Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Discovering a 'new' book... sort of

After being very busy the past 3 weeks, I finally started on a ‘new’ book. After finishing the last CW one and the Chapter’s Due I really didn’t have a lot of time to read anyway. Now that the dust has settled a little I spent Sunday night trying to come up with something a bit different. Strangely enough the choice was not a real search at all but fell into my lap.

I have a big bookshelf all to myself but it isn’t big enough. I have books piled on top of books and books in front of books. In between I have an odd miniatures unit of something or other in front of all these books. Yes, it is too cluttered but I’m at maximum density with books and miniatures. Wherever there is a 4 inch square of space I can find something to park in the open spot. It hurts me but I have to do it. As you might expect books always get somewhat forgotten because they are hidden for a few years unless I am actively looking of it.

On Sunday night I was actually looking for two miniatures that had fallen off a movement tray (a British Celt if you must know) and the fallen models had vanished into thin air. I moved stuff around thinking, ‘It’s got to be here somewhere. It’s not on the floor… as far as I can find.’ I shuffled this or that and knocked two books onto the floor in the process. *sigh* I hate it when that happens. This is when the book called my name.

Many years ago there used to be a book fair in Gettysburg on the closest weekend to the anniversary of the battle. I always attended it because the bargains were good plus they also had a relic show the same weekend. This was way before the Ken Burns’ documentary so it was before the CW became popular again and prices got out of control. Anyway, I used to buy 1st edition books for very low prices. At that time I couldn’t afford the books in mint condition so I’d settle for ‘good’, ‘fair’ or ‘reading’ copies. Aaaaahhhhhh… those were the days my friends and I thought they’d never end. Oh sorry… just traveling down memory lane for a moment.

At one of these book fairs I bought The History of the Hundred Forty-First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers by David Craft. The book was published in1885. The author was a Chaplain of the regiment. The regiment was in the 3rd Corps, 1st brigade, 1st Division at Gettysburg, Gen. Graham’s brigade and fought in the Peach Orchard. The book is a ‘readable’ copy. The price was great and I bought it not because I had a REAL reason to buy it other than it was in the Army of the Potomac. I bought many books or memoirs of soldiers if they fit into the AoP or the Army of Northern Virginia. So while trying to find those two Celts I rediscovered this book and decided I’d give it a shot and see if it was worth what I paid for it over 25 years ago… probably about $20 or less!

So far the book is better than I thought it would be. Sometimes these memoirs or unit histories are boring to read but this one is pretty good so far. It is also chock-full of small seemingly overlookable observations and incidents. They are the kind of thing that brings the plight of the ordinary soldier’s life into focus for us now. There are many incidents of long marches and suffering through the choking dust clouds. After 24 hours break storm broke on them. It became a quagmire of mud and non-stop rain. The soldiers are forced to sleep in the mud. One account tells of the march north trying to keep up with Lee’s invading army in the Gettysburg campaign. For 6 days straight they were marching in high heat and dust covering everything and getting into their food. Between the forced marches, heat, dust and blistered feet many fell out of the ranks in droves. One particular Lieutenant in the 141st complained that he got almost no sleep or food in the 6 days. After a brief cool spell it rained in torrents. He writes, “Every man was wet to the skin and covered with mud, but the wet blankets were spread on the wet ground and the men in their wet clothing flung themselves down to rest the best way they could.” The Lieutenant said he fell fast asleep even though he was lying uncovered in the rain with wet clothes, wet blankets, no dog tent and a useless gum-rubber blanket. He said he had the best night of sleep in a whole week! When it was time to fall in again, he collected his wet gear and fell into the ranks without breakfast and kept marching… but at least he got a good night’s sleep!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Warstore Weekend

These Civil War shells had nothing to do with this weekend but just thought I'd post them. Top to bottom:
  1. canister for 12 lbs. Napoleon
  2. shell with fuse for same
  3.  solid shot for same
The white cloth material holds the powder.

Well it was a great event this weekend. The hotel was a very nice location for the convention. It is the Crowne Plaza just off the NJ Turnpike at Exit 16W. The hotel had plenty of parking and easy access in and out if you had a bunch of stuff to haul. The hotel room rate with convention discount was LESS than what we've been paying at the Host hotel in Lancaster for the HMGS East shows too. Can't beat that! For me the drive was just one hour which was a first ever attending a miniatures show in under 4 hours! The weather was nicely mild and sunny so you can't get any better than 2 days of gaming with your buddies and new friends! Rumor has it that there will be another one next year. I hope so.

