Sunday, December 4, 2016

Stonewall In the Valley - Part 2.

A Division of Infantry with the bases (finally!) flocked. The flags
are all hand drawn or painted.
 Now that I have begun thinking about an American Civil War project, I have bethought me at last to finish off and tidy up my plastic armies.  In particular, I have reorganised and rejuvenated the cavalry, and reformed them in units larger than they were, as described in my last posting.  In the last week of so I finished the flocking on 92 cavalry plus maybe a dozen other mounted figures.
Overhead view.  The small Zouave d'Afriques unit was fashioned
from Airfix French foreign Legion figures, with plasticene
 But since then I've been carrying out the same task - flocking the bases - of my infantry.  In about a week I have flocked the bases for 351 Union and 397 Confederate figures - a total of 748!  In the picture below, only the Zouave d'Afriques unit has already been flocked, but there I had to repair a couple of figures that had snapped off just above the ankle.  The flags are all home made.  The distant ones are tin - milk-bottle top, I think.  The nearer are paper, the design drawn with pen and the colours applied by felt-tip pens designed for overhead projector transparencies (do people still use those?).
A third photo from sheer self-indulgence.  The small bunch of
mounted troops are CSA cavalry officers and replacements.

A powerful CSA brigade of three regiments and
two battalions.  The Louisiana Tigers are in the
centre of the line.
In the picture to the right and  below, the nearer 'Army of Northern Virginia' flags were also drawn on paper and coloured with felt pins. The 'Stainless Flag' of the farther units were painted on foil - milk-bottle-top again.  I have considered replacing them, but haven't had the heart.

Meanwhile I have been researching the 1862 Valley Campaign as part of my project to 'try out' Don Featherstone's 'Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley' campaign.  A couple of changes I wanted to make. The first was that as the single Confederate army was identical in size and composition to the three Union columns, it seemed to me unlikely that General Jackson could afford more than two battles, or three if he managed in all of them to attack much smaller forces.  It seemed to me more realistic if the Army of the Shenandoah were rather larger than each of the columns facing it, but that overall the Union numbers combined - should they ever combine - would be too much to cope with.

That nearest unit could stand a bit of paint.  The product
of a recent reorganisation of this brigade.

I also felt that the thing might be more ...erm ... verisimilitudinous ... if there were a Union garrison stationed at Harper's Ferry, at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and the small army of Brig-Genl Edward 'Allegheny' Johnson stationed in the southwest corner of the campaign area.  These forces were to have 'walk on' or maybe 'walk off' parts to play in the unfolding events.
Research materials: my copies of Battles and Leaders of the
Civil War
, and Col. G.F.R. Henderson's biography
of Stonewall Jackson (1898/1919).  

Some of the troops who received flocking of their bases
this last week.  Actually the guys in the north-west box
were flocked probably 20-odd years ago.  But still, that's
6 Union regiments in the  other Union box, and a whole
10-regiment CSA Diviiosn in the CSA boxes.  
There was something else, though.  Where did Mr Featherstone place his columns at the outset of the campaign?  Where were their starting points?  Paul - 'Jacko' of the blogspot 'Painting Little Soldiers' - was good enough to lend me his copy of John Curry's edition of Donald Featherstone's Wargaming Campaigns. Very enlightening it was, and all. Apart from the pictured Battles and Leaders, I had the National Geographic maps of the ACW, a SPI article, and Terry Wise's little ACW volume Battles for Wargamers, and Mark M. Boatner's handy, if somewhat flawed, Civil War Dictionary.  All these helped with the decision making.

The original concept had the three Union columns placed a fair proximity at the foot of the Valley, at Martinsburg, Harper's Ferry and Winchester.  The latter formed the apex of a triangle pointing straight up the valley.  Jackson's army was encamped at the head of the valley, at Staunton.  'The Don' had also pitted Generals Phil Sheridan, Crook and Ricketts against the Stonewall, a bit of historic licence presumably to avoid someone having to take the role of Nathaniel P. 'Confederate Commissary' Banks, Fremont and Shields!  Of course, one might equally well attempt the campaign 'Old Jubilee (Genl Jubal A, Early) in the Shenandoah Valley'.  

The flags here were all painted on tinfoil or other thin
metal I could find.  Milk bottle tops from the days of glass
milk bottles were useful sources ...
Fun read as the following narrative was, I felt that I really had to go more with history, and the situation as it stood in April 1862.  So my column commanders were to be placed as follows: Fremont at the outset in the west, at or about Franklin:  Shields off the map to east of Ashby or Manassas Gap, and our pal, Genl N.P. Banks waiting ...tremulously? ... nonchalantly? ... at Strasburg.  The Kernstown battle was a month back, and  Stonewall Jackson himself, having dealt his blow at McDowell with his own Division, has just rejoined General R.S. Ewell. The combined Army of the Shenandoah begins the narrative at Harrisonburg.  Game on.

For the rest, my hex map indicates something like 14 hexes spanning the 30-mile distance by road between Harper's Ferry and Winchester. So the map scale is roughly 2 miles the hex.  That distance the hard marching Confederates could cover, if they needed to, in about 24 hours.  It is clear, then, there would have to be at least two and possibly three or four 'campaign turns' for each daily period of daylight.  Possibly a single 'night march' turn ought also to be considered, though I find it hard to administer these well.  Obviously the night marchers will need to catch up on rest.  When will that be taken?  On balance we might as well ignore night marches, though it might be possible to send courier messages overnight.

