Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Death of Kings" - review...

In a word just fantastic...

A lot of people have mentioned that they didn't like Cornwell's last book ("The Fort") I differed, but didn't think it was one of his classic books - it seemed clear to me that his mind was not fully engaged on the story, and was to a certain extent going through (the very enjoyable, to me) motions - this book marks a return to form... difficult to believe, but this is the sixth book in the "Uhtred" series.

Largely fictional, though based on outlines that Cornwell has researched from the chronicles published at the time, the book is set round the death of Alfred (The Great) and the power struggle that developed following his death... 

Alfred wants his son, Edward, to succeed him but there are other Saxon claimants to the throne (way too many names beginning 'Aeth' to remember! ) and as always the Danes to the north are also keen to defeat the Saxon's in order to settle Wessex and Mercia...

In the book Uhtred‘s loyalty was to Alfred rather than Edward, and he is still largely Dane in outlook despite having battled for Alfred for years - he is a pagan in a largely Christian kingdom, and the thing I like about him is that despite the vows, he is still not 100% committed to Wessex - you feel he could up-sticks and leave at any time.. especially as his continued aim is to regain his old family lands in the north based on Bamburgh Castle..

The book deals with his involuntary vow to support Edward, the mission to build a united England, but in the short term the struggle for survival in the face of a massive Danish invasion, coupled with the conspiracy and double dealing by Saxons and other kingdoms to come out on the winning side..

Brilliant book - Cornwell does the shield wall, and the description of the close quarter fighting, better than any other author I know...  Steve the Wargamer gives this one a solid 8 out of 10.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

He's back...

...just had a break, chez famille, at my Dad's place in Edinburgh so apologies for the break in service but I come back chock full of posts - all I need to do is find time to write them... footballer pictures

So... standby for:
  • the completion of the write up for the "Retreat to the Coast" game..
  • a review of my visit to Stirling Castle which I enjoyed while in the 'auld country'
  • a review of "Blue at the Mizzen" which I finished whilst on the same break
  • a write up on my trip to the Museum of Scotland to see the Cochrane exhibition
  • ...anything else I can think of, and that I have time to complete.. footballer pictures
....and at some time this weekend "Papillon" will be coming out of the water for her winter break ashore, and I have to take the mast down... it's going to be a busy one...!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

..those who doubted....

...have had their expectations reset...

...teams don't get to the Rugby World Cup by luck, but the French have had more criticism and doubt thrown at them than most teams in the competition, anyone would think that they didn't deserve to be in the final they were expected to give so little opposition....

...as a life long French rugby fan, it is with great pleasure, and not a little relief, that I say - 'think on', you doubters... brilliant game, the Kiwi's won it, but the French played magnificently...  


Allez le Bleu!!!



Well white actually...  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"The Hundred Days" - a review..

"It is true that in the community of mariners the "not quite exactly" opinion was widely held; for although Stephen could now tell the difference between starboard and larboard, it still called for some reflection: and it marked the limit of his powers. This general view, however, in no way affected their deep respect for him as a medical man: his work with a trephine or a saw, sometimes carried out on open deck for the sake of the light, excited universal admiration, and it was said that if he chose, and if the tide were still making, he could save you although you were already three parts dead and mouldy. Furthermore, a small half of one of his boluses would blow the backside off a bullock."

This book is something of a joy, as the Mediterranean has always been Jack's lucky hunting ground - even from the beginning of his career - and in this book with Napoleon escaped from St Helena, and Europe again descended into war, Aubrey is dispatched as commodore of a small flotilla into that very sea...

The book starts with his mission to defend a convoy of East Indiamen from a Moorish fleet of corsairs. He is successful in this and on his return to Gibraltar, Aubrey is then instructed to proceed to the Adriatic to seek and destroy any French forces, and then to proceed to Algiers.

