Sunday, 18 August 2013

Muskets and Tomahawks Battle Report 14/08/13

On Wednesday myself and Dave Stewart had another bash at Muskets & Tomahawks up at the East Kilbride Club. Swapping round from last time, Dave took command of the French and their colonial allies, while I took on the British forces.

Still blundering about the rules a bit, but an enjoyable night was had. What follows is a bit of a casual report. there's no records of dice rolls, movement in inches and what not; having unit activations decided at random, M&Ts doesn't really lend itself to that sort of report, so I've stuck with a more flowing narrative, it gives a better idea of the pace of the game. My first stab at doing any sort of after action report at all, so bear with me..!

All figures painted by Dave Stewart, with the exception of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, painted by myself.

In the year of our Lord 1756, on the shores of the New World, two mighty powers were at work, carving out new settlements and hegemonies for themselves.  Those two powers, unfortunately, were the Kingdoms of Great Britain and of France, oldest and most bellicose of foes.

And thus it was, on the banks of an unimportant river in what is now Canada, British settlers, with Government coin in hand, were sent to till and work this fertile land, claiming it the name of King George. France, however, had other ideas…

With the upstart Rosbouefs now despoiling the valleys of New France, Chef d’ Battalion Stewart, titular Laird of Auchenshooglie, was dispatched with a regiment of foot supported by hireling natives, lead by the infamous terror of the woods, Skulking Badger, and a smattering of irregulars to clear the interlopers from their newfound homes. And this is the reason, dear reader, why Major Robertson, late of the 77th Foot, subsequently found himself at the head of a column bound from Fort James Edward en route to the Canadian wilderness, with this tale to relate….

As Chef d’ battalion Stewart’s forces moved into the valley in which the settlement stood, expecting to fall on easy prey in the shape of helpless civilians and perhaps some ragtag militia, they were not a little surprised to see the Union flag fluttering in the slender breeze along side that of a battalion of His  Britannic Majesty’s foot, and amongst the buildings, the red coats of more of the despised lobsters could be seen drilling back and forth. Clearly, this would be a chance to settle old scores, thought Stewart, as he drew his family broadsword, smuggled from the rain-lashed field of Drumossie Moor ten years ago almost to the day… “EN AVANT, MES ENFANTS!”

The French must drive off the British settlers by killing or capturing them or driving them from the table edge. The British must prevent this. Simples.


1x battalion of regulars, 1x detachment of irregulars, 4x Indian bands

On the right of the French line, a party of Indians are positioned to sweep down like hungry wolves across the river and outflank the lumbering British regulars and fall upon the civilians in the settlement.

 In the centre the Regiment d’ Krounenbourg, supported by a further group of Indians, will rely on Gallic courage and storm straight ahead, forcing their way into the centre of the settlement. With luck, they may reach the settlers first, and prevent the worst of the native’s excesses, but if not…. C’ est la guerre…

Supporting the advance of the regulars with accurate gunfire is a ragtag band of French irregulars. Veteran woodsman, they work well with the Indians, and have them on their flank, on the extreme left of the French line.

2x battalions of regulars, 1x detachment of irregulars, 1x detachment of militia, 1x mob of civilians

As the senior battalion present, the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers take up a strong position on the right of the line, anchoring that flank. They have a sheer rock face at their backs, a hill, fence and river to their front.

A top the rock face lurk the militia. As the shakiest troops they are positioned farthest back in the strongest position, so they are less likely to run and open a hole in the line for the French to pour through, and thereby reach the civilians

 “Run, Martha, we’ll be ravaged in our beds by savages!”
“Oooh, I do ‘ope so!”
The civilians. Their job is not to die messily or run off the board edge.

The 34th (Cumberland) Foot take station  in the centre of the British line, trusting the fences and the river to stall the oncoming hordes for a few extra minutes to afford them further opportunity to pour ball into the packed ranks…

The British left flank is a nightmare of woods and swamp. As such, the Queens Rangers, expert woodsmen, are entrusted to its defence, being best suited to play the Indians at their own game.

With his troops arrayed for battle, Stewart begins a general advance of his forces

The Indians of the French right immediately sweep down the flank towards the river

And begin crossing…

…Towards the British Line

Seeing the danger, the Queens rangers break cover and head out to block the Indians’ advance

They level their muskets and fire a volley, to scant effect...

As the Indians close in for the kill

Luckily for the Rangers, one of the lead rank men trips on a root and plunges his bayonet straight through the eyesocket of the closest charging Indian. Seeing this as a bad omen, the remainder of the warband beat a hasty retreat, without having so much as counted coup on the enemy…

On the British right flank, the 23rd Foot unleash a crashing volley which obliterates the French irregulars almost instantly

However, the Indians continue to sprint towards the river

But a further few volleys from the stalwart Welsh soon dissuade them, and they retire to the cover of a stone walled paddock, and begin sniping at the redcoated ranks, and very soon, Indian musket shots start finding their mark on the Fusiliers, and the British start to take their first casualties

In the centre, the French regulars and a further party of Indians forge ahead, sensing a quick victory. On spotting the oncoming mass of Frenchmen and hearing the war whoops of the Indians, the civilians take to their heels and make for the hills. The Commander of the 34th, seeing that the central route to the settlement is unguarded, immediately falls his men back to block this, leaving the Rangers horribly exposed…

But hearts must hard be in times such as these, and the Cumbrians lock their ranks and check their flints, in a valiant attempt to buy time for the civilians to escape

Undeterred by the sudden appearance of the red-coated line, the Indians spill into the settlement

..and receive some sharp volleys (and a few curses) for their pains, killing all but their leader, who makes good his escape back across the bridge. The Rangers take advantage of the confusion to extricate themselves, and head back towards the now contracting British line. All the while, the Royal Welch continue their duel with the Indians on the British right flank, with both sides taking heavy casualties.

