Current Gaming Projects

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri Part 3

George Caleb Bingham's, 'Order No 11' - 1868

This will not be a very heavy review of the second volume of Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, (1863), but I am well over half way through the main body of book (excluding the index, bibliographies, etc.)  In 1863, for the most part, the guerrillas are now fairly veteran (although there are some newly raised and green units too) and there is less and less accounts of Union forces catching them by surprise while at rest. However, the violence to non-combatants by both sides has really ramped up.  Citizens of both sympathies are being robbed, exiled, tortured, and murdered by both sides.  I just finished the chapter that covered the Lawrence, Kansas, raid and the Union’s “Great Guerrilla Hunt” immediately after that.  The author is very good in trying to be neutral on all of this and tries to explain why the events happened the way that they did.  A good example is the much hated General Ewing’s General Order Number 11.  He shows why Ewing ordered it and what would have probably happen had it not been given.   Most likely, there would have been a great massacre of civilians by Kansas troops in the western Missouri counties.  The author also explains why the Order was so brutal and hated at the time and why it still affects the opinion of some people today.  I was quite impressed with his very neutral tone.

Sgt. James Blake - 4th Missouri State Militia Cavalry
In the first half of 1863, certain units of the Union forces where either well respected or well hated by the guerrillas.  There were several examples of mercy given by both sides, but only to specific units or individuals.  Two examples of this are the following:  1) a well-known former guerrilla leader was caught at his home by members of the Union forces.  As they started to burn his home and to shoot him, he gave the Masonic hand signal for distress.  Probably the Union leader or at least several Union men were also Freemasons, so spared his life and his home, but took all of his weapons – this was probably only so as the guerrilla leader allegedly gave up being a guerrilla months earlier.  Had he still been active, I suspect that they would had instead arrested him, but not shoot him on the spot; 2) Several guerrilla bands, including Quantrill’s, had a respect for the 1st Cavalry, Missouri State Militia (MSM), because they rarely harmed the southern civilians and their prisoners, whereas they had a great hatred for the 5th (old) Cavalry, MSM, as they were normally very brutal to civilians and prisoners alike.  In one case, a steamer was captured that had unarmed soldiers on it.  The guerrillas sorted out those that they believed were from the 1st Cav., MSM, and those they believed to have been from the 5th (old) Cav., MSM.  The guerrillas paroled the soldiers from the First and executed those from the Fifth.  Also in this same event, the guerrillas murdered a number of black men that were escaped slaves trying to get to Kansas.

There are several good small level skirmishes and battles discussed in the book.  While they is are not very detailed, they do give you some information that can be gamed.  Again, one of the main things is the small numbers of killed on either side in the battles.  Generally, unless the guerrillas were conducting a raid, the guerrillas would run away after a few rounds from either an ambush or being discovered.  I think that the guerrillas act more in the terms as a “force in being”.  In other words, they only exist to be a threat and not to be engaged in actual combat.  If they are forced into combat except where they had planned, they must immediately withdraw to still remain a threat.  So in any games using the guerrillas, as soon as they meet any real resistance, they should break contact and escape.

Currently, I am still working away from home, so I am not sure if my Company D figures showed up yet or not.  Hopefully they will be waiting for me when I get back and I can post a review of them, plus a few pictures.  I order at least one pack of each of the items that they have available for the Missouri guerrilla war, but did order a second pack of mounted MSM and couple packs of horse holders for both sides.  I will also have to sort through my Foundry’s Border War figures that I have (I am fairly sure that I have one pack of each) and look at what size of a force that I will have for everything.  For example, the mounted MSM will have 20 men total (one command pack & two mounted packs), which will give me an average patrol at a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio from a lot of the engagements that I was reading, which is what I am basically shooting for in my theoretical future games.   Outside of doing the Border War and guerrilla, I am sort of tempted to looking at doing some USN raids in the spirit of Lt. William Cushing, but I must stay focused.

"Another stripe or a coffin" - Lt. William B. Cushing, USN
As for rules sets, I am sort of looking into two rules right now, Too Fat Lardies’, Terrible Sharp Sword (TSS) and Architects of War’s, American Uncivil War, (AUW).  Both TSS & AUW are card driven and have characters.  I want to have characters, but I really want to get away from cards (it is a pain to have to keep shuffling).  I might also give Smooth & Rifled by Dadi & Piombo a look over too.  But then again, I am working on modifying GDW’s, Soldier’s Companion for Ridgeway to reflect the fewer casualties and more morale failures in skirmishing, but there are no characters in this system.  FlyXwire (Dave S.) also recommended in the comments section on one of the previous entries about modifying Studio Tomahawk’s, Musket & Tomahawks.  I will have to look more into Musket & Tomahawks. He also mentioned H.G. Walls’, Brother Against Brother.  I have not played a game using these rules in over 15+ years and there is a reason why I have never played it again.  I found that system to be too unrealistic.

I will hopefully have another entry up by the end of the week on three accounts that I found interesting so far in this book.  A titillating hint for this next entry is that will cover about an unauthorized campaign, a mutiny of Union officers, and a steamer by the name of Hope.  

Be seeing you,


1 comment:

FlyXwire said...

Joe, excellent post!

M&T is also card-driven, with units being activated by their class-type. I've transitioned away from using the cards in M&T by giving players a limited number of "orders" tokens (some skilled leaders garnering a few more tokens each turn), which then can be used to activate one unit at a time in a IGOUGO sequence. The amount of actions is still regulated by M&T's limitations on how many actions different types of units can perform each turn, which I think helps reflect the abilities of superior troops to perform well compared to lesser-trained/led troops (in a comparable span of time). I really like the core M&T rules 'engine', as the set can be played as intended as a skirmish-level game (w/mechanisms designed to handle game boards displaying greater terrain density and complexity), as well as for grand-tactical level engagements, where a number of individual figure stands can now be treated each as a company-size formation functioning together as a regimental unit. The M&T system can be very flexible in this regards, and enables this type scaling pretty easily.