Slightly different painting styles shown on the right of the picture.
The right-most unit began life as part of the Airfix Wagon
Train box.  These days I would, after some alterations to the
 firearms, painted these as Louisiana Tigers with straw hats.
These 'campaign moves' will equate to a number of 'battle-' or 'game-moves' as Don Featherstone termed them.  Now, his rule set allowed 8 game-moves for the period of daylight.   That seems to me a little bit on the short side, and it probably not so surprising that according to the 'Featherstone' campaign narrative, Jackson's whole army could not quite in that time force Brig-Genl Getty's 'Division' from its dogged tenure of the Manassas Gap passes.  This, even at five-to-two odds.
A unit painted and based flocked a long, long time ago.
The ground scale for my own Bluebellies and Graybacks rule set is 1:900 - that is 1-inch to 25 yards, or 1mm per yard.  That suggests to me a time scale of 1:30, which indicates 24 30-minute turns to represent a 12-hour period of daylight.  As it happens, though, I have scaled down the armies somewhat, as the last posting's Orders of Battle will indicate.  A 12-game-move day seems pretty reasonable.   Using the Featherstone movement rates translated from his squares to my 'hexes' yields the following.

Two campaign turns represents one day - a morning turn and an afternoon turn.  Each turn, therefore, equals 6 game-moves.  It is necessary to be aware this in the event of calculating the ETA of any troops 'marching to the guns'.  

Federal Forces:
   Infantry - 4 hexes per campaign turn.
   Mounted - 6 hexes per turn
   Artillery - 4 hexes per turn

Confederate Forces:
   Infantry - 6 hexes per turn
   Mounted - 6 hexes per turn
   Artillery - 6 hexes per turn.

These are all 'road' moves.  Cross country moves are halved, mountains are impassible.  If weather were to be brought in ( a decision by no means yet made) then the black outlined roads (such as the Valley Turnpike), being Macadamized, are all-weather roads.  The others become quagmires after one campaign move of rain and reduce movement to cross-country speed if the rain continues for a second or more consecutive campaign moves.

Depending on wind direction (rolled for when there is any such prospect) forces within a campaign turn (a half-day;s march) might hear the sounds of distant battle. Its reaction - do nothing, send some troops, march the whole force - should be diced for.  

6 Union regiments, bases newly flocked.  The flags they
had formerly been issued having become tatty, I replaced
them about two years ago.  These new flags are a bit rough, but they'll do.

The objectives of this campaign are interesting, especially from the Confederate side.  Historically the Army of the Valley existed to create a 'threat in being' to Washington DC.  As such it was to draw upon itself the attention of as many Union troops as it could, consistent with its maintaining itself in the theatre.  Shortly before this campaign narrative begins, Jackson's 6000-strong Division had brought into the area 40,000 Federals.  This led to CSA General Ewell's reinforcements being sent in. 

So the Confederate objective is to remain in the theatre for as long as it can, whilst keeping the Union forces occupied.  To achieve this it must keep the Union columns separate as much as possible.  The Confederate supply base and recruit assembly area is Staunton,  The main Union supply and recruit assembly base is Harper's Ferry.  The Union objective is, if they can't destroy the Army of the Valley, is to drive it out of the Shenandoah Valley altogether.


  1. Good to see the lads getting refurbished and ready to rumble. The flags look great to me.

    How wide are those stands? Just eyeballing it looks like 20mm per figure? Which at 1mm to the yard would make the regiments around 720 men?

    I'm looking forward to following ths Campaign.

    1. Thanks, Ross -
      The foot figures are based at 1/2-inch square per figure. Nominally 'individually' based most are on strops of three. The mounted figures are on 3/4-inch by 1-1/2-inch bases. All are individually based, though were I to do them now, most would be in pairs.

      A 27-figure infantry regiment in line comprises 2-12-figure ranks firing, the 3 HQ figures forming a third line. The frontage is 6-inches, which is 150 yards according to the ground scale. Now, this would indicate a figure-man scale of 1:20. Charles Grant's calculation of 125 yards for a 600-man unit in 3 ranks works out at exactly 150 yards for my 24-figure (480-man) firing line.

      Despite that, I prefer to think of my units having a figure ratio of 1:25, simply because the numbers are bigger, I think! Adding up my CSA army, its 613 infantry, 92 cavalry and 63 gunners gives an army at 1:20 of a whisker under 15,000. OK, but ... m'mmm. At 1:25, we have close to 20,000. Just a little more oomph, eh? In both cases, though, the artillery each represents four guns. I have formed them into 2-(CSA) and 3-(USA) gun batteries, but each represents two real ones. Every method of doing this I have come up with involves a compromise, and the one I have adopted does least violence to my ... erm ... sensibilities. :-)

  2. I have started painting more Union (4 Airfix Regiments, 2 Esci and some Zouaves). They are quite easy to paint so its has not been too bad on my wrist, I might add I have 50 of the laying down figures so shall make some of them into markets of various types.

    1. I kinda wish I had kept mine, though the muskets of the prone guys proved useful elsewhere. I have a very few shot cavalrymen and dead horses kicking around somewhere. I don't use markers, myself, even though the idea is a good one.

      The dismounted cavalryman shooting over a dead horse (Airfix) would be a good marker for something I think. But most of my 'dead horse' bases ended up as bases for trees!

  3. Lovely to see all those Airfix guys again. I do miss my oldarmies.

    1. There is something about the older, cruder, figures that just seem to invite battles, don't you reckon? There's a lot heart in these plastic guys...