Wednesday, 29 August 2012

It was the best of times...

... it was the worst of times. It was my holiday. It was very busy, BUT I still got in a game.

Martin wanted to try the "Shako" rules for Napoleonics. Oh, yeah! That's my favourite set of rules for "big battle" Napoleonics! So he and Andy came down to my house and Rob and I took them on in the front room. It was an odd little mix - Andy and Martin leading a French-Italian division on the attack while Rob and I defended the terrain with a mixed force of British and Swedish, about a reinforced Brigade each.

Columns advanced shaking out into line as the French approached the Coalition lines.

Andy's Columns of attack. He and Martin came to an understanding -
Martin got the skirmishers, Andy got the artillery.
Martin's columns of attack with skirmish screens. The three left hand columns (one  partly obscured) are red-coated Swiss battalions. They counted as elite for morale but line for fighting.

Andy's cavalry - 2 Italian Dragoons sandwiching Westphalian Hussars

Martin's French cavalry division - hussars, chasseurs, and cuirassiers.

Andy's columns  broke into lines as they approached the defended village. That's a battalion of Poles in the front rank. My Varmland Feltjagare (in green) have advanced to take pot-shot at the cavalry.
Andy's photo of his Grand Battery - two foot batteries (3 crew), a horse battery (2 crew), and a heavy battery (on the left - 4 crew). All the batteries are Italian and proud members of my wife's Italian army of Prince Eugene!
The little round circle is drapery hanging disk which shows a casualty on the horse gun.
One for me and the Swedish artillery!
  The fighting got hot and heavy as the Allied troops came near the defended village and hill. Rob's Brit's (line, Highland, and Royal Marines as well as the 60th Rifles) fought against the charging cavalry and exchanged fire with the advancing French.

Hand to hand on the hill. The Swiss have sustained three casualties (4 will wipe the unit) and are shaken, hence the red bingo chip. There are Rifles on the hill and a foot battery as well. A Royal Horse Artillery battery is seen on the far left
Marshal Martin Gras-Doigts manoeuvres his troops. Rob's British await the onslaught.
Yes, two battalions of Royal Marines are in evidence. They are quite necessary for the Anglo-American War of 1812.
The swirling mass of cavalry descends on Marine and Highlander squares. The Black Watch smacked around the Chasseur a Cheval unit. I remember the Marines doing well against the Cuirassiers. Martin might remember it differently.
Off to the right, Light Dragoons meet Hussars head on.

A blurry view of the British line. Either the general or the cameraman was drunk.

Andy's photo of the British-French matchup. One unit has fallen back into the village where the Swedes are in the houses. Very little cavalry left on the far right. Looks like the Marines are gone too. Oh, now  I remember!
Meanwhile on the left of the Coalition battle line, the Swedes were taking losses and still surprising me at throwing back some of the Allied troops.

Swedish hussars take on the Italians and Westphalians. Lucky for me, Andy attacked in column... which doesn't works so well for cavalry. Of course, he still beat me and the smaller Swedish Hussar unit fell back. An article in a wargaming magazine many years ago (prior to the release of Shako II) said Swedish cavalry regiments were of such a large size that a case could be made for allowing them an extra stand and a higher morale rating due to size, not quality, like Austrian line infantry. (4 stands instead of 3) I said "Case closed! An extra stand it is!" I still get beat.
Andy's division advancing in line. His troops included Poles and a foreign regiment, the Regiment de Prusse.
Facing them are Swedish skirmishers and two battalions of Regiment Bohuslan (nicknamed "the Parrots") -
grey trousers, light blue coatees, red AND yellow facings.
The battle joined! 2nd Battalion - Regt. Bohuslan, Swedish horse artillery, and the Nora Skanska Carabinier Regiment bravely face the French deluge. Well, no one can say the Swedes are not colourful! (You can say it but I'd ask for evidence!)
What's left. The 2nd Bohuslan stands firm, the 1st having been broken. The Carabiniers are shaken. (Red chip) The Italian dragoons are "blown", having charged. (Blue chip) The Horse Artillery have melted away.
The white stick is for ranging artillery - This, my friends, is known as "Old School."

The village occupied by two regiments of Swedes -  a waste as it turned out. The King's Own Enlisted Regiment on the parade ground and 1st & 2nd Uppland in the houses. The houses are paper, downloaded from a Warmaster internet site and made larger on a graphics program. They're done on light card stock and painted as I want them.
Can't get much cheaper! {I mean... affordable!}

Another view of the village. The  Uppland had taken some casualties.

The Royal Marines and the Black Watch stand firm but the French are all over the ridge. Time to withdraw!
Doesn't look so good for the Swedes, neither! The French and Allies have paid a price though!
The French battalion in brown greatcoat in the centre of the photo are converged Grenadiers, which I think Andy liked!
When Andy and Martin left, Beth called me to the back deck...

... to see the DOUBLE RAINBOW. The photos don't do it justice, but there was a double rainbow after a short rain.
You can see it faintly over the hydro tower.
The game was very enjoyable and it reminded me that I must play Napoleonics more. Maybe next time, I'll bring out the Ottoman Turks! I have enough British and US troops to do a decent War of 1812 large game, but as I'd said in another blog, Shako worked best with large division-plus-sized games, which are very rare for the 1812. Turks might be fun - scads of mediocre cavalry, Jannisaries attempting to kill the Nizam-i-Cedit, militia everywhere and armed with anything.

I hope to have more gaming reports from the Hamilton Road Games club soon and a possible campaign that is in the formative stages. Time will tell.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Port Stanley Encampment

Port Stanley, ON held "Harbourfest" last weekend. The big draw was the "tall ship" (which some folks read as plural), the brigantine St. Lawrence II. This ship is a nice one and offered tours and cruises of Lake Erie (at $50 a pop.) The reenactment was secondary... which was OK. The King's Company/17th US Infantry and the light company of the Royal Scots camped out on the green in front of the Royal Canadian Legion for Friday and Saturday. We had a grand time and had a  huge number of visitors.

We were asked to come and do two skirmishes on "Little Beach" as well as set up an encampment as extra colour for the Festival. We did them both. I personally got to know more of the men from the Royal Scots and a fine group they are! We all answered questions and did the skirmishes (In what reenactment do the reenactors get to fire in line, fire as skirmishers, fire a salute to the brigantine, surrender, drill, answer questions, demonstrate muskets and equipment, run a "mini-militia", meet General Brock {an actor and a great guy}, and get a meal at a local spot for our trouble?) I'm also learning the US bugle calls for light infantry and I got to do two of them.

The combined detail of the reenactors fire a salute to the St. Lawrence II on Friday afternoon.
Present Arms! Unfortunately the Scots didn't leave us too much room for this posture on the wharf.
Robby and Owen are in the front. I'm in the back rank, a rank of one!
"General Brock" is on the far left of the photo. Such a good sport!
Robby cuts loose with a practise/demonstration shot.
He's firing his/our family's new musket - a 1795 Springfield US model.
A mere .69 calibre piece! Oh, it was his 18th birthday as well!

The Scots at drill on Saturday, practising "Reverse Arms" to go to "Mourn Arms."

Sam at her loom. This was a huge draw for the curious in the camp.
(Owen sleeping was not quite as big a draw.)
Katie cross-stitching. The women in the camp do all sorts of period handicrafts.
They often cook, but we couldn't have a fire at this setting. No problem, though!
Across the street was an all-night convenience store and an open-late liquor store!
The festival midway offered burgers, souvlaki, pad Thai, and Nicaraguan food in addition to rides!

Nick and I as "pickets" on the bridge. It's one of the few half-split drawbridges left in the world.
Nick set the password, accepting "Please!", "God save the King!", "Ice Cream", or "Sex" before
allowing folks to pass. So many good sports in the crowd, although it baffled most children.
Robby and Tyler attempted to stop Katie at their picket post.
It didn't work.
Tyler, Sam, and Robby - note the "heroic pose" for the guys.

Justin, our corporal, and a few of the 17th run the "Mini-militia" through its paces.
The King's Company has wooden musket cut-outs and we use them to give the kids
a taste of period drill. They especially like "Charge your bayonet!" and let loose a
growling "Huzzah!"

Drill continues! At one point, General Brock came to review the "new recruits."
He spoke to each one individually.

