Fire and Fury ACW “Battle of Newhall Pass”

Last Saturday saw me and good buddy Stevie G beg off gaming down at the infamous “Dogs of War” club and return to our “roots” by doing some American Civil War gaming in 15mm.

Steve and I had met 30 years ago over a battle of Johnny Reb ACW at the “Last Grenadier” in Los Angeles California, the city of Glendale to be exact. The Last Grenadier (sadly now gone) was a local Mecca for miniature gamers in Southern California and many of us cut our wargaming teeth there. Steve and I had never met but both worked as “Grips” in the Hollywood film business and because we both had the habit of painting figures during our lunch breaks on the set had known of each other. Now grips have a particular style and look and it was just moments into the gathering of 10 or so guys doing the battle that we looked at each other and realized at long last we had met! Over the next 25 years we have gamed, worked together, and had a great time doing it!

My “Main Man” Stevie G. This is his happy face…before his dice decide not to co-operate! The stone wall area would be the site of the bloodiest fighting for the day. The upside down “T” section of the walls would become infamous to both side as the “Bloody Angle”

We no longer use Johnny Reb but have moved over to Fire and Fury since it is a bit more streamlined, simpler, faster, more popular, and is used for the basis of the Age of Eagles rules we use for 15mm Napoleonic’s.

This battle report is not going to be too detailed since neither of us have played Fire & Fury for several years it was to be a “shake the Dust off game” at best. I’ll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves.

Looking good you Johnny Rebs!

We took fairly balanced forces, 50 infantry stands each representing 1 small Division each. Each of us also had 2 Division Generals and a Corps commander. (forgive me if I misuse Brigade, division, Corps, in my descriptions, comes from playing Johnny Reb and painting units for that system) The Union had 2 three gun battery’s and the Confederates 2 two gun battery’s  since Union artillery was normally better and more numerous. The Confederates received better troops and commanders. I rolled a random entry on my side and Steve picked entry for each of his divisions. The scenario was to get control of the area thus denying the enemy the entrance to the pass.

My first brigade the “Stonewall Brigade” commanded by Brigadier General James Walker advances onto the field. On the road in the background you can see the lead brigade of my 2nd division.

Major General Edward M. Johnson watches Stewart’s Brigade move brigade up the road leading to the stone wall later known as the “Bloody Angle” The 2nd Maryland in their early war Zuoave uniform lead the way! We see the messenger arrive confirming that the Stonewall Brigade has dispatched reinforcements. Brigadier  General Stewart is seen on the other side of the road.

Since I had rolled my troops entry areas before Steve’s entry I new where my troops were going to enter and had a vague plan on what area I wanted to occupy. Steve got too choose where he wanted to go after me but without knowing where I was. No real advantage to either side. Both sides pushed their men hard trying to get to the best positions first. Commanding my forces was Major General Edward M. Johnson, Johnson quickly realized that the Union commander was making a mistake and separating his forces in a flanking maneuver that would result in his two brigades not being able to effectively support each other.  Johnson decided to deploy the “Stonewall Brigade” defensively  and attack with the 2nd Brigade in the north along the stone wall. Johnson also decided to send 2 regiments of the Stonewall brigade to help while recalling the 2nd brigades artillery south to help defend against the “Blue Belly’s” about to attack there.

The Union 2nd Brigade advanced as a dense mass, another mistake of it’s less experienced officers! this would quickly cause deployment problems as they approached the angle.

Using the road the Unions elite 1st brigade attempts to flank the Confederate forces. This took time, allowed the southerners to form a strong defensive line along the woods, forcing the Union to now advance through a storm of shot and shell in the open field.

Steve’s Union troops are very nicely painted with detail that one normally see’s only in 25mm and larger. Here you see some of his Zouaves as well as the tail end of the “Iron Brigade” in their “Hardee” hats.

The Union’s “Iron Brigade” leads the way. They would suffer greatly in the coming advance across the “Killing Field” but survive to fight another day!

The first few turns saw only troops rushing to take up position, at first the Union commander surly felt his choice of of terrain was going to work well…but the men arriving at he positions were met with a sea of fluttering enemy flags and the howl of Rebel yells across the fields!

Seeing the enemy already so close Union soldiers deploy into line of battle…trusting in their commanders.

The more experienced of the Union brigade commanders realize that they have already fallen in to a dangerous trap! Outflanked and facing superior numbers they prepare for a hard fight.

Rebel forces surge forward enveloping Union forces on two sides before even a shot is fired. Union artillery is mostly still moving up and the one battery deployed is badly handled in the confusion missing and doing little damage!

On the Union right at the “Angle” both side open up a hot exchange of musketry. Either uncertainty, inexperience, or Union commander Steve’s dice result in the Rebels coming out on top in nearly all the exchanges of musketry!

