Behind the Lines
In This Issue
A little bit of historical True or False...
This reflexive, sugar-coated learning process was first discovered and
analyzed by a team of eminent German scientists, during the period 1943-1945,
in a top secret project whose ultimate purpose was to uncovered the location
of the actual Holy Grail. After realizing that Hitler would accept uncritically
any kind of pseudo-mystical codswallop they submitted in their monthly
reports, the scientists concocted a mixture of obscure historical details,
Latin mumbo-jumbo, inscrutable Symbolist drawings, and crumbling fragments
of ancient maps and charts, interwoven with dark hints of cabalistic plots
on the part of the Knights Templar, the Masons, and the ever-useful World-Wide
Zionist Conspiracy. Hitler devoured this nonsense whole, congratulated
the scientists on their diligence, and pretty much left them alone to
continue Doing Their Thing.
But what the shadowy committee devoted 95 per cent of their time to,
was a project of their own devising: researching a revolutionary new method
for effortless, almost subconscious, absorption and retention of large
blocs of pure knowledge! Taking some of Jung’s most obscure, speculative
papers as their starting point, they eventually developed a working hypothesis
for a technique they labeled “Schwammengelehrsamkeit” or “Sponge-Learning”,
and in its first fully controlled test, Prof. Ewald Schlitzentrinken,
an eager volunteer with impeccable academic credentials, successfully
“absorbed” the entire 1936 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica,
with a retention rate of 91 per cent accuracy, in only four sleepless
days! No doubt this was a landmark scientific accomplishment, even though,
eight minutes after he closed the final volume (marked “Zoology
to Xylophone”) and rose, creaking, from the special chair he’d
been fastened to for the previous 96 hours, Prof. Schlitzentrinken suddenly
keeled over dead, from a massive brain hemorrhage.
According to the fragmentary notes that survived the fire-bombing of
March 12, 1945, the key element in the new process was for the subject
to keep the pupils of both eyes fixedly dilated to a radius of precisely
2.43 millimeters. Unfortunately, the page describing HOW this was accomplished
did not survive the blaze.
So... True or False? Tune in next month for the answer!
Enjoy the newsletter,
The Newsletter Team
Comments? Questions? We'd love to hear from you through our general
feedback contact form.
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This Week's Historical Short: A Gallery of Rogues
- Rush C. Hawkins and Ambrose Burnside
The Historical Short section is designed to provide a brief snapshot
of an interesting historical event or trivia that is a little off the
beaten path of regular historical discourse.
A Gallery Of Rogues And Heroes With Biographical Sketches And Thumbnail Accounts Of The Deeds And Misdeeds
Rush C. Hawkins and Ambrose Burnside
well-connected, and politically ambitious, Rush Hawkins was a successful
attorney, a hardcore Zuoave Groupie and a serious student of military
history, and thirty years old when the war broke out. Whether it was his
soldierly attitude or the snappy outfits he provided, his 9th New York
Zouaves was a very popular outfit. With such troops Hawkins expected,
one day soon, to overtake and eventually surpass the fame of Ellsworth
and his Chicago Supermen. Not only did he provide his troopers with equally
resplendent clothing (the cockades on the fez caps were especially gaudy
and martial-looking), not only did he rehearse them studiously in complicated
Zouave maneuvers, but he also added a nice theatrical touch by having
the men chant in unison, according to the rhythm and tempo of the drill
being conducted, a unique and always crowd-pleasing “battle cry”
shouted when the right foot struck the ground: “”ZOU-ZOU-ZOU!!”
It was all very macho and that’s the way the impetuous Hawkins liked
it to be.
Here we see him in full dress kit, striking a manly pose. He was certainly
courageous – at times almost recklessly so – but he could
cross the line to insubordination if a superior happened to give his unit
orders that Hawkins judged to be beneath their dignity or demeaning to
their worth as warriors (in the middle year of the war, he barely escaped
a court martial for insulting and calling out to fisticuffs no less a
personage than George McClellan; many a career would have ended on the
spot, but by that time no one took McClellan seriously as a combat leader.
From the army’s supreme windbag, George had been demoted to a desk
job in Washington, one in which he could indulge his fantasies of Caesar-hood
by maneuvering battalions of file jackets and triplicate forms rather
than spill the blood of real men as he had done so copiously in one badly
fought engagement after another. Professionally speaking, Hawkins had
put a noose around his neck by challenging the former commander-in-chief
to a fist-fight and by actually cocking his arm back to hurl the first
blow, but although there were numerous witnesses, every one of them so
despised McClellan by that time that it’s doubtful if Hawkins would
have been sacked, even if “Little Mac” had shown up before
the board of inquiry sporting two black eyes and a couple of cracked teeth.
It was said that when Abraham Lincoln heard an account of the incident,
he chortled wickedly at the thought of McClellan’s discomfiture
and declared Rush Hawkins to be “a man after his own heart”.
