I was invited to join a couple of Johnny Reb 2 wargamers from Louisiana for an evening of conversation and dinner at the Pub & Restaurant on the square in downtown Gettysburg, a short drive from my home in the adjacent county. It was a delightful evening, spent eating outstanding food and discussing the merits of JR2 versus JR3 and the changes in field artillery strength and realism, as well as the other nuances of the two gaming systems. I shared a few anecdotes from my manuscript, A Spirit of Daring: The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, which has been submitted from publication, and we briefly toured the Day 1 fields where the Tigers advanced with Col. I. E. Avery’s Tar Heels toward the Eleventh Corps.
One thing I love about meeting wargamers from around the world is learning how they got into a love for ACW history and for wargaming / toy soldiers. These two new friends got their start with Airfix 1/72 scale plastic figures. I started with 54mm Marx figures and got really hooked on 20mm K+L / Thomas metal figures when I was in college at Miami of Ohio. One of the Louisiana wargamers is a direct descendant of George Ellsworth, the famed telegrapher for John Hunt Morgan during Morgan’s Raid of 1863. Ironically, the remnants of Morgan’s Raiders passed through the area where I grew up (Muskingum County, Ohio) as they crossed the Muskingum River desperately trying to evade Union pursuit and to find a way to turn south to West Virginia and presumed safety.
Before meeting the two gamers for dinner, I tramped around East Cemetery Hill for an hour or so, rehearsing parts of my tour that I will be leading this Saturday afternoon for the York Civil War Round Table. There were very few people out on the battlefield in general, and only three other people on ECH. I like the solitude on Cemetery Hill sometimes, as my three great-great-uncles fought there in the 7th West Virginia Infantry (Red Carroll’s Brigade), arriving just as the Louisiana Tigers were withdrawing in the darkness, their momentum spent and without any support coming from Rodes’ Division or John B. Gordon’s brigade.
In my new manuscript, I present a lot of fresh new material on the Tigers’ march to Pennsylvania and their sojourns in various towns. It promises to be a useful narrative on this much celebrated brigade, and early reviews have been quite, quite positive from the proofreaders. For example, I mentioned over dinner the difference in decorum and behavior here in York County, PA between the very rowdy Tigers and the much more disciplined Georgia brigade of John Gordon. There are only a handful of damage claims related to Gordon’s Brigade, and multiple times as many for the LA Tigers. The Tigers’ reputation preceded them, and they and York County whiskey were quite an incendiary combination!