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"a campaign: use historical OB or my own "what I have" OBs?" Topic

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doc mcb14 Oct 2021 1:01 p.m. PST

So I am preparing a campaign of the southern war, with my brother and grandson as remote commanders, and me resolving battles in my basement, probably solo and using Regtl F&F. The old AH boardgame WE THE PEOPLE has a nice point-to-point map with enough strategic choices to be interesting and pretty accurate but not requiring a lot of staff work.

I COULD easily enough do an historical OB for both sides. But what I am pondering -- and wondering what folks think -- is to make the opposing forces correspond exactly to my own (large) collection.

I use large battalions, 36 figures on 4 figure stands. I have a dozen such British regiments, so three brigades worth, plus another two brigades of Hessians (more than fought in the south, I know).

Continentals number roughly four brigades, and another two brigades of militia. Yes, I have about 200 figures of painted militia, mostly because I use most of my Old Glory Texans, all except the top hats and the NO Greys. And I have all of the Perry militia, etc.

So the field forces for each side would be what I can actually field in painted troops, about two divisions for the Brits and maybe 3/4 that for the Continentals.

The militia are a good bit trickier, as I understand the system as capable of generating field units repeatedly, though of varying quality. And the Brits try to organize the Loyalist militia, and might have won had they been able to do it more successfully. Handling Marion and Sumter in a map campaign etc is tricky, and an essential part of the game. I envision myself as gamemaster generating militia response and activity (for both sides) and having my brother and grandson be the army commanders who have to deal with popular mobilization as an important (even vital) factor that is largely outside their control.

This is going to be the winter's project, I believe.

Might even be a set of strategic rules there, or part of one.

doc mcb14 Oct 2021 1:15 p.m. PST

To describe further what I envision with the militia:

The Continental commander (Gates and then Greene) can call for militia but the response is officially in the hands of the state governors and practically in the hands of the local militia officers and men. (It was noted that many men would NOT turn out as militia when the enemy were in their own neighborhood, their own county; they stayed home to protect their families.) And fielding a militia force had a heavy cost when it disrupted the Continental draft or the production of equipment for the army. So the army Continental commander will have only limited control over what militia he can raise, and the more often he does it the more diminished the return.

The British problem was a bit different but with the same basic effect, in that Loyalists might be willing to turn out to fight ONCE, but by doing so they exposed themselves to retaliation by their Patriot neighbors. So the Brit commander, also, will find Loyalist militia necessary but unpredictable in numbers and enthusiasm.

I expect I will also try to develop some spectrum of order versus disorder versus Hobbesian state of nature, probably area by area; at the extreme the situation has collapsed into the war of all against all and neither side is able to draw upon any popular support in the prevailing chaos.

doc mcb14 Oct 2021 1:28 p.m. PST

Strategically, both commanders will have fairly accurate information about where the enemy main force is. Both sides have civilian sympathizers who will give info, though I think it will be delayed a turn. That is, at the start of turn 4 the commanders find out where the enemy was at the end of turn 2.

Both sides will have cavalry assets who can scout, so that at the start of turn 4 a commander knows what enemy forces were in a particular scouted area at the end of turn 3. But cavalry can also, INSTEAD, be used to affect militia response within an area (e.g. Lee's legion working with Marion, or Tarlington breaking up Patriot militia forces.)

cavcrazy14 Oct 2021 2:31 p.m. PST

I would think that any militia unit be it loyalist or Continental would be more willing to fight if the side they choose are there in force. The militia would fight more readily if Greene and his army were there, and the loyalist troops would field better numbers if Cornwallis were there in force.

cavcrazy14 Oct 2021 2:33 p.m. PST

I hope you do battle reports, I'm interested to know how it all goes. I have a fairly large AWI collection and I would like to game it more with my gaming group.

doc mcb14 Oct 2021 2:33 p.m. PST

Yes, I agree, and that will be a factor.

HMS Exeter14 Oct 2021 4:06 p.m. PST

The Avalon Hill game 1776 has a pretty good mechanism for handling militia and Continental Army strengths. It's a series of 4 tables, one for each coastal area, which you consult each winter. You get or lose Continental strength, and your militia resets at zero and the table issues you new militia.

It all has to do with the degree to which the Brits have control in said area.

It always struck me as pretty sound.

doc mcb14 Oct 2021 4:45 p.m. PST

I have that game, and agree.

I want to be a bit more granular than that. I'm thinking the following categories of militia within an area: bachelors, young married men, old married men, gentry, and former Continentals.

Bachelors are both most and LEAST available. The western county leaders noticed that when Indian raids threatened, the young men with no family resposibilities tended to flee to the east; not very heroic, but sensible! Men with families had to stay and fight.

The gentry serve two roles, but only one at a time.They are the militia officers, OR they can muster a troop of volunteer light horse, well mounted but undisciplined, not very effective in battle but good for reconnaisance and raiding. But then the militia will be less well led and less effective.

Former Continentals have all sort of obvious uses!

Lieutenant Lockwood14 Oct 2021 7:16 p.m. PST

I agree with Herr Cav, in that I'd love to see both campaign and battle reports as the events progress, no matter what mechanism you decide upon. Thanks for sharing! -Mark

Jeffers14 Oct 2021 10:18 p.m. PST

This may help:


doc mcb15 Oct 2021 4:48 a.m. PST

Thanks Jeffers. I agree on the need for simplicity, although if a game master handles complexity and just informs players of results, some added depth should work.

