Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri 1862 Part 2

So I got a little farther into the book, ( I am now about 75% of the way through it) and ran across more skirmishes that again just blows the whole theory that the southern guerrillas were actually elite, at least in 1862.  Again and again, the Union forces regularly inflicted more damage on the guerrillas, even when outnumbered.  It seems only when the guerrillas grossly outnumbered the Union forces, in the case where 500 men captured a garrison of 20 Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) men (part-time soldiers); catch the Union totally unprepared as in the Battle of Independence; through trick of disguise by wearing captured Union uniforms which was a new tactic (although some times this was a problem for the guerrillas as they would approach an actual Union patrol thinking that they were fellow guerrillas only to be shot or captured); or finally the momentary lack of morale by the Union commander.  Also, I found it interesting that probably more times, it was the Union forces that caught the guerrillas or southern recruiting parties unprepared.  Time and time again the southern forces regularly failed to put out pickets for guards before going to rest.

Here is one more example of a skirmish at I found since my last entry. I am adding it because I found it humorous in a dark way.

Example of the "uniform" of the majority of the EMM.  Only those companies on duty would be wearing the blue uniform, if they had them in 1862.  The only thing missing is the white cloth band that was normally worn on the crown of the hat or on the arm.
There was a southern recruiter, Captain Crabtree, who went by his self proclaimed rank, "General."  He acted more of a guerrilla than a recruiter while rounding up recruits to take back to Arkansas, as he and his little band terrorized the northern civilians around central Missouri.  In late September, "General" Crabtree was once again back in Cole Country just south of Jefferson City.  One day, "General" Crabtree decided to go and terrorize a specific northern farmer.  The "General" not only stole the farmer's food, as he normally did, but also stole the farmer's wedding suit.  Unfortunately for "General" Crabtree, he stole the wrong man's wedding suit!  It turns out that this farmer was a member of local EMM and immediately set out to round up other members of local EMM after "General" Crabtree left.  Our little plucky band of EMM soldiers tracked "General" Crabtree's forces down to barn where they were relaxing (again, where are the pickets for security?)  The EMM soldiers took them by surprise and badly wounded "General" Crabtree and unknown others.  However, "General" Crabtree and his band escape in the fight.  But the EMM soldiers were determine to end the career of "General" Crabtree (I also have a vision of our hero even more determine to get his wedding suit back). After three days of hunting, the EMM soldiers finally found the body of "General" Crabtree in a cave laying in state wearing the stolen wedding suit!  Unfortunately, history has hidden the name of our poor unfortunate farmer and if he kept the wedding suit after that.  

Another ironic twist to this engagement show how bad the Union military intelligence was in Missouri at this time.  After the killing of Crabtree, the upper command either 1) never was told of his death, 2) was told, but refused to believe he was killed, or 3) knew that he was killed, but never could figure out the name of his replacement, because for the next two years, they accredit "General" Crabtree for what his former command did after his death.

Final note,  I also forgot that Redoubt Enterprise has a small number of Missouri Guerrillas, including some personalities, in 28mm.  Plus the 28mm Perry's plastic should work for some of the Federal troops.  The Rebels would be less so.  But Rebel cavalry officers could work for the southern recruiting officers as they normally wore their uniforms so not to be accused of be a guerrilla if caught.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri 1862


