Development discussion on leadership in Firebell

This is a collection of my emails on command written in Sept. 2011 –

Have thought about this issue quite a bit the last few weeks, these kind of questions sometimes find a hole where you never knew one existed.   High command during a battle, we often read of the high command moving to battle, the deployment issues, the angle of attack, yet then what?     Gettysburg AGAIN, sorry,  many good examples.

Day 2, Longstreet’s attack at 4:00 PM> three Division commands –

Hood Div. HQ, is following the attack across the fields, in the rear where he belonged but hit by long range Artillery most likely smith’s guns on Devil’s Den, this was early in the advance.  He was out of action for the battle; aides had to find Gen. Law who commanded the southern most Brigade and was moving towards Big Round Top with his AL boys.   By the time they find him, he now has to transition his brigade command to the senior officers within his Regiments, confusion during the advance.   While Texas Brigade, under Robertson is split, half moving to the west on line with the AL boys, half drifting to the northeast.  With Gen. Hood down what has happened is the two brigades are drifting into two different attack vectors.  Gen. Law orders two of his AL regiments to swing north to fill the gap formed within the Texas Brigade line.   BOTH BRIGADE FORMATIONS ARE NOW BROKEN UP.   Gen. Law moves to take command for Gen. Hood.   The AL boy’s move into the fight, two actions form one for the south ridge on Little Round top, the other in front of Devil’s Den.

So what happened here, with the lost of Hood, and the replacement by Law, both Division and Brigade experienced Command changes in the launch of the attack, the early attack became disjointed.   With the next wave of Benning and Andersons’ Brigades this was over come.   Also to note, the Brigade that attacks Little Round Top (really half Law AL and half Robertson TX brigades) was under the command of the senior AL regiment out of touch with Division command.

End Result, the Division Command was not the same; the Brigade Command was not the same. Not good period.

Looking north to the Peach Orchard, McLaws Division, reading history you don’t hear much of McLaws.   Where was he, what was he doing, did he have any effect?   Kershaw and his SC boys were in the front wave, you read of him sending aides to Semmes Brigade in his rear, working to coordinate the two brigades actions, but what about Div. McLaws, He is not visible!

Gen. Longstreet has a large shadow over McLaws, Gen. Lee was concerned so old Pete was very close by.   He ordered artillery placement during the deployment, he is the one that released the Brigades/advancing with the SC boys under Kershaw for a short distance, and it was old Pete that stopped the attack and recalled the last attack by Wofford.

Looking North to the open fields, Gen. Anderson’s Division under A.P. Hill with five Brigades would continue the Southern attack at 6:30/7:00 PM with his five Brigades.   During the hot attack in Plum Run valley to the break thru on Cemetery Ridge by Gen. Wright’s GA boys, aides would find Gen. Anderson and his staff resting on the ground back in the woods behind Seminary Ridge, THEY WERE NOT EVEN IN ACTION, NOT EVEN WATCHING FROM THE REAR, SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED.   In game terms all five Brigades went into the fight out of command control, interesting heh?  Additional failure of Divisional command, Divisional Artillery is not repositioned for support as the attack breaks through.

On the other side of the field, the Union command is working like a machine, so much for the general history Gen. Lee’s army-Good command, Northern army-Bad command.

Example, Gen. Hancock’s ride during this period, he/II Corps command/ is ordering Divisions, he is ordering Brigades, he is ordering Regiments, he is ordering Battery’s, and he is in constant movement on the front lines moving over a mile on Cemetery Ridge.

Problem I will continue to work on, what I don’t like in rules systems, making the Division Command an extra fill in for Brigade command, the spare tire to fill in as needed, not correct.


Additional thoughts this afternoon, standing with the Union Command July 2nd, 1863—

What is the command Radius of Corps?

What Decisions can a Corps HQ make?

Is the Decision Limit based on ability per turn, a piss poor Corps (1 action/order/decision/ per turn), a good Corps maybe 2??

Note 100% correct, thinking out this; going from memory, what does the game model; do we place the gamer in the same decision box?  Got to love, Multiple Choices, but limits on how many one can make, pick wise……..

III Corps Sickles MADE the decision to advance to the high ground at the Peach Orchard, Corps Command is required for a division to move or to be placed, Corps level….  Divisions were given direction, not 100% rule, but damn close.

III Corps HQ staff with both Division Leaders place the artillery battery’s, High level (Corps and Division HQ) decision by 1863 AOP. (Additional point, the battery would unlimber by a brigade/regiment for support, but the direct/decision for placement was made by upper Command)

III Corps Sickles made the decision to transfer a Brigade from Humphrey’s Division to Birney’s Division, Corps Level Decision.

(Note, done by regiment piece mill, but with Grand tactic system, based on the whole Brigade.)

III Corps Gen. Sickles effect to rally men early in action.


V Corps Sykes

Sykes leads his Corps to the South to reinforce Sickles III Corps, ordered by Army command.

Sykes makes decisions on the ground how to deploy his Divisions, breaks up some to send separate Brigades to Little Round top.

Sykes is not in Heavy action, but in the rear guiding troops to where they are needed, which was his job.

Key, Corps Command is placing units giving the Direction of movement.  Command points/value are spent in making another decision as each unit arrives in March column – this is good.

