Jackson Gamers' Old West game
Simpson's Valley

Overall view of Simpson's valley.

Players (from left) are Jim Pitts and Bill Reiman. Larry Reeves (folded arms) is a Jackson Gamer but did not take part in the game.

"Ma" Simpson, long-time matriach of the valley had been killed defending her ranch. Most said it was the Apaches that murdered her and stole all her livestock. A few brave men said it was land agents from the Railroad who wanted to run a line through the valley. The Indians admitted nothing and the Railroad said about the same.

The hard-working Cavalry had been assigned to drive the hostile Apaches from the valley. It promised to be a hard drive. The war chief "Geranium" and his comrade in arms "Big Belly" had sent word through the agency indians that they would make the 'Long Knives' pay if their home land in the upper valley was invaded.

Another view of Simpson's Valley, showing Lickspittle creek which winds it's way down the valley - in the wet season.

The Jackson Gamers played "Simpson's Valley at Jay Ainsworth's home on December 15, 2001. This was a hard-fought action with the U.S Cavalry and indian scouts coming out on top for once. Everyone had dreaded this campaign against the Apache, especially considering how badly the plains indians had handled the cavalry during previous battles with the Jackson Gamers. This time, the game master Jay Ainsworth used "The Sword and the Tomahawk" rules variant for Larry Brom's The Sword and the Flame rules.

Cavalry advancing into the valley.

The Cavalry consisted of three columns, each of 16 figures plus two Indian scouts and the overall commander, Major Campbell (Jim Pitts). Their mission was to sweep the Apache from the valley, making it safe for a railroad survey party, waiting fearfully off table.

A view from the 'Long Knives' rear.

Note the "Potato Chip hills" glowing orange in background. Also visible is Jay Ainsworth, the game master.

A side view of the cavalry's advance.

Note the Mesa showing up threateningly in the background. The Mesas were built some years ago by Jackson Gamer Russ Schnieder and stand an impressive 6" or so tall.

The cavalry were played by: Right Flank force Sean Pitts Center force Jim Pitts Left flank force: Bill Reiman

The indians move against a mesa after letting the cavalry get on top.

There was some debate as to just how rugged these "mesas" were. The game master surprised several of the players by ruling that they were merely hills, and no real impediment to mounted movement.

The mounted Apache wonder just how the Cavalry got up that mesa so quickly.

Jim Pitts noted that "Bill Reiman completely destroyed one dismounted Apache unit and was getting ready to engage a mounted indian unit when the game ended. Sean (Jim's son) completely destroyed one dismounted Apache unit, killing half of them and forceing the rest to retreat after a close combat. He was ready to pursue that mounted unit at game's end."

The cavalry move onto the indians' flank

Jim also noted that: "I engaged a dismounted Apache unit, killing half of them and forcing the rest to retreat after a hand to hand fight. At the end of the action, I was ready to sweep into the flank and rear of the mounted unit facing Bill Reiman."

The Army victorious, after riding over the Apache and devastating them with mounted pistol fire

Tim Latham (Chief Big Belly) recounts: "Whit and I were Apache. We had 3 foot and 2 horse units. There were two wonderful mesas on either side of the table with small hills and trees in between, just like the southwest.

Only after we had set up our defense of the valley around these cliffs and the game started, were we told that they are not mesas at all, but just hills that the cavalry can ride right up! The mounted pistol charges of the 'Long knives' were devastating, as they should have been. Jim, Sean, and Bill played it well."

A motley group of Indians move off dejectedly after the battle.

The indians seen in the background still show fight, but two groups of cavalry are moving against them.


From: Northern column.

To: General Crook - commanding officer, Department of Arizona

Sir, I can report a signal victory over the hostles, under the command of Geranium. Our losses were moderate, with the indians being severely handled by our mounted troops. They abandoned their ususal Apache tactics of dismounted combat in rough terrain. The surprisingly gentle slopes of Simpson's valley was a bad place for the Indians to stand and fight. Our mounted charges, which the hostiles usually would avoid, were accepted by them as they stood to fight, with disastrous results.

I understand from our scouts that both chiefs, "Big Belly" (Tim Latham) and "Geranium" (Robert Whitfield) have abandoned the valley, moving south towards Mexico. Our mission to make the valley safe for Railroad construction would seem to have been completed.

Yours, respectfully

Major (Brevet Colonel) Campbell [Jim Pitts] Officer Commanding - Northern column - Punitive expedition

Jim Pitts made these points about the rules:

  1. The mounted pistol charge can be devastating as the cavalry get to fire their pistols after they succeed in rolling 'to close' BUT before the Indians have to roll to stand - which they probably won't do. That is how Bill and Sean did so much damage - along with excellent die rolling. With close to 30 "shots" from each charging unit, the odds are that the cavalry will get a whole bunch of hits.
  2. When we play these rules again, we will need to play closer attention to the terrain and make certain that we "do" the target categories properly. (There were rumors that Apaches were evaluated as class one targets when they should have been class two or worse).

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