I am about half way through the first volume (the year of 1862) of the four volume set of Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri by Bruce Nichols.  (That is before my Kindle Fire started to go down hill - see my previous blog entry.)  By now, I feel I can reasonably give an opinion on the book, as well as give a couple of examples of some actions that are covered in the book, but first is a quick review of the book itself.
9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry on parade in St. Joseph, Missouri (1862)
The book sort of has a Southern slant to it, but it is fairly neutral.  The author admits in the preface that he was going to be focusing more on the guerrillas and southern recruitment missions and their leadership than on the Union forces.  I think he covered a fair bit on the various Union forces too, but I wish that he did spend some more time covering them.  The first book is broken down into four main parts, covering the four seasons of 1862: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Between the four seasons, the author has a couple of chapters on various subjects, like why the guerrilla bands started to be created, or the raising of the pro-Union Enrolled Missouri Militia (a part-time militia force.)  Each seasonal part is then broken down into four regional sections of Missouri, Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest.  This way the author discusses a events in the northwest part of Missouri during the winter before moving on to discuss the next region, until everything is covered for that season and proceeding on to the next season in the same fashion.  I actually like this method as if you were only using the book to research the events in the southwest region of Missouri, you can easily found the various regional sections in each seasonal parts.  Finally, each regional section is broken down again into sub-sections that covers specific events, leaders, actions, or counties which would help to speed up research.   Unfortunately, a lot of actions are not very detailed as there is not much information on them other than causalities listed.
Best name ever for an ACW commander - Odon Guitar, commander of the 9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry and later a Brigadier General.
One of the few things I started to noticed while reading the various accounts is that Union forces, in general, came off better in any engagement with the guerrillas or southern recruitment parties, even when outnumbered, except when the guerrillas conducted an ambush and immediately ran away or when small group of individuals, generally less than six, where encountered.  This is even true when some of the poorly armed Union cavalry companies get into a fight, like some of those from the 1st Iowa Cavalry and 6th Kansas Cavalry that only had pistols and sabers.  But that is not to say that there were not some big problems for the Union forces at times.  In one encounter, a patrol of cavalry with poor carbines had almost all of them fail in firefight with guerrillas and had to promptly retreat. 

Most of the engagements were Union patrols or escorts of 20 to 40 men against larger numbers of guerrillas or southern recruits.  But in some of the larger Union sweeps with a small battalion sized force, they would sometimes even have a battery of light guns with them too.  Two examples of a typical engagement are the following:

June 15, ’62:  A patrol from the 7th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry (no size given) ran up against William Quantrill and about 30 men near Pink Hill in east Jackson County.  After the battle, the guerrilla losses were 2 dead, 2 wounded, and 3 captured.   The Federals suffered no losses.  While there is no more detail than that, I included this engagement as it had the feared Quantrill’s guerrillas in it. 
The ACW era Johnson County Courthouse in Warrensburg, MO - this was a vital building as it was one of the few brick building in the county during the war
June 17, ’62:  Prior to this engagement, a guerrilla force of 80 to 90 men under the leadership of John Brinker (from Warrensburg, MO) and Benjamin Snelling (from southwestern Johnson County) went on a three day terror campaign.  During that time, they murdered a civilian farmer plowing his field and another man in front of his family, in addition to wounding another man and his 13 year old daughter who got in the way.  They also robbed four homes and burned another one or two homes as well.  So on June 17, a patrol from the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry (whom by this time were a veteran guerrilla hunter force) with Lt Sandy Lowe and 18 men left out of Warrensburg to go looking for the Brinker-Snelling guerrilla band.  They discovered several of the guerrillas sitting down for dinner at the home of Mrs. Davenport about 9 miles west of Warrensburg.  Lt. Lowe’s patrol charged and scattered the guerrillas and chased them about a half of a mile through the brush until they ran into the rest of the Brinker-Snelling band.  Lt Lowe sent a messenger back to Warrensburg to get reinforcements, while he was conducting a fighting withdraw.  Lt Lowe’s patrol fought it out for about thirty minutes and covered 6 to 7 miles back to Warrensburg before a relief column under Major Emory Foster of the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry arrived on the scene.  With the relief column showed up, the guerrillas fled.  So the only real fighting was between the 80 or so guerrillas and the 18 man patrol.  The results of that fight was 11 guerrillas dead and the Union only lost 2 dead and 2 more wounded.  After the fight, the Davenport’s home was burnt by the Union for supporting the guerrillas and Benjamin Snelling’s sister and younger brother were arrested on allegedly carrying messages for the guerrillas.  (Warrensburg was my old stomping grounds in college, so I had to include this engagement.)
Company D's Missouri Guerrilla Band 1
Company D's Missouri State Militia pack 1
As a gaming note, there is a fairly new miniature company that now making 28mm figures specifically for the Guerrilla in Missouri, called ‘Company D’ out of the UK.  I have not seen the figures in the flesh, but as you can see from the pictures below of their figures from their website, they are quite nice.  They might fit in the Foundry’s ‘dead’ Border War line, which is now in their Old West line.   Hopefully Company D will continue down this road and release some Enrolled Missouri Militia and Kansas Redlegs too.  I am very tempted to order a set of each, but I am waiting for the Missouri State Militia & Guerrilla command sets to be released first.  

Column of twos, March!


The Kindle Fire is dead! All Hail Fire HDX!

Woe are the tears of despair from my Kindle Fire!  Monday, my Kindle Fire's USB port broke / came loose to where it was not charging at all unless I keep wiggling my power cable into the right spot.  Now, I can't even do that.  
The little evil device that I must replace
Oh yes, that is a small little device to replace
I have been searching up on how to repair it and found quite a few self-help guides on the internet, plus some videos on YouTube.  As my Kindle Fire is just over three years old, it is out of warranty.  I got a self-repair kit on order, so hopefully it will arrive this weekend and I can try to fix it.  I have not done any soldering work in 20+ years, so I hope I don't screw it up. 

But, I had been thinking about replacing my Kindle Fire for a few months anyways for the current Fire HDX 7" for several reasons.  Since this happen, I just went ahead and ordered one, but I am still going to try to fix my Kindle Fire so I have a back up in the future.  I should have it this weekend too, so I might not be too long without my electronic crack cocaine.  :)

I feel like I am losing a close friend...


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Update - Wild West outlaws that became movie stars

From Midlist Writer: Al Jennings in The Lady of the Dugout (1918)
This is just a minor update to my previous post ten days ago about two Wild West bank robbers that became Hollywood movie stars (direct link).  One of the blogs that I follow, Midlist Writer, which belongs to a great writer, Sean McLachlan (Amazon link) (I have several of his books), just put up a blog entry on another Wild West bank robber that became a Hollywood movie star, Al Jennings (direct link.)  I was not aware of him before this.  In this blog entry, he also has a link to another blog entry of his on a different blog, Black Gate.  It is a worth while read as well (direct link) as I also discovered that Jesse James, Jr., Jesse James' only son, was also a movie star.  I knew about that he also tried out his dad's occupation of train robbery, but did not know about his Hollywood career.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Game Review: 'The Department' & 'Ghosts of Hefei' by Joseph Dragovich

I started reading back over the rules for miniature game system by Joseph Dragovich called, The Department, and its related sister rules set, Ghosts of Hefei.  I didn’t back the Kickstarter for The Department, although I regret that now, but I did back the Kickstarter for Ghosts of Hefei after buying a PDF of The Department from Effigy Miniatures, which is now defunct, but you can still buy a PDF copy from Sabersedge.com.  I also got one set of the 15mm figures for The Department (six in total), but I can only seem to find four of them right now.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that they will be remade (here is to hoping that they are remade.)  As of now, I have the PDF of the Ghosts of Hefei rules, but I am still waiting on the figures (according to the last update, all of the figures have now been cast and now the books and T-shirts are off to the printers to be made).
The 15mm figures for 'The Department'

