Tuesday 24 September 2019

Planning for the ACW

An antique map of Essex from around 1850. Note the coastline and inland waterways - ideal for lurking ironclads.

Now that phase one of my ACW collection is virtually ready to hit the table - the guns will be ready by the weekend - my thoughts are already moving towards the setting for my games. I have something suitably old school in mind and that would allow me to create something rather unique and personal. I want to design my own theatre of operations for the ACW but not based on anything in the USA. My plan is to use a map of my home county of Essex that will be, for want of a better word, 'Americanised' to suit my own background. 

Essex is blessed with a number of rivers and small islands meaning that the potential for riverine and coastal actions is certainly present. By adjusting some of the place names - for example adding 'ville' at the end of an actual town name - and inventing some notable personalities for either side one has created a viable theatre of operations that can then be tweaked as required. I have already given this aspect some thought and have a shortlist of Union and Confederate commanders to call upon. I want to allow these characters a personality that can influence events of the tabletop - and not always in a good way!

The Duke himself as Captain Nathan Brittles from the classic John Ford Western 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon'

By extension the ships of the opposing navies will have fictional names and this has proven to be a very enjoyable task indeed as I have been trawling through various books and films for ideas. I reckon that Nathan Brittles is a great name for a river gunboat or ironclad of some kind!


Steve J. said...

A great idea David and look forward to seeing more on this in the near future. Our current Honours of War campaign is very narrative driven and uses areas around Somerset and Bristol for inspiration and battles. I think the local knowledge as something to the gaming experience.

David Crook said...

Hi Steve J,

the good thing about adopting this approach is that I can spend time on the campaign even when I am not fighting battles. I really enjoy writing this kind of material and it all adds to the experience. I note that Henry Hyde has his Wargame Campaigns title coming out later in the year and I am sure this will be big help in the process.

I am looking forward to getting this underway and may even use the terrain for other gaming ideas.

All the best,


Maudlin Jack Tar said...

Essex looks like a great setting for your ACW Campaign - my little ACW games take place in imaginary Featherstone County!

Archduke Piccolo said...

Essex is where my folks came from, my Great-grandfather emigrating to Kiwiland to arrive in 1873. I believe Clacton-on-Sea, or Great Clacton, is still inhabited by members of the Dowman family. So I'll be taking a special interest!

Speaking of which, and as you are putting together a compendium of names, might I respectfully commend one Marmaduke Dowman, a descendant, I believe, of certain Marmaduke Dowmans, probably father and son, who cleaved to the King during the disturbances of the mid-1600s. Marmaduke senior was killed at Marston Moor, but the name reappears four years later as the leader of a desperate band of 200 foot and 400 horse, who sprang several Royalist prisoners from Lincoln Castle.

tradgardmastare said...

Lovely map and a most interesting idea.

David Crook said...

Hi Maudlin Jack Tar,

Featherstone County? Is that where the famous Plattville Valley is located?

It is going to be a lot of fun 'Americanising' Essex and also detailing the personalities for each side.

Into action soon I hope!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Archduke,

That is a fascinating piece of history and so I shall accommodate the name of Dowman into the order of battle somewhere in honour!

My own roots are originally from the West Country but by generations the family moved East.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi tradgardmastare,

The map was courtesy of Google Images and it looks rather nice. I am looking forward to starting work on this and I hope that the background will provide me with a rich setting for some good games.

All the best,