American Civil War ironclads in action

As part of the work I am doing on my latest book (GRIDDED NAVAL WARGAMES), I have been fighting an action between my newly-built American Civil War ironclads. the action took pace on the little-know Missenhitti River …

… and resulted in a close-fought, close-range action where neither side escaped undamaged.

I now need to stage a battle between some Pre-dreadnought-era warships. With luck I should manage to do that withing the next week or so.

My American Civil War ironclads are finished

I finished painting my two new model American Civil War ironclads yesterday … and this is what they look like:

With luck I should be able to see how well they perform in action later this week. I will not be writing a detailed blog entry about any battle I fight as I intend to include it in my forthcoming book about gridded naval wargames, but I will share any interesting photographs that I take.

American Civil War model warship plans

I have spent quite some time today turning the hand-drawn pencil drawings I made as I constructed my two American Civil War ironclads into proper drawings that other people may be able to follow.

The results are as follows:

Plans for the Casemate Ironclad.

Plans for the Monitor.

They will be used in my forthcoming book about gridded naval wargames as part of a ‘How to construct simple American Civil War model ironclads’ appendix.

A quiet Monday finishing some models

After all the excitement of visiting SALUTE and then writing my photo-report, I managed to spend part of yesterday quietly sitting in my toy/wargames room finishing two models ships that will be featured in my forthcoming book about gridded naval wargames.

I needed a couple of American Civil War ironclads, and so I built a Casemate Ironclad …

… and a Monitor.

I intend to include an appendix in the book that explains how I built these two models, but the techniques I used are similar to those I have used before.

Before I can use the models, they will need to be given a couple of coats of PVA glue to seal the wood they are made from, after which I will paint them … probably in contrasting shades of dark grey. Once that is done, battle can commence!

The War Game … edited by Peter Young

A recent comment that the terrain created by the late Peter Gilder for the film CALLAN was also photographed and used in the book edited by Peter Young and entitled THE WAR GAME made me look out my copy of the book … and reminded me how much it had inspired me when I first saw a copy.

The book was divided into ten chapters (each of which covered a major battle and was written by a different author) and two appendices:

  • THERMOPYLAE BC480 by Charles Grant
  • AGINCOURT 1415 by Philip Warner
  • EDGEHILL 1642 by Peter Young
  • BLENHEIM 1704 by David Chandler
  • LOBOSITZ 1756 by Charles Grant
  • SARATOGA 1777 by Aram Bakshian Jr
  • AUSTERLITZ 1805 by David Chandler
  • WATERLOO 1815 by James Lawford
  • GETTYSBURG 1863 by Clifford C Johnson

  • EL ALAMEIN 1942 by Donald Featherstone

  • Appendix 1: The Principles of War Gaming
  • Appendix 2: Model Soldier Suppliers

THE WAR GAME was edited by Brigadier Peter Young and illustrated with photographs taken by Philip O Stearns. It was published by Cassell & Company Ltd in 1972 (ISBN 0 304 29074 2).

In the acknowledgements at the back of the book it states that the figures came from the collections of David Chandler, Peter Gilder, Charles Grant, Lieutenant Commander John Sandars, Ed Smith, John Tunstill, and Brigadier Peter Young, and that the terrain was specially made for the book by Hinchliffe Models of Huddersfield.

The London Wargames Section

My recent bit of wargaming ‘detective’ work rekindled my memories of the rules produced during the late 1960s and early 1970s by the London Wargames Section. I certainly owned copies of some of them, and used them for a time.

From what I can find out, they produced rules for the following:

  • Modern
  • Napoleonic
  • American Civil War
  • Greek Naval
  • Napoleonic Naval
  • Samurai
Image © Noble Knight Games.

The writers included John Tunstill, Bish Iwaszko, Ed Smith, Sid Smith, and Ken Smith, and were quite innovative for their time.

Shades of Morschauser

Despite all my good intentions, I was not able to mount a large play-test of the latest draft of my heavily revised PORTABLE WARGAME: COLONIAL rules yesterday … but I did manage a small skirmish!

It so happened that I found my green 3-inch square gridded felt cloth whilst looking for something else (isn’t that always the way?) and remembered that when Joseph Morschauser had written his original ‘Frontier’ rules, he had used 54mm-scale figures and a 3-inch squared grid. My collection of 54mm-scale Britains American Civil War figures was to hand … so I decided to use them. The resulting battle was a bit different from the one I had planned to fight, but nonetheless it was great fun!

ScenarioTwo small forces of Union and Confederate troops are scouting ahead of the main bodies of their armies. The countryside they are traversing is flat and featureless, and both sides are expecting to run into enemy Units during their reconnaissance.

The Union and Confederate forces are each comprised of four Infantry Units, a Cavalry Unit, and Artillery Unit, and a Command Unit. This means that both sides have a Strength Value of 24 and an Exhaustion Point of 12.

The Union side has been allocated Black as its Unit Activation Card suit colour, and the Confederates have been allocated Red.

The BattleBoth sides advanced with their Cavalry Unit covering one flank and their Artillery Unit the other. Both the Union and Confederate Artillery Units engaged the enemy’s Cavalry Units, and eventually destroyed them, although in the case of the Union Artillery this only happened as a result of the depleted Confederate Cavalry charging them and engaging them in Close Combat.

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Black 3, Red 4, Red 2, Black 3, Black 3, Red 4, Red 4, Joker. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The Union side threw two of its Infantry Units forward, and they engaged the Confederate line with musketry. In reply, two of the Confederates Infantry Units fired back and then charged forward to engage the Union troops in Close Combat. In both instances both sides suffered casualties but the Confederate troops were forced to withdraw.

The Confederate Artillery Unit also fired at the closest of the Union Infantry Units, but missed their target.

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Black 2, Red 4, Joker. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The Union troops were unable to make much progress before the Confederates launched a number of further Infantry attacks using musketry followed by Close Combat …

… not all of which were successful.

When the Union troops copied the Confederate example their choice of tactic proved to be costly, and ended up with one of their Infantry Units being destroyed.

At this point the number of Union casualties reached the Exhaustion Point, and the Union troops were no longer permitted to carry out any further offensive actions.

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Black 2, Red 4, Black 4. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The Union troops continued to suffer casualties …

… but eventually they were able to extricate themselves from the battle and withdraw …

The Unit Activation Cards turned over were: Red 3, Black 3, Red 3. At this point the battlefield looked like this:

The final Unit Activation Card turned over was Black 4. This allowed the Union troops to withdraw.

… leaving the victorious Confederates in possession of the battlefield.

Lessons learntThe main object of this play-test was to see if the revised Close Combat system worked … and it does.

A by-product of this particular play-test was the fact that I now realise that it is quite possible to use the rules with much larger scale figures than I originally intended to use them with (my plan was to use them with 15mm and 20mm-scale figures) … and that playing wargames with traditional toy soldiers can be great fun. As I have quite a collection of them, I can foresee using them in PORTABLE WARGAME battles as well as in FUNNY LITTLE WARS wargames.