Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Lies, Damned Lies and Logistics… Part 1

As part of a longer article on making logistics systems both fun and integral to games (no, really) without dedicated and very bored players and/or access to computational engines, I thought I would share something I came across in my on-going reading of the ACW.

Apparently, it was a rule of thumb for Quartermasters in the Army of the Potomac to allow either 80 pounds of grass or 26 pounds of mature hay or grain per horse, per day?! This is irrespective of whether the unit moves anywhere, although of course units at rest can get away with consuming less (we all know the story that the Germans at Stalingrad all ran out of ammo and starved to death, err, a month before 30K of them surrendered…..thus revealing what many had known for years, that units lie about their stocks & consumption levels).

You then look at images of a gun team with 4-6 hoorses, in an artillery battery of 3-8 guns, in armies of up to 120K….. The standard army wagon carried about 1x ton (1K US pounds) and many artillery units were apparently crippled after a major battle as much by the infantry ‘nabbing’ of returning ammo wagons as makeshift ambulances as losses among the horses themselves. Plus there is also the wonderful conundrum that the wagon horses also have to be fed – like the fuel trains trying to feed the Blitzkrieg as the spearheads disappear from the Polish railheads…

Now, these are of course ‘ideal’ figures, but I would argue that a horse is pretty much the same from Renaissance Italy through to the outskirts of Berlin in ’45, so transportation and consumption figures should be similar? In any event, the more guns a commander takes along in an army/force, the greater the logistic strain. And apparently the horses are a lot more susceptible to lack of correct feeding and over-strain than the average human (we are quite energy-efficient and recover faster). This should be reflected in our higher-level ops.

BTW, currently reading about the famous ‘March To The Sea’ by Sherman in 1864/5. Always thought that they cut themselves off from their logistics tail completely and just lived off the land, but apparently not so (or not quite). It was the massively convoluted Confederate command arrangements and lack of ability to formulate a co-ordinated response which allowed the advance to succeed, at least as well as it did.

More anon.

One Comment
  1. Peter Merritt

    I should also add that fuel consumption goes up the more vehicles are trying to use the same road, due to low-gear, stop/start snarl-ups – just look at your car levels in London (or M25), as opposed to ideally cruising along empty roads. More on this shortly…

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