wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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The Importance Of Being Buford, Remembered

Back in the day, SPI created Terrible Swift Sword, a regiment/battery-level simulation of the battle of Gettysburg. It was moderately complicated; each regiment and battery was coded by the predominant weapon (M for smoothbore muskets, N for three-pound Napoleons, and S for the deadly Spencer repeating rifle) and every brigade, division and corps had a counter representing its commander. There were rules for morale, running out of ammunition, fire & melee combat, all that good stuff. It got slagged by "purists" who whined that the game didn't accurately portray Civil War infantry tactics, but most folks who liked Civil War games liked TSS just fine.

SPI accompanied the game's release with an article in its house magazine Moves called "The Importance Of Being Buford", which covered the cavalry delaying action on the first morning, when John Buford's handful of Union cavalrymen held off Henry Heth's division long enough for the Iron Brigade to come up. Now, this worked historically because Buford's men were equipped with breechloading carbines and Heth was a moron, but that kind of stupid's something you can't count on when you're playing the game. I hadn't really appreciated this aspect of the battle before, and it made me like Shaara's The Killer Angels all the more for spending a chapter on General John Buford.

What brings all this to mind is an article in the Smithsonian that does an excellent job of presenting the battle in multimedia form. Well worth looking at.

(h/t Jeff Quinton)
Tags: back in the day, history, wargames
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