Games can be subversive

Designer Drew Wagenhoffer, a friend of this blog, has a new game out, "Civil War Battles: Campaign Peninsula," comments about which appear at Blogfonte. Denying any reliance on Sears' To the Gates, he wrote to say that "use of that book was cursory at best."

Cursory for us all. It's a read for the beach.

Meanwhile, there is extensive information on his game here containing some of Drew's designer notes:
Until relatively recent times, it was conventional wisdom that Lee was significantly outnumbered during the Seven Days Campaign. This notion is no longer generally accepted as truth. Whichever of the multitude of counting measures has been used, modern research has demonstrated that the effective strengths of both armies were actually very close. When one includes reinforcing troops from the Valley and the Eastern seaboard, Lee actually slightly outnumbered McClellan during the Seven Days when one takes into account the deductions to overall Federal strength for required garrison duties. Notably large numbers of Union troops were stationed at White House and Fort Monroe. Of course, Lincoln’s withholding of most of McDowell’s powerful I Corps didn’t help either.

On the other side, thousands more troops were theoretically available to Lee, though the vast majority were "static" garrison troops—including untrained and raw state militia, local defense forces, organizing artillery companies and battalions, and independent cavalry companies. When these units are included, the number of Confederate soldiers in the Richmond area had a peak strength of well over 100,000 soldiers.
One should not submit that in an exam paper to Professors Gallagher or Davis and expect a good grade - they have not yet reached the level of analysis of Livermore's standard, century-old study Numbers and Losses.

And yet we have miles to go before we sleep, for even Livermore has it wrong; if you look at the surgeon general's summaries of morning reports of units on the Peninsula you can reasonably conclude that McClellan's boots on the ground rarely exceeded 50,000.

Morning reports always, always trump pay records. I'll share the surgeons' numbers soon. Find your own copy of the surgeon general's report of the war, and you can write yourself up a very fine PhD thesis. But not for Gallagher or Davis.

From descriptions I see that "Campaign Peninsula" lacks either a Warwick Line and Williamsburg scenario; perhaps I can amuse myself by building them with the accompanying editor. I look forward to that.

Meanwhile, let me close with the thought that over the last 50 years, historical simulation through games has provided a wonderful refuge from the otherwise inescapable consensus ACW history, more on which next week.