The Eastern Battles – Optional Rules



The following additional rules can be applied to any ADF scenario and highlight a particular tactical nuance of the civil war battlefield.  While there is solid historical evidence for each of these rules their use can add additional complexity or may alter play balance for some of the scenarios and consequently they should be treated as optional rules that should be used only by mutual agreement by the players.adf-photo-2

Unequal Stands

The basic rules for ADF have each regiment represented by two stands, each with the same number of figures, so that all units would be depleted at 50% casualties.  However, for gamers that prefer to more accurately model specific regiments where the actual strength is known, a more accurate figure representation can be accommodated by not requiring that each stand have the same number of pictures.  For example, a 420 man regiment would be most accurately represented by a total of seven figures – one stand of four figures and one stand of three figures.  If this is done, losses should be taken as follows.

If a regiment has unequal stands and it is an elite or veteran regiment, then losses are first taken on the stand with the most figures to show the greater resilience of these units.   But, if that regiment is a trained or green regiment than its first losses should be taken against the stand with the least number of figures, to show the greater fragility of less experienced units.  Adapting this rule, however, tends to exaggerate the “staying power” of elite and/or veteran regiments verses trained and/or green regiments. 

Variable Arrival Time

In any scenario where a specific arrival or entry time is indicated, that is the historical entry time as best as can be determined considering that even “reliable” historical sources often recorded significantly different times for the same events.  And there is always the possibility that an aggressive commander would have hurried his troops to the sound of the guns or, more likely, became a victim of unexpected traffic jams, confusion, or the always present frictions of war.  To add those possibilities, use the following rule.

At the start of the scenario roll a 1D6 for each arriving unit one turn before its scheduled arrival.  If a “1” is rolled then the unit comes in one turn earlier than scheduled – right now.  If a “2, 3 or 4” is rolled it comes in exactly as scheduled.   If a “5 or 6” is rolled it comes in one turn later than originally scheduled.   If there is a scheduled arrival sequence of brigades – such as Early’s Confederate division — coming in at the same location, but sequenced one turn apart, roll once for the whole division to determine if the whole “sequence” is one turn early, on time, or delayed by one turn.

Extreme Disengagement

The standard disengagement rule allows a unit to retreat with a double disorder move out of harm’s way with the firer losing one die and the retreating unit drops one morale level.  This rule assumes that the regimental commander is attempting to maintain some level of control of his regiment as they pull back.  However, sometimes the situation has become so extreme that the disengagement becomes outright flight.  Such was the case of Colonel Jesse Appler and the 53rd Ohio in the early hours of the Battle of Shiloh.  After having repulsed two determined attacks by the 13th Tennessee, Appler suddenly lost his nerve and ordered, “Retreat and save yourselves!”  And run they did with most of the regiment dissolving into a fleeing herd that was not seen until the next day.  To use this option, use the following rule.

If an infantry or cavalry unit wishes to simply run, it may make an “extreme disengagement”.  To do so, it retreats with a triple disorder move and all fire against it still losses one die.  However, it ends its movement at two morale levels lower than when it began – but, never worse than routed.  Hence, a good order unit will end as shaken unit; but, all others will end as a routed unit.  As with a normal disengagement, an extreme disengagement can be done as an action or a reaction.  If an artillery unit uses this option, it obviously would abandon its guns, so it would be removed. 

Road Column Under Fire

Being in the wrong formation at the wrong time made even the best troops very nervous.  One of the more unsettling conditions was being caught under fire while in a road column.  By late 1862, even if a new politically appointed brigade or division commander – or a new wargamer – did not know better, the regimental commanders and the soldiers themselves almost certainly did.  To reflect their inherent battlefield awareness, incorporate this rule:

If a unit in road column comes under any fire that results in a morale check — regardless of whether the unit passes the morale check or not — that road column must immediately stop and use its next action or reaction to change formation into either a battle line or an extended line facing the enemy.  If it was moving as part of its second action and consequently would not have an action left — it simply stops and must use its next reaction to change into a battle line or extended line.  

