EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013


6 Jan 2015

This is a simple set of rules for playing ACW battles on a surface marked with a grid of squares or hexes referred to as Areas but may be played on a regular table by substituting a convenient fixed length such as 4" for "area". Each grid area represents an area around 300 - 500 yards across, Each stand of soldiers represents an average of  around 400 - 500 men or 6-8 guns with their crews. Stands must be assigned to the command of a Division Commander. The player is normally represented by a Corps or Army Commander.

All of the stands in one area at one time make a "unit" for game purposes. Stands may be detached and moved away or may join up. If composed of different troop types they may have different capabilities in which case each stand is assessed individually.

Terrain features must be defined as Broken (passable by most troops), Difficult (impassible for most troops) or Open. Some terrain may also provide cover. Areas which share a side are adjacent.   
    • Initiative. At the start of each turn each side rolls a die. The high score may choose to go 1st or 2nd that turn. A tie uses the sequence from last turn. One side may be given a +1 for a given scenario.
    • Bombardment Phase. Both players simultaneously resolve Artillery Bombardment.
    • 1st Player Moves or Rallies units.
    • 2nd Player Moves or Rallies units.
    • Combat Phase. Both Players resolve Combat .
  • BOMBARDMENT  Both player's may roll for the effect of artillery bombardments by deployed artillery units  which are not engaged against targets which are not engaged but which are in the artillery's line of sight to the front and in range.  Artillery which bombards may not move that turn. 
    • Artillery rolls 2 dice per stand up to range 2, 1 die at range 3 or 4. 
    • Effect: Each 5,6 hits.
    • Quality: +1 per die if Superior firepower -1 per die if Inferior.
    • Cover. Troops in cover suffer 1/2 casualties. Round down, carry fractions or dice for them as agreed upon. 
    • Hills. Artillery on a 1 contour hill roll 2 dice up to range 3 and 1 die at range 4 or 5. They may fire over troops on a lower elevation.
    • Penalties. Disordered units  may not bombard.
    • Silenced Batteries. An artillery formation which receives 2 or more hits may cancel 1/2 hits from bombardment by retreating a full move in disorder.
    • Detached units and Generals. If a unit is not within 3 areas and in sight of its Division Commander at the start of its movement phase it must roll 3 or more on 1 die to move. If a Division Commander is not within 5 areas of his Corps Commander he must roll 2 or more to move any unit under his command.
    • Stacking. A maximum of 6 stands may be in an area at the end of movement. Commanders do not count. Up to 3 stands in a unit may shoot or fight. The rest sre in support. 
    • Facing and Formation. A stand or unit may move any direction unless attacking. It must face a side after moving but if it used march column bonuses it must remain in march column. A unit which bombarded this turn may not move except as a combat result. A unit which does not move may refuse a flank by turning 1 stand to face the flank. 
    • Infantry 2 areas
    • Artillery 2 areas
    • Cavalry, commanders 3 areas
    • Wagons 1 area
    • Roads. Each area counts as 1/2 an area for a march columns on a road. Roads cancel off road terrain for march columns. 
    • Penalties. Each area counts as 2 if crossing an obstacle or if cavalry or artillery entering broken ground, or infantry entering difficult ground inc abatis. Normally only infantry and commanders may enter difficult ground. Wagons may not enter broken ground.
    • Attacking. An attack is any move adjacent to an enemy. Opposing units which are adjacent are deemed to be engaged. The enemy must be to the attacking unit's front before it starts (unless the enemy is hidden in ambush.) A unit must halt when moving adjacent to the enemy regardless of whether it is attacking or being ambushed. A unit which begins its move engaged may move away but may not attack during its move. Cavalry which makes a mounted move when attacking must remain mounted for combat.
    • Entrenching. An infantry unit which does not move and is not engaged and was not bombarded may work on making hasty entrenchments. Roll 1 die per turn needing an accumulated score of 6 to complete the work. If the unit moves any work or completed entrenchments are lost.  Proper fortifications should be specified for a scenario. 
    • Skirmish Fire. An infantry or dismounted cavalry unit which is not engaged and not disordered or in march column may roll 1 die per stand up to a maximum of 3 against a target directly in front of them, and 2 areas away, if there is a clear line of fire .
    • Combat Fire. All units which are engaged must resolve combat.  In cases where multiple units are engaged with multiple enemy units the combats must be broken down with each unit being part of 1 combat. In each combat 1 side must be contained in 1 area while the other side may be in several. Each combat is then resolved as one regardless of how many units are involved. If there is uncertainty over how to break combats up and there is no GM then the player with initiative decides as long as the rules are not violated.
    • Dice. Roll 2 dice for each stand in combat up to 3 per unit. Any excess stands are supporting.
    • Support. Add 1 die for each adjacent friendly unit which is not itself engaged and 1 die if there are  supporting stands in the engaged unit.
    • Disadvantaged. Roll 1/2 dice  if disordered, in march column or attacked in flank or rear.
    • Effect: Each 5,6 hits
      • Quality +1 per die if superior firepower or if shock troops in combat
      • -1 per die if unsteady troops in combat.
      • Cover. Troops in cover or defending an advantageous position, steep hill etc suffers 1/2 casualties.
      • Combat Resolution. Once all hits have been rolled, remove any units that are destroyed. If there are still opposing units and one side in a combat took more hits than it's opponent  then it must test morale. Roll 1 die.  +1 if Elite  -1 if Unsteady (if there is a mixed unit it rolls 1 die but each stand applies its own modifiers and obeys the result), 
      • 6+ Steady. Hold 
      • 4,5 Recoiled. Retreat 1 area facing the enemy
        1,2,3 Defeated.  Retreat a full move in disorder
        0 Routed. Retreat a full move in disorder then be removed from the table, If, after retreats are carried out,  mounted cavalry are still adjacent to enemy they must retreat a full move in disorder. If a retreating unit cannot complete its move due to enemy it must surrender. If it ends its move over stacked it is given extra movement to retreat to an open area. 
      • Pursuit. If a unit attacked this turn and the enemy retreats or is destroyed, the unit may occupy the area it attacked.
    • Commanders. If a Commander is with a unit  in combat  roll 1 die. 5 or 6 cancels 1 hit on the unit, 1 removes the General, other scores have no effect
    • DISORDER. Disordered units may not move except to retreat and are penalized in combat. A disordered unit which does not move or bombard may remove the disorder during its movement phase unless engaged
    • MORALEHits represent all the things that degrade troops ability to fight. Each stand can take 2 hits. All hits on a unit must be consolidated.  Troops with a reputation for tenacity or steadiness under fire may be represented by giving some stands a marker which may be removed at a time of the player' choosing  to cancel 1 hit on the unit the stand is with for all purposes.


