When I arrived in Madison I put out some feelers trying to find like minded individuals who played Chain of Command in the area, I was fortunate to receive an message back from Phil who lives in north-western Illinois, a two hours drive away a mere jaunt in the local parlance.
Phil and the chaps normally meet on a Friday evening, but as it was likely a bit for to travel kindly rescheduled a game for the Saturday. After some too-and-fro we decided on a Spanish Civil War game using the Big Chain of Command rules. I'd bring my collection of figures and Drew would accompany me from Madison.
Phil's house was very easy to find and we were there around mid-day, so after dropping off the figures we met up with Mark and headed out to Brands for some lunch, I had the very tasty house salad and a pint of Blue Moon. Arriving back at Phils' we were met by Ed who had set up the table and bought along several boxes of his own Spanish Civil War collection. After some discussion it was decided that Phil, Drew and myself would play the Republicans with Drew and myself each commanding a column of International Brigade and Phil with a supporting trio of T-26 tanks.
Ed and Mark would defend the village, Ed with a platoon of Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie and Mark with a Secciones (platoon) of Guardia Civil.
Rolling for Force Morale, Drew with his column of Internationales from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was on a nine, myself with a column from the Commune de Paris Brigade was on a terrible eight while the Soviets supporting us in their tanks were on a ten. The CTV and Guardia were both on nines.
After a hotly contested patrol phase we all deployed our jump-off markers, mainly pushed to the left of the battlefield but some on the right ready to take up positions in the gullies. We would have 16 points to spend on supports, so both columns of Internationales were upgraded with their full complement of light machine-guns and 5cm mortars, a 75mm artillery piece would work in direct fire support and two armoured cars would hopefully entice out the enemy. We did consider a preliminary bombardment, but as the Nationalists started with two full Chain of Command dice it would likely have been a waste.
Last year I painted some of the Artizan Spanish Civil War characters so one of my sections was led by Eric Blair and the 75mm gun was commanded by Ernest Hemmingway!
The Republicans started the attack and pushed forwards both armoured cars and one of the T-26 tanks. On my flank I deployed both the light mortars and the 75mm gun in a gully, putting them on overwatch to cover any Nationalist counter moves.
The Nationalists remained in their cover so I deployed a section of Internactionales in front of my position, putting them in a tactical stance with the aim of pushing them into another gully just in front of my position. A shot rang out from behind the village wall and Eric Blair fell:
"There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all around me, and I felt a tremendous shock - no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shrivelled up to nothing."
The stricken section just had to make a dash for the gulley before them to get into hard cover, but next phase they rolled terribly and the shock was soon mounting. What was worse was that they were blocking the fire from my 75mm gun that was no unable to provide supporting fire.
The Republican Bilbao edged towards an elbow in the wall, if it could get into a good position its fire could sweep devastatingly along the Italian line. A brave team of Guardia Civil armed with petrol bombs broke cover (using a Chain of Command die to ambush ) and their bombs shattered on the hood of the armoured car. Little damage was done, but the crew fled abandoning the vehicle whose tyres started to burn and the machine-gun ammo started to cook. Things were not going well for the Republic.
The firefight intensified, more Guardia Civil joined the Italians at the wall and the fire was brisk, shock soon mounted to uncontrollable levels on the isolated Commune de Paris section and they eventually broke and ran back somewhat panicking the mortars deployed in the gully behind them. Things looked better on the Republican left though, both sections from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were pushing forwards, albeit rather cautiously and with the shattered Commune de Paris section out of the way it was now time for punishment to fall on the Nationalist lines.
Having little effect on the Soviet made tanks the CTV turned its attention to the remaining UNL-35 armoured car and a dangerous hit to the hull caused the Spaniards manning the vehicle to abandon it and flee, both armoured cars were now out of action, happening right in front of the Commune de Paris position this had a detrimental effect on the moral of my troops in the gully.
Commanded by Hemmingway the 75mm gun exacted great carnage on the Guardia in the elbow of the wall and the Italian 47mm was unable to do any significant annoyance to the T-26 platoon who added their fire to the fray. To counter the moves of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade the CTV advanced a section into a gully in front of their lines.
One section of the Americans poured fire into the gully while another moved to flank the Italians, but it was too little too late, the fragile morale of the Frenchmen soon saw their platoon break taking the remains of the Republican morale with them.
A great game in excellent company. We featured troops representing the USA, France, Spain and Italy, probably the most international Spanish Civil War game I've ever fought. We plan a further follow-up action at Little Wars in Chicago at the end of April.
More images from the game.