Stopping off in Mahon (Menorca) along the way Aubrey and the crew of the Surprise encounter a French Royalist ship that gives him valuable intelligence on the French situation in the Adriatic

The flotilla then take on and defeat two further French frigates - one by battle, the other by "agreement" (the captain was a Royalist); after this second battle Matruin comes up with a scheme to lay out a considerable amount of gold to have a large number of French ships currently being built destroyed by the already disgruntled dockworkers who had not been paid for their work - the scheme is an unmitigated success....

Aubrey then departs for the second part of his mission which is to go to Algiers with the intention of defeating a scheme by a Muslim confederacy to prevent or delay the junction of the Russian and Prussian armies. They intend to do this with a largely mercenary force, and Aubrey mission is to stop the (large) payment required to buy them.After many adventures in the Atlas mountains hunting and shooting a lion who is about to attack the new Dey (sultan) - Maturin is given a promise that no assistance will be given to the Muslim plot. Maturin's colleague however discovers that the Dey's Vizier (a Bonapartiste) is conspiring to have the money sent by a fast-sailing xebec.

While waiting to be picked up and returned to the flotilla with this news, and in a priceless part of the story, Maturin ends up buying two Irish children in the slave market - they then rejoin Aubrey and take the flotilla back to Gibraltar to report.

I think it fair to say that Aubrey is not on the best of terms with the new admiral in charge (Lord Keith has retired), and he is worried that he will not be given the mission to capture the treasure ship but in the end all works out well as Maturin's influence with the admirals intelligence advisor, and Jacks relationship to the admiral's new wife, cause a thaw in their relations.

Armed with new intelligence on the enemies plans, Jack lays in wait for the treasure ship and when it opens fire on them, he chases it and finally corners it at Cranc (Crab) island where they manage to force it's surrender by hauling a nine-pounder gun to the top of a cliff so that they can fire down on it...

After returning victorious to Gibraltar, it looks like they will lose out on the prize money as the Vizier (who has in the meanwhile assassinated the Dey, and taken the crown) requests the return of the ship and treasure; happily he too is deposed and the prize money is confirmed...

The end of the book coincides with Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, and Aubrey and Maturin set sail for Chile in the Surprise to complete the mission they started in the Yellow Admiral...

Steve the Wargamer rates this one as a definite nine out of ten - the battle scenes are stunning, the technical references are so readable, there is comedy (you have to laugh at the scene in the slave market when Stephen buys the children out of slavery ), pathos (at the very beginning of the book Stephen's wife Diana dies, as does Aubrey's mother-in-law, in a crash when Diana's rash driving overturns their coach) , and downright sadness (Jack's coxswain, Bonden, is killed in this book)....  read it at once!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Retreat to the coast.. Moves 9 to 12

So when we left it at the end move 8 the Dervish units all over the table were now beginning to converge on the small Imperial force..

At the top of the table in the following, one Dervish force is almost within charge reach - the cavalry and Hadendowa are within sight so heading straight at them... happily for the Imperial force, the two dervish rifle armed units are throwing some particularly poor dice and their progress towards the coming battle is very slow..

The Imperial square has stopped and the North Middlesex deploy in line to bring maximum fire power to bear on the Hadendowa who were hurtling over the dune to their front - in a truly massive volley (close range, entire regiment plus elements of the Sudanese) the Hadendowa are completely obliterated - strike one to the Imperial force..

Move 9 - the Hadendowa have been obliterated but all is not yet over by a long shot..
Happily the Imperial fire power also finally makes itself felt on the charging unit tot he right and enough casualties are inflicted to cause the Dervish unit to throw a succession of "pluck" tests that slow down their advance considerably...

At the beginning of the move another Dervish unit arrives - what is scarily spooky is that they enter just by the point where the previous "rub" of Hadendowa have been destroyed....  ground hog day for the Imperial force, and Wade Smith can be forgiven for rubbing his eyes in disbelief..

