Saturday, March 11, 2017


     (This is an old post from an old blog. In it, I chronicle my experiences playing a couple of miniatures rulesets. I'm actually trying to consolidate my various subject matters and spread it over three separate blogs -- so wargamers don't have to read about sports games, and vice versa, etc.)

     After Piquet, I went back and tried "Too Few to Fight, Too Many to Die" again. Played it straight, as written, with no mods.
     Well, that didn't last very long. It just ain't plains warfare. Sorry, Charlie. As the Indian, you move to within 4" of an enemy base, force him to make a 50-50 morale check (for being approached by warriors), fire at him on top of it, then charge next turn -- and promptly wipe him out. I just don't see this "terrify-shoot-charge" scenario played out anywhere in history. Maybe Stillman's Run during the Black Hawk War. But that was against raw militia who a week ago were farmers and clerks, not soldiers. Does the author of this game really think trained and disciplined US troops quaked in their boots at the very approach of stone-age savages? I can only assume the author is British and this is a classic case of projection.
     Speaking of "Too Few," here's something that bugs the hell out of me. When describing the "Terror" component of the game, author Chris Peers writes: "A few tribes enjoyed a particularly terrifying reputation (whether deserved or not)..."
     Whether deserved or not? What tribe, Mr. Peers, enjoyed an undeserved reputation for terror? "Really, fellas, don't bother saving that last bullet for yourselves. The Shawnee's reputation for burning captives alive or pulling their guts out bit by bit is totally overstated. After all, some guy writing from his warm den 140 years from now says there's nothing to worry about, that we're all just a bunch of white-privileged racists, or something." The truth is, our society is now in its third generation of education by left-wing propagandists. So twisted have we become that we can no longer even say with certainty that 2+2 does not equal 5. Right, Mr. Smith? We don't even know what bathroom to use anymore. The best we can do is to slander people far better than ourselves, all the while believing -- believing, mind you -- that it is because we are so much smarter and more enlightened than they. Hey, just ask us, we'll tell ya.
     Whether deserved or not....Give me a f---ing break!

     For this reason, most -- if not all -- books on the Indian Wars from the last 50 years are unreadable. Here's a good one I found recently. Not surprisingly, it was written in the 50's and consists mainly of first-hand accounts of Crook's Rosebud campaign:

     Awesome book. If you want to know what Plains warfare was all about without the leftist tilt, read this. It's a bargain for $3 on Kindle. Here's an evocative description of the Shoshone Indians (allies of the U.S. forces):
     "A long line of glittering lances and brightly polished weapons of fire announced the anxiously expected advent of our other allies, the Shoshones, or Snakes, who to the number of 86 came galloping rapidly up to Hdqrs and came left front into line in splendid style. No trained soldiers ever executed the evolution more prettily. Exclamations of praise and wonder greeted the barbaric array of these fierce warriors, warmly welcomed by their former enemies, but now strong friends, the Crows. General Crook came out to review their line of battle resplendent in all the fantastic adornments of feathers, beads, brass buttons, bells, scarlet cloth and flashing lances. The Shoshones were not slow to perceive the favorable impression made and when the time came for them to file off by the right, moved with the precision of clock-work and the pride of veterans."
     That's awesome.
     Later, the writer assumes that after having ridden 60 miles that day, their Indian allies would immediately retire for the night. Not so:
     "A long series of monstrous howls, shrieks, groans and nasal yells, emphasized by a perfectly ear-piercing succession of thumps upon drums...attracted nearly all our soldiers and many of our officers not on duty, to the allied camps. Peeping into the different tepees was much like peeping through a keyhole to Hell. Crouched around little fires, not affording as much light as an ordinary tallow candle, the swarthy figures of the naked and half-naked Indians were visible, moving and chanting in unison with some leader. No words were distinguishable; the ceremony partook of the nature of an abominable incantation and as far as I could judge had a semi-religious character."
     One more:
     "Crook had mounted the infantry upon mules so it could move faster and keep up with the cavalry in the march ahead. Col. Chambers...and other officers...went through the ordeal of breaking the infantry and animals to the saddle. This proved as amusing to the men as it was to Crook." "The first circus Goose Creek Valley ever beheld began. Many of the infantry (Walk-a-heaps, as the Indians called them) had never been in a saddle in their lives, while none of the mules had ever had a saddle on their backs." "I never saw so much fun in all my life. The valley for a mile in every direction was filled with bucking mules, frightened infantrymen, broken saddles and applauding spectators. The entire command took half a holiday to enjoy the sport and some of the most ludicrous mishaps were witnessed. But the average soldier is as persevering as the mule is stubborn and in the end the mule was forced to surrender."
     Color like this needs a set of rules to do it justice.
(And later, after a full reading...) 

