Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Featherstonia: ACW Rules

Once again with sincere thanks to Albannach, today we have Donald Featherstone's American Civil War Rules, as marketed by Wargamer's Newsletter, back when real men carried roundshot bouncesticks.





























We're going to slow down the publication rate now - this just to whet the appetite and get things started! Many thanks, Iain - Nobel Prize nomination is being worked on.

***** Late Edit *****

At the end of these rules Don makes reference to the morale effect of having a Fife & Drum band handy on the table (Airfix, converted), to cheer up the troops. This is interesting - you don't suppose Don happened to have such a band available, do you? To set the mood appropriately, here's some Fife & Drum music from the ACW [Google kindly suggested I was looking for Drum & Bass]


I'm interested in this aspect of wargaming - I have been known to discomfit visiting players by subjecting them to my mp3 collection of Napoleonic marches and fanfares during games. While I'm on this digression, I keep meaning to get more seriously involved in putting together companion collections for other nations. I think the Austrian and Prussian material is probably available - British music is a problem - most collections of British Napoleonic marches are played by modern military bands, which probably means saxophones [aargh] and other unacceptable anachronisms, and usually means that you get the Dam Busters in there at some point.

If anyone has any clues on this (off-)topic, please get in touch!

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17 comments:

  1. Barry Lyndon soundtrack is excellent. It has the Prussian Hohenfriedburger March, and Lilibulero and The British Grenadiers. The latter two are played with the drummers having slack drum-skins..as opposed to the taut skins of contemporary military bands. It gives a different and very pleasant effect.

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    1. Iain - thanks for this - it's interesting. The bad news is that the CD is currently selling at £40+, which is a bit steep for an old meanie like me.

      In odd moments, I browse Amazon and elsewhere (especially foreign Amazon) for suitable collections. I'm looking for music that was Napoleonic period (or earlier, of course), played on appropriate instruments, as it would have sounded in the field. Thus, lovely as they are, I am not looking for the Berlin Phil playing the Radetzky, or the 1980s Coldstream Guards playing their greatest hits on modern instruments, or similar. I am interested by the Original Hoch & Deutschmeister band, who play some appropriate pieces, but often mixed in with Colonel Bogie and similar. Somebody must collect this stuff? The BBC came up with some nice old arrangements to accompany their "Scum of the Earth" radio series some years ago, but I can't find it now. I'm not looking for concert bands, or the US Marines at the Edinburgh Tattoo!

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    2. I'll burn a copy for you. Panic not!

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    3. Look for 'Songs and Music of the Redcoats' by Martin Wyndham Lewis...fairly sure its on YouTube...

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    4. Odd there are reenactor band records available. In the US one can get recordings of AWI and ACW music by reenactor bands.

      But, YES! Don had 1/72nd ACW fife and drum bands made from Airfix bandsmen with heads from their ACW sets. I used to look at that picture enviously while trying to figure out how many boxes of bandsmen it took and how much that would cost! (Thanks to Plastic Soldier Review I can now calculate......just 1 box each.)

      Anyway, I am so glad that the rules in Battles With Model Soldiers were soooo much simpler!

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    5. Iain - thank you very much, sir! For purposes of private study only, of course.

      Ross - does this ruleset look to you like one that Don and his friends played regularly? I suspect that he probably played the simpler game at home. It would be interesting to put a date on these. Some of Don's late rules, as published by John Curry's project, appear incomplete, and there is a tendency to involve aspects of other commercial rules as time went on - I think everyone has done this (especially me!) - I don't know if Don went through a WRG phase? Whatever, sometimes the ideas in Don's later books seemed to be undeveloped (though still interesting, of course) and some of the books themselves were presented as collections of ideas rather than cohesive games. I wonder how often the WN Handbook rules were revised, and whether he flew any passing ideas in them? I was surprised by the complexity of this ACW set.

      I gather that the template with the 2" circles would be placed with the long axis in the direction of fire? - over/undershoot seems more likely than a wide shot, especially with rifled artillery?

