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"Action/Reaction in Miniature Wargaming (Part 3)" Topic

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John Michael Priest08 Dec 2019 1:31 p.m. PST

Action/Reaction in Miniature Wargaming (Part 3): Game Parts has just been published at

UshCha09 Dec 2019 12:45 a.m. PST

What data did you use to estimate the kill rate for canister? The values to me look illogocal. At very short range the damage I would assume is minimal if it hits one man it will kill him but the spread is minimal. At some range one would assume its optimum, ie best fit of spread of projectiles, projectile density (projectiles per sq ft) and energy per projectile. From that point on the spread will increase and the others lower so it will be less effective.

At very long ranges would the battery fire? They often carried limited ammunition and may already have been engaed so may not have that many Caister rounds to use. Did they indeed carry 12 rounds of ready to use canister (1 round every 10 seconds at the target approaching at 180 pace per minute). Typicaly the optimum would be not to fire untill in efective range.

Your hit rate also seems illogical in that I assume the enemy generally will be approaching logicaly in quick time 180 steps a minute that is 7.5 ft/sec. looking up KGS could for short periods hit 6 to 8 rounds a minute. Thats roughly 1 round ever 10 seconds. So the range is changinge by more than 1 band every round and this assumes your time resolution is 10 seconds.

I would suggest you look very carefully at your range bands, rate of fire and bound time interval and come up with a more intergated approach depending on what you want to do. Note KGS wre good, lesser troops may only get 4 rounds per minute again making your model proably over defined in this area.

John Michael Priest09 Dec 2019 4:18 a.m. PST

The spread of canister varied based upon the type of gun firing it. For a 12 pounder Napoleon it consisted of 27 inch an a quarter diameter lead, iron, or steel balls packed in sawdust. For the outdated 6 pounder bronze gun it would have 3/4 inch balls in a tin can, depending upon where the rounds were manufactured. A 12 pounder smoothbore howitzer might have musket balls. The a cone of around 176 .58 cal. he 3 inch ordnance rifle fired a tin can filled with 60 .58 cal. musket balls but because it traveled at a faster velocity than the smoothbore rounds, did not spread out as quickly, and tore up the rifling in the piece.

Hits in this system represent killed, wounded, missing – casualties, not just kills.

The number of rounds in a chest, with the powder attached (fixed cartridges) varied from gun type to gun type. The 12 pounder Napoleon limber carries 32 rounds of fixed cartridges. 4 canister, 4 case, 8 shell, 16 shot.

The ranges on the stick reflect possible casualties at the closest range. 9 hits at 150 feet would tentatively remove 36 men or more from a line and could rip a column apart. However, those numbers represent ideal situations across an open field with a clear line of sight.

The guns recoiled 6 – 10 feet when fired. Artillerists had to return the piece and reacquire the target. They generally fired 1 or 2 times per minute. The Napoleon weighed a ton, the tube alone accounting for around 1200 pounds of that weight.

The numbers on the measuring sticks represent possible accuracy without factoring in smoke, misfires, fog, ground cover, and other factors. They are not inaccurate.

My friends and I tested the game yesterday. The system works very well. The purpose is to give the players a sense of how the men fought and to illustrate all the factors which they could encounter on the field.

When I get around to writing scenarios, the rules will be modified to meet the setting of that particular incident.

UshCha09 Dec 2019 8:22 a.m. PST

John so at 4 canister maximum that is the maximum number of shots possible. So troops marching into range (excluding 3 pdrs something like 400 yds) something under 4 minutes. So as you need to assume something about ammunition even though you won't want to count it. So assume you have used 1 round already. You have 3 rounds to use at the attackers.

Now as I understand it canister range is 450 yds (27" 3" represents 50 yds. How far do your troops move in between resolving canister fire. Would it represent 3 rounds or 1. If 3 rounds its easy to mark the gun as having no canister after 1 engagement. Thus stopping unrealistic use of this ammunition.

John Michael Priest09 Dec 2019 11:01 a.m. PST

The game consists of moving then firing. Infantry can move 450 feet at a normal pace to double quicking excluding deductions for obstructions. 12 inches in column. I will be detailing this in future entries.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2019 6:46 p.m. PST

quick time 180 steps

FYI that is double quick time if you are talking about paces per minute.

John Michael Priest10 Dec 2019 3:51 a.m. PST

According to Hardee, common time was 90 steps per minute; quick step was 110 steps per minute; double quick step ranged from 165 steps to 180 steps per minute. Each turn in this game is the equivalent of 1 minute.

