Jump to content
Game-Labs Forum

Is ammo needed?

Ammo for units  

219 members have voted

  1. 1. Is ammo important for the Battle of Gettysburg?

    • Ammo is not needed because we consider that it is sufficient for one single battle
    • Ammo must be limited and can be depleted during each battle, no matter the cost for AI and gameplay

Recommended Posts


In your timed system of ammunition how would you deal with units that paced their ammunition consumption?  

Artillery could fire off all their ammo in about 90 minutes; or fire less frequently so that they could fire all day at longer intervals?


Can you pass along any references on your bayonet perspective?  It doesn't align with the hospital data I've seen.  

For example: http://vermontcivilwar.org/medic/medicine3.php

Less than 0.4% of Union casualties were the result of saber or bayonet wounds. 



Mark Hughes, The New Civil War Handbook (statistics for Union only)

Casualty Source:

                Musketry  50.6%

                Unknown 42.1%

                Cannon 5.7%

                Pistol/Buckshot 1.2%

                Saber 0.2%

                Bayonet 0.2%

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr.  Hughes --


Thank you for your reply.


First, re ammo -- I would suggest we determine an average. I cannot find the citation, but I do know that some units at Culp's Hill fired off several hundred rounds per man during the second day, but these were the same units that Greene rotated in and out of his firing pits, who were able to clean their weapons and refill their cartridge boxes.


As you probably know, General Hunt, who commanded the artillery of the Army of the Potomac, had issued very strict guidelines regarding the employment of artillery during the battle, especially on the third day, when a general advance was expected from the Confederates.  Among his various improvements to the overall artillery organization (including the creation of the artillery reserve, and a central reserve of ammunition as well), he gave very explicit orders regarding the return of fire -- i.e., that it was not to begin for at least 15 minutes after the Confederate bombardment began; that batteries were only to fire at targets they could see; that ammunition should be used sparingly and not wasted, etc.). And Hunt had also emphasized that the primary target for artillery -- especially the smoothbore Napoleons -- should not be other guns, but enemy infantry.


Hancock, in command of II Corps and a legend in the army, ordered his corps batteries to fire -- at least in Hunt's opinion -- prematurely, at which the artillery commanders protested, but colonels and majors were not going to overrule a corps commander, thus his batteries were almost out of ammunition when the actual attack began on the third day.  


Luckily, because of the presence of the reserve batteries, and the extra ammunition, this was not fatal, but it could have been.  Again, to answer your question, I would set an average. I would also try, if possible, to design the game so that the quite different doctrine of the opposing armies -- not to mention the inferior Confederate fuses and powder, which were notorious at least among the Rebel infantry -- be built into the game as well. Lee had nothing really like the AOP's Artillery Reserve.


As far as bayonets go, I will admit my evidence is mostly anecdotal, and it would take some time to assemble. I will say, as you probably also already know, that a three-sided wound, such as the bayonets then in use would have created, cannot be sutured.  If you were stabbed by one of these bayonets, and probably more than once at that, you were not going to make it back to any field hospital, especially in a war when the non-walking wounded were seldom retrieved until very late in the day.   And I should add that although this is not reflected in casualties, the real value of the bayonet was more moral than physical, thus the French Army and its misguided pre-WWI mania, "The spirit of the bayonet." We all know that the spirit of the machinegun turned out to be somewhat more potent, but it is a fact that a determined foe armed with bayonet and seemingly bent upon close action could often rout an enemy, as happened not only at Little Round Top, but at least to some degree, when the Minnesotans charged (I think it was they) Barksdale's Mississipians.


B.C. Milligan

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a bit of an addendum to what I wrote last night, here is an interesting commentary by a reenactor on the use of bayonets not only by us (reenactors, I mean), but also in the war itself. I think some of what he writes might be pertinent to the game.  Edit -- for reasons unknown, that link does not work here when I paste it. So instead I will try pasting the copy itself, and apologies in advance for its length.  I do believe it is worth a read:





"The Cold Steel"

Observations on the use of the Bayonet


After having determined to write this article upon the subject that McClellan fittingly described as "the brave man's weapon it was mentioned to me that perhaps the article should be entitled 'the brave man 's subject!'To my dismay, I soon discovered this to be true, for it is indeed a very ambiguous and contentious aspect of civil war combat. Nevertheless, somewhat enthused by the subject's historical elusiveness, I continued. I propose this article not to be definitive nor conclusive, rather, it serves to make some observations about, and perhaps to stimulate some discussion upon, the subject of the use of the bayonet.

' An intimate weapon'

Developments in black powder weaponry from its first invention, it has been argued, progressively "made virtually all previous forms of weapon obsolete. This applied especially to edged weapons." 1 Despite this fact however the use, and indeed the need for edged weapons was not completely eclipsed, the development of the bayonet from sword, to plug-bayonet and finally to socket-bayonet and the fact that the bayonet is still employed today pays testament to this point. It is however often pointed out that as the 'distance' of warfare increased, there was less and less need for the employment of the 'cold steel'. Equally so, it seemed more and more that combat was losing its 'human aspect', that is, it was becoming impersonal - "all you do is move that finger imperceptibly." 2 .But was the impersonality of war absolute? In a word, no, it was not. As Joanna Bourke correctly comments in her excellent book 'An intimate history of killing peoples' imagination of war is often of grand charges and bayonet wielding soldiers, heroic and personal. Indeed, in terms of the American Civil War, the recruiting posters of 1861 portray this psychology well, and often echo a somewhat romantic image in which the 'cold steel' draws parallels with medieval gallantry and chivalry, combat between good and evil and the enemy as the 'ultimate other'. It was the dawning of reality, the realisation that war was not wholly made up of grand bloodless charges, and the overstating of the historical myth that edged weapons had become ineffective against the modernity's of the battlefield, that went someway in perpetuating the belief that the blade was an archaic and somewhat anachronistic throwback of earlier centuries.


A versatile instrument indeed: The bayonet was a neccessity in stacking arms which ever drill book was used

On the contrary however, the bayonet offered the personal touch that soldiers often believed the battlefield was losing. Bourke uses the example of the First World War, in which troops in the trenches were "keen .for intimate struggle... They were willing to go over the top with a penknife." 3 Relatively recent first hand accounts from WWI reveal the true feelings of working with the bayonet. Bourke quotes the words of a British soldier the first time he stuck a German with his bayonet, he described it as being "gorgeously satisfying... Exultant satisfaction ". Another found that bayoneting Prussians was "beautiful work", whilst a New Zealand sapper reported bayonet work as "sickening yet exhilarating butchery [that was] joy unspeakable. "In reality, the bayonet proved to be too personal in some cases. One soldier who was open about killing prisoners "delicately distanced himself from the narrative when mentioning the bayonet 'one' killed with the bayonet as opposed to 'I' or 'we' " 4 Such descriptions of bayonet work in civil war memoirs are howeverfar and few between - most civil war historians never coming across such openly shocking descriptions and admissions. This however does not mean that the 'joy' felt by combatants in the civil war was any different from that felt by WWI combatants. Although veterans when asked about war "hated it so much, it was so terrible that they would prefer it to remain buried", often, it has been proved, it is the fact that "somewhere inside themselves, they loved it too", that was behind their reasoning in wanting to bury their memory of it. 5 Therefore this is a phenomenon that is not confined just to WWI, but rather a pattern that is present in any conflict from the beginning of time, to which the civil war is no exception. It is the social context and conditioning of the period that has led to such comments on face to face fighting to remain hidden in the memory of those that participated, as indeed is the case with most wars, even today. For a veteran to admit to the joy of killing would have been frowned upon then the same, if not more, as it would be today. More importantly however, this highlights that the bayonet was in no way eclipsed during the civil war.

' A useless archaic anachronism?'

One of the most commonly quoted facts about the use of the bayonet in the civil war is that according to casualty returns, only 0.4% of all casualties were inflicted by edged weapons. 6 However, this figure requires the historian to raise certain questions. Is this percentage a total of all casualties, including those that died of fever and those that died in prison camps - if so, it is hardly a fair reflection upon the number of men that died in hand to hand combat on the actual field. Also, how can this figure be comprehensive when nobody counted the cause of death of all those lying on the battlefield and interred in the mass graves? Therefore, one must be wary of such a figure, which has ultimately been plucked from some official returns and used to emphasise the deadliness of modern weapons such as rifled muskets and rifled field pieces.

This argument is supported further when one examines the nature of hand to hand combat in the civil war. Almost every action in the civil war had some detail of hand to hand fighting. To take just a few obvious examples; the charge of the Black Horse Cavalry at First Manasas, the railroad cut at Second Manasas, the Angle at Gettysburg - the list is endless. When almost every action saw hand to hand fighting of some sort, then why is the number of casualties officially recorded to have been inflicted by edged weapons so low? Apart from the reasons already stated above, ultimately, when in close quarters, the blade was not the only weapon. The combatant could also call upon his musket as a club, his bare fists and also his loaded musket as means by which to defeat his foe, none of which would leave an injury that could be described as having been inflicted by an edged weapon. Therefore, although the combat was initiated by one side executing a bayonet charge - the casualties were not necessarily caused by the bayonet.

On the other hand however, if the figure was taken from wounds tended in the field hospitals, then not only is the figure unreliable in terms its restricted 'pool', but also at a more basic level. It would presuppose that casualties from hand to hand combat were as likely to be carried to the rear as those who received their casualties during say, a fire-fight. In reality this would not be so. The area in which close combat would have taken place would generally have been one which was of high importance strategically (thus justifying the need for a bayonet charge) and therefore in the front line in the 'hot' action - too 'hot' for non-combatants to carry the wounded to the field hospital. Also, the ferocity and sheer deadliness of hand to hand fighting that eyewitnesses describe would probably not have left many wounded - most would be hors de combat. These reasons also help show that perhaps generally accepted figures in relation to close-quater fighting are somewhat dubious.

Another reason that helps explain low casualties for edged weapons or hand to hand fighting other than the fact that the figures themselves are probably misleading - who would go around the field examining how every soldier died anyway? - is the fact that combats were often short and sweet. True melees were rare, most close quater action only lasting perhaps a matter of minutes. Far more commonly, one side would break before a true bloodbath could begin. Sam Watkins in describing the attack upon a Union battery in the action around Atlanta comments on how the presence of heavy support would often sway a charge one way or the other, ensuring that close combat was over quickly;

Equally so, the very force of seeing a charge coming on would sometimes be enough for one side to break, the threat of impending combat being too much for one side to bare. James 0. Bradfield of the 1st Texas pays testament to this in his description of the fighting on 2nd July at Gettysburg;

"But being heavily supported.. The Federal lines waver, and break and fly leaving us in possession of their breast works, and the battlefield" 7

Hence, it can be seen that figures regarding casualties inflicted by edged weapons should be treated with a certain degree of suspicion. In a very real sense the belief that the bayonet charge was an obsolete reminder of Napoleonic warfare upon the 'modem' battlefields of the civil war could well be regarded a 'civil war myth'. The unreliability of casualty figures, the intimate nature of hand to hand fighting and the fact that a bayonet charge would not always result in close combat all go someway in disproving the 'myth' that personal struggle, or even the threat of it, was rare in the civil war.

"The enemy stood their ground bravely, until we were close on them, but did not await the bayonet." 8

' Re-enactorisms'

Other myths, or rather re-enactorisms that occur in relation to the bayonet is the position of the musket during a charge, and hence, how a charge should be executed. Perhaps the most common re-enactorism present in today's ACW re-enactment community is the practice of the rear rank assuming the position of Right Shoulder Shift. In no drill manual is this practice specified. D.D. Bello, in his article on 'Charge Bayonet' offers the a potential source for this common mistake. In his description of the Battle of Antietam, John B. Gordon pays attention to a federal attack on the sunken road in which he states that the front line came to Charge Bayonet,and the rear lines came to Right Shoulder Shift. This has probably sometime been taken as endorsement for the mistake which is sometimes strangely justified as a safety measure. However the point that has been missed is that Gordon is describing an attack column - the front line (a two ranked regiment) at Charge Bayonet, and the rear lines (supporting regiments, each of two ranks) at Right Shoulder Shift.



This image by J.D. Edwards shows Gaston Copens' Louisiana Zouaves on parade at Pensacola, Spring 1861. Both ranks are at 'Charge - BAYONET' and the Officers extend their swaords at arms length.

Bello in his article, also points out that none of the drill manuals point out how a bayonet charge should be carried out in the field, or as one Lazyjack put it using a driving analogy, 'they teach you how to use the steering wheel, how to change gear and what to do with the accelerator, but they don't teach you how to conduct yourself on the road.' Using Scott's tactics and manuals, Bello comes to the conclusion that a charge should be conducted thus;

  1. The line moves forward at Arms-Port, and...
  2. Only when the line reaches the enemy does the front rank, and only the front rank, come to Charge Bayonet... The rear rank should be ready to assist the front with their bayonets, and this is best done from the position Arms-Port.
  3. The command "Charge Bayonet" does not even have to be given in an actual charge - the front rank coming to charge bayonet when they meet the enemy (not necessarily all at the same time). In practice, could the men hear the command anyway?

This argument can however be rejected on a number of points. Firstly, it would be unlikely that troops drilled in either Casey's or Hardee's tactics would execute a charge at Arms-Port as both Casey and Hardee removed Arms-Port from school of the soldier, both however prescribe the position of Charge Bayonet - why would troops execute a manoeuvre that they had not been drilled in whilst neglecting one that they did know? Secondly, by its very definition, troops executing a 'bayonet charge' would naturally feel inclined to lead with the intended weapon - the bayonet. Whilst Charge Bayonet is a very aggressive position, Arms-Port in comparison is rather passive, and would hardly help to intimidate the enemy. Also if the troops had loaded weapons which they were intending to discharge on impact, then Charge Bayonet would be a much more suitable position for the musket than Arms-Port. Thirdly, charges would often break up before hitting home as Bradfield of the 1st Texas describes;

"without awaiting orders, every man became his own
commander and so sprang forward toward the top of the hill at full speed." 

Again, leading with the bayonet would be natural when the troops intend to 'give 'em the cold steel', especially if not formed in ranks. Fourthly, a point that both Ed Beaton and Richard O'Sullivan have made is that although Hardee instructs the soldiers in one rank, when considering firing he makes clear the differences between the positions of the front and second rank. Why then, would he not specify such a big difference asArms-Port when instructing the troops in charging their bayonets? The absence of any other instruction can only lead one to the conclusion that both ranks come to the position of charge bayonet. Lastly, most images and descriptions of using the bayonet fail to reflect or mention anything about Arms-Port, rather, they all describe both ranks coming to Charge Bayonet. Alexander Hunter of the 17th Virginia remembered some of the action at Frazier's Farm that illustrates this point well;

Another example of both ranks using the charge bayonet is depicted in the August 16, 1862 issue of Harpers Weekly.

"At last, a little after 4 o'clock, the whole brigade, in line of battle swept forward... The men advanced at a run, one straight unbroken line, with the guns before them at a charge, the bayonets like lances projecting forward and fencing off the rays of the sun, the colours waving proudly, while thousands of feet beat the earth in rhythmical time, the officers well in front with their unsheathed swords in hand


This illustration was sketched by Mr A.R. Waud and depicts the "Bayonet charge of the second Exelsior Regiment, Colonel Hall, at the battle of Fairoaks, June 1862"

Regarding the illustration Mr Waud writes - "I send this under the direction of General Sickles and Colonel Hall (his was the only Regiment of the Excelsior Brigade that charged). The locality is correct. The line of the men is correct, and the enemy skirmishers as Hall found them. No hand -to-hand desperate work by demonic individuals in Zouave dress and caps - the Excelsior Brigade wears the infantry uniform, with felt hats. I could not send this at the time as I was flat on my back"


It could therefore be argued that instructing re-enactors to adopt Arms-Port in a charge is merely replacing one anachronism with another, the latter being just slightly more plausible. Ultimately though, the weight of evidence does point towards the fact that when carrying out a bayonet charge, both ranks should charge with their muskets at Charge Bayonet. This is not really any more dangerous than any of the other positions if everyone takes care, and even to a certain degree, if the attacking troops are taking casualties as they advance, then dropping the musket from the Charge Bayonet position is a lot safer than either Right Shoulder Shift or Arms-Port.

' An instrument of fear'

The importance of the bayonet in civil war combat, as in any other war, was not simply limited to its ability to inflict casualties, but also, and perhaps more importantly, as a psychological weapon. The threat of the 'cold steel' as has already been demonstrated, was such that often the defending force would break before impact came about. Thus, although the bayonet charge was far from certain to inflict casualties, especially when one considers the fact that if contact is reached then one would probably receive just as heavy casualties from one's foe. The psychological effect of the bayonet was not entirely one sided either. As well as being detrimental to the enemy's morale, the use of the bayonet would also prove to be positive in boosting the attacking forces morale. Troops even today pay testament to the fact that they feel more inclined to advance against the enemy with the-reassurance of 18 inches of steel on the end of their weapons. Indeed, the fact that the bayonet was used to carry and defend vitally important positions, often as a last resort, then the order to fix bayonets would doubtless have instilled in the men the gravity of the situation.

The procedures that surround the bayonet often reflect its standing as a psychological weapon. When bayonets are fixed, the soldiers keep their muskets in the position with the butt upon the ground rather than shouldering arms as a when each man has done so. This ensures that when the order Shoulder-Arms is given, then the whole unit does so as one man. It could be argued that this is done for effect upon the field of battle, and not just through the needs of military precision. For the enemy watching a line of battle preparing to charge, what they would see would be a line of hundreds of men suddenly as one man come up to the shoulder in a flash of bare metal with the entire line topped with glinting steel, as if to say 'we're coming to get you!' - enough to send a shiver down even the bravest man's spine. Frank Haskell, a federal soldier on Cemetery Ridge on July 3rd wrote this description of the confederates as they formed for the assault, it gives a good idea of the effect that massed bayonets could have;

"None on that ridge now need be told that the enemy is approaching... More than half a mile their line extends,... man touching man, rank pressing rank, and line supporting line. The red flags wave, their horsemen gallop up and down, the arms of 15,000 men, barrel and bayonet gleam in the sun, a sloping forest of flashing steel... Magnificent, grim, irresistible."


"A sloping forest of flashing steel." This image of a Union regiment portrays well the visual impact of massed bayonets - terrifying indeed!

Equally so, the process of Charge bayonet is a psychological one. To see two advancing ranks bring their muskets down to the charge would have as much impact as seeing them go up to the shoulder before the attack began, and it is likely that this was done when the line was close enough to the enemy for this to have a good impact - perhaps 50 yards. Bello on the other hand, argues that only the front rank should come to the charge when only two or three yards from the enemy. Doing this however would somewhat diminish the psychological impact of a bayonet charge, for when within two or three yards of each other, the defending force by that time would have made the conscious or unconscious decision whether or not to break and run. Also, in terms of the attacking force, if only the front rank came to the charge, it would mean that the psychological buffering of having the physical support of the rear rank's bayonets protruding to your sides would be lost. Sam Watkins in his memoirs of the action around Jonesboro in 1864 shows how Charge Bayonets was used to spur on the troops as they were expecting to go into action;

All re-enactors and living historians when carrying out Charge bayonets make a loud 'hurrah' or cheer. Whilst the drill manuals does not specify that this should be done, in reality it is very plausible that this would be carried out as it would aid the psychological impact, and it also allows the troops to express the pent-up emotion of wanting to close with the enemy. In fact Sam Watkins mentions in passing the 'hurrah' of Charge bayonets when describing a charge;

"We expected to be ordered into action every moment and kept seesawing backward and forward, until I did not know which way the Yankees were or which way the Rebels. We would form line of battle, charge bayonets, and would raise a whoop and yell, expecting to be dashed against the Yankee lines." 11

"We gave one long, loud cheer, and commenced the charge. As we approached their lines... Confederate and Federal meet. Officers with drawn swords meet officers with drawn swords, and man to man meets man to man with 
and loaded guns."

Therefore when considering the impact of the bayonet upon the battlefield the historian must remember that its importance was in no way proportional to the number of casualties that it inflicted. Indeed, its psychological impact must not be underestimated.

' The employment of the bayonet in defence and attack'

Another minor mistake that is often made with bayonet drill is the difference between Charge bayonet and Guard against infantry. Apart from the obvious, that Charge bayonet is an offensive employment of the bayonet whereas Guard against infantry is a defensive one the main difference that is not always recognised is the position of the feet and arms. Hardee illustrates this with plates and text in the 'School of the soldier'. In Charge bayonet, the feet should make a half right face with only three inches between the feet and with the legs straight, whereas in Guard against infantry the feet, whilst making a half right face, should have twenty inches between them, with the knees slightly bent. Also, in the former, the musket should first be brought up slightly with the right hand from the Shoulder arms position until the lock is at the point of the cap pouch, and then using that point as the pivot, the musket should be brought down with the left hand so that the point of the bayonet is at the height of the eye. In the latter however, although the musket is brought up slightly, when it is brought down, the arms should fall naturally at their full length, with the point slightly elevated at the height of the waist. The same differences are true of the defensive position of Guard against cavalry except for the point being at the height of the eye, or rather the height of the horse's chest. Both defensive positions require the feet to be placed far apart with slightly more weight resting upon the back foot in order that the line could absorb the impact of the enemy line coming in at the run.

' "Trust to the bayonet"'

Despite all the controversy over the use of the bayonet in the civil war, one thing is certain - the commanders of the day were of the opinion that the bayonet was a highly valuable weapon. It was a weapon that despite its archaic nature was considered to be the weapon that could make that decisive blow and could win or lose the battle. Indeed, perhaps it was the rustic appeal of the cold steel that echoed something of the chivalry of centuries passed that ensured the bayonet's position of reliability and highly personal nature. General A.S. Johnston's speeches at Shiloh in preparing his troops to charge the 'Hornet's nest' reveal something of the emotions that the bayonet could evoke in both the commanders and the men and the trust that was put in its effectiveness to shift an enemy;

'Men of Arkansas! They say you boast of your prowess with the Bowie knife. Today you wield a nobler weapon 
the bayonet. 
Employ it well." 13

Minutes later he rode further along the lines until he came to the 45th Tennessee, the regiment that he would lead into the action, and at the bead of which he would receive his mortal wound, here, he reiterated his belief in the need to employ the bayonet to win the day;

'Men they are stubborn; we must use the bayonet. I will lead 
you!" 14

Johnston is only one example of many. Stonewall Jackson is another who realised what a powerful weapon the bayonet could be. Minutes before he won his immortal 'title' he was reported to have uttered these words to a fellow officer;

"Sir we'll give them the bayonet... Trust to the 
Bayonet." 15

' Conclusion'

As was stated at the beginning, this article is intended not to be either definitive or conclusive, however it has proved to highlight certain aspects about the bayonet that are often forgotten or dismissed. Particularly its status as a weapon that could provide the intimacy that combatants would crave, its archaic aspirations and smacks of chivalric combat, the dubious nature of casualty figures that may well underestimate the ability of the bayonet to inflict injury. Also notice has be drawn to re-enactorisms and myths concerning the bayonet, and has hopefully gone someway in exploring these. Indeed one of the most valuable conclusions that could be drawn is that the bayonet's importance as a psychological weapon is in no way proportional to the number of casualties that it could inflict. Thus, the trust that commanders placed in its ability to emplore a higher sense of duty was well founded. However, if only one conclusion was to be drawn from all of this, it is that when one couples its fighting capabilities with the secondary uses for which the bayonet was employed, such as for stacking arms, as a roasting spit, as a candlestick or as a tool to dig a hole, then the bayonet was an invaluable item of the soldier's accoutrements, and so the common belief that soldiers would throw away their bayonets at the first opportunity is completely without foundation and is merely another 'civil war myth'. As with all things however, the civil war soldier found humour in the bayonet too. The closing quotes illustrate this. The first is a description of bayonet drill by a federal private, ant the latter should serve as a warning to drill instructors when carrying out Charge bayonets - always do it when facing away from camp!

was like watching]... a line of beings made up about equally of the frog, the sandhill crane, the sentinel crab, and the grasshopper: all of them swinging, stirring, jerking every which way, and all gone mad." 

"Even such a wearisome proceeding as drilling was not without its humourous side. Sometimes in making the soldiers charge bayonet in line, they would increase their speed and keep on, and never stop until they reached their camp, when the whole force would Disappear!" 


Images such as this of Petersburg and Appomattox only go to prove that bayonets would rarely be discarded as an impediment. Its uses were not limited to fighting, and so it would be kept as a valuable tool.

  1. Davis W.C. The illustrated history of the Civil War Bramley Books 1997 p206

  2. Bourke J An intimate history of killing - ch. 1 'The pleasures of war' p2

  3. Ibid p17

  4. Ibid p24

  5. Ibid p1

  6. Davis W.C. The illustrated history of the civil war p215

  7. Watkins S Co.Aytch New York 1997 p183

  8. Ed. Cannan J War on two fronts: Shiloh to Gettysburg Conshocken PA 1994 p366

  9. Ed. Cannan J. War on two Fronts: Shiloh to Gettysburg p367

  10. Hunter A. Johnny Reb and Billy Yank New York 1904 p188-89

  11. Watkins S. Co.Aytch p207

  12. Watkins S. Co.Aytch p183

  13. Troiani D & Pohanka B.C. Don Troiani's Civil War Stackpole Books 1995 p20

  14. Ibid p20

  15. Davis W.C. The illustrated history of the civil war p210

  16. Ibid p210

  17. Hunter A. Johnny Reb and Bill Yank p79


Bello D.D. Notes on Charge - BAYONET http://33rdwisconsin.civilwarmuseum.com/33articles/chargebay.html 1998

Bourke J. An intimate history of killing - ch.1 'The pleasures of war'

The Blue & Grey Press The Photgraphic History of the civil war Vol. I Secaucus 1987

Ed. Cannan J. War on two fronts: Shiloh to Gettysburg Conshocken PA 1994

Davis W.C. The illustrated history of the Civil War Bramley Books 1997

Eds. Davis W.C. & Wiley B.I. The Image of War: 1861-65 - Vol II: The Guns of '62 New York 1982

Hunter A. Johnny Reb and Billy Yank New York 1904

Troiani D. & Pohanka B.C. Don Troiani's Civil War Stackpole Books 1995

Watkins S Co. Aytch New York 1997

GreenBal.gif Return to Article Index

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


All weapons are psychological weapons.  Teeth, hackles, shouting, stones, cold steel, muskets, cannons are all intended to make an enemy turn tail and run so you can follow the good book which tell us, "it is truly better to give rather than to receive".  Most of the accounts I've read result in one side or the other giving ground prior to contact.  Did troops sometimes make contact with cold steel? Certainly.


One of the things I've learned to look for in after action reports are unique details.  Civil War battlefields are tiny relative to the wars of the 20th century.  You can hustle end to end of Gettysburg battlefield in an hour.  You can see all of the relevant terrain from one observation tower.  When unique events occurred after action reports corroborated accounts of events.  It was difficult to misrepresent things in the Civil War because thousands of eyes were on you almost all of the time.  Batteries that were overrun, units that closed with the bayonet, battle flags lost or taken are all events that are mentioned in multiple after action reports and frequently other eye witness accounts; Company Aytch referenced above is a personal favorite and filled with examples.  Note that Watkins wrote this book years after the events and there are multiple examples of his references to units and events that don't align quite correctly with other authors that wrote closer in time to the events.  I believe the events occurred as Sam describes them; but sometimes he does have some scrambled facts in this grits. 


Absent more accounts of bayonet melees I'm fairly skeptical; and, possibly as you believe, I'm incorrect.


One observation is that in the Civil War less than 10% of the casualties were by artillery.  In the First World War 70% of casualties were by artillery.  My hunch is that after suffering through a WWI artillery barrage that for shell shocked men suffering PTSD it was indeed satisfying to do anything "intimate" with another human being; especially when it involved satisfying blood lust against the mostly unseen enemy that had been blasting away at you for hours, days, weeks, months, or years with artillery.  


Both WWI and the Civil War were horrific; but, I don't hear many accounts of WWI commanders reading poetry to their men; which was often the case in the era of musket warfare and occurred at Gettysburg in more than one eye witness account.  It was a reasonable bet you'd survive in the Civil War that when your captain said, "Sit down boys, stay calm.  They'll run out of ammunition before they kill the likes of you!"


The invention of the percussion fuze had a tremendous battlefield impact on the psychology and carnage of warfare so I'm cautious of the WWI references in the Civil War context.  It doesn't mean the article is wrong; but there is substantial evidence against the argument that troops closed with the bayonet "frequently" during the Civil War or that they got perverse satisfaction when they did.  While I'm certain there were psychopaths in the 1860's in many ways the Civil War was a more innocent war.  It was also a war fought by Americans between Americans who spoke variants of a similar language, and often knew each other.


For example, unique to the Civil War is the almost complete absence of exploitation of women.  Sherman's march is an excellent example - a 50 mile wide swath was carved from Atlanta to the Atlantic - yet cases of abuses against women are extraordinarily rare.  The point I'm making is that the American Civil War did, in fact, have "civil" code of conduct, rules both written and understood, and behavior that is unique to the American experience that was the Civil War.  There was chivalry still in this conflict despite "Spoons" Butler and his approach to managing relations with the Southern Belles of New Orleans.  During the Gettysburg Campaign a woman was standing on her front porch in Pennsylvania with an American Flag covering the top section of her dress which she, "filled amply".  The boys in Gray marching on the road in column toward Gettysburg warned the woman that Hood's Texans would be along shortly and "Hood's Boys" took great pride in storming Union breastworks to capture a flag as a prize.  The men had a good laugh at her expense when she beat a "hasty" retreat from her porch; unwilling to temp the fate of her defenses.  These "outrages" against women are absurdly tame.


Thanks for the great article; I'll hold onto my skepticism regarding cold steel a bit longer yet. ;)


PS - how did you get the pictures into your post?  

        I've been trying to post pictures from articles and they didn't work in the forum.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. Fair -- 


A great post which deserves, if any reply, a detailed one, but I am on my way out the door to teach a bunch of nice people how to hit one another with steel swords.  As a quick response to you question, I just pasted that entire article into my post.  Maybe that's the secret; I don't know! Perhaps if your photo comes from a URL it will work.


I will try to put in another photo...


 No workee. Will try something else later.


Touch the elbow,

B.C. Milligan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel that the main point of the ammunition debate is really a matter of the scope of the game, by which I mean what the precise role of the player is supposed to be.  Commanding multiple brigades and divisions puts one on the scale of a Corps or Army commander, and one must ask oneself if the commanders at that level concerned themselves with the contents of their individual soldiers' cartridge boxes.  If implementing ammunition introduces micromanagement for the player and obstacles for the AI, I propose that the ammunition system will detract from the overall aim of authenticity.


If ammunition is represented, let it be as an abstraction of fatigue and morale-- units that have withdrawn from combat and are low on ammunition would, under normal circumstances, obtain ammunition, and this would be the responsibility of the regimental or brigade commanders.  That puts it below the level of the player's intended focus.


A possible fix to make people happy is to model the accessibility of the baggage train to units when they recover fatigue and model the supply of the army overall for each day as a multiplier for regaining fatigue.


For example, a unit close to fighting would regain fatigue AND supplies more slowly than one further away from the fighting due to the need for diligence and the inherent danger of moving around wagons loaded with munitions around the fighting.  Since both rates of recovery would be affect in roughly the same manner at roughly the same time, I think they can be modeled together.  This also means that an army which spent both the first and second days fighting all out and drawing down its "supply/fatigue reserve" or whatever it is called will, of necessity, recover more slowly on the third day, reflecting both scarcer rations and the buildup of fatigue humans experience under stress in general.


As for units running out of ammunition, that can be modeled by the fatigue they experience simply as a part of being in battle.  Yes, Chamberlain made a final charge with his men stretched to the limit and his munitions expended, but the rebels he charged were also on the breaking point and low on supplies.  I think in this game that a unit holding the high ground after repulsing repeated attacks could be wavering, but not as badly as the repulsed unit.  So, if the unit on the high ground charged, the units below would be far more likely to break and run.  Yes, it is risky-- Chamberlain took a risk, and it made him brilliant because it worked.  To pull off the same feat in this game should risky as well, but that is not represented best by moving supply wagons or some other such mechanic.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And just for the record, while I think the effects of lack of ammunition must be modeled, I agree with Mr. Woodchuck that this does not necessarily mean that the player should have to be involved in this, unless players can actually take the role of a brigade commander. At that level, ammunition would be a consideration.  At a higher level, it would be more likely that the player would just have to know that an individual brigade was played out, whether this be because of lack of ammunition, casualties, fatigue, morale, or -- most likely -- a combination of some or all of these factors.


The question that I would always ask myself, were I one of the designers of this game, is what decisions were typically made by the commanding officer at any particular level. When I was involved in my own -- never published -- Gettysburg game, which was going to be 3-D and allow players to to watch the game in first person, we agreed that IF a player were to place himself at this level of play, while he was there, he would have no access to either the mini-map or whatever we were going to call it, nor to messages or other information that would normally only be seen by division, corps, or the army commander.


B.C. Milligan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting to see that the discussion about ammunition is tied to infantry cartridge boxes.  Infantry ammunition resupply was much less logistically challenging than artillery.  Boxes of infantry ammunition could be dropped behind the lines and the men sent runners to feed ammunition to the front line troops.


Meade, Hunt, Hancock, Longstreet, Alexander, Pendleton, were all personally and substantially involved in the decisions to expend or hold fire with the artillery ammunition.  The debates in their reports are predominantly about the psychological impact that the artillery has on infantry.  The Meade/Hunt decision to hold long-range fire was a factor in the defeat of Pickett's Charge; as was the Longstreet/Alexander to launch the charge based on the CSA artillery ammunition supply.


Union batteries in particular were rotated to ensure batteries had an ample ammunition supply and Meade and Hunt ensured that batteries were conserving ammunition.  The artillery ammunition policy was determined at the corps-level for the corps artillery assets.  The Union Artillery Reserve (Hunt) set his own policy on the ammunition expenditure for his command under the direct direction of Meade.  


When brigades from the Artillery Reserve were sent to the front (e.g., to support Dan Sickles III Corps in the Peach Orchard) the batteries from the Reserve then fell under the command of the corps commander who determined the ammunition policy.


Once in close action the artillery policy became irrelevant and the batteries "fired at will" until their ammunition supply was exhausted, which took about an hour, and the battery withdrew to the rear.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, fellow David.


The cartridge box comment was merely off the cuff-- I agree that comparing infantry ammo resupply and artillery resupply is like comparing apples to something that is not even vaguely like an apple.  I agree that artillery ammunition is important to model, and I guess that means that their rate of becoming fatigued and the recovery of that fatigue (assuming ammo and fatigue are abstractly linked together) would be best modeled differently from infantry of cavalry fatigue-- something that might just be a different equation plugged in for that unit type.  As long as the player knows that artillery fatigues significantly faster when firing and recovers very slowly (except when withdrawn and rotated, as you mentioned), I guess that would be tenable, fairly realistic, and save players from getting bogged down in the thick of thin things (in terms of intended focus for gameplay).


Also, I never really examined the role of psychological impact of artillery on infantry for that period-- in my college courses, all I really dealt with was WWI shell-shock and how it affected and influenced the resulting culture and artistic movements in the inter-war period (yep, I possess a rather useless arts degree), and would love to see any articles on how the study of the phenomenon developed over time.  Anything you would recommend?  My comprehension of battlefield events and thought is largely limited to dry historical texts or the narratives of McPherson or Foote, which leaves me with a large body of facts, but less of the "meat" needed for interpretation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You don't necessarily have to go all out on the ammo ideas.  Just a button to "replenish unit" while you're not surrounded would be just fine.  Or you could have it set up to where if you move your brigade back from the fighting and keep it in one place for awhile it slowly replenishes the ammo meter if it's something you decide to implement.  Just my 2 cents.


I like the idea of bayonets as Remise put as well.  It was still an important part of this war and if used in the right situation (Little Round Top) could still have devastating effect.  Stonewall Jackson was a huge proponent of using bayonets for brute attacks as well as psychological advantages.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I've sent you resource information directly.


The key thing to realize about Civil War Artillery is that musketry inflicted casualties at more than a 9:1 ratio over artillery during the war.  Artillery casualties represented about 6% to 8% of casualties.  Of the 50,000 casualties at Gettysburg only about 1500 to 2000 per side were inflicted by artillery (including splinters and flying rocks/debris that ricocheted when shot/shell hit objects). 


I'd challenge your theory tying ammunition to fatigue.  A civil war battery with 2 caissons/gun only carried about 112 rounds/gun (12 lb Napoleon standard supply).  The average weight of a round was about 10 pounds.  The battery crews could fire all of their ammunition in about an hour.  There are two jobs out of nine on a gun crew that were particularly fatiguing (the runner tasked with getting ammunition to the gun, and the rammer who cleaned the gun prior to reloading).  The fresh members of the battery (or infantry units supported by batteries) were rotated to these positions to ensure fatigue was not much of a problem.  Note - In my youth I worked on a sod harvester.  We stacked 30 to 50 pound bales of sod at a rate of 3 bales per minute for 12 to 16 hours/day with a one hour lunch break for six days a week.  IMO the "fatigue" thing on batteries is overrated.


Union batteries firing all of their ammunition quickly then "rotating" to the reserve became so much of a problem that General Hunt, Commander Army of Potomac Artillery Reserve, ordered batteries to sit in their assigned positions until their caissons had been resupplied.  Hunt believed gunners were rapidly firing all ammunition to get "off the line".  Hunt stated that 10 rounds aimed were better than 50 fired rapidly.  He restricted his batteries to refrain from artillery duels and wasting ammunition.  Hunt understood the stress caused on batteries when they were without ammunition; he played this card to ensure his crews were judicious with their ammunition supply.  Specifically, prior to Pickett's Charge, Hunt held fire to ensure the Union Artillery Reserve had ammunition to target the charge as soon as it emerged.  General Hancock spent the ninety minutes prior to Pickett's Charge racing to the Artillery Reserve batteries and cussing at them to return fire during Longstreet's (really Alexander's) artillery barrage.




Here is some of the content I've pulled together on artillery:


First Post...

IMO it is impossible to understand the psychological impact of artillery on the Civil War battlefield. 


There clearly was a relationship:

Longstreet to I Corps Artillery commander Alexander at Gettysburg, “Colonel, If the artillery fire does not have the effect to drive off the enemy or greatly demoralize him, so as to make our efforts pretty certain.  I would prefer that you should not advise General Pickett to make the charge…”


And at the same time a mile away:

General Winfield Scott Hancock to 2nd Corps artillery commander Captain John Hazard, “General Hunt is the army’s Chief of Artillery.  I’m in command of this Corps, and that includes its guns.  My infantry is taking a pounding from the Rebels.  Hunt’s a gunner officer – always has been.  He [General Hunt] doesn’t realize what is means to infantry’s morale to have to take a cannonade like this without their own artillery paying any of it back.  Resume firing.”


There is a wealth of firsthand antidotal data that artillery fire galvanized the resolve of units to stand, “…give ‘em another round for Riley…” 


There is another body of evidence that artillery fire shattered men’s nerves, “Sergeant if you don’t get back to your gun, replace the [shattered] wheel, and commence firing I will blow your brains out.” 


There are no consistent patterns or rules of thumb that can be derived from the data. 


Additionally commanders on the same side at the same time viewed the same events differently. 

General Hancock was convinced his troops were unnerved and raced about swearing at the Artillery Reserve to return fire; while General Hunt calmly moved from battery to battery reassuring his men of the Artillery Reserve that they would have their retribution when Pickett’s Charge came forward.  He ordered his men to hold their fire despite General Hancock. 


The one thing that is clear from the study of the stone sentinels, primary sources, After Action Reports of both General Hunt & Brigadier General Pendleton, US & CSA Artillery Commanders respectively, is that artillery, by itself, did not rout any units on either side at Gettysburg.



Another Post...

Both sides were armed with similar ordnance.  With the relatively small percentage of casualties 6% to 8% inflicted by artillery forces during the fight, it is tempting to assign the artillery arm a relatively minor role when compared to the infantry. 


Intangible factors, however, must be taken into consideration.  As Adjutant Dodge explained, “Although the fire of a battery was much less deadly at a distance than musketry close at hand, the noise was so much more appalling that men will get uneasy under a harmless shelling quicker than under a murderous fire of small arms.”  The tremendous roar and smoke generated by the cannon – the whistle and hiss of the iron shot which culminated in a sudden deafening explosion and shock wave – and the sight of severely mangled comrades left lying in the dire, combined to render a psychological impact far greater than mere numbers suggest.  The many vivid accounts which described the indiscriminate destructions wrought by these wheeled engines of war is sufficient testimony to their effectiveness in battle.



CSA Whitworths:


Although it is impossible to reconstruct the effectiveness of individual artillery batteries on either side, the distinctive whine of Hunt’s Alabama battery, the only two breech-loading Whitworths at Gettysburg, were easily distinguishable.


During the barrage preceding Pickett’s Charge Captain Benedict of the Philadelphia Brigade, “...listened to occasional shells supposed to be from a Whitworth because of their whistling sound like a “widgeon in flight” (my guess: widgeon = pigeon).  The Whitworth was sort of the psychological precursor to the German JU87 (Stuka) dive bomber siren or the sound of the V1 and V2 rockets.  See StuKa Ju 87 siren (psychological effect) - YouTube


On July 4 a Whitworth shell landed near the 90th Pennsylvania, “…which spooked the entire regiment, which jumped up and headed for the rear.  The Pennsylvanians quickly regained their composure and resumed their post amid derisive laughter from the surrounding veterans”. Note - the Whitworths seems to have caused unique consternation in the Union ranks.  The gun's range, the fact that you couldn't see the "bolts" (you could see smooth bore spherical rounds in flight), and the whistling sound seemed to have a peculiar effect on Union troops.


The Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg has a Whitworth “bolt” said to have been fired from Oak Hill that was found at Little Round Top; theoretically possible given the supposed five mile range of the gun.  Most accounts indicate the Whitworths were directed against the center of the Union line, roughly three miles distance from Oak Hill.  


This makes the effective range >5,000 meters.  I've always scoffed a bit at the Whitworth legend.  As I've done more research I'm scoffing less.



Another Post....


Digesting Artillery Data:

A regiment suffering massive artillery casualties during the American Civil War would have been an extraordinarily rare event.  


How extraordinary?


Thomas L. Elmore’s article, “The Effects of Artillery Fire on Infantry at Gettysburg” is interesting.  Elmore is a 1977 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and has studied Gettysburg “…in earnest…” since 1963.  In his analysis he compiled a list of “…artillery shots at Gettysburg causing two or more casualties”.  It is well established that unless artillery fire was directly from the flank the effect was minimal on infantry until a regiment reached canister range.  When solid shot passed through a regiment from the front, if it hit anyone it might hit as many as 2 men.


For the Union there are 14 incidents at Gettysburg with a total of 74 casualties.  So when an artillery round was fired from the flank the average destruction was about 5 men/shot.


On the CSA side of the house there are 19 incidents at Gettysburg with a total of 97 with one case listing “several casualties”.  If we remove the less specific data point we have 18 with 97 casualties.  Again, about 5 men/shot average in an optimal case. 


Note that anecdotal data in my opinion is highly suspect.  We can only wonder at how many undocumented occurrences actually happened.  What is interesting to me is that where we have firsthand sources the Rule of Thumb on a flank attack is 5 men per shot.  For a Union battery of 6 guns this is about 30 men outside canister range, if each and every cannon were lucky enough to score an optimal outcome.


What are the odds of an optional shot from an entire battery?  We know from General Hunt the Union fired 32,781 rounds at Gettysburg.  Some of this ammunition was likely destroyed in ammunition caissons so let’s adjust the numbers to 28,000 rounds actually fired.  Each round fired would have less than a 0.0005% chance inflicting more than 2 casualties.  The chance of a 6 gun battery with each gun inflicting 30 casualties is 0.000008% or 1 in 100,000. 


We also know that both sides endured about 25,000 casualties.  If artillery casualties were about 6% to 8% then we’d expect 1500 to 2000 casualties inflicted per side by artillery at Gettysburg.  Using our 28,000 rounds fired the chance of getting hit by artillery was about 0.07% spread over three days. 


It’s no wonder that commanders could pull out a copy of Dickens and steady men nerves given these odds.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simplified Artillery Ammunition Supply:

After a bit or research I discovered General Hunt's report stating that the Union brought 97,740 rounds of artillery ammunition to Gettysburg.

This led me to General Pendleton's report stating the CSA brought 40,800 rounds to Gettysburg.

I'd suggest every time a battery fires the number of guns firing is subtracted from the ammunition supply.

Artillery ammunition became a key concern for both sides.

The CSA fired about 22,000 rounds (150 rounds/gun average) which was more than half of their supply.

The Union fired 32,781 rounds (270 rounds/gun average) which was about a third of their supply.

Given the Union rail supply lines were less than 20 miles from Gettysburg it is obvious the Union had a much less complex logistical problem replenishing artillery ammunition.

The CSA's nearest railhead was Charlottesville, VA more than 150 miles distant.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I'm honestly ambivalent on this issue. As long as it doesn't compromise the intuitive aspect of Ultimate Generals, I'll be able to live with it. But if my infantry are able to fire until the end of the world, I won't take offense either, particularly since I personally am going to pursue a Day 2 / Day 3 victory (should it be possible) before ammunition even approaches a premium.


