A bit of to and fro

Rather than try to work through the intricacies of WordPress to make this a blog post with photographs, here is a link to the MS Word document that I intended to post here for immediate viewing.  You will just have to look it up from the link…

Blog. A bit of to and fro

Basically I wanted to have a go with the Black Powder American Civil War rules before the next Donald Featherstone memorial weekend, where we will be using them.  In the end I decided that Don’s own rules work better than those we are planning to use in his memory!



An ACW Excursion

Feeling the need to get away from painting and preparation for a day or so and to actually play a game with stuff that I already have prepared, and coincidentally next in my project list, I have played a solo game from “Battle Cry”, the American Civil War board game, transferred to a 4ft x 3ft table with 4″ Kallistra hexagons and 6mm figures from Irregular Miniatures.

Here is the battle report in Word and PDF formats.

Battle Cry Bull Run (Word)

Battle Cry Bull Run (PDF)

This was a fun game – with “game” being the overriding objective for some light relief.

Ball’s Bluff, 21st October 1861

Although 21st October is most remembered in Britain as the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, I have neither models nor rules for that fight, so I decided to have a go at the battle of Ball’s Bluff, 21st October 1861.
I found a scenario online for the boardgame “Battlecry”, and prepared the battlefield with my Kallistra terrain. Laying put the troops I discovered I needed more Confederate cavalry, so off the the toy cupboard and paintbox.
One very quick painting and basing session later and we are ready to go.

An overview of the battlefield, taken with my i-pad
An overview of the battlefield, taken with my i-pad. Union troops are drossing the Potomac in the background.

Followers of my blog may notice from the closer picture below that my ACW models are not flocked to match the terrain they stand on, unlike most of my models. This is because when I started to base the troops for my Gettysburg battle some months back there was no time. It’s a job for another day.

A view from the Confederate right flank.
A view from the Confederate right flank. Terrain by Kallisra, figures from Irregular Miniatures, buildings by Total Battle Miniatures, trees by various makers.

The battle began with the Confederates advancing on their right flank, which was countered by the Union cavalry, while also moving their infantry forwards towards the woods.
The Confederates advanced into the woods to meet this attack, but were met by fire from the Union infantry.
The cavalry of both sides charged and a general melee ensued.
The Confederates pushed forwards in the centre, while the Union countered on their left. Confederate infantry and artillery in the centre fired with devastating effect. The Union forces then counterattacked but after several attacks and counterattacks were beaten back.
On the flanks both sides took to the woods for cover and continued to fire with limited effect. Eventually Confederate firepower in the centre won the day.

Although I enjoy the Commands & Colors Napoleonics games I found this version of the same basic game system to be a little too abstract. Not reducing the firepower as a unit incurs casualties is somewhat counterintuitive, and means that units are artificially strong until suddenly collapsing. Maybe that is more appropriate to the Civil War, but it does not work for me.

So, while the table is set up, tomorrow I plan to replay the battle with other rules.

Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend

Back home now after a total of about 24 hours gaming Gettysburg at the Wargames Holiday Centre in tribute to Donald Featherstone.

A fantastic weekend with a great bunch of people. To see the full battle report check out the Miniature Wargames page on Facebook.

We started the battle on 2nd July and I was in command of Rhodes’ Division of Ewell’s Corps holding the town of Gettysburg, in partnership with veteran gamer Charles Wesencraft with Early’ division on my left. To my right was a gaping hole in our line as far as the Peach Orchard. The rest of our army was concentrated on taking the area immediately north of the Round Tops.

I (Rhodes) managed to push the Yankees back at the “Angle” at the North end of cemetery ridge, but for one turn only. When Johnson’s Division was discovered in the woods North of Culp’s Hill I inherited Early’s already shot-up division and concentrated on assaulting Cemetery Hill.

Returning Sunday morning we were informed that it was now 3rd July and that overnight we Confederates had retired back into Gettysburg and the woods in the North-West.

Further South our friends had fallen back to the Emmitsburg Road and had to fight through Devil’s Den all over again. Picket had arrived and was sent to reinforce Longstreet, but we did regain some losses from the previous day.
The good news was that Stuart’s cavalry also arrived, handled by new arrivals Ron Miles and Chris Scott, guests of honour at the Saturday evening dinner and close friends of Don Featerstone.
Stuart brought so many horsemen that Union models had to be impressed into the Confederate army until replaced by the numerous artillery casualties.
The Union troops who had lined Cemetery ridge for two days wheeled right into the area of the historic “Pickett’s Charge” to meet the new threat.

With most of our infantry out of action the cavalry hurled themselves at the enemy infantry, who were all in defensive positions and supported by artillery. Two charges failed to make contact and the third was hurled back. My last intact infantry brigade assaulted the Angle again and after a struggle at odds of 1:3 pushed the Union back and held the place for one turn only.

I did get one brigade through the cemetery gates, but they were surrounded and wiped out.

The game time ran out. The Confederates were deemed to have won because in the South they were in sight of the road to Washington and little to stop them. Hancock ‘s men would be fighting Stuart with minimal support to their rear.

From my end of the field, Ewell’s corps was all but wiped out, but special mention in despatches to Rhodes’ artillery who fought for two days without loss or penalty and single-handedly wiped out a large infantry brigade piecemeal, in addition to supporting the infantry attacking Cemetery Hill.

Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend

I am looking forward to the weekend, when I have been fortunate ( or quick enough) to secure a place at the inaugural Donald Featherstone Tribute Weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre in Kingsclere (about 10 minutes drive from my home).

The battle will be Gettysburg and the rule system Regimental Fire and Fury. I have never used these rules before, although I did once host a game of Gettysburg using the original F&F rules, “bathtubbing” the battle so that a division became a brigade.

But I digress. As a practice run I downloaded the playsheet from the Fire and Fury website and have been getting my head round the game mechanisms.
So far I have used infantry and cavalry, albeit all of the same quality and the same weapon. This evening I intend to explore artillery.

And for this exercise, what better scenario than this?

A scenario well known to the older generation of wargamers
A scenario well known to the older generation of wargamers

No prizes for identifying the layout.
If you need a hint, go back to a 1970 publication (page 61) and remember to whom we are paying homage.

And yes, some of my new bases are not yet painted. Time was of the essence.