H. G. (Herbert George) Wells.

Little wars : a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girls who like boys' games and books online

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BRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES



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LITTLE WARS




BY THE SAME AUTHOR

Uniform 'with this volume

FLOOR GAMES

With over 100 Illustrations from Photographs and
Drawings by J. R. SINCLAIR.

"This book will arrest the attention of grown-ups ; it
invests Floor Games with a romance and a reality they
have never before possessed will keep the young people
absorbed for hours together. Mr Wells makes a world
teeming with life and movement, a wholly delightful
world. Parents and children alike should, and doubtless
will, remember Mr Wells in their prayers. He has
placed them heavily in his-debt by telling them of the
game of the wonderful islands, of the building of cities,
of funiculars, marble towers and castles, in this book of
books." Birmingham Post.



LITTLE WARS



A GAME FOR BOYS

FROM TWELVE YEARS OF AGE TO ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY

AND FOR THAT MORE INTELLIGENT SORT OF GIRLS WHO

LIKE BOYS' GAMES AND BOOKS



WITH AN APPENDIX ON KRIEGSPIEL



BY

H. G. WELLS

THE AUTHOR OF

"FLOOR GAMES"

AND SEVERAL MINOR AND INFERIOR WORKS



WITH MARGINAL DRAWINGS BY
J. R. SINCLAIR




LONDON



RED LION COURT




All Rights Reserved
First Published July 1913



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. . .







CONTENTS

SECT. PAGE

I. OF THE LEGENDARY PAST . . 7

II. THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN LITTLE

WARFARE . . . .10

III. THE RULES

7^1? Country . . . . -39

The Move . . . . .40

Mobility of the Various Arms . . .43

Hand-to-Hand Fighting and Capturing . . 47

Varieties of the Battle-Game . . -55

Composition of Forces . . . 59

Size of the Soldiers . . . .61

IV. THE BATTLE OF HOOK'S FARM . 63

V. EXTENSIONS AND AMPLIFICATIONS

OF LITTLE WAR . . .88

* u

VI. ENDING WITH A SORT QT?. CHAL-
LENGE . . . . .96

APPENDIX-
LITTLE WARS AND KRIEGSPIEL 101



LIST OF
FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING PAGES

SHOWING COUNTRIES PREPARED FOR

THE WAR GAME (INDOOR) . . 10-11

SHOWING THE WAR GAME IN THE

OPEN AIR . . . . .18, 19,30

THE BATTLE OF HOOK'S FARM

I. General View of the Battlefield and Red

Army ... 3 1

II. A Near View of the Blue Army . 40

III. Position of both Armies after first move . 4!

IV. The Battle developing rapidly . 52
. Red Cavalry charging the Blue Guns 53
. After the Cavalry Melee . . 62

Via. Prisoners being led to the rear . 63
Vlb. Position of Armies at end of Blue's third

. \-rnjiie-. ':; '. .; 7 2

VII. Re&s Left 'Wing 'attempting to join the

Main 'Body; .'..';. 73

VIII. The Red Army suffers .Heavy Loss 84

IX. Complefe Wviciry of. the. 'fa Army . 85



I



OF THE LEGENDARY PAST

" LITTLE WARS ' is the game of kings
for players in an inferior social position.
It can be played by boys of every age
from twelve to one hundred and fifty
and even later if the limbs remain
sufficiently supple, by girls of the
better sort, and by a few rare and gifted
women. This is to be a full History
of Little Wars from its recorded and
authenticated beginning until the pre-
sent time, an account of how to make
little warfare, and hints of the most
priceless sort for the recumbent strate-
gist. . . .

But first let it be noted in passing







8 LITTLE WARS

that there were prehistoric " Little
Wars." This is no new thing, no
crude novelty ; but a thing tested by
time, ancient and ripe in its essentials
for all its perennial freshness like
spring. There was a Someone who
fought Little Wars in the days of
Queen Anne; a garden Napoleon. His
game was inaccurately observed and
insufficiently recorded by Laurence
Sterne. It is clear that Uncle Toby
and Corporal Trim were playing Little
Wars on a scale and with an elaboration
exceeding even the richness and beauty
of the contemporary game. But the
curtain is drawn back only to tantalise
us. It is scarcely conceivable that
anywhere now on earth the Shandean
Rules remain on record. Perhaps they
were never committed to paper. . . .



