Saturday, July 8, 2017

Booknotes: This Bloody Field

New Arrival:
This Bloody Field: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Battle of Shiloh by Brad Butkovich (Historic Imagination, 2017).

There are more Civil War tabletop rule sets than you can shake a stick at, and it certainly behooves an independent scenario designer to make his creations as flexible as possible. Brad Butkovich does just this in his series of scenario guides. He's already published Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Atlanta Campaign scenario books, and his new volume takes the user to the forests and fields of Shiloh.

This Bloody Field: Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Battle of Shiloh is "designed to be used with almost any American Civil War regimental level set of rules. Rules are included for figures based on 20, 30, 40, 50, and 100 historic men per figure/stand. Times are given for 10, 15, and 20 minutes per game turn. Maps are in full color, as are the numerous color photographs of the modern battlefield." As you can see from the cover, the author is also a fine cartographer. Really, even if you're not interested in gaming at all, the maps and detailed orders of battle provided alone are worth the price of the book.

The scenario list includes: Confederate Onslaught, Sherman Attacked!, McDowell vs. Pond, The Crossroads, The Peach Orchard, The Hornet’s Nest, Bull in the Cotton Field, Duncan Field, and End of the Line. A few pages of historical and scenario notes are attached to each.


  1. Thanks for the "heads up" on this. I am the furthest thing from a "gamer" but I find that these Butkovich products are a very worthwhile purchase if for no reason other than the excellent modern photographs of the battlefield from a tactical perspective. The stylized maps (like those in many conflict simulations) also emphasize tactics-influencing factors which often don't come through in maps which accompany traditional studies.

    1. As his Pickett's Mill and Allatoona Pass books show, he also has a fine talent for writing battle narrative.

      I'm a bit biased, but I think consim gaming materials can make very real contributions to the historical conversation. I am sure that David Powell would credit his game design background for making his Chickamauga studies better.

    2. We're thinking the exact same thing. In fact, I have several of Dave's designs solely for informational purposes (and have never played even one). For example, his map research for the "Malvern Hill" CWBS game is invaluable. I still haven't figured out what the "slashing" is, however. The flip side of Dave's trilogy is that he has said a number of times that he'd like to go back and change a few things, at least in the TTS maps. But how is that any different from needing to update a book on the subject.

    3. Working on military simulations can be quite revelatory. For Campaign Peninsula, I used historical sources and USGS topo maps to create a huge 3D-isometric map (at 125 yds/hex scale!) depicting the 1862 Richmond environs. The total area basically encompassed all the Seven Days battlefields and quite a bit beyond and the map contained all the natural and man-made terrain features I could pack in. When I finished I could see the ground like never before. One weird thing was really comprehending just how physically close together all these battles were in relation to each other. In many ways, they shouldn't even be regarded as separate battles.

    4. Very true. That segues over to preservation. The CWT had a major achievement in salvaging a large chunk of the battlefield at Glendale (notwithstanding the general impression that all of the Richmond sites, like those at Atlanta, were long ago obliterated by development). Unfortunately, budget issues are hampering NPS efforts to interpret it and get it open for visitation but at least it's been saved.


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