Commanders on the Battlefield

18 09 2011

Officers play a weird role in most wargames.  Regular units deal and take damage, have finite movement, and are looking for a reason to run away.  Officers on the other hand never shoot, frequently can’t be shot, don’t really belong in one specific spot and exist to suppress their soldiers natural instinct to run away. Occasionally they give soldiers a well timed die roll modifier to nudge them in the right direction.

Commanders exist to manage and coordinate achieving strategic objectives.  This is true at all levels of command.  They accomplish this by relaying information up to a level of command where that data can be analyzed and made sense of.  Decisions are made and orders communicated back down through officers to individual solders, and, if everyone is lucky, the facts that prompted the orders still hold true by the time it is acted on.  The level that this decision is made at typically scales with the size of the objective.

In McPherson and Revenge, officer stands do not literally represent troops on the table.  They are placeholders to help organize the table and show how much influence and luck (or karma) remains available to the soldiers nominally under their control.  They can’t be shot at and can be moved anywhere at anytime.

Officer stands

My officer miniatures from Baccus6MM are modeled as distinguished looking guys on horseback.  At 6mm this is pretty indistinguishable from Cavalry.  To make the stand look different from cav (which I haven’t done yet or I’d show you a picture) I decided to mix both horseback officers and standing figures.


On this miniature I decided to use a standing flag bearer and an a drummer from the infantry command stand.  Note: I replaced the soft metal flag stands with piano wire on the flag bearer, I have lots of pictures of this process on my union and confederate infantry blogs)


To keep from going through to many infantry command figures,  the next command stand will have an officer and an infantryman.

Next, I glue the figures to a 1” deep by 7/8” beveled stand.  (for more on stands, see my stand blog)


I arrange the figures in a random but plausible pattern.  Each of my command stands will be played out differently from each other.

I then add ballast to the stand using white glue and my handy dandy nifty neeto glue applicator.


So… if you have been following along up till now you may have noticed that this is the first time I have ever gotten to this point in the process without fully painted minis.  I prefer to paint the mini’s on the base actually.  Infantry are the exception because of how close they are to each other on the stand.  In particular their rows make them tough to paint.  I could have done this either way really.

Next I prime the mini’s black.  (No picture Sad smile)

I then start painting base colors.  Here I have done gray and blue.


Next I paint with butternut.


Then I start filling in with other colors including tan, off-white, red and light blue.


With flesh paint the minis now look like something.  I also painted the ballasted surface dark brown and dry brushed it with a red brown.


Next I do the front and sides in black.  I also paint the back bevel white.


I apply glue (with the greatest glue applicator in the whole wide world!) and blow static grass onto the mini.


I created a label with my generals name and an icon indicating their command level.  I cut out and and glue this label to the back bevel of the mini. (note… I changed mini’s on you.)


One star denotes a Brigadier.  Two stars is a Division commander.  I go into a good bit of detail on the game impact of these rankings in my command blog.

Next comes the flags.  This bit is tricky because, as I pointed out in my confederate infantry 2 post, the famous confederate stars and bars would have been far from common at champion hill.


In the end I decided that generals whose units are predominately from Arkansas get the Van Dorn Banner (red with stars and half moon) and the units from Kentucky get the Kentucky war banner (blue with white cross).  I also used a Polk flag somehow.  Given that Polk was not at Champion hill, I’m not sure what I was thinking but I trust me.

To apply the flags I fold them, apply white glue and wrap them around the flag pole.  While on the flag pole I manipulate then with tweezers until I get something that looks like a flag billowing.


I also paint the edges of the flag with a pinkish red to cover up the white seam.  I love the way this looks.


Here is General Cumming and his Georgia brigade!


I have General Cumming, his activation chit, four influence dice and his Battle Karma all together.  This is the way he would appear on the table.

Fun note: As I put this pic in the blog I just realized the Cummings brigade consists of universally HUGE regiments and are all Green.  I had an order of battle I followed it unquestioningly.  It’s only now that I realize that this unit will be hairy to manage on the table.  It will be fragile yet unwieldy and there will be no crunchy units to lead with. Had I used my judgment rather than a real order of battle I would never have created this brigade this way.  This cracks me up!

More Fun Fact!!! – Just looked at the battle again.  Cummings held the high ground at the begging of the battle and his troops… uh… sorta… well… collapsed. <goose bumps>

Bonus project!  Union Officers!

Some of my mini’s I paint way ahead of the blog entry.  This is the case with My union commanders.  I finished these guys a year  before I knew I would be blogging and sadly I painted all the figures I had so I don’t have any to paint up and photograph.  The process is identical except for the color choices.