The option of toggling the ammunition may be the best option. It may very well be divisive among the playerbase, but let's be completely honest, here. This game is about two sides of tens of thousands of Americans shooting and gutting each other over socio-political issues much more controversial than options in a video game. I believe that the benefits from the player being able to choose for the sake of their own experience outweigh the detriments of a 'divided' playerbase.


If the choice is made for ammunition to become limited however, I'd expect that Ultimate Generals would make it much more of an issue for the side having the greatest difficulties with supply, such as at the Siege of Petersburg.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Another game that modeled ammo relatively well was the Close Combat series. 

- Each unit started the battle based on their pre-battle supply condition. So an isolated unit would start with less than full ammo. This addresses the strategic supply situation.

- Units can salvage ammo from sources such as dispatched enemies (assuming same ammo type), or be resupplied from nearly friend units such as another fighting unit or a supply unit (at cost to the friendly's supply). This should alleviate units standing around doing nothing once out of supply. 

- A floor replenishment rate can be implemented so if an out of supply unit has been resting for a while, it can scrounge enough ammo for 1 or 2 shots as self defense (idea already mentioned already in this thread).

- The AI has a non-linear response to supply, resorting to conservation only if supplies go below a certain threshold. More experienced units can have higher accuracy / "know when to shoot", which increase their effective supply. This is such that AI would not aggressively conserve ammo to the detriment of game play.

- Low ammo count should factored into morale as opposed to it's own category. Anything above [1/4] supply should have no affect on supply. Below [1/4], the unit's moral is lowered similar to in TW when a unit is "concerned about casualty / flanked". In this case, it would be "Low Ammo". However, if the unit is winning decisively, even with low supply, the moral bonus from winning should outweight the moral penalty of running low on ammo so the unit would still advance. In this case, the AI shouldn't be trying to optimize supply by resorting to charges. But when supply is low, the unit AI would be hindered to advance until it is resupplied. Having a floor replenishment rate can help in that a unit's morale penalty from being out of ammo would decrease over time, enabling it to get back into the fight after a rest. This is to implement ammo in the AI in a manageable fashion (I hope).


Discussions appreciated.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Discussion as requested...

What kind of game do you want to play?

Does a set of arbitrary ammunition/resupply rules enhance your game experience?

Who gets to decide on the arbitrary rule set?

What makes it right?

Is this more of a game or a battlefield simulation?

Unless you are willing to make a series of key decision based on historical data on ammunition supply then arbitrary resupply rules just clutter up the game with a bunch of absurd nonsense.

I disagree that Close Combat series was improved or better because it had insight into the "strategic supply situation". It's great you liked the game - I found the fantasy ammunition rules annoying.

After the battle of Gettysburg 37,574 rifles were collected from the battlefield.

See http://www.gettysburg.stonesentinels.com/Gettysburg_Facts/Gettysburg_Facts.php

24,000 were still loaded.

6,000 had one round in the barrel

12,000 had two rounds in the barrel

6,000 had three to ten rounds in the barrel

It seems to me there are much more important battlefield simulation issues to think about or "get right" before fussing with infantry ammunition. For example, we learn from the data above that 50% of the infantry could not possibly be firing during combat as they left 18,000 muskets on the field jammed full of ammunition.

Units in the American Civil War resupplied through their supply chain - not by scrounging "1 or 2 shots" off carcasses. Did some units in some situation scrounge? Yes. But do I want to play Ultimate Vulture to scrounge for ammunition or focus on the strategy of Gettysburg in a battlefield simulation?

My preference is to play strategy not scavenging.

I'd challenge you to demonstrate how the infantry battle of Gettysburg was fought/influenced based on the infantry ammunition supply. Ground was occupied and fought and for the most part both sides were able to manage infantry supply logistics without impact to the strategic decisions.

I'm aware of the 20th Maine's Charge and that Buford was withdrawn to Maryland after the 1st day for lack of specialized cavalry carbine ammunition. These are individual cases that had minimal impact on the strategy of either army at Gettysburg.

Artillery supply was a concern for both commanders during the battle.

Both commanders managed their artillery ammunition supply policy during the battle.

Pickett's Charge was timed based on the artillery ammunition supply.

Artillery ammunition required specialized packing and handling to ensure the rounds were not destroyed in transportation.

3 CSA guns were disabled by ramming the wrong size shot down the muzzle of these guns (1% of all CSA guns).

But, do I want a game that requires me to match ammunition with guns because 1% of the CSA guns were disabled by logistical errors under the pressure of battle?

Feels to me like infantry ammunition supply is dumping swill into the baby's bath water.

Do I want to command the logistics of 30 miles of wagons on the roads around Gettysburg?

Do I want to establish the parks for the artillery ammunition supply?

For my dime I'd rather play a game focused on strategy than logistics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

For accesibility, I would prefer an approach of units either being in full supply, limited supply and low supply. This would affect their firerate and therefor combat ability, while giving them the ability to not run out of ammo. The AI would then be able to make a decision regarding the three stances, where out of supply would be really bad for your ranged potential, therefor giving you a higher priority to go into close combat.


Full supply would be units having higher than 25-50% of their maximum rounds. Limited supply would be lower than that, but higher than 5% and low supply would be anything below that 5% mark.

Full supply would mean high combat effectiveness, sustained fire.

Limited supply would indicate the loss of combat effectiveness. As soon as a unit becomes in limited supply, sustained combat will reduce its effectiveness and combat efficiency down to the minimum, which will be being in low supply

Low supply would limit the combat effectiveness drastically, reducing firerate. Units survive by scraping together rounds found anywhere.


A gradual curve from Limited to low supply, slowly reducing the firerate of the whole rank when in combat, would probably be a nice touch. Making the loss in effectiveness gradual rather than fixed at different points seems a smooth way of handling it.


Supply of units should be replenished after taking casualties and not in combat? (the ammo supply of fallen people gets distributed) and maybe specialised things/carts on the battlefield that carry additional rounds to resupply people. I do not know how common battlefield resupply was for small arms, but it was already described in the posts before me.



Personally, I wouldn't mind each unit having an average round counter that shows the amount of ammo each person is carrying. This would of course lead to units being able to deplete their whole ammo supply and could stress the AI into making errors more. I think a streamlined approach is enough, since ammo management can become really stressful in larger battles, while not adding much gameplay benefit.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Your boldness is admirable!

You stated, "I do not know how common battlefield resupply was for small arms..."

Yet, despite your self-professed lack of knowledge you've proposed a small arms resupply system for a game whose intent is to be a "battlefield simulation". As stated above, ...arbitrary resupply rules just clutter up the game with a bunch of absurd nonsense.

There is a wealth of information on logistics and supply during the American Civil War. I'd be very interested in how you tie your proposal to any data from any source as the baseline to offer your "preferred" solution to implement small arms resupply. It's not that your ideas are bad; but, I'd like to understand your data and discuss your logic.

Here are a couple of thoughts...

Access to roads was a key ingredient of resupply. You couldn't easily get ammunition wagons into places without roads. For that reason infantry units on both Culp's Hill and Little Round Top had some difficulty resupplying units at the end of the line. Both of these locations saw heroic low-ammunition actions (specifically the 137th New York and 20th Maine respectively).

Buford's small arms ammunition situation was completely different. For example, the 9th New York Cavalry troops were armed with the Sharp & Hankin Carbine which fired unique ammunition. Buford had easy road access which allowed his troops to remain rapidly supplied during the first day's fight. By the end of July 1 he had consumed almost all of his cavalry carbine ammunition supply. For the Sharp & Hankin Carbine specifically all but a few rounds of that ammunition within a 15 mile radius of Gettysburg had been expended. On July 2 Buford's requested, and Meade approved, that the men of the 1st Cavalry Division be ordered to the railhead in Maryland to refit and resupply. They were assigned to protect food and ammunition supplies at the railhead and escort these supplies to the AoP.

