Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Campaign Games. Part Four. Narrative, the first map movements and thinking aloud.

0615 Hours, Thursday 3rd April 1862.
Moorburn or Ashchester.

An oil lamp still burned on the table before the standing, hunched figure of Major General Thomas Jackson. Its light losing the battle of dominance with the rising sun of the new day.

Jackson paid little heed to this duel of light sources, his eyes moving slowly over the map laid out before him. The verdant and lush Virginia countryside, reduced to black and brown lines on the heavily stained and creased paper.

He had risen long before dawn, dressed and breakfasted, even though he had not had above five hours sleep, and Thomas could sleep, he was noted for it. Anywhere, anytime, any place, and at the drop of a hat too. But this morning he had some thinking to do, he would take a nap later, if time permitted.

His Corps had moved fast and had only arrived at this location as the Sun was lowering to the horizon last night. The men needed a couple of days to rest, it would also allow for supplies to catch up. One of his two cavalry regiments would only get a single days rest, he intended to send them out tomorrow. They would head north and act independently, gathering information on the enemy as well as causing mischief behind their lines. He particularly wanted the telegraph lines cut, to isolate the enemy divisions from each other and Washington too. The rest of his Corps would begin the march north on Saturday.

Any other general would have his subordinate commanders gathered around the map as he explained his plans, and would listen to suggestions or doubts from them. But Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, was not any other general. Much to the chagrin and annoyance of his senior officers, Jackson rarely divulged what his plans were to anyone else. This could, and often did, lead to problems on the field, but it was, and always had been, his way. Jackson was in command of a Corps, and even his fellow senior officer, Major General Richard Ewell, who commanded the other division of the Corps, was not privy to his thoughts.

Jackson stepped back from the table and extended his right arm high above his head, he needed to equalise the blood, he was convinced that this was a necessary exercise and carried it out a number of times each day. His officers and men had grown used to this odd behaviour from their leader, and paid little attention to it, apart from the odd wry smile or shake of a head.

He had made his decisions and would now issue the orders to set them in motion.

Position of all forces at 6am Thursday 3rd April 1862

The overall map is not too clear, so I have added top and bottom views as well. I am not very good with computers, and this is the best I can do.

Fremont's Division has been divided to cover the roads north, placing troops at both Westwich and Millwick.  What the make up of forces is, we will not know until either of them come in to contact with Jackson's Corps. At that time I will roll a die to determine the strength, and in which location the divisional commander has chosen place himself. Banks and Shields have their full divisions at Kegford and Portsdale respectively. Though I shall roll to see if either or both, send out scouting parties. The same with Fremont.

In the southern sector, Jackson's Corps will either be at Ashchester or Moorburn. Both columns will remain on the map as they advance, only when contact with an enemy unit is made, will we know which is the real and which is the ghost column.

Further on the map, the large areas of blank squares, are of course, not blank at all. They will be covered in mountains, hills, forest etc. but for now they need not be shown, it will just clutter up the map. But an example is the road from Ashchester, the starting point for column B to Moorburn, column A's location is a meandering road, probably skirting around mountains. Other blank areas will be similar and I shall fill in the details, as and if, required.

The rules, as already mentioned, will be Black Powder, with the addition of the Glory Hallelujah! supplement. However, I will not be using the double six as a blunder rule, it will simply be a failed order. Also each brigade commander will issue orders and roll, much like a multi-player game, assuming it is a large action. Not just one chance for each side before a failure ends the turn. It will still allow for the fog of war, with one brigade following its orders, but the other possibly failing and not moving at all.

Also the turns in BP equate to activation's on both sides, first one, then the other. I am going to call one game turn a period of thirty minutes. So four turns on the table top will equate to two hours on the main map. This will allow possible reinforcements to continue to approach the field of battle, as well as ordinary movement on the map. The rest of the world continues and is not frozen because a battle is taking place.

As you can quickly see, a battle that starts soon after sunrise, could feasibly last all day, with two table top turns representing an hour, a total of 12 to 16 hours of daylight, giving lots of turns on the table. Assuming of course, that the battle started at first light. I expect many encounters will take place with far less time to deploy and fight. Movement on the main map, will allow me to work out the time of day that the two forces collide, and so give me the maximum number of table turns before darkness intervenes.

When forces do meet, they will need to deploy as in real life, no instant neat lines formed up for battle, for example, if it is a full division, it will be strung out for a couple of miles or more, still marching. They will take time to come up to the field and deploy. This will be represented in the game mechanics.

I have waffled on long enough, but there is lots more to explain. I shall cover other points as and when they arrive, for fear of driving you away out of boredom.

As a reward for your perseverance, a few shots from previous battles.


  1. Not boring at all. Quite the contrary. If you don't mind the plagiarism, I think we might well pilfer some of your workings!

    1. Hi Tim and thank you. Feel free to pilfer all you wish, I am just pleased you think it good enough.