Saturday, July 29, 2023

Historicon 2024. Should I do Newton Station in the ACW?

54mm Little Round Top game shown at The Gettysburg Toy Soldier store
in Gettysburg, PA

Click on all pictures to enlarge

There is no rest for the wicked, as they say, so of course I am giving immediate thought about what game(s) to run at Historicon in 2024. Since I had visited the battlefield of Gettysburg prior to my stay in Lancaster for Historicon 2023, I have a mind to maybe do some kind of 54mm ACW game. The other idea is to complete my 54mm Punic Wars project and run that game at Historicon.


The 1959 film The Horse Soldiers , directed by John Ford and featuring William Holden and John Wayne, is a fictional account based on Major Benjamin Grierson's Raid in 1863. Grierson was a Union cavalry officer who was given the assignment of making a cavalry raid deep into the state of Mississippi in order to disrupt Confederate supply operations during US Grant's Vicksburg campaign of 1863. The movie features a short battle at the town of Newton Station, Mississippi that simply screams to be recreated as a wargame. The Confederate forces arrive in Newton Station aboard a railroad train's box cars and nearly catch the Union cavalry forces off guard. The Confederates come pouring out of the box cars as the train arrives at the station and then they go charging down the main street of the town to engage the dismounted Union cavalrymen. It does not end well for the Confederates, who are nearly wiped out from rifle fire.

Here are a couple of movie stills that I picked off from Pinterest and the internet.

Carleton Young (l), William Holden (c) and John Wayne (r) in "The Horse Soldiers"

A stirring sight that just screams out "wargame scenario" :  the Confederate army
pouring out of railroad box cars at Newton Station.
Picture from "The Horse Soldiers"

Someone else's wargame version of the action at Newton Station.

So one thought is to do a Newton Station wargame, complete with a running model train engine and box cars on the table. Today's train models blow smoke from their stacks and make whistle noises, so that would be pretty cool to see. The game would require my finding of a suitable One Guage train, cars and track. One Guage used to be popular in Europe, but less so now and it is very difficult to find a low cost train to use in this "one time" game. Someone suggested that I go down one smaller scale to "O" Guage trains. I bought one G Scale locomotive on eBay to see how it compares to 54mm figures when I was putting my Sudan Project together. However, the train was huge and I deemed G Scale to be unsuitable for what I have in mind.

Newton Station probably wouldn't require a lot of 54mm figures. I'm guessing something like 50 Union and 100 Confederate figures per side.

But then, hey! You know that Old Fritz never does anything small or nice and easy when it comes to wargaming projects. Undoubtedly this would morph into a larger ACW game project. Things always start at "let's do a small skirmish game with these new figures" but then they end up with over a thousand figures fighting over Khartoum.


The picture at the top of this blog page shows a game table set up in the back room of a store in Gettysburg, PA called "The Gettysburg Toy Soldier". The game is Little Round Top. There are not all too many figures as you can see (click on the image to enlarge the picture) but the large 54mm figures provide their own visual mass. A comparable 28mm game would require hundreds of figures to have a similar visual impact on the viewer. And 54mm plastic ACW figures are dirt cheap, probably less than a dollar per figure.

I don't think that I would want to do Little Round Top for my game because I don't want to have to deal with a lot of hill terrain pieces, which take up too much space in my automobile with regard to transporting all of the game stuff 700 miles to Lancaster, PA.

I bought a few bags of plastic figures while I visited Gettysburg several weeks ago, ahead of the Historicon convention. I think that one set provides around 30 figures for $10.00 and some larger sets cost $20 to $30.

I poured the plastic figures out of their bags and set up some infantry units and a 3-gun artillery battery on my game table for a quick look-see. I'm thinking units sized at 18 to 24 figures for infantry and probably two cannon and crew for an artillery battery. Here is how it might look:

Union artillery battery with caissons, backed up by infantry.

Close up view of the Union artillery battery with caissons and a mounted officer.

An 18-figure regiment of Union soldiers.

Overhead view of the plastic ACW figures. On the right is a 24-figure regiment and an 18-figure regiment on the left.

Thinking Big Picture, I could imagine a division of Union infantry that has two brigades of soldiers plus an artillery battery of two cannon with each brigade; or maybe I go up to three brigades in the division. They would be facing off against a similar number of Confederate forces.

Some thought needs to be given to how much table frontage a Union infantry brigade needs because this informs the total amount of table length that I would need to put on a game. I am assuming that 20-24ft long tables is the maximum amount that the Historicon game events staff would allow me because this is what I had for my Khartoum games. They have to get the best use of their tables so that people can get into games.  It wouldn't make much sense for me to set up a Khartoum like game and only run it twice and then having all of those tables removed from the pool of available game tables for other games.

