sharp Practice for the AWI

Well the scenario contest is over. We have seen the first two winning submissions. I can't wait to see the others. It is always interesting to see how other utilize groups and Big Men in Sharp Practice. The Shockley's Rockets scenario is a fun read and looks like a fun game. I will have to try this out at some point.

But I continue to think about using SP for the AWI. I started looking at the events of 1780 in South Carolina after the fall of Charleston. It has many actions that are perfect for SP. The Loyalist forces become stronger with more "regular" provincial units being present and almost no Continental troops present - I do love militia. So I once again decided to work on a scenario booklet. This will serve as a follow on to "This Land Divided."

The booklet will follow one of the featured heros of "This Land Divided" - Colonel Elijah Clarke. The Rebel militias of South Carolina were divided into several distinct commands. With Colonel Francis Marion in the Southern swamps, Colonel McDowell in the Northwestern part of the state and Brigadier General Benjamin Huger in the Northeastern part of the state. Colonel Clarke was part of Colonel McDowell's command and operated in the piedmont of South Carolina until he decided to retake Augusta, Ga.

I will follow Clarke around from the Fall of Charleston to his attempted seige of Augusta. The first scenario I have started work on is the Battle of Musgrove's Mill - August 18, 1780. This one should be an interesting battle as it is chock full of Rebel militia that is rather well led. It was an all volunteer force that included many of the Over the Mountain men that would later win at King's Mountain. A large number of officers volunteered for this attack on the British garrison at Fair Forest so there are more officers present than would normally be there with a group of its size.

The British/Loyalist contingent is equally interesting. There are some local loyalist militias and a large number of provincial troops. The Provincials were equipped and paid by the Crown so they were much more professional looking than the local militia or the Rebels. The tempation is to require a huge table to allow the forces to maneuver but that would not really recreate the battle very well. I am still tinkering with it in my head. So it is not quite ready for the light of day yet.