My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finished reading some AWI books

I finally finished reading With Bayonets and With Zeal Only and A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens and I must say: if you want a look at the true tactical level of AWI warfare, you must read those books. You may not agree with them (I have no reason not to, but some say they are revisionist), but they get down to the powder and smoke.

With Bayonets and With Zeal Only: This book lays the foundation that although the British were known as a firepower-oriented army in Europe, due to the nature of the American terrain and how the Patriots (the author always refers to them as "rebels") exploited it, the British switched to shock tactics and open order. This book goes into great detail about maneuvering, firing, bayonet charges, and finally looks at the battles the British won and lost, and the real effects of each. (Hint: the victories were largely "hollow" at best and the losses disastrous).

A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens: First off, Cowpens is my favorite battle in the AWI. I had read some of Babits' work on the web, but had never read the complete book. All of my readings of Cowpens largely came from other books on the Southern campaign, where it got a treatment of several pages, but most of the discussion centered around the aftermath.

This book is awesome. It is what I was hoping for on some of the other periods I read about. Here Babits has broken down the battle into phases and describes, in meticulous detail, every aspect of it that he could find or figure out. There are estimated casualty rates at each phase and how that affected redeployment. There are marching rates and estimated time it took to cross a section of the battlefield, and thus how much fire they could take.

What was shocking to me - and something I had not read in any other source - was that Morgan had placed the Militia line on a reverse slope of a rise and this is why the militia fire was both highly destructive, and so short (i.e. only one of five companies was able to get off a second shot, all the others only got off one). It also goes into great detail about some elements of the battle that were previously confusing (Tarleton's comment about Newmarsh having to post his officers causing a delay, the circumstances of the militia reforming and coming back into battle, how the 71st started to flank the Continentals yet ended up flanked itself, Howard wheeling back the Continental line, etc.).

All in all a great book that I simply blitzed through as it is exactly the type of material I love. Both books are highly recommended.

Needless to say, they are having an effect on how I want to game the AWI now. Some of those ideas will be coming out in following posts.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").