In return for gobbling up so much table space, I would feel obligated to run at least four games with 12 players per game. I hosted four games at Historicon this year. Based on my experience at this year's Historicon convention, I feel that I have the stamina to run five games over the Thursday through Saturday stretch of days. So five games of 12 players allows for 60 plus gamers to get into a game.

So I would need to determine how much frontage I would need for 2 brigades versus 3 brigades. That in turn would point me in the direction of a viable scenario for the amount of table space that I have.

An ACW game will also require me to build some houses, barns and town buildings as well as some snake rail fences and stone wall fences.


If I don't do an ACW epic wargame, then Hannibal versus Rome in the 2nd Punic War would be my alternative game. I have already painted at least half of the figures that I would need for this type of game and I already have some of the terrain from my Khartoum game that could be repurposed into a battle such as Zama. I will talk about the Punic Wars Project in one of my next blog posts, so stay tuned for that.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Randy Meisner RIP


Randy Meisner of the Eagles (center) along with Joe Walsh (left) and Don Henley (right)
Getty Images

It was with great sadness that I heard the news that Randy Meisner, one of the founding members of the band "The Eagles" died yesterday at age 77. Randy played the bass guitar for the group and is known for the great range of his vocals. Glenn Frye once said of him, "Randy can hit high notes that only a dog could hear".  He is probably best known for composing and singing the Eagles hit "Take It To The Limit".

Before joining the Eagles, Randy Meisner was the bassist for Poco and also played for Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band.

Rest In Peace Randy and thank you for so many good songs and memories.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Historicon Pix of the Other Games

Siege of St. Elmo on the island of Malta

In between running my four games, I had plenty of time to roam around the Historicon convention halls and snap some photos of various games. I can only make a few comments about some of the games, while the rest will amount to a photo dump of what I saw. I thought that the quality of the terrain was very good so kudos to the game hosts for stepping up their game this year.

Fort William Henry

Let's lead off the show with some pictures from Bill Molyneaux's massive 54mm Fort William Henry game, which rightly won one of the PELA awards. I saw more 54mm games than normal at this year's show. Bill and his group also presented 54mm games of Fort Necessity, Braddock's Road, and Bushy Run.

St. Elmo on Malta

This was a good looking game featuring a massive 28mm fort St. Elmo in the mid 1500s with Christian crusaders holding off an attack by the Ottoman Turks. As the walls were hit by more and more artillery fire, the game master would replace whole sections of the walls with destroyed models. This game also won a PELA for good reason.

The Alamo in 15mm

I think that I stopped to take pictures of this magnificent looking terrain every time I walked past it. The Alamo in 15mm was quite something to behold as it had a very realistic appearance. It probably won a PELA too (I'm not 100% positive).

Counter Attack of Panzer Lehr at Normandy

This was another one of those "eye stoppers" that make one stop and take a closer look at the terrain. I'm not a WW2 war gamer, but this was a great looking game. It won a PELA too. This game is probably in the running for the Best In Show or Best Terrain awards at this year's show.

Another Alamo in 40mm

Alamo games seemed to be quite popular this year. I think that I counted at least three versions. Note all of the scaling ladders. Fritz loves games with scaling ladders!


Here is a Gettysburg game in 15mm. Superb terrain and well painted figures. There were quite a number of Gettysburg games at Historicon this year. This was probably due to the convention theme being American Wars this year.

Another Gettysburg Game

I think that this game featured the "Epic Scale" figures from Warlord Games. Game mats are from Cigar Box which makes a number of specific Gettysburg terrain mats.

The town of Gettysburg with Epic figures and Cigar Box Battle Mats

I'm Stealing This Idea

I really liked this saw mill vignette and I plan on adapting it to 18th Century games, changing out the steam motor for water power and canvas bands to run the saw.

Some of the Other Games that I Saw

Here are some of the games that interested me enough to stop and take some pictures. I don't know that much about the games, but they had very nice terrain.

Miles Reidy's 3mm Battle of Peleliu WW2 in the Pacific

Lots of Cowboys and Westerns game this year. Good looking terrain.

A Carnage & Glory computer driven wargame

The H.A.W.K.S. wargame club puts a dozen or more games on during the convention, many of which are geared towards the kiddos. They do a great job every year.

Gangsters game perhaps?

Eric Turner''s War of 1812 game. Nice looking terrain, Eric.

Roman triremes

Romans versus early Britons

More of the Romans versus Britons game.

Stalingrad game

There were many other good looking games that I either forgot to photograph or I didn't have my camera with me at the time.

And Of Course - Goober and Easter Piglet

Easter Piglet and I got to meet the famous Goober the Bear at Historicon. Easter also visited Fort Ligonier, Valley Forge and Gettysburg during our trip.

Easter Piglet (left) and Goober (right)