Saturday, December 30, 2017

THE BATTLE OF PIQUA, 1780

     As part of my Indian Wars in the East project, I have put together another scenario. This one, which I've entitled "Fools and Madmen" (after a supposed Simon Girty quote) depicts the Battle of Piqua, 1780. Aided by the British, the Shawnee had been using this area as a base from which to launch their incessant raids into Kentucky. In August of 1780, George Rogers Clark leads a 1,000-man expedition across the Ohio to put an end to the Shawnee depredations.
     Here it is on the table.

   
     I pieced the battlefield together the best I could mainly from written descriptions. I tried to include the most prominent features.
     The village itself was 3 miles long (22-feet on my 4'x6' table!), with up to 100 yards between dwellings. The dwellings themselves were supposedly strongly built cabins. I'm using wigwams, because that's what I have. The villagers tended 800-acres of corn, making this a major supply base for the Indians and their British allies.
     A round-topped hill is on the northern edge of the village. Later in the battle, the Indians would be loath to use this rout of retreat due to its high visibility and its being located within range of Clark's soldiers' rifles and his single 6-pdr cannon.
     The land around village was prairie, the grass taller than a man. So I've set same-level visibility at 6" and made movement through it "Difficult". I'm depicting the prairie with my homemade little tufts of prairie grass-looking stuff. That's just a visual, though. The whole battlefield is tall grass.
     The most interesting feature of the battlefield is the triangular stockade built by the British. No account mentions whether or not it was manned during the battle, so I guess that means it was not. But most accounts mention Clark making good use of his cannon against the cabins. In my game, he'll be using it against the stockade.
     I used what I could from Google Maps, too. If you want to look it up, the battlefield is about 5 miles west of present day Springfield, Ohio. The site is commemorated by a George Rogers Clark Park which includes a reconstructed Shawnee village and the triangular stockade.


      Anyway, that's the background of the battle and battlefield. I've been working on my rules some more ("Dark and Bloody Ground") and think I have them right where I want them. I've slowed the action waaay down and took out most of the stuff that was over-complicating things. That's always the way it is with revisions. You start with a bunch of convoluted nonsense and then you whittle away at it. It's an unavoidable process, but it's still easy to get frustrated -- especially when you're doing it just for fun.

The village of Piqua in all its glory. The campfire serves the same purpose as Lebowski's "peed-on rug" - it ties the village together.
A close up of the campfire. Made by Baueda wargames. They have lots of cool stuff.

HOW TO MARCH THROUGH AN ENEMY COUNTRY

     One of the interesting nuggets I learned in researching this battle was the way Clark marched through enemy territory. Here's a little pictorial.

     He marched his first division in 4 columns, leaving gaps of about 40 yds between. His second division was arrayed similarly behind the first.
     If he encountered the enemy, the columns would swing into line (as shown by the red lines) while the cannon would move forward. The flankers would be recalled. The final result would be a square.

     That's on the march. To attack the village, he split his 1,000 man unit into 3. The third element, which was supposed to swing around behind the village to cut off the Indians' retreat, had trouble finding a fording place (the village was situated along the Mad River), and was too late to perform its task.

OPENING SALVOS

Just a few pics of the opening action. (I'm going to get serious about playing the rest of this tomorrow! I swear...)

Half of Clark's 265 men have formed an open order line and approach the stockade. The other group is still in column formation making for the village itself. The 6-pdr cannon has unlimbered and is preparing to tear into the stockade, which it can see above the tall grass.
     In the background, the unit of one Colonel Lynn (I can find no other reference to this officer's identity) have come under fire of Simon Girty's Mingos as they emerge from the concealing prairie. The militiamen return fire and the Shawnee take the worst of it. They are not made for stand-up fights in the open. (Historically, Girty retreated from the battle almost before it started, as he found it "useless to fight with fools or madmen," referring to the ferocity of the white man's attack. Theodore Roosevelt, writing in his "Winning of the West," says that Girty probably never said this.)

