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Subject: Time travel to the battle of your choice. rss

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Lucius Cornelius
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I believe most wargamers are also history buffs at the same time.

But all too often however detailed your knowledge on a particular battle

may be, there are invariably gaps, contradictions, and simple unknowables

for all kinds of reasons.

For example, did the Athenians actually "ran" in the battle of Marathon?

If you are allowed to travel back in time and observe with your own eyes,

what battle would you like to see and what aspect in particular? What do

you expect to see and why?

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ian morris
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Custer's Last Stand, to try and understand his decision-making process and where and why it went so wrong for him.



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Brian Morris
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Gettysburg. I'd be interested in a great many things. For example we have several reliable witnesses to events that occurred on Little Round Top. The problem is these reliable witnesses contradict each other. The result is we are not sure even what the marching order of the 4 regiments were with some claiming that the 16th Michigan was initially suppose to be on the left of the 20th Maine and that Chamberlain sent out Company B as an attempt to make contact with them.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall of the room as Lee spoke to JEB Stuart about his ride around the Union forces. I have a feeling it involved Stuart mostly looking at the ground uncomfortably with Lee doing most of the talking. I suspect the scene in the film Gettysburg is likely accurate in terms of the meeting's tone.

I'd want to see the conversation between Lee and Longstreet as Lee describes to him his plan of attack on July 3rd and then Longstreet's conversation with Pickett.

I'd want to see how General Dick Garnett was dressed. I know that sounds odd but we have multiple witnesses who describe him as being dressed in his best uniform and others describing him as wearing a long plain coat with no insignia evident. If he was indeed wearing a long plain coat then it would help explain his body never being discovered after the attack. However that story makes no sense as it was a very hot day and with the attack being so important (and Garnett's own personal situation at the time) it's hard to believe that he wouldn't have been wearing his best uniform and not cover it with a long coat.

I'd want to see the action at the Copse of Trees and how far the Confederates and General Armistead really got once they crossed the wall.

I'd like to hear from Wesley Culp and see if he truly did have a message for Jennie Wade from Jack Skelly.

I could list another two dozen things.
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Eric Jome
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gamer72 wrote:
Custer's Last Stand, to try and understand his decision-making process and where and why it went so wrong for him.


"I'm a God's immortal undefeatable gift to the world. These savages will run screaming at the mere sight of me. Once I mop the Plains with their blood, I'm off to be the greatest President since Washington... if not greater!"
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Antonio B-D
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I wouldn't like to see any battle. I love to play them and I like to read about them in order to know more, but watching actual human beings getting killed is something that I wouldn't like to see.

Well, Minas Tirith's battle (the real one, the one in the book) could be something to behold, and there I wouldn't see human beings dying!

sullafelix wrote:
For example, did the Athenians actually "ran" in the battle of Marathon?


No, they didn't. They fought normally and won. Then, one soldier (forgot his name) ran 42,something kilometers to Athens where he announced the victory and died of exhaustion.
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Eric Jome
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Provided I don't actually have to fight for either side, I would love to understand more about what it was like for soldiers in ancient battles. Too much of modern warfare seems like an ethereal affair, shooting at one another through clouds of smoke - more nightmare than battle, really, with an unreal quality and omnipresent paranoia of being shot from any direction.

What would it be like to be shoulder to shoulder with spear and shield, facing the strangers your phalanx was about to go over? What was the horror and carnage like of a massed charge or battle? How was that even something people could participate in - chaos, murder, mayhem everywhere. It seems to make everything after the invention of firearms pale in comparison... how did you plan those battles? Command them? Especially at the tactical level?

Ancient battles would be the most amazing to see... and perhaps the most horrific too.
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Brian Morris
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cosine wrote:
gamer72 wrote:
Custer's Last Stand, to try and understand his decision-making process and where and why it went so wrong for him.


"I'm a God's immortal undefeatable gift to the world. These savages will run screaming at the mere sight of me. Once I mop the Plains with their blood, I'm off to be the greatest President since Washington... if not greater!"


It's unfortunate that this caricature of Custer is all that many people know. The truth as usual is far more complex.

Custer is often portrayed as an incompetent military man and yet he was actually one of the most capable cavalry brigade commanders of the American Civil War on either side, as well as one of the most impulsive.