Blutarski10 Dec 2019 1:29 p.m. PST

Common time, quick step, double quick are all well and good, but the important question is ….. to what degree the length of a pace might differ versus different types of ground and terrain? It was officially 30 inches across a dry, level, suitably manicured parade ground. What was it when traversing a muddy ploughed field? swampy ground? a sandy beach? thick underbrush? rocky ground? climbing a long slope or hill?

Re canister fire – ricochet fire, when possible, would alter the hit analysis. Also flanking fire.


John Michael Priest10 Dec 2019 1:48 p.m. PST

in the following entries I will explain the deductions in movement. My approach is not as precise as your approach because I developed it for use in the high school classroom where I did not have the time nor the inclination to figure out the exact math. For instance, fences require the roll of a D6 to accomodate a possible deduction of 6 inches to climb over the fence and reform on the other side. Open woodlots cost a line 1 inch deduction and the deductions are cumulative.

The last few blogs will cover those deductions.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2019 1:48 p.m. PST

John: Steps or paces were I believe held to @30 inches as Blutarski points out, IIRC.

Common time, quick step, double quick are all well and good, but the important question is ….. to what degree the length of a pace might differ versus different types of ground and terrain? It was officially 30 inches across a dry, level, suitably manicured parade ground. What was it when traversing a muddy ploughed field? swampy ground? a sandy beach? thick underbrush? rocky ground? climbing a long slope or hill?


One of the best recorded times [4 different accounts] was Pickett's Charge. They crossed @1600 yards of ground in 19 to 20 minutes. During that time, the brigades:

*were under artillery fire
*stopped twice to dress lines
*crossed two fence lines
*changed direction on the diagonal when close to the enemy lines as per Lee's instructions
*Where ordered to do the advance in quick time.

Their speed comes to 101 steps per minute for 1600 yards.

Have you seen the canister calculations in Totten's 1880 Strategos military wargame? Totten actually did tests with rifled and smoothbore cannon. The canister effects for rifled cannon were much less than smoothbores, of course.

The wargame itself was vetted by a committee of veteran officers.

Blutarski10 Dec 2019 2:34 p.m. PST

Hi McLaddie
I question that time-table.


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2019 2:35 p.m. PST

I question that time-table.


With what?

John Michael Priest10 Dec 2019 3:53 p.m. PST

I was using Hardee's 33 inches per step for QT and DQT.

In my book on Pickett's Charge, which I do not have in front of me at the moment, I recollect the advance started at 2pm and was repulsed within 45 minutes. The Confederate front shrunk from 1.1 miles to 2500 feet by the time it reached the road. Most of the casualties however occurred in the Emmitsburg Road and the land between it and the corpse of trees.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2019 6:13 p.m. PST

There are four accounts that note the time and how long it took the division[s] to reach within 100 yards of the stone wall. The start times vary as do the end times, which isn't surprising considering that the average pocket watch of the day lost 15 to 20 minutes a day.

However, all the accounts report 19 to 20 minutes to cross the field. This is all reported in George Stewart's Pickett's Charge. The later 3 books on the Charge by authors Hess, Tucker and Hessler don't change that timeline.

Here's one reported incident:

"So also Private Monte of the 9th Virginia, coming up the slope, was heard to exlcaim, "What a sublime sight!" Then drawing his watch from his pocket, he was heard to remark, "We have been just nineteen minutes coming." page 204.

John: Casey gives 28 inches to a step/pace [page 30] Most all paces through out the 19th Century range from 26 to 36 inches…but the vast majority were 28-30 inches which is a much more 'normal distance' in that it was more of a normal [civilian] walk distance.

I have no doubt that if the CSA troops were drilled with 33 inches, they probably kept close to that. However, I am not sure they did, particularly when Hardee was a 'light infantry manual' and other manuals before and after don't suggest that many inches to a pace.

Blutarski12 Dec 2019 8:48 p.m. PST

Hi McLaddie,

I owe you a reply. In short, I find JMP's account ("Into the Fight Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg") more plausible.

According to Hardee, the standard march rates were -

Common Time
28 inches/step @ 90 steps/min = 70 yds/min
- – -
Quick Time
28 inches/step @ 110 steps/min = 85 yds/min.
- – -
Double Quick Time
33 inches/step @ 165-180 steps/min = 150-165 yds/min.

- with properly trained infantry employing Quick Time and Double Quick Time on the battlefield.
Given that Double Quick Time was customarily reserved for closing the final 2-300 yards to contact and not for conducting lengthy approach marches of nearly a mile, it is IMO safe to discard it as a rate of advance employed in this case.

Garnett's left flank advanced across approximately 1100 yards more or less directly toward the "Angle"; Kemper's right flank, even as it closed ranks on the left due to casualties, covered 1900-2000 yards before reaching the Union position, including a substantial wheel. In order to do so, the regiments would have hade to maintain 80-85 yards per minute pace without cease for 20-25 minutes. For a body of formed infantry to advance 1600 2000 yards under fire without halting to rest and/or dress ranks is difficult for me to accept.

According to historical commentary (Ropes)
> Pickett's division moved off at "a walk" in order to preserve their alignment. I'm not sure what "a walk" was meant to signify, other than to imply some pace of advance different from the usual; nor can the length of time this pace was maintained be ascertained.

> About half-way between their starting position and the Union defensive line, "they halted for a short rest in a ravine …". How long is a "short rest"?

> "As the lines converged (but before contact), most if not all of the regiments ployed into close column by division as they advanced." Was the pace at all slowed to carry these changes of formation out?

Strictly my opinion, of course.

Happy Xmas to you and yours.


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2019 9:40 p.m. PST


I appreciate that.

most if not all of the regiments ployed into close column by division as they advanced."

I don't remember going to close columns. However, formation change maneuvers were done at quick time, even during the Napoleonic Wars.

All I would say is the orders that Lee gave for the advance mandated quick march.

If you naturally walk on level ground, you and most adult males will naturally move at quick time. It is not hard to do over time, particularly for experienced soldiers. Ordinary time was more deliberate to maintain order. Get on a football field and time your walk and number of steps. You will approach 110 steps per minute without any trouble.

So, 'a walk' probably was ordinary pace if it was to maintain alignment, particularly at the start of the movement, having to get all units of three divisions 'getting up to speed' while remaining in formation and line. That isn't easy.

As for a 'short rest', in a swale to realign out of artillery fire…and how long doesn't really matter, nor does the converging of lines, if they still maintained a speed that approached 'quick time' at the end.

Controlling the pace was a commander's way of controlling the speed. I am sure they slowed and quickened the pace as needed. Quick Time was the base.

For a body of formed infantry to advance 1600 2000 yards under fire without halting to rest and/or dress ranks is difficult for me to accept.

They did stop and dress ranks--twice. You mention them stopping to rest [at the same time?] However, Walking a mile for veteran troops at quick time isn't all that difficult. I do that hiking with a backpack in the mountains. Maintaining an equal and steady pace was central to maintaining any formation. It was drilled from day one. Learning to march with the correct pace was Lesson #1 in both Hardee and Casey.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


John Michael Priest13 Dec 2019 4:06 a.m. PST

I would recommend reading Into the Fight: Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg to get a different perspective of the action and Lee's Gallant 6000? From North and South Magazine June 1996.

It is a battalion level examination of the charge with 24 maps.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2019 9:12 a.m. PST

grin Well, John, as you are the one who wrote the book, what is your perspective on the pace of the attack?

donlowry13 Dec 2019 10:16 a.m. PST

"As the lines converged (but before contact), most if not all of the regiments ployed into close column by division as they advanced."

IIRC, a Union officer on the receiving end of Pickett's Charge said the Confederates formed a column of regiments (battalions) for the final attack, or at least he implied as much, with a sketch map in the OR.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2019 11:32 a.m. PST

Well, lines converging or even moving in behind others isn't the same thing as a column of regiments/battalions or divisions. That is a formal formation change from line [which they were in] and basically a brigade column, one regiment behind the other…which takes some work considering the regiments weren't the same strength…particularly by the time they 'converged.'

I can see them coming in tighter, converging, which is what Lee had diagrammed in his orders. I can see how a Union officer might interpret that movement when he sees it as forming columns, particularly when drawing it on a map with little lines.

John Michael Priest13 Dec 2019 11:53 a.m. PST

I will find the article I wrote for North and South and get back with you on specific details. My research indicates that for whatever reason, sunstroke, wounds, quitting the field, about 4,000 of the 10,000 plus who participated in the attack, never reached the Emmitsburg Road.

Only one company from the 18th Virginia went forward to destroy fences along the two intervening ridges, which means the lines had to cross them and reform during he assault.

Confederates started leaving the line in impressive numbers before they crested the first ridge in front of the Confederate guns.

