Officers have an important role in this system. The rank and file needs them to direct ordered firing, need them to prevent routs, withdrawals, and undesirable reactions to charges and collisions with other units. They are needed to provide a source of command (provided they see the situation) with a unit which has lost all of its officers. They may be mounted or dismounted. Mounted officers can cover a greater distance to get a unit under control than an officer on foot.
Being mounted, however deprived the officer of the cover afforded by stonewalls, fences, boulders, and tree stumps, because his body, from about the waist up would be above them. A lot of “gentlemen” receives nasty groin wounds because of shoulder height incoming rounds. Winfield Scott Hancock and James Kemper, at Gettysburg, in particular, come to mind. Contrary to popular history sharpshooters did not selectively eliminate a lot of mounted commanders as did stray shot arching over the line. Civil War small arms projectile did not travel in flat trajectories. They tended to climb the farther they got away from the weapons’ muzzles and then drop. Smoke could and did reduce the line of sight to zero. As a point of reference, I recommend watching the 1951 Red Badge of Courage with Audie Murphy and Bill Mauldin to get an excellent portrayal of a smokey field.
For this system every regiment should have at least three officers and no less than one. They represent the colonel, the lieutenant colonel, and the major. Once they are gone the player has to replace the last officer with the senior captain, which is accomplished by an even/odd die roll. If that fails, the “brigadier” (player) checks to see if there is another officer within distance who might have seen the last officer go down. That is resolved by an Even/Odd die roll. If the officer sees it, he goes to the regiment and takes over. His presence on the line will keep the regiment from being stalled and leaderless.
When a line comes under fire and suffer hits, all of the regimental; officers with it are susceptible to injury because bullets do not have brains. They could hit whoever is in their paths. An Even/Odd roll determines whether the player has to roll to determine of the officer(s) gets injured. Officers can sustain four “hits” before being eliminated from play.
Besides rallying units, officers also make it possible to break a regiment into separate sections such as battalions/wings (1/2 of a regiment) or by divisions (two stands). Dividing a regiment makes maneuvering easier in crowded spaces or to keep a unit functional when divided by a fence or stonewall.
Infantry pieces consist of 48 rank and file. (The officers and file closers are assumed to be with them.) They can sustain 12 hits before getting removed from play. Therefore, each hit represents four casualties. A lot of Civil War shooting because of improper training, smoke, and other factors did not hit the targets. A lot of that depended upon how close the troops were in an unobstructed field. A regiment generates smoke every time it fires and that smoke often did not dissipate as quickly as it does in the movies.
Once a regiment loses a piece, it has to determine of it routs or not. If it fails the results of the die roll, the officer(s) will attempt to rally it. A die roll also resolves this issue.
Artillery crews consist of three crew pieces, each representing 12 enlisted men on the crew. If the player wants to introduce limbers, that is fine. One of the pieces will stay with the limber. Each field piece stands for one gun. At this stage of the games development I do not distinguish between rifles and smoothbores. As it evolves, I could differentiate between the two, but at this point I think it would interfere with playability. Once a crew loses a piece, it has to roll for a rout and the officer of the section of the battery captain can attempt to rally it.
Infantry and cavalry regiments must roll for rout when they incur casualties from by artillery, independent of small arms fire.
If the crew abandons the gun, they may attempt to spike it by an Even/Odd die roll.
Skirmisher serves as the eyes and ears of an advancing force in hostile territory. Each piece represents 4 “comrades in battle."Their job is to find the enemy before the line does and to snipe at officers. Unlike regular infantry, they get a deduction for cover in addition to any other cover on the field. Because they came from a unit, the regiment of origin suffers a “hit” for each skirmisher it dispatches. They can return to the line and remove the “hits” as well. Often in a game, the players forget to recall them and they show up inconveniently behind an enemy formation.
Without skirmishers, a unit can accidentally walk into an unexpected confrontation much like what happened in the Cornfield at Antietam and at McPherson’s Woods at Gettysburg.
I have not dealt with cavalry in this game system yet, however that is pending.
As the title indicates, this is an Action/Reaction system. I do not stress over whether they were green or elite troops. Troops think on their feet, veteran and “green” alike. Civil War accounts are filled with men lying down without orders, like William French’s line at Antietam in the action along the Bloody Lane, or the lines battling it out in the Wilderness. Erich Maria Remarque in All Quiet on the Western Front, eloquently describes how the soldier developed a sixth sense – one that could detect the change in air pressure from an incoming shell, trained the eye to detect cover behind a mole hill, and deflate the body to make it mold into the earth. Generally, given the chance to take cover, men avoided standing up in the open to blaze away at one another. If there was cover, they took advantage of it with or without orders. Fences had holes in them and men kneeling down behind them would also have them.
The next part of this series will include a preliminary description of the playing pieces, beyond the miniatures, needed to play this game to record casualties, place smoke and fog, announce charges, record deductions for movement, and reducing the effectiveness of fire, and other aspects of the game..
As always, I really appreciate constructive comments and suggestions. Thank you.