Thursday, December 20, 2012

Proportional Gettysburg - Battlefield and Scale

I'll do these posts as I work through the scenario, proportioned for a smaller miniature army that is functionally possible to use in a reasonable length game.

A quick look at a map shows that the length of the Gettysburg field, from roughly the end of Little Round Top to the other end at Cemetery Hill is around 7000 yards.  I haven't decided if the first day's battle will be included or not.  For this exercise, I'll just use the 7000 yard figure.

My table is 108" ( 9 foot).  So - 7000 yards/ 108" = 64.8 yards per inch.  I'm comfortable enough with my historicity to round that up to 1" = 65 yards.   My preferred set of rules is Field of Battle, 2nd Edition.  FoB's nominal ground scale is 1" = 25 yards.    The actual to game ground scale ration is 65/25, or 2.6.    I'm happy to say that the real to game ground scale is somewhere around 2.5 to 3 to 1.

So, this begins to tell us what kind of game proportioning (real units to game units) we'll see.   If we assume the same 2.5 to 3 to 1 scaling, we can start to see where we are.

Assume that the game unit is the game representation of the nucleus of the multiple units it represents.  The multiple real units would be deployed "somewhere" around that game unit nucleus, with 2.5 to 3 times the frontage.   This means we'd also have more depth than the nucleus game unit.  So, if we make another assumption (never assume, or it will make an....), and say that we have something like a box of 2.5 to 3 real units wide by 2.5 to 3 real units deep roughly centered around our game nucleus unit, that means that the game unit represents something like 6.25 to 9 real units.   I can live with rounding that and saying 1 game unit = 6 to 9 real units.

At the least detailed OOB level, the Army of the Potomac had around 93,000 men.  The Army of Northern Virginia had around 73,000 men.   Let's assume, for the sake of conversation, that the infantry present for battle (leaving out cavalry and artillery) represents around 60% of those numbers.  That leaves us with around 55,000 for the AoP and 45,000 for the ANV.   If we take that further, and assume that each infantry regiment is 500 men, then the AoP has 110 regiments and the ANV has 90 regiments.    Are these numbers correct?   I don't know.  I have plenty of resources to acurrately figure this out, but quite honestly, this is for a game, not a dissertation and I just don't want to go to that level of research!

So, if you're still following along, we were looking at 1 game unit equaling 6 to 9 real units.   That means that the AoP would be 110/6 to 110/9 infantry units, or somewhere between 12 and 18 infantry (game) units.   Similarly, the ANV would be somewhere between 10 to 15 game units.

My ACW collection (25mm) presently has 15 Federal infantry regiments in it.  Zowie!   15 units is right in the middle of the 12 to 18 unit range we're looking at above.   If I follow proportions, the ANV would then have 12 infantry units or so for the game.

What does each game unit represent?   Surely at the extremes, a very large brigade to a division of real troops.   Does that change the game?   Not in the least.

Next will be a scaling of support units (cavalry and artillery) to get that correct.

This is actually quite a bit of fun!   Now its back to the painting table to work on Libyan spear units for my Carthaginian army (Pulse of Battle).


  1. This seems to me an excellent approach to refighting historical battles, and (as it were) transforming them into wargames scenarios. I used something similar for my refight about 15 or 20 years ago. But there I looked at the army subdivisions into Corps and divisions.

    The Union had 7 Army Corps subdivided into 19 Divisions. Although I Corps had 3 Divisions, they were quite small ones, so I'd be inclined (maybe!)to make it the same size as the 2-Div Corps (IIIrd and XIIth).

    I tend to think of the infantry numbers as about 72,000 Union and 54,000 Confederate give or take - roughly a 4:3 ratio. For the Union that indicates on average, a little over 10,000 per Army Corps (there was a lot of post battle criticism about how reduced these formations had become) and roughly 3800 per division. The CSA Army Corps average out at 18,000 apiece; 6000 per division.

    Finding the CSA numbers easiest to play with, I'd go 2 (of my 27-figure) units per Div, 6 per Army Corps, 18 for the army. The AotP would then have 24, with I, III, V, and XII Corps receiving 3 units; II, VI and XI receiving 4 each. So small are the Union Divisions as to be subsumed into the Corps as the tactical formation.

    The first day of Gettysburg would involve 8 CSA units and 6 Union infantry (one of XI Corps's left out), plus a unit of Union cavalry.

    According to my own system, this would call for about 10 guns on the CSA side, and something like 15 on the Union. This seems excessive to me. Better seems 2 guns integral to each CSA Corps (total 6); and 1 per Union Corps with an army Reserve of 2 more - 9 in all. Arbitrary? Yes. Sort of.

    Interesting exercise.

  2. I'll be looking at how to allocate the units into "Corps/Division" maneuver elements.

    What do I like most about doing this approach to creating the scenario? Its my scenario and my choice, so I can't be wrong!


  3. Brent, I am sure you know it is the 150th of's do this. Sounds like you have enough troops. If not, my armies are slightly larger than yours and Greg has minis too - so, combined - we have more than enough minis (Cav may be an issue, but I can collect some).

    We could divide and conquer the scenario go that path and I'll make any terrain we're missing. Whatever.


  4. Sounds like a plan! We can discuss more at the Feb. game.