Category Archives: American Civil War

Decision at Antietam

For those readers watching our on-going American Civil War 160th anniversary series our most recent battle has now been fought, specifically the Battle of Antietam. A stirring action was fought, which involved over 2,000 6mm miniatures. In our engagement near the town of Sharpsburg General McClellan would press the Confederates for most of the day.

Miller’s Cornfield in 2015. The battle raged around here in 1862 and in our refight was the centre of attack and counterattack.

As would be expected our refight the fighting opened in the north around the Cornfield, the East and West Wood. Soon it would rage all along Antietam Creek, especially from the Middle Bridge to the Lower Bridge.

Burnside’s Bridge, or the Lower Bridge in 2015. A scene of intense fighting in 1862 and a focus of Union attacks in our refight.

As our battle progressed it deviated from the historic narrative. In particular our commanders, though limited by command challenges, attempted alternate strategies. Some working while others failed.

For those interested in our game I have two reports. The first is in a more traditional format which can be found here. For those preferring a more visual report a YouTube video can be found here.

We have now refought six of the battles of 1862, all in a relatively short timeframe. Some have even been refought multiple times providing a different experience. I have found such a focussed and intense series fascinating. As noted previously they have provided something of a campaign feel.

There will now however be a short pause in our American Civil War anniversary series. Yet, I envisage us reconvening in a couple of months for a battle or two in the west. Stay tuned…

Lee Moves North

With our campaigning in the Peninsula completed August has found us focussed on Lee’s campaign in Northern Virginia against General Pope.

The first was Cedar Mountain fought on the 9th of August 1862. Cedar Mountain is, in Volley & Bayonet terms, a small engagement. Historically Jackson is caught by an aggressive Banks and must contend with the complexities that a single road brings when your troops are stacked up in road column. Being a smaller battle we fought the battle twice and in both games our Confederate commander was challenged by similar issues. One of our two refights can be found here.

Union artillery at Second Manassas and south of Stony Ridge. Warrenton Turnpike is some distance behind these guns.

More recently we gathered to refight Second Manassas, fought historically on the 28th to 30th of August.

It has been many years since I’ve refought this battle and I admit to being particularly interested in this refight. Surprise, uncoordinated forces, delays and terrain all combined to produce, in my view, an excellent game which modelled many of the historical challenges that the historical armies faced. If you are interested photos of our version of Second Manassas it can be found here.

Now, I must turn my attention to the terrain for our next American Civil War refight.

Peninsula Reflections

In my last post I mentioned that terrain was required to enable us to refight Gaines’ Mill and more miniatures, and by therefore additional terrain, were required to refight Glendale & Malvern Hill. Despite a busy month all goals were finally achieved. The result being we have managed to refight both Gaines’Mill and the combined battles of Glendale and Malvern Hill. As such this completed a series of battles to mark the 160th anniversaries on the Virginia Peninsula in 1862 using my 6mm miniatures and the Volley & Bayonet rules.

Gaines’ Mill was a particularly challenging engagement with the Union defensive position being particularly strong. Refighting it twice it was interesting to see a general historical result replicated each time, but only just. Our first refight of Gaines’ Mill can be found here. Our second here.

Then over last weekend the troops were deployed to refight the Battles of Glendale & Malvern Hill. As with all the battles on the Peninsula force coordination was a significant issue with many Confederate divisions failing to arrive on the first day. Union command can best be described as disorganised, thanks to specific scenario rules, much as they were historically. A report of our game can be found here.

I accept historical refights are not for everyone, but I do find them fascinating exercises and a great way to reinforce my readings of particular battles. Now it’s time to consider General Lee’s next move, while McClellan career is in question…

Richmond & Beyond

Back in February I provided an overview of some planned projects for the year. Given the year is disappearing at an alarming rate perhaps it’s time to check in with something of an update.

Painting has proceeded at a slower than planned rate, but progress has been made. At the time of writing this year’s 6mm American Civil War goal, set early in the year, has been reached.

It can be best described as an eclectic mix of infantry, cavalry and artillery to expand my collection for specific battles. Some additional rifled artillery as well as some horse batteries, several infantry brigades and an assortment of cavalry, both mounted and dismounted. A selection of which are above and below, all in 6mm using Heroics & Ros miniatures.

These reinforcements allow me to refight my initial batch of 1862 battles. Specifically, a couple from the Peninsula Campaign and then Second Bull Run and Antietam before switching to the west for Stones River at the end of the year.

A new stretch goal has been set for Glendale & Malvern Hill. This requires a few additional Confederate infantry brigades to be completed.

