Friday, July 29, 2022

New Dispatch From The Day Job.

 Between travel and work, I've had zero time for gaming or even painting new troops of my own the last few weeks.

However, at the office I managed to get a new piece of Age of Sigmar terrain done. This was put together from a bunch of odds and ends that were lying around the workshop. The core of it is a mixture of old GW terrain kits including the Mortis Garden graveyard. The iron railings are from a railroad set we purchased for some other project and then there is plastic card paving, a wooden board laser cut from MDF and the leftovers from a box of GW creeping vines. The color palette was chosen to try and make it look suitably deathly. 

Hopefully, at some point, I'll get more 28mm AWI troops done but right now life is getting in the way.

Friday, June 10, 2022

First Game of "Live Free or Die".

 Earlier this month I finally reached playable forces for both sides with my embryonic 28mm AWI collection. So, it was finally time for a game. I fielded everything painted so far except the hussars of Lauzan's Legion which are one of those units like the Scots Greys of the Napoleonic period that everyone has because they're iconic despite the fact they saw very little action.

American order of battle:

1st Brigade

Continentals (6 bases)

Continentals (6 bases)

Continentals (6 bases)

2nd Brigade

Continentals (6 bases)

Continentals (6 bases)

Militia (6 bases)

Militia (6 bases)


Rifles (3 bases)

3lb Artillery (1 base)

British order of battle:

1st Brigade

Foot (6 bases)

Foot (6 bases)

2nd Brigade

Loyalists (6 bases)

Highlanders (6 bases)

3rd Brigade

Converged Grenadiers (3 bases)

Converged Lights (3 bases)


Light Dragoons (3 bases)

6lb Artillery (1 base)

So a small engagement typical of the southern campaign. The Patriots total 2,250 men with two canons. The crown forces are even more meager (although with a slight edge in quality) at 1,650 men and two guns.

The scenario, such as it was, involved the British trying to clear the rebels out of a position they had occupied cutting the former's line of communication and supply. 

Live Free or Die is optimized for 15mm or smaller figures but I can't see playing AWI in anything other than 28mm. This meant that instead of using the recommended 1" square bases I had to go up to 40mm square which also allows the local Black Powder players to utilize my collection. So I made a measuring stick of 40mm increments to adjust ranges and movement to reflect the larger bases. This was all very much an experiment to see how these rules played.

Since I was up against Colonel Gary naturally I got beat. The British attacks were driven off and we were left trying to figure out what we thought of the system. As is inevitable in a four-page set of rules there are a lot of questions that arise and a great deal of room for interpretation. Given that this was a game between two good friends that wasn't much of an issue but I can see how you'd need to clarify some things before the start of many a game. 

Overall, LFOD seems to be a plausible recreation of the period. It's hard to decisively defeat a unit even with a bayonet charge which makes breakthroughs hard. Everyone shoots with the same effectiveness which seems a bit off and kind of forces the British to try and close with the bayonet to gain much in the way of an advantage. The redressing ranks phase is a great idea but it requires you to be 12" (or, in our case base-widths) from the enemy in order to use it.

When I add a few more units I think we'll give it another go and hopefully fix some of the things we were undoubtedly doing wrong.

Point blank firefight across a fence with casualties (DMZ markers) being carried to the rear.

Initial American deployment on their left.

British foot and royal artillery gathered around the farm.

More continentals lining the fences.

Exchange of volleys between British light companies and American rifles.

The Crown left comes under pressure.

The chickens in the background were made of stern stuff. They never moved even as battle raged around them.

Americans pouring pressure on the 71st Highlanders.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Continentals Are Done.

 It shows how relatively small most battles were in the Revolutionary War that I only really need five regiments of these guys to do most of what I want. There will be slightly more militia when I'm done (seven regiments) but hardly a vast host. 

A hundred and twenty figures here, amounting to a mere 1,500 troops at one base to 50 men. Figures are all Perry (a mixture of plastic and metal, the latter from the excellent US distributor Triangle Miniatures). They are as generic as possible with three regiments having red facings and the other two buff. Most are in the later blue coats but with a smattering of the older brown ones and some hunting shirts. The flags are a mixture of Warflag downloads and ones taken from the sheet that comes with the Perry Continentals plastic boxed set.

