In my last post I mentioned that I had been after a set of Battles and Leaders for some time. This is true up to a point. I wanted a set ages ago and then decided - somewhat rashly as it turns out - that I was severing my ties with the ACW entirely. So I did. All of the books I had acquired as well as the models and boardgames were all disposed of and so the Blue and the Grey had disappeared from my consciousness.
Or had it?
I have enjoyed a love/hate relationship with the ACW over the years (mainly due to some horrible rule sets that prompted my somewhat hasty disposals) but have grown to realise (again) that as a wargames period it offers much to commend it. It is well supported with books, rules, figures and board games to start with and so getting into the period would be very easy. It could be tackled as cheaply or as expensively as required and most importantly offers a large variety of challenging scenarios to game. Critically though, it includes viable combined arms style operations along the rivers and coastline.
Back in the early days of this blog - when I was going through my ACW 'love' phase as opposed to the 'hate' version - I embarked on a massive scratchbuilding program to churn out some ACW ships for use on the rivers and swampy bayous in conjunction with the block armies and actually fought some very good games using them with Attack on Fort Duvet, 1862 being a good example (God was that really 5 years ago?!). Whilst the ships have gone (and have been replaced with Peter Pig 1/600th models) the block armies have remained.
For a variety of reasons though I am unlikely to tackle the second half of the 19th century from a European perspective - my interest in the continent effectively ends in 1815 (even allowing for the Russo-Turkish War) - but I am interested in warfare during the period. I could tackle colonial small wars stuff for sure (and fully intend doing so - hence Congo and The Men Who Would Be Kings) but the war that ticks most of my boxes in respect of scale and scope is therefore, by a process of elimination, the ACW. The wars in South America could have offered an alternative but for some reason do not engage me in quite the same way as the war between the states.
I came to this conclusion over a period of about 18 months and so at the end of last year I made my first tentative foray back into the period by acquiring a copy of John Keegan's book on the American Civil War as a primer. I still had a selection of Peter Pig ACW ships and a pile of their 3mm troop blocks (very nearly disposed of in the 'cull'), not to mention their Hammerin' Iron riverine naval rules so that would represent a start.
For the land side I am thinking that the wooden block armies will suffice to begin with although I would like to tackle some figures at some point - this would be a long way off though.
As it stands then I have the models for the naval side, metal troop blocks for the armies should I wish and the ready to use wooden block armies. I could fight land battles immediately if I wished which is ironic in that the WW2 project is front and centre of my efforts at present. Painting the ships would make for a nice change from the WW2 stuff if required though.
So what of Battles and Leaders then?
Well, from the minor flirting with the ACW once again occasioned by John Keegan's book my surprise acquisition of the above series courtesy of Dave Lanchester at Salute has moved the ACW back in from the shadows to sit along side the WW2 project. This will serve initially as an alternative period for when my notoriously short attention span starts flagging and a distraction is needed. Without a doubt the inspiration Battles and Leaders will provide is immeasurable and so I am sure it will generate many ideas.
I never expected to be coming home with this collection from a wargames show but now that I have I am glad that I have - I am sure it will spur me on to accord the period the attention it deserves - I am a sucker for historical accounts from participants et al as they really add to the flavour of what one is trying to game in my opinion. At the very least it will serve as a reminder of why I should game this period rather than be put off by mere sets of rules.