Neal and his staff did a fabulous job running the event and there was plenty of room for everyone. There were tournaments and lots and lots of demo games all weekend. For me the MOST impressive were 3 games put on by a gentlemen, Matt R. He put 3 different games on and the miniatures and terrain was really really nice. They were pretty damn cool looking.

They had a silent auction for stuff, kind of like a flea market sale. The difference was that the prices were VERY good. I'm not sure enough of the gamers there knew or cared to look into it. I got two HUGE deals and I was shocked how cheap it was because there were so few bidders. If I had known there would have been so much good stuff and so few bidders I would have bought everything not nailed down! A buddy of mine ran up one of the items I was bidding on. Wise guy. He didn't really want it; he just wanted to bust my chops. Grrrrrr......

We ran 3 games and had lots of fun. Neal himself played in our Hastings game. He commanded a few Saxon unit/regiments and Harold the Saxon King. The game went right down to the turn. It was a very close game decided right at the very end. Next year I'll run a massive Civil War game to playtest a scenario for my game. I didn't do it this time because I didn't have enough time to make the needed terrain.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

more fun on McPherson's Ridge

This these views show you a little more and closer to the ridge. You'd be standing behind the Union lines. The Union battle lines would have been beyond the ridge's crest.

This view is taken from the swell of ground beyond the dip behind the barn. The ground here rises again just south of the famous rail road cut. behind the camera it dips again. It rises once more on Seminary Ridge.

Next up is a view from right in a deep part of the dip. It's closer to the barn as you can guess. The barn would be about... a 45 degree turn to the left from here.

How's that? I'll post more pics from different angles in a few days and pics of all sides of the barn in case you had ideas of making the barn itself. I can also post pics of the monuments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

McPherson's Ridge today

The picture above is taken from the famous Rail Road Cut. The camera angle is facing SouthWest. In the same pic below I've pointed out features of the terrain in case you have never been there.

You will notice the Union side of the Ridge and once on the reverse slope (the Union side) you can't be seen by Rebs approaching from the West along the Chambersburg Pike. If you read accounts from the participants they used the reverse slope for an aid station until the Union lines began to collapse. When you read them it doesn't make sense but looking at the picture or going there you can see why.

The Herbst's woods was where the Iron Brigade fought. Near the barn and house is where Stone's brigade fought after Cutler moved out. The open ground around the barn is very exposed to the West, North West  and the North (where Rodes division entered the battle) where all the Confederate artillery was unlimbered to pounded the area. The few trees along the top of the rise on the right side of the pic were not there during the battle. When you go there you can understand why Stone's brigade and the Union artillery stationed there had a hard time, receiving flanking fire.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking for the next book

I just finished a new 40k novel, The Chapter's Due by Graham McNeill. I enjoyed it. I take a break every now and then from reading books about the Civil War. I have to do that so I don't get burnt out. Anyway I'm trying to decide what next to read and I hate it when I just can't decide what will be next. So many good ones to choose from and so little time to read them. Rats!

While I'm arguing with myself I thought I'd post a few more pics from Gettysburg. Enjoy.

They are on the way! *Whew*

Okay so this past Friday I shipped my package off to be painted up. There were 432 miniatures packed and ready to go. These guys will helped to swell the ranks for the big 150th Gettysburg game. This means only about... oh... about 1300 more to paint! In 25mm the game will look VERY cool. Since it is also just a slice of the game and not the whole thing The amount of regiments and batteries will make everyone's head explode. Hopefully when that happens the blood, bone and gray matter won't splatter on the tables.

