One of the greatest bonuses of belonging to a wargames club is discovering new periods. I count myself very blessed here in sunny Wales to belong to two. This Thursday, in Taffs Well, the period was the Mexico-American War of 1846-48. This was the U.S.A.’s first armed conflict fought on foreign soil and throws up some novel challenges. To a gamer of my age the period brings up distant memories of my childhood subscription to the Time-Life “Old West” series (I wouldn’t part with my copy of The Mexican War for love nor money!), Davey Crockett and the matchless movie of the Alamo. The Mexicans have the experience and staying power, the Americans have the firepower and the dash!
Nick had brought an excellent collection of both sides. The rules were a set I had not come across before, Fields of Valor ( US spelling). We used the battalion level option and dropped the need for written orders. The rules put me in mind of the old Airfix set for the ACW where fire effects are determined to a large extent by the weapon carried. We keep it simple by both sides being given smoothbores and oh how the Gringos were to miss their breechloaders!
The scenario involved the Mexicans just emerging from a desert, desperate to get to the watering hole just beyond a pueblo. That loveable reprobate General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had at his disposal two brigades of quite poor quality infantry, plus supporting artillery and a small brigade of light horse.
The U.S. Army of the North consisted of two small brigades of regular infantry, one unit of dragoons, one battery of field artillery and the legendary horse artillery. Zachary Taylor would have been proud as JonG lined the fields beside the village with his sharp-shooting infantry. Ian placed one of his battalions in the village on the main road. Another regular infantry battalion and the light horse artillery took up a position on the open ground on the other side of the village.
American muskets and artillery are ready to send Santa Anna’s lackeys to their doom! Dave and I commanding the Mexicans could see that the attack on entrenched infantry was going to be costly. Our plan involved avoiding this part of the line whilst rolling up the American’s open flank.
My left hand brigade was task with demonstrating against the walled enclosures. A ridge would mask our guns from return fire but allow us to support the assault with massed artillery. Dave would assault the pueblo with cavalry , followed by our unenthusiastic infantry. It was definitely going to be “a short but desperate” game.
Part two tomorrow! Also, your roving reporter visits Godendag, Usk wargames competition.