Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Harbourfest 2013

The city of Port Stanley, ON held it's second annual Harbourfest last weekend. It has a nautical theme and featured tall ships, carnival rides, various vendors of clothing and gee-gaws - all items you never knew you couldn't live without, an art show, and drink. For the second year, the King's Company of Historical Reenactors was present, reenacting the 17th United States Infantry from the War of 1812. We were joined by the Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society in their impression as the 1st Regiment of Foot, the Royal Scots. On Friday afternoon, we set up a number of tents on the square in front of the Royal Canadian Legion building, where we did displays, drill, mini-militia (for the young folks), and answered questions. No cook fires were permitted due to the gas and electric lines under the grassy square, so we made due with the local fare - fish'n'chips, Italian sausage sandwiches, hamburgers, poutine*, etc.
   Two small reenactments were held on Saturday - at 11am and 5pm - on the area known as "Little Beach". Both had rather enthusiastic audiences despite the wind and drizzle. The camp was busy with visitors and we all posed for a lot of photos. Unfortunately, I came down with an upset stomach and had to bow out of the evening skirmish, but it was time to take down the tents anyway. My son, Rob, had to work that evening, so it was the opportune time to go.
   {* Poutine - a Canadian delicacy consisting of French fried potatoes covered with a light brown gravy and cheese curd. Not fattening at all... no, of course not. The sound you hear is your arteries clogging, although it is no less tasty for that. It is originally from Quebec and I'm told "poutine" in Quebecois means "mess."}
Not much to say, so on with the photos. Credit goes to my wife, Beth, Jeff Brown, Barbara Hohn, and the St. Thomas Times-Journal.
Friday Afternoon drill - I was acting-NCO for Jared, Owen, Kevin, and Rob while Kevin's son picked up a few hints.

On Saturday, we were joined by the HMS Pandora. Lake Erie was choppy and the day was windy which made it an adventure for the crew. They had to be towed in to the harbour one time because the wind was very much against them.

Katie and Kevin's daughter see to their embroidery. The "camp wives/laundresses" do period crafts while in camp.
My wife says no self-respecting woman of 1812 would ever be  idle!

Regimental mascot, Pooka, lounging in camp. A dog's life indeed!

On Saturday, Croghan's Company, 17th US  paraded for inspection by our corporal, Justin.
The Royal Scots light company did their drill behind us.

Croghan's Company lines up - Corporal Justin, Rob, Jeff, Andy, Andrew and Ben in the front rank.
Lyle, Mr. Blank-file, Kevin, myself, and Lyle in the rear rank.

"Pinging the rammer" - for safety's sake, before any action, we run the musket's rammer down the barrel. A clean barrel rings with a bright "Cling!" If any foreign bodies or extraneous crud is there, the rammer makes a dull "klunk." Stuff in the musket barrel could be deadly. We never ram after loading for fear we'd leave the rammer in the barrel in the excitement, turning our musket into a spear gun. 

Croghan's Company takes aim, but not at Justin! This is a case of forced perspective.
Note how the rear rank rests their left forearm on the right shoulder of the man in front. That's called "locking up" and it makes for close order and safety. Each man knows where the other is, to either side and behind.

Croghan's Company in action on Little Beach. Kevin has just taken a mouthful of black powder - nasty stuff!

Croghan's Company return fire. Andrew is down.
My musket did nothing but misfire all day. Drat!

Matthew, our runner, is down as well.

Lieutenant Stott prepares his men. Both units have paid close attention to detail in their uniforms.
The US side tends to be a bit scruffier. I blame the difficulty of keeping us in supply.
Since my musket misfired constantly, I fell back - wounded, and not just by pride.

Bob Rennie, a reenactor who plays General Sir Issac Brock at such events,
gives his proclamation to the residents of Upper Canada. He is an incredibly good sport and gladly reviews the "recruits" during the mini-militia drill.

On Saturday afternoon, before I was too sick to care, Beth took this picture of the lot of us.
Front rank - Justin, Andy, Rob, Kevin, Andrew
Rear rank - Me, Lyle, Jeff, Jared
Ben and our sergeant, Jonathan were present earlier but couldn't stay. Nick and Tyler were unable to attend.
Oh, and the hunting frock is PERFECTLY acceptable for the 17th US; I don't care what any one says.
At Fort Meigs, OH, after their uniforms were reduced to rags in the winter of 181, the local women sewed up hunting shirts or frocks for the entire unit as well as two other regiments.

Originally our outfit was called "the 17th, North" as opposed to "the 17th from Erie", Erie, PA that is. That group calls themselves "Chunn's Company." Chunn's Company was at Frenchtown, Fort Meigs, and the siege of Fort Erie. We decided to take the name "Croghan's Company" for one Captain (later Major) Croghan who lead a company of the 17th Infantry at Fort Meigs and later defended Fort Stephenson with a small unit of the 17th and one field gun against 4-5 times their number in British regulars and 10 times their number of First Nations warriors - who may or may not have been much help, from what I've read.

