Monday, August 8, 2016

The Courier, Rev War and Steve Haller

I discovered The Courier magazine in the early 1970's at my local hobby store .  It opened my eyes to the wonderful world of miniature war games. Sure, I had been playing board games from Avalon Hill, but  here were real rules for playing toy soldiers.  Great looking figures, on terrained table tops and lots of research to get correct uniforms and tactics.  Most people were playing Napoleonics, especially a game called Column, Line and Square. The author wrote the most entertaining battle reports and gave great insight in to how and why he wrote his rules and how they represented his historical research.  This was great stuff and I eagerly looked forward to each new issue. When I got into reenacting I found a small group of friends who also war games.  We read and studied copies of the Courier and plotted games and figures.

One of my favorite columns was by Steve
Haller.  He was my guru for American Rev War gaming.  Now those of us who were interested in this were a very tiny smallish niche within a small niche.  But what he put out in each article was a treasure trove of information.  Battle reports, unit history and uniform research.  There were suggestions on organizing troops and discussions on realistic objectives for our games.
More importantly he backed what he wrote about with source materials.  After each article I was off to the library or used book store to find these holy grains of knowledge.  It was through these articles that I set out on a degree in history and eventually a thirty year career with the National Park Service at Rev War sites.

Two articles by Steve Haller always have stood out.  The first was a two part article on Greene's and Cornwallis armies 1780 - 81.
Here were listing of units, troop strengths and uniform information.  The second was a campaign formatted to firefight the Cowpens - Guilford courthouse campaign.  This was outstanding. One did not worry about logistics and map movement. Instead there were a series of interconnected battles who results carried over to the next fight.

 Each side started with a historical order of battles.  Each month of the campaign players were given a series of options.  So January 1781 as Morgan you started with his light Corp.  On a die roll either Picken's or Sumner's or both militia may join you.  You then had the option of either attacking Augusta, Ninety Six or fighting Cowpens.  The British rolled and might reinforce the outposts you were attacking.  While you had the historical order of battle you might get or lose reinforcements.  Once battles happened casualties were removed and you moved to next month.  Replacements and reinforcements were figured in. You had a wonderful system to set up possible battles and firefight the campaign.  Simple but neat and very playable.

When I restarted my rev war armies recently I knew I wanted to do two things.  First do the collection in 25mm.  Second was to build the Greene-Cornwallis armies and re fight the campaign that Steve Haller wrote about too many years ago.  In my next posts I will document building the armies and how the campaign worked out.

But first a word of thanks.  To Dick Bryant for his wonderful publication which started me in this hobby, and Steve Haller who started a life long fascination with (and thirty year career working in) the time period.

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