Move 10 - further reinforcements arrive - more Hadendowa (on the left) - and spookily close to where there brethren were recently obliterated - on the right the charging Dervish unit is reduced to just half strength...
One feels that by this turn the Imperial force might have been a little worried - the Dervish cavalry is clearly within charge reach, he Hadendowa are taering down on them like howling wolves, and on the other flank those pesky Dervish will not go away...

Wade Smith orders his infantry to continue extending their line (not without some misgivings - not for nothing was the square the formation of choice in the desert - just because there are no Dervish behind them at the moment, doesn't mean that they won't appear behind their line at some point in time..), and directs them to split their fire between the Hadendowa and the cavalry - yet again the Martini Henry's ring out across the desert, and more followers of the Mahdi fall...

Move 11 - can't help thinking this is crunch point - the Imperial force has made very little progress but they clearly aren't going to with that lot heading their way!
A somewhat closer view of the centre of the action - starting top right - just eleven left of the original 24 in that Dervish unit and they've failed a "pluck" test (yellow pin) so half move next turn...  the cavalry have lost one stand (black flag - all my Dervish bases count as two stands) and there are only five figures remaining in the other stand, so 7 casualties all told and in rules terms these guys will now need to start testing their pluck. The Hadendowa are in a better condition - only 4 casualties so far...

A close up of the action in Move 11
...and so it continued into move 12 with the Imperial force continuing to spew brass cartidges over the ground like confetti... another devastating volley from the North Middlesex and their Sudanese comrades in arms severely depletes the cavalry and the Hadendowa - on the other flank the British cavalry and the screw gun have halted the Dervish in their tracks - I'm not so worried about this flank but note how the cunning Dervish unit behind are using their depleted comrades as "cover" - they are within charge reach and no damage....

End Move 12 - when will those rifle armed Dervish units get moving! You'll also note the infeasibly large numbers of dice at the top of the picture - clearly the Imperial force have just fired!
..stay tuned - the game nears completion, the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer is on a night shift tonight, and I sense a long session in the loft is coming; the next post will document to the end of the game - whichever way it goes....!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1st Portsea Island Beer festival..

The "Retreat to the Coast" game continues and I have a massive update as soon as I can get my act together to tidy it up and put some lucid thoughts round it...

Life has been a tad more busy than I expected just recently, in a good way I hasten to add, and has delayed the completion of the game - to be honest I'm gagging to get back "at it" but the ability to leave a game up in situ is a huge benefit...

So what's taking up the time? Well since the last update a couple of things - all of Sunday was taken up with family duty's and sailing - the end of the sailing season is fast approaching so I'm getting in as much time on the water as I can to tide me through the long winter months...

All of Saturday though was taken up with a visit to the 1st Portsea Beer festival [click here] which my brother-in-law-in-law (we're married to sisters..) and I cycled to on what must have been one of the most glorious October days I can remember... 35 miles, but well worth it to partake of a large number of local ales - over 50 in fact from a variety of local breweries - some absolute crackers but the venue for the event was particularly impressive - it was held in the Groundlings Theatre which is located in a Grade 2 listed schoolhouse built originally in 1784, so dating back to the Georgian period...

So the story goes, in 1754 a Beneficial Society was created by local man John Shakespear and five colleagues with the aim of supporting each other in times of need. Each member contributed one shilling per month and it was agreed that any spare money collected would be donated to pay for the education of poor children from the local area. The society membership was extended the next year, which in turn allowed the building of the school in 1784.
The Old Benificiary School Portsmouth, HampsireDownstairs was the class room and upstairs was used by the Society for meetings, concerts and theatrical events.

Apparently the school applied a very disciplinarian attitude to education and there is still a hook in the building, to which originally children were tied to receive punishment by the birch!

Girls were allowed to enrol in 1837, a junior (primary) school was also formed in 1873, but the school had to be closed during WWII (presumably because it's only a couple of hundred yards away from the dockyard) - in fact rumour has it that a Nazi sympathiser used the roof to signal German bombers attacking the dockyard.

