Monday, December 15, 2014

Rethinking Quick Gettysburg

Today I worked out the OB for my easy Gettysburg test game by modifying the OB   from the Fire & Fury scenario to a 500 men or 20 guns per stand instead of 200 men or 10 guns.

Heth's Division,
roughly 1/4 of the Reb army

Once done the total came to 86 infantry stands, 5 cavalry, 9 guns and 16 Corps and Division Generals or roughly 550 figures. This is about 2/3 of my painted 1/72 ACW but more Generals than I have. Doing the whole second day was going to need a couple of hundred figures from the Plastic Pile painted up, or splitting the battle into segments.

A quick test of the back of a tablet rules suggested that Heth's attack would take about 15 minutes to resolve, probably in a fairly random manner. I can live with quick and fandom results for a game that takes 20 minutes to set up and an hour to play but a game that will take an hour to set up and 1/2 hour to play and wants me to paint up a bunch more figures? That's not what I had in mind. Back to the drawing board.

I've been reluctant to let go of Brigades as units because of the iconic status of the Iron, Stonewall and other Brigades. However, keeping track of a dozen 2 and 3 stand brigades in similar uniforms on each side is not a task I look forward to.  It would be much easier though to just identify the Divisions and give them an appropriate number of stands using a convenient ratio perhaps 1:800 and not worry about brigades. Going with generic 1 grid square units worked well for Bull Run.  I'm also revisiting the rules from 2 years ago and pondering my Battle Cry dice.

Something will emerge!


  1. Dear Ross,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this developing project. If you want to do brigades, there are a number of caveats. First, Not only were CSA divisions larger but in the early war so were brigades. But I would like to offer a possible way to mark off the "special" brigades you mentioned. How about using a thin red, white, yellow - any color just about - strip across the back of the base. You might then be able to write the name in with a fine tip marking pen. Just a thought. That would give you the famed brigades that were so strong a part of the action at Gettysburg.

    1. Thanks Jerry. The stands are too thin for writing but before I rebased hem to incorporate a large donation I had begun coding the bases by colour bars. Didn't hold up as well as hoped in big battles due to a combination of dim lights, dim eyes and a lack of patience :)
      However when in their normal regiments I can identify most of my regiments by pose, uniform or painting style.

      The idea behind this side project is to fight a variety of the big battles of the war using a few stands per brigade as one off events without a permenant reorganization. (Unless I get j
      hooked! )

  2. Years ago I 'bathtubbed' the first day Gettysburg by leaving my 27-figure regiment organization intact, but overstepping the brigade system in favour of the divisions. Four confederate Divisions were engaged on the first day: Heth's and Pender's of A.P. Hill's III Corps, and Early and Rodes from Ewell's II Corps. I know that Buford's Cavalry and Reynolds's Union 1st Corps were fully involved, but I'm not so sure about Howard's 11th. At the time I assumed it was. At any rate I figured upon something like 24,000 Confederates against maybe 18,000 Union.

    The CSA seems to have had numbers fairly evenly divided among Divisions and Corps, and I figured on about 54,000 infantry for the Army of Northern Virginia as a whole, 18,000 per Army Corps and 6000 per Division. In the Union Army Divisions averaged out at something under 4000 men each. But the 1st and 11th Corps each comprised just 6 Brigades in 3 Divisions., which suggests their divisions were numerically weaker than the Army average.

    From memory (this was 20 years ago at least), I gave the Union Corps 6 regiments each, a force of a couple of Cavalry battalions (I think they were 12 figures at the time, but I've changed my Union Cavalry organization since), and 1 gun per 'Division' - 5 in all.

    All four CSA 'Divisions' got 4 infantry regiments, and each Corps 3 guns (this was simply a guess at the time).

    Were I to do it now, my orbat would be:
    A.P. Hill: 2 guns (Reserve artillery - each gun represents a 16-gun battalion) - 8 figures
    Heth: 4 regiments plus 1 gun - 112 figures
    Pender: 4 regiments plus 1 gun - 112 figures

    R.S. Ewell: 2 guns - 8 figures
    J. A. Early: 4 Regiments plus 1 gun 112 figures
    R.E. Rodes: 4 or 5 regiments plus 1 gun (I opted for 4 at the time, but this Division did have 5 Brigades.
    - 122 or 135 figures.
    Total: 464 or 491 figures and 8 guns.
    Buford: 2x15-figure Cavalry Battalions plus 1 gun - 34 figures
    Reynolds/Doubleday: 6 Regiments, plus 2 guns (Corps artillery Bde of maybe 30 guns) - 170
    Howard: 6 regiments, plus 2 guns - 170 figures
    Total: 374 figures and 5 guns.

    Now, it was true that I played this as straight war game, by which I mean I made no adjustment to ground scale or anything else. The troops were fed in more or less as historical.

    As it happened, the thing went very closely to the historical prototype. Owing to a no-show, I had to take over Howard's Corps (instead of concentrating upon my role as game director and adjudicator. I didn't do much better than Howard on the day. Not only that, for the first and only time EVER under my rule set I saw a unit obliterated outright by concentrated gunfire and musketry. Howard's Corps collapsed before Reynolds's did ('reynolds' was holding off Hill's Corps splendidly as I recall), but with his right flank unhinged, 'Reynolds' went backwards almost as fast as 'Howard' did.

    In my view, the old school downscaling of the armies within one's own army organisation is as valid as it ever was, despite the perceived distortions of scale. It seems after all the tactical problems aren't much changed.

    1. I agree, that is still a valid approach despite occasional and scale distortions allowing things like artillery on a hill to dominate say a bridge which should be out of range etc. I have used it and will probably do again.

      This is purely about doing something that I haven't done before.