ACW Naval: The Battle of Johnson’s Bend

(Click on each photo to enlarge it for easier viewing)

I am playtesting a scenario for this year’s Historicon gaming convention using several 1/1200 riverine ships from Toby Barrett that I purchased last year from one of my gaming friends.  The scenario will involve more than a dozen of Thoroughbred Figures’ various pewter ironclads, cottonclads, timberclads, and other sundry gunboats and vessels.

Here are some photographs of today’s play test… I am enjoying my foray into ACW naval wargaming!

A small Confederate fleet of cottonclad rams steam upriver to meet the oncoming Yankees. The CSS Tennessee will provide some firepower, as will the CSS Arkansas, but a lot will ride on the rams’ speed. The Rebel commander hopes they will close fast enough to punch holes in the Union vessels and sink or disable them before the enemy’s heavier gunnery can stop them.

A mile away, the Union riverine fleet steams steadily toward the Rebel base. The crews know the fighting will be desperate, as the Secesh are trying to protect a major supply base on the Mississippi River in northern Louisiana.

River tugs try to get up enough steam to take barges of cotton and military supplies downstream to safety before the Yankees arrive.

The Confederate fleet steams toward the distant Yankees. The future of the supply base rests upon the shoulders of the Southern sailors, as well as the gun crews of several small earthen forts lining the river on both banks.

Scott Mingus’s game room – the framed artwork on the left  is an autographed print of Bradley Schmehl’s painting “Columbia Bridge Burning.” My wife had it framed last summer to celebrate the publication of my book, Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedtion, June 1863. Brad’s exceptional painting graces the cover of the book. A Union reenactor’s uniform hangs on a mannequin. The old metal black chairs were my grandparents’ in southern Ohio; I have great memories of bicycling to their house on hot July days and sitting on the chairs munching ice cream bars.

I have several hundred Civil War books and magazines that I frequently use as reference material for my manuscripts, magazine articles, and Cannonball blog posts. Many were gifts from my parents, wife, and family members, as well as from friends.

I am using the River Wars rules developed by my friend Bob Johnson.  They are quite simple as a “beer-n-pretzels” rules set and are easy to pick up. I have modified them with input from several veteran ACW naval wargamers. Hopefully I will be comfortable enough with the rules to run the game at Historicon in Valley Forge (This layout will much less to carry and transport than to drag all of my 15mm ACW land wars stuff there for my usual Johnny Reb 3 game, especially to a venue I have never before visited).

Categories: Civil War wargaming, Terrain | Tags: , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “ACW Naval: The Battle of Johnson’s Bend

  1. larry

    i usually play one naval game each convention. my only complaint is every system has either

    wooden ships are use gasoline as ballast and take one shot to sink


    iron clads are so unsinkable that you might as well not shoot at them

  2. James Mattes

    You should cross post this link to the Ironclads group on Yahoo.
    James Mattes

  3. Joe LePard


    Where in Wal-mart do you get the vinyl and what is the brand name?

  4. It was in the fabric section of the Wal-Mart at the West Manchester Mall in York, PA. I bought the thickest gauge they had. Don’t recall the brand name; they only had one kind, but in three different thicknesses.

  5. Now I KNOW it is a good thing I do not live near you, I would not be able to resist the temptation to occupy a chair in your game room whenever it might be available!

    Wonderful pix and looks like an exciting scenario.


  6. Doug Rogers

    I enjoy a good game of ACW naval action. Anything can and does happen.

  7. Anonymous

    A friend just showed me the Thoroughbred models and I’m hooked. Found your site and the description of a riverine naval battle. Will start collecting ships. I have two questions I hope you can answer. Can recommend a source for scenarios? What is the appropriate figure scale that goes with these ships (we have a large 15mm ACW collection in our club)? Thanks for your help. I look forward to reading more previous and future posts.

    George Calmenson
    Santa Rosa, CA

  8. Most gamers use 2mm figures with the Thoroughbred models. 6mm is too big, although I have seen them used. There are a few scenarios on the web, and there are ideas for scenarios in the River Wars rules booklet.

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