Continuous Movement

The movement distances for ADF take into account the extra time it might take for the commanders to evaluate a situation, decide what they wanted to do and have their orders clearly understood by their subordinates – all of which adds to operational delay.  However, if all a regiment did was to move as fast as it could and that was clearly understood at the start of its “actions” and it did not stop to fire, reform and received no hostile fire during its continued movement…then it could go somewhat further than the “normal” distance for its two ADF actions.  For example, on the first day of Gettysburg at about 3:00 PM Hay’s Brigade of Early’s Confederate Division came on the field and was unopposed.  Early give him the order to keep advancing and not to stop until he impacted the Federals.  Hay’s and his brigade did just that, rushed forward in extended order and about an hour and 4,000 yards later his somewhat winded, but exhilarated brigade along with Avery’s Brigade slammed into Coster’s Union Brigade and routed it just outside of Gettysburg at the brickyard.  If continuous movement is allowed, adopt the following rules.

ADF-ET Hays Advance

At the end of an hour “Hay’s Brigade covered about 4000 yards and would be part of joint attack that would drive Coster’s Brigade out of the “brickyard”.

Only veteran or elite active units or unit groups in good order may use continuous movements.  At the start of its active turn, if a unit or unit group declares that for the its next two actions, it is doing nothing else — no firing, no formation change, no charge and is not forced to make a morale check of any kind – it gets an extra action of movement.  However, it ends its turn in disorder and must roll a 1D6 for “stragglers”.  If the unit is forced to take any morale check while doing this, it does not get the extra movement, but still ends its turn in disorder and still must roll a 1D6 for “stragglers”.  Units in disorder or worse cannot use continuous movement.


If called for by the scenario or if any unit uses continuous movement, that unit must roll a 1D6 at the end of its final movement for stragglers in addition to now being in disorder.  The number rolled with a 1D6 is the number of stragglers it has and the rolled 1D6 die is placed by the unit to indicate how many stragglers it now has.  Elite Units modify this roll by “-1” and Green Units add a “+1” to the roll.  This is a temporary reduction in the unit’s figure count; but, until the stragglers are recovered those figure losses are treated as “real” and negatively impact both a unit’s Firepower Points (FPs) and its Basic Modified Morale Point (BMP) if that the number of stragglers has caused the unit to lose a stand and reduced it to a depleted status.

Straggling Penalties:

If a unit with stragglers chooses to fire, its FPs are reduced by the number of “stragglers” it currently has.  If a “straggled unit” is forced to take a morale check and the number of its stragglers has temporarily reduced it to less than one stand’s worth of figures, the unit takes that specific morale check as a depleted unit.  If a unit suffers casualties while it still has “stragglers” and if the combined straggler loss, previous losses and current fire loss is equal to or more than the figures the unit originally had – that unit is assumed to have disintegrated and is removed from the game.  If a unit routs while still having stragglers, the “temporary” straggler figure loss is converted to a permanent figure loss.

Recovering Stragglers

To recover its stragglers, a disordered unit reforms back to good order by spending its upcoming “reaction” to “reform”, after which it would be in good order and would have recovered all its stragglers.  If the unit did not use its reaction to reform, it could use one of its upcoming “actions” to reform and recover its stragglers.  If a shaken unit has stragglers, it must first rally to good order and only after that is done, is it assumed to have recovered its stragglers as soon as it has rallied and reformed to good order.

Artillery Battery Withdrawal

Experienced artillery crews learned that a risky, but often effective way of pulling out of a difficult situation was to fire a full battery salvo and then while its position was temporally covered with their own smoke, quickly limber and rapidly pull out.  As with many such clever tactical expedients, sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.   To offer artillery batteries this option, use the following optional rule.

Only veteran and elite batteries – not green or trained — may fire and then spend half a movement to limber and then take a half limbered moved away from the enemy, while covered by their own smoke.  Such a move must be declared prior to doing it and can only be done as a combined two action – fire & limber/move — turn.  If so declared, any fire directed against the battery as it limbers and withdraws gets neither the -3 DRM benefit for being unlimbered or the DRM penalties for being limbered.  Any fire directed against the battery while this is being done is a “dead even” shot with no DRM benefits or penalties.   If one hit is scored against the retiring battery, the first hit is considered to be a horse hit.  If two hits are scored against the retiring battery then it is resolved as one horse hit and one section destroyed.

Artillery Fire Over Infantry

Once the lines were established and if the terrain permitted it, the preferred Union defense was infantry up front along with a battery in direct support – usually Napoleons – to deliver point blank canister fire into any attacking infantry.  This would be supplemented with other artillery batteries – usually rifles – firing over the heads of the infantry with solid shot, shell or case shot so as to break-up the attacking formations before they reached musket range.  The Union batteries, having more reliable ammunition then their opponents, were consistently more comfortable firing over the heads of their own troops than were their Confederate counterparts.  The rules for this are as follows.

