Saturday, September 7, 2013
An update, the Congo, and Marshall
Well, I am still around and still coughing (but will be seeing a doctor about that next week). Still have not got anywhere on miniature gaming or reading TFL’s Chain of Command. But what I have done since last update was get a few more chapters read in Ivan Smith’s, Mad Dog Killers, just over half way through. His version of how the 5th Commando was in the Congo in 1964 is totally different than “Mad” Mike Hoare’s. Speaking of “Mad” Mike, I started to listen to one of his audio books and only got maybe 10-15 minutes into it before I had other stuff to do, but Mike Hoare sounds great and is very interesting to listen to.
While on the subject of the Congo, a good friend, Thomas, visited the Swedish Military Museum just recently and took some pictures of the Swedish UN displays for me (THANK YOU, Thomas!!!!) The link to his photographs is the following link.
But going back to the Ivan Smith’s book, I am more inclined to believe Ivan Smith’s version of how the mercs fought and served in the Congo. As such, I might have to relook at how I am planning to represent the Congo in future gaming. Basically, rank meant nothing, so the concept of Big Men (to steal the term from TFL) would not be the officers or the NCO’s, but the instead the few men who really loved to fight with everyone else just supporting them (ironically, this is the key concept with TFL games and S.L.A. Marshall’s book, Men Against Fire, which just strengthens the their argument). While Ivan Smith really only refers to what was going on with his Commando (roughly a platoon size element), it probably represents the mercs as a whole fairly accurately, especially when I remember one scene in particular of one of “Mad” Mike’s books where one merc stopped after river crossing and refused to advance any further as he was busily trying to dry his payroll check on a rock in the sun. As Ivan Smith describes, the more aggressive mercs rode in the jeeps as they were the ones with the machines guns and did most of the patrolling without the bulk of the rest of the Commando. Also, he stresses again the strong psychological effects of shamanic magic on the Simbas and the Congolese army. While TFL’s B’Maso does not have “magic” and everything I have read from all sides state that “magic” was major role in the Congo war, I have to figure out how to do a fairly realistic rule on the use of “magic” in the games.
Now, on to discussing Marshall! No, this is not about S.L.A. Marshall’s, Men Against Fire, but about the Battle of Marshall, Missouri. An odd twist of fate means that I will be back home next weekend and will be able to attend the 150th Anniversary reenactment of the battle in Marshall. The battle is one of those battles that really interested me for some unknown reason. It was not a big battle, there was almost no casualties (0 killed on the Union side and 4 or 5 on the CSA side), and really did not resolved anything. But I like reading about it all the same! The battle occurred on October 13th, 1863 (yes, the reenactment is being held a month earlier, so it is more like the 149-11/12th Anniversary instead). The battle was the turning point of CSA’s General Jo Shelby’s 1863 raid, one of the longest cavalry raids in the war covering about 1500 miles. Most of the ill got bounty that Shelby got on his raid was lost at Marshall when he was defeated by troops of the Missouri State Militia (MSM) and the Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM) under Gen. Egbert Brown (the only Union general to defeat Shelby twice and had the chance to defeat him a third time but became indecisive and was relieved of command.) The battle is very doable for small Civil War game with 1800 Union cavalry vs. 1200 CSA cavalry. While the MSM were cavalry units, they were in fact more like mounted infantry with muzzle loading muskets or rifles instead of carbines and sabers. The PEMM were generally not even uniformed, except maybe a colored band around the crown of their hats or armbands. Of course Shelby’s CSA were from the Trans-Mississippi army with was horribly supplied and armed, so a sizable percentage of them would be in a mixed butter-nut, civilian, and Union clothing, probably even more so in the later with Union clothing supplies that was captured earlier in the raid.
So until my next update,