dinsdag 22 juli 2014

Command capabilities

Battle of Carthage, July 5, 1861 – further refinements.

In subsequent tests with the Carthage scenario, the command capabilities were refined. For convenience the old WRG General’s characteristics of Cautious, Bold and Rash were a good starting point. Their differences will be demonstrated below as to how they handle, deploy and control their troops on the game board and on the battle map.

Control on the game board
As two forces meet on the battle map and play progresses to the game board, the defender sets his brigades first. The sequence of deployment reflects the commander's skill, so the following table lists the order which troops are deployed. Two generals of similar quality will alternate the placement of their brigades. Although arbitrary this created enough of a diversity that would influence a plan of battle as troops followed a particular movement sequence.

General           first                second             third
Cautious          infantry          artillery          cavalry
Bold                 artillery          infantry          cavalry
Rash                cavalry            artillery          infantry

Example, a cautious infantry general makes all necessary infantry placement before setting artillery and lastly the cavalry. The cautious cavalry general may not have infantry under his command, but follows the move sequence with first artillery then cavalry. There may be bounds when the player may chose not to move any primary units, but skip directly to a second or third choice.

Historical note 
During the early years, troops under a general’s command were in some cases mixed with infantry brigades having a battery of artillery and/or a unit of cavalry as part of the organization. Eventually, artillery batteries  would be taken from the brigades and grouped together at division level. Likewise, cavalry would form their own brigades to form a division.

Further reading also revealed a handful of generals were capable of utilizing all three arms efficiently.  

Test game one
We used the same deployment as in photo one, Battle of Carthage. With a few good die cast, the Rebels came on in a rush. The Rebels continued their assault, but a lower cast of the die meant only two “divisions” moved forward and cavalry probed the flank. Rebel artillery tried to knock out the Federal guns. 

On their turn, Federal guns were breaking up the oncoming ranks. Bound three, found our cautious Governor Jackson (Jan) in a quandary. The cavalry could move to an advantageous position, but the infantry needed immediate attention. All pips were then used to restore his battle lines.

Under the command of General Sigel (bold) the Federal troops deployed skirmishers to extend their line and moved enough forward to level a devastating volley. In four bounds (1 hour), the Rebel charge was blunted and all Governor Jackson could do was shadow the Federal troops as they marched back to Carthage.

Test game two
Cunning plan number two was put into effect and this time the cavalry moved first to threaten the flanks of the Federal troops while infantry and artillery remained in position. General Sigel could not counter the threat as the artillery, centrally located, could not bring their guns to fire and the cavalry were out of range of Federal infantry. 

The methodical approach by the rebels eventually earned a Federal skirmisher unit for the cost of one cavalry. The remaining rebel cavalry unit maintained a threatening position while the infantry moved forward. 

No longer seeing any advantage to be gained, Sigel withdrew his troops across the ford and off the board. 

zaterdag 19 juli 2014

Battle of Carthage, July 5, 1861 - first test

There are a number of new rule items that need to be worked out. The first will demonstrate standard battle map movement and the transfer of units to the game board, the next the command capabilities of the opposing generals and how that can influence deployment and lastly the handling of some anomalies to create a simple historical scenario.

The battle map
The battle map displays the minimum amount of information that would facilitate or hinder movement and each square can indicate if the terrain is arable, hilly, forest, steppe or tropical;  these being the most likely encountered in the Western theatre of 1861. Each square on the map represents approximately one square mile, which is the size of the game board.

Map movement is similar to the basic DBA game, an army commander leading several divisions or corps, casts one die to allow these to move from square to square, initiate an attack or to withdraw from the game board and return to the battle map. The smallest maneuvering unit on the map is represented by the division, comprised of infantry and during the early war were often supported by artillery and cavalry.

Infantry divisions move one square, cavalry and river craft two. Simple counters can be made to represent the various divisions and there should be some form of record time and note the number and type of elements under each command.

Test One
Game starts at 08.00 hrs.  as the Missouri State Guard (MSG) fine Federal troops deployed north of the Double Trouble Creek. MSG “divisions” move out of March column and deploy along the ridge line.

This skirmish lasted about two and a half hours or 10 bounds. Missouri Volunteer cavalry were able to threaten the flanks of the Federal line forcing them to break off combat and withdraw behind Double Trouble Creek. Artillery and small arms fire delivered no casualties but the effect did delay the Rebel line. 

Subsequent contact:
After two hours of steady marching, the Missouri troops found Federal troops lining the opposite bank of Dry Fork Creek, time 12.00 hrs. The Governor and General Price gather for a short briefing while the “divisions” deploy in the same manner as they did earlier in the day.

