Teddy's Wild Ride
Fast Play Rules for San Juan Hill

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By Matt Fritz

Historical Background: In 1898 the US battleship Maine exploded while docked in Cuba. Blame immediately fell on Spain, which was trying to put down a revolt on the island. A short time later, the Spanish American War had begun. After the war was over the US had become a world power and acquired her first colonies: Guam, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. The most famous land battle in this short conflict occurred at San Juan Hill. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were among those that gained fame by storming the Spanish trenches on the hills surrounding the city of Santiago.

After Action Reports: This game was played with two different groups of middle school students.

Battle 1: The Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers were sent to capture Kettle Hill while the infantry headed for San Juan Hill. Kettle Hill proved to be a tough nut to crack, and even the timely arrival of the Gatling Guns wasn't enough to dislodge the Spanish. Accurate Spanish artillery fire punished the attackers, and the assault sputtered. Finally the position was taken, and the Americans also gained a foothold on the top of San Juan Hill. Time ran out with the Spanish still holding the left flank of the hill and the blockhouse, a narrow Spanish victory.

Battle 2: The American commanders followed a plan that was basically the same as their counterparts in the first battle. Right from the start this attack was more effective. The Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers charged hard for Kettle Hill while the regular army troopers showed great discipline in advancing by rushes on San Juan Hill. The Spanish artillery officer, perhaps addled by sunstroke, fired many of his shells short, landing in his own trenches. Kettle Hill was overrun, and Americans swarmed through the barbed wire to fight the Spanish in their trenches atop San Juan Hill. On the final turn the Americans attacked the blockhouse. Tragically, Teddy Roosevelt was killed in bloody hand-to-hand fighting for the Spanish stronghold, but the Americans scored a costly victory.

Objective: The Americans must clear the Spanish off Kettle and San Juan Hills.

Turn Sequence:
Spanish Shoot
Spanish Artillery
American Shoot

Movement: Figures may move 12", however any figure that moves may not fire this turn.

Barbed Wire: American figures must stop at the barbed wire. The following turn they may move through the wire, leaving a gap that other figures may use.

Shooting: Everything is always in range. Spanish roll 1D6 per figure. A roll of 5 pins one figure, a 6 eliminates a figure. Americans need a 6 to hit, and half the hits (round up) will be pins, the rest will be kills.

Machine Guns: Roll 3D6 when they fire. They hit on a 6, but if two of the dice are the same then the weapon is out of ammo for the remainder of the game.

Gatling Guns: They work like machine guns but they roll 4D6 and don't run out of ammo.

Artillery: Each turn the Spanish player may toss three cotton balls onto the table to represent artillery fire. He should be standing at least one foot behind his table edge when he tosses the cotton. Any figures within 3" of a cotton ball are potential casualties. Roll 1D6 for each figure: 1-3 stun, 4 - 6 kill.

Melee: If a figure moves into contact with an enemy figure they will fight hand-to-hand. Each combatant rolls 1D6 and adds any modifiers. The highest modified roll wins and the loser is eliminated. Re-roll ties. If more than one figure is able to reach an enemy figure then the fights are treated as a series of one on one fights.
Melee Die Roll Modifiers
Officers, flag bearers +1
Defending the blockhouse +1
Figure is pinned -1

Pins: Figures that are pinned should be tipped over, or turned face up. They may not move or shoot during their next move and shoot phases. After missing one shoot and move phase the pinned figures may stand up and may move or shoot normally at their next opportunity.

Set Up: The Spanish must be in the trench lines on San Juan Hill or Kettle Hill. Six Figures can fit in the blockhouse. The Americans start at the opposite end of the board.

The Map: This game represents the final push to take the hills. It's difficult to model San Juan Hill since the whole board is really a slope upward. An easy way to represent this is to use felt or a model to show the summits of each hill. The rest of the board should be clear. Since the terrain is a slope figures do not block line of sight, so you can fire over the heads of the figures in front of you until the Americans reach the trench line.

The Orders of Battle: The Americans had a big numerical advantage. In the game they should have at least a 4 - 1 advantage. The Americans should also start the game with 2 - 4 machine guns. Two or three Gatling guns should arrive on turn four.

The Soldiers: I couldn't find any figures in 1/72 scale so I used 54 mm figures from BMC. Here are some paper soldiers you can print and use.

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Useful Resources:

"Assault on San Juan Hill" by Richard E. Killblane, http://www.thehistorynet.com/
"Solo Spanish-American War" by Scott Hansen, Lone Warrior #124
The Spanish American War Centennial Website, http://www.spanamwar.com/