Sunday, November 30, 2008

Antebellum Antics..

A picture of one of the games my old group played back in the late 80's and 90's.
Dave Morgan's
Irish Brigade supports a faltering Union line.

The American Civil War (a.k.a. the 2nd War of Independence, or War of Northern Aggression- feelings still seem to run high in some quarters), has long cast a spell over many wargamers, and I've been no exception. In my childhood I played with a large number of Britains ACW 54mm toys, including a wonderful horse-drawn artillery set with firing cannon.

As I grew up (?), I became aware of the hobby of wargaming through games such as Avalon Hill's Chancellorsville, and ACW games were prominent in many of my early, (and now well-thumbed and dog-eared) wargaming books, such as Discovering Wargames by John Tunstill and of course Battles with Model Soldiers by Don Featherstone.

Later on I dabbled in 15mm gaming for a while- mainly with the old and much-lamented
Confederals range and some years later with the extensive range from Stone Mountain. We were using The Complete Brigadier rules at the time. However, nothing much memorable came of it. Although I found the rules themselves interesting, we probably had too many players than the rules were designed to cope with; as a result the games seemed to flow like molasses.

After a period of neglect the ACW did indeed rise again, in 1987 or 88, when our gaming group in Vancouver got into it in a big way with the release of what were then the state-of-the-art 25mm
Dixon miniatures. One member of our group, Dave Morgan, was the owner of what was then the premier gaming shop in town (anyone out there still remember Sentry Box West?), and we were buying up the Dixon minis as fast as he was getting them in. We fielded brigade after brigade of miniatures- with most of us basing our collection on the order of battle from Antietam in 1862.

I was firmly in the Confederate camp back then, and completed a brigade of Louisiana troops (Hay's). It was "fudged" to include- of course- the inevitable Wheat's Louisiana Tiger Zouaves with their striped pants!

We had many a fight, using home-grown rules that were based loosely on the Sword and the Flame colonial rule set. Bigads, the fun games we had! The annihilation of the Union Irish Brigade at 1st Taffyville by my brave Louisiana boys in defence of the local distillery will always remain fondly in this old campaigner's memory. Less happily, another time they got wiped out almost to a man when assaulting an entrenched Union cavalry regiment armed with repeating rifles. The unsporting cads.

All this dice-driven joy ended when I came to Japan in 1992, and interest in the ACW went on the back burner for a long while.

And just where
are those Louisianians now, I wonder?

However, over the last 16 years, the interest has been dormant rather than dead, and about eight years ago I started ordering some more Dixon miniatures from the UK- mainly for old-times sake. Over time I have found myself to have acquired quite a decent little collection. This time, out of necessity, doing both Yankees and Rebs- and enjoying both!