Next weekend, a small display at Old St. Thomas Church and the weekend after that, the reenactment of the siege of Fort Erie in the town of Fort Erie, ON. In September, the Backus Mills reenactment, and in October, the reenactment of the Battle of the Thames in Thamesville, ON, on the actual site of th battle. I'm also on holiday soon and it's time for my twice-yearly Shako Napoleonic wargaming battle with my wife's Italian corps. Do I choose Austrians, Swedes, or British? (I've been painting.)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Reenacting in the hot summer of 2013

This past week was beastly hot here in Southwestern Ontario. With the heat and the humidity, the temperatures felt like the mid-40's. (For the Fahrenheit world, "normal" human body temperature is 37°C.) It poured rain on Friday evening and the temperature was more tolerable on Saturday when the entire family went to the Cambridge (Ontario) Highland Games for a small display and reenactment. The British Indian Department called us in to have "someone to shoot at." Rob and I were glad to supply the bluecoats for this purpose, although I wore my white summer roundabout.
In the afternoon skirmish, Some of the BID joined Rob and I as "Americans",
including Colin (far right) who had worked out a "hand-to-hand" scenario
with his brother, who portrays a Mohawk warrior. You'll see more later.
At noon, we marched on the parade field to lead in the Clans. Two pipers of the Canadian Royal Highland Fusiliers piped us in. The national anthems of Canada, the US, and Scotland were sung as we presented arms and we marched off to make way for the massed bands - always an amazing sound. In 'camp', we answered questions and were "on display" as it were.
In the afternoon, the skirmish took  place. A few of the BID switched sides to make it a bit more even. I served as "sergeant" of sorts and we "Yanks" took the field as a combat patrol. We were anbushed by the BID and one member of the 104th Foot (New Brunswick Regiment) - our friend Raiffe in his red coatee. We exchanged 8-10 shots. Two of us dropped, wounded or dead - including myself. Colin and Aaron attacked each other with foam tomahawks and knives. (They're both experienced stunt men with lots of staged combat under their belts... or loinclothes as you prefer.) Aaron won and came over to slit my throat... again. I told him he at least should buy me dinner first! After the command was given "The dead shall rise!", we all formed up fired a volley, presented arms to the crowd and answered questions. 
I always enjoy hearing the sound of the pipe bands and there were some good ones there. I counted at least 8 bands from around the area and at least one from the US. There were dancers galore and some vendors although little caught our collective eye, except for lemonade! Beth got a t-shirt that fit her heritage very well. All in all, a small event for us, but fun and a good time helping out some other reenactors.
Now more photos!
Captain Roy and his BID men with White Turtle (Aaron in warpaint) behind. The British Indian Department were British officers and translators who served as liason to the First Nations war parties. In our reenactments, they serve as skirmishers alongside some First Nations warriors. Their counterpart on the other side could be the U.S.Rangers, who served in the western territories which would now be Indiana, Illinois, and other states of the Louisana Purchase.

The American force returns fire. Yes. I draw fire by standing in my white jacket, but you can wear wool in 33°C weather and kneel in your arthrutis. Be my guest!

Rob loads on the run.

Your humble author takes aim. I am forever grateful to my wife for  making that white jacket for me. It was supposed to be summer wear for the US Army when south of the Potomac River, but it was issued to many regiments as a recruit uniform. We reenact the 17th Infantry who wore this jacket during the winter of 1813 at Fort Meigs, Ohio until the uniforms were reduced to rags. The local ladies then ran up white linen hunting shirts for the outfit.

The Crown forces firing line, including Raiffe in his red. Aaron stalks his brother in the brush.

Y'know, White Turtle/Aaron... I don't have that much hair to lose anymore. Except maybe the beard.

Captain Roy says "Make ready!... Present!... Fire!"
My son and daughter want to steal his cocked had and add green tissue paper
... so it'll look more like a taco!

Company volley!

Ready to march off... with the Regulars of the US and Crown forces bringing up the rear.
Note the blunderbuss the first BID man is armed with. Wow!

Meanwhile, back in camp... Captain Spaulding ("the African explorer?... No! The BID's apothacary-surgeon) shows the tools of this trade.

The combined reenactors lead the Clans onto the parade ground. Rob is visible 'way in the back, dead centre.
Over the next few weeks, there will be more reenactments, leading up to the Big Show at Fort Erie. We're registered... Are you?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Where NEW Heroes Dare