In terms of his service in the west he was involved in a number of conflicts with the Native Americans and at the same time got in trouble for his criticism of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He said that most of the troubles he had been involved in with the Native Americans were caused either directly or indirectly by corruption within the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The bureau at the time was about as corrupt as you can imagine.

I strongly suggest the reading of Jeff Wert's biography on Custer. The man was far more than a caricature.

(edited as I hit submit rather than preview)
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Lucius Cornelius
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Tantalizing, isn't it?

would you trade your soul for a chance? devil
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Chris Drake
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Normandy, June 6, 1944. To witness the massive invasion. Because in my mind it would be one of the greatest spectacles ever.
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Chris Drake
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sullafelix wrote:
Tantalizing, isn't it?

would you trade your soul for a chance? devil
No, I wouldn't. But I might trade someone else's.whistle
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Kurt La Botz
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I think I'd like to see a battle like the Alamo because we don't know what happened there or the battle before Rorke's Drift I know I'm going to kill the spelling right know Islandlawana??
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Jim F
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Poor misunderstood Custer. Of course, strictly speaking, this is a quote rather than a caricature. He wouldn't be the first or last commander whose ability didn't match his ego. Just be glad none of us wargaming/boardgamers fall into this trap. 'World Domination? No, after you old chap'.ninja
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Brian Morris
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Gamesmeister99 wrote:
Normandy, June 6, 1944. To witness the massive invasion. Because in my mind it would be one of the greatest spectacles ever.


I would as well. I'd want to watch my Grandfather as he drove his landing craft to the beach only to have it sink as he backed away to return to the ship to pick up more men for the second wave. He was rather annoyed he said afterwards at the Germans shooting at him and he didn't have a weapon. He ended up helping treat the wounded and received a commendation for carrying a wounded man across open ground to the medics while under fire. He finally got peeved off, grabbed a discarded weapon and started shooting. He said it made him feel a little better about his situation although when he finished shooting he didn't know how to reload the rifle. They didn't teach firing army rifles at naval landing craft school.

I'm extremely proud of him.
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Confusion Under Fire
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Although WW2 is by far my favourite period I think the battlefields are often so spread out and the troops fighting in them so concealed that it would not make for a good watch. There is also the fact that we know a lot about WW2 and granted yeah there are also a lot of things we do not know. The battle I would like to see is the Battle of Boworth, August 22nd 1485. Now that would be some spectacle.
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Chris Drake
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Well Brian, that is certainly better than my reason. That's awesome!
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Lucius Cornelius
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cosine wrote:

Ancient battles would be the most amazing to see... and perhaps the most horrific too.

Indeed! What wouldn't I give to see just one, just one battle!
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Brian Morris
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Ashiefan wrote:
Poor misunderstood Custer. Of course, strictly speaking, this is a quote rather than a caricature. He wouldn't be the first or last commander whose ability didn't match his ego. Just be glad none of us wargaming/boardgamers fall into this trap. 'World Domination? No, after you old chap'.ninja


If you actually believe that was a real quote of George Custer then you really need to do some reading up.
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Eric Jome
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mrbeankc wrote:
If you actually believe that was a real quote of George Custer then you really need to do some reading up.


Totally. It was snarky hyperbole on my part to get a laugh, not really an authentic interpretation of Custer.

More seriously, I don't think an objective telling of history would look very kindly on Custer as a great (or even good) military leader. He had the military virtue of aggressive engagement, but in the end that may have been what got him killed.

Getting to the bottom of almost anything in the later half of the 1800s in the West is a very dicey business. People, especially Custer and his widow, were very good at manipulating the media to tell whatever story they wanted and make themselves look however they wanted - the "media" of the day were much more concerned with selling copies than telling the truth. It is unfair to both paint Custer as a great hero or a great villian... as was said, better to read what we can and make our own opinion, as opaque as the information may be.
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Brian Morris
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cosine wrote:

More seriously, I don't think an objective telling of history would look very kindly on Custer as a great (or even good) military leader. He had the military virtue of aggressive engagement, but in the end that may have been what got him killed.

Getting to the bottom of almost anything in the later half of the 1800s in the West is a very dicey business. People, especially Custer and his widow, were very good at manipulating the media to tell whatever story they wanted and make themselves look however they wanted - the "media" of the day were much more concerned with selling copies than telling the truth. It is unfair to both paint Custer as a great hero or a great villian... as was said, better to read what we can and make our own opinion, as opaque as the information may be.