The first 160th anniversary battle has also been played. In particular the Battle of Seven Pines, shown above. We actually refought Seven Pines twice, once each side of the anniversary. For those interested a summary of our first refight can be found here.

The result of each refight was different, yet in both the key historical narrative was followed. Confusion, delayed reinforcements and challenges with command all proved critical. All testament to the Volley & Bayonet rules and the historical scenario.

Next up is Gaines Mill, assuming I can complete the terrain in time…

A Little Painting & Basing

As regular readers know I have been using the Volley & Bayonet rules for many years for my 18th and 19th Century wargaming. In my view they are an excellent set of rules and a level that aligns to my reading of the great battles of the period. Indeed, the rules have allowed me to refight many of the great battles of the period. Some that spring to mind are Aspern-Essling, Ligny, Waterloo, Antietam, Gettysburg and Chickamauga, along with many others. All possible due to the very clever period specific rules.

Each historical refight has provided a fascinating game, but also they have provide an opportunity to further understand these battles. These refights have also been supplemented by many fictional encounters, ideal when time is lacking. These of course lack the historical background yet provide their own interesting narrative. Not unlike  the narrative of historical battles of the period. For me that’s a sign of a good set of rules.

But of course playing these battles requires miniatures to be painted. Our lockdown, due to the pandemic, provided a little more time to dust of various miniatures in my burgeoning lead pile, pick up a paintbrush, and paint what ended up being rather a lot of miniatures.

Now, some background. Over recent years I have been slowly focussing my limited painting time on the refurbishment of several of my miniature armies. All of which use 1/300th or 6mm miniatures from Heroics & Ros. This typically has meant a combination of rebasing miniatures – including increasing the number of figures per base, increasing the figure variety on bases, changing my labelling system and painting additional miniatures.

Some armies, such as the Anglo-Dutch and Brunswick troops shown above, have newly painted figures to supplement those previously painted allowing rebasing to continue.

Other projects have been relatively small, a sub project if you like. An example being the expansion of my Napoleonic Russians which were woefully short of cavalry. These can be seen above and below.

Now of course the pandemic ensured I couldn’t order more miniatures, or at least expect them to arrive quickly. So as mentioned the focus was on the lead mountain. Over the years I have collected a lot of odds and ends in second purchases. So one day I sat down and lay out all the second hand unpainted French Napoleonic figures purchased at bargain prices. After some thought I realised that I had almost enough for another large expansion project.

Above and below Napoleonic French cavalry for my Waterloo project. All are newly painted. Each cavalry stand represents a brigade of 1000 to 1500 men.

Here I’ve opted to model two regiments per brigade using the Hundred Days Orders of Battle. So any brigade here will have the correct facings for its historical equivalent. Above are four brigades of Dragoons in front, each brigade having two Dragoon regiments. Behind are four brigades of Cuirassiers. In total above there are the equivalent of 8000 French cavalry.

Below, another eight eight French cavalry brigades also for Waterloo, many of which are light cavalry. There include Lancers, Chasseurs and Hussars to name a few.

Currently on the painting table are the infantry, an additional 400 French infantry. This project, when added to previously painted miniatures, will see all the French units present in the Hundred Days campaign completed. This will allow the battles of Waterloo and Wavre to be refought on one long table. A project I’ve often pondered, but that really seemed unachievable.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before starting the French I started on my American Civil War armies.

Above and below a portion of the Confederate reinforcements.

Like the cavalry previously each infantry stand is 1.5″ square. Now however each brigade stand typically represents 1500 to 2500 men. Each stand has between 25 to 28 figures per base with additional figure variation adding, I feel, to the overall visuals.

Returning readers may also note the use of white text on black labels, something that I am increasingly pleased with. Of course changing labels in part of the army means doing all the bases.

Of course the Union army also needs reinforcements and these too have had some focus. In addition to several Union infantry brigades I have added artillery.

Below, a massive Union deployment of rifled artillery. In Volley & Bayonet an artillery stand typically represents 12 guns. With a frontage of 0.75″ per stand at the ground scale we are using each artillery stand frontage is around 150 yards.

Combining all the painting, the photos being just a subset, over recent months many hundreds of new figures have been painted and merged into the existing armies. A very pleasing result.

Of course painting is one thing, getting them on the table is another. Long delayed by the pandemic over the last few weeks we have finally returned to some rewarding multiplayer games using Volley & Bayonet. These games have of course provided an opportunity to deploy portions of my American Civil War armies. You can find a short game report of one of these games here.