The school finally closed in 1962, and re-opened as the theatre in 2010 - and very lively it is as well. A brilliant venue - the festival was in the old meeting room upstairs, a lovely airy room...

Two interesting facts about the building, in 1812, whilst attending a dance in the building, Elizabeth Dickens went into labour and shortly afterwards gave birth to her son ....Charles - you may know him.... also, the man who became the Premier of South Australia 7 times and after whom Ayres Rock was named, Henry Ayres, was a pupil at this school.... oh, and apparently it's haunted by at least 15 ghosts, and a friendly poltergeist..

Not a bad venue for a beer - will definitely be going again next year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Retreat to the coast.. Moves 5 to 8

So you may remember that in the last thrilling instalment, Wade-Smith and his trusty companion, the Belgian Observing Officer Captain Lucien Verbeek (with his horse Teufel.. ) are making their way back to the coast following the completion of a reconnaissance mission north of the Suez port of Suakin..  they have have nearly reached the coast where they will be picked up by gunboat, when the sound of Dervish drums alerts them to the presence of a Dervish force in the immediate area...

...back to the battle....

Move 5:

The Imperial infantry continue the formation of their square... In order to give as much frontage as possible, Wade-Smth leaves the "back" of the square open - time will tell if this is a mistake, but he works on the assumption that he needs to provide shelter in the centre for the artillery and crew...

Cover from the Penguin addition of "The Four Feathers" if I'm not mistaken
His cavalry and artillery continue to pour an extraordinarily ineffective fire into the closest of the two Dervish units charging them..

For the Dervish, another unit appears, this time they are Hadendowa, the feared and renowned fuzzy-wuzzy of Kipling fame, alerted by the sound of gun fire and the drums...

Move 6:

The Imperial square completes, but the firing by their dismounted cavalry, and the screw gun, is atrocious and the Dervish continue to close on the Imperial line (on a rules note - and that's all the text in purple - I've never seen so many 1's and 2's on an infeasibly large number of D6' in my life... as an example, at close range the artillery are throwing two D6/crew so that's eight dice hitting on a 4 or more - in the throw this move every dice was a 1 or 2 except one solitary 4, and when I threw again to kill I missed.. clearly they are suffering from some kind of heat exhaustion..)

Elsewhere, the other Dervish units appear to be suffering the same ennui as the Imperial firing parties - they are out of sight of the Imperial force and in several instances remain in their original position only making slow progress towards the centre of the attack... just as well really, or Wade-Smith's "promising" career could be over almost before it started!

Move 7:

Position at the End of Move 7 - Dervish cavalry have arrived - the assault (right) is gathering pace but has been fragmented by the rocky outcrop that has caused one of the Dervish units to slow so as to manoeuvre round it...

..and more Dervish reinforcements arrive, this time in the form of some cavalry who deploy on the hill just to the side of the farm (NB. In scenario terms that's all the first wave of Dervish units now deployed)

The assault on the Imperial line is going well, albeit the Dervish have still only managed to concentrate one unit - the Dervish attack has now entered close range and the Imperial fire picks up additional vigour but remains ineffective - just three casualties so far from 3 rounds of fire!

Move 8:

At last after working like demons the crew of the little screw gun load, fire and reload, and cause massive casualties on the charging dervish - just yards away they falter (the black flag indicates that that one of the bases, which represents two stands of six figures, is down to one stand. The red dice indicates only four left on the second stand. Imperial force has therefore inflicted eight casualties on the unit - the Dervish "pluck" rating is 7, one less, so they have to test their pluck which they then fail.... next move they'll only advance half, and will have to test again... for pluck think "morale"... a simple process but remarkably effective)

Elsewhere:

the Imperial square continues to advance on the coast - wade Smith's view is that the cavalry and the gun will be able to take care of the Dervish charging them... he may be right...... to his from however, he has just seen a howling mob of fuzzy-wuzzy breasting the dune, and coming straight at him....