In the afternoon skirmish, the Pandora comes in to take off the US raiders.
In the morning battle, they were British!
Some of the crew wade ashore to contact the infantry. The crewman (whose  name I don't know - sorry) carries a reproduction blunderbuss - that sounded like a cannon when it was fired! Our friend, Bill, in the green, was master-at-arms of the boat.

My moment of glory! As advance scout, I was first on the beach and called the rest of the unit with my bugle.

Skirmishers from the Royal Scots prepare to exchange fire with us.
Tyler, Robby, and the Pandora's crewman with his blunderbuss serve as part of the skirmish line.
The musket smoke is very evident. Black powder is a messy thing.
Justin and Nick advance onto the beach.

General Brock and his redcoats prepare a volley. These guys are good - very well drilled and good at their impression.

Tyler and Robby keep up a hot fire! This was Tyler's first time out reenacting in quite a while... and he liked it!

Evacuating the wounded! Jeff "took a hit" and I helped him to the rear.
He's in the regulation coatee and 1812 shako. I'm in the summer roundabout jacket and the 1813 "tombstone" shako.

The 17th fires a volley! This was Justin's first time to give commands and he did a mighty fine job! We often have a sergeant, but he was away from home. As I said above, we went from open order to skirmish to line and finally had to "surrender" to the Scots as the Pandora sailed away, shouting "We'll be back!" There were quite a few small raids across the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. Very few large actions, but a lot of small skirmishes.
General Brock read "his" proclamation after each of the battles. The crowd loved it. They moaned each time a redcoat fell and hissed at us in our US uniforms. (Some of the Scots had US kit and added to our numbers in the morning battle.)
It was all good natured fun and the audience asked a lot of good questions.
Glenn from the Royal Scots Light Company fields questions. He's quite knowledgeable and has authored at least one book on the War of 1812 in Southwestern Ontario.

The King's Company as the 17th US Infantry in all our gory glory.
First rank from left: Justin (corporal), Nick, Tyler, Jeff.
Second rank from left: Owen, Robby, John
 A good little event. We all agreed it was a lot of fun, a good chance to meet and greet the public, and a great stretch for our reenacting chops. I mean how often do you get to eat pad Thai in a Model 1812 coatee?

Further Photos from Fort Erie

I finally got the camera's chip downloaded to the computer. (It's amazing how much there is to do on holiday!) I hope you enjoy them!

Pooka, our boon companion and Regimental mascot, in his usual travelling place. All we have to say is "Go camp?" and he's ready to go! That was one tired pup at the end of the weekend. Amazingly, he hardly ever barks while there
 - unusual for a beagle!

A portion of the American camp.
Here you see the tents of the Fort Meigs group, reenacting the 2nd Artillery. The officers have the marquee tent; the troops have the wedge tents. The 6-pounder [THE REAL THING] sits outside.
Andy and I "guarded" it during the evening battle.
Our dining fly on Friday; hence the 21st century clothes.
Our good friend, Paul, dragged over four bales of hay, covered them with a tarp, and... INSTANT COUCH. It really was quite comfortable and very much used.
From left: Katie, Pooka (look on the ground), "Himself", Robby, and Paul.
After dark we put "glow sticks" around the tent pegs to keep folks from mauling themselves as they walked by.
Katie's idea; declared "Brilliant!" by one veteran reenactor.

Dan, Robby, and Mark as light infantry skirmishers in the afternoon battle.
Robby covets that field cap.

In the evening's battle, the Crown forces assault the fort. Ladders are hidden in the ditch in front of the walls. You can see troops of the 60th Rifles (green, faced red), Caldwell's Rangers (green, in tams), Light Dragoons (note the immaculate
white pantaloons, fur-crested helmets, and laced jackets) and various Line infantry units.
The best and safest way to enter the ditch? SLIDE!

The powder magazine goes up! It was raining and windy, so there are rain spots on the lens cover
and umbrellas in evidence in the crowd. Later there was a Lantern Tour of the fort. Robby fired shots
from the walls. Fireworks stood in on for Congreve Rockets. Beth was the surgeon's assistant and
they made things as bloody as possible for the public.
This is a great event - taking place in and around the actual fort, the site of perhaps the bloodiest battle of the Anglo-American War of 1812. If you're on this side of the pond (or can come over), it is well worth coming to see. Stop by our camp for a lemon drop or a horehound candy.