Friday, February 17, 2017

Mr Madison's rules, Mr Madison's Game.....

   After a week of adjustment from fun to work and from sun shine to snow and cold I wanted to put figures on the table and try a game.  While I generally do not do too much solo gaming I wanted to illustrate how my rules for War of 1812 will work.  So I put out a simple meeting engagement with not much terrain to complicate things. Only three battalions of infantry plus a gun for both sides, all rated 2nd class.  The Americans must cross a bridge and hold the crossroads while the British must take those same cross road.

Turns one through three.
Americans advance over the bridge and deploy to the right and left.  They quickly get the artillery into place.  Die
roll for roads are four average dice so plenty of movement.  The British advance infield column.  They are slower to deploy in to line (bad dice).  Artillery takes a turn to deploy into line so it's having a difficult time either staying with advance or unlimbering.  Remember,  you get a disorganization point (DP) for changing formation so most units now have 1 DP.  To remove this you stand still one turn (i.e. dress ranks)  or have a general remove it.  So
commanders are kept busy sorting out the mess their troops get into.  Note the dice behind battalions which tell you how many DP's they have.

  Turn four. 
  American Artillery has long range fire.  No result since you subtract two from die roll for first fire against target.  Commands still hurry about removing DP's.  Both sides sorted out into line, Americans standing still while British March forward.

  Turn five.
  American Artillery fires and hits (i.e. now adds plus one to roll for same target at same range) causing 1DP on the 100th Regiment of Foot.

Turn six and seven.
  American Artillery is in close range. Fires at 100th Regiment of Foot and rolls a 6.  This causes 1 casualty and 1DP.  Close range artillery can be very bad if you are the target.  Muskets along the line cause minor hits so a few DP's scattered among units. Remember that rolls for muskets and rifles are usually long range so not very devastating.  Close combat is close range fire and moving towards contact.

Turn eight, charge!!
  Both sides fire only artillery. You can either fire or move not both.   British gun rolls high and American 1st Regiment gets a casualty and DP.   British 100th Regiment of Foot gets three DP's from artillery fire so now has total of five DP's, with only five stands (from a casualty).  So it is in very very bad shape.

British 1st Regiment of Foot charges the American 23rd Regiment,  while the American 1st Regiment charges 100th Regiment of Foot,  and the 8th Regiment of Foot charges the American 21st Regiment.   Let's look at how close combat works.

1st Regiment of Foot vs 23rd Regiment;  each regiment rolls one dice per stand.  1st Regiment of Foot rolls a 12;  add 2 for bayonet charge but subtract 2 for DP equals 12.  American 23rd Regiment rolls a 14 with no add/subtract.  Difference in dice is 2 so Americans get plus 2 and British negative 2.  Results are British driven back with 2DP's and one casualty and retreat full move back.  The 23rd get 1Dp.

100th vs 1st;

  The 100th rolls 20 on five dice.  Subtract 10 for five DP's equals 10.  The 1st rolls 20 also, but adds 2 for bayonet charge and subtracts 2 for DP.  Difference is 10.  The 100th is routed and disappeared from the board.

8th vs 211st;
The 8th rolls 27 plus 2 for bayonet charge.  The 211st rolls a 27 but subtracts 6 for three DP's for a 21.  Difference is 8 and this time the Americans rout. Run away!

At this point I called the game.  With two battalions gone the British are in serious trouble.

As I say to my kids, what did we learn from this?  I hope I gave  better understanding of  the rules and how they play.  The key point here is the use of DP's.  They can cause no end of trouble.  Commands spend time cheering up units.  A unit with lots of DP's are easy pickings.  More importantly fresh units are valuable.  Long range fire is annoying but not deadly.  Close combat can be decisive but damaging to both sides unless defender is softened up.  Fresh units (less DP's) can be deadly.  Next time different moral classes and skirmishers added!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Everybody talking about the cold....

  And now a break from the military miniatures and war games with this commercial interruption.....

  Gosh!  It dips down into the single digits and everyone is worried about the cold.  Schools closed. People worried if planes can fly if it's so cold.  It's the major topic on talk radio today.  Everyone who comes into work has to tell me how cold it is.

  And, we get a couple feet of snow dumped on us for good measure.

  Here is your humble blogger a few years back.  On that day it was thirty degrees below zero with the wind chill on the ramp at Logan.  So to all who are gripping about the cold allow me to quote the great philosopher, "you don't know Butkus about cold!"

       Why did I come back from Key West?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hunting the USS Maine in Key West

I have always been fascinated by the story of the destruction of the USS Maine.  Sent to Havana harbour ostensibly to protect  American civilians, the Maine was destroyed by a mysterious explosion on the night of February 15, 1898.  After three major investigations the cause of the initial exploration is still not known.

   In 1911 the wreckage of the Maine was raised.  A coffer dam was built around it, water pumped out and salvage started.  The destroyed bow was cut off, wreckage removed and the ship floated.
   The ship itself was towed out to sea and scuttled.  The wreckage was broken up and towns across the country received parts as monuments to "Remember the Maine."  Some monuments are large like the bow scroll in Bangor Maine, the main mast in Arlington National cemetery and the other mast at Annapolis.  some small like the ventilator cowel in the  traffic circle in Woburn Massachusetts.

   While in Key West I ran into several monuments of the Maine. This was not unexpected as The Maine sailed from the naval station there to Havana.

   Janine jokes that wherever we go I find weird pieces of the Maine.  But here in Key West it was hard not to stumble over the memory of the ship.

   In Mallory square I ran into one of the many salvaged parts from the Maine.  Here is the sighting  dome from the forward turret.  And on a display model of the ship where that dome was located.

In the Custome House museum we discovered a number of artifacts.  These included the naval jack, life rings, utensils from the officers mess.  On a exhibit text it mentioned the ships crew retired that night after a butler played taps.  Forty minutes later the  ship was rocked by two explosions which killed most of the crew.  Afterwards reading this I noticed in a case a bugle recovered from the wreckage.

The Custome House also served as office for the first inquiry into what happened.  They deduced, after interviewing the survivors and talking to divers who examined the
wreak a mine had set off  the first explosion which then set off the forward magazine.  A second inquiry after the ship was raised and re examined confirmed those findings.

  Although some individuals questioned the mine theory it was not seriously explored until 1974 when Admiral Rickover (the father of the nuclear submarine fleet) had his staff reexamine the case.  His staff felt a coal fire was more likely to have caused the magazine
USS Maine being towed out to sea to be scuttled
explosion.  While many excepted his findings, others felt there was little substantial facts to back it up.   While there are problems with each theory I felt the coal fire the least possible.  For a debunking of it here is a good read.

   The pier the Maine sailed from is no longer in existence.  So Janine suggested we walk to the town cemetery to visit the graves of the Sailors and Marines from the Maine and pay our respects.
Most of the crew are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  But a few were buried in Key West right after the sinking.   The area today is quiet and peaceful.  A monument of a sailor marks the area which
contains about a dozen graves all marked unknown.  I think it was a fitting end to our hunt for the USS Maine in Key West.

Is there a part of the USS Maine in your town?  Here is a handy dandy list of where you can items,

Friday, February 10, 2017

Patriots win Super Bowl !

  Still recovering.....what a game!

Two years ago we flew back from Florida to watch the super bowl with friends.  Patriots won. This year flew home to see game with same friends.  Down 28 to 3.  Then big comeback to win in overtime.