The Roaring Northerners are Dave Stewart, John Hill and Iain Robertson; a loose affiliation of tabletop wargamers and figure painters who inhabit the frozen and somewhat soggy wastelands of west central Scotland. Shadowy and secretive, they stoically quest to reduce the scale of the lead mountain that threatens to engulf them all, and perhaps even find the time for the occasional game...
....This is their story

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Wednesday’s game- Muskets and Tomahawks

Last Wednesday, Dave and I crossed swords again up at the East Kilbride club, with another round of Muskets and Tomahawks. We decided to run a rematch of the last game, but with the sides swapped, to see if my redcoats would have any more success in taking the village from Dave’s Frenchies, than he had in taking it from me.

A report of this previous battle can be read here.

And thus it was, that Chef d’Battalion Stewart was to meet again with Major Robertson, three thousand miles from the lands of their fathers…

The Set Up
We stuck with a similar terrain layout as we had had in the last game, albeit with some more trees (spot the work in progress!), with the village protected by the river with a single crossing point, but this time with the approach channelled down a road through a valley, hemmed in with walls down the final stretch.

The Forces
Forces were the same as last time, but with Dave having control of the civilians rather than myself for obvious reasons. I had under my command two regular British battalions in the shape of the 34th (Cumbrian) Foot, the 23rd (Royal Welch) Fusiliers, a battalion of Queens Rangers, and a rabble of Colonial Militia of dubious utility. At Dave’s disposal were the ever reliable French regulars of the Regiment d’Krounenbourg, a contingent of woodsmen with ridiculously long-ranged rifles (if they could see it, it was in range), 4 bands of Indians under the Terror of the Tufty Grass, Skulking Badger, and of course the civilians, who were to do their best to avoid being shot, chased or otherwise interfered with by the redcoats.

The British

The French

And, with the toss of a coin, the confrontation began. I elected to turn a card first, and the first unit to activate were the Queen’s Rangers. I sent them  bounding on ahead down the left flank, with an eye to taking up position in some woods in front of the river, ready to snipe at anyone trying to block the regulars path

However, Dave’s Indians also had the same idea, and began doing the same, with considerably less distance to travel, albeit their path blocked by the river…

The British advance then continued, with the rangers continuing to head for the woods, and the redcoats then setting off down the road, their slow, measured tread accompanied by the beat of drums, and the scream of the fifes. This was the cue for Dave’s riflemen to take up a position right in front of the bridge, with a clear field of fire straight down the middle of the road. Doubtless some fearful execution would follow…

As the redcoats continued to approach his lines, Dave sent forward his French regulars, ready to take station to the rear of the riflemen, and provide a solid backstop, effectively blocking the route into the village.

The Regiment d’Krounenbourg advance to the cheers of the civilians, ready to show Les Rosboeufs that this land belongs to King Louis…

…while country boys from the hill farms of Cumbria and Wales stand ready to dispute that fact!

Safe behind the wall of white, the civilians offer catcalls at the approaching redcoats, while the French regulars make their feelings rather plainer with a volley of musketry…

 …drawing first blood as an unfortunate soldier of the 34th catches a ball

Meanwhile, on the right flank of the village, Dave’s warparty forded the river successfully, and made a break for the trees, sprinting to take up position within. Safe from interference, they settled down, loaded their muskets carefully, and hid themselves amongst the undergrowth, and awaited the approach of the foe…

The next turn of a card resulted in a random event being rolled for. Ordinarily in our games, this results in the appearance of a bear/ enraged hedgehog/ Cthulu from the woods, which then goes on to decimate some unfortunate unit. However on this occasion, the Dice Gods ordained that the the officer of the 34th had decided that the officer of the Regiment d’Krounenbourg was “Lookin’ at ‘im funny”. As such both officers dropped everything to go rushing off and fight a duel. As they were still miles from each other at this point, all this resulted in was both officers running out ahead of their units, who could only offer half-hearted cries of  “Oh no, do come back, sir…”


Meanwhile on the flanks, another warparty was racing the colonial Militia to reach the high ground

