Monday, February 18, 2013

Shenandoah 1862 and the Valley Campaign

Finally!  Yes, I finally finished Cozzens' Shenandoah 1862.  I swear, I've been trying to get through this tome forever.  The difficulty I had was not with the writing, itself, but with my reading habits.  I rarely get a block of time to devote to tackling such works and my most productive reading time is when I am either confined to a long airplane trip, on vacation, or stuck in a waiting room.  Without these forced reading opportunities, I mainly rely on reading at bedtime.  Unfortunately, after a few pages, I'm usually fast asleep.  

Cozzens' book, like his other books I've read, is very well written, flows easily, and quite informative.  I now hold a much better grasp of the campaign, battles and leaders.  Gained is a much better understanding of Banks' mindset, motivations, and constraints as well a more balanced study on Jackson.  Jackson's idiosyncrasies are highlighted with emphasis on his strategic/operational strengths and tactical weaknesses.  There were times in the campaign where Jackson was, indeed, a lucky commander.

Cozzens' provides ample scene-setting background material for creating Valley scenarios.  Battles covered include Kernstown, Port Republic, Cross Keys, Winchester, McDowell, and the action at Front Royal.  While the book contains an order of battle for the campaign and select battles, the wargamer would be better served by having actual troop strengths included.

On a Portland visit last fall, I picked up another book covering the Valley campaign at the bookstore mecca, Powell's.  That book was Tanner's Stonewall in the Valley.  While originally published nearly 40 years ago (my edition is the revised 1996 edition), an interesting exercise might include following up my Cozzens read with Tanner.  I wonder if perceptions and conclusions have changed in the years separating these books? 

Reading Cozzens' account of the Valley Campaign tempts me to pull Clash of Arms' Campaigns of R.E. Lee off the shelf.  The strategic aspect of the campaign could be conducted with the boardgame with the engagements transferred to the table top for resolution.  That would be interesting and provide more depth to the experience, don't you agree? 

Although I do not have TAHGC/MMP's Stonewall In The Valley, it may be an even better boardgame solution to handle the campaign at an operational level.
If any have used boardgames to generate tactical encounters to be resolved on the miniature wargaming table, I would be interested in hearing about them.

4 comments:

  1. You are on to something here! Years ago, we used SPI's The Conquerors to generate tabletop ancient battles between Rome and her enemies to the East. It worked wonderfully and one game I lost all of the tabletop battles and still won the campaign game. To me, this is the next level of gaming...finding a tool to generate battles/campaigns to give context to each of the battles.

    The campaign game in the Maurice rules really make everything shine. People are more eager to watch the rise or decline of their army when each battle is linked and has consequences. I may be painting ACW this year so if you find something, I'll be looking to poach your ideas!

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  2. I have also considered using GMT's 1859 game as a strategic/operation foundation for a miniatures campaign too. Many more figures to paint before I am ready for that step.

    What scale are you considering for ACW? I'm partial to 10mm but the decision really depends upon at which level you wish to game.

    As thoughts formulate, I'll note them here and you may poach without guilt.

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  3. We love Maurice so much locally that Longstreet is going to be an easy buy. 15mm seems to be the sweet spot. Big enough to see but not so big as to be expensive.

    My caveat is that I want to base any ACW army so that I can port them to Regimental Fire and Fury, should we ever get a hankering for something other than Longstreet.

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    Replies
    1. Maurice is beginning to intrigue me and wish I had a chance to give it a try. Looking forward to some battle reports from you.

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