Union artillery fire directed at the Spangler farm forced Kemper's men to file north away from the guns. It did not come from an order by Lee. His front sank 600 fee from the right before it got to the Emmitsburg Road.

I looked up all of the casualties by name except for those in Archer's battered brigade because they were not available at the time.

Over 50% of the casualties were wounded and captured or captured, the majority of them in the Emmitsburg Road. The regiments which crossed the road were shot to pieces in the last attack against the copse of trees.

If I recollect correctly, about 45% of the original numbers which started the charge became casualties, the majority of them in the Emmitsburg Road and the ground between it and the Angle.

Garnett' line got stalled briefly in the hollow immediately west of the Emmitsburg Road by the Federal skirmish line and halted to return fire.

The attack did not move as smoothly as later recorded and an observer on Seminary Ridge noted a lot of the men turned and walked to the rear before reaching the Emmitsburg Road and that Lee greatly exaggerated his casualties for the attack.

The attack did not go off as it is generally described.

Blutarski13 Dec 2019 5:54 p.m. PST

I'm just speculating here, but it is possible that some respectable share of those men seen (from a distance) making their way to the rear might have been "walking wounded" i.e., lightly wounded soldiers who felt that their injury justified opting out of the attack. Just a theory here.

On a related note, a recurring thought in my mind is that almost every regimental history I have read is written from the point of view of the bravest of the brave performing the noblest deeds, displaying great self-sacrifice and enduring Shakespearean tragedy. Precious few ever speak of their command panicking, fleeing in rout, or going to ground for the afternoon. Excess reliance on such works IMO unrealistically skew the true nature of the combat experience.

As an example, a Confederate Colonel who served at Spotsylvania commented on the high sensitivity of troops to flank and rear fire or attack; they would almost invariably break and run rather than attempt to change front and fight. This colonel asserted that this syndrome was what really enabled relatively small counter-attacking Confederate units to restore dangerous situations at Spotsylvania.

It seems that the Devil is always in the details …..


John Michael Priest13 Dec 2019 6:37 p.m. PST

Exactly. Fremantle was with Longstreet as the charge was getting under way. He said the fields were so full of men walking back that it looked like Piccadilly Circus at market time.

Captain Bright on Pickett's staff was sent over as the brigade got to the first ridge to turn back men walking to the rear. Their response was "Ain't you runnin' too, Captain?"

A captain hit a scared soldier on the arm and said now you are wounded. So he could go to the rear. Lee even said to a sergeant trying to stop the retreat, "if my men had been as brave as you, this would not have happened."

They did not exhibit cowardice but common sense.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2019 11:09 p.m. PST


1. Have you seen the order and diagram drawn by Lee showing his 'intended' move of troops to the center? I certainly wasn't suggesting that there was some clockwork
percision to the attack, or not lots of other things happening… Knowing the intended course helps understand subsequent performance and where/when things fell apart.

2. Regardless of the fact that the attack did not go off anywhere as smoothly as first ordered [beginning with the artillery cannonade], the head of the attack did reach the Union lines in 20 minutes as stated by observers… unless there is other evidence.

3. As Blutarski says, troops attacked in flank has always been deadly, and the fact that the Union were free to do that [along with the artillery fire on the right flank]
only points up how poorly the attack was supported.

John Michael Priest14 Dec 2019 4:16 a.m. PST

No problem here. I understand your observations and have no argument with them.

Trajanus14 Dec 2019 7:28 a.m. PST

They did not exhibit cowardice but common sense.

The longer the war went on the more common sense exhibited itself at all levels. With the possible exception of General Officer rank.

The ever increasing numbers of Union troops and Company/Regimental Officers choosing to either ignore, or follow in name only, orders to conduct head on attacks, over open ground against prepared positions, showed the difference between loyalty and suicide.

John Michael Priest14 Dec 2019 9:10 a.m. PST

Exactly. Veterans had a tendency to think on their own. "Sir, do you mind not drawing fire while you're inspiring us?"

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2019 11:29 a.m. PST

The longer the war went on the more common sense exhibited itself at all levels. With the possible exception of General Officer rank.

"But damnit, Captain, common sense doesn't win wars!"

**Crap, did I just say that?**

There are so many variables in war [kinda like the rest of life], in understanding what did and can happen, we need to suss out the various threads individually at first, realizing that yes, each thread is still attached to all the others. That is what military men did to 1. understand what had happened, and 2. What could be done about it. Clausewitz's On War is simply his effort to do just that.

It is also what simulation designers do of all stripes.

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