Tuesday, October 22, 2019

AWI verus ACW and Travel

A post about resisting the temptation of starting a new period, namely the American War of Independence (AWI). 

I Did a Bad Thing and Read a Book

Repeat readers of this blog will know of my long standing temptation to start gaming some AWI.  I know that it will happen eventually, it's more of a question of when.  But what I don't want to do is buy a bunch of miniatures and have them sit in the boxes for months (or in some our cases; years) before I get around to painting them up.  There is only so much time that I can devote to hobby pursuits and adding another genre will just increase the demand on that limited resource.  As it is, hobby time has been sparse these days and I'm trying not to fall into that trap very common to many wargamers;

There might not be time to paint or play, but there is always time to BUY. 
(Thus, the lead horde grows and grows)

In order to scratch the AWI itch I bought and read a book.

Now I've read up on the AWI in the past, but I really like this author and have enjoyed his work before, mainly his WWII trilogy.  This time he is tackling the AWI and this first book was extremely good. 

Like many historical gamers, the primary thing that makes you want to wargame a time in history is learning about it and being immersed in it;  so reading a book turned out to be a very bad thing, because it just made the AWI itch  even worse.  Kinda like trying to use poison oak to cure poison ivy.  Soon I found myself looking at Perry AWI miniatures and debating the merits of doing AWI in 28mm or 15mm.  Which rule set would be a good fit for the battles, then ideally I'd want a skirmish rule set and a bigger battler one...
For the record, I think 28mm is winning out, just because I want to 28mm spectacle. 

But now is NOT the time to be starting a new project, tempting temptation that the AWI is. 
But how to get it out of my mind?   

It occurred to me that the best way was to get re-excited about a period of history I already have and wargame.  So of course my favorite black powder war is the good ole American Civil War.  So next I read this book.

Of course, I've read all about the ACW and Gettysburg before, but this is also a very well written book and I do like that author, especially his other book on Antietam.  Which worked like a charm, because my brain is basically a donkey following a carrot on a stick, and got me thinking about how I have everything to do that Little Round Top scenario that I've been meaning to play, not to mention that I also have enough figures to do a Shiloh scenario in the Hornet's Nest for Brigade Fire and Fury.. and don't I have some ACW terrain that I've been meaning to paint up...

And just like that, I was CURED of the AWI itch.  At least until the next AWI book in the trilogy comes out.

But Then I Traveled to Boston, Actually To Lexington to be More Precise

The home of American Independence.

Officially the wife, the two surviving children, and I went to Boston for 4 days to attend a wedding.  So there was much to do and not much time for sight seeing, but just even being in New England and surrounded by that unique New England-y architecture and landscape had me thinking of AWI scenes.  I managed to squeeze in some sight seeing anyway because I can't be stopped.  The day of the wedding my wife and daughter #1 went with all the women to have hair, make up, and nails done so they all can look fabulous next to their ogre husbands; leaving me and son #2 with some free time.  He's only a year and a half years old so he goes where I tell him to.  Turns out the famous Battle Green, WHERE THE FIRST SHOTS OF THE AWI WERE FIRED, was a whole 10 min walk away from the Inn where we were staying...

Here we are

A nice looking monument to the minutemen.

A pic of the whole Green.

A suitably Patriotic monument.

Dedicated to the fallen.

Son #2 is the cutest.
Pictured here having a snack on the Battle Green.

In truth there isn't much to the Battle Green, just a green triangular field with some patriotic monuments, but it's extremely pretty and makes a wargamer think of the AWI in all sorts of ways. Like how rules like Muskets and Tomahawks and Sharp Practice 2 just scream out for 28mm troops and terrain...

I had a bad case of the AWI itch all over again, like a flare up of athlete's foot, that no ACW book would be able to control, as I was scratching all over the place.  Itch Itch Itch.
So what to do?  How to apply the ACW antidote before I buy a whole army?

I Then Traveled to Tennessee; Murfreesboro to be Exact.