The Dervish cavalry is swinging round as they have also spotted the Imperial units... the two Dervish units with green pins - bottom left, and bottom centre - are rifle armed....

Position at the End of Move 8 - Dervish units all over the table are now beginning to converge on the small Imperial force.. at the top of the table one Dervish force is almost within charge reach - the cavalry and Hadendowa are within sight so heading straight at them...

Stay tuned for further instalments - getting exciting - certainly gives me something to dwell on whilst cycling to work after having done a few moves!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Retreat to the coast.. Moves 1 to 4

It was a bit windy and blowy on Sunday for comfortable sailing [click here] and as I was also recovering from a trip Round the Island [click here] (the Isle of Wight that is - 75 miles on a yacht in just over 13 hours ... stupendous!), and as the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and oldest Steve the Wargamer spud were at work, I decided that the omens were indeed good for a morning in the loft....

Having cleared away a few work items, tidied up some of the paper storm that is the loft state, made a sausage baguette [click here for the sausage details], brewed a cup of filter coffee, and then switched on the rugby, I was finally in a position to decide what the activity of the morning was to be, and it basically came down to a choice of three...
  1. hit the painting table where I have an American war of Independence regiment of Hessian Fusiliers awaiting touch up and basing - they're already painted so just need some tidying up - these will eventually grace the table as Infantry Regiment Erbprinz
  2. Kick off the first American Civil War ironclad game - table was set - just a matter of picking one of the trial rule sets and having a play through...
  3. I've been reading a lot of back issues of "Practical Wargamer", a number of which feature Sudan scenario's. Definitely a scratch to be itched there...
...had to be the Sudan, so I hoiked out my copy of the "A Good Dusting" [click here] rules (in preference at the moment to my own rules), and set up the table for another outing of Major the Honourable St John Wade-Smith and His Majesty Leopold II's observing officer Captain Lucien Verbeek (with his horse Teufel.. )

So without further ado - let us again to the sands of the desert...

Orders of battle: As with the previous game [click here] as advised in the rules I again went for a ratio of 3:1 (that's Dervish : Imperial)  for a close game; it worked last time and no reason it won't this game. This time however, I plan to 'recycle' the Dervish units so that I can use a bigger Imperial force...

British/Imperial:

All the following are under the overall command of Major the Honourable St John Wade-Smith (that paragon of Victorian gentlemanly valour..) - all British regiments are of course fictional...
  • 1st Battalion - North Middlesex Regiment of Foot
  • 10th Sudanese Infantry
  • 1 "Screw" gun - carried by camel
  • 1st Squadron - Rutlandshire Yeomanry (carbine armed British cavalry)

Dervish:

Starting force.. 
  • 3 units of Arab sword/spear men
  • 2 units of Arab rifles
  • 1 unit of Arab horse
  • 1 unit of Beja sword/spear men
  • One smooth-bore cannon with Egyptian prisoner crew
The first four "deceased" units will be returned to the table as Dervish reinforcements..

Mission: The Imperial force has been on an extended reconnaissance in an area to the north of Suakin as there have been isolated rumours of Dervish activity. They have now completed the reconnaissance and are making their way back to the coast, where they will be picked up by gun boat and returned to Suakin for some much needed rest and recuperation... but as they approach an isolated farm on the coast that marks their embarkation point, the sound of Dervish drums [click here] rends the air...

The following shows the immediate area - the Imperial force enters from the  top of the table directly opposite the water - all textured tiles & hills are classed as rough going, the rocky outcrops are impassable - British mission is to make it to the coast (bottom of the table) with the majority of their force intact...


Move 1:

...and the Imperial force enters the table - in hindsight far too closely deployed but that was remedied on subsequent moves. The infantry in column on either side, screened by the Rutlandshire's, and with the artillery in the centre with Wade-Smith...

No Dervish units arrived on this turn so the British move towards the coast was unopposed...


Move 2: 

The Rutlandshire's report signs of Dervish activity to their right, and dust clouds towards the coast where the farm can only just be seen through the heat haze...

