After her post involving Sergeant Pepper's service to the CSA the other day, the Queen suggested to me a novel idea for a new AACW support unit: Battlefield Bands. We discussed the idea over a lovely dinner that included a bottle of an excellent Bordeaux. The more of the wine that we consumed, the more dignified and solemn our discussion became, as those of you who know Aphrodite Mae can well imagine. What follows is the result of our discussion.
Historically, many units had bands at the beginning of the war. Furthermore, I seem to recall reading somewhere that at least one early battle's outcome was affected by a band. Bands in AACW would have three roles: they would increase friendly morale, decrease enemy morale, and increase regional loyalty.
In the game, a Band would have no offensive value whatsoever (unless they were truly awful), but they would probably have a great "Protection" value to reflect that people probably weren't going to shoot the band unless the band was really bad, and even then the bandsmen would probably be sensible enough to hide behind something, after they lost a bugle player or two from friendly fire.
There is historic support for enemy bands' appeal to the local population, too. Perhaps the "Police" value of a Band might be fairly high, to reflect the effect of cheerful, peppy music putting people into a good mood. After all, a Union band playing "Dixie" in Nashville might go some ways toward making the citizenry feel less imposed upon.
Battlefield Bands would have no replacements, and their cohesion would recover much more slowly than other units. This simulates that musicians are sensitive souls, and some are easily offended. ("My tuba got hit by a bullet! That was rude
!") With no replacements, the units will gradually degrade until they dissappear. This is historical. Thus, the only way you can reinforce your band is by merging it with another band. I propose that doing so will improve the band quality, too. (More Police effect. More of a morale impact, and so forth.)
Mae proposed that the band's Posture indicates the music its playing. On "Assault", the Union band in Nashville is playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic and
the Star Spangled Banner. (Over, and over, and over, again.) On the other hand, in Defensive posture, maybe that Union band is playing Dixie, and feigning Southern accents. As for ROE, she suggests that an "All Out Attack" would mean that they played 24/7. (Loudly.) A "Probing" ROE, on the other hand, means that they only play until bullied or sworn at.
It seems that it might be a good idea to have the bands be effectively impervious to weather. It's certainly not implausible, since it stands to reason that a group of a few dozen band members could probably find shelter from the weather from friendly locals eager to have some entertainment. While you're waiting for the Spring thaw, you'll be able to have General Goodtyme's band on tour, live and in concert across the frozen swamps of Louisiana, winning hearts and minds for the Union cause with their sentimental rendition of "Swanee River". If you meet a rival band, then whoever is playing the local music better and louder will probably win the engagement. (e.g., it would be a sad day for General Goodtyme's band if they were ambushed by a Cajun Zydeco band in the swamps of Louisiana...)
Tactics and Strategies will evolve, dealing with Bands: can you spare your Glasgow Pipers from Mobile, so that they can merge with the Atlanta Drum and Bugle corps? Merged, they'll be able beat Sherman's band which is obnoxiously playing Battle Hymn of the Republic 24/7 in Charleston, South Carolina. On the other hand, there are reports that Alexander's Ragtime Band has covertly waded ashore on the gulf coast, not far from Mobile, so perhaps the Pipers should prepare an ambush, instead.
OK, maybe not.
In any event, terrain will be the deal breaker. A Band's movement will have all the pep of Siege Guns, when moving cross country. It makes sense: moving Tubas and Bass Drums through the steep, rough, thickly wooded Ozarks is something that will require time and patience. Even so, with foresight, you might pull off some brilliant delaying tactics. For example, positioning a Louisianna Zouve Cajun Zydeco band in Mudyuck, MS might enable an ambush which first delays an unsuspecting Union Cav unit, then causes that unit's cohension to drop drastically due to a tear-jerking performance of sentimental tunes.
We don't even need much new game graphics to get started. Just use a Zouave uniform, and have Nikel ditch the rifle and add a tuba. Presto! Later, perhaps we can jazz it up with all of the sashes and medals and shiney things that bandsmen of the era loved to wear. (Think "Sergeant Pepper", on the cover of the Beatle's Lonely Hearts Club Band
album. ...Now, imagine his uniform after being promoted to General
. ...That's the way they dressed. Really.)
That's enough to get a thoughtful discussion started, I think.
More importantly, what do you