A short book on siege mines and more

By Rob Morgan

At the moment I’m reading …

“Siege Mines & Underground Warfare”by Kenneth Wiggins. It’s a short book, published by Shire archaeology who knock out books on everything from ‘Roman Coins’ to ‘Prehistoric Houses’ and ‘Cave Art’. Only 60 pages long and at a fiver it might be considered a bit expensive for its size. However …

This is a real wargamers book. Not only that, the theme of mining and war underground in seriously confined spaces has much to offer the solo wargamer if you think carefully about it. This isn’t a review in any true sense of the word, but maybe more later.

Meanwhile, it’s a timeline book, and hint after hint follows through the pages. Beginning with mining in Antiquity, and lets face it, whenever someone has built a strong place, fort or castle, someone else has wanted to capture it. Wiggins covers the medieval period brilliantly, and there were so many attempts at mining, or undermining castles. He moves on to a particular favourite of mine, the development of the explosive mine. And then war in the Tudor period and the 17th and 18th centuries. I was reminded of the excellent fictional work (readily turned into a wargame) by Arturo Perez Reverte in his Captain Alatriste 80YW series, ‘The Sun Over Breda’ (review on the Reviews page) which turns around the capture of a Dutch fortified city by the Spanish forces of King Philip. Full of detail.

The timeline moves on to consider mining and combat underground at sieges in the Indian campaigns of the British Army and in the American Civil War, especially at Petersburg, Virginia. He ends with the Great War 1914-1918, which saw mining and bloody skirmishes under the mud of Flanders develop into one of the most savage arts of war.
A very good book, and I’ve written more than I intended to, but I hope to provide a little more wargaming opportunity for you across several periods, by using the few ‘mining’ or other suitable underground figures around, and a pack of dominoes.

Read the book.

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