Historians are divided, to say the least, about the ultimate ranking
of General Ambrose Burnside, On the one hand there was his dithering,
pokey, piece-meal commitment of troops at Fredericksburg, which literally
invited Lee’s outnumbered defensive troops to slaughter Yankees
as fast they could load and pull a trigger, yet on the other hand, there
is the sheer intuitive brilliance, the instinctive comprehension of amphibious
warfare’s many specialized needs, the unfaltering tactical grip,
and the dynamic highly visible penumbra of charisma that surrounded his
great bald head like a golden halo as he sailed zig-zag through his expeditionary
armada in a sparkly little private steam launch, tipping his trademark
bowler hat to the cheering soldiers lining the rails to catch a glimpse
of him, milking the drama for all it was worth and treating every soldier
he made eye contact with as though that buck-private were the most potentially
impressive hero since the dueling titans of Troy. His soldiers trusted
and admired him, and with good reason, if we are to judge him not by his
abysmal, clearly over-matched performance at Fredericksburg, but by his
stunningly efficient, almost flawless handling of the largest and most
complicated amphibious operation, thus far, in the annals of the United
States Navy, whose initially skeptical senior commanders he eventually
charmed as he did his own infantry; he somehow pulled the rabbit out of
the hat and made army-navy cooperation a living, dynamic new genre of
warfare and not just a cynical slogan.
Let me jump to the bottom line, for it was the eastern one-third of my
own beloved state that ol’ Chrome-Dome subjugated with such fantastic
timing, ballet-master’s finesse and at an almost incredibly cheap
cost in blood. During a period lasting from June, 1862, until the coming
of peace, with an absolutely minimal number of troops and in the face
of several determined Rebel counter-offensives, Burnside’s coastal
enclaves on mainland North Carolina (which could be swiftly and powerfully
reinforced by sea in about 36 hours) posed a festering, round-the-clock
threat to Lee’s biggest and more critical supply line – the
railroad net that ran from Wilmington to northern Virginia, the artery
that pumped munitions, saddle leather, surgical kits, strategic metals,
breech-loading Whitworths that could shoot out a frigate binnacle light
at a range of two miles, first shot and every shot, everything from printing
plates for Confederate money to whalebone corset stays for the elegant
ladies of Atlanta, it all came through that pipeline, and the fortified
coastal bastions were a round-the-clock threat that Lee could never forget
about, always had to factor in to any offensive operation and usually
had to detach scarce good units of cavalry or mounted infantry to keep
But that’s the long, strategic scope of Burnside’s coastal
campaign. More immediately, what Ambrose had achieved was breathtaking:
He had conquered, occupied, or taken out of production due to the proximity
of his fortified enclaves a total of THIRTEEN North Carolina counties,
many of them among the state’s richest agricultural regions: 2.5
million acres, inhabited by 120,000 whites and 55,000 blacks. The antebellum
productivity of this region was extraordinary: 5.2 million bushels of
corn. $3-5 million worth of cotton, and vast quantities of “naval
stores” (tar, turpentine, pitch and a dozen other sticky sappy vital
substances that just oozed naturally out of those tall Carolina pines
– provided anyone was there to collect them.
From this vast region, the Confederacy would not only collect no more
supplies, but it would also obtain no more taxes and no more conscript
soldiers; important/prosperous towns lost to Burnside’s invasion
included New Bern, Plymouth, Morehead City, Beaufort, Edenton, Elizabeth
City, “Little” Washington, and a dozen smaller but highly
No longer could the blockade runners dash to safety through the half-dozen
inlets on the Outer Banks, across Albemarle Sound and into safe harbors
at Beaufort or New Bern; now they could only try to reach Wilmington,
which reduced the difficulties of the US Navy’s blockading squadrons
enormously and naturally made foreign goods, especially manufactured military
gear, much more costly for Richmond to import.
From the day Burnside sailed back to Washington until the day Wilmington
finally fell, the Confederacy was forced to detach large forces to patrol
the almost deserted regions of coastline west of Burnside’s enclaves.
Had those enclaves been secretly reinforced and a surprise attack launched
in a westerly direction, there simply HAD to be enough Confederate reserves
in the region to block it, or the CSA might have been cut in two across
the width of North Carolina, with a Yankee-blue corridor carved along
the Raleigh/Wilmington railroad, effectively cutting off Lee’s whole
army from its most important source of supplies.
And because Burnside had accomplished all this at a cost of fewer than
500 battle-deaths, because he fought a smart, shifty campaign and did
not squander their lives in frontal assaults against fortified objectives,
his soldiers worshiped him.
Even an insubordinate hothead such as Rush C. Hawkins.
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The Historical Perspective section is intended to give readers the
"history behind the game." This month, Will Trotter gives us the first
part of an exciting mix of AAR and historical fiction with From The
Diary of Oberst Wolfgang Wurstfangler. This first installment details
the events leading up to his AAR and the tactical considerations surrounding
the scenario - check back next month to get into the actual action of
After Action Report
From The Diary of Oberst Wolfgang Wurstfangler - Commander of
William R. Trotter
My first action involving tanks was during the second week of the Polish
Campaign, when I commanded a reconnaissance force comprised of PzKw-I’s
and PzKw-II’s – little more than training toys by today’s
standards, but fast and reliable. My first tank-action occurred on 10
September, 1939, when I was serving with General (now Field Marshal) von
Bock, who commanded XXI Corps during the war with Poland. We had surrounded
a sizable Polish pocket, more than regimental-sized, near the town of
Wyszkow, except for one small railroad-line corridor, through which they
were receiving a steady influx of reinforcements from Warsaw, where of
course the preponderance of German power was tied-up in a bitter siege
action. After studying aerial photos and maps I pin-pointed the location
of the railhead through which the Poles received their infusions of fresh
troops. And hard on the heels of that knowledge came my tactical plan
for dealing with it.