The first militia unit is underway and I have some continental artillery, mounted commanders and more casualties on deck. This whole project should be done by the end of the year but I'm hoping to get at least one game in before that.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Grant and Kirby-Smith: The Last Dance. The Battle of Meridian: October 20th 1864.

The final act of the war, perhaps inevitably, starred its two most prolific actors. 

Grant's final offensive began on October 6th. The main body of his force did not follow Sheridan from McComb back up to Jackson. Little Phil's cavalry proved more than sufficient to retake the state capital once again from Forest. One of Sheridan's divisions maintained contact with the confederate horsemen pushing them away to the north. The rest turned east to join Grant at Meridian.

The approach of Union cavalry from Jackson convinced Smith that the rest of Grant's host was advancing behind it. Only on the 19th, a day before the storm broke did he realize otherwise. The union commander had instead marched east through Hattiesburg and then north up secondary roads to approach Meridian from the south, thereby outflanking the extensive defenses that the confederates had constructed across the road to Jackson. It was a remarkable logistical achievement and Smith spent twenty-four frantic hours moving his army out of their fortifications and across Grant's actual line of march where they were able to scratch out some minimal new ones before the fields in front of them began to fill with blue the following morning.

Army Group Mississippi: GOC Lt. General US Grant

84,200 men

224 guns


Army of The Tennessee: GOC Lt. General EOC Ord - Meridian October 20th 1864

56,200 men

152 guns

X Corps - Mj General D Peyton

1st Division (Grayson)

1st Brigade (Grady) 

2nd Brigade (Brock) 

3rd Brigade (McKinley) 

4th Brigade (Clayton)

2 Batteries

2nd Division (Sullivan)

1st Brigade (Kelvin) 

2nd Brigade (Sunderland) 

3rd Brigade (Dewine) 

4th Brigade (Abbott) 

2 Batteries

Corps Artillery

3 Batteries

XI Corps - Mj General M Griffiths

1st Division (Black)

1st Brigade (Leslie)  

2nd Brigade (Milton)  

3rd Brigade (Byears) 

4th. Brigade

2 Batteries

2nd Division (Cummings)

1st Brigade (Taylor) 

2nd Brigade (Foster)

3rd Brigade (Leonard) 

4th Brigade (West)

2 Batteries

Corps Artillery

3 Batteries

II Cavalry Corps - Mj General P Sheridan

1st Divison (Kinski)

1st Brigade (Waller)

2nd Brigade (Smith) 

2 Horse Batteries

2nd Division (Stockwell)

1st Brigade (Sewell) 

2nd Brigade (James) 

1 Horse Battery

Army Reserve Artillery 

3 Batteries

Army of The Southwest: GOC Mj General C Mack

28,000 men

72 guns

XL Corps

1st Division (McCook)

1st Brigade (Timms) 

2nd Brigade (Miller) 

3rd Brigade (Reed) 

1 Battery

2nd Division (Smith)

1st Brigade (Simonsen) 

2nd Brigade (Gray) 

3rd Brigade (Diamond)

1 Battery

Corps Artillery

2 Batteries

XLI Corps

1st Division (Donner)

1st Brigade (Abrams) 

2nd Brigade (Karlsson) 

3rd Brigade (Leidinge)

1 Battery

2nd Division (Davey)

1st Brigade (Arnold)

2nd Brigade (Lehman)

1 Battery

Corps Artillery

2 Batteries

Army Reserve Artillery

2 Batteries

Army of Mississippi: GOC Lt Gen EK Smith - Saint James Church, October 20th 1864

46,800 men

104 guns

Cleburne's Division - Mj General P Cleburne

Charlton's Brigade 

Bonner's Brigade

Brady's Brigade

Rice's Brigade

2 Batteries

McKay's Division - Bg General R McKay

Kinnear's Brigade 

Bethel's Brigade

Graham's Brigade

Terry's' Brigade 

Anthony's Brigade  

3 Batteries

DH Hill's Division - Mj General DH Hill

Hinton's Brigade 

Hateley's Brigade 

Tambling's Brigade 

Boyle's Brigade 

Purefoy's Brigade 

3 Batteries

Early's Division - Mj General J Early

Horne's Brigade 

Carpenter's Brigade. 

Micah's Brigade 

2 Batteries

Artillery Reserve 

2 Batteries

Cleburne's Division holding the confederate right.

Peyton's X Corps begins their feint against Cleburne's line.

McKay's Division. Kettle Hill is upper right.