OF THE LEGENDARY PAST 9

And in all ages a certain barbaric
warfare has been waged with soldiers
of tin and lead and wood, with the
weapons of the wild, with the cata-
pult, the elastic circular garter, the
peashooter, the rubber ball, and such-
like appliances a mere setting up
and knocking down of men. Tin
murder. The advance of civilisation
has swept such rude contests altogether
from the playroom. We know them
no more.





II




THE BEGINNINGS OF
MODERN LITTLE WARFARE

THE beginning of the game of Little
War, as we know it, became possible
with the invention of the spring breech-
loader gun. This priceless gift to
boyhood appeared somewhen towards
the end of the last century, a gun cap-
able of hitting a toy soldier nine times
out of ten at a distance of nine yards.
It has completely superseded all the
spiral-spring and other makes of gun
hitherto used in playroom warfare.
These spring breechloaders are made
in various sizes and patterns, but the
one used in our game is that known in





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SHOWING COUNTRIES PREPARED FOR THE WAR GAM K.



MODERN BEGINNINGS n

England as the four -point -seven gun.
It fires a wooden cylinder about an inch
long, and has a screw adjustment for
elevation and depression. It is an alto-
gether elegant weapon.

It was with one of these guns that the
beginning of our war game was made.
It was at Sandgate in England.

The present writer had been lunching
with a friend let me veil his identity
under the initials J. K. J. in a room
littered with the irrepressible debris of
a small boy's pleasures. On a table
near our own stood four or five soldiers
and one of these guns. Mr J. K. J., his
more urgent needs satisfied and the
coffee imminent, drew a chair to this
little table, sat down, examined the gun
discreetly, loaded it warily, aimed, and
hit his man. Thereupon he boasted of






12 LITTLE WARS

the deed, and issued challenges that
were accepted with avidity. . . .

He fired that day a shot that still
echoes round the world. An affair
let us parallel the Cannonade of Valmy
and call it the Cannonade of Sandgate
occurred, a shooting between opposed
ranks of soldiers, a shooting not very
different in spirit but how different in
results ! from the prehistoric warfare
of catapult and garter. " But suppose,"
said his antagonists ; " suppose some-
how one could move the men ! ' and
therewith opened a new world of
belligerence.

The matter went no further with
Mr J. K. J. The seed lay for a time
gathering strength, and then began to
germinate with another friend, Mr W.
To Mr W. was broached the idea : " I




MODERN BEGINNINGS 13

believe that if one set up a few obstacles
on the floor, volumes of the British
Encyclop&ctia and so forth, to make a
Country, and moved these soldiers and
guns about, one could have rather a
good game, a kind of kriegspiel". . .

Primitive attempts to realise the
dream were interrupted by a great
rustle and chattering of lady visitors.
They regarded the objects upon the
floor with the empty disdain of their
sex for all imaginative things.

But the writer had in those days a
very dear friend, a man too ill for long
excursions or vigorous sports [he has
been dead now these six years], of a
very sweet companionable disposition,
a hearty jester and full of the spirit of
play. To him the idea was broached
more fruitfully. We got two forces of






LITTLE WARS

toy soldiers, set out a lumpish Encyclo-
paedic land upon the carpet, and began
to play. We arranged to move in
alternate moves : first one moved all his
force and then the other ; an infantry-
man could move one foot at each move,
a cavalry-man two, a gun two, and it
might fire six shots ; and if a man was
moved up to touch another man, then
we tossed up and decided which man
was dead. So we made a game, which
was not a good game, but which was
very amusing once or twice. The
men were packed under the lee of fat
volumes, while the guns, animated by
a spirit of their own, banged away at
any exposed head, or prowled about
in search of a shot. Occasionally men
came into contact, with remarkable
results. Rash is the man who trusts



MODERN BEGINNINGS 15

his life to the spin of a coin. One
impossible paladin slew in succession
nine men and turned defeat to victory,
to the extreme exasperation of the
strategist who had led those victims to
their doom. This inordinate factor of
chance eliminated play ; the individual
freedom of guns turned battles into
scandals of crouching concealment ;
there was too much cover afforded by
the books and vast intervals of waiting
while the players took aim. And yet
there was something about it. ...
It was a game crying aloud for im-
provement.

