By Rob Morgan
As I’m in the process of writing a full review of this new title, Osprey Men-at-Arms No. 504, “Armies of the War of the Pacific 1879-83,” this is merely notice of a small naval content in an otherwise colourful, but probably to the naval mind, generally uninteresting, volume. Be warned readers, with this new issue the Ospreys have finally crossed the £10 barrier and are now on sale at £10.99. That’s $17.95 in the USA.
Between pages 5 and 9 of the new book there’s a concise account of the naval war between Chile and Peru, including the naval Battle of Angamos in October 1879, arguably the most decisive fleet encounter in southern waters before Coronel. Bolivia had no navy at all, of course, but was forced to offer “letters of marque” without success. (Some wargames possibilities there, I suspect.) It won’t take you long to read the two or three pages of text, which provides a decent opening for those with no real knowledge of this war, and there are several good illustrations including a photograph of the Huasca,r still remarkably, afloat in a Chilean harbour. Don’t forget that Peru also had two ACW Canonicus class Monitors, and they would make for a very interesting ironclad-era wargame indeed!
Of course, the naval campaign of this splendidly vigorous American war can be represented on the table top with ease, using Tumbling Dice’s magnificent 1/2400th range of Victorian period warships.
Pack ASV 21 provides the Huascar and Independencia while the two Peruvian ex-USN monitors, with perhaps a little added deck detail needed are in pack ASV 51. You can find their Chilean opponents the Almirante Cochrane –Blanco Encalada as pack ASV 62. There are a number of sloops, merchants, tugs and torpedo boats available in the same series as armed auxiliaries, etc. Not difficult to make the entire naval force in existence. A couple of other South American states are represented in the Dice list, but sadly, at least as yet, the range hasn’t expanded to cover more of the region’s fleets. Great potential though!