While Flying back from Boston the family and I landed in Tennessee.  Officially we were there to visit some family that we never see, specifically my wife's 92 year old grandmother that we all love to pieces.  We were there for 4 days but without a wedding agenda so there was more free time. 

And while we were there I took the opportunity to see an ACW battlefield, because there are many in Tennessee and how often is one in Tennessee?  The answer is never.

The Battle of Shiloh is the most famous battle and attraction, but that was 3 hours away so too far drive there and back in a day.  However, right in the back yard there is a lesser known battle: The Battle of Murfreesboro or Battle of Stones River (depending on what side you were on.  And in case you are unaware, the CSA tended to name battles based on the closest city while the USA named battles based on geographic features, so some battles have 2 names).  Awesome!  and just what was needed. 

So one afternoon while all the ladies had an afternoon tea, the men folk went to the battlefield, and all was proper in the world.

The Battle of Stones River is not one of the well known battles of the ACW, but still was important.
My pet theory on why this is; because the two main big generals who fought the battle; Rosecrans (USA) and Bragg (CSA) are not darlings of history like Lee, Longstreet, Grant, Sherman, McClellan and etc..

I'll let those interested read up on the battle in detail from google.  Otherwise, here is a quick summary:

Day 1: CSA attacks the USA and does extremely well, pushing back and shattering most of the union units. Only the Divisions of Sheridan and Negley hold their ground at a high cost in casualties (the rocky ground where Negley's Division stood was dubbed "the slaughter pen") until they finally collapse as well.  But this slowed the assault down enough so that Rosecrans had time to cobble together another line backed by mass artillery.  When the CSA launched it's final assaults through the cotton fields, they were repulsed at a high rate of loss, though they charged 5 times.

Day 2:  The two armies stared at each other and collected the dead and wounded.

Day 3:  Most of the day nothing happens, but Bragg ordered his general Breckenridge to attack the Union flank, that Breckenridge knows is fruitless and suicidal.  He stalls all day but finally at 4 PM he does what he is told.  The Union troops quickly fall back behind Stones River and the Union guns massed at the McFadden Farm on ridge blow the CSA to pieces.  Over 1800 casualties in 45 mins. 

Bragg retreats.  Rosecrans marches into Murfreesboro and makes it a crucial supply depot for the western theater.

And NOW;  some pics with some context provided in the nifty captions. 

side discussion:  taking good battlefield pics is hard.

Pictures of fields and trees are not interesting to look at, and that's what many of the battlefield pics I took were, so are not included. 

We started with paying respects at the Cemetery.

Another view of the cemetery.
That cannon however, is in the position it was in in the closing of the fighting on the first day.
The Cobbled together final Union battle line was on the road yonder,
and the CSA attacked through those fields.

Some more cannon in an overrun Union position on the first day.

A pretty sign descrining how Sheridan held his part of the battlefield until casualties
and lack of ammo forced him to withdraw. 
The field beyond was not much to look to at; all overgrown weeds.

To the Union left of Sheridan's position is the Slaughter Pen

A picture of the rocky ground in the Slaughter Pen.
The battlefield has lots of these silhouettes of soldiers to illustrate which way the battle lines faced,
which was really helpful to see how the battle progressed.  

The Cotton fields are mostly gown replaced by other grasses, but these are the fields that the CSA crossed
in the last part of the first day.  The cannon and cemetery from earlier are located on that
rise of highish ground in the distance. 

Whose that handsome man by the cannon? 
Yes, yours truly.
This cannon was at the McFadden Farm that decimated the final CSA attack.

The battlefield is free to enter, so I felt compelled to pick up some items from the gift shop.
A coffee mug, a fridge magnet, and a Union Kepi.

When I bough the Union kepi I got 3 good natured comments in about 10 mins about how the CSA Kepis were better,
made people better looking, etc..
Tennessee was a CSA state after all.

I resisted the urge to be a smart ass and say something like "I only back winners."


By this point you're thinking "This whole post just seems like a thinly veiled excuse to post some vay-cay pics, and only has a dubious link to miniature wargaming."  "I was expecting a post debating the merits of gaming the AWI versus the ACW."

