Sunday, 20 April 2014

Rethinking my ACW Project

Lt. Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson, top left Redoubt 28mm, bottom right Perry 28mm.
Many a year ago I bought a Confederate Army pack from Essex miniatures with a mind to building the forces for Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862. My reason for wanting to build the forces for this campaign were that the forces required would be quite small compared to the larger engagements of the Gettysburg campaign, the biggest engagements saw forces of under 10,000 men on either side. This represents a great opportunity for the collector to begin with an attainable target to paint. I think if one settled on building forces for Gettysburg or Waterloo you would spend a lifetime collecting with little sense of accomplishment. Therefore, I decided to focus on a short campaign which lasted from late March 1862 to early June of the same year, with smallish forces that would be easier to collect. I based my build around the Fire & Fury rules in 15mm using the aforementioned Essex miniatures

Opening phase of the Valley Campaign. Wikipedia is useful to get the broad outline and is remarkably complete, but certainly it is worth reading more specialist literature on the matter. This is of course true of anything on Wikipedia.
The Valley campaign has much to recommend it, the smaller engagements being primary as the project aims to build a core of Virginian troops for use later in the war. This was also the campaign that made Stonewall Jackson's reputation, and from my reading on the subject, it is his ability to use the Shenandoah Valley to his advantage that allowed Jackson to distract Union forces away from the Peninsular campaign. So whilst the campaign is interesting in and of itself, its role in the wider conflict is very important. I face one massive problem though, as the years have gone by I have been less a fan of 15mm as a scale, and am enamoured of the stuff the Perrys have been producing, particularly their plastics. The great quantity of little vignettes that are available from the Perrys and Redoubt mean that the armies can be bulked out with nice little dioramas that add to the flavour of the period, such as field hospitals and camp scenes.

Perry Miniatures Ambulance.

Redoubt's Ambulance figure set.
As a result, I think that I am going to rejig my 15mm project for the Gettysburg campaign, I never got around to giving the units flags, so nothing needs undoing. The bigger battles will look good in 15mm, but I will now do the Valley campaign in 28mm with the Perry boxed sets. I simply prefer the look of 28mm on the table and with smaller engagements I think it really works well without looking ridiculous. Given that the Perry boxes give around 40 infantry, I reckon that if I split them in two and bulk them out with some loose metals it should result in units of around 20 odd men, maybe 24 depending on how I do it. What I would ideally like is some loose skirmishers per unit, which we will call regiments as that is how we will "flag" them. The skirmishers will look good in larger engagements and also allow for some individual figures for Sharp Practice games. The aforementioned diorama type figures will help fill out the table as I play smallish raids and scenarios, perhaps a daring group of soldiers attempting to seize back their captured commander from an enemy field hospital?

TooFatLardies even do an ACW supplement for Sharp Practice.
Of course, most of the above remains ephemeral until I actually get home, but I think with my general shift towards 28mm it is only to be expected. The shift in recent years towards releasing plastics to cover line units is a boon for the wargamer, my decision to go with 15mm was largely due to cost, but with army deal bundles of plastics there has never been a better time to start historical wargaming in 28mm. In that same vein, if one considers the fact that one can play TooFarLardies Chain of Command with one box of Perry Afrika Corps and one box of 8th Army plastics, we truly are spoilt.