While the Queen’s Rangers advanced steadily onward…

…blissfully unaware of the welcome that was awaiting them

A further warparty then moved up to support their fellows in the trees…

…who then let rip a crashing volley of musketry, scattering the shocked irregulars into a panicked retreat

The 34th then caught up with their impetuous officer (whose name was Arthur King, and happened to be a Knight of the Realm) and continued their advance towards the village, while the his French counterpart continued to stand on the bridge, making jokes about the Englishman’s mother and father, blowing his nose at his auntie, and farting in his general direction…

Meanwhile, the Indians continued their dash for the rocky outcrop, while on the opposite flank, the Rangers recovered their composure and fixed bayonets, ready to give the Indians a return match, and scour them from the woods

On the next activation, the French officer, bursting with Gallic pride, could stand it no more, and charged headlong towards the officer of the 34th. As he drew his slender smallsword, the Frenchman noted the stance of his foe; he appeared to be right-hander, so the Frenchman adjusted his balance as he approached, ready to put his expensive education at the hands of his Parisian fencing master to work- surely this brutish Englishman could be dispatched with minimal effort, he thought. This however would have to remain a mystery, as Lieutenant Sir Arthur King, a rogue who had spent many an interesting and expensive night in some of Newcastle’s finer bawdy-houses, neatly stepped to one side, blind-siding the surprised French officer, before slamming his fist into the Frenchman’s nose, dropping him in a welter of blood and snot like a pole-axed bullock. Under the dumbstruck gaze of his sergeant and men, Sir Arthur quietly slipped his hand from the solid brass “Cholmondley’s Patented Gentleman’s Equaliser” enclosing his knuckles, and returned it to his pocket with a shrug.
“Go on, Sir, you can ‘ave ‘im!” THWACK!

With the way now clear of the brave, if foolhardy, French officer, the redcoated juggernaut continued onwards to the bridge, ignoring some desultory French musket and rifle shots. On reaching the bridge, the 23rd peeled off to the right, taking up a firing line in front of the trees, ready to rake the opposite bank with musket fire, and giving the 34th the honour of storming the village

While the Rangers kept up a brisk musket duel with the Indians in the trees, on the opposite flank, the other war party was pipped to the post by the Colonial Milita, who began their scrambly ascent of the outcrop, leaving a trail of blood and fingernails behind them

All the time, the battle in the centre raged on; Regiment d’Krounenbourg, a fit of getting-shit-done, avenged their officer by unleashing a fearful volley of ball which obliterated fully half of the 34th as they charged the bridge, to which the 23rd could only reply with a desultory tap-loaded volley, which achieved little more than make the riflemen spill some powder while they reloaded. However, the 34th would not be halted, and bravely stormed across the logs, now awash with the blood of their colleagues, and thundered into the ranks of the French infantry. Bayonets and cheap Government hangers bent and buckled in the frenzied melee that followed, but numbers won the day, and the gallant 34th were beaten back across the bridge with casualties.

On the flanks, the Indians continued to press home, their musketry now beginning to thin the ranks of the Rangers quite considerably, whilst the other warparty scaled the rock face to assault the militia ensconced on top of the outcrop; whilst in the centre, the three survivors of the 34th reformed and charged across the bridge again, covered by the rolling volleys of the 23rd.

As the Indians on the village right succeeded in causing yet more casualties amongst the Rangers, their success was not repeated on the left; the militia on the outcrop were quite happy in the safety of their eyrie, and unleashed a maelstrom of lead on the encroaching Indians, scouring them for the plateau. Thus began a personal duel between the two factions for possession of the hill, as the Indians appeared to under the command of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, climbing and then tumbling back down the hill every time they reached the top and were greeted with further effective fire from Jebediah, Zachariah, Billy-Bob, Ezekiel, Cooter and Bo.

