Decision at Danville — Part 4

By Chris Hahn

Frustrated by a lack of progress and my apparent inability to develop a level of comfort with the adaptations and house rules borrowed from The Contemptible Little Wargames Club, I decided to call a halt to the present action, reform the armies, re-engineer the purpose of the scenario, redeploy the forces, and hope for the best.

I appreciate that this development might aggravate a few readers of this current thread, but picking up on and modifying slightly a point made by a gentleman in the Letters Section of a recent issue of Miniature Wargames, “if one is not enjoying oneself during a tabletop engagement, why should one continue playing?

With Thanksgiving preparations complete, and having a few hours before family and guests arrived, I decided to clean up one ACW battlefield in order to set the table (pardon the play on words) for another. The working title for this revised report is “The Rebels Return to Danville.”

The objective remained unchanged from the first scenario: The side which held Danville at the end of 10 turns would be declared the winner. (This limit could be extended by a couple or several turns, depending on the situation at the end of 10 moves.) The degree of victory would be determined by comparing the condition of both sides.

Die rolls determined where divisions, attached cavalry, attached artillery, and overall commanders would deploy. For the Union, this resulted in the 4th Division taking the left. The attached cavalry, as well as overall commander, would enter on this part of the Union table edge. The 1st Division held the right. For the Confederates, the 3rd Division and attached cavalry were on the right. The 7th Division and the majority of the cannon were arranged on the left of the Danville Road.

Picture 1

Picture 1

Picture 1 shows the new action at Danville. The Confederates are on the right table edge. Parker’s Farm is on the left of the photo. Danville is in the center of the table, and Magnuson’s Farm and Pond are at the top right.


Picture 2

Picture 2

Picture 2 shows the state of things a few turns in — Union Cavalry have secured Danville. Two regiments have dismounted and taken up defensive positions. Union infantry is coming up in support on their right. A brigade of Rebels is moving forward to contest this occupation. These infantry have artillery support on their right and left.

Picture 3

Picture 3

Picture 3 shows the developing contest for Danville. Union infantry has come up on the right of the village and has formed into firing lines. The Confederates are obliging them, and casualties are beginning to mount on both sides.

Picture 4

Picture 4

Picture 4 offers an aerial view of the action on the Union right. Two units of Colonel Wagner’s brigade have moved forward to interrupt the advance of some Rebels. The opposing lines of volleying infantry are not within close range of each other, but the volume and effect of the fire is apparent. (The red markers indicate casualties. The yellow markers indicate disorder.)

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5 Responses to Decision at Danville — Part 4

  1. John Wilson says:

    Nice series of posts!
    I’ve been looking at making miniatures using cribbage pegs. Found this site where they have seven finished colors. A dab of paint here and there could make for different units (a blue peg with the top painted black – voila! “The Iron Brigade”). Scale-wise, this would be rather large, as the pegs are 1 1/4″ long; using a 3/8″ wooden base with 1/4″ deep holes for the pegs would make for 1 3/8″ tall soldiers.

    • Chris Hahn says:

      John —
      Thanks for your comment regarding my Danville game. It’s rare that I will “hear” from a fellow gamer about my writing/wargaming.

      Cribbage pegs? Now there’s an alternative I would not have thought of! I’ve taken a look at the attacked link and do see the possibilities – especially with respect to saving money! I wonder, though, how would cavalry and artillery be represented or depicted?

      Along that same line, I’ve toyed with the idea of making a trip to the Lego store. With the variety of colors and pieces, there have to be wargaming applications. At the very least, this would add a third dimension to my two-dimensional approach.

      I’ve also been thinking about a “hybrid” between painted miniatures and counters or blocks. I cannot draw the diagrams here, but I’m thinking of wooden pieces with artwork on the front face (toward the enemy so the opposing player can see what he’s up against). The rear face would be on an angle so that unit information could be read and the current status of the unit could be marked. (A very rough analogy would be the letter trays in the word board game Scrabble.) I do suppose that some artwork on the smaller/thinner right and left sides of these pieces would add to the visual effect, but . . .

      Somewhat related to all this, the latest issue of MW just arrived. (Andrew Hubback bids readers farewell; Henry Hyde is set to take the reins. I thank Andrew for his past considerations [he accepted and published several pieces I submitted] and wish him well. I also wish Henry much success with his new assignment.) In the multiple pages of adverts supporting SALUTE, I ran across the one of Historicon. Here’s the part that caught my attention:

      “Now imagine that your troops are not cardboard counters or electrons, but instead hundreds or even thousands of beautifully painted miniatures maneuvering on realistic three-dimensional scenery. That’s miniature wargaming!”

      The point is taken. I appreciate and admire a nicely sculpted tabletop and well-painted figures as much, if not more, than the next wargamer. And yet, I’m struck by the limits of this statement or definition.