With the exception of the tree lined creek, the field was one vast undulating prairie area. With no terrain to mask their advance, the field became a killing ground as Federal rifles out-ranged the muskets of the Missouri troops. After as hour of steady volleys, three units of volunteers were eliminated for the loss of one Federal skirmish unit.

Infantry and cavalry were now crossing up and down the creek. Again, the Federal troops were forced to withdraw or become encircled. 

Yet another skirmish.
By 16.00 hrs. Federal troops deployed behind Bear Branch Creek which is deep and fordable only where the Lamar-Carthage road intersects, General Sigel’s plan hopefully would delay the rebels long enough so as to be across Spring River and in Carthage by sunset.

Luck was in a Blue mood this time and in three bounds, Missouri volunteers were recoiling from the brisk volley fire laid down. Even rebel artillery felt it prudent to withdraw. In that brief respite, the Federal artillery could now concentrate on the infantry and duly leveled a unit of rebels. By 17.00 hrs, the Missouri troops demoralized but not beaten would only be able to shadow the Federal troops to Carthage, leaving the Federal troops to cross Spring River unmolested.

In this test, MSG units kept unit or division integrity. This would serve as the largest group units could maneuver in. From the photo you will note the four divisions, from right to left Clark, Slack, Parsons and Rains respectively.

This worked well to simulate the lack of training among the Missouri State Guard units as more pips were needed to bring about a united effort. To simulate the lack of training and the quantity of muskets (many flintlocks) the volunteers used Auxilia factors of 3 and could not count as support for the shooting phase.

A further test will address the influence of command characteristics on battle map movement, deployment and control during battle. 


woensdag 16 juli 2014

Battle of Boonville, June 17, 1861

Classed as a skirmish, this conflict in Missouri pre-dates the Battle of Bull Run. Forces were small, about one brigade each but ideally suited to test a few new features.

The Federal forces, the 1st and 2nd Missouri and 2nd US Infantry, were under the command of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon in in support one battery of the 2nd US Artillery. Their objective was to capture the capitol, Jefferson City.

Governor Jackson and General Price surmised, the burning or bridges and rail lines would not stall the Federal advance, fled Jefferson City. Hoping to gather units of the Missouri State Guard located between Lexington and Boonville, Governor Jackson decided to make a stand at Boonville.

Some sources give the strength of the Missouri State Guard at near equal to the Federal forces, but add, most of the volunteers came directly from their farms armed with implements’, shotguns and flintlock muskets.

The map
General Lyon’s force leave St. Louis to march on Jefferson City. Abandoning Jefferson City, units of the Missouri State Guard assemble on a ridge outside of Boonville. 

For this test game, both sides had equal number of infantry elements, but Federal troops did have the advantage of artillery. Of the Federal forces, both Missouri Volunteer regiments are “trained” and the 2nd US are classed for this test as “veteran”.

The mobilized Missouri State Guard units, are classed as “militia” as these were quickly organized for the defence of Boonville, all have reduced shooting and combat factors.

Photo One
Federal forces have just passed the Adam’s House. The 2nd US on the right deploy their skirmishers forward while the left flank move briskly toward the rebel held ridge. 

Emboldened by what they perceive as hesitation, the rebels edge forward but do not leave the slope.

Photo two

Both Federal wings march forward while the skirmishers move further to envelope the rebel line. Bound four, the rebel line were showing signs of wavering as Federal volleys were beginning tell and to add further discomfort, the Federal battery eliminated a unit of volunteers.

Rebels were now demoralised. 

Battle of Boonville, test two

Photo three

This time, the rebels formed at the military crest of the ridge so as not to offer Federal artillery any targets. No changes were made to the Federal deployment.

Two bounds passed as the Federal line advanced toward the ridge, only the telltale sunlight reflecting off field glasses attested to the presence of rebels. 

Photo four

“Do or Die”. With yells and cheers up and down the line the rebels moved forward to bring their volley fire into effective range. The surprise resulted in a few Federal units recoiling from the effort.

In response (bound 3), the Federal line redressed their ranks, moved closer to let loose their own volley with a similar effect. Only the battery proved successful in eliminating a unit. 

“The Boonville races”

Photo five.

Bound 3, the rebels were in a dilemma. The brigade, now demoralized and units were scattered along the ridge, what could be done with a pip score of two? Who holds their ground and which flee? 

Missouri State Guard
Militia were not part of the original draft but are now added so early period conflicts could be played. These have a reduced shooting distance (2BW) and have combat factors identical as Auxilia (+3).

Veteran troops could move and deploy one element of skirmishers for the cost of an extra pip, while trained troops remain in place while skirmishers move forward for the same cost.