Early's Division atop Kidney Ridge.

Griffiths' XI Corps waiting to advance on Kettle Hill.

The Army of The Southwest emerging from the woods.

The first probe against Kettle Hill.

Early's men watch the relentless build-up of bluecoats to their front.

Mack's men, about to begin their assault.

The irony of the final battle of the war is that it was by far the best fought of any by the union armies.

True, the makeshift rebel defenses held up a federal force that had an almost two-to-one numerical edge for nine hours but that was only because Grant and his subordinates spent so much time methodically setting up a coordinated assault on them.

Peyton's X Corps demonstrated against Smith's right, held by Cleburne and Hill and determined to be the most formidable section of his line, with great discipline doing just enough to keep the rebels there pinned in place. An initial probe in the center against Kettle Hill was repulsed by McKay's defenders but Griffith pulled his men back to regroup before the attack could incur more than 400 casualties. He was waiting, per orders, for Mack to bring up his new Army of The Southwest into position on the union right.

This took longer than anticipated, somewhat due to traffic control problems caused by Early's artillery sending the occasional shell down from Kidney Ridge onto the northern columns as they emerged out of the woods and tried to deploy. When Mack finally was deployed Early's men responded by abandoning their breastworks atop the ridge and retiring behind the crest. This produced no rash pursuit by rather a precisely ordered attack up and over Kidney Ridge superbly coordinated with Griffiths' renewed assault on Kettle Hill.

Early tried to lead a counterattack back up the slope but his men, many of them green recruits from the bottom of the southern manpower barrel were shattered by union fire and Early himself took a bullet through his coat. Some sort of rearguard was attempted in a rudimentary secondary line of works along the  railroad to Waynesboro and Mobile but it was more nightfall than anything else that prevented a total rebel collapse.

The following day, Sheridan launched two cavalry divisions in pursuit. This time, in the absence of Forest, it was worse than the aftermath of St James' Church. By the end of the 21st Smith had lost 7,600 men including 5,000 captured or just deserted to Grant's 2,000 casualties. It was clear that the Army of Mississippi had not only been finally and permanently ejected from its namesake state but that it could henceforth offer no more than cursory harassment in the face of Grant's advance.

Most of the northern electorate was made aware of the triumph at Meridian in time for the election on November 8th but their mood had turned irreversibly against the war already. Long's proposal for a negotiated peace was enough to narrowly win him the presidency and was more than welcome in Richmond where the creaking sounds of imminent military collapse were becoming impossible to ignore.

Lincoln, briefly considered continuing hostilities through the winter until the inauguration of his successor in March of the following year but was persuaded it was a pointless waste of life. Instead, he accepted a proposal, conveyed through the British embassy in Washington for an armistice based on a provisional border wherein the union would retain conquered Missouri and Kentucky and the pro-union western portion of Virginia. All other captured southern territory would be evacuated. No former slaves currently on federal controlled ground would be returned to their erstwhile owners and questions of westward expansion would be addressed at a later date.

On November 24th 1864 the ceasefire came into effect, effectively ending the Second American War of Independence. 

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Some More AWI.

 Progress  continues at a steady, peaceful pace on the 28mm AWI front. Here are some of the latest units to take the field. All figures are from Perry, a mixture of plastics and metals.

A Royal Artillery 6lber, a unit of Loyalists and (rear) the apparently ubiquitous 17th Light Dragoons.
Even at 1 base = 50 men cavalry units in the AWI are small.
My Loyalists will all be in the early war green uniforms for the sake of variety.

Converged Grenadier companies from my first three regiments of Foot.

First of the Continentals. Although my basic infantry units are six bases each, this one has seven because I'd just finished the first base of the second regiment and added it to the end of the column.

I'm keeping my Continentals as generic as possible so I can vary the size of units for maximum flexibility.

Monday, February 28, 2022

The Last Summer (part two).

 Ewell's attempt at taking back the South Carolina state capital was based upon a couple of assumptions. One was that Banks' men, now that they were cut off from replacements, reinforcements and supply would be easier pickings. The second, and in this one "Old Baldy" was to be disappointed, was that he could catch the yankees unawares. They had been occupying Columbia since May without any interference from Ewell down at Charleston and their commander might now be distracted by developments in his rear. The flaw in the assumption of surprise was that, ever since Lincoln's emancipation proclamation two years earlier, it had become increasingly hard for any movement of Confederate forces to go unreported to their opponents. Word along the local slave population would move ahead of any marching rebel force like an invisible bow wave and seemed to invariably reach Union ears ahead of the butternut troops themselves.