I had rolled for a Dervish appearance, was successful, and the subsequent roll showed 3 Dervish units as having arrived - position of entry and how far they moved were decided by dice roll.  Two of the units were deployed on the coast and I decided they were out of visibility range of the British (an arbitrary decision that spotting would be clear line of sight and a maximum of 36") so their movement was diced for on the relevant chart..

At the end of the position was as follows:


Move 3:

...and two of the Dervish units are now on the move - the one to the right can see the British cavalry and has orders to close on them at maximum speed - on the coast one of the units is staying put, the other has gone looking for trouble...


..the Imperial force spreads out to give themselves some room - the artillery and the cavalry have drawn forward to cover the rest of the column - my intention is to dismount the cavalry and deploy/assemble the gun...

..no further Dervish units appear..

Move 4:

..and another two Dervish units appear - one in support of the Dervish charging the British, and another on the coast..


The Imperial infantry prepares to form square - the cavalry has dismounted and the gun deployed. These latter two both fire causing two casualties to the left'most Dervish unit..


=============================================

..and that's it for this instalment - but stay tuned for more thrilling adventures in the Sudan as I play the game through in a leisurely way, a couple of moves at a time, as and when I have a moment - happily I usually get to play a couple of turns in the morning before I leave for work...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Short update...

Just a short update to let you know what's currently going on....

At the weekend I made a visit to my local DIY emporium and bought myself six carpet tiles in a blue mottled effect - that's the playing surface for the ironclad game sorted! I may still get myself a few more as they are only 50cm square, and it leaves a fair amount of my 6' x 4' table without covering... the playing area for the game is probably big enough because in reality the two ironclads are going to close as soon as they can to either batter each other into submission, or ram.... subtlety is not a major part of the scenario!

Separately I continue to investigate rules suitable for the game - have continued to read the Phil Dunn rules but was slightly unhappy with the time scale and unit recording aspects for the game.... in his rules turns represent one minute at the tactical level, reducing to 30 seconds at micro level (when a ramming attack is being launched for example) but this means guns are firing only every 3 turns.. even with two ships that's a little onerous to track.....

I now have some further sets to check -all of these are free by the way...
  • "Flotilla" was a set published on the web here
  •  "Smoke on the Water" available from here (image above from their excellent site by the way)
  • "A Hotter Fire" available from here
...truly the web is an amazing place!

===========================================
Separately, "The Hundred Days", and "Blue at the Mizzen" have arrived in the post from Amazon - a total bargain by the way - two hardbacks for only a fiver delivered....  astonishing!

Second hand of course, but one good copy and one average, but at a penny each plus postage not to be sniffed at.

Should I ever buy a Kindle, the entire series will be high on my list....

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Battle of Hampton Roads and a rule conundrum..

As I mentioned previously, the source of my original interest all those years ago was the chapter in Donald Featherstone's "Naval War Games" book that dealt with the action between "Monitor and Merrimac" (sic) at the Battle of Hampton Roads..


So the cassus belli of my little sub-project is that same battle, using those same ships I used all those years ago...

The cause of the battle was the Confederate attempt to break the Union naval blockade of Norfolk and Richmond, and was fought over two days, March 8th and 9th 1862, in Hampton Roads which was the spot where the Elizabeth, Nansemond and James Rivers meet just near the Chesapeake Bay.

The following from the excellent Wikipedia article shows the area well...


Perhaps more importantly (in history terms anyway) this was also to be the first naval battle between ironclad warships.

Orders of Battle:The Confederate fleet consisted of "Virginia" of course, supported by the tender gunboats (think small, iron hulled, ships) "Raleigh" and "Beaufort", and ships from the James River Squadron - comprising the gunboats "Patrick Henry" (left), "Jamestown" and "Teaser".

