Saturday, February 14, 2009

"You will come back..."

"..faster than you go!"
-Spoken by a Floridian woman to the Union Gen. Truman Seymour, just before he commenced his fateful advance on Olustee.

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I bought a copy of this book through some years back, and this past week I have finally gotten around to reading it.

And what a book! Loads of fascinating information and an excellent account not only of the Battle of Olustee itself (well-illustrated with great maps, I would add), but of the whole strategy behind the campaign in Florida.

Like most gamers out there, when I decide to build up forces from any particular battle, I certainly don't want to fight the same engagement over again and again on the tabletop, but rather use the forces to play any number of different kinds of games. To my delight, I found that the campaign actually offers a lot of scope for a number of scenarios.

After the Confederacy had been split in two after Vicksburg, by 1863 Florida assumed a new-found importance for being, in effect, the last remaining "breadbasket" of the Southern cause. So aside from the prospects of Georgians and Floridians going toe-to-toe with New Englanders amongst the pines, there are also frequent instances of Union raids, large and small, along the coast of Florida with the object of interdicting supplies of materials like turpentine, lumber, and especially cattle in order to prevent such goods from being sent to the main Confederate armies in Tennessee and in Virginia.

Another goal of the campaign for the Federals was to bring in recruits for the Union army, in the form of liberated slaves who would then be encouraged to join the ranks of newly-formed coloured regiments.

Finally, there were several attempts to prevent disrupt vital Confederate rail communications to Georgia and the Carolinas, and even attempts to prevent and/or "cut out" Confederate blockade runners!

The mechanics for such scenarios are readily available in a number of sources, but if you haven't already gotten a copy of Battlegames magazine supplement, Tabletop Teasers Vol. 1 by Charles Grant, do yourself a favour and order one! There are a number of scenarios in the book which, with a little minor tweaking, are just the thing to recreate the kind of actions that were characteristic of the warfare that took place along the long coastline of the state of Florida.

In particular, the following scenarios can easily be adapted to allow for a game that will not only be fun and exciting, but which would capture the flavour of campaigning in Florida.

Teaser 3- "If You Go Down to the Woods Today": This would work with either Union or Confederates in the ambushing role.

Teaser 4- "Plunder and Pillage": One of my favourite Charles Grant scenarios, and one which would suit the Union forage parties moving inland from Jacksonville.

Teaser 6- "Getting Away with It", Teaser 7, "River Convoy" and Teaser 10- "Siege Train"- With a bit of creativity these scenarios would work for either side, for example the Union trying to escape with a group of newly-liberated slaves, or the Confederates trying to escape with a cargo of turpentine or- even more fun- a herd of cattle!

I may post my own version of these scenarios as my collection of minis grows, but suffice to say that there is a lot more to the Florida campaign than just lining up one brigade against another and blasting away until one or the other skedaddles!

Unfortunately, finding myself engrossed in the book, coupled with some unseasonably warm weather here in Tokyo this weekend (picnic time!) conspired against much progress on the painting front, but I'm still plugging away at a regular if not lightning pace, and this evening I started working on removing the flash from some Union artillery gunners.

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