While the right exchanges shots the rebs on the left hop the wall preparing to charge with their superior numbers and better close in abilities.

The Union officers continued to urge their men forward trying to reach the wall and halt the Rebel advance. They would make it but a moment later a howling mass of Rebs charged over and into the Union line. A finial round of musket fire cracked all up and down the “Angle” as steel met steel and blood flowed….

Confederate charges go into both Union side of the “Angle” with the Blue coats slightly disorganization and in disorder it will not go well! The Union artillery on the hill only managed to get off one shot and did little to the advancing Rebels.

On the Confederate right, just south of the “Angle” a powerful line of battle is setup with Rebel forces even retreating some to increase the distance and time it would take the Union forces to reach them. General Johnson hoped this would give him time to crush the Union force in the north and then use his combined force to deal with the Iron brigade and the Union forces crossing the field. He was also counting on his concentration of artillery there to severely weaken the advancing blue coats.

The southern flank of the Confederate lines, The Rebels are slowly withdrawing to the line along the woods that their artillery now occupies. Beyond them we can see the fight at the “Angle” start to heat up!

After two turns of charges and melee, the Union was beaten back in disorder and lost several stands. Before they could recover the rebels charged again capturing (swept from the field results with a 10+2 roll and a 10+3 roll!) or destroying two full brigades, one Union Battery, capturing both the Division and Corps commanders! As the remnants of the Union northern force skedaddled two Reb Brigades were released to reinforce the southern force.

One set of charges later half the remaining Union force would be dead or captured.

The Confederate line of battle was ready and waiting!

I painted these over 25 years ago but they still look pretty good! (Several

Seen from the Union side. I sure would not want to be in these boys shoes! It really makes you stop and think on the bravery of men both North and South who for the most part didn’t understand why they were fighting other than “There’s a fight about something and I’ll not be left behind!”

Proud as ever the “Iron Brigade” leads the way!

The Confederates held their fire, not used to being on the waiting side as the Federals approached. One Rebel gunner was heard to say “agin us or not them are some brave boys!” as he touched his wick firing the first round….

Southern Battery’s open up a devastating fire on the advancing Federals. My high die rolls help them hit there marks!

Despite their bravery the Iron Brigade feels they wrath of the southern battery’s. This day Union Artillery failed to live up to it’s reputation, providing little in the way of support for the boys in blue!

Southern fire seals the loss for the Federal troops this day, but swears one Sargent, “There will will be a reckoning one day soon Johnny Reb!”

With their one division wrecked and unable to make headway against the other flank the Union commanders sound retreat and use the fading light to cover their withdrawal.

The battlefield as it looked on the last turn.

Steve and I shook hands and despite his loss agreed it was a lot of fun. The rules play very easy and we remembered things as we went along. We did a bit of an after battle kibitzing and both agreed it was a union loss due to mistakes in deployment and not helped by lackluster die rolls on his part. I wish someone would invent a game where “1s” are great cause Steve would be unbeatable! It was great to get out figures that have not been used much in the last years, heck I even may do a bit of work on my small Union force!




“Escort Service” part 2

These will make a great unit for the “Escort” scenario in SAGA

So for Part 2 of my “Escort Service” I finished up my pig herder and his swine. I also based these guys for ease of movement but tossed in a bit of a twist in that I did it like a movement tray. I did this because I wanted the ability to use these figure singly in other situations.

To make the base I used some sheet polystyrene the same thickness as my “LITKO” bases used for SAGA infantry, about 1/8 inch. I arranged the figures to my liking and then traced onto the polystyrene the area that would be the base. The base was cutout using a hobbyist sized band saw from Micro Mart.

This is a great tool to have in anyone’s tool arsenal! If you do not have one a “cooping” saw will do the job as well, well almost as well! The cut was done with a sloping angle edge to make it blend better with the terrain.


Next a sheet of thin magnetic sheet stock was cut in the same shape. This will later be contact cemented to the styrene base to both hold it to the storage drawer’s metal lining and help hold the figures in because of their magnetic bases.

I arranged the figures on the base again and this time traced their out lines onto the styrene in preparation for cutting the holes the figure will sit into later. My figure bases are round and 1 inch or 25mm. I used a 1 ¼”  “Fostner” bit in my drill press to cut the holes. A “Fostner” bit cuts perfect round holes not possible with a regular drill bit. Not cheap but you will only ever need one and used for cutting plastic will last your lifetime!


Once the holes are cut the pieces are assembled using contact cement and with a bit of finish sanding is ready for finish decoration. I use a recipe of Durham’s “Rock Hard” as a base material in landscaping and in 20 years found no problems. Mix it 80% with 15% white wood glue and 5% water. Just experiment with this formula until you get it right. It should be the consistency of porridge, easily spread on and a bit flowing. As it dries u can push it around for a natural unevenness. The glue is important since without it the “Durham’s” may chip or flake with table use.