Just recently I have taken a short break from ACW to paint up some WWII German tanks: two Mk IV's and four 38(T)'s. The last minute painting is for a game this coming weekend Warstore Weekend convention in New Jersey.  We are putting on a WWII Disposable Heros early war Soviets vs. Germans demo and also the battle of Hastings using WAB rules. The tanks were the only things needing paint, everything else needed for these games I already have covered for my part. I'm bringing the Germans and the Saxons. If I remember I will bring my camera and take some pics. The tanks look pretty damn cool if I do say so myself. I muddied them up a lot so they look well used.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

another web site

If you haven't seen this site before it's worth a look. This is a webcam looking West towards the McPherson's Farm at Gettysburg. The camera is located on Seminary Ridge so you get an idea of the distance between the two ridges. The Chambersburg Pike is on the extreme right of the frame. The white rectangular thing on the right-center horizon is the McPherson's barn and the clump of trees to the left of the barn are the woods where the Iron Brigade fought. There is a traffic light at the top of the rise to the ridge in case you were wondering what that was.

There used to be a MUCH sharper camera located there but someone stole it and it was replaced with one a bit fuzzier. The picture is updated every 15 minutes. It is interesting (at least to me anyway) to see the changing weather conditions and the day light changing over the field.

Click on the title of this post to get to the site.

nice website

Hey... check out these websites. There are LOTS of cool stuff in there. There is a wealth of info on the website and the blog is very good as well. I bought the two books and they are very good (Union & Confederate). There is a CDV and a page or more on the person shown on the CDV. Some great stories and some very very sad ones too.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Books and lists

Last year a list came out of the top 50 ACW books. It was compiled by a CW Round Table. Below is part of their list and I've added my own. Their list is good but… it misses others that are invaluable to gamers and bunch more that it chock full of fun reading. I have chopped out what I thought is ‘okay’ but doesn’t deserve to be that high on the list. The order has not been arranged in any particular order so ignore the numbers.

Two books that I added deserve a special note. First is Corporal Si Klegg and His "Pard" - Wilbur F. Hinman. It's in paper back now so it isn't as expensive when I bought an original for $125!!!! Damn! This book is quite different than the others. Hinman was a veteran from the CW. He wanted to write his auto bio of the war but decided against it. Instead he made up a character that was just like him and went through the same experiences that he did. Si Klegg enlists in the war and is mustered out at the end of the war. Many of the stories in the book are very funny and also very sad, just the thing a soldier would have gone through. Hinman describes everything about a soldier's life through this fictional character and fictional events. The B&W drawing in the book are VERY good too.

The other book is The Bloody Crucible of Courage - Brent Nosworthy. This book is a what/how/why of strategy, tactics, supply, logistics, infantry, artillery, cavalry, navies, guns etc and all the rest of the nuts and bolts of the war. He explains how the equipment and tactics evolved into what happened in the war. He describes in detail the advancement of weapons and tactics which went back 30 years before the CW. This is really good stuff but not an exciting battle book although he does speak of battles but how it relates to development of the above systems, they are more examples to illustrate his points. If you have the CW written by Paddy Griffith you can throw Paddy's stuff away or burn it. Your choice. It's junk and he gets his numbers and facts wrong.

2. Battle Cry of Freedom – James McPherson
4. Lee's Lieutenants – Douglas Freeman
6. The Gettysburg Campaign – Edwin B. Coddington
7. Co. Aytch – Sam Watkins
8. A Stillness at Appomattox – Bruce Catton
10. Fighting for the Confederacy – E. Porter Alexander
11. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam – Stephen W. Sears
14. Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz
15. Generals in Blue – Ezra J. Warner
16. Gettysburg: A Journey in Time – William A. Frassanito
17. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
19. Centennial History of the Civil War – Bruce Catton
23. Confederates in the Attic – Tony Horwitz
25. This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga – Peter Cozzens
28. The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy – Bell Irvin Wiley
33. The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion – Participants
34. Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle – John Michael Priest
38. Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant – Ulysses S. Grant
39. Hardtack & Coffee – John Billings
43. Generals in Gray – Ezra J. Warner
44. Battles & Leaders of the Civil War – Various
47. Three Years in the Army of the Cumberland – James Connolly

That’s the list chopped down. Now, I would add these few right off the bat:

Corporal Si Klegg and His "Pard" - Wilbur F. Hinman

The Bloody Crucible of Courage - Brent Nosworthy

The Gettysburg Companion - Mark Adkin - this does have a few errors but decent primer

Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage - Noah Andre Trudeau

Reminiscences of the Civil War - John B. Gordon - great fun read by a CS General in the middle of it all

Civil War Artillery At Gettysburg - Philip M. Cole - nuts and bolts of art. and some history. this book will actually make you a better artillery battery commander in the game!