As the 34th stopped on the bridge to deliver a volley into the Regiment d’Krounenbourg, the Indians on the right flank succeeded in putting the sole remaining Ranger officer to flight, whilst a further warparty snuck through the swamp, behind the unsuspecting 23rd

The 34th delivered their volley and charged again, but ultimately to their doom, as a volley from the Regiment d’Krounenburg swept them away as they came in, while the warparty of Indians burst free of the swamp with a wild whoop and fell on the startled 23rd who turned to face them with fixed bayonets and musket butts, and to the surprise of all concerned managed to beat the Indians back, albeit sustaining heavy casualties in doing so

This had altered the dynamic somewhat, with Major Robertson’s forces now looking unlikely to be able to shift the French from their position; with one of his regular battalions wiped out, his irregulars all but so, and his remaining regulars now drastically under strength, and increasingly surrounded by the savages, the only unit left in full order were the scruffy colonials, who seemed content to sit tight and snipe at the Indians in their own private battle for the Hill.

Across the field Chef d’Battalion Stewart allowed himself a grim smile; not so cocky now, you red-coated dog, are you?  He thought. His regulars had done sterling service in seeing off all attempts on their position,  the long-riflemen that had come in just prior to the battle had shown their superiority over the Tower muskets of the opposition, and thus far Skulking Badgers wild Indians had been worth the paltry baubles and gewgaws given to them in exchange for their service. And the civilians seemed happy enough, which was always a bonus. Possibly something to do with Father D’ Alembord’s calvados, but ce est la’ vie

The Ranger officer then continued his flight towards the ever-shrinking British line, miraculously making it through the trees without drawing the ire of any dormant wildlife. Said line now found itself under the attentions of ever-growing numbers of Indians, whilst on the outcrop, the warparty made a further attempt on Mount Moonshine…

…on which they finally managed to oust the militia from their position and send them fleeing back down the slopes, while the rest of the Indians added their fire to that of the Regiment d’Krounenbourg and the riflemen, whittling the redcoats down to a solitary subltern, who prepared to sell his scalp dearly… before falling to the ground with arrow in his back.

At this juncture it became clear that the French had fairly decisively won, there being no chance now that the remaining seven British models in play could have any hop of removing the fairly un-blooded French, and it was decided to call it there, a victory for the French!
“Hey, Yelping Dog One Leg can see his Tepee from here!”

The French settlers cheer their white coated saviours, drunk on victory and Calvados…

Seeing that the day was lost, and nothing more would be gained in sending the remaining Colonials against the guns of the French, Major Robertson ordered a retreat, seeing the remaining Ranger officer past him with a few shots from abandoned muskets. A stinging defeat this was, and no great news to his masters in Fort James Edward. The sooner they gave him back his own command of men of the 77th Highlanders, the better; but he was continually fobbed off with excuses that they were serving as Marines on a Man O’ War on some lake. As if he was expected to believe that, what manner of country had lochs big enough to float a Man O’ War, indeed? Still, next time it would be different, 77th or no. Perhaps a word to one of his friends in Woolwich would see some of the gentlemen of the ordnance’s apparatus released to him…

In the village Chef d’Battalion Stewart congratulated his men and replaced his claymore in it’s scabbard, the broad black baldrick and basket hilt sitting somewhat incongruously on his fine uniform of French white, but he would swap it for no other, especially after what had happened to that impetuous wee bachle D’Homville; this was no courtly duel, but a bitter slogging match that would see many more families on either side lamenting the loss of a son, and he doubted it would be over soon. But right now he had more pressing matters requiring his attention; specifically but not exclusively, the issue of ensuring that young Mademoiselle D’Alembord was suitably entertained at tonight’s inevitable celebrations…

So, back in the real world, another good game, hard fought to the last. What it has shown is that the attackers probably do need the real life magic 3-1 numerical advantage in order to succesfully assault and take the position, despite the fact that it isn't fortified. this could be achieved by giving the British some Indians of their own, or another battalion of redcoats- Highlanders could be an answer; the steadiness of regulars with the ferocity of Indians. Alternatively, some cannon would be an enticing prospect, a 3pdr butterfly gun set up off the flank of the bridge to clear any formed lines of defenders away would be good, or even a Coehorn mortar, held back and lobbing shells in to cover the advance of the columns...

All in all enjoyable as always, and once again, thanks to the East Kilbride Wargames Club for the playing space and constant supplies of tea and coffee!


1 comment:

  1. A brilliant account yet again Iain! Thanks mate, it was a truly fun game, and I'm finally getting the hang of the rules............. I think.