Even though the individual figures are removable with a little effort you can make it blend very well and hardly noticeable in the base.

Once again I get wrapped up in the building and forget the pictures but I think you get the idea and feel free to ask question in the comments. I think it came out great and this now finishes 2/3rds or the “Escort Project” so see you soon for the last installment!


Building units for an “Escort Service”

I always like to set “my” minis apart from the rest of the pack, go the extra mile. I enjoy when gamer’s say “are those so and so manufacture?” because they look a bit different. I do this in a couple of ways, painting, basing, and customizing the figures themselves. I like variety in my figures and sometimes a line doesn’t have enough different poses for me so I’ll grab some sculpting putty (two part green stuff) and have at it. Now I’m no sculptor, I don’t do whole figures, but I’m pretty fair at cutting models up and customizing them.

I’ve been trying to clean up some lose ends on the work bench and one of the projects sitting on the shelf for a while has been some Dark Ages civilians for SAGA scenarios. For the “Escort” scenario I needed three objective units and I had the minis for several carts, and a pig farmer and his pigs.

The collection of figures and carts getting prepped for “Escort” duty!

Most of the minis were from Gripping Beast and they are great figures BUT I was not satisfied with the way they would appear around the carts. I just didn’t think the poses were quite right; I wanted them to really appear as if they were pushing/pulling cart. There was also no wagon driver…. This led to them sitting half done on the shelf.

After looking at the project for about a year while I painted a few other SAGA warbands (Normans, Vikings, and Anglo Danes) I decided to do something about it. I decided that there was no way around it I was going to have to create a sitting driver. Now I’m no sculptor but I’m not bad at taking one figure and modifying it to be what I want, in fact that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby.

I have nearly all the Foundry Vikings and consider them the best Viking line available. I have quite a few still unpainted and after going through them I soon found a likely candidate for customization. I wanted to have;

  1. One arm using a whip.
  2. One arm holding reins
  3. Legs easily modified to sitting position.
  4. No armor.

I found a great candidate and prepared for “surgery”

Arms were almost right to start with but the legs would be a lot of work.

The Figure was wearing a sword and that would have to be removed.

Foundry uses a good quality metal in their figures and cutting and filing are very easy. After studying the figure for a bit I determined where and what kind of cuts were needed. Some cuts like the arm were completely through but most were wedge type allow removal of a section to allow bending of the figure into the proper pose. After the cuts and bends the areas were made to look right with Kneadite “Green Stuff” sculpting putty. Cutting, bending, and lots of filing were done to the rear buttocks and leg area to create a sitting figure. To help “blend” the figure into the seat a sheepskin seat cushion was sculpted from more green stuff

Yellow lines show cuts made.

The figure also got a whip made of brass rod and a “Greenstuff” handle in the arm that normally held a spear. The green stuff was give a day to cure and primed and painted.

Brass whip really gives life to the figure!

The cart itself had already had work done to it to make it look better and have more detail. Since I wanted to have the driver holding some reins I wold have to create them and make it look believable. Very little real evidence on rigs from the period really exist but ox carts still in use today use much the same systems so a believable modification was worked out.

Sculpting putty was used to create pads on yoke as well as blend in the area where the horns were glued on.

I keep a lot of small cheap chains bought at a local craft stores “bead” section and used a few links to create the “iron work” as well as some small aluminum wire twisted and painted to look like rope.

Do you need this kind of detail? “I do!” it’s eye candy! The rope wire will be bent under the oxen’s necks, cut to length, connected, primed, and painted.

The white “centra” board is a thick plastic stock that later will be carved and customized into the base

Well it’s about here in most of my projects that I just get sucked to finishing them and forget to take pictures but its mostly done anyway. I did the reins, the base, and few little touches. There is still another figure to do but he will come later. Here’s a few closing shots of the finished project….enjoy! If you like it please leave a comment, it keeps us going!

The iron yoke work shown earlier can be seen here in it’s finished state as well as the base work. Ancient dirt roads looked much different than the ones used by cars today.

I think the finished yoke work came out nicely. the reins are simplified for project, but most just involved turning an animals head in the direction you wanted to go.

Much of the baggage was created from “Sculpy” modeling clay, as well as the tarp.

The reins are thick thread painted as rope and a hole was drilled in his hand to allow pass through. I really like how the figure came out. I not sure how the figure feels being taken from “warrior” status down to “cart driving farmer”?

Well it was a fun project and one of those pieces of “eye candy” that makes the battlefield come alive! I have several more projects in the “Escort” series and they will follow shortly.

Table ready!