Monday, 16 September 2013

The greatest raid of the American Civil War

Yesterday – for the first time in a long time – I was able to attend a meeting of the 'Jockey's Fields Irregulars' in central London and to take part in a wargame. It was a role-play game about what was termed 'the greatest raid of the American Civil War'. This is better known as the 'St Albans Raid', which took place in October 1864 when a group of Confederate soldiers attacked St Albans, Vermont, from their base in Canada. My character was George N Sanders, a former US diplomat who served as one of the leaders of the Confederate Secret Service in Montreal. My job was to act as quartermaster for the raid as well as to take part in it.

The raid itself went surprisingly well. We 'liberated' funds from two of the three banks in St Albans and managed to set fire to a large section of the town. During the process we only lost one man killed when he was shot by a mob of armed civilians. We were able to 'requisition' a wagon to carry away the large bags of money we had 'liberated' and would have made our way safely back to the Canadian border had we not been pursued by Union cavalry. Some of the raiders held them off whilst several of us rode towards safety ... but in the end I was the only one lucky enough to make it back to Canada, where I was arrested and imprisoned whilst my hosts decided what to do with me and the money that I had managed to carry away with me. In the end I was released – and then interned – and the money was returned to the US Government.

This was a rollicking good game, and I look forward to taking a more frequent part in future meetings of the 'Jockey's Fields Irregulars'. My special thanks go to Tom Mouat who designed the game (including some very innovative terrain) and Alex Kleanthous for providing the excellent venue.

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