Tactics

To achieve a fair degree of realism, wargamers should follow the tactics of their period as closely as possible, ignoring hindsight and modern developments, and wargame rules are where possible shaped in such a way as to make it worthwhile for players to conform to the tactics of their era and punitive to attempt tactics which are not applicable to that era. The next step in metamorphosis for real armies to wargames ones is therefore a knowledge and understanding of the tactics of the era: how the units organised according to the information in the previous chapter, are deployed on the

Infantry tactics

Long marches were made by a regiment in column of fours (four abreast) or sometimes in column of companies. On the wargames table a regiment has to be in column of companies, ie two model figures abreast. This formation should be restricted to the approach march and should be changed to line of two ranks as soon as possible. To encourage this, troops fired on in column suffer much heavier casualties than troops in line.

On the field of battle regiments normally fought in line with skirmishers forward to shield the main force and weaken that point of the enemy line to be attacked. Sometimes up to half a regiment might be used as skirmishers and, if a divisional attack was being launched, whole regiments might be committed in this role.

Attacks were launched in waves of regiments in double ranks, preceded by the skirmishers and with 250-300 yards between waves. This spacing permitted the following regiments to turn at right

A Union brigade with artillery and cavalry support attacks a fortified position in the Confederate line. The attacking regiments are deployed in line, with skirmishers on the flank. Reserves are advancing in column in support.

A Union brigade with artillery and cavalry support attacks a fortified position in the Confederate line. The attacking regiments are deployed in line, with skirmishers on the flank. Reserves are advancing in column in support.

Up to

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B Coy

A Coy

300 Reserve

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Fig 3

An infantry regiment in typical tactical deployment.

angles to their route if the flanks were threatened and to support the first line without receiving fire directed at the leading regiments. The heavy casualties inflicted by canister at close range encourages players to keep their regiments in this open formation!

The aim of an assault was to get close enough for a crippling exchange of musketry. Very few bayonet charges were made. General J.B. Gordon of the Confederate Army wrote in his memoirs: 'I may say that very few bayonets of any kind were actually used

Union cavalry making its way through a gully in column, and ripe for ambush.

Union cavalry making its way through a gully in column, and ripe for ambush.

A cavalry regiment in typical tactical deployment. The dotted rectangles represent mounted companies often kept on the flanks.

Skirmishers

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Main body in single line

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Fig 4

A cavalry regiment in typical tactical deployment. The dotted rectangles represent mounted companies often kept on the flanks.

in battle, so far as my observation extended. The one line or the other usually gave way under the galling fire of small arms, grape, and canister, before the bayonet could be brought into requisition. The bristling points and the glitter of the bayonets were fearful to look upon as they were levelled in front of a charging line; but they were rarely reddened with blood.' Of some 250,000 Union soldiers wounded in the war, only 922 had sword or bayonet wounds. In fact, because of the deadly performance of the weapons in use after the first few months, charges often degenerated into short rushes by small groups of men, using all the cover they could find. Eventually the men simply refused to advance in the open against the firepower now available to both sides, and in the second half of the war there was a great deal of trench warfare.

Cavalry tactics

Cavalry manoeuvred in column of fours for maximum flexibility; there is no choice but to use two abreast on the wargames table for this. The fighting formation was a double line until 1862 but during that year both sides changed to a single line. Again, cavalry in column suffers more casualties than cavalry in line, and this encourages players to use mostly the line formation.

It should be remembered that successful charges were generally only made over clear ground; any form of obstacle in the terrain could disrupt a charge, possibly injure men and horses, and certainly enable a quick-witted enemy to catch the attackers at a disadvantage. This factor is also reflected in the rules by introducing penalties for those charging over rough ground.

The cavalry did not fight alongside the infantry because it could no longer charge the infantry due to their increased firepower, but it fought a variety of actions with the enemy cavalry, including sabre and revolver mêlées, dismounted actions with firearms, and combinations of both these.

Early in the war the Union cavalry, being at that time inferior to that of the South, adopted the role of dragoons; exploiting their mobility to seize advanced positions until the arrival of the infantry, or to cover gaps in the battle line, or to cover retreats. Unfortunately cavalry carbines did not stand up to fr il ' Li',

A CSA battery engaging Federal infantry with shrapnel. Canister will be used if the attack is pressed home.

prolonged firing, nor had they the range of infantry weapons. This meant cavalry could not put up a prolonged resistance to infantry attack, and the dragoon role was therefore limited, even after 1864, when the US cavalry began to be armed with the devastating repeating carbines.

The Confederate cavalry became famous for its dashing raids during this same period.

From 1863 the scene began to change. Cavalry mêlées were still fought, but now they tended to use carbines and revolvers instead of sabres, and troopers often had two or four revolvers, two at the waist and two in saddle holsters. Confederate cavalry in the western theatre favoured shotguns, fired at close range at full gallop, then used their revolvers in the mêlée.

The greatest cavalry battle of the war. Brandy Station, June 1863, involved almost 20,000 cavalry for more than 12 hours, and at the height of the battle charges and counter-charges were made continuously for almost three hours. After Gettysburg Imboden's cavalry guarded Lee's retreat in a series of whirlwind mêlées with Buford's Federal cavalry, but the pattern for all these mêlées was the same — hit fast, do as much damage as possible, and break away quickly. This hit-and-run type mêlée is the only one possible with the rules set out in this book.

Artillery tactics

When an infantry attack was launched the batteries armed with rifled guns would open fire with shot at their longer range, next the smooth-bores would join in with shot as the enemy came closer, then the artillery would switch to spherical case, and finally discharge canister at close range. Canister was so effective against infantry attacks that the smooth-bore remained popular in both armies throughout the war: in McClellan's Peninsula Campaign his chief of artillery specified that two thirds of the Army's guns should be smooth-bores. The 12pdr smooth-bore Napoleon was the most frequently used gun of the war.

Counter-battery fire could be carried out but the main value of artillery was in defence, breaking infantry attacks before they could get into close musket

The cavalry column ambushed by Confederate Indians and making a stand on a ridge. Note the use of infantry figures to represent dismounted troopers.

The cavalry column ambushed by Confederate Indians and making a stand on a ridge. Note the use of infantry figures to represent dismounted troopers.

range. It was therefore normally employed against the infantry, and at Gettysburg the Union batteries were actually ordered to cease counter-battery fire so as to conserve ammunition and allow the guns to cool for the infantry attack which would follow the artillery duel.

Once the bulk of the infantry was armed with rifles the artillery was forced even more into a purely defensive role for it could no longer advance in close support of infantry attacks, the enemy's infantry being able to pick off the gunners before the guns could get within canister range.

Artillery was also threatened by sharpshooters and marauding cavalry, the latter falling unexpectedly on the batteries whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Indians

Indians were mostly allowed to fight in their own way—achieve surprise, hit the weakest point, and withdraw quickly when sufficient damage was done. The Confederacy's Indian cavalry fought on foot, leaving their tethered ponies at the rear, and on horseback. As mounted troops they were particularly effective at harassing Federal lines of communication, but as infantry they lacked the long-range firepower of the white troops. Indian tactics are encouraged in the rules by keeping them in extended order and giving a bonus in mêlées.

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