Wayne Bollands at Wargames Illustrated has been sharing his gaming groups campaign news with us here at Cigar Box Battle and it has been quite enjoyable to follow along. So of course we thought that we should share! They have started the campaign in 1861 and have been fighting a few battles representing each year of the ACW. They have been using Sam Mustafa’s “Longstreet” and John Hill’s “Across A Deadly Field” to fight out their battles.
If you have ever been involved in an ACW campaign, you’ll likely remember it as one of your favorite gaming experiences. I have been involved in many campaigns, but my favorite was a “Shenandoah Valley” campaign using a double-blind point to point movement system developed by the guys that used to publish “The Zouave”. It was fun marching my troops down the roads and not knowing what was there! The fights were often lopsided (which happens in reality), and the players had to learn when to retreat to fight another day. Another interesting outcome of playing in a campaign is that the players are much more cautious with their figures! There were not too many “Pickett’s charges” in our games!
Here are some pictures Wayne shared with us and a few “letters” from the campaign. I love this idea among wargaming friends. We used to send emails as well in our campaign, and they were often formatted like Newspaper articles from the 1860’s. Here are a couple of letters from Wayne’s campaign:
(Letter from Confederate President Jefferson Davis to Colonel La Roux, 24th January 1862)
My Dear Colonel,
Although I heartily enjoyed your hospitality during my recent visit, I was acutely aware of the demoralized nature of your command after their defeat at McDonald’s Farm in the State of Kentucky. As you know, General Marshall was also defeated at Middle Creek on that same day, compounding the sense of loss. Every battle or skirmish in which we do not triumph has an effect upon our nation’s pride.
Yet I hope I left you with a true sense of appreciation for the sacrifice of your men. The battles fought by all the Sons of the Confederacy in the past few months have shown that we have the moral and physical strength required to defend our loved ones. Indeed, I noticed that a number of your regiments had become necessarily hardened during their most recent trials, meaning that they are more able to engage the enemy in the future. To aid you in this matter, I have instructed Governor Moore to furnish you with as many new units as possible and the very best replacement artillery pieces that can be found. I have also detailed a number of experienced officers from other, sadly depleted, regiments to be on temporary attachment to your command, which will hopefully aid your recruits during their period of adjustment. This may serve to prevent the unfortunate incident of your fine Southern horsemen of the 1st Alabama Cavaliers becoming rather befuddled and heading out to the extreme edge of the battlefield until forcefully directed to return by your good self.
Rest assured, Colonel, that you continue to have the respect and confidence of my administration. Granted, as you pointed out, you have yet to be promoted to a more superior level of command but do not see this as a slight upon your abilities. Rather, consider it as an opportunity to be pursued in the future – the South needs those who deserve higher command in the days ahead. As your enlarged Brigade ventures forth to do battle during the remainder of this year, you should continue to uphold the fine traditions of the State of Alabama, the heart of our new nation, and bring the Federalist enemy to battle on every possible occasion.
Trusting in God to guide us in the righteousness of our cause, my very best wishes,
President Jefferson Davis
Here is another great letter from the campaign!
To: Brigadier Gen. Buell, Commander, Army of the Ohio
11th January 1862
Subject: Action at Mcdonald’s Farm, Kentucky
I am sure you will wish to congratulate my brave boys on their stirring victory over the heathen rebels at McDonald’s Farm. The freezing weather could not dampen their spirits as they swept the enemy, fortified behind stout walls, from the field. Doubtless the successes of the Union Army will fortify us all as we hold Kentucky for the Union and prepare for the coming crusade against the Heartland of the enemy.
I opened the action by positioning my artillery in the centre, where they took a fearsome toll of the rebel cavalry. My own cavalry occupied the left of my line to prevent any offensive action on that flank. I then commenced a steady advance of my infantry against the weakly held enemy left. The rebel cavalry attempted a counterattack, but the Lord sowed confusion in their ranks and, amid the smoke of battle, they charged in the wrong direction and had no further effect on the action.
As my infantry reached the enemy line, they were briefly delayed by a desperate advance of the rebel reserve infantry. However, they could not stand against the bayonets of my men and they were driven back, to flee the field in panic. I then advanced my left flank against the remaining defenders. They pressed home the attack, against a storm of musketry, with such resolution that the enemy broke and ran from the field in such haste that they left their artillery to be captured. Unfortunately, this collection of scrap iron will be of no use, as it would appear to be more dangerous to the users than to anyone in their sights.
After the battle, we came across a Confederate captain of artillery. He was hiding in the McDonald barn, pressing a handkerchief to a slight leg wound and moaning in a most piteous fashion. We made him a prisoner, but his constant whining and snivelling so vexed the men that some of them were for shooting the fellow on the spot. However, on this day of triumph, the Lord commanded me to show mercy and so I let him go, to hobble south after his fleeing comrades. I doubt we will see that southern gentleman again.
I have a concern about the Pinkerton agent who has been travelling with the army. I do not think that his constitution is up to the rigours of life on campaign. Not for the first time, he was confined to his tent with a fever which not even several bottles of ‘Doctor Pixie’s Patent Elixir’ could relieve. As I ordered the final charge, that broke the enemy’s spirits and set them to their heels, the men gave a lusty ‘Huzzah!’ On hearing this, the Pinkerton man attempted to rise from his cot croaking ‘Call them back, they go to their doom!’ I am not convinced of his value to the service. I say ‘Trust in the Lord, but maybe not in Pinkerton’. He shall have one more chance to prove his worth, but I fear he is of more use to the enemy. Brigadier Gen. Jedediah Sweet, Commander – Massachusetts Legionthan he is to me.
One of the buried treasures in the “Across A Deadly Field” rulebook is the “Mine Run Campaign, late Fall 1863” (page 111). It is a point based mini-campaign based on Gen. Meade’s attempt to roll up Gen. Lee’s defensive line along the Rapidan River in November of 1863. This could have been a great opportunity to deliver a hard blow to the post-Gettysburg Army of Northern Virginia and makes a fun mini-campaign to play with your gaming group. The campaign in the ADF rule book is loosely based on the sequence of events from that Fall 1863 campaign. There are three linked scenarios with weather info, terrain, and victory conditions. There are also sections on “if the Union won the scenario” and “if the CSA won the scenario ” that will affect scenarios how the future scenarios will play out. The campaign is a point based system and information on the points system is in the rulebook starting on page 93.
Of course the campaign system could also be used for any set of ACW rules. If you don’t play ADF, but would like a fun, historical based campaign look no further than the ADF rulebook! I think I’ll be starting up a campaign after the Holidays! Anybody interested in playing?!
Take care and good campaigning! Cory @CBB