|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"
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.
OTHER ACW POSSIBILITIES
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.
THE ALTERNATIVE IDEA
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.