       I finished "With Crook at the Rosebud" and am recommending it wholeheartedly to anyone with an interest in the Battle of the Rosebud in particular or frontier warfare in general. This is a very detailed, mostly first-hand, account of the battle told from many perspectives. The only downside is that, without maps, the troop movements, as described by the participants, are a little hard to follow. Still, a very worthwhile read. You'll learn a lot you didn't already know.
     In an earlier post, I highlighted several remarkable passages from the beginning of this book. Now, I'll share a couple more.
     This one puts to rest Chris Peers' "Terror" rule from his "Too Few to Fight, Too Many to Die."
     Among the armed men accompanying Crook during this campaign were a group of civilian packers and miners. From the book:
     "Tom Moore with his sharpshooters from the pack train and several of the Montana miners were ordered to ... make the best impression upon the flanks of any charging parties [of Indians]...It was one of the ridiculous episodes of the day to watch [the Indians] charging at full speed across the open space commanded by Moore's position...
     "...beyond taking an extra chew of tobacco, I do not remember that any of the party did anything to show that he cared a continental whether the enemy came or stayed. When those deadly rifles, sighted by men who had no idea what the word 'nerves' meant, belched their storm of lead in among the braves and their ponies, it did not take more than seven seconds for [the Indians] to conclude that home, sweet home was a good enough place for them."
     Moore and his boys must've passed their 50-50 morale check. Good for them!
     And finally, this surprising disclosure:
     Years after the battle "I asked John Stands-In-Timber, 'If Crazy Horse's forces were doing so well in the battle, why did they quit and go home in the middle of the afternoon?' John's reply was, "They were tired and hungry, so they went home." Here endeth the battle, apparently.

      In stark contrast to this excellent book is a passage from this "modern" book, by Jerome Greene:

     "Pervading all aspects of Nez Perce existence was their ancient and overriding relationship with the land. The earth" (not the moon or Jupiter, presumably, but the EARTH) "was the supreme provider, to be revered -- not owned -- as the mother of life for all creatures."
     Oh, goody. To what people is the EARTH not important to the point to which it at least warrants a passing mention by their religion? Apparently, Jerome Greene expects us to believe that this is something unique to the Nez Perce. About two sentences later, though, he says this (remember, the Nez Perce don't believe in anything as crass as land ownership):
     "Central to the Nez Perce concept of land was the notion that the people of the different bands were predestined by a supreme entity" (No common ordinary Entity, this guy) "to occupy designated areas of the country and were constrained to remain in those homelands." (Calling these areas "homelands" elevates this notion, I admit). "Bands mutually recognized each other's areas" (just 'areas' this time) "as places set aside to sustain the group economically, socially and spiritually." (It's that last one that makes it so special.)
     Yeah, um, well, let's see....sole possession and exclusive use...Yeah, that's what we heathens call OWNERSHIP. I'm no historian, but it seems to me the problem was less the concept of ownership than who actually owned what.
     The lack of footnotes sort of gives this kind of bullshit away.
     I read this book years ago and remember it as a pretty solid military history. But these days I read stuff like the above and I can just feel myself getting stupider. I'm cursed with an intense interest in the Indian Wars, but I find this all-too-typical stuff nauseating. Actually, condescending and stupid might be a better way of putting it.


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