    1. Ross--

      How many hits can each unit take?


      1. Chris, The rules have wobbled a bit as I experimented with doing things by unit (easier) or stand (preferred) but I am set on the latter. So 2 hits per stand. I used 3 stand infantry/cavalry unit's, 1 stand artillery units but I am going to experiment with varying unit sizes which will call for some changes to the stacking rules. It would also be possible to use a roster or markers to track virtual stands for dice and losses.

    2. Two per stand if I read it right. A unit may be of one or more stands?


    3. PS - looks like each unit is 2-3 stands depending on unit size or scale of game? I seem to remember you once mentioned a 40mm frontage per stand.


      1. Greg, see reply to Chris. My ACW lads are 3 stand inf/cav units, 1 stand artillery batteries though 2 stand artillery battalions were what I originally planned. My original units were on 40mm bases but when I integrated my figures with the new armies I reorganized them all onto 30mm bases because thats what I had available in numbers. The cavalry haven't been reorganized yet. I'm going to tweak the stack rules and experiment with variable size units.

      2. Thanks Ross,

        I'll give it a whirl.


    4. Ross,

      In varying the number of stands per unit, would it be possible to make each stand represent a regiment? It's tempting to have all 4 (later 5) regiments of the Iron Brigade be present, for example. The main problem that I see is this could make for some large units, depending on how many regiments an average brigade had; they almost always had more than 3. I suppose if the areas were large enough and/or the stands were small enough that wouldn't be a problem, but this would probably complicate things a bit too much. Oh well.

      Best regards as always,


    5. The original draft said 400 to 600 men per stand or something like that and yes each stand could be a regiment if you wanted to do that but it wouldn't actually play as a unit. As it is the "unit" strengths won't always match actual brigade strengths. What I ended up doing was taking the Divisional strength and dividing by a suitable number and fielding that many units assuming some units were two small brigades or that some large brigades were providing 2 units and so on. By going back to dealing with stands rather than whole units it could potentially allow for detachments, brigades spread out over a wider front and so on. (Hopefully)