Both game systems are set in the same setting, but in different parts of the world and different objects using the same game mechanics, Goalsystem, which was designed by Scott Pyle.  The games are designed to be totally independent of each other, or to be used together, so one does not need to have a copy of The Department to play Ghosts of Hefei.   The Goalsystem is a fairly simple system.  Basically you roll the number of d6 dice that you have in a skill, or damage from a weapon, etc., and look for a 4+ which counts for ‘goals’ or successes, with a ‘6’ equaling two ‘goals’.  Actually, it might be worth it to make your own set of dice with 3x0, 2x1, 1x2 on the faces if you were to play a lot of Goalsystem games for ease in counting ‘goals'.  
The Department is the most interesting of the two games in my opinion because its subject matter, primarily, and that it was designed to be a solo game that can handle up to four players as a cooperative game.  The background of the game is in future USA were Fabricants, or androids, are being used, or acting on their own programs, for legal and illegal activities.  The Fabricants don’t have the same equal rights as humans, much like in the movie, Blade Runner (1982).   Matter of fact, the design of this game is very heavily under the influence of the movie, Blade Runner.  The player(s) are police detectives for the Dept. of Fabricant Management, sort of a cross between the FBI and the Blade Runner’s bounty hunters.  What is really nice is that the game can easily be transferred into different time periods with some minor modifications to do any detective style miniature game. 
In The Department, there are several scenarios and a campaign system.  I really like how the scenarios and campaign are set up, besides the fact that they are meant to be played on a 2'x2' area for 15mm figures.  First is that you create your primary characters, the protagonists for your stories.  You start off with 100 character points, but you are limited to 50 points per character.  So you will have at least two characters, but you could have more if you spend fewer points on your characters’ abilities.  But I don’t think you want to go over four characters as it appears that characters with less than 25 points will be extremely weak. 
Next, you start off with a budget to use through the entire campaign.  This is not like Warhammer where you buy all of your goodies at the beginning and have them show up every time in every game.  This is because at the end of each scenario, most of the stuff goes away and it can’t be used in the next scenario as part of the campaign!  Also, if any time your budget reaches 0, the campaign ends automatically as a failure if you have not successful defeated the primary suspect.  So, you really have to learn how to husband your budget and make it last throughout the entire campaign.  But no fear, because as the campaign progresses, you can request more budget resources based on evidence gathered.  This reminds me a lot of the another classic Sci-Fi movie, THX 1138 (1971), (Also it is George Lucas’ first movie!) In the movie the police almost have to end their pursue of Robert Duvall’s and Donald Pleasence’s characters several times, only to have their budget increased because they committed another crime, allowing them to continue on trying to catch them.  If you have never seen this movie, rent it.
In the scenarios, the characters can gather certain types of evidence to build a case.  There are five types of evidence, Person, Place, Physical, Electronic, and Financial.  Some are harder to get than others, with Person being the most easy to get.  Plus certain scenarios can not be played until the characters have gathered enough of the right types of evidence first.   As you gather evidence, you can also get certain items to assist your characters in the next game, maybe with a little loss of your budget too, like Arrest Warrants. 
But how do you keep players from being gun happy thugs and think every encounter should end like the final scenes of Bonnie & Clyde (1967)?  Now this is the best part of the game in my opinion, there is a system for Internal Affairs investigations that can range from a reprimand, to a temporary suspension (i.e., the character can’t be used in some number of future games), to getting fired and removed from the campaign.  During the course of the game, if the characters do something undesirable, like shooting at a suspect in crowd (for every shot!), he gains Internal Affair Points (IAP).  At the end of the game, you roll the number of IAPs earned in the course of the game with the same number of dice looking for ‘goals’, but these ‘goals’ you don’t want.  Depending on the number of ‘goals’, it will determined the punishment of the character.  But you can also gain IAPs for in-between games actions, like interrogating a prisoner too hard (yes, there are rules for this too!) 
Ghosts of Hefei, as mentioned above, is set in the same setting as The Department, but it has a different objective.  This game takes place in Hefei, China, a large industrial city that makes fabricants.  In this game, the players are competing against each other in a more traditional type of game.  The players build a gang of criminals whom job is to steal fabricants through hacking and other means and build their power on the streets.  In this campaign system, your gang can either win by eliminating all of the other gangs (players), gather enough wealth to go legit, or gain enough reputation that you can rule city hall.

In Ghosts, the player must choose one type of gang to be from, but other players can also pick the same type as a rival faction.  The gangs available are the following:  Iranians, Russians, Tong, and Yakuza.  There is an option to play the police too, but it only suggested if you have two or more players running gangs for the campaign.  Like The Department, there is a set number of character points and resource points to build your characters, the rest of the gang, and outfitting them.  But in Ghosts, you have more character points so you can easy get five or six characters for your gang, plus some standard thugs.  The author pretty much state that your gang needs at least one character that is a hacker to take control of fabricants. 

Also in Ghosts, there are cyber implant rules.  As the game system is the same as The Department, you can easily transfer the cyber implants and hacking rules to your The Department campaign and play something more in line of the Ghost in the Shell animated series or even Cowboy Bebop rather than Blade Runner.
Some lovely 15mm Sci-Fi civilian vehicles from Darkest Star Games.  They also have some great not-Tachikomas for a "Ghost in the Shell" games
While I have yet to actually play a game of either game, just from reading the rules, they are a fairly solid system.  I think the only thing that would improve them would be have vehicle rules as there are none. One other set of rules I think that are missing for a proper noir type game are for Femme Fatales.  With both of those rules, I could even turn the system into a James Bond like campaign!

It is not Noir without a sexy Femme Fatale!
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe..." Roy Batty