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 Post subject: Scouting question/opinions
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:43 am 
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I am currently playing a multiplayer Gettysburg scenario. The game is one of the "meeting engagement" scenarios so unlike a historical scenario where you have a general idea what enemy forces you are facing, in this one I don't know what commands the enemy units I can see belong to. It seems to me that the only way I can find out this information is to send a cavalry detachment adjacent to one of the enemy units, which basically dooms that unit to distruction. I am sure all of you know this so my question would be are there opinions on how to change this. Historically information regarding enemy formations could be determined prior to direct contact. Flags could be seens or in some cases uniforms, men would straggle and get scooped up by patrols, etc. Would it not be more realistic for units to see who they are facing from a greater distance? I mean isn't one hex about 100 yards? Perhaps cavalry could see from 10 hexes with the reasoning being that they would have out small patrols that would get closer and be able to evade the enemy response? I have seen my play, due to hard lessons on the vulnerability of cavalry, evolve into on of simply wait and see what happens. Simply put, I am very reluctant to use cavalry for their intended and historical purpose which is scouting. In the past I have tried a couple of methods: One being sending lone small units out to scout and they would almost always get destroyed once they came into contact. I then tried sending bridge size forces out with the small units scouting but witht the rest of the brigade in support. Invaribally I would make contact, get shot at and a big regiment would disrupt and I was faced with the choice of fighting to save it or just abandoning it to it's fate.

I am looking to open up some discussion on this if anyone is interested.

Major General Jon Thayer
Old North State Divison
3/III
Army of Northern Virginia

jonathanthayer@bellsouth.net


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:15 pm 
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While in HPS games you can't identify a unit's organization until you are adjacent, for the most part we already have far more information about the enemy than any Civil War commander ever had. We can "see" regiments seven miles away and tell their strength to the nearest hundred men. We can count their generals as they march down a road and make a pretty close estimate of how many brigades and divisions are headed our way. And, once we have one contact we not only know what Corps the unit belongs to but its division and brigade. During the Civil War it took quite some time for this information to work its way up the chain of command. So at Gettysburg it takes Heth most of the morning to figure out he isn't fighting militia and when Grant moves against Pettersburg it takes days before Beauagard can confirm elements of his army are attacking him.

As to the HPS game, you can get a pretty accurate estimate of where every one is if you know generally where they enter the map or start from on the map. Just post cavalry or officers on good observation points so that you have the road net under observation. Then the arrival times at different points are a good indication of who is moving where. Counting officers will tell you how large the force is. Without a night turn to cover the movement it is pretty much impossible for either side to sneak a march on the other if both players are exercising good control of the road net and placement of observers.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:01 pm 
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Hi, General Thayer,

I tend to agree with General Whitehead about intelligence, but I wish the skirmish function was extended another hex sometimes. And I wish it was further extended for cavalry, maybe at an added cost in expending movement points. I don't think you ought to know what unit you are seeing unless you are adjacent. You had dust and smoke, and a lot of times colors were cased until a unit got in action. But if you take proper precautions, you ought be able to know when the enemy is near. BTW, you can usually tell when that is the Iron Brigade in the distance, or the Irish Brigade because of the black hats and green flags respectively. Most times, I think Civil War soldiers didn't know or care what units were in front of them, just how many and where their flanks were. Just my humble opinion.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:07 pm 
I disagree that we know too much. That might be true, but we don't know enough about enemy unit locations if we aren't right next to them. This goes back to not having a good enough scouting function. Either we need to be able to have smaller cavalry units that can actually serve the function of scouting without costing us a 500 man unit, or we need for existing cavalry to have the ability to "bump" into enemy units without automatically freezing in the ZOC - give them the ability to hit the enemy, show a ? enemy unit icon, and give the cavalry the option of continuing to move (preferably backwards - I know people would use this to try to surround opponents for ZOC kills, etc.)

I have a battle now where I had no cavalry and the map is very wooded so an infantry column marched right into an enemy division deployed in line and suffered pretty hard because of it. In reality, scouts would have found the enemy and I would have deployed to attack or else stopped well short.

Darned if we do, darned if we don't.

Regards,

Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn
2nd Div, II Corps, AoA
VMI Training Staff

God Bless <><


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:36 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by ALynn</i>
<br />I disagree that we know too much. That might be true, but we don't know enough about enemy unit locations if we aren't right next to them. This goes back to not having a good enough scouting function. Either we need to be able to have smaller cavalry units that can actually serve the function of scouting without costing us a 500 man unit, or we need for existing cavalry to have the ability to "bump" into enemy units without automatically freezing in the ZOC - give them the ability to hit the enemy, show a ? enemy unit icon, and give the cavalry the option of continuing to move (preferably backwards - I know people would use this to try to surround opponents for ZOC kills, etc.)