The Union fleet, known as the North Atlantic Blocking Squadron, was on paper at least considerably larger and comprised the "Monitor" (who didn't arrive until the 9th); the 50-gun screw frigates "Minnesota" and "Roanoke"; the 44-gun sailing frigates "St. Lawrence", "Purviance" & "Congress", plus a 24-gun sailing sloop-of-war the "Cumberland", and several other smaller gunboats and support boats (tugs). The problem was that the majority of these were wooden ships...and Virginia was about to be unleashed like a wolf among sheep....

8th

On the first day of the battle the Confederate force was opposed by only those conventional, wooden-hulled ships - in fairly short order Virginia destroyed Cumberland by ramming (but broke her ram in the process, and almost sank when she couldn't disengage), and Congress by gun fire (including use of red hot shot) and was about to attack Minnesota (which had run aground a half mile below Newport News during an attempt to escape) when the attack was called off due to a falling tide, and oncoming darkness...

Virginia (above) was not completely undamaged - gun fire on her smokestack had reduced her already low speed. Two of her guns were disabled and several armour plates had been loosened. Two of her crew were killed, and more were wounded one of whom was her Captain.

Clearly round one to the Confederates...

On the night of the 8th, the Confederate squadron remained at anchor off Sewell's point.


9th

After hurried repairs overnight, Virginia steamed into action the next day to finish off Minnesota.

During the night, however, Monitor had arrived in the Roads and had taken a position to defend Minnesota.The two ships opened fire on each other helped by an occasional (ineffective) broadside from Minnesota...

"After fighting for hours, mostly at close range, neither could overcome the other. The armour of both ships proved adequate. In part, this was because each was handicapped in her offensive capabilities.  .... Virginia, had not expected to fight another armoured vessel, so ... guns were supplied only with shell rather than armour-piercing shot.

Monitor's guns were used with the standard service charge of only 15 lb of powder, which did not give the projectile sufficient momentum to penetrate her opponent's armor. Tests conducted after the battle showed that the Dahlgren guns could be operated safely and efficiently with charges of as much as 30 lb ...

The battle finally ceased when a chance shell from Virginia struck the pilot house of Monitor and exploded, driving fragments through the viewing slits into [her captains] eyes and temporarily blinding him. As no one else could see to conn the ship, Monitor was forced to draw off. The executive officer took over, and Monitor returned to the fight.

In the period of command confusion, however, the crew of Virginia believed that their opponent had withdrawn. Although Minnesota was still aground, the falling tide meant that she was out of reach. Furthermore, Virginia had suffered enough damage to require extensive repair. Convinced that his ship had won the day ... ordered her back to Norfolk. At about this time, Monitor returned, only to discover her opponent apparently giving up the fight. Convinced that Virginia was quitting, with orders only to protect Minnesota and not to risk his ship unnecessarily ... did not pursue. Thus, each side misinterpreted the moves of the other, and as a result each claimed victory.".

..and there you have it.... if you consider the original Confederate aim, then in reality this was a Union victory as irrespective of the engagement on the day, the Union blockade was not broken, and in fact the Union reinforced the blockade over the next months...

...the scenario I plan to game is the events of the 9th...in effect Minnesota played little or no part in the engagement so I don't feel a burning need to represent her on the table top, Virginia was accompanied by the James River Squadron but they played no part (that I can find) so no need to represent them...


I hoiked the Featherstone book off the shelf again the other day to refresh my memory on what rules I had used all those years ago, and can confirm that they are very simple, but times move on, and while I don't want to count rivets, or include modifiers for what type of cordite they were using in their shells, I need something a little more detailed for my little sub project...

So next I reached for that other staple of the old school wargamers library "Sea Battle Games" by Phil Dunn and I think that these are the rules that I will try for my game...

Just to conclude - it's worth noting how earth shattering this battle was - once the news reached out Britain and France stopped all further building of wooden hulled ships.. full stop.... the new warship design introduced with the Monitor soon became the standard for all war ships, and the ram also made it's re-appearance albeit not for as long....

Further Reading: