Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

The war between the United States and Spain in 1898 is a fascinating period of military history. This transitional conflict served as a link between the 19th century and the modern era... and the campaign in Cuba also included the exploits of my boyhood hero Theodore Roosevelt!

This article will describe a game of my 1898 scenario for Battle Cry.

The 1898 scenario depicts the engagement known as the "Battle of San Juan Hill" and the other actions that were fought on July 1, 1898 near Santiago. This is a solitaire scenario using special rules I developed using the Battle Cry system.



Set Up Positions

The U.S. army forces are approaching Santiago. The forest is impassable so the Americans are crowded along muddy trails. The defenders are entrenched at El Caney in the north and along the San Juan Heights to the west. The optional Colt M1895 Machine Gun rules are being used but this unit is currently packed on mules and stuck behind the Reserve Brigade on the road to El Caney. The Gatling gun battery (not an optional unit) is still on the road and has not yet appeared on the board.



Krupp artillery on the San Juan Heights

The Spanish had superb Krupp artillery. The American artillery was ineffective and since the U.S. cannon used black powder ammunition the smoke-smothered firing positions of the American batteries were instantly revealed to the Spaniards.



Assault on El Caney

The battle opened with a U.S. advance on the northern section of the battlefield. Chaffee's brigade has launched an attack on the strongpoint at El Caney. Only one die is rolled because the Spanish are entreched but the Americans get a lucky Crossed-Sabers result for a hit. Spanish troops defending a strongpoint can usually avoid a retreat result when exposed to small arms fire because these soldiers fought to the last man at certain times during the battle.



The observation balloon on the Camino Real

A huge observation balloon (represented by a yellow cube because the balloon was a bright yellow) moved slowly along the trail as the Americans advanced. This awkward monster provided a perfect aiming point for the Spanish defenders as the U.S. troops clawed their way through the mud. This unfortunate situation is reflected in the combat rules.



71st NY Volunteers

The 71st NY Volunteers were armed with obsolete weapons that used black powder ammunition, giving the Spaniards a target they could not miss. These green militiamen were caught in a deadly enfilade fire as the emerged from the jungle and were forced to fall back in confusion. This image shows that brigade advancing under Spanish fire. The tiles with the green row design represent rough terrain scrub areas which the Spanish had obstructed with barbed wire.



The approach to Kettle Hill

The cavalry brigade has crossed the river and is approaching the enemy trenches. Since the army failed to provide enough transport fo the expedition to Cuba almost all of the horses were left behind in Florida. Most of the cavalrymen (including the Rough Riders) had to fight dismounted. In this scenario a cavalry brigade is depicted by one mounted figure with a flag and three foot soldiers but the unit fights like infantry. The cavalry figure with the sword represents Theodore Roosevelt... although TR did not carry a sword during this battle!



Heavy casualties for the Rough Riders

Heavy fire is directed at the 2nd Cavalry Brigade from the Spanish troops in the strongpoint on Kettle Hill. The dice force the Americans to take one hit and exposes the unit to enfilade fire. There has also been an officer casualty but Theodore Roosevelt is tough -- he can take two hits before he is removed from the game!


The next 1898 scenario Session Report will describe the arrival of the Gatling gun battery and the end of the battle.


14 
 Thumb up
4.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

In the 1898 scenario the symbols on the battle dice provide combat results which are different from the standard Battle Cry rules. I would like spend a few minutes describing those rule changes, particularly the "Officer Casualty" result which is represented by the cavalry symbol.




The battle dice currently represent these results in the 1898 scenario:

Infantry = Enfilade Fire... when two Enfilade Fire results are rolled together the target unit must either take a casualty or retreat one hex. The defending player always makes that decision.

Crossed-Sabers = A generic hit... unchanged from the standard Battle Cry rules

Artillery = A hit on an artillery unit... in the 1898 scenario Colt M1895 machine gun units, Maxim gun units, and Gatling gun units are all considered to be artillery.

Flag = Retreat... although the retreat rules in the 1898 scenario are substantially modified in comparison to the original Battle Cry rules.

Cavalry = Officer Casualty... the target unit suffers a significant loss to its officer cadre. This is reflected differently for each of the two nations:

Entrenched Spanish units will not retreat in the face of small arms fire under normal conditions. However, an entrenched Spanish unit which has suffered an Officer Casualty might be forced to retreat if heavy combat losses occur.

When a U.S. unit suffers an Officer Casualty the American player is forced to make an important decision; that unit can remain in place without firing during the following turn or it can move or engage in combat at the cost of one extra order as provided by the command cards.

The historical background for these rules might offer some insight into the battle.



The attack on El Caney by Ludlow’s 2nd Brigade

The Spanish troops fought like tigers and stubbornly refused to retreat even when faced with odds of 10 to 1 or greater. The defenders of the El Caney positions were led by General Vara de Rey. He rode along the line inspiring his men until he was wounded in both legs. As he was being carried away on a stretcher he was struck again and killed. The flag marker in this image represents an Officer Casualty result.



Hawkins’ brigade is hit near the San Juan Heights

This image shows the 1st Brigade suffering one hit and one Officer Casualty. Dozens of the American officers were shot during the attack. The elite Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry lost 11 officers killed or wounded out of the 22 leaders that fought with the regiment. Commanders of U.S. regiments and brigades led the advance from the center of the firing line like something out of a Civil War era lithograph. This image shows Brigadier General Hawkins, the left flank commander who controlled 1/5 of the American force attacking the San Juan Heights, standing hatless on the firing line like a junior officer.



As these officers were shot down or lost touch with the situation American battlefield leadership became dependent on the actions of mere lieutenants... and the heroic performance of amateur soldiers like Theodore Roosevelt. The mounted figure representing Roosevelt functions much like a general miniature in the original Battle Cry system but it takes two Officer Casualty "hits" to knock TR out of the game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry Kendall
United States
Lebanon
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Pete, I've looked but cannot find this scenario anywhere. Is it something you have posted somewhere? Your S-A War variant looks very interesting and well-thought-out and I'd like to give it a try. Thanks!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for those kind words.

This is an unpublished scenario but I will probably get around to posting something eventually. Right now my first priority with Battle Cry is my Custer at the Little Bighorn scenario.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.