Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The War of the Pacific: An ideal wargamer's war?

I began to read William F Sater's ANDEAN TRAGEDY: FIGHTING THE WAR OF THE PACIFIC, 1879 - 1884 (University of Nebraska Press [2007] ISBN 978 0 8032 2799 6) a couple of days ago, and the more I read, the more it seems to be describing what could be an ideal wargamer's war.

The first chapter of the book describes the causes of the war and gives details of the internal politics and economies of each of the protagonists, but it is the second and third chapters that are probably the ones that are of more interest to the wargamer.

Chapter two compares the armies involved in the War. When war broke out, the regular army of Peru had eight infantry battalions, three cavalry regiments, and two artillery regiments, and Bolivia had three infantry battalions, a cavalry regiment, and some artillery. The Bolivians also had twenty seven National Guard (militia) infantry battalions, seven regiments and four squadrons of National Guard cavalry, and a National Guard artillery battalion. Opposing them were the Chileans, who had five infantry battalions, two cavalry regiments, and an artillery regiment.

The third chapter compares the navies of the protagonists. At the outbreak of the War, the Peruvians possessed four ironclads – the central battery ship Independencia, the monitor Huáscar (both of which were built in the UK), and two ex-USN monitors Manco Cápac and Atahualpa. In addition, they had two wooden corvettes and four transports. The Chilean Navy two central battery ironclads, Almirante Cochrane and Almirante Blanco Encalada, supported by four wooden corvettes and two sloops.

These forces are quite small, and it would not be beyond the wit or resources of most wargamers to recreate both sides' military might in miniature.

4 comments:

  1. Stop tantalising me with 15mm projects just before Xmas ;)

    The navy should be a peach to do in 1/1200 :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Geordie an Exiled FOG,

    Don't think that you are alone in giving this serious consideration ... especially as I understand there is a range of figures already available (see Outpost Wargame Services!

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bob, I know you are a miniatures man but there is a board wargame coming out on the Pacific War before very long - Strategy and Tactics #275, called "Pacific War". Out in early 2012. Even if you are not interested in the game, the accompanying article might give you a lot of military detail you would need.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Itmurnau,

    Thank you very much. This is a very useful piece of information. Although I prefer to fight my battles with models, boardgames do have their uses (e.g. as the basis for things like campaigns) and I do own quite a few.

    I have bought copies of 'Strategy and Tactics' in the past just for the articles it contained, and I will certainly look out for this one when it comes out.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete