Getting back in the game

7 07 2012

Troops get fundamentally tired of being shot at.  Not just tired in the “dead tired” sense but in the “they don’t pay me enough to do this @#)&$@!” sense.  When this occurs they walk off the job, or, as is more often the case, run pell-mell off the job.  Eventually running starts to look like a lot of work and they stop behind a convenient fence, a hill or in a barn.  At this point soldiers are on on or near the battlefield, recovering from the shock of battle. 

Maybe they do recover, maybe they don’t.  They may have it in them to be useful again today, even if only as units to protect a flank or defend a strong position.  They will never know what to do or where they are needed though because they are scattered and unorganized.  They no longer are a unit working with a single goal.  A ton of work must be done to get a significant enough group of them back together and give them an achievable goal that will inspire them to go back out and perform a dangerous job. 

This is one of the principle jobs of civil war commanders and their staff during a battle.  Good generals do this well. Bobby Lee famously waded into the 6000 surviving troops of his 12,000 troop assault on the third day of Gettysburg saying “This is my fault” over and over.  Not only did those troops rally but if contemporary records of that event are to be believed, they asked for another chance to carry the position with a second attack.  Regardless, those troops where in position to stop a Union counter assault. Other battles have notable failures where troops where around but were not able to be issued orders.  Recovering the Morale of troops is a foundational element of any Civil War Battlefield simulation.

Recovering Morale

Both brigade and division commanders can give orders for a unit to attempt to improve its morale.  This is literally an order by a general for a unit in its command structure to shape up.  Only one unit may be effected at a time.  It is totally conceivable that three units from a single charge should be huddling in the same barn but the order must be for a single unit (a regiment or artillery piece) to recover.

A unit that has been ordered to recover makes a skill check with the following modifiers:

  • -1 Unit Shaken
  • -2 Unit routed
  • -1 per stand lost
  • -1 if flanked (any of the shooting units can not be shot at)
  • +1 partial cover (fence or tress)
  • +2 full cover (building or works)
  • -1 if disordered (automatic if unit is routed)
  • + 1 for each foot the unit is away from the nearest enemy unit

Very happily, this list of modifiers is IDENTICAL to the modifier list for Flight Checks and Morale checks.  Huzzah!

With a successful skill check, the unit upgrades its morale status; from “Routed” to “Shaken” or from “Shaken” to “Good Shape”.  A routed unit that successful recovers morale (to shaken) can change formations too.  As all routed units are disorganized, this is a good thing.  

There is no bad outcome from a Morale Recovery check, failing just leaves it in its original (busted) state.


Consider the sad case of 47th Indiana.  As you may recall, we have shot the crap out of the 47th Indiana…


Having been reduced from 360 soldiers to a scant 30 in about 45 minutes of simulated battle, they “quit the field.”    We watched them degrade their moral and then flee until finally the found the backside of the battle and took a breather…


Now, they sit panting behind their fence listening to the battle and wondering how its going.  An order is given to reform!  (Some general must be bored because this is a seriously feeble unit now)

The following conditions apply to the poor 47th Indiana

  • The are routed
  • They are disordered (as are all routed units)
  • they have lost three stands (!)
  • They are in partial cover (woods or fence… take your pick (note… not both!))
  • They are (happily) over three feet away from the enemy

The 47th needs a modified 4…

4 + 3 = 7 for lost stands

7 + 2 = 9 for routing

9 + 1 = 10 for being disordered

10 – 1 = 9 for being in the woods (partial cover).

9 – 3 = 6 for being 3 feet away from the enemy

They need a ’6’ on one of their skill dice to recover their morale.  They are a veteran unit and get 3 dice.  Their general is also throwing in one of his dice because he cool that way and clearly has nothing better to do with his command influence.


Hey… we rolled a ‘6’!  Lets upgrade our morale to Shaken shall we? 


You can’t see it in this picture but the unit is now also in line. Note: I could create markers for showing formations for one stand units but this is a really odd occurrence and I doubt it will come up very often.

Now I have a shaken unit alone at the back of the battlefield.  In a subsequent officer order (perhaps even the same officer but a different order) another morale recovery order is given.

The following conditions apply to the poor 47th Indiana

  • The are shaken
  • They have lost three stands
  • They are in partial cover
  • They are still over three feet away from the enemy

The 47th needs a modified 4…

4 + 3 = 7 for lost stands

7 + 1 = 8 for being shaken

8 – 1 = 7 for being in the woods (partial cover).

7 – 3 = 4 for being 3 feet away from the enemy

They need a ’4’ on one of their skill dice to go from “shaken” to “good shape”. Again they are a veteran unit and get 3 dice and once again their general is also throwing in one of his dice.


All four die are rolled and each would have successfully rallied the unit.


The unit is now in “good shape” and eager to defend this section of the union line.  Huzzah!

My 50th post!

This has been the 50th post for McPherson and Revenge!  I started this blog in November of 2010 with little expectation of reaching 50 or even knowing I could stand work on a project that long.  By my own reckoning I am more than half way done but I still have a long way to go.  Thanks to everyone for reading and we’ll see if I can make it to 100!




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