An excellent evening!

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!

Categories: Gettysburg, Johnny Reb 3, Wargaming in general | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “An excellent evening!

  1. Kevin Johnson


    I really enjoy your website. I stop by regularly for a visit. I too started off with aiffix “HO men” as my buddies and I called them. We would make weekly trips to the local hobby store and plunk down our allowence for the latest box of soldiers.

    We eventually moved on to “pushing cardboard” and spent many hours playing Avalon Hill And SPI board games. At the time we thought that was a much more sophisticated way to engage our love of military history. However, I was always intrigued with miniatures. Sixteen years ago I purchased the equvilant of two brigades and the rules for Johnny Reb. Unfortunately, until three years ago they sat untouched in a box in the basement. Thankfully my wife said, “Do something with these or get rid of them.” So I started painting. The going has been slow. I am a Lutheran minister and my calling keeps me plenty busy in warfare against the “old evil foe.” However, I now have three brigades of Union and Confederates, and the time invested is definately worth the effort. “Pushing lead” takes me back to the days when my friends and I would set up our troops and get down to eye level just to marvel at how cool it all looked! I am afraid my wife now regrets her challenge!

    One question. I still have the old original Johnny Reb rules. Is Johnny Reb 2 still available for purchase, or is it more advisable to trade up to Johnny reb 3?

    Anyways, thanks for a great website that is informative and inspiring those interested in the hobby.

  2. One of my first loves in boardgaming was the now classic Terrible Swift Sword from SPI. Richard Berg’s innovative (at the time) step-down approach to combat losses and artillery ammunition were unique, and many of my susbequent miniature wargaming scenario books were based upon a lot of playtesting on TSS before dragging our the minis.

    I was really into regimental-level actions, even then. I hated the SPI Blue & Gray Quadragames, as they were too high level (perhaps the same reason why I much prefer JR to Fire & Fury, although I have the greatest respect for Rich Hasenauer’s rules and have lined his pockets a little by purchasing them when they first came out.

    I had a few boxes of Airfix, mostly ACW and Plains Indians / 7th Cavalry. I remember also having a box of their Robin Hood figures. I wonder whatever happened to them?

  3. Kevin,

    Johnny Reb 2 can still occasionally be found on eBay or at Bartertown, or at HMGS-East conventions in the flea markets. However, I would recommend JR3 for anyone that is time-crunched or wants a slightly more abstract set of rules than JR2. Frankly, I was disappointed in JR2 versus JR1, alhough the vast majority of wargames I have played in my life were JR2, and my three scenario books were mostly playtested on JR2 and then converted to JR3.

    And, thank you for your kind words!

    York PA

  4. Kevin Johnson


    Believe it or not I too had a box of those Robin Hood figures. Sadly, long gone. When I was a kid, I wrote a letter to Airfix asking them to devlop some WWII Italian infantry. I received a nice leter from the company thanking me for the “keen” idea!

    I have been hoping to convert SPI’s Kernstown (same rules asTSS, I think) into a miniatures scenario. But I have some more painting to do to have a complete order of battle! Also, I believe JR3 uses a 4 stand basing system. Everything I have is based on the original 5 stand system. I have thought about trying some kind “extended line” rules modification to utilize the fifth stand.

    Thanks for the JR3 file. Are your scenario books still available? Also, I have tried finding a group in the Des Moines area which does ACW minis, but everything seems to be fantasy or Sci-fi. Any suggestions?

    Kevin Johnson
    Carlisle, IA

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