The Battle of Columbia: July 20th1864

Ewell's Corps - GOC Mj. Gen. R Ewell

28,000 men, 80 guns

Ilkley's Division

Bolden's Brigade  14

McDaniel's Brigade 14

Lindsay's Brigade 14

Greenwood's Brigade 14

3 Batteries

Canalad's Division

Goldbridge's Brigade 14

Snider's Brigade 14

Turner's Brigade 14

2 Batteries

Jay's Division

Jones' Brigade 14

Earps' Brigade 14

Mannion's Brigade 14

2 Batteries

Artillery Reserve

3 Batteries

Army of The Congaree - GOC : Mj. Gen. NP Banks

28,000 men, 80 guns

XXVIII Corps. - Mj Gen R Wilson

1st Division (Davis)

1st Brigade (McElroy) 10

2nd Brigade (Otto). 10

3rd Brigade (Stafford) 8

1 Battery

2nd Division (Brannard)

1st Brigade (Bush) 10

2nd Brigade (McDaniel) 10

3rd Brigade (Stevens) 8

1 Battery

3rd Division (St Paul)

1st Brigade (Nicols) 10

2nd Brigade (Trobriand) 10

3rd Brigade (Kendall) 8

1 Battery

Artillery Reserve

2 Batteries

XXIX Corps Mj Gen B Moore

1st Division (Burwell)

1st Brigade (Smith) 10

2nd Brigade (Capenter) 10

3rd Brigade (Hackett) 8

1 Battery

2nd Division (Williams)

1st Brigade (Wilton) 10

2nd Brigade (Morgan) 10

3rd Brigade (Markham) 8

1 Battery

Artillery Reserve

2 Batteries

The battle of Columbia was a Confederate victory but only a completely unsustainably pyrrhic one. After a day of battering at the Union line, Ewell's army was very near to collapse when a late-afternoon turning movement, made after the main attack in the center had failed, and the approaching exhaustion of the federals' supply of ammunition prompted Banks to withdraw.

The battlefield outside Columbia. The Union forces await the assault.

Jay's Division begins a flanking march designed to draw forward the federal reserves. It worked only too well and the Confederate division was badly mauled by day's end.

Preparations underway for the Confederate left to attack.

Jay's column winds its way forward.

Union troops of Moore's XXIX Corps awaiting the attack.

The butternut wave rolls forward.

Canalad's Division finally begins to lap around the Union right flank.

He was able to do so at leisure, the Confederates, having lost 4,800 men to his own 1,800, being all-but shattered. The Union columns fell back down the left bank of the Congaree River and ended the month by occupying Charleston on the coast. The slaughter at Columbia had been utterly unproductive other than in helping convince the northern public that any apparent progress in the conquest of the south would always be fleeting.

The dog days of August saw a determined and surprisingly successful attempt by Lincoln's increasingly beleaguered administration to contradict that view. On the second day of that month, Major General Ambrose E Burnside led a force of 20,000 untested troops across the Ohio River and into the southern portion of the pro-Union section of Virginia. In a four week campaign Burnside was able to secure all of his assigned objectives against minimal resistance and double the size of the area of western Virginia that was solidly under federal control. 

It was in the face of this news that the 1864 Democratic national convention opened in Chicago Illinois on August 29th. Two days later, the delegates there nominated congressman Alexander Long of Ohio as their candidate for President. In his acceptance speech Long did not claim that the war could not or even that it would not be won, thereby, at a stroke preemptively dismissing any charge of defeatism that his opponents might make. Indeed, the nominee stated plainly that, militarily, the outcome was not in doubt. Union material superiority, given enough time and the sacrifice of enough lives, must surely triumph he said but then what? Long answered his own question grimly. The Union, he proclaimed, would be preserved but; "...bound in blood. The south will be unreconciled and the Federal government will have conquered only the ground under the boots of its soldiers".