It was not without trepidation that I appeared at the General’s
headquarters and announced that I -- a mere Kapitan – had a plan
for forcing the troublesome Polish pocket to surrender. I expected a stern
dressing-down, but instead Von Bock favored me with a fatherly smile and
escorted me to the big situation map that covered one wall of the conference
room, saying as he did so: “If you’ve come up with a sensible
solution, Herr Kapitan, I’m eager to hear it. In a few more days,
the Poles we have ‘trapped’ against the Vistula will outnumber
my own forces and their commander, General Szymanowski, is no fool. The
moment he feels strong enough, he will attempt a break-out and march to
the relief of Warsaw – a move which, if successful, could prolong
this misbegotten war for weeks if not months. Here, son, take the pointer
and show me your idea.”
here to continue From The Diary of Oberst Wolfgang Wurstfangler.
|Enjoying the article
so far? Then check out Operation Barbarossa - The Struggle
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Game Spotlight: Heroes of Stalingrad Screenshot
H. Walker's Lock 'n Load: Heroes of Stalingrad is a turn-based
World War II tactical game currently under development by Lock 'n Load
About Mark H. Walker's Lock 'n Load: Heroes of Stalingrad
The Lock 'n Load franchise comes to the PC with Lock 'n Load: Heroes
of Stalingrad. Designed by Mark H. Walker and programmed by elements of
the team responsible for bringing you Panzer General Online, Heroes of
Stalingrad remains faithful to Lock' 'n Load's ease of play and immersive
format, while incorporating all the advantages of playing on your office
The game features two, branching campaigns. One that is playable from
the Soviet side and one from the German point of view. The campaigns are
story driven, using graphic novel-type panels to propel the plot. A turn-based
game, Heroes of Stalingrad retains Lock 'n Load's engaging impulse system
while adding features, such as flanking fire, hidden units, and residual
machine gun fire, that would just be too fiddly for the boardgame.
In each campaign gamers will not only need their tactical wits as the
fight company-sized battles in, and on the approaches to, Stalingrad,
but will also need to manage their troops in the campaign interface. It
is in the campaign interface that they decide who to take into to battle,
how to spend their precious resource points, and whether to lead a tank-heavy
for, vulnerable to enemy infantry in the streets of Stalingrade, or a
less mobile, infantry only, contingent.
Heroes of Stalingrad ships with 12 stand alone missions for those who
want to jump right in to the fighting. There are bridge seizures, Partisan
ambushes, and even a reprisal of several of the scenarios from Lock 'n
Load Publishing's fast-selling Not One Step Back.
As you have come to expect from Lock ‘n Load Publishing, the art
is superb. David Julien, Marc Schwanebeck, and Nicolas Eskubi have combined
to make soldiers, tanks, and maps that pull you into the conflict and
won’t let go. The game includes, Soviet Guards, Rumanians, Partisans,
and about a quarter-jillion types of German squads, not to mention (but
we will) MG34s, DP28, T-34s, T70s, PzIIIj, on and on.
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In this section we provide a rundown of the latest updates from Matrix
Games, just in case you missed a press release or two.
- Gary Grigsby’s Eagle Day to Bombing of the Reich Is Now Available!
- A wave of thrilling air campaign action has been spotted on radar heading this way!
- War in the Pacific: Admiral’s Edition Updated!
- The first official v1.00.84 update for the WWII Pacific monster strategy game is now available!
- War in the Pacific: Admiral's Edition Wins Gold Award!
- Congratulations to Henderson Field Designs and 2 by 3 Games for a now award-winning effort!
- Operation Barbarossa: The Struggle for Russia Now Available!
- The Fate of the Eastern Front is in your hands!
- Empires in Arms Gets a Major Update!
- A new Scenario Editor, many fixes and an improved AI on the way to gamers!
- Conquest! Medieval Realms
Now Available From Matrix Games
- Conquer your Foes, Exercise your Brain – This is Conquest!
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As September draws to a close, Matrix Games fires up our "Holiday Season"
mode where long hours, lots of work, and lots of fun are common. Every
year we try to run a mad man's release schedule to bring gamers quality
titles that they've eagerly been awaiting and a few that they didn't see
Also, we here at Matrix would once again like to congratulate the War
in the Pacific - Admiral's Edition team for a job well done and for
the prestigious Gold Award they just won from Gamer's Hall. The new emblem
up on their product
page is no doubt deserving and we expect plenty more stellar reviews
on the way as time goes by.
And as always, anyone who would like to drop us a line and give us some
feedback, complaints, etc., please don't hesitate to do so through our
feedback contact form.
Thanks for reading and happy holidays!
The Newsletter Team
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