     Here's the action on Lynn's wing. Half of his men are in Open Order Line (a single rank in line) while the other has formed Line (a double rank of concentrated firepower). The Shawnee have taken some casualties. Lynn may order a charge if he gets the initiative before the Indians can reload their muskets.
     Oh, before I forget, the Indian side is commanded by Black Hoof, who was at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, and the infamous Simon Girty, the white renegade.
     The Kentuckians were not without their all-stars, too. Besides being commanded by the great George Rogers Clark, included in their ranks were Simon Kenton, the famous frontiersman, and Daniel Boone (who may have been left on garrison duty back at the supply depot the army established after crossing the Ohio).

FOLLOWING IN CLARK'S FOOTSTEPS
     From my own collection, such as it is:

     A reconstruction of Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. This was the first white settlement west of the Appalachians and home of Daniel Boone and headquarters of George Rogers Clark. (I was in Harrodsburg during the annual Battle of Perryville Reenactment. Lots of history in that area!)

     Inside the fort. This room was touted as being GRC's office. I dunno. Seems a little sparsely furnished to me. But whatever -- I just love the ambiance!

     250 miles away down the Ohio River is Fort Massac. This is at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi. This is Clark Country, too. Don't believe me? Just ask the guy in the next photo...

     You never know who you'll meet at Fort Massac. Oh, of course you do! It's GRC himself, gazing across the Ohio River.
     Just up the Mississippi River from here is Fort Kaskaskia, Ste. Genevieve, both of which have Clark ties (and are excellent side trips for anybody in the area) and a partially reconstructed Fort De Chartres, a stone fort ceded to the British by the French in 1763 (along with a bunch of other stuff).

     And here's Fort De Chartres. Just because.

     Until next time, mi amigos! Don't take any wooden nickels!


Sunday, December 17, 2017

FROM BLUE LICKS TO LAKE GEORGE

     My Mounted Kentucky Militia arrived from Blue Moon, so Blue Licks is back up and running. I'm using the mounted infantry to depict the doomed 25-man advance guard of the Kentucky militia. The horses make them big targets.



I like the way two figures look on a single 30mm square base, but decided to go with just one per base instead. When I get to Fallen Timbers, I'm going to need quite a few of these guys and they run $20 per pack of 15 and I'm not made of money. So it's one per base. Cool figures, though.
     For the rest of the Blue Licks ambush, I'm still ironing out the rules. I've mostly been having some scale issues. I think I've got it figured out now, though. At 15 yards per inch, I'm going with 20 men per figure. I can scale everything up and down from there. Regulars are 4 figs per base. So I think that's how it's all going to shake out.

Injun-eye view of the unsuspecting advance guard.

Ambush!
Chaos ensues.
     Switching gears a little... I've spent the past few weeks painting up units for my Battle of Lake George (1755) scenario. In the picture below, you see the Massachusetts Provincial Infantry in the foreground and the Connecticut Infantry in the background. The mounted general is William Johnson. All scenario info comes from Francis Parkman's Montcalm & Wolfe. He says the Connecticut boys were wearing their regular clothes, so that saved me lots of painting time.
     By the way, the Massachusetts flag is from Maverick Models based in the UK somewhere. I highly recommend this guy. Good, quick service. I'm taking his word for the accuracy of the flags.



The gunners' view of the French advancing.

Men from the battalions of Languedoc and La Reine. Flag bearer on order. Takes forever to get things sometimes! That's Baron Dieskau on horseback.
Barricades are from Blue Moon. Homemade swamp on the right.
The left flank is anchored on a hill. Indians and Canadian militia are attacking through the woods. 
A view from the hill to the French regulars below.
And again...
The start of a long day for the French!