Logistical complexities are difficult to arbitrarily generalize as you have attempted to do above.

Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard on Cemetery Hill was able to send four regiments, 750 men, who served as Greene's reserve on Culp's Hill and helped to restore dwindling supplies of ammunition. These reinforcements carried extra ammunition to Brig. Gen. George S. Greene's men at the extreme end of the Union line.

The key to the Union holding Culp's Hill was due more to Maj. Gen. John W. Geary's insistence that the troops immediately start constructing breastworks rather than the ammunition supply. As a civil engineer before the war, Geary had a natural understanding of the value of defensive works. His division and corps commanders did not believe they would be stationed at Culp's Hill very long and did not share Geary's enthusiasm for constructing breastworks; but, they did not oppose or interfere with his efforts. Geary set his troops to the task of felling trees and collecting rocks and earth to create very effective defensive positions.

When Ewell's troops attacked Culp's Hill they were shocked at the strength of the Union breastworks. Their charges were beaten off with relative ease by the 60th New York, which suffered very few casualties. Confederate casualties were high, including General Jones, who was wounded and left the field. One of the New York officers wrote "without breastworks our line would have been swept away in an instant by the hailstorm of bullets and the flood of men."

Please note that he does NOT say, "without more ammunition our line would have been swept away in an instant." While this might be a true statement the ammunition supply was much less of a concern for the 90,000 man AoP at Gettysburg. I'm not a fan of altering the fundamentals of American Civil War battle in favor of a fictional supply policy.

Hazlett's battery was assisted to the top of Little Round Top by Union engineer troops. They cut a path that was used to resupply the battery; but, I've never seen any indication that this "path" was used to resupply the infantry. Possibly, it could have been; although guns and caissons were more nimble than ammunition supply wagons.

Over the course of the 4 days when the armies confronted each other (no fighting on July 4) we only have a couple of examples where acute shortages of infantry ammunition played a role in the battle. The 20th Maine numbered 358 men at Gettysburg; the 137th New York number 456 men. The Union army numbered some 90,000 plus. It seems odd to overlay a game with a universal arbitrary rule, that spans 90,000 men, when only 800 men in a couple of regiments experienced acute ammunition shortages on remote edges of the supply chain at Gettysburg. Please keep in mind this is a division-level game and each division consisted of many regiments. Balancing ammunition supply within divisions was a highly localized problem. Supplying divisions with ammunition was part and parcel of the logistical support system that worked reasonably well for both armies at Gettysburg.

Your proposal might make sense for isolated units; then again I have some serious questions about the logic your recommendation.

You want to play a game where the player needs to manage, "...the amount of ammo each person is carrying"?

I don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well my statement meant that I did not know about the resupply previously except for what was mentioned in the thread and the idea was meant as a compromise, since running out of supply was a real thing (and still is), but if it makes the AI bad, I wonder if a compromise solution as provided by me is acceptable.

I am more a WW2 kind of guy usually or Napoleonic warfare era (though not as in depth as the first one mentioned). That knowledge of the Napoleonic era was mirrored into the Civil war environment. Sorry if there are important differences.

I do not want to manage the individual count of ammunition, therefor the abstraction into the suggested supply levels, which puts each regiment into different situations and those can be communicated to the player as an additional icon on the unit marker on the battlefield.

And to be frank all the historical knowledge you provided scares me (and makes the post sort of hard to read, sorry). :) I am not a person that is too keen on recreating historical battles or that studies the actual battles themselves (as in specific situations), I want to fight my own battles in an authentic environment. Therefor I like to create an authentic environment that, by its rules and guidelines, creates battles that could have actually happened back then, while not drowning the player in information or detrimental game mechanics. I enjoy authentic equipment, material and units, but the battles themselves, unlike they had a strategic challenge, I am okay with being whatever. There is an argument made for both and I thought not gimping the AI by providing my solution to the ammo management would be beneficial to the game, while allowing the player to experience the downside of ammunition shortages. If it is against the realism of the game and not good enough, I am sure it will be decided against. I do not want to say your stuff is bad, just that I enjoy something different than you apparently and that is both fine. The game to me looked like an abstraction rather than a simulation, but I haven't played it yet, so I do not know. From what I have gathered, to me it is a game about grand level management, formations and fighting a really good AI on a battlefield where maneuvering and positioning matters.

And my statement about the ammo counter of an average of each person carrying, I assume you misunderstood. My idea was that of you selecting a unit of several men and at the unit information area, you would get a number, telling you how many bullets where left on average for the people in that regiment. You wouldn't manage individual bullets for individual people, but you would get a good sense of what a person still has left during the battle.

If I wanted to play accurate number games, I can go into the Command Ops series, which does that for every unit and ammo type individually. That is some crazy stuff. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Great response.

History should not be scary. I'm an advocate of studying battles to help deliver, "an authentic environment". The details just help understand what is outside the boundaries of authenticity. I don't really believe a game ever gets it "completely authentic". Nor do I think an authentic history game would be fun!

We both want to fight our own battles in an "authentic enough" environment and look to games that, "by its rules and guidelines, creates battles that could have actually happened back then, while not drowning the player in information or detrimental game mechanics."

In my view your proposal crosses the line by "drowning the play in information or detrimental game mechanics" and "un-authenticity".

Our goals align perfectly; but, our perspectives on where to draw the line on ammo management is different.

P.S. My view is no small arms ammunition in the game. It just wasn't enough of a factor at Gettysburg. Really simple and easy to implement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some things here about ammo  - I'm not keen on the idea of having to withdraw troops in order to resupply, sure in modern day fighting this is applicable but I think the idea of troops doing that in this era when people were fairly slow lumbering and fighting close to the resupply lines etc.


I recently read a book called Zulu Rising, a historical book on the Anglo-Zulu war. In there they describe that somebody would often run back to the QMs in order to collect more ammo (although apparently during this period -- UK Victorian -- it was extremely rare for troops to run out of ammo) and then run it back to the section and restock the men who were fighting.


So from this, I propose that resupply rate should act as a function distance...  Meaning, from the company fighting and their distance there from the QMs trailer/wagon.

Fairly close and you can expect a constant supply of ammo, but if they are further away, then there could be periods of time when the runner/runners fail to make it back quick enough to collect ammo and troops run  dangerously low, maybe even so low not everyone is able to fire, and maybe one or two cycles of not everyone firing, followed by unable to fire. 


If you're really ambitious, then maybe you could model the runner on screen running back to collect ammo and then making the journey back to the regiment/cohort he's part of, but I think getting the model for resupply right is more important (and mines only a suggestion btw).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, somebody mentioned about the psychological impact of firing etc over time I think. As an addition to that, have you considered decreasing accuracy over time, as a model of smoke from the muskets etc builds up making it more difficult to take aim etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm just a tester, not a developer, but in my testing experience there is enough to do in UGG without another "thing" to manage.

As you've pointed out in your Zulu Wars example running out of ammunition could happen, but for the most part it didn't happen very often. At least not very often at Gettysburg.

Fog of War and the psychological effect of the front lines were very important Civil War battlefield issues that had a significant impact. See 1 March post on 50% of the muskets found with too much ammunition to fire and the 15 January post on psychological drain on performance (both above).

In UGG there is a metric for "morale" and another for "condition" which are abstractions for some of these cumulative battlefield effects. Yes, these decrease a unit's effectiveness over time. You can see these metrics under the "Unit Icons" topic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...