I have a battle now where I had no cavalry and the map is very wooded so an infantry column marched right into an enemy division deployed in line and suffered pretty hard because of it. In reality, scouts would have found the enemy and I would have deployed to attack or else stopped well short.

Darned if we do, darned if we don't.
Regards,
Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn
2nd Div, II Corps, AoA
VMI Training Staff
God Bless <><
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

That is what is suppose to happen to any force that marches along roads and should happen if you know the enemy is in your front and continue to march in column. It forces the commander to use correct CW tactics. Deploy the lead brigade, throw out a skirmish line, and advance slowly until you make contact leaving the reast of the division/corps/army piled up behind. The Wilderness is a prime example. Lee new they were on the move down the roads but had know way to determine where their lines were once they deployed into the woods except by advancing and making contact through skirmishers.

As to breaking cavalry into smaller squads, while this would improve their ability to recon it would also upset the balance in other areas. Paricularly surrounds and isolation.

I feel a better solution would be to handle through a more complex set of LOS rules, formation rules and Fog of War rules. For example, a column marching through the woods could use full road movement and march blind (he has assumed he is protected and moving behind his own lines of battle). Or, he could adopt a march formation that includes skirmishers deployed in front and on the flanks of the column. Now his movement is significantly reduced (but not as much as line through the woods) but he can "see" two hexes down the road and one hex to the side.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:53 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by KWhitehead</i>
<br />While in HPS games you can't identify a unit's organization until you are adjacent, for the most part we already have far more information about the enemy than any Civil War commander ever had.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I can agree with this not to mention the way the battles are played is basically "The ACW with radios". Some farflung cav unit stumbles upon an approaching enemy 6 miles away for the AC's (presumably the location of the player) location and that knowledge is immediate. And thus the reaction.

Gen. Doug Burke
XX/AoC/USA


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 10:23 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Doug Burke</i>
<br /><blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by KWhitehead</i>
<br />While in HPS games you can't identify a unit's organization until you are adjacent, for the most part we already have far more information about the enemy than any Civil War commander ever had.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I can agree with this not to mention the way the battles are played is basically "The ACW with radios". Some farflung cav unit stumbles upon an approaching enemy 6 miles away for the AC's (presumably the location of the player) location and that knowledge is immediate. And thus the reaction.

Gen. Doug Burke
XX/AoC/USA
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Gentlemen,

I'm eagerly awaiting the day some game moderator will run a Tessier-type game but not send either side the replays -- we are told what map the action is occuring on, but we are totally reliant on reports from each other as to where the enemy is, in what force, etc.

Of course, just having a sense of how much work the Tessier-type games are now I doubt if we could ever find a game moderator willing to put in that much effort!


Your humble servant,
Gen 'Dee Dubya' Mallory

Image
David W. Mallory
ACW - General, 3/2/I/AotM (Club President & Cabinet Member)
CCC - Ensign, Georgia Volunteers, Southern Regional Department, Colonial American Army


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:26 am 
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by KWhitehead</i>
<br /><blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by ALynn</i>
<br />I disagree that we know too much. That might be true, but we don't know enough about enemy unit locations if we aren't right next to them. This goes back to not having a good enough scouting function. Either we need to be able to have smaller cavalry units that can actually serve the function of scouting without costing us a 500 man unit, or we need for existing cavalry to have the ability to "bump" into enemy units without automatically freezing in the ZOC - give them the ability to hit the enemy, show a ? enemy unit icon, and give the cavalry the option of continuing to move (preferably backwards - I know people would use this to try to surround opponents for ZOC kills, etc.)

I have a battle now where I had no cavalry and the map is very wooded so an infantry column marched right into an enemy division deployed in line and suffered pretty hard because of it. In reality, scouts would have found the enemy and I would have deployed to attack or else stopped well short.

Darned if we do, darned if we don't.
Regards,
Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn
2nd Div, II Corps, AoA
VMI Training Staff
God Bless <><
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

That is what is suppose to happen to any force that marches along roads and should happen if you know the enemy is in your front and continue to march in column. It forces the commander to use correct CW tactics. Deploy the lead brigade, throw out a skirmish line, and advance slowly until you make contact leaving the reast of the division/corps/army piled up behind. The Wilderness is a prime example. Lee new they were on the move down the roads but had know way to determine where their lines were once they deployed into the woods except by advancing and making contact through skirmishers.

As to breaking cavalry into smaller squads, while this would improve their ability to recon it would also upset the balance in other areas. Paricularly surrounds and isolation.

