RIFLE FIRE IN DARK VICTORY
Alan R. Arvold
At the siege of the Alamo the vast majority of all personal
firearms used (over 90%) were of the smoothbore variety. However
there were a small number of rifles on both sides which did have
a minor but discernable impact on the fighting. On the Texan side
about 25% of the men had rifles as their personal firearms. These
rifles were basically hunting rifles, ranging from the short
barrelled plains variety to the famed long barrelled Kentucky
rifles. A little over half of these rifleman were spread out
among the different smoothbore armed units manning the walls
shooting at targets of opportunity beyond the range of the
smoothbore muskets. (During the final assault on the Alamo it is
doubtful that these riflemen fire their rifles more than once,
quickly switching over to their extra muskets to keep up a steady
rate of fire.) The rest of the riflemen were in the units manning
the positions at the wooden palisade between the Chapel and the
Low Barracks. Their purpose was to engage Mexican units charging
the palisade at a longer range than was possible with muskets in
order to stop the attack further out from the palisade as it was
recognized as a dangerous weak point in the Alamo's perimeter.
These rifle armed units used their rifles through out the final
assault and were quite effective in pinning down the Mexican
Fourth Column during the first part of the final assault on the
On the Mexican side the Zappadore Battalion in the Reserve
Column was the only rifle armed unit in the Mexican forces that
attacked the Alamo in the final assault. The Zappadores were
armed exclusively with British surplus "Baker" military rifles,
most of which dated back to the time of the Napoleanic Wars.
During the battle after the North Wall had been cleared of
Texans, Zappadore units standing on top of the North Wall
supported the other Mexican units advancing into the Alamo's
Plaza by engaging Texans at the far end of the Plaza and on top
of the Low Barracks with rifle fire.
While rifle fire did not have a decisive impact during the
final assault on the Alamo, it certainly did have an effect and
thus should be included in the game. The following rules will do
15.0 Rifle Fire
15.1 General: In Dark Victory certain units are considered to be
armed exclusively with rifles. These units have a longer range
over which they can fire their weapons at enemy units but must
pay an increased Action Factor Cost in order to fire their
15.2 Texan Units: The following Texan units are considered to be
rifle armed; the one 5/3/2 and the two 9/4/1 infantry units
located in hexes 2629, 2728, and/or 2828.
15.3 Mexican Units: The following Mexican units are considered to
be rifle armed; all Mexican sapper units (identified by the "S"
printed next to their formation numbers) in the Reserve Column.
15.4 Range: The advantage of rifle fire is the extended range
over which rifle armed units can engage targets. For Texan units
the maximum range is 30 hexes and for Mexican units the maximum
range is 20 hexes.
Note: The ranges stated above represent the maximum effective
range which units can engage targets with massed rifle fire.
While there were undoubtably sharpshooters on both sides who
could hit targets beyond these ranges, they were few and rare.
The reason for the difference in maximum ranges is two fold. One
the Mexican Army used a cheap inferior grade of gunpowder
compared the standard US gunpowder used by the Texans. This cheap
gunpowder had less propellant force, thus causing a reduction in
range. Two, the Texans were more experianced and proficient with
their rifles considering that they used them quite often for
hunting game in peacetime. The Zapadores only had rifle practice
a few times a year and thus were less skilled.
15.5 Line of Sight (LOS): Rifle fire is subject to the same LOS
rules as regular fire, including the rules dealing with the pre-
dawn darkness and dawn, with one exception. Rifle armed units
which occupy intermediate and high level hexes do not have their
line of sight blocked by any ground level units or obstacles (low
walls) at any distance providing their target units are also on
intermediate and/or high level hexes.
Note: Due to the longer straighter trajectory of rifle fire, it
was possible to fire over the heads of people on ground level
along the entire length of the Alamo providing both the firer and
the target were on the walls.
15.6 Action Cost: The disadvantage of rifle fire is that it takes
longer to load the rifle due to the difficulty in ramming a lead
ball down a rifled barrel. Thus it costs a Texan unit 9 AF to
fire its rifles and a Mexican unit 12 AF to fire its rifles.
15.7 Texan Extra Gun Counters: Extra Gun counters may be stacked
with the Texan rifle armed units. These units may fire using
these Extra Gun counters and any which they move to at the usual
3 AF cost but will only have a maximum range of 10 hexes when
Note: The riflemen at the palisade did have extra loaded muskets
stacked at their location to use in case the Mexicans got up too
close to the palisade in their assault. As it turned out they did
not need to use them until the Mexicans were swarming their right
flank from the direction of the Plaza.
General Note: Players may wonder about the difference in ranges
between the regular Texan and Mexican units even though both have
smoothbore muskets. The reason for it is this. Mexican infantry
never received an musketry training beyond learning how to load
and fire their muskets. When they fired their weapons in combat
they fired their muskets from the hip, pointing their weapons
towards the enemy, which made for very short effective range
(about 30 yards). The Zapadores were an exception to this. Being
the elite infantry of the Mexican Army they received basic
musketry training, including learning how to aim, and even spent
a few times a year at the rifle range. The regular Mexican
infantry never even got to do that. Texan infantry being mostly
frontiersmen were more familiar with firearms as it was a part of
their everyday life. At least they knew how to aim which is why
they have a longer effective range than the Mexicans. It should
be noted that smoothbore muskets had a maximum effective range of
between 50 to 100 yards beyond which accuracy dropped off rather