Improvement came almost simul-
taneously in several directions. First
there was the development of the
Country. The soldiers did not stand
well on an ordinary carpet, the Encyclo-





1 6 LITTLE WARS

paedia made clumsy cliff-like " cover,"
and more particularly the room in
which the game had its beginnings was
subject to the invasion of callers, alien
souls, trampling skirt-swishers, chatter-
ers, creatures unfavourably impressed by
the spectacle of two middle-aged men
playing with " toy soldiers ' on the
floor, and very heated and excited about
it. Overhead was the day nursery,
with a wide extent of smooth cork
carpet (the natural terrain of toy
soldiers), a large box of bricks such as
I have described in Floor Games^ and
certain large inch-thick boards.

It was an easy task for the head of
the household to evict his offspring,
annex these advantages, and set about
planning a more realistic country. (I
forget what became of the children.)




MODERN BEGINNINGS 17

The thick boards were piled up one
upon another to form hills ; holes were
bored in them, into which twigs of
various shrubs were stuck to represent
trees ; houses and sheds (solid and
compact piles of from three to six or
seven inches high, and broad in propor-
tion) and walls were made with the
bricks ; ponds and swamps and rivers,
with fords and so forth indicated, were
chalked out on the floor, garden stones
were brought in to represent great rocks,
and the " Country " at least of our per-
fected war game was in existence. We
discovered it was easy to cut out and
bend and gum together paper and card-
board walls, into which our toy bricks
could be packed, and on which we could
paint doors and windows, creepers and
rain-water pipes, and so forth, to repre-
2





i8



LITTLE WARS





sent houses, castles, and churches in a
more realistic manner, and, growing
skilful, we made various bridges and so
forth of card. Every boy who has ever
put together model villages knows how
to do these things, and the attentive
reader will find them edifyingly repre-
sented in our photographic illustrations.
There has been little development
since that time in the Country. Our
illustrations show the methods of
arrangement, and the reader will see
how easily and readily the utmost
variety of battlefields can be made.
(It is merely to be remarked that a
too crowded Country makes the guns
ineffective and leads to a mere tree
to tree and house to house scramble,
and that large open spaces along the
middle, or rivers, without frequent fords




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THE WAR GAMK IN THE OPEN AIR.



MODERN BEGINNINGS 19

and bridges, lead to ineffective cannon-
ades, because of the danger of any
advance. On the whole, too much cover
is better than too little.) We decided
that one player should plan and lay
out the Country, and the other player
choose from which side he would come.
And to-day we play over such land-
scapes in a cork-carpeted schoolroom,
from which the proper occupants are
no longer evicted but remain to take
an increasingly responsible and less
and less audible and distressing share
in the operations.

We found it necessary to make certain
general rules. Houses and sheds must
be made of solid lumps of bricks, and
not hollow so that soldiers can be put
inside them, because otherwise muddled
situations arise. And it was clearly






20 LITTLE WARS

necessary to provide for the replace-
ment of disturbed objects by chalking
out the outlines of boards and houses
upon the floor or boards upon which
they stood.

And while we thus perfected the
Country, we were also eliminating all
sorts of tediums, disputable possibilities,
and deadlocks from the game. We
decided that every man should be as
brave and skilful as every other man,
and that when two men of opposite
sides came into contact they would
inevitably kill each other. This re-
stored strategy to its predominance
over chance.

We then began to humanise that
wild and fearful fowl, the gun. We
decided that a gun could not be fired if
there were not six afterwards we re-




MODERN BEGINNINGS 21

duced the number to four men within
six inches of it. And we ruled that a gun
could not both fire and move in the
same general move : it could either be
fired or moved (or left alone). If there
were less than six men within six inches
of a gun, then we tried letting it fire as
many shots as there were men, and we
permitted a single man to move a gun,
and move with it as far as he could go
by the rules a foot, that is, if he was an
infantry-man, and two feet if he was a
cavalry-man. We abolished altogether
that magical freedom of an unassisted
gun to move two feet. And on such
rules as these we fought a number of
battles. They were interesting, but
not entirely satisfactory. We took no
prisoners a feature at once barbaric and
unconvincing. The battles lingered on





22



LITTLE WARS




a long time, because we shot with ex-
treme care and deliberation, and they
were hard to bring to a decisive finish.
The guns were altogether too predom-
inant. They prevented attacks getting
home, and they made it possible for a
timid player to put all his soldiers out of
sight behind hills and houses, and bang
away if his opponent showed as much as
the tip of a bayonet. Monsieur Bloch
seemed vindicated, and Little War had
become impossible. And there was
something a little absurd, too, in the
spectacle of a solitary drummer-boy, for
example, marching off with a gun.