I feel a better solution would be to handle through a more complex set of LOS rules, formation rules and Fog of War rules. For example, a column marching through the woods could use full road movement and march blind (he has assumed he is protected and moving behind his own lines of battle). Or, he could adopt a march formation that includes skirmishers deployed in front and on the flanks of the column. Now his movement is significantly reduced (but not as much as line through the woods) but he can "see" two hexes down the road and one hex to the side.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Even a column marching up a road would have had scouts out in front. Heth's column at Gettysburg even had scouts ahead of the main column. They didn't march blindly, but in the games we do. Deploying in line of battle to advance is all well and good, but when time is of the essence and the scenario description from the designer makes is sound like the enemy is miles away and you need to reach a certain location first, you are kind of forced to throw caution to the wind - moving two woods hexes per turn does not win a race.

Regards,

Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn
2nd Div, II Corps, AoA
VMI Training Staff

God Bless <><


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:14 pm 
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Posts: 133
Location: USA
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by dmallory</i>
<br /><blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Doug Burke</i>
<br /><blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by KWhitehead</i>
<br />While in HPS games you can't identify a unit's organization until you are adjacent, for the most part we already have far more information about the enemy than any Civil War commander ever had.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I can agree with this not to mention the way the battles are played is basically "The ACW with radios". Some farflung cav unit stumbles upon an approaching enemy 6 miles away for the AC's (presumably the location of the player) location and that knowledge is immediate. And thus the reaction.

Gen. Doug Burke
XX/AoC/USA
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Gentlemen,

I'm eagerly awaiting the day some game moderator will run a Tessier-type game but not send either side the replays -- we are told what map the action is occuring on, but we are totally reliant on reports from each other as to where the enemy is, in what force, etc.

Of course, just having a sense of how much work the Tessier-type games are now I doubt if we could ever find a game moderator willing to put in that much effort!


Your humble servant,
Gen 'Dee Dubya' Mallory

Image
David W. Mallory
ACW - General, 3/2/I/AotM (Club President & Cabinet Member)
CCC - Ensign, Georgia Volunteers, Southern Regional Department, Colonial American Army
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I'm in the middle of my fourth Tessier type battle and at least that system's a big step in the right direction. While battlefield knowledge is instantanious and accurate (at least to one's own side) the reaction time appears to be pretty realistic. A commander has to think ahead, and moreso the higher up a commander is in the command chain.

Gen. Doug Burke
XX/AoC/USA


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:59 pm 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Even a column marching up a road would have had scouts out in front. Heth's column at Gettysburg even had scouts ahead of the main column. They didn't march blindly, but in the games we do. Deploying in line of battle to advance is all well and good, but when time is of the essence and the scenario description from the designer makes is sound like the enemy is miles away and you need to reach a certain location first, you are kind of forced to throw caution to the wind - moving two woods hexes per turn does not win a race.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">
Hi, General Lynn,

On the other hand, in the same battle,Iverson's Brigade did march into an ambush, even though it was in line, because it did not deploy skirmishers. This would be unlikely in the game because you can see units in those hexes from which Iverson's men were ambushed. It would be interesting if they gave the skirmish capability to units in column, including cavalry. Then they wouldn't have to march through the trees in line. And while Heth's lead units might have to approach cautiously, followon units wouldn't have to worry about an ambush because Heth had cleared the way, so they can move full speed ahead.

General Mallory, I am not familiar with the Tessier system, but if it is feasible, we might use it for the Tillercon blind scenario.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:58 am 
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To quote David Martin:

"Pettigrew's advance towards Gettysburg had not been a smooth one that morning. After marching some distance from its camp near Seven Starts, the 47th North Carolina, which led the brigade's column, was fired on from ambush by dismounted Union cavalry on both sides of the road; who these Union troopers were cannot be determined exactly, but they were surely from Gamble's brigade. Colonel G. H. Faribault of the 47th at once halted the column and ordered Captain Cameron Iredell of Company C to take five men from each company to charge the enemy on the right, and Lieutenant Westray of Campany A was to take the same number of men to the left."

Perfectly duplicating what would happen in an HPS game to a column going down the pike. However, we could then use the front unit to melee the blocking unit and probably rack up more VP points than the yankees from the afair. If we happened to hit them ealry into our move, the whole brigade could join. This actually was somewhat duplicated by what followed:

"Faribault then gave the order for our regiment to march in column to the right by fours, thus heading our column directly towards the attacking party, who were on the right of the road. Colonel Marshall, who was just in rear of the 47th regiment with the 52nd, made the same movement with his gallant regiment, to the left of the road, thus the brigade faced three ways."

This was followed by what had to be a very slow approach down the pike in order to further avoid ambushes:

"The 47th was ordered to face about and march on its side of the road, and passed the 52nd some distance. Then it was halted and the 52nd faced about and marched the same distance beyond the 47th, thus constantly keeping one regiment facing the enemy who was in our font trying to advance from that direction, while the skirmishers of the 47th were hotly engaged with them on the right and left of the road, respectively."

