ACW was my first love, it still is, and thats that. The main reason of wargaming again the ACW (must be my sixth try), this time in 6mm, is because it is well balanced and a “compact period” 1861-1865.It all started with John Ford and the movie “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” which I saw so many times when a child that it left an everlasting impression, and I did not dig all the nuances until I was older, for me it is a masterpiece of condensation, nearly everything on the ACW is there. If you add to that my old 54mm soldiers, AIRFIX 20mm period, MINIFIGS, FOUNDRY. DIXON, TO THE REDOUBT, PLAYMOBILS and finally BACCUS… Well… Recurrent is the word you are looking for…
Of course it was not only the movies… I enjoyed reading SHELBY FOOTE three Volumes, a real tour de force! So packed with information that I had to read slowly to digest it -meaning I read a lot of other books at the same time- even about the ACW too!
Of course refighting historical battles as they do in LITTLE WARS TV is Ok, but I always enjoyed “doing my own”… it is very hard to simulate in the Tabletop the disinformation of the real Generals (The overestimation of The Southern Armies numbers by the Union Generals -aka little Mac- is a well know fact!). Still even so Bull Run (1st Manassas) is a favorite up to a point… But to be honest I mainly I build a scenario with a bit of fog of war, try to enlist some generals from my brother downwards and that’s it. Fictional battles are for me so much more fun after-all, in real war you can not pitch Stonewall Jackson against U.S.Grant for example… in real life they never fought each other.
But, apart from other lines of entertainment with Baccus figures, at the moment it is the ACW who wins all bets. I have the Armies, the scenery and the will, but must write some easy to understand home rules for my grandchildren, always have loved simple rules but with a twist some place.
So, to sum up my progression: I started wargaming when a kid in a rudimentary form on the floor with 54mm “rubber” soldiers (1). I then -in my early twenties-discovered the plastic AIRFIX whole range in 20mm -in fact 4 different boxes; Union Infantry (blue), Confederate Infantry (grey); Artillery (medium brown) to be used for both sides; and finally US Cavalry (Blue) that you had to paint for the Rebs- and went for them boxes like the quest of the Grail! (2).
In due time I discovered MINIFIGS 25mm, then based at Southampton, so I graduated to “metal” and their Catalogue (which I still have) was my companion for years! (3). I still recall the sorrow when a Zouaves unit got “lead rot” and become unusable… of course I dutifully bought them again and painted them even better… those were my painting years. Afflicted by a bout of Napoleonic megalomania I swapped my 25mm Union Army for my brother’s Napoleonics (same trade mark) to do not have to transport them up and down because we lived 200 Km away from each other. It was a satisfactory solution, and I went to complete all Napoleonics nations as a result.
Then FOUNDRY started an ACW range and I could not resist buying ACW UNION Cavalry under “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” influence, by then I was mixing riders and horses (Dixon) and making conversions -nearly military modeling- one thing lead to another and I got some Artillery… and then why not? some Infantry -you need some at Brandy Station I reasoned- of course I bought the Confederates too… That was my fourth effort! (4). Finally, crisis struck again and my faith in 25/28mm was shattered… regretfully I sold them all. Some of them -those Union painted by me- became property of my brother who had the Rebs and no crisis of confidence with that scale. We even exchanged some Napoleonic’s for them… I kept the 25mm Napoleonic’s longer than the rest… but they were sold too in the end!
With the funds obtained I started building Playmobil Armies for my (then) first two grandsons… once organized I thought it was a way to confront brother against brother in a too realistic way and scratched out the project… Sold them all again. (5) And went “tricorne era” fictional Playmobil Armies much more clean in spirit, and much more toy soldier like, a la Charles Grant Jr.
And where was I?… Reading Practical Wargamer… and there I found Baccus ACW Cavalry on the cover of one number!… nothing less than East Cavalry Field (again)… months of musing about it… I bought POLEMOS ACW rules from Baccus… and fell in l love with the color pics (eye candy) -Rules as it is I prefer my own as always- And then to make a long story short I went Baccus ACW 6mm for both sides (6).
Do not pity me!… I had tons of FUN in the whole process that lasted years and years… and I am certified as SANE.
So there you have it, I have build six times the period and have read a long list of books about it, by the way Paddy Griffith is very good at it!. There are two very good books to own by him: BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-1865 with stunning artwork. And then BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR. As per uniforms information the best to my knowledge apart from the Osprey’s, old Blanford, and Troiani’s and Kuntsler’s and Rocco’s paintings the best single volume is: La GUERRE de SECESSION Les armées de l’Union et de la Confederation- by HEIMDAL in France.
Now, as I have in my modest collection enough troops to have fun -megalomania is a pest to avoid- and all the references of the Baccus Catalogue! I am satisfied. I must confess the range is splendid and one of the best in Peter’s production.
I use the ACW limbers and caissons also in colonial affairs mind, and also the horses for dismounted Cavalry. I even have some Rapier Union Infantry to add a bit of variety to the collection and also Rapier Cavalry on both sides. I even mixed minis from other periods getting French with kepi from the Franco-Prussian Baccus range too… anything to add variety. Im my opinion one of the best Baccus packs is ACW7 because it has hat and kepi figures and some with rolled blankets across the chest -always a favorite of mine- so, if I started anew building Baccus ACW Armies I would surely get all the packs but ACW7 would have the lion’s share of the purchase (the only drawback is ACW7 has only one standard-bearer!).
If you are new to the period I can recommend:
ACW Filmography: GONE WITH THE WIND, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, GODS AND GENERALS, GETTYSBURG, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, GLORY, MAJOR DUNDEE, SHENANDOAH, THE FIELD OF LOST SHOES, CLASS OF 61, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY… to name about a dozen… real fans should also see THE BIRTH OF A NATION and THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton) both silent movies.
ACW Bibliography: THE CIVIL WAR (Shelby Foote), THE CIVIL WAR (Bruce CATTON’S trilogy), CLASHES OF CAVALRY (Thom Hatch), BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR (Paddy Griffith), BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR: GENERALSHIP AND TACTICS IN AMERICA 1861-65 (Paddy Griffith), DON TROIANI’S CIVIL WAR, BATTLEFIELD ATLAS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (Symonds), All Ospreys on the subject MAA and Campaign, “THE” Blandford book about Uniforms: UNIFORMS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR 1861-65 -the first one I ever bought myself!- LA GUERRE DE SECESSION (HEIMDAL Jouineau-Mongin), THE QUEST FOR ANNIHILATION (Cristopher Perello), GETTYSBURG (Stephen W, Sears), GETTYSBURG: THE STORY OF THE BATTLE WITH MAPS (David Reisch and David M. Detweiler), THE CIVIL WAR: THE STORY OF THE WAR WITH MAPS (same), and of course hundreds more…
And as an afterthought on ACW Historical Fiction: THE KILLER ANGELS, SHILOH, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, CONFEDERATES, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THE MARCH, STONEWALL’S GOLD, UNTO THIS HOUR, THE NORTHERN WOLF SERIES (5 books I guess) RUTLAND’S BLUES AND GREYS, CIVIL WAR STORIES (A.Bierce)… Frank Yerby, John Jakes, even the great Bernard Cornwell did 4 novels (probably not his best novels though) about it!