But as there was nevertheless much
that seemed to us extremely pretty and
picturesque about the game, we set to
work and here a certain Mr M. with
his brother, Captain M., hot from the



MODERN BEGINNINGS 23

Great War in South Africa, came in most
helpfully to quicken it. Manifestly
the guns had to be reduced to manage-
able terms. We cut down the number
of shots per move to four, and we
required that four men should be within
six inches of a gun for it to be in action
at all. Without four men it could
neither fire nor move it was out of
action; and if it moved, the four men
had to go with it. Moreover, to put an
end to that little resistant body of men
behind a house, we required that after
a gun had been fired it should remain,
without alteration of the elevation, point-
ing in the direction of its last shot, and
have two men placed one on either side
of the end of its trail. This secured a
certain exposure on the part of con-
cealed and sheltered gunners. It was





LITTLE WARS

no longer possible to go on shooting
out of a perfect security for ever. All
this favoured the attack and led to a
livelier game.

Our next step was to abolish the
tedium due to the elaborate aiming of
the guns, by fixing a time limit for every
move. We made this an outside limit
at first, ten minutes, but afterwards we
discovered that it made the game much
more warlike to cut the time down to a
length that would barely permit a slow-
moving player to fire all his guns and
move all his men. This led to small
bodies of men lagging and "getting
left," to careless exposures, to rapid, less
accurate shooting, and just that eventful-
ness one would expect in the hurry and
passion of real fighting. It also made
the game brisker. We have since also




MODERN BEGINNINGS 25

made a limit, sometimes of four minutes,
sometimes of five minutes, to the inter-
val for adjustment and deliberation after
one move is finished and before the next
move begins. This further removes the
game from the chess category, and ap-
proximates it to the likeness of active
service. Most of a general's decisions,
once a fight has begun, must be made
in such brief intervals of time. (But we
leave unlimited time at the outset for
the planning.)

As to our time-keeping, we catch a
visitor with a stop-watch if we can, and
if we cannot, we use a fair-sized clock
with a second-hand : the player not
moving says "Go," and warns at the
last two minutes, last minute, and last
thirty seconds. But I think it would not
be difficult to procure a cheap clock





26 LITTLE WARS

because, of course, no one wants a very
accurate agreement with Greenwich as
to the length of a second that would
have minutes instead of hours and
seconds instead of minutes, and that
would ping at the end of every minute
and discharge an alarm note at the end
of the move. That would abolish the
rather boring strain of time-keeping.
One could just watch the fighting.

Moreover, in our desire to bring the
game to a climax, we decided that instead
of a fight to a finish we would fight to
some determined point, and we found
very good sport in supposing that the
arrival of three men of one force upon
the back line of the opponent's side of
the country was of such strategic im-
portance as to determine the battle.
But this form of battle we have since




MODERN BEGINNINGS 27

largely abandoned in favour of the old
fight to a finish again. We found it led
to one type of battle only, a massed
rush at the antagonist's line, and that
our arrangements of time-limits and
capture and so forth had eliminated
most of the concluding drag upon
the game.

Our game was now very much in its
present form. We considered at various
times the possibility of introducing
some complication due to the bringing
up of ammunition or supplies generally,
and we decided that it would add little
to the interest or reality of the game.
Our battles are little brisk fights in
which one may suppose that all the
ammunition and food needed are carried
by the men themselves.

But our latest development has been





28 LITTLE WARS

in the direction of killing hand to hand
or taking prisoners. We found it
necessary to distinguish between an
isolated force and a force that was
merely a projecting part of a larger
force. We made a definition of isola-
tion. After a considerable amount of
trials we decided that a man or a
detachment shall be considered to be
isolated when there is less than half its
number of its own side within a move
of it. Now, in actual civilised warfare
small detached bodies do not sell their
lives dearly ; a considerably larger force
is able to make them prisoners with-
out difficulty. Accordingly we decided
that if a blue force, for example, has
one or more men isolated, and a red
force of at least double the strength of
this isolated detachment moves up to




MODERN BEGINNINGS 29

contact with it, the blue men will be
considered to be prisoners.

