A trip to Shiloh

By George Arnold

I recently had occasion to travel to Memphis, Tennessee, to visit family and decided to leave a day early and drive 120 miles beyond Memphis and take in the Shiloh battlefield as a side trip.

I’d been to Shiloh before, but it was many years ago. I wanted to refresh my memory of the geography of the place and spend a leisurely day driving and walking the battlefield.

The Battle of Shiloh was a key engagement in the second year of the American Civil War. It occurred on April 6-7, 1862, when Confederate forces led by General Albert Sydney Johnston surprised the Federal Army of the Tennessee under the command of General U.S. Grant. Grant’s army was encamped near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, with the army’s camps extending from the landing south about two miles to include a log church named the Shiloh (place of peace) Meeting House.

Although surprised by Johnston’s attack, elements of the Union army put up a stiff resistance. Then, driven back almost to the landing itself by nightfall, Grant was reinforced through the night with the timely arrival of General Don Carlos Buell’s Union Army of the Ohio. On the following day, fresh Union troops counter-attacked the disorganized Confederates — Johnston had been killed on the first day — and drove them from the field. What had begun as a potentially overwhelming Confederate victory had turned into a clear defeat for the Rebels.

The battlefield is located in south Tennessee, on the western bank of the Tennessee River, about 20 miles north of Corinth, Mississippi, a major rail hub of the Confederacy and the original objective of Grant’s and Buell’s armies. The battlefield is “out in the country” and the nearest town of any size is Savannah, Tennessee, on the opposite side of the river, about 10 miles from Shiloh itself.






Above is the sign at the main entrance to the park.

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Posted in Periods - American Civil War | 3 Comments

War on the Great Lakes 1812, from ‘Mariner’s Mirror’

By Rob Morgan

Mariner’s Mirror really is a learned publication which provides, and regularly, excellent material for the naval and combined ops wargamer. The current issue, Volume 103, No. 1, for February 2017 contains an interesting, valuable article entitled ‘Zeal, Intelligence and Intrepidity,’ which deals with ‘irregular’ naval warfare on the Great Lakes of North America in the War of 1812.

This is sound stuff. Written by Cdr. B.J.Armstrong USN, it covers in a dozen pages, operations involving raiding and broader maritime security. It’s made for the wargamer. There’s a brief overview of the Great Lakes theatre, followed by an introductory account of gunboat raiding along the St. Lawrence, while the footnotes and Bibliography indicate that there is a wealth of information available to develop an understanding of this aspect of the war much further. Plenty of scenarios appear!

The article goes on to introduce naval raiding ashore, mainly from the American perspective. British small-unit actions during the war are also covered, and in some detail. There’s a mention of ‘cutting out’ operations, which are a seriously neglected form of naval wargaming, but are to be found in the pages of C.S.Forester’s Hornblower’ novels in much greater wargamer-friendly detail.

Armstrong ends with an excellent evaluation of the naval ‘irregular’ campaigns and raids in the overall War, and suggests its effects on US naval developments during the 19th century. A Bibliography of some 40 volumes and papers, some of which will be well known to American readers, ends this splendid contribution to the journal.

I’m reminded that Don Featherstone’s landmark ‘Naval Wargames’ contains a very decent period lake small craft battle on pages 201-204, and of course in the UK Rod Langton Miniatures produce a group of sixteen 1/1200th sloops, galleys, gunboats and other vessels intended for this campaign, but American readers may know of some suitable vessels in a larger wargames scale. Irregular Miniatures do produce 1/300th canoes and rowing boats which could easily be converted for the purpose of raiding, and one or two other ranges, such as ‘Tumbling Dice’ have craft which could easily be converted for the Great Lakes War.

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Coming soon: Lone Warrior No. 198

The latest issue of Lone Warrior magazine, No. 198, is expected to be delivered in the next few days. Here’s an early look at the contents:

  • “Damn the Torpedoes! Fast Play WW2 Naval Rules,” by Kevin White. Some simple rules for naval gaming, including several charts and markers.
  • “Mount Badon Refought — Eight Times,” by Paul Le Long. Fighting the same battle with different rule sets provides some unexpected insights.
  • “Review of ‘Byzantine Naval Forces 1261-1461′” by Rob Morgan. A thorough review of an Osprey Men-at-Arms title.
  • “Role Playing Scavenger Hunt Questions,” by Preston Shah. A quiz for enthusiasts of role-playing games. With answers elsewhere in this issue.
  • “Trying Out Some Reaction Tests,” by George Arnold. Plugging in reaction tests to some home-brew rules runs into problems.
  • “The Dictionary of Imaginary Places,” by Rob Morgan. A look at a 1980 book with 440 pages of names and maps from a broad swath of fantasy literature.
  • “A Tale of Seven (Unpainted) Samurai (Armies),” by David Newport. A chronicle of trying over and over to collect Samurai figures.
  • “”Spy Story’ and War Games,” by Rob Morgan. Remembering a Len Deighton novel that features wargaming.
  • “Gettysburg,” By George Knapp and Rich Barbuto. The rules and set-up for a convention-style (multi-player) game featuring the American Civil War’s pivotal battle. With thoughts on converting the game to solo.

All that, plus the usual assortment of color photos, maps, charts and markers. Watch for it!

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A sample article for March

This month’s sample article from past pages of Lone Warrior magazine is a science fiction game write-up from Jonathan Aird, featuring characters from the Dr. Who series.

It’s on the Sample Articles page.