No it's not.  I swear.  Reeeaaally.
Ok, you got me. That's all it is.

But why would there be a debate about which is better, the ACW or the AWI?  People should do whatever they want, and there's no reason why people shouldn't game both.

Like I will.  Some Day.

Thanks for reading.
Maybe next time I'll actually get some wargaming or painting done to blog about.  😊


  1. This post may have wandered across and around a number of topics but that wandering contributes to my enjoyment. Excellent battlefield photos and a good use of a vacation. Cute kid too!

    Murfreesboro is a battle I have fought numerous times in both boardgame and miniatures form. It is a worthy battle for study and play. So many interesting dynamics at work both in leadership and situation. Several times, the battle has seen action on the gaming table over my Winter Break in an anniversary edition.

    I look forward to following the development of your 28mm AWI project.

    1. Thanks Jon.
      I agree that the battle Is very interesting and will be something I want to play. Indeed I have a scenario for both RFF and BFF, so maybe likely to happen.

      Those were the best of the photos. Most of the ones I took were flat landscapes that didn’t have the same impact later. 😀

  2. Well done making the best use of your free time. Now I don't want to be a bad guy but have you seen this?

    1. Thanks for the comment Dan, but curse you for pointing that out! 😀

  3. Oh, man. Sharp Practice 2 is of the devil. It's been on my hard drive for a while now, just trying to tempt me into something new. Like you, it would have to be 28mm because they look so much better, and you don't need THAT many figures. If they ever finish the naval supplement, I'll be sunk.

    1. Thanks BW. The thing I don’t like about SP2 are the shock counters, I need to devise a way to make them pretty. Otherwise I’m in the same boat; had it for years and have only played 1 game, hosted by someone else. I could be playing it with my 15mm ACW troops though if I really wanted. 😀

    2. Oh, and I think Muskets and Tomahawks is also a great game.

  4. Interesting and lovely battlefield pictures, have to go there one day...In the meanwhile, thanks a lot!

  5. You are certainly enjoying your history regardless of what is happening on the wargames table. Have you considered buying a box of 28mm plastics, I mean what’s the harm :-)

    1. Thanks Norm, but your obviously trying to be the devil on my shoulder in this case. Lol. It’s just not my style. When I start a project I like to focus on it for awhile and get it off the ground.

      But STILL, no great harm in just one itty-bitty box of plastics. 😀

  6. Fun post, looking forward to AWI in 28mm and,why not ACW in 28mm, I mean your getting old, your eyesight even if it isn't shot yet is about to fail, you may as well just give in and only paint 28mm, oh and 6mm because nobody can tell what you do anyway,so ACW in 28,15 and 6 and AWI in 28mm, let's give you till the end of the year say?!
    Best Iain

    1. That's the spirit! Stew really needs our support.

    2. lol, thanks guys.
      You may laugh, but 28mm ACW is also something that has sprung into my mind as well. 😀

  7. Entertaining post: interesting to hear that you were in the region (that explains the tremor in the force I sensed coming across the state line into New Hampshire awhile ago).
    You may have weathered the initial AWI fever, but once bitten there will always be recurring episodes--small doses of skirmish level figures can cure those...:)
    Nice lead on the Atkinson: I wasn't aware that he had expanded into AWI (by the way).

    1. Thanks Ed, that disturbance you felt was likely due to the children, known as the terror and the destructor. 😀
      I know that’s it only a temporary cure at best.

  8. Personally, I enjoy veneer. Love that you were able to hit up so many different spots. Out our way, there's a couple of good options, but they're mostly a day's drive away, so require some planning.

    1. Thanks FMB. I especially enjoyed the ACW trip but would of hit up more AWI sites if my time wasn’t dominated by wedding stuff. 😀

  9. Yeah Sharp practice in 28mm would be really nice in the AWI. Perry plastics, Perry metal, and Foundry metal all mixed together with some nice figures from AltFritz... think of the glory!

    Or you know, go crazy and go with Pendraken 10mm so each battalion present at key battles can actually be there.