That seemed fair ; but so desperate is
the courage and devotion of lead soldiers,
that it came to this, that any small force
that got or seemed likely to get isolated
and caught by a superior force instead
of waiting to be taken prisoners, dashed
at its possible captors and slew them
man for man. It was manifestly
unreasonable to permit this. And in
considering how best to prevent such
inhuman heroisms, we were reminded of
another frequent incident in our battles
that also erred towards the incredible
and vitiated our strategy. That was the
charging of one or two isolated horse-
men at a gun in order to disable it.
Let me illustrate this by an incident.
A force consisting of ten infantry and





LITTLE WARS

five cavalry with a gun are retreating
across an exposed space, and a gun with
thirty men, cavalry and infantry, in
support comes out upon a crest into a
position to fire within two feet of the
retreating cavalry. The attacking player
puts eight men within six inches of his
gun and pushes the rest of his men a
little forward to the right or left in
pursuit of his enemy. In the real thing,
the retreating horsemen would go ofF to
cover with the gun, " hell for leather,"
while the infantry would open out and
retreat, firing. But see what happened
in our imperfect form of Little War !
The move of the retreating player began.
Instead of retreating his whole force,
he charged home with his mounted
desperadoes, killed five of the eight
men about the gun, and so by the rule







THE WAR GAME IN THE OPEN AIR.



MODERN BEGINNINGS 31

silenced it, enabling the rest of his little
body to get clean away to cover at the
leisurely pace of one foot a move.
This was not like any sort of warfare.
In real life cavalry cannot pick out and
kill its equivalent in cavalry while that
equivalent is closely supported by
other cavalry or infantry ; a handful of
troopers cannot gallop past well and
abundantly manned guns in action, cut
down the gunners and interrupt the fire.
And yet for a time we found it a little
difficult to frame simple rules to meet
these two bad cases and prevent such
scandalous possibilities. We did at last
contrive to do so ; we invented what
we call the melee, and our revised rules
in the event of a melee will be found
set out upon a later page. They do
really permit something like an actual




32 LITTLE WARS

result to hand-to-hand encounters.
They abolish Horatius Codes.

We also found difficulties about the
capturing of guns . At first we had merely
provided that a gun was captured when
it was out of action and four men of the
opposite force were within six inches of
it, but we found a number of cases for
which this rule was too vague. A gun,
for example, would be disabled and left
with only three men within six inches ;
the enemy would then come up eight
or ten strong within six inches on
the other side, but not really reaching
the gun. At the next move the original
possessor of the gun would bring up
half a dozen men within six inches.
To whom did the gun belong ? By
the original wording of our rule, it
might be supposed to belong to the




MODERN BEGINNINGS 33

attack which had never really touched
the gun yet, and they could claim to
turn it upon its original side. We had
to meet a number of such cases. We
met them by requiring the capturing
force or, to be precise, four men
of it actually to pass the axle of the
gun before it could be taken.

All sorts of odd little difficulties arose
too, connected with the use of the guns
as a shelter from fire, and very exact
rules had to be made to avoid tilting
the nose and raising the breech of a gun
in order to use it as cover. . . .

We still found it difficult to introduce
any imitation into our game of either
retreat or the surrender of men not
actually taken prisoners in a melee.
Both things were possible by the rules,
but nobody did them because there was

3





34



LITTLE WARS




no inducement to do them. Games
were apt to end obstinately with the
death or capture of the last man. An
inducement was needed. This we con-
trived by playing not for the game but
for points, scoring the result of each
game and counting the points towards the
decision of a campaign. Our campaign
was to our single game what a rubber
is to a game of whist. We made the
end of a war 200, 300, or 400 or more
points up, according to the number of
games we wanted to play, and we
scored a hundred for each battle won,
and in addition i for each infantry-man,
i for each cavalry-man, 10 for each
gun, i for each man held prisoner by the
enemy, and for each prisoner held at
the end of the game, subtracting what
the antagonist scored by the same scale.




MODERN BEGINNINGS 35

Thus, when he felt the battle was hope-
lessly lost, he had a direct inducement
to retreat any guns he could still save
and surrender any men who were under
the fire of the victors' guns and likely
to be slaughtered, in order to minimise
the score against him. And an interest
was given to a skilful retreat, in which
the loser not only saved points for
himself but inflicted losses upon the


1 3 4

Online LibraryH. G. (Herbert George) WellsLittle wars : a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girls who like boys' games and books → online text (page 1 of 4)