From what they could tell all this was accomplished with a few companies of cavalry dismounted and almost no loss. Eventually Heth deployed his lead brigades in line on Herr Ridge before trying to advance further.

What all this is saying is once you are near enough the enemy that there is a chance you could be ambushed you can't move at road march without taking that chance. Skirmishers can't move along the sides of the road and in front of the column at road march speed. If you did send men out along the road itself in front of the column to give yourself warning they would probably just be captured by the ambushing forces.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:42 am 
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by KWhitehead</i>
<br />What all this is saying is once you are near enough the enemy that there is a chance you could be ambushed you can't move at road march without taking that chance. Skirmishers can't move along the sides of the road and in front of the column at road march speed. If you did send men out along the road itself in front of the column to give yourself warning they would probably just be captured by the ambushing forces.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

But there is the kicker - once you are near enough to the enemy. We don't know when we are near the enemy because we don't have sufficient scouting ability to tell us the enemy is nearby so that we CAN deploy into line first... that's my point. I have no problem deploying, I just want to be able to scout with something smaller than a full sized unit.

Regards,

Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn
2nd Div, II Corps, AoA
VMI Training Staff

God Bless <><


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:17 am 
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That was always a problem in the CW, they really had no system of scouting by small parties. Basicly it was a command control problem. If they dispersed their cavalry in small squads in order to scout along the front line their cavalry as a military force ceased to exist. Skirmishers were also severely limited to what they could do since they had to stay near enough the parent units to hear bugle and drum calls. For the most part the infantry was as blind as a bat and new little beyond their immediate front. Any recon was done by the generals themselves (leading to Jackson getting shot for example) or their staff officers (just one officer was sent out to determine if Longstreet could march to the position Lee wanted him to attack from). Not until the radio were maneuvering forces able to really do serious recon.

Which leads me to my point, I think we should be a lot blinder than we are. It is one of the reasons we have such bloody battles. We so quickly identify where the enemy is and concentrate on him without any worry about our rear or flanks. While we have no functional scouting unit we have sufficient units if properly placed to pretty much monitor ten square miles of map. And, we instantly know everything that moves within that LOS.

Technically, yes it seems a General marching down a road should be able to send a few aides riding ahead of the column. Then when he hears the enemy shoot them he would know to deploy into line. But if you actually had this ability in the HPS system you would have the equivalent of turning off fog of war because there would be little you couldn't find out using such scouts.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:13 pm 
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How about considering the following ideas over the next few months and then discussing them at TillerCon2?

1./ Scouting ability (just like deployed skirmishers) for mounted cavalry, say 3 hexes (maybe 5 hexes for "A" quality cavalry and 4 hexes for "B" quality?)

2./ Cavalry breakdown/recombine ability (like in Nappy engine)

3./ Detachable infantry skirmishers option (like Nappy engine - there are many more infantry types in this engine). Perhaps only for certain units or in some scenarios.

4./ Allow cavalry to retreat if making unexpected contact with infantry rather than enemy cavalry. (But of course this won't be needed if we can get 1./ above)

5./ Extended ZOC impact on enemy movement. Eg. movement penalty if moving within fire range of enemy units - or canister range in the case of artillery (or perhaps within 5 hexes, even if the enemy only armed with muskets). Also, if the movement penalty starts at 5 hexes, it might make sense to incur an increased penalty within 2 or 3 hexes distance. This will make it much more awkward for an attacker to rush forward (even from outside rifle range) and then melee defending units head on in the same turn.

6./ Pinning fire feature. Another extremely useful feature to restore the balance and give the defender a decent chance of halting a direct head on assault.


Brig. Gen. Rich White
3 Brig. Phantom Cav Div
III Corps ANV


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:18 am 
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by KWhitehead</i>
<br />That was always a problem in the CW, they really had no system of scouting by small parties. Basicly it was a command control problem. If they dispersed their cavalry in small squads in order to scout along the front line their cavalry as a military force ceased to exist. Skirmishers were also severely limited to what they could do since they had to stay near enough the parent units to hear bugle and drum calls. For the most part the infantry was as blind as a bat and new little beyond their immediate front. Any recon was done by the generals themselves (leading to Jackson getting shot for example) or their staff officers (just one officer was sent out to determine if Longstreet could march to the position Lee wanted him to attack from). Not until the radio were maneuvering forces able to really do serious recon.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Cavalry was regulary broken down into companies or squads for scouting - it was their primary function. The giant, massed cavalry engagements like Brandy Station never happened. Most cavalry engagements began with half a dozen men from Side A running into a unit from Side B, then calling for help. Alas, in our games they start with 600 men from Side A running into 500 men from Side B.

Regards,

Brig. Gen. Alan Lynn
2nd Div, II Corps, AoA
VMI Training Staff

God Bless <><


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