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    1. Hi Matt - good stuff, eh? All hail Albannach.

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  3. I’m with Ross. The melee rules look a bit fiddly. Those Airfix figures used to fall over as easily as a modern footballer and just cry out to be based in groups. Nice to see such an old set still around though.

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    1. As I mentioned in my reply to Ross, I suspect these rules may have changed fairly frequently. Don was also a beggar for sticking extra bits in as the whim took him - somewhere in Advanced War Games (I think) there is a brief section on how to incorporate a model ambulance into your wargames rules - he must have just painted one!

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  4. Thank you for sharing these - if I had known about these as a boy, had the gumption or the pocket money, I would have written off for these. I never twigged that I could have written to him at the Southampton address in my much borrowed library copy of War Games. Now many years later I finally have the chance to see these rules. Thanks

    These rules seem very 'comprehensive' for every eventuality. As Ross says at least the War Games / Battles with Model Soldiers published versions of these ACW rules were simpler.

    I don't usually play martial music whilst playing a war game but do when painting figures, hoping that I / the paint / figures 'absorbs' some of the period vibe.

    YouTube / Musi and Spotify playlists are a good eclectic free source of recordings, some of them scratchy early 20th century recordings of older troop songs and marches. I play safe with WW2 German troops who only have Lili Marlene on loop. Otherwise it's suitable film scores depending on period - Waterloo, Zulu, Rogue One ...

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  5. Songs and Music of the Redcoats by Martin Wyndham Lewis full album on YouTube indexed by track
    https://youtu.be/QeAtpoZbyEE

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    1. Mark - thanks for this. The Wyndham Lewis album is terrific, but a lot of the soldiers' songs with guitar accompaniment are not what the bands would have played on the battlefield - I'm still looking around at this. Lots of useful leads supplied.

      I confess I am sad enough to have produced a soundtrack for Napoleonic battles, edited from various royalty-free sound effects - this is still incomplete, and it includes snatches of music and drum rolls from time to time. Lots of firing and horses galloping, bugles, men marching in the mud and so on. Probably not enough shouting and swearing, though. My appetite for suitable band music is not directed at this rather frivolous side-project, by the way - it is, as you say, more for the vibe.

      When I was very young, I had a vacation job working in an office, and there was an old guy who was ex-Indian army, who worked as the building manager. Given the chance, he used to tell all the young staff that if kids wanted to listen to music with a beat, they should all get their bloody hair cut and join the army! I still think of him and laugh. If he'd lived, I'm sure he would have been very disappointed that we've gone all these years without a major war, but he maybe had a point somewhere.

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  6. Producing the soundtrack for the game puts you that little bit closer into the category of obsessed, dangerous and mad but stylish villain in film and TV shows such as The Living Daylights and Callan. :)

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    1. Plain crazy, me! The hard bit with my sound effects is trying to get horse-and-musket period battle sounds without repeating cannons - that's a total no-no. If you watch Waterloo a few dozen times (as I have) you become aware that there are some rather modern-sounding weapons on the effects track. Not to worry.

      This definitely affects the brain. In the near future, I plan to replace my old Scots Greys wargames unit with a rather more animated one - Qualiticast, if I can get all the right figures (in the pipeline). When I saw the charging figures, I could hear that weird cinema organ slo-mo sequence from the movie!

      "Mad but stylish" is good though - you think?

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  7. Very interesting to see these as I am currently tweaking Bob Cordery's Portable Napoleonic Wargame to fit the ACW.

    Much more complex than the rules that Featherstone published in his books and very big units with 40 figures in an infantry regiment so using 20mm figures you would want a big table for them. I remember trying the horse and musket rules from the original Wargames book to play ACW games with Airfix figures back in the 1970s before I changed to 15mm ACW figures.

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  8. Thanks for posting these, mislaid my copy over the years, about 55 of them, a welcome breath of nostalgia.

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