Now this is something I did not expect to do - refight one of my early battles with new models and rules after a game of nearly nine years! To christen the newly built C.S.S. Arkansas I decided to refight the battle that took place in June 2012, game number 11 in the man cave - a report of which can be seen here: Raiders of the Lost Ark(ansas)
The models of way back then were built solely with Hexon in mind so were designed to be no larger that around 3 3/4” long - in fact most averaged around 2 1/2” to 3” long. As they were built largely from Balsa I decided to base them on clear acrylic with the wakes, name and ensign emblazoned on it. Clear bases for naval models are a good idea as it means that they never look out of place regardless of the colour of the playing surface! My newer and much larger models are unbased and are far more forgiving of handling than the original and much softer Balsa wood versions.
The main difference from the first time around is the fact that I am using a square grid rather than hexagonal and that the newer and larger models occupy two grid areas rather than one. The rules used previously were Bob Cordery’s Memoir Of Battle At Sea or MOBAS as they were known at the time. These rules came about from a chance conversation Bob and I had at the Skirmish show in Sidcup. We were thinking about how the Command and Colours system could be applied to naval games and so he came up with a set of rules. As I recall we both had a lot of fun experimenting with different ideas and variants and the whole concept eventually morphed into some of the rules in Bob’s book - Gridded Naval Wargames.
The rules in use for the refight are those that I am currently working on so the ships involved will be far more closely aligned to their historical counterparts in respect of ‘vital statistics’ - speed, protection and firepower.
I have tried to mirror the original terrain set up as far as I am able although this has been hampered slightly in that I currently only have a limited number of 3” square terrain pieces and most of them are in need of painting. No matter, we shall improvise!
Somewhere, along the Yahoo River....
Thus far the journey of the C.S.S. Arkansas had been largely untroubled by the Union forces - which was just as well as she had problems enough of her own. The engines were proving to be be particularly unreliable and whilst they were of sufficient power for the great ironclad they were constantly threatening to break down. In fact the ship had already hove to on two occasions to fix one part or another before she could resume her journey. Her captain and crew had taken what precautions they could to ensure her safety as the liberal coating of thick river mud along her casemate bore testimony. She could still fight though and so was ready to take on whatever the Union could muster to try and stop her from reaching safety - and a much needed overhaul. For now though, her engines pumped rhythmically pushing her forwards and closer to her destination.
The Yahoo patrol of the Union river fleet consisted of the gunboats the U.S.S. Carondelet and the U.S.S. Essex and in order to cover as much of the river as possible were steaming abreast of each other and hugging the opposite river banks where they could. It was the U.S.S. Carondelet that spotted the rebel ship first and so her captain signalled the U.S.S. Essex and prepared to engage.
The opening positions. The C.S.S. Arkansas (left) is able to see the U.S.S. Carondelet (top right) but as yet has not spotted the U.S.S. Essex (bottom right)
Turn 1. No firing. Initiative was 6 for the Union and 2 for the Confederates. The Union requested that the Confederate ship moved first.
The C.S.S. Arkansas was nothing if not brave as it once again bore down on the U.S.S. Essex with the intention of ramming her, oblivious to the extent of her own wounds. By sheer luck - some adroit handling by the captain of the U.S.S. Essex - the blow was a glancing one so aside from once again hearing the banshee like sound of metal screeching against metal no damage was inflicted. All the C.S.S. Arkansas had done was to psh her opponent away from her.