Friday, December 1, 2017

COWARDS DON'T COME TO KENTUCKY

     This is my title for a campaign scenario I am creating for my game Dark and Bloody Ground. It is based upon the Battle of Blue Licks, 1782, which pits a group of Kentucky militia against an ambushing gang of British-allied Indians (from which tribe I don't recall just now). (I envision this becoming a multi-battle campaign, but I only have the historical battle done so far.) The title comes from a quote I came across in a book by Bennett H. Young entitled History of the Battle of Blue Licks. (It's a digital freebie -- or close to it -- from Amazon. I heartily recommend it!)
     In speaking of the bravery of the men who comprised the militia, Young says:
"In those days, cowards did not come to Kentucky. Men who faced the dangers and difficulties of pioneer life were not only heroic, but they were fearless..."


     The following pictorial chronicles my first attempt at play-testing this battle using my new and improved rules.
     1. The first shot shows the militia, divided into 3 groups, 130-men strong, preceded by a 25-man advance guard. (The advance guard should be mounted, but I don't have the figures yet. Hey, Blue Moon! I'm waiting....)


     2. The first hidden Indians show themselves. Fire erupts from the treeline and half the advance guard turns tail an flees. (My visual for routing troops is a "dust tail" of white cotton. It works better in drier climes, like the high plains of Montana. But it suits me okay.) The other advance guard base is disrupted (shown by the placement of a casualty marker.)



   
     3. A closer look at the action.



     4. More Indians pour out of the woods. Brandishing tomahawks. Some stop and fire their muskets. Colonel Trigg high-tails it!


     5. Another close up. You can hear the war whoops! (Maybe that's just me, though...)


     6. More Indians descend on the Kentuckians' right. Here you can see that one Indian base has been pinned. But the militia's right and center is in dire trouble. At the bottom is a hand-to-hand melee.


     7. From the Indians' perspective.



     8. The Indian base prevails in the tomahawk duel (the militia, though keen marksmen, have no bayonets). More Indians come to grips with the militiamen.


     9. The Kentuckians' right has totally collapsed. During their turn, the whites attempt to form a solid line facing the savage onslaught. Some fire but other hold out for Reaction Fire during the inevitable Indian charge to come.


     Not too bad, overall. At this point, I ended the affair and took the rules in for a tuneup. At issue was the fire/reload relationship. I was forcing rifle-equipped and untrained bases to reload after each shot (one of my new rules). It might have been more realistic, but it took away a lot of the hard decision-making from my original fire-reload rules. In the original, you only had to reload after 2 shots (on the assumption that a smart group would not discharge all their muskets at once, more or less). This created a conundrum during reaction fire as you don't want to find yourself unloaded within striking range of a strong melee opponent. So the 2-shots rule is back.
     About the scenario itself, in order to avoid a completely historical result, I think I'll eliminate 1/3 of the 300 Indians. The Kentuckians stood a fighting chance as it was -- but just barely. If I had used the third group of injuns, it would have been a pretty short and uninteresting affair (at least for the militia player).
     So with these changes in place, I think Dark and Bloody Ground is pretty well finished. It works well for irregular troops, white and red. Next I will test it using some regulars, like these guys I spent the past couple weeks painting:

1st Massachusetts Provincial Infantry Regiment gearing up for duty in the coming Lake George Campaign, 1755.
     Hasta luego, muchachos! Don't take any wooden nickels!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

PROJECTS NEW AND OLD

ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH
Or Close Up the Wall with our English Lead (See what I did there?)

Here's a few pics of  my most recent try at Polemos's Chosen Men, Well Disposed game for my collection of Baccus 6mm Marlburians. And, once again, the opening moments of the Battle of Oudenarde, 1708.
















Next up: Daniel Boone and a couple hundred of his closest friends are about to larn the Shawnees a little lesson in neighborliness using my own ever-evolving rules "A Dark and Bloody Ground". Also known as "Cowards Don't Come to Kentucky". (They're drinkin' bourbon by the batch....)