Two Splendid Lines

Today I'm going to share a playtest of the 6mm regimental game I'm writing - tentatively named Two Splendid Lines, from a Union officer who observed Pickett's Charge and so described that fateful advance.

The aim aim is to represent command and leadership of a regiment in line warfare:
  • Your regiment cannot 'just stop' or 'just turn round'.  
  • Proper commands must be used, just as in real life
  • As well as casualties, order and cohesion is tracked.
As my last post described, I've done a lot of research on the proper drill commands.  Using my Baccus 6mm ACW figures, I playtested an attack on a Federal position using my 4th Texas Infantry.  Each stand is one company of about 50 men.

I was going to wait until I'd painted and built all of these, but instead I've decided to go for a 'warts and all' look at writing a wargame.

The regiment approaches in double column at half distance.  Two companies wide, and five deep - 'half distance' is a good compromise between compactness and space to manoeuvre each company.



The colour party halts, and under a scattered fire from the enemy, forms into line of battle on either side.
 
As the Texans approach, a full volley is let loose.  Usually big volleys and advances in line like this would only be used in the last 50 yards of an advance (despite what you see in the movies).  Most movement across battlefields was done in column.

The Texans charge!

The left of the Federal line is fine, but the hard-pressed right hand companies begin to break and before the Confederates make contact, the regiment retreats.  This was how most 'charges' ended - one side gave ground, retreated fifty yards, then turned round to resume the firefight.
The game is based closely on our ACW Cold Steel Rules, derived from a free set online which we've been using (with house tweaks) for a long time now.

The main factor is not casualties.  A good volley at 100 yards might only kill three or four people, as was often the case - despite the prevailing myth.  The main factor is 'order'.  Keep your troops well-dressed, your lines neat and your orders clear.  This isn't obsessive military neatness - order keeps your troops fighting.  Although individuals and skulkers sometimes slipped away from the fight, most times a regiment 'fell back' it was due to confusion and uncertainty rather than raw fear - although of course on an individual level there would have been a good deal of that.

We tried the rules out 'full size'... there are still some teething troubles, most notably the complexity of tracking casualties and order values for ten companies.  But the flavour of the game is there.

In the centre of the board you can see I have six companies formed into double column as they march towards the left side of the picture.  Columns are the only way of moving through thick forests like this.
I have a few companies of skirmishers to my front to protect my lines and give me advanced warning of the enemy.

Comments

  1. interesting stuff. There are, I understand, several periods where exceptionally bloody battles are the exception, rather than the rule - always good to read about a dose of reality.

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    1. Thanks - yes, I really wanted to understand the reality and bust a few myths while having a good deal of fun!

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  2. Very interesting, looking forward to seeing more

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Commissar, we're having a game next weekend so we'll be able to report back then.

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  3. Quite a different take on your game, which I really like. I don't think I've seen a game which focuses on ACW at this level before. Good on you for giving it a go.

    I quite agree with your comments on casualties. One of my favourite rule sets a few decades ago had a great mechanism where you took casualties, suffered the moral effects from them, then got 2/3 of the men back again (after they picked themselves up, got rounded up by NCOs, a few light wounds patched up etc). Thus, we saw units withdrawing with 5-10% losses (i.e. literally decimated) and not keeping on going until they were wiped out unless you had some exceptional leadership, training and circumstances.

    Really like what you've started here. I'm also looking forward to more in due course.

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  4. I like where you are going with this. Very clever and sounds thought through thoroughly. (Say that fast 3 times)

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