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Subject: A fascinating wargame concept just waiting to be designed: the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers rss

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The epic 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers were the largest US military training exercise ever conducted at that time with over 400,000 men participating. The first phase (called the Battle of the Red River) featured sweeping flank marches and grinding combat in a tense meeting engagement. Although the Red Army and the Blue Army were obviously built on the same basic foundation the composition of these forces (armor/infantry/anti-tank) was quite different. Each force was also following a different "doctrine" that had been structured by the high command. Many of the top generals in WWII were involved including Eisenhower, Clark, Patton, and McNair.





As I've mentioned before here on BGG, these Louisiana Maneuvers would make a fascinating simulation of an unusual topic. Developing this Memoir '44 scenario just scratched the surface:

The 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers: Patton, Ike, and WWII armored combat without real bullets

There is a complete hex-and-counter wargame here ready to be carefully crafted... or even better, a block game to reflect the stumbling and bumbling that occurred at every level of command. I would create it myself but since there is no local playtest group available in my area this kind of project is impossible. However, I would be delighted to offer my maps, order of battle information, and other research materials to a wargame designer sincerely interested in the concept.





A good source for background information is a book entitled The U.S. Army GHQ Maneuvers of 1941, by Christopher Gabel. This comprehensive account of these WWII training exercises includes sketch maps, order of battle listings, and a detailed narrative. It is available online.
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Bob Zurunkel
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That would be interesting. A WWII era wargame featuring combat in the US that is not an alternate history game.

Reminds me that NATO conducted large scale maneuvers during the Cold War on a regular basis (as did the Soviets). I would imagine those could be turned into wargames, too.
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Brian Train
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This is so weird Pete... I have been sketching in some ideas on this very thing, literally in the past two months.

Perhaps I am that designer of which you speak.

Let's communicate.

Brian
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Mike Hoyt

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I once took a stab at designing a game on the National Training Facility. This gave me a chance to use modern/current hardware. A problem arose though in the lack of back story. Hypothetical engagements between Red and Blue taking place in generic locations just wasn't that exciting to me (and at that stage I was the only audience).

Players who are really into the hardware, or possibly the tactics, might enjoy it at a tactical level, but it felt flat to me and I would expect that as you got to higher levers like operational you'd need real geography to be interesting. That's not necessarily true, remember AH's Blitzkrieg was strategic level on a fictional setting, and that was even part of the attraction for some people.

Apart from the hypothetical nature of my "design" (generous description) I also ran the numbers on how many hours I thought it would take me and how much money I could make....it didn't pencil out and I abandoned it.

I'd be afraid that the Louisiana maneuvers might fall victim to the same kind of problem. There is a back story (though, quick, which side won?) but I'm not sure I would particularly care to rerun them
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ltmurnau wrote:
This is so weird Pete... I have been sketching in some ideas on this very thing, literally in the past two months.

Perhaps I am that designer of which you speak.

Let's communicate.

Brian


GeekMail on the way.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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ltmurnau wrote:
This is so weird Pete... I have been sketching in some ideas on this very thing, literally in the past two months.

Perhaps I am that designer of which you speak.

Let's communicate.

Brian


I have not bought a hex-and-counter wargame in years, but a good version of this game could definitely draw me in. I'd be likely to buy one. Please keep at it!
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jumbit
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Of course there was a backstory. From my post some years ago: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/4820212#4820212


The nation of Kotmk (Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Kentucky) fought a war to control the Mississippi River against Almat (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee). Almat controlled New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi, and wouldn't let Kotmk export its goods. The King of Sweden offered to intermediate, but Premier Kodunkis threatened war.

Almat wants to keep its provinces of Louisiana and Arkansas gained in the Great War of 1919, but must beware the top-secret weapon of Kotmk, the sinister Beetle Boats. Full backstory with maps and invasion plans here in 1941 Life magazine (magnify text to read). Really long article on historynet.com is here.

This is where Eisenhower was recognized as a leader and marked for further promotion. After the Louisiana Maneuvers, he went from Lieutenant Colonel to Supreme Allied Commander in less than 2½ years. Other names like Vinegar Joe Stilwell, Krueger, Bradley, and of course Patton participated (Patton offered fifty bucks to any man who could capture "a certain SOB called Eisenhower.")

What was the conclusion after it was all over? "The principal weakness was deficiency in small-unit training due fundamentally to inadequate leadership," said Brig. Gen. Lesley "Whitey" McNair, commandant of the Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
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Neal Durando
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The stage for the sequel, the California Maneuvers, is already set! In my research on the US 90ID, I came across these ghostly vestiges: http://deserttrainingcenter.com/CampIronMountain.html
Hey, who wouldn't want a few weeks in the Mojave a year or two before getting on the boat for England, then Normandy?

I've always had the impression that those maneuvers were more organizational than tactical in nature. I'll be really interested to learn more.
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Brian Train
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The book on the maneuvers by Gabel is available as a free download from the Centre for Military History:

https://history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-41-1/CMH_Pub_70-4...

Brian
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The first time I learned about Fort Irwin / NTC was picking up a copy of this book:



And my first thought was to re-create some of the engagements with GDW's Assault!
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But Brian, what about the Swedish invasion of Denmark to save it from Soviet occupation game?!
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Brian Train
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Beorndog wrote:
But Brian, what about the Swedish invasion of Denmark to save it from Soviet occupation game?! :)


You may recall I blew rather cold on that one; for now, I will leave that one to other hands.

I can't do everything.

Brian
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jumbit wrote:

This is where Eisenhower was recognized as a leader and marked for further promotion. After the Louisiana Maneuvers, he went from Lieutenant Colonel to Supreme Allied Commander in less than 2½ years. Other names like Vinegar Joe Stilwell, Krueger, Bradley, and of course Patton participated

Based on his performance, Stilwell was slated to be the ground commander for what ended up as Operation TORCH. Now that would have been an interesting North Africa campaign. Unfortunately he spoke Chinese...
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Brilliant, Pete!


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M St wrote:
jumbit wrote:

This is where Eisenhower was recognized as a leader and marked for further promotion. After the Louisiana Maneuvers, he went from Lieutenant Colonel to Supreme Allied Commander in less than 2½ years. Other names like Vinegar Joe Stilwell, Krueger, Bradley, and of course Patton participated

Based on his performance, Stilwell was slated to be the ground commander for what ended up as Operation TORCH. Now that would have been an interesting North Africa campaign. Unfortunately he spoke Chinese...

Actually I checked and found I was wrong, Stilwell's moment had already come in the 1940 Louisiana maneuvers.
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As much as I admire your work Pete, can't you just upgrade Dixie ?
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Westie wrote:

Reminds me that NATO conducted large scale maneuvers during the Cold War on a regular basis (as did the Soviets). I would imagine those could be turned into wargames, too.


The yearly Reforger (Return of Forces to Germany). To put it in contrast : the largest of these was the 1988 exercise involving 125k men, but I think the numbers given only counted US personnel and do not include this little puppy who participated in the 1990 one and was one of only 3 "survivors" in his ATC group - it really brought home the meaning of what it was to be considered a speedbump.
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M St wrote:
M St wrote:
jumbit wrote:

This is where Eisenhower was recognized as a leader and marked for further promotion. After the Louisiana Maneuvers, he went from Lieutenant Colonel to Supreme Allied Commander in less than 2½ years. Other names like Vinegar Joe Stilwell, Krueger, Bradley, and of course Patton participated

Based on his performance, Stilwell was slated to be the ground commander for what ended up as Operation TORCH. Now that would have been an interesting North Africa campaign. Unfortunately he spoke Chinese...

Actually I checked and found I was wrong, Stilwell's moment had already come in the 1940 Louisiana maneuvers.


Stillwell was consistent. During the May 1941 maneuvers on the West Coast he had an outstanding performance as commander of the 7th Infantry Division.

As always, fate can be a fickle mistress. General Walter Short did a fine job as commander of the IV Corps in the 1940 maneuvers. Marshall rewarded Short with a new assignment in February of 1941... Hawaii. General Short ended his career in disgrace after Pearl Harbor.
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Aussie550 wrote:
As much as I admire your work Pete, can't you just upgrade Dixie ?


That way madness lies.
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Sounds like a cool idea. Wonder if you could do a few ASL scenarios out of the training exercises including crappy pre-war tanks, inexperienced and green as grass infantry, Louisiana terrain and perhaps even rules for the occasional civilian blundering into the exercise.
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TomW731 wrote:
... and perhaps even rules for the occasional civilian blundering into the exercise.


Wait a sec.

In the US are large scale army exercises done on "empty" terrain ?

I ask because that was certainly not the case over here - you could get stuck in traffic with your car in between 2 armoured columns which were moving along the same road. And they did stop at red lights if there wasn't an MP regulating traffic. Those would be the roads they would be moving over in the "Real Thing" as well. And they would be clogged with traffic as well, so maybe not such a bad idea. Besides, we lack the space to give the army their private terrain to exercise on. Even today in towns near an active base you can sometimes see camouflaged soldiers, clearly on an exercise, moving along a road - always reminds me of the British paras at Arnhem in their camouflage with foliage - some things never change
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TomW731 wrote:
Sounds like a cool idea. Wonder if you could do a few ASL scenarios out of the training exercises including crappy pre-war tanks, inexperienced and green as grass infantry, Louisiana terrain and perhaps even rules for the occasional civilian blundering into the exercise.

My own idea for this, using a game other than ASL, had been to use the organizers' strange ideas on weapon effectiveness, e.g., that a .50 caliber HMG could knock out a medium tank. The availability of the Umpire's Manual would make this possible, since it sets out the imputed capabilities in almost a game-like manner.
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Tom Willcockson
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You could make rules for the creative bending of the rules by some units, also bars and other distractions. And yea, not sure how far out in the boonies these exercises were, but if in more civilian areas I'm sure there could have been plenty of disruptions to the maneuvers.
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brianmccue wrote:
TomW731 wrote:
Sounds like a cool idea. Wonder if you could do a few ASL scenarios out of the training exercises including crappy pre-war tanks, inexperienced and green as grass infantry, Louisiana terrain and perhaps even rules for the occasional civilian blundering into the exercise.

My own idea for this, using a game other than ASL, had been to use the organizers' strange ideas on weapon effectiveness, e.g., that a .50 caliber HMG could knock out a medium tank. The availability of the Umpire's Manual would make this possible, since it sets out the imputed capabilities in almost a game-like manner.


I was wondering about that, too. Would the rules reflect what the Army thought should happen (enforced by umpires) or what subsequent real life events showed would have happened?
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Quote:
In the US are large scale army exercises done on "empty" terrain ?


In 1941 the maneuver area included part of a National Forest and other land owned by the government. In addition, agents "rented" land from local residents or obtained permission for the soldiers to enter private property. While a few people did put up "No Trespassing" signs in general the army was welcomed. The fact that these maneuvers injected a huge pile of money into the local economy helped to ease the pain, and to smooth things out citizens filing damage claims were usually accommodated.

One farmer lost several dozen chickens to marauding soldiers. He declined to file a claim, saying his chickens gave their lives for the war effort.
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