    It may be that one of the (many) tabs in my miniature planning spreadsheet is a AWI tab, with just such a comparison. Maybe. (Then you can have the choice of 3 26 figure battalions or 12 30 figure ones for the same price?)

    1. Thanks Laz. You sound way more organized than I ever am. But you’re right, the glory of a 28mm spectacle is very appealing. 😀

    2. Paper projects is what prevents me from spending untold dollars on real projects. In addition to being cheaper, they are easier to store as well!

      But also less satisfying than having the hordes of metal and plastic followers to gloat over at night.

  10. Dark Ages, LotR, ACW, WW2... Dunno mate, might be stretching it. Not even mentioning if you chose to enter American Revolution at 28mm you'd need theme-appropriate terrain too.

    Loved following your fun trip though. Rather envious mate. Murphreesboro was a nasty affair and horrible generaling by the CSA in the end.

    1. And don’t forget the Age of Sail...
      You’re right of course, starting a new period involves painting both sides and getting the proper terrain, which is a big and long task. 😀

    2. And then you'll end up with a hundred 1/2-finished projects just like me. -__-

  11. You certainly pulled the wool over my eyes. I expected to see miniatures and all I got were vacation photos! :D In all seriousness, I'm glad you had the opportunity to travel and see family! The pictures look great and I can see why you were inspired by both of these eras in American history. I think I can relate to how you feel too as a year or so ago, I went to Tucson for work and suddenly I wanted to paint or play any game related to the American West :) Whatever you decide to do next, I'll be watching with interest!

    1. Thanks Kuribo, getting inspired by our surroundings is probably something that happens to us all. Probably why there are so many LoTR plain New Zealand. 😀
      By the way, did you turn off comments on your blog? I was trying to leave a comment on your latest post but the field was not at the end like it usually is.

    2. For sure, I dream of visiting New Zealand one of these days :D Thanks for letting me know about the comments on my site. I just flipped it on for that latest post. I had no idea it might potentially be turned off :( I'll keep an eye on that in the future as it was completely accidental on my part.

  12. What a hilarious post Stew! I absolutely love your writing style and sense of humor about everything 😀 I'm just like you it seems and can get sucked into a new project or one that had gone to the wayside just from a book, or a movie, or a trip - I may have something for that AWI itch you have (I'll have to find the box and see exactly what's in it as it's been several years now) but shoot me an email and we'll see if we can't sort something out. ivorevans13@yahoo.com

    1. Thanks Ivor. The praise is much appreciated. 😀
      Funny how we get inspired to take on stuff.
      I’ll shoot you an email soon, but don’t go out of your way on my account. If you end up sending something then I’ll be obliged to paint it. 😀

  13. Very entertaining travelogue. I always make a point of visiting nearby battlefields or museums when travelling. The family suffer silently and politely and then we move on to somewhere of interest to everyone. Lots to like about the AWI but as far as building armies is concerned it's a rabbit hole. You'll settle for some British regulars and continentals but before long you'll be looking at militia, minutemen, loyalists, Hessians, French.......

    1. Thanks TP. You’re AWI SP2 posts aren’t helping me any. Lol. 😀 but keep them coming.
      Most projects involve a rabbit hole it seems.

  14. Thoroughly enjoyable post Stew. Many thanks for sharing. Sweet kid too!

    Have you considered 6mm? Now I know most people balk at the idea (too small, eyesight, and so on - we’ve heard ‘em all) but they are cheap and you can table your armies in two or three weeks. And they are perfectly suited for horse and musket. They are visually appealing too, not as individual figures but as a collective. Give it a shot?

    1. Thanks Mike but I despise 6mm....
      Just kidding. Actually 6mm could be a way to go for any genre but it has the same considerations of any new project; armies, what rules, terrain etc...
      Though for the AWI I kinda have my heart set on 28mm. 😀

  15. Great post, yes the peril of new periods. Have a whole bunch of AWI that has been sat in a drawer for two years awaiting painting for a Sharp Practice project.

    1. Thanks Tony!
      That’s exactly my fear of what could happen, and I already have plenty of miniatures living in drawers. 😀