Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Friday, July 22, 2016

Solo Campaign Games - First Steps.

Following on from my previous article on solo campaign games, I did receive a lot of positive replies on the various Facebook and other locations to which I posted. Before diving headlong into a full scale campaign game with imagi-nations and fictitious maps, I thought it wise to do a mini-campaign or two, to dip my toes into the water.

Returning to the excellent Wargaming Campaigns by Donald Featherstone, he has actually done a lot of the donkey work of organising a number of mini campaigns set in various eras, one of which is Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. He suggests you seek out a map of the area and place on it a grid of one inch squares in pencil, or cover it in a plastic sheet, which will allow you use a china-graph pencil* to plot the movements of the troops.

* This book was of course written in 1970 and a china-graph pencil was a forerunner of the dry wipe markers used today on whiteboards etc.

I do have a number of books on the American Civil War and one in particular would give me the map I wished to use. The book is the excellent American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War. It has the 3D type map/drawings of David Greenspan, which I know inspired many children, and probably adults too, to attempt to recreate the battles he so wonderfully illustrated in this book.

Now of course, I am not going to take a pencil to this wonderful book and I actually like the idea of using the book opened to the map of the Shenandoah Valley to actually move counters representing the forces around. I have included a few photographs of the map, firstly showing the whole area in question and then more selected areas to show the wonderful detail the artist has managed to include.

The whole map covers a two page spread of the book, so is big enough for my needs.

A close up of the southern end of the valley showing Staunton on the Virginia Central Rail Road, which will be the base for supplies and reinforcements for Jackson's confederates.

Section showing the North end of the valley

In the centre it shows not only the towns and roads, but also the gaps through the Blue Ridge Mountains that can be utilised by the troops. As a stylised map it will not be 100% accurate, nor does it have a scale attached to show distances etc. but for sheer beauty I can easily live with that. Besides which I have another atlas to give me that information. Of course I also have access to Google Maps for a very close up of the topography to transfer to my tabletop, wherever a battle may take place. Something Don could never have dreamed about when he wrote the book.

This book will give me most of the missing information from Greenspan's map.

As well as a scale to work out distances between locations, and of course rates of movement for troops traversing the map.

It too shows all the valley but even though far more accurate, somehow doesn't give the same feeling of anticipation of moving troops around on its surface as does the Greenspan map.

So work will be continuing on this little project, I am formulating ways to incorporate ways of hiding Jackson's force, even from myself by using dummy counters on the map! Troops lost in battles can be replaced at a percentage rate as yet to decided upon, as long as there is a clear route back to the main supply depot of each side. These troops and supplies, will of course not magically appear with the army, but must travel at the correct movement rate to join them.


  1. Excellent progress on the campaign. I LoVe the Grennspan map! I have that same book and map as well; I know what you mean about it being quite inspiring. Keep it up, Ian. You are well on your way to something really fun and informative.


  2. Thanks Kurtus, I am enjoying the research and figuring out as well. All part of the fun.

  3. Interesting stuff Ian I like the idea of the map movement on the detailed 3d map keep the ideas coming Ian looking forward to hearing more my friend