The Jackson Gamers' 1846 Game

The Bridge over the arroyo just north of San Luis Abysmal. A few light infantrymen are the only defenders at the start of the game. They are exchanging ineffectual shots with a mounted picket of Texas Rangers.

La batalla de

This game was played on September 6, 2003 at HOBBYTOWN in north Jackson. We used the Skirmish version of Santa Anna Rules by Buck Surdu and Pete Panzeri. Ed Sansing was the game master.

A company of the 8th Mexican cavalry passes in front of the Cantina building, headed for the road shown ahead of them. There they will turn left and lower their lances, charging over the bridge at the Americans.

The Setting of the Game

San Louis Abysmal is a mission somewhere in Mexico. The time is late 1846 and U.S. and Mexican troops patrol the area. There are a number of buildings that make up the mission: church, cantina, corral and storage house. It sits astride the main road where it crosses a gulley. The bridge over this arroyo is the only easy place to cross for several miles.

A company of Mexican irregular lancers waits behind the mission. They were later joined by many routed Mexican units, so that by the end of the game, almost all of the Mexican army was sheltering behind the mission or the hotel.

The Game's Scenario

The time is between the major battles of Monterey and Buena Vista. General Taylor hasn't yet given up his regulars to General Scott. The American and Mexican armies are camped near each other and trying to keep and eye on the other's movements. Small parties regularly scout and forage. This fight is between some of those small parties.

The Mexican army has an outpost at the mission. These forces had the task of protecting the Church itself and the other buildings of the village. The outpost force and its support will be ad hoc units with companies from different regiments under a Major, Some cavalry may be available as a reaction force. These victory conditions for the Mexican outpost were decided by a die roll prior to the start and were unknown to the Americans.

Only one company of light infantry was on the table at the start, defending the bridge over the arroyo. all the others entered on turns 1 or 2 from the southern table edge.

The Americans were a reconnaissance patrol seeking to exit units off the southern edge of the table to probe for the strenght and disposition of Santa Anna's army. Their forces also were an ad hoc unit with companies from different regiments under a Major or Lt. Col. The dragoons and Texas Rangers have contributed some men for the party. The mission of the party was diced for prior to the game's start and was unknown to the Mexicans.

Part of the U.S. Second Dragoons moves up as a counter-attack force behind U.S. Regular infantry, dimly seen in the bottom right of the image. These dragoons were the best troops in the arsenal of the American Player.

The Forces Involved

The Americans had three 20-man companies of regular infantry, and one 20-man company of volunteer infantry. Their mounted arm consisted of a 10-man unit of Regular Dragoons and a 10-man unit of irregular Texas Rangers. All of these forces entered the table on turn one. On turn three, the Americans brought on a battery of two 6-lb guns, each with a 4-man crew.

The American infantry moves up. These were all concentrated on the Americans' right flank. The gringo commander wanted to concentrate his forces there, to push across the arroyo and sweep past the Mexican left to exit the table.

The American Players

  • Jim Pitts (Commander in Chief, also Cavalry and Artillery commander)
  • Rick Loveday (Right flank infantry commander)
  • Bill Reiman (Left flank infantry and reserve commander - who left early)
  • Bill Estes (who arrived late and took over Mr. Reiman's command)

The Mexican Players

  • Jay Stribling (El Supremo and Cavalry commander)
  • Fred Diamond (the ONLY Mexican commander whose troops did not rout at all)
  • Robert Whitfield (Infantry and Reserve commander)
  • Sean Pitts (Infantry and Advance guard commander)

Mexican company of the 2nd Cavalry in bright yellow coats move up towards San Luis Abysmal, accompanied by part of the 9th infantry. These cavalrymen will soon perform the most effective Mexican maneuver in the game. This maneuver is known as "wait till the enemy has used all their fire and movement command dice, then charge with the lance and give the hated Gringos the cold steel which they cannot stand"

This WAS the best maneuver we poor Mexicans could figure out, and it always resulted in one or two melee victories every time we charged. It also always resulted in our cavalry being caught in close musketry range by the enemy at the start of the next turn and then getting shot up by them, and then our brave boys routing in terror back to the rear of the Church or the Cantina.

The Results of the Game

The Americans were trying to move units off the southern edge of the table and they got one infantry unit off on the last turn of the game for 3 victory dice. They did not reduce, to 25% strength or less, any of the Mexican units, although all but two had been routed at least once and several were less than 50% strength. The Americans did not attempt to occupy any of the buildings, always trying to move past the village instead. The Americans received 11 victory points when their victory dice were rolled.

The Mexicans were defending the village and received 12 dice (3 per building) for holding the structures. They also received 4 victory dice for reducing two American units, the Dragoons and the Texas Rangers, to less than 50% strength. When the Mexicans' 16 victory dice were rolled, they received 44 victory points, for an overwhelming victory.

Ed Sansing (at right, in red shirt) game umpire and rules interpreter, considers a knotty point in the rules while the Head Gringo, Jim Pitts (at left, in white shirt, with some infernal machine in hand) shamelessly attempts to curry Ed's Favor.

The Cantina building, which was occupied by one of Fred Diamond's infantry units. They provided long range fire support over the heads of the front line Mexican infantry, and a strongpoint behind which our routed troops could be rallied.

Fred's other unit descended into the arroyo on the extreme Mexican right flank, traversed this at it's widest point, climbed the hill on the other side and advanced towards the Gringos' left flank, just in time to shoot down 25% of the newly-arrived U.S. Gunners. With these losses, and seeing our Brave fellows advancing on them, the American guns fell back behind the hill after only getting off a round of mainly harmless cannister from each gun.

Fred Diamond - the only Mexican commander to not have ALL his units rout. His two infantry units were staunch, although they never actually engaged the Gringos at close range!

American infantry under Rick Loveday has just fired on the 8th Mexican Cavalry as they were rallying after a sucessful attack on other American units. Notice the wisps of smoke at the Americans' rifle barrels! The Mexican dead have been spirited away, but this was a 10-man unit before the U.S. bullets found their targets. The two survivors routed to the rear of the church, immediately after this cameraman exposed his plate.

More Photographs?

Perhaps there will be more. Jim Pitts was seen to take photos. When he gets them developed, you will see the results here.

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