The Artillery of Gettysburg - Bradley M. Gottfried - history of the battle via artillery. a look inside a glanced over topic

Maps of Gettysburg

Maps of Chickamauga

Monday, October 11, 2010

Drummers anyone?

The picture above is from the web site of Co. H, 119th NYSV Historical association. You get an idea about what the drums and drummer boys might have looked like.

I've had questions about drummer boys and drums before. I had this discussion with a friend of mine (Mike E.) and decided to just cut and paste it here to save myself the trouble of re-doing it. Why go through all the trouble again and reinvent the wheel?!

Different companies made the drums. You could have special stuff painted on the side... or not. Usually an eagle was there but sometimes a state emblem.

"Then I shall pose the question: did they actually use drums on the battlefield or were they "little drummer boys" who got sent off the field (I think that there is a reference in "Stillness at Appomattox" that the drummer boys were sent from the field prior to Petersburg)."

----Many Companies when they formed recruited drummers and fifers. Once the regiments were formed they pooled all these into one big 'field music' unit. They could be boys or men; it all depended but no requirement. In times of battles they would normally be stationed well back of the firing and many times detailed to aid the wounded. They NEVER ever were with the Color Guard, never! Many were kids and they didn't want them killed or wounded. NO ONE wanted to write a letter home to little Johnny's Mom telling her 14 year old boy took a bullet in the head. The kids were their neighbors.

---------Gamers mistakenly use drummers and officers in the Color Guard. I can go with officers because even though they were not assigned to the Color Guard there would be officers right near them but never drummers or fifers. You know… very very few companies make models of fifers. Okay so what are you NOT going to do? Yes, never put drummers in the Color Guard... EVER!!!!

"Let me guess - at the start the drummers were men who took the field. As they all got shot they were replaced by boys who did not take the field."

---No, they could have started as kids or adults. One drummer boy in Co. H, 119th NY, G. Mott was 15 years old and was killed at Chancellorsville.

****We had a discussion about the Perry plastics and the drum in the box set of infantry:

----You can give the plastic drummer guy a rifle instead of the drum. I did that with mine. Take the plastic drum out to the driveway. Take a hammer and smash it so no one can use it ever again. It is WAAAY too big and it hangs wrong on the model. The Perrys messed up this in their set. Not enough research.

Links of drummers and drum pics.

Here’s a link to a drum at an auction. The dark color would have been a dark blue surrounding the middle. ... -drum.html ... 320CA2.jpg ... r-Drum.jpg ... 0photo.jpg ... 0ItemA.JPG ... -14-04.jpg ... ardrum.jpg ... ndDrum.jpg ... 415B0A6636 ... /music.htm

I just double checked and some of these links got messed-up by this blog thingie. Sorry about that. You might have to click on additional links if it seems to drop you at a main/home page. Drats!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Even more pics

Action Front title

A few people are a bit puzzled by the name or term Action Front. It actually comes directly from the U.S. War Department's drill manual, Instruction For Field Artillery, originally published in 1861. On page 313 there is a section for "Formations in Battery". Number 530 is written when pieces are in line, to form in battery to the front by throwing the caissons to the rear. Basically what that means is your battery is already halted and you want to unlimber and get ready for action to the front. It's business time!

I had read many years ago that the 9th Massachusetts battery (led by Captain Bigelow) at Gettysburg was facing the Wheatfield Road (just east of the Peach Orchard) waiting at the halt for further orders. The command was shouted and the battery sprang into action. Limbers would have been moved forward and turned around to unlimber the guns. Artillerymen spring to their assigned posts ready for action. Section commanders order the targets to the Gunners and the Gunners in turn choose the appropriate rounds to be loaded.

The NPS had a sign posted along the road with a drawing of the action above with the 9th Massachusetts. Of course the battery would cover themselves with glory fighting later that day at the Trostle farm. I tried finding it this trip and it's gone. It could have been removed a few years ago, I don't know for sure. Anyway, the words "Action Front!" written on the plaque has stuck with me all these years.

There it is... the title.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pics from Gettysburg

Here are but a few of the pics I took last week. Hope you like them. They are from various parts of the field.