Saturday, 29 January 2011

Classic ACW books and videos.

I have been busy re-basing my Napoleonic collection but I'm now ready to dedicate more time to this project. I hope to have some painted units to show shortly but in the meantime I have been looking through my ACW book collection.

I started collecting ACW books over 25 years ago and now have some rare and out of print volumes on my shelves. Some of these I would say are a 'must' for anyone who wants to develop deeper understanding on the period. Some are now classics of course, I have both of Bell Irvin Wiley's masterpieces, originally published in 1943, 'The Life of Johnny Reb, the common soldier of the Confederacy' and 'The Life of Billy Yank, the common soldier of The Union'. My editions are Louisiana State University Press, 1992 and possibly the two best books I have ever read on the period. Both were presents from my late Sister in Law who ordered them from the States for me for my Birthday 18 years ago. The classic 4 volume set 'Battles and Leaders of the Civil War' I remember hunting for in many bookshops before I found them most unexpectedly in one of those large 'discount' book shops at the then bargain price of £35.00, about 15 years ago, I snapped them up. A little gem of a volume that I found in a second hand military book shop many years ago is 'Shenandoah Valley Campaign 1861 - 8162' by A Kearsey. My edition is 1953 and in pristine condition. Its just a slim volume with card covers, but printed on fine laid paper and features beautifully printed fold out maps that pull out from the back of the book. I will introduce more of my book collection as the blog develops.

In 1988 Classic Images Productions filmed and released the '125th Anniversary Series' of Civil War battle re enactments in video format. These featured thousands of US re-enactors and a detailed voice over with maps etc. I still have these and keep an old video player so that I can still watch them! Again these were ordered directly from the States back in the mid Eighties as hey were not available in this country at that time. Some of the footage is quite stunning in its scale, with battle lines stretching as far as the eye can see and massed artillery batteries of full size pieces. I'm not sure if they are now available on DVD, but I'd recommend them to any ACW enthusiast.

That's it for now, I'll try to get some figures painted to get the ball rolling again!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Getting started.

Well, the first order is in for 15mm Peter Pig miniatures. As I intend to build armies for both sides I have ordered a mix of Union and Confederate figures. I thought long and hard about what pose to buy before settling on the 'advancing' pose. Now of course the advancing at 'Right shoulder shift' pose would be the most accurate to use as Civil War regiments marched and attacked in this position, the muskets only being ordered down from the shoulder at the last possible minute to stop any spontaneous firing, but this would limit my choice of figures considerably so I have gone for the more general advancing post. For anybody who has not seen the quality of the PP figures here is a link to some beautiful Civil War figures on the website as painted by Phil Robinson and Andy Rands. Please click on the images to enlarge these amazing images. ........ this is certainly what finally sold me on the PP range!

ACW using PP figures by Hull wargamers. Pics by Andy Rands & Phil Robinson

No doubt as this blog develops it will feature a certain amount of nostalgia as it brings back memories of Civil war 'stuff'. I actually found myself whistling 'The Bonnie Blue Flag' today for instance! I did once have quite a large collection of CW songs and music. One of the first recreations I saw on film was from the film 'GLORY' made back in 1989 . The opening sequence was amazing and the Antietam sequence spared no detail in recreating the horror of the combat. Just watched it again after what must be 12 years and it is still very stirring stuff indeed. The Antietam attack sequence is about 3 minutes in but I think it also portrays well the the high level of literacy amongst soldiers who have left us so many fascinating accounts of life during the war.

Next post I will discuss my choice of Johnny Reb rules with some details on basing etc as hopefully painting gets underway.

Sunday, 2 January 2011



Its been over 30 years since I played my first ACW wargame and 9 years since I played my last. I gave up for numerous reasons but mainly pressure of work/life etc and also as a result of some serious research into the period that left me feeling uncomfortable at recreating what could only be described as slaughter on an almost unimaginable scale, that was undoubtedly the reality of this war. At Shiloh for example many of the troops on both sides had never even fired a shot in anger before that day and were armed with old fashion smoothbore muskets but when the fighting started they moved up close and delivered/endured the most appalling casualties, with equal courage on both sides, its impossible not be moved by such stories.

I did 4 years of re enactment here in the UK during the 90's, mostly as a member of the 42nd Pennsylvania 'Bucktails' and later as a member of the 2nd US Sharpshooters. During that period my knowledge and understanding of the period grew and I guess I began to get a little 'too close' to the inhumanity of the war and lost touch with the fun aspect. 9 years on I can now stand back a little and think back to the many enjoyable table top recreations that I took part in.

The emphasis of this blog will be very much on the 'gaming' aspect unlike my previous Napoleonic blog which was more about painting figures, although I intend to put 100% into the painting of these 15mm units too. After a lot of thought I have decided to go with 'Peter Pig' miniatures for reasons that I hope will become apparent oncer I get painting. More on this later.

No question on this one, its got to be Johnny Reb for me, and I'm sticking with 2nd edition for reasons I'll explain as the blog develops. My battered old copy remains my pride and joy, and even after 9 years I can recite much of the rules from memory!

I look forward to you joining me on this new journey and hope to get to know others who share my passion for the ACW.

Lee. (You see, even my name has an ACW connection!!)