Tuesday, June 25, 2013

That battle


The Battle of Albeura by Barnes Wollen

There is often one battle that strike the imagination of the wargamer, some sort
of Ur-conflict that he encountered at a sensitive moment that has just sunk in
and will not be shaken. One finds oneself refighting it in different forms (how
many science fiction Normandy landings have you seen?) or using it as a touch
stone, constantly referring back to it.

Some wargamers refight "their battle" dozens of times, others embark on huge
unworkable projects in order to recreate this one perfect moment.

What's yours ?

I was thinking about this myself and there are a couple of contenders. The

common denominator appears to be that I first discovered them when I was around
eleven or twelve.

Agincourt, Waterloo, Albheura or Maida.




The Battle of Maida

I've wargamed Maida about half a dozen times and it is usually my model for a

small black powder engagement. It would be perfect if there was only more
cavalry.

Albheura was seared into my memory by reading "Soldiers" by Richard Holmes and
his account of the battle for the Buffs standard. I get chills when I think of
the thunder of hooves and Colonel Inglis calling "Die Hard!" through the smoke
as he lay bleeding. Never gamed it though. Soon.





                         The Duke of Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hilingford 

Waterloo & Agincourt need no explanation, but I think that Henry V was the first Shakespeare
play that I read for myself and for pleasure had a lot to do with it. After Henty and
other stuff about both battles, reading my father's copy of "The Face of Battle" was a revelation.




What was the spur for your battle? Was it a movie? Zulu definitely launched a thousand
colonial wargamers? Did Charlton Heston send you up the Nile to Khartoum? Or did Sam Peckinpah send you packing for the Eastern Front?  

14 comments:

  1. Cunaxa.

    First came across the Ten Thousand in one of those A5 size black-and-white commando comics - and it wasn't WW2!

    Immediate hook.

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    Replies
    1. Commando comics have a lot to answer for I suspect.

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  2. I think it's obvious what my silly big plan is. I blame Michael Caine.

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  3. Seeing 'The Alamo' on TV at the age of 5 or 6 inspired a whole series of desperate and hopeless last stands, reinforced by seeing 'Zulu' a few years later.

    There are a couple of ACW battles - Wilson's Creek and Antietam - which captured my imagination for various reasons, and which I have gamed using a couple of different rules over the years. But for both I'm still looking for the Perfect Game :)

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  4. Agincourt, Waterloo, Rorkes Drift - is there any wonder I like defensive battles. Best of luck finding the perfect one.

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  5. "Kidstuff": Waterloo, the Alamo. Both have strong nostalgic resonance as a "me and Dad" thing. Both are remembered childhood narratives.

    "Bigkidstuff": Cannae, Monongahela. Strikingly similar, as I think about it.

    FMB

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    Replies
    1. Curiously enough - I never played any of those battles with my father, though he was always a very reliable source of books.

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  6. Earliest inspiration: visiting Gettysburg when I was eight years old, seeing Fort Apache, getting to see the Longest Day for my birthday as a youngster on a huge screen. Zulu, too.
    Big kid moment - seeing a Bridge Too Far and Gettysburg. Re-visiting Gettysburg some seven or eight times as a grown up. Being at the Alamo for the 150th anniversary....
    Jerry
    The Celtic Curmudgeon

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    Replies
    1. Sounds wonderful. I've done far less battlefield walking than I would like to.

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  7. The one that sticks with me, although admittedly one I've never tried to game, is Trafalgar. It feels like it's got everything, at every kind of level. It's made possible by economic decisions at a governmental level, it's incredibly important at a strategic level, it's innovative at a tactical level, it displays the power of leadership, the value of discipline and the variations of technology between opposing forces.

    It's even got narrative drama, with big-name characters, adultery, espionage and an ocean-hopping chase, culminating in a climactic battle where the hero dies and his opponent is stabbed repeatedly in the stomach (officially ruled suicide) for his failure.

    As a battle, it's important enough to still be key to studies today, the clash of innovation against the tried and trusted, and in its own day it formed arguably the lynchpin of what, a decade later, would result in Bonaparte's defeat. The legacy of Trafalgar, and the resultant utter dominance of the seas by Britain, is something that literally shaped the world. That's why it's the one I consider my touchstone battle, because it's got a bit of everything, and its importance and long-term impact is unprecedented.

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  8. Mine used to be Kursk, but I did the Southern pincer with NQM in the '80s, And Tim Gow did the Northern pincer with Megablitz. Then it was Stalingrad, but I soloed that one and may revisit it this or next year. I keep dreaming about Caen, but I would have to do Alamein first, and that's a bit formulaic, so perhaps the battle for Berlin ... oh, I don't know!

    Regards, Chris

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  9. Mine used to be Kursk, but I did the Southern pincer with NQM in the '80s, And Tim Gow did the Northern pincer with Megablitz. Then it was Stalingrad, but I soloed that one and may revisit it this or next year. I keep dreaming about Caen, but I would have to do Alamein first, and that's a bit formulaic, so perhaps the battle for Berlin ... oh, I don't know!

    Regards, Chris

    ReplyDelete
  10. General Du GourmondJuly 1, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    The peninsular war due to Sharpe tv series particular Talavera due to Sharpes Eagle and the charge of the light brigade the the 1968 film version still results in a desire to charge any guns on a table

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