Union artillery can do non-canister fire over the heads of friendly units if the battery or the targeted unit is at least one elevation higher than the intervening friendly unit provided that both the firing battery and the targeted unit are at least two inches from the intervening friendly unit.  Confederate batteries can also fire over friendly units in the same manner, but either the battery or the target must be at least two elevations higher than the intervening friendly unit and both the firing battery and the targeted unit have to be at least three inches from the intervening friendly unit.

Optional Canister Exception

While canister was very seldom fired over the heads of friendly infantry, it was occasionally done when in desperate situations.  In the final defense of Seminary Ridge, Steven’s’ battery of six Napoleons would fire 57 rounds of canister directly over the heads of the 2nd and 7th Wisconsin less than 80 yards away on the down slope.  While the effect was staggering against the attacking Confederates, it also had an unsettling effect on the Union infantry underneath this canister storm.  Lieutenant Colonel John Callis of the 7th Wisconsin claimed that he tried unsuccessfully to get the battery to stop as it was killing some of his own men.

Long range canister – but, not point blank canister – may be fired over the heads of friendly infantry per all the regular rules for firing over friendly infantry.  But, every time this is done the intervening friendly infantry must take a “fired-on-rear” by artillery (+4 to MMP) morale check.  In any case, Union artillery can only do this if it has one elevation advantage and Confederate artillery must continue to have a two elevation advantage.

Leader Benefit Differentiation

Usually, if a leader is adjacent to a unit, his ability to improve movement and morale depends solely on his leader benefit (LB) which can be converted to extra inches of movement or a beneficial Modified Morale Point (MMP).  If and only if a leader is actually attached to a unit, will that unit get a beneficial firing die roll modifier (DRM).  However, a case can be made, that the ability of a leader to offer these benefits may actually depend on how involved he was with his brigade and or one particular regiment.  For example, just being seen nearby would probably be enough to bolster a unit’s sagging more.  But, to actually improve a regiment’s firing might require his personal direction.  So, to more precisely reflect these nuances, use the following rules.

Extra Movement

If a leader is adjacent to any one regiment and if all the regiments of that brigade are contiguously adjacent to each other when they move as a unit group, they would all get extra inches of movement equal to the leader’s LB, provided the regiments remain adjacent to the leader or contiguously adjacent to a unit that is adjacent to him. 

Morale Benefit

If a leader is physically adjacent to a regiment, that regiment receives an MMP modifier equal to his leadership bonus.  Depending on the actual unit configurations, it is possible that up to two adjacent regiments could receive this morale benefit.

Firing Benefit

If and only if, a leader is attached to a particular regiment can his LB be used to improve that specific unit’s firing as a beneficial DRM equal to the leader’s LB.  A leader can only benefit the firing of one unit or the combined firing of adjacent units.  However, the total combined FPs firing are still limited to 18 FPs for artillery, 16 FPs for infantry, and 14 FPs for cavalry.

Artillery Firing Benefit:  

All artillery leaders have an “LB” which can help morale and extra limbered movement – not unlimbered movement –  only if an artillery leader has a specific (1 Arty LB) can he benefit the artillery firing of a battery or battery group.  

Leader Reaction: 

In most cases, a unit’s legal reactions are limited to firing, reforming, rallying, and with some restrictions, a countercharge.   However, moving is usually not a legal reaction.  However, if a brigade or higher leader was attached to a unit and became involved in leading an individual regiment or contiguous brigade its ability to quickly react would probably be improved.  To reflect this capability, incorporate the following optional rule.

If a brigade or higher leader with at least a “+1 LB” is attached to a specific unit, that one unit or designated unit group may make a disordered move or a disordered charge as a legal reaction.  That said, there still must be a legal reaction “trigger” of a visible enemy action or an invisible enemy unit within two inches.  Even if the unit cannot see it the unit triggering the reaction, if its brigade, division or corps leader is adjacent and can see the enemy movement, he could order the reaction movement.

Area Fire

Any time there is a legitimate disagreement as to if a unit can see another or if the visibility could be defined as obscured, then firing can still be allowed as, “area fire” which is done as any other fire, but with one less die.




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