      I am reminded of a saying that is often used in political circles. I’m paraphrasing here, but I think I have it essentially right: “There’s more that unites us than divides us.”

      Thanks again, John, for reading and remarking.

  2. Paul Le Long says:


    Re – using miniatures – Paddy Griffith once said that he bowed to no-one in his love of a well-painted miniature soldier; he just didn’t think they were necessarily useful in wargaming. (Then again he hated solo wargaming too!)

    I’ve been reading back issues of Miniature Wargames – from the early 1980s and there’s a lot of Griffith articles in there. There’s also an article on how to make armies out of hair rollers, with a guide to constructing infantry, cavalry and artillery – sort of 1/300 scale. I can’t remember the issue – if you have the back catalogue take a look at the first dozen or so issues and you’ll find the hair roller articles in there somewhere. If you don’t have the issues let me know & I’ll email a pdf to you.

    Just a thought on your scrabble tray units – why not have the enemy unit designation on the side you can’t see? Fog of war. Just a thought.


    • Chris Hahn says:

      Interesting quote from Mr. Griffith . . . I would hazard to guess that the first and third part of his statement carry more weight with wargamers than the second part.
      Thanks for your kind offer. I recall seeing the photo or photos of these. They’re in B&W, if memory serves. I did some digging in the storage boxes (labeled of course) and have uncovered the issue. So a PDF is unnecessary. Thanks again, though. Quite a contrast to see the full-color photos of the Gilder figures in these early issues of MW. I think these hold up very well against the figures in pictures of current issues (MW, WI, etc.).
      Your mention of hair roller figures/armies reminded me of a picture and idea seen in an issue of WI. I did more digging. There are pictures of Historicon 2011 in the October 2011 issue of WI. On page 111, there is a picture of the Battle of Megiddo – 1457 BC. This was done using “whimsical homemade figures” to use the wording of the caption. A Mr. Matt Kirkhart produced these figures from pieces obtained at a craft store. There is mention made of a possible future article about this process. (I’ve not seen anything in the recent issues of WI.) While by no means the equivalent of Warlord 28mm figures (or other manufacturers), these are three-dimensional. Judging from the looks on the faces of the players seated around this craft-centric table/game, the nature of the figures appears to be far down on their list of what makes a good game.
      Thanks for the suggestion re my scrabble tray units. This is simply an idea. I’m not sure I have the start-up capital to transform it from idea to reality, however. As much as I’ve thought about it, the trays would have to be assembled. If I were to concentrate on Ancients (a current and perennial favorite), I would need templates for formed infantry, skirmishers, elephants, cavalry (formed and open order), commanders, and artillery or engines. I would probably use the George Knapp “system” of representation and identification. He would use thin magnets on his simple bases. That way, he could change a stand of Sherman tanks from D-Day to the Bulge, to some other WW2 contest by simply lifting off the ID tag.
      The letter part of the unit tray would allow for unit ID as well as for the placement of current strength and formation or status markers. By putting the markers on the stand, this would prevent the tabletop from becoming cluttered.
      Compared to my current approach, this format would certainly be more visual and visually appealing. I think it would also be more realistic for competitive games. For example, I could see that a group of infantry were in my way, but I would not know until contact what kind of infantry they were: veterans? levy? numbers?


  3. Matt Kirkhart says:

    Hello All,

    I am the guy who made the figures for the Megiddo game mentioned above by Chris. I have also made a lot of figures (about 28mm size) for the ancients period, in particular for the Greek and Persian Wars and the time of Alexander and the Punic Wars. Pictures and even tips on making them, including elephants, can be found on the Yahoo group “Wargaming on a Budget.” There is also a fellow named Dale who is very active in making his own miniatures, although he focuses on Nappys and his figures are larger (more like 42mm or so) and more detailed than mine.

    The biggest benefits to these figures for me are a) cost (very cheap, about 25 cents per infantry figure), b) weight (they weigh much less than their metal 28mm counterparts and I’m getting older and carrying large trays of metal figures to a site to play a game is getting very old very fast!), and c) time (I can paint a unit of about 10-12 infantry metal figures in a week, I can do the same number of these wooden guys in about half the time, cavalry are even faster than metal ones).

    Drawbacks are mainly in the area of you have to do all the figures for the game unless you can get someone to do them with you. John Acar and I (check out his blog) did a Punic Wars game at Cold Wars about 3 years ago and I made the Romans and he made the Carthaginians. But other than that, whenever I put on a game with these guys I end up having to do both sides. Potentially a drawback, I have had very few people turn their nose up at these figures, I could literally count them on one hand and I’ve run convention games for years with these figures. But potentially you could get players who don’t like them.

    They are loads of fun to make.


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