Age of Iron
Naval Combat in the American Civil War
Wargame Rules Review
The American Civil War period, 1860 to 1865, saw many changes in warfare and in the development of weapons. Although ironclad vessels had already been developed and both England and France had vessels in service, this American conflict saw the first use of ironclad vessels in combat. The vessels developed by the United States Navy and the Confederate States Navy were of new designs and were not originally intended to be ocean-going dreadnaughts. The «ram» vessels introduced by the CSN were intended to break any blockade threats on their ports and keep the transportation lines on the rivers clear. The USN, on the other hand, had the initial role of using the vessels to bombard forts at close range with enough armor protection to keep the forts from blowing them out of the water. Later, as the CSN vessels became a threat, the Union used their ironclads to duel with the Confederate ships.
Ironclad vessels were not the only naval combatants in the struggle for control of the waters. Wooden vessels of all types and dimensions, ships built from the beam up for war, civilian vessels drafted into service, and hastily converted vessels were more commonly seen on the waters in combat roles. The transportation of men and materials along the Mississippi and the other river systems were of vital importance for both the North and the South. Forts, hidden batteries, «torpedoes» and land forces played heavily in the conflict. This was also the first major naval war in which most vessels were powered by steam and were not dependent on sails and the wind.
In most histories of the Civil War only a few lines and pictures are devoted to the naval struggles: Monitor & Virginia, Vicksburg, blockade running, and Mobile Bay. In almost all cases comparisons heavily favor Northern vessels. We all know that the Northern states were able to out-produce the sparsely equipped Southern manufacturers, but the ability and ingenuity of the men who put together the naval resistance of the South were a credit to all Americans. A study of this period shows the vessels produced by southern shipbuilders (mostly land carpenters) were usually underpowered and undergunned. Having been made of materials and weapons scraped together or stolen, the vessels of the CSN kept Union naval men fearful of losing what positions they had gained. The heroic men of the CSN who manned the Arkansas, Tennessee, Palmetto State, Manassas, and many others had to use vessels that were slow in comparison to their Union counterparts, took excessive time to manœuvre, and that didn’t have the caliver of guns needed to damage Union ironclads; yet, their vessels could take a beating and cause severe damage to Union wooden ships. In several instances entire fleets of first rate ships and heavy weapons were used again and again by Union forces before any effects were seen on a single Confederate ironclad ship.
This is a set of rules for using miniature vessels to fight naval battles in the early years of the ironclad and steam-powered ships. These rules are designed for fast play so that large naval forces may be used and conflicts played to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time. Each turn represents approximately five minutes. The ground scale is 1:1200 (60 inches equals 1 mile), and each inch of movement is equal to 1 knot speed.
- Title: Age of Iron
- Period: Napoleonic Wars
- Type: Grand-Tactical Wargame based on Fire and Fury
- Time Scale: 1 turn = 5 minutes
- Ground Scale: 1:1200 (60 inches = 1 mile)
- Troop Scale: 1 model = 1 vessel
- Author: Leo A. Walsh
- Format: 40-page rule book
- Language: English
- Publisher: Mindgames, Inc.
- Published: 1987