Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Holding Action (2)

At some point I want to post an article, or maybe a series, on campaign ideas that I've been having recently, and some from the distant past that I'm considering revivifying.  But before so doing I wanted to try out my 'conventional' (i.e. 'old school') American Civil War rule set, Bluebellies and Greybacks,  on my small four-foot-four by four-foot table.
An hour or two after daybreak, 27 June 1864.
U.S. Cavalry scouts cover the Union
advance, and seek out alternative crossing points along the river.
 Having already played one 'Holding Action' scenario from the Charles S. Grant 'Green Book' I thought I'd play the other.  The original scenario was designed for the Grant Horse and Musket organisation, that I had to translate into my own army design.  Here the BLUE Force is actually grey: a Confederate force commanded by Brig-Gen Zander Z. Zebedee, charged with delaying a Union push up the road.  Commanding the Union (RED Force) on this occasion was the redoubtable Brig-Genl Justin Cayce, veteran of many a battle. 
Confederates barring the road.  Half the cavalry should really
be behind the woods, but as they have been conflated to a single
unit, I placed them all beside the town.
 The forces, scaled down approximately from the original comprised the following:

Confederate States of America: GoC Z.Z.Zebedee.

6th Alabama Infantry ... 27 figures (HQ element of 3 figures plus 24 other ranks)
11th Alabama Infantry ... 27 figures
18th South Carolina Infantry ... 27 figures
26th South Carolina Infantry ... 27 figures
9th Georgia  Cavalry (Cobb's Legion) ... 23 figures (HQ of 3 plus 20 troopers)
2 batteries of artillery ...8 figures, 2 cannon (1x12pr Napoleon SB, 1x20pr Parrott Rifle)

Totals: 108 foot, 23 horse, 8 gunners: 139 figures plus 2 cannon.
Guns and infantry guard the bridge crossings.

One of these units, the column beside the wood ought to have been 21 figures only, cognate to the 'light infantry' unit called for in the original.  I also reduced the three cannon to two, to maintain a reasonable balance with the other arms.  Finally, the two cavalry units were conflated into the one beside the town, the one behind the woods 'omitted'.

Union troops advance.  The pickets approach the stream.
Surely there must be a practical ford somewhere?

 United states of America: GoC Justin Cayce.

15th Kentucky Infantry ... 27 figures
5th Ohio Infantry ... 27 figures
29th Ohio Infantry ... 27 figures
66th Ohio Infantry ... 27 figures
126th New York Infantry... 27 figures
27th Pennsylvania Cavalry ... 15 figures (3 HQ figures plus 12 troopers)
8th U.S. Cavalry ... 15 figures
3 batteries of artillery... 12 figures, 3 cannon (1x12pr Napoleon SB, 1x10pr Parrott Rifle, 1x3-inch Rodman).

Totals: 135 foot, 30 horse, 12 gunners: 177 figures plus 3 cannon.
Confederate eye view...

Again I considered using a 21-figure Zouave unit in place of the original 'light infantry', but went with a full strength unit instead.  The 3 to 2 ratio of cavalry was roughly maintained, the discrepancy perhaps compensated for by the ratio of cannon being changed from 4:3 to 3:2.  

Battle narrative:  Introduction:

On the morning of 27th June, 1864, the small expeditionary force under Major-General Casimir Praughan, led by Brig-Gen. Justin Cayce's reinforced brigade, came up against a Confederate rearguard that appeared determined at last to resist the Union advance.  For several days, now, the Union troops had been hard upon the heels of General P.T. Armighan's small army.  At last finding bottleneck where two roads converged between the forks of the Shutzedoah River, General Armighan turned over the command of the rearguard to Brig-Gen Zebedee, reinforced his brigade with cavalry and cannon, and marched, with the remainder of his army, on his way.  Zebedee's orders were to hold for a day... if he could.  His prospects seemed promising: neither stream could be crossed but by the bridges.  Had he the wherewithal and the time, he would this minute have men demolishing them. Lacking such means, he placed infantry and guns to cover the bridges with musketry and gunfire, ordered 6th Ala to reinforce the defenders of the eastern bridge, and retained 11th Ala and Cobb's Legion in reserve...

15th Kentucky advancing in the teeth of Confederate resistance.
Gun (SB, long canister range) Die Range 4; rolled a 4 - 4 hits from the gun, then.
18th S.C. (long range musketry)  Die Range 2; score 4 hits.
Total of 8 hits against the one target, resolve as 4 casualties - enough to trigger a
morale check.  15 Ky rolls a 4: morale remains good.
The battle narrative, and comments on the rule set on the size of table, will continue in a further posting.  Before going, though, as the rule set is pretty conventional, the ground scale is 900:1 (one millimetre represents 1 yard), and the time scale 30:1 in keeping with a convention I developed last year (time scale = square root of ground scale).  So 1 turn represents simultaneously 1 minute and half an hour; 24 turns a period of 12 hours.
To be continued... 


  1. Interesting beginning...and thanks for the latest 'cuirassiers's explanations'...

    1. No problemo. It is tricky getting the balance right with the sort of game mechanic I am trying out. But I like the concept so I'm persevering with it.

  2. Looking forward to a replay and a peek at your rules in action.

    1. Next posting will begin with a fuller treatment of the firing mechanics touched on in the caption of the final picture here. It will explain all those dice, and their arrangement.

  3. I would be very interested in your campaign ideas. Its a topic infrequently covered in this age of quicker play completion style games.

    1. In my view campaigns get insufficient air play, although Don Featherstone and Tony Bath published classics of the genre. I have even toyed with the idea of a table-top ... no, I'll leave that to a future posting. :-)