Jeffers15 Oct 2021 10:21 a.m. PST

Start simple and build up from what the players add. The looser the rules the more the players will fill in the gaps, which is when character is added. If you bog yourself down in detail at the start you will fail. Use your knowledge of the period to wing it – the players won't know you don't have rules to cover every eventuality. If necessary, get them to roll a dice, pick a card or give a number between 26 and 45 or something.

And don't worry if you have to stop and regroup if something doesn't work!

oldnorthstate17 Oct 2021 9:44 a.m. PST

If you're interested in doing the Southern campaign using a boardgame as a guide you may want to look at "Tarleton's Quarter" from Against the Odds magazine. The map covers the key areas of NC, SC and GA, with a portion of southern VA. It is an area movement game that can be very easily adapted to use with miniatures. You might want to use the game's rules with modification or develop your own. A companion game, "Almost a Miracle" addressing the northern campaigns was published and the rules updated. Supposedly they are working on a way to joint the two maps together produce a game covering the entire war. Almost a Miracle is currently available but it appears you'd have to get Tarleton's Quarter on the secondary market. Links, with pictures of maps, below. Good luck.



John the OFM17 Oct 2021 12:10 p.m. PST

There was a game in an old Panzerfaust magazine back in the 70s.
This before S&T set the precedent of due-cut counters and "quality" maps.
All the counters had to be mounted on cardboard and cut out with a X-acto knife.
Despite all that, it was a good game. It was a comprehensive strategic game of the AWI in the South, from the Florida Georgia border, up to Virginia.
I struggled to assemble it and play.
Frankly, as a game it left a little to be desired. But as a scenario generator, it would be fine. But unfortunately, this was before the Hinchliffe bug bit me.
I wish I could remember the name. Maybe that's enough information to track it down.

In one of my miraculous eBay sales, I put it up, describing exactly what it was, as a joke. I pulled no punches about how ad hoc and grubby it was.
Three people got into a bidding war (those were the days!) and it sold for $75. USD That made my day.

John the OFM17 Oct 2021 12:12 p.m. PST

In recruiting for the Militia, you should factor in regional resentment between the "backwoods", and the coastal planters. The Regulators would be a perfect example, and not the only one.

doc mcb17 Oct 2021 12:30 p.m. PST

Yes. I have mentioned before, one of the effects of civil wars is to pick up pre-existing animosities and conflicts and intensify them, while giving freer rein to out-and-out brigands who prey on both sides as law and order collapse.

My own view of people in general is that the large majority wants to be left alone, and will support any government whose demands are perceived as reasonable. If more than one government is competing for their support, they tend to back the one they are most afraid of.

It is also the case, I assume, (and not quite the same thing as the above-mentioned neutrality), that most people are moderate in temperament (and also tend to be conservative about whatever they know the most about). There are ALWAYS radicals, often though not always at opposite extremes, but these are generally controlled by the moderate majority. However, circumstances can exist that allow radicals to have greater influence -- see the rise of Abolitionists after 1830 -- and even to gain control of events (see the Boston radicals during and after the Tea Crisis). As long as the system (government plus major cultural influences) has a good handle on things, radicals are ignored, but when the ruling group is revealed as no longer effective, or there is an alternate group seeking to displace the establishment, the influences of radicals, from one or from opposing sides, becomes dominant. (That is where we are in the US today.)

doc mcb17 Oct 2021 12:50 p.m. PST

I used to have a map game, maybe one of those mentioned, on the southern campaign, with very detailed OB.

But I find myself increasingly content with doing my own OB based on what painted toys I can muster.

oldnorthstate18 Oct 2021 6:52 a.m. PST

The OB's in the two games I mentioned are generic, just troop points that translate to 100 men per point, so it gives you maximum flexibility.

Ironically the use of generic troop strength is my biggest criticism of those games…setting militia units aside, the actual units that were involved in any of the American Revolution campaigns is very well know and there is no reason why each unit should not be represented…of course fluctuating strength due to illness or battle loses needs to be reflected but the issue of differences in battle experience and capabilities can also be represented…for example 300 points of strength represented by the von Bose Regiment would be vastly different than 300 points of one of the Hessian garrison regiments.

doc mcb18 Oct 2021 7:33 a.m. PST

Yes, thanks, good point. But I'd want generic because, e.g., I own six 36 figure Hessian battalions (Ralls, 2 fusiliers, 3 musketeers) plus 2 sixteen-figure grenadier battalions plus 3 artillery plus about 20 jaegers. So a short division. Iirc only one Hessian unit was active in the southern campaigns? So I'd be substituting.

The militia would be used for both sides and be tied to some degree to their respective counties -- though of course militia forces did operate at a distance, even out-of-state.

If I ever get these rules put together, I think the title will be "If Your Militia Fight", which of course is from Morgan's famous letter to Greene.

Bill N18 Oct 2021 7:36 a.m. PST

Was Bose really that good? By January of 1781 it was the best of the Hessian regiments under Cornwallis. However its recent arrival spared it from the Carolina climate and the partisan warfare that had worn down the Hessians that arrived earlier.

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