Late in action, Wheatfield, Sykes?Staff? Gave ok for the Brigades in Trostle Woods to reenter the Wheatfield to support Caldwell when his division was pressed.    V Corps/Division HQ, (Barnes? not sure) was there within radius, key point…


II Corps Hancock

Hancock had moved one of his Divisions South about 500 yards at 1:00PM – about 4:00 or 4:30PM he is ordered by Army command to move a Division south to support the flank.  Army/Corps HQ decision.   The Division under Caldwell was in reserve had moved south by the flank, the regiments were stacked by brigades.   Interesting Point from John Simmons, this Division moved on the reverse slope, we shit history for Wellington and the reverse slope, yet at Gettysburg, little noticed.  Gibbon had Webb’s Brigade in reverse slope as well.  I think Willard/Hays Division moved done the reverse July 2.  The east side of Cemetery Hill is a broad slope, good ground to move men on, not as steep as the west side, wider as well.  II Corps Hancock is not with Caldwell at the South end of the ridge; Caldwell takes his division into action as ordered before.  Hancock-Decision- had set the direction and the movement.  This was Hancock’s old Division, a good one….

III Corps Divisions

Birney was stretched out – units out of reach. Command issues, Radius?? Coordination became impossible.

Took command of Brigade sent by Sickles to fill the line, -Division Decision

Birney worked to hold the line/Rally the men, Division Decision, later failed to rally what was left.

Humphreys’ on Emittsbury Road, only two Brigades, fought hard, rally to hold the line, controlled the artillery Battery’s – Division HQ decisions.  Late day, organized chaos in retreat, did rally the 2 small brigades at the ridge and was able to assist in the late day counter attack.  One Brigade had about 150 men, the other maybe 300, very small.


 The Brigade ratings [1-6] from Todd Fisher work well, we could review as needed.
Artillery, to unlimber an Artillery Battery it would have to be placed by a senior officer – Division and Corps.
Division and Corps rated as 0,1,2,3 by labels we discussed
—- The action by a Division or Corps command should count as a command action.
Artillery was a second class to infantry, many artillery officers would move to infantry command to get promotions.  —- The officers of a Division from another Corps cannot order another Divisions guns around, Command Friction.  Sorry!   If within the OOB, guns were part of a Corps reserve, the Corps or ANY Division leader from Corps could place them.

—- Interesting Idea,— this could be scenario rule addition for early war ’61 and ’62, Artillery were assigned to a Brigade, the artillery would have to be within a defined range of the brigade for supporting it {it’s parent brigade}.   Old Mexican-American style OOB, Limits gamer…
The reason for this is to show how the organization of artillery mattered, how it would affect the battle fought.  Interesting to fight this way, then fight a later battle where artillery has more freedom to move and mass.

I strongly believe you need to have leadership within the system, as to optional rules, make the leadership rules standard and add the option for all leaders to be rated the same, maybe Able and Tolerated for new players learning the system or for a head’s up more competition type game.

The Civil War attraction is the cast of characters found in the pages of our history.

The values of two sets, Management and Morale – I support this, very good.

One is the combination of administration, could be Tactical skill of leading and Multi-Task management.  Give’s you terms to think as to how to describe this.

Morale separate, like this, there are guys that were good at tactical but the men would not fight well for them, it can cut both ways.

Good stuff, as to the ranges, have to playtest to tune this function.  From our talks you see the avg. gamer handling a Division, 4 to 5 brigades.   I think with experience this could be a Corps and it would work.


Working on the Shiloh OOB tonight, thinking on this very thought, I really like this leadership.

For the South you have old reliable Gen. Hardee,  “Efficient and Respected”

But of Course you also find Braxton Bragg, a “Hapless but Tolerated” General!

Sounds good.  I used the same tables for the Corps and Army as well, I think it will work; to have a different table would be very confusing to the gamers.  At Shiloh we have Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston a “Able and Respected” army commander, assisted by the hero of Bull Run, P.G.T. Beauregard, a very “Efficient and Respected” General!!

Lots of really bad leaders in the spring of 1862, wow.

P.S., I also have been writing down the Brigade Leading value for Division Generals, to put on the OOB in case they grab the colors and try to lead the men into battle if things start to go really bad.

I.E.  Old Hardee, the man that wrote the book, (Hardee’s Light Infantry Tactics) is a (4) – a better then avg. fighter; some of the Brigade leaders are not on the list, now going to the books to read up on their actions.

Union Example, the author Gen. Lew Wallace, between Ben Hur chapters he is seen as “Able”, but if leading the fight, a (2), He was heard to say, “I’m a writer, not a fighter!”   But of course not all is lost, old Crazy Sherman is very “Efficient”, and a real fighter (5) when pushed around.

Corps is a difficult thing, if the player is a Division leader, to model command above the player, you cann’t build alot of restrictions or you leave the game world for the simulation, no fun for most.
Current thought is to have the Corps help the Division command, identify the positives that a Corps leader could assist a Division command, but not to build in the restrictions, I don’t believe you want that.  (-command points,  -chits  I Don’t think you want to go here..)
I’m thinking and working on this,  Corps would launch the advance and the attack, these functions would be built within the scenario for attack or when a Corps arrives onto the field of battle, agreed?  The Corps is managing his Divisions, working to see they are doing what he thinks, (we are letting the gamer do the thinking).
But, also the Corps General is giving orders – ADVICE – I had written before on this, so repeation what do you think of a Corps commander able to assist a Division General, this is the personal touch.   Note my Gettysburg article on Division McLaws and Gen. Longstreet as Corps is glued to his ass…  In game terms, maybe this moves the Division radius up on grade, the Corps General and his staff are on TOP of the Division to make sure they do ….
In game terms, three Divisions in battle, all calling for the Corps Generals attention, come help me???
Also, Corps could place Artillery Batteries that are needed for support, the placement might be outside the Division General support, maybe the Division is advancing, the Corps General is to the rear and guiding the support Artillery placement as they come into action.
Here again, players/gamers would see the role.  Lastly, a brigade in trouble, running to the rear, the Division General is still up front supporting his remaining brigades, the unit has routed outside of the Division radius; the Corps General moves over to step in the middle and rally the boys to reform the line!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s