Posted in Periods - Science fiction | Leave a comment

A gunboat for the Potomac flotilla

By Rob Morgan

The Peter Pig 1/600th model known as the USS Fuschia was one of the most attractive and useful small warships around. Its uses ranged from an 1840s gunboat to the Crimea and many Colonial encounters, and, well beyond the American Civil War to World War I, it could be converted without much trouble into a paddle steamer. My last “historical” conversion was into a Spanish gunboat “capture” typical of those used by the US Navy in China waters during the 1930s. I also turned it into a very early steamship in 450th scale to accompany a few of the Peter Pig sailing warships. That old model will be missed.

The recently remodeled USS Fuschia has almost as many potential uses. I looked her up in Gibbons’ “Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War” (she’s on page 76). She was a 240-ton former tug, some 98 feet long and armed with a 20-pdr. and 2×24-pdrs., augmented by extra 24-pdrs. toward the end of the war. Essentially a patrol boat and, though in regular action against shore targets, she was never involved in any major encounter. Typical gunboat, and useful

The model (she’s No. 17 in the Hammerin’ Iron range) costs 4.50. Brookside Hobbies sell them in the USA – no idea of the price though. The model consists of just two metal pieces, a neat hull, completely detail moulded, 50mm long, 10mm wide, and a 15mm tall funnel with ventilators fore and aft. Easy to fit together, but, of course, for variety the funnel can be replaced with a taller funnel from the Peter Pig range. There are two sets of davit holes just aft of the funnel and they need a pair of ship’s boats from Peter Pig to complete the model. The guns, one on the foredeck, and one aft, are moulded as part of the hull, and, if later conversion is considered, this can be a problem. But there’s potential – plenty of it! Gibbons shows her with a single pole mast forward of the small bridge, and a 20mm pin drilled in and cemented in this position looks good here.

No more work is required to prepare the little ship for her mundane patrol labours on the Potomac River.

She’s sound value!

Posted in Naval gaming, Periods - American Civil War | Leave a comment

Review of ‘British Commando 1940-45’ (Osprey)

Jonathan Aird reviews an Osprey focused on the British commandos of World War II.

It’s on the Ospreys at a Glance page.

Posted in Periods - World War II | Leave a comment

An unusual D-Day tank

By Rob Morgan

Here is a photograph I took in Normandy on a drab May afternoon three years ago. The tank is a Centaur Mark IV, one of 80 of these AFVs used by the Royal Marines Support Group at Sword Beach between D-Day and D+14, when the group was disbanded and the tanks distributed to other units. I’m not sure about the fate of the tank-trained Royal Marine crews.

The Free French were given a number of the tanks and one of these survives intact at the great Saumur Museum. The unfortunate Centaur in the photograph is on a plinth a few miles away from Pegasus Bridge at the Lion-Sur-Mer, where it was knocked out. I didn’t encounter any others.

You’ll notice the numbers painted around the tank turret – these are degrees of a compass – 360 at the rear, 180 on the front, It was intended that the 95mm howitzer should be fired from a landing craft as it approached the shore. A spotter (heroically) would call out the degrees and distance, and the gunner would fire blindly over the bow of the craft. Unusual, to say the least, but was it effective? In any case, a rather different use for an AFV in an assault wargame, though frankly I wouldn’t relish the prospect of painting the compass markings. They do provide a visible target for an anti-tank gunner too.

The gun was an astonishing but inventive lash-up of other weapons. The barrel was a section of a 3.7-in. AA gun barrel; the breech came from a QF 25-pdr. howitzer, and the recoil mechanism from a QF 6-pdr. A/T gun! An imaginative combination of parts of effective guns already in production. The barrel’s heavy counterweight can clearly be seen in the photograph. The weapon was a “bunker buster,” of course, with a range of some 8,000 yards, could fire 7 rpm of fixed-round 25-pdr. shells. One suggestion I found was that the Centaur’s gun was largely used to lay down smoke in the landings.

It seems that there was an intention mid-war to provide infantry with a conventional towed version of this useful 95mm howitzer, and that a number of them were manufactured before the war ended. Perhaps someone will know of a surviving example, or a photograph? Were any issued, I wonder.

Posted in Periods - World War II | 1 Comment

Review of GW novels partwork

Jonathan Aird reviews some of the novels being issued by Games Workshop.

It’s on the Reviews page.

Posted in Periods - Science fiction | Leave a comment

The Maxson Mount

By Rob Morgan

This is a “holiday snap” of the well-known World War II American-produced Maxson Mount for 4×0.5-inch Browning M2 machine guns, the very effective counter to low-flying enemy aircraft. I liked the look of this mount. (It’s to be found at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy, by the way.) The electrically powered Maxson was used on a variety of carriages, of course — on a trailer towed by a truck, on the truck itself, though it was also mounted on half-tracks, like the M16. (Matchbox made a splendid 1/72nd version of one about 40 years ago.) The Maxson was used to protect convoys and for quick, forward and mobile anti-aircraft defence. There’s an often reproduced wartime photograph of one of these Maxson-armed half-tracks at the famous Remagen Bridge in 1945, but they served in all theatres of the war.

I wondered, was the Maxson ever used aboard a small warship – or a large one? A reference I’ve found suggests that many armies — Allied and formerly neutral – used the Maxson post-1945, including Brazil and Israel. Was it a “lend-lease” weapon with the Red Army? Did it see service as its enemy near-equivalent the 2cm Flakvierling 38 frequently did, against ground targets? Four 12.7mm heavy machine guns would be effective against most soft targets, and a few slightly harder ones. How long did the Maxson linger around in the US Army? Korea? Vietnam?

It might be interesting to learn more about this powerful gun mounting. Any thoughts?

Posted in Periods - World War II | 1 Comment

Play-through of ‘Risk Legacy’ game

Russ Lockwood chronicles a play-through of a “Risk Legacy” board game with several of his friends.

It’s on the Miscellaneous page.

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