Custer was both an amazingly successful and unsuccessful commander. He's a polarizing historical figure and in many ways similar in that venue as men such as George Patton and John Brown.

A few years ago in a civil war forum I participate in there was a long discussion on John Brown. One person was saying Brown was a terrorist and murderer. The other was that he was a freedom fighter and hero. They were both right! The man wasn't just one or the other but an amalgamation.

Custer is very much the same. He was a brilliant brigade commander, fearless on the battlefield and loved by his men. At the same time he was brash, egotistical, self promoting and overly flamboyant. You say it's unfair to paint him as both a hero and a villain but I think he's actually both at the same time. He was all the things we've described both good and bad. I think that's the reason that over 100 years after his death the man still demands so much interest.
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George Haberberger
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Didn't this come up a few months ago.

Based on comfort and other selfish reasons, the Battle of Britain, or the liberation of Paris.
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cosine wrote:
mrbeankc wrote:
If you actually believe that was a real quote of George Custer then you really need to do some reading up.


Totally. It was snarky hyperbole on my part to get a laugh, not really an authentic interpretation of Custer.

More seriously, I don't think an objective telling of history would look very kindly on Custer as a great (or even good) military leader. He had the military virtue of aggressive engagement, but in the end that may have been what got him killed.

Getting to the bottom of almost anything in the later half of the 1800s in the West is a very dicey business. People, especially Custer and his widow, were very good at manipulating the media to tell whatever story they wanted and make themselves look however they wanted - the "media" of the day were much more concerned with selling copies than telling the truth. It is unfair to both paint Custer as a great hero or a great villian... as was said, better to read what we can and make our own opinion, as opaque as the information may be.


Re Custer, we have to give the man credit where due. By disobeying direct orders, he placed himself and his command in exactly the same place to deny the vaunted JEB Stuart victory on the cavalry field to the east of the main battlefield at Gettysburg. And then he did precisely the right things to cause the Confederate attack to fail. Raising the interesting thought that if he had not done so, the defeat of Picketts attack would hae been for nought -- what happens if, as intended, Stuart was running loose behind the Union fishook when Pickett's brigades are starting their assault?

And this kind of decision making was consistent with Custer's record in other actions. Not for nothing, in other words, was he the youngest brigadier in the Union army and a favorite of much of the senior leadership. He was one of the best cavalry brigade commanders in the whole war and, moreover, he is the one that created the best cavalry brigade in the latter half of the war. May have dressed a bit funny and most definitely needed a haircut, but he was equally definitely not just a twit.

Re Custer's ego, what successful military commander in history didn't have a monumental ego? Was Custer's ego (not hairdo) worse than Montgomery's? Than Napoleon's? Wellington's? Stuart's? You can argue that huge egos are almost a requirement for the job.

But back to the original question -- I would love to see Rome's legions in action. Particularly against one of the phalanxes or even the Goths or Germans. Just how exactly did that manipular thing work in practice?
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Lucius Cornelius
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sullafelix wrote:
For example, did the Athenians actually "ran" in the battle of Marathon?


What I meant by "ran" was what the Athenians supposedly did toward the Persians on the battlefield. It was about 2km of distance in full hoplite gear.
Herodotus reports that the Persians thought the Athenians were crazy. But how can any man accomplish such a feat? (The Greeks are known to be on the smaller side.)
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Mike Windsor
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I want to jump to 2019 and see the ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
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Jim F
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mrbeankc wrote:
Ashiefan wrote:
Poor misunderstood Custer. Of course, strictly speaking, this is a quote rather than a caricature. He wouldn't be the first or last commander whose ability didn't match his ego. Just be glad none of us wargaming/boardgamers fall into this trap. 'World Domination? No, after you old chap'.ninja


If you actually believe that was a real quote of George Custer then you really need to do some reading up.


If it's ok, I'll leave the research to you as you seem very interested in him. Personally I'm indifferent. Sorry

My battle would be Arnhem. Intriguing series of what-ifs.
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Tom
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As Gygax intended.
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“It is a trivial grammar-school text, but yet worthy a wise man’s consideration. Question was asked of Demosthenes, what was the chief part of an orator? he answered, action; what next? action; what next again? action.”
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I'd travel to see the Battle of the Network Stars, circa 1976. Gabe Kaplan vs. Telly Savalas. robot
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