The nomination of a freshman congressman for President might be outlandish enough but the nomination for Vice President seemed intended to make it less so by comparison. George B McClellan was a Major General in the Union Army but he was a thoroughly obscure one having spent the war to date as "Commander of The Department of The Ohio". This amounted to being in charge of the defense of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and what was to become West Virginia. When, soon after the outbreak of hostilities,  it became clear that no rebel forces threatened any of that territory, the position largely devolved into an administrative command. In that role, McClellan had proved highly effective but he had not seen a single day's action in the war. What he had done, however was oversee the pacification of the northwestern corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia efficiently and almost entirely without incident. This had, in so small part, been attributable to his declaration in May 1861 that he had no intention in interfering in any way with the property of the local citizens. Implicitly, this included slaves. This had a calming effect on tensions within the civilian population and the discipline with which  McClellan  had a gift for instilling in the men under his command had led to a positively peacetime state of affairs in the region for which he was responsible.

Yet, the man was still only 37 when nominated. He could be viewed as a prodigy or an ingenue depending on circumstance and the predisposition of the audience. He was a gamble, an accumulator bet set atop the initial wager placed on Long at the head of the ticket.

Lincoln now at least knew who and what he was facing and set about creating an unstoppable military momentum to carry him to reelection and the north to final victory.

Sherman dispatched a column to retake Nashville without incident on September 1st, the rebel cavalry evacuating back east through Murfreesboro carrying with them as much in the way of plundered supplies as they could manage. This was to be followed with a drive on AS Johnston's Army of Tennessee aimed at the capture of Chattanooga and the forcing of Confederate forces out of their last foothold in Tennessee once and for all. However, it was to his most proven and reliably victorious commander that Lincoln turned to deliver the planned decisive blow. Throughout August and September, Grant's command in Mississippi was lavished with resupply and reinforcement. The Commander in Chief of The Western Theater created, out of the mass of new troops, a new Army of The Southwest. This he placed under his own direct command while Ord retained the leadership of his old Army of The Tennessee. Combined, this host, over 90,000 strong, would march north to Jackson, eject Forrsest and. his cavalry from the state capital for good and then turn east to finally crush Kirby Smith at Meridian and complete the conquest of Mississippi.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

"Once More Unto The Breach..."

 A little diversion to early 15th Century France. Recently, I've thinking of using my Hundred Years War troops to playtest a little bit of Impetvs. Before I could get around to that though, my friend Dennis asked me to put on another Days of Knights game.

Since I hadn't played the rules in over a year I'm sure we did a bunch of things wrong. Still, the game ran fast and had a discernible narrative. The scenario was that, late in the war, the French were defending a river crossing against a smaller English force. By this point, the French had learned the value both gunpowder and earthworks ( Consequently, their defensive position centered on an earthen redoubt populated by cannons, crossbowmen and hand-gunners (the latter two are treated the same in the rules). Backing this force were bodies of mounted and dismounted knights and a contingent of local peasantry who would, embarrassingly enough for the English, actually contribute considerably to the outcome.

Suffice it to say this one was never going to make into a Shakespeare play.

View from the rear of the French position. The English are just visible beyond the river.

Mounted knights deployed on the French right. Behind them (upper right) their dismounted brethren back up the defenders of the earthworks.

Dense block of English foot ready to advance. The compact formation was to fit through the gap between a marsh to their right and the body of longbows to their left. Men at arms (billmen) are in the front rank to soak up any losses with the dismounted knights behind them. French cannonballs ignored this stratagem and wreaked early havoc on the densely packed ranks.

The dug-in French missile troops await the onslaught.

Meanwhile, the peasants stoutly defend their turnips.

Dismounted French knights maneuver to their right.

The English longbows push across the river to soften up the defenders of the earthworks and succeed in drawing forward the French cavalry.

"Forward! For God, England and Saint George!".

The longbows fall back across the river to draw on the enemy knights. Some of the latter pursue (and are duly shot to pieces). The bulk of the French horse, though, wheel left to engage the advancing English heavy infantry. This results in hundreds of English men at arms being ridden down. 

The English foot knights storm the earthworks...

...but they are staggered by a storm of bolts and handgun projectiles. The defenders fight like men possessed. With the army commander riding forward to lead them and an assist from some improbably enthusiastic peasants, they drive out the English.

Having completed the destruction of the English men at arms, four hundred French knights return to charge into the rear of their dismounted English counterparts. "The field is cursed! The day belongs to our French cousins!"

New Dispatch From The Day Job.

 Between travel and work, I've had zero time for gaming or even painting new troops of my own the last few weeks. However, at the office...