And very soon the Fusiliers find themselves down to three surviving members…

 …then 2

But continued to hold off the Indians, who make several efforts to ford the river, but are beaten back each time

The militia, who have achieved little in the way of actual execution this day, continue to blaze away at the Indians without much effect beyond wasting the King’s powder

As the Rangers attempt to reach the safety of the British lines, disaster strikes; moving through the woods without their customary caution, they disturb something unpleasant lurking within...


And an enraged Grizzly Bear quickly thins their ranks by two!

Causing the survivors to flee with even greater haste...

(REAL WORLD NOTE- this is in fact caused by a “random event” card, of which there are several; however the one which causes some sort of wild animal to awake and attack the unfortunate unit in the woods has come up every time the game has been played so far, and none of us have a suitable model to represent it; so in this case it is assumed to be an Indian spirit bear, invisible to those who have not recently partaken of the pipe of peace… Luckily Foundry do some suitable bears, which are next on the shopping list)

Meanwhile, on the other flank, the Officer Commanding the 23rd begins to feel the Loneliness of Command…

…as, drums beating, the French regulars move up the field towards the beleaguered British Lines

And cross the river successfully

Causing a general retreat on the British side. With the civilians still struggling to scale the slopes leading to the top of the outcrop, it looks like the end could be in sight for this attempt at British expansion into the hinterland…

The French begin to close in for the kill

While on the flanks, the Indians seize their chance to take advantage of the disorganised flight of the rangers and leap forwards. However, hoping to repeat their earlier luck in close combat with the Indians, the Rangers fix bayonets and charge towards the onrushing natives…

…but discover it was exactly that- luck, which led to their earlier success, as three are promptly dispatched by the whirling tomahawks and flashing knives of the braves

As the sole remaining Ranger fights desperately for his life, his fate seems sealed; however, the regulars have not totally abandoned their provincial colleagues, and a crashing volley from the 34th sweeps the other Indians, too busy scalping their victims to consolidate their position, from the field!

Seeing his fellows obliterated in a maelstrom of lead and smoke, the remaining Indian breaks off contact and flees, just as the civilians finally reach the sanctuary of the summit.

By this time the Militia have finally found their mark and start dropping some of the Indians attempting to cross the river adjacent to the French regulars, covering the retreat of the remaining Fusiliers officer, while the Regiment d’ Krounenbourg, robbed of momentum by the heavy wool of their soaking uniforms and now the picket fence, engage in a deadly musketry duel with the 34th to their front, with both sides taking casualties

It’s looking bleak for the British, however, the Militia continue to hold off the now sole remaining Indian as he attempts to ford the River, while the remaining Ranger and Indian on the opposite flank engage in a slugging match with their muskets, which continues for several volleys with neither party able to dispatch his adversary

Eventually though, the Militia succeed in dispatching the last Indian to their front, and the 34th begin to get the better of the Regiment d’ Krounenbourg, as the French regulars’ notorious fire discipline begins to show through…

 Things are beginning to look up for the British, with the civilians safely ensconced on top of the volcanic plug “protected “ by the Militia (perhaps little better than the Indians, in the eyes of a few of the British officers…), and the 34th now winning the firefight at the foot of the hill, and the lone Ranger keeping the remaining Indian at bay, the French are now heavily outnumbered…

The sound of distant drums are then heard through the clatter of musketry and barked orders; more Indians?! The civilians begin to panic, and Militia start looking around for an escape route, however, then a few tentative fife strains of “The British Grenadiers” are heard, and the wild skirl of a Highland bagpipe carries through the woods like an avenging banshee…a relief column from Fort James Edward has arrived, and the civilians let out a cheer and give thanks for their salvation!
The French, on hearing this, realise the day is lost. Despite valiant deeds and many scalps taken, they have not done enough.  Chef d’ Battalion Stewart signals the Regiment d’ Krounenbourg to begin a measured retreat, and howls a curse at the redcoated 34th, men bearing the title of the hated Butcher, who last caused him to surrender a field almost a world away…

…on the opposite side of the settlement, Major Robertson wipes the sweat and powderstaining from his face. That was a bloody near run thing. One thing troubles him though, he was sure he could hear a voice from the distance cursing the redcoats in Gaelic, a voice the like of which he has not heard in some ten years, when he had dragged his bedraggled self from the charnel-house field of Culloden, covered by the last remnants of John Roy Stewart’s Regiment, before being packed off to the depths of Sutherland, until matters could be smoothed with the King and a Commission obtained for him in that same King’s army…

Truly, this strange land was full of mysteries, and Robertson did not doubt that this was not the last he would hear of this one…

REAL WORLD NOTE- it was decided that by this time, the French could not hope to win the field. Their sole remaining unit was still faced by an equally intact unit of redcoats, and any advance they hoped to make would be hampered by two picket fences, before they even took into account the redcoats’ fire. The civilians were now safe at the top of the outcrop, protected by both the redcoats and the intact militia, as well as slopes of the outcrop itself. As such it was agreed that the British had successfully prevented the settlers from being driven off and victory was (narrowly) claimed for King George.

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