Since it is a holiday weekend here in Ontario, we all decided that a game or two of "Where Heroes Dare" would be in order. Sunday afternoon was the time, once Sunday morning's work was done, lunch was eaten, grass was mown, and Sunday afternoon's work was done as well. Rob drew up a map of a two storey shopping mall and off we went.  Rob had his Metropolitan police team of a detective Lieutenant and 4 officers, two with Tommy guns. I ran my German Zeppelintroops, four hardened veterans with Bergman SMGs. Beth ran a 4 constable/one dog team of RCMP (including Sergeant Preston and his dog, King.) Katie ran up a team based on her favourite band, Steam Powered Giraffe. It consisted of Prof. Peter Walters I, his robot, Rabbit, Captain Alfred Alexander, and Rex Marksley ("finest marksman in the West" or so the song goes.) The band is made up of Steampunk robots and their pretty inventive. (I promised Katie I'd include this - http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com/)
Katies team started on the second floor. Rob's started in their car outside the mall, came in through a restaurant, and encountered an accident involving a gas explosion. My Zeppelintroops were hidden in a coffee shop. (Hard to do in uniform with Stahlhelm and SMG's. while Beth's Mounties came in through the front door. Soon my troops discovered a hidden passage to a storeroom - surprising but worthless.
The Metropolitan Police Pulp Squad entered through the kitchen. 
The Pride of the Mounted came in the front entrance, unobtrusive in their
red serge and Hudson's Bay blanket coats. Constable Renfew led the way.
Hauptmann Rustheiser, Feldwebel Schultz, and Zeppelin men Bauer and Keller
in the storeroom.
Rex Marksley, Rabbit the Robot, Professor Walter, and Captain Alfred
Alexander came down from the roof.
The Mounties were fired upon by the blue-coated police and then were ambushed by the Zeppelintroops. They didn't last long. The Zeppelintroops and the blue coats then fired on each other. The Steam Powered Giraffe-ish folks also opened fire from the second floor. Professor Walter had a disintegrater ray pistol which worked. (No rolls on the "Mad Science" table.) The game ended with the SPG-ish folks achieving the goal and escaping.
The police car parked outside the mall. (A Tamiya model of a Citroen sedan)
We played a second game with Katie's adventurers, my Z-trupen, and Rob changed to his Sherlock Holmes team of Sherlock, Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestade, Gladstone, the bulldog, and a police constable. Now Katie and I started on the second floor and Rob on the first. I found the "item" in short order and had to escape the building with it. Holmes and company encountered a broken fire control water sprinkler. Later they encountered a new animal companion - a lion. (I don't know how they encountered a lion in a shopping mall; ask the game designers.) In making my escape, Katie and I exchanged fire. Hauptmann Rustheiser jumped from the balcony to the first floor and beat feet to the exit, under a hail of bullets from Dr. Watson. Feldwebel Schultz provided covering fire, and was hit as he jumped from the balcony. Bauer and Keller fell early. The Giraffe team pounded down the stairwell to the first floor. Rustheiser made it out the door and I won this version of the game.
We all enjoyed the two short games and plan to play more during the summer, especially when I'm on holiday and when the kids' work schedules permit. Katie was happy to see that one member of Steam Powered Giraffe liked her Tumblr post and she'll probably send this to him as well.
Holmes, Gladstone, and "the lion"
Katie's friend, Leo the rat refused to be photographed. I think it's a religious thing.
Rustheiser took Captain Alfred Alexander down in hand-to-hand combat
outside the flower shop on the first floor. Zeppelinman Bauer lies wounded.
Rex Marksley takes aim while Professor Walther and Rabbit combat a vicious
chimpanzee they encountered in the mall office.
Again, I don't know how he got there. Relax! It's a game!
Feldwebel Schultz gamely provided covering fire from the second floor and
then leapt to his... wounding.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice...

Things don't always work out as planned. Not news to you, gentle reader, I'm sure. In any event, to facilitate my attendance at an upcoming large meeting (the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada's National Convention in Ottawa held in common with the national convention/General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. I'm not sure what it's called; I'm only learning to speak Anglican.), I purchased a tablet computer. This way I don't have to print and carry hundreds of pages of the bulletin of reports for the convention. I attempted to take photos of last week's DBR game but somehow the photos did not make it to a blogging-ready condition. Such is life. It would have been nice though, considering I fought Martin's German Catholic TYW army to a standstill with my Gustavus Adolphus Swedes.
So... Imagi-nations was the order of the day last Saturday. We fought with limited armies and the table did not groan with the weight of lead/tin/pewter/obscure alloy. Martin's Rationalians and Andy's Frankenschweiners met my Freedonians and Rob's un-named army led by the prince of Worchestershiresauce on the field of battle. The verdict-in-arms? Curfew fell on a true draw with some nail- biting moments for the Rationalia/Frankenschwein side. Rob suggested a strategy of refusing the right while punching through on the left and in the centre. Derick handled the right and was happy to hold tight there. The odd thing is that the Axis of Evil's side refused the left and advanced on the right. So Andy and Derick stared at each other while Kevin and I fought over the town of Dacron (or was it Gabardine?) and Rob and Martin hacked at each other on the far end of the table.
The field of battle. The hills and the town of Dacron were the objectives.
Derick contemplates a move.
Derick's brigade - 1/Regiment Stahl, the Irish Legion, the German Legion,
and the Freedonian Freikorp flanked by a heavy artillery battery.
General Heintzelmenchen commanding. 
Troops of the Serene Republic of Rationalia in their deploying tray.
Andy turned command of his division to Bear. Lain looks on, offering helpful
tactical tips. Kevin checks his ammo. Derick stretches while I decide where to
place the orbital bombardment and Rob checks the rules cheat-sheet.
Don watches from the sidelines.
Since both sides refused the same side, the Axis of Evil held the objective hill on the west of the table. Kevin and I contested the town while Martin launched a huge cavalry charge - 2 Hussar regiments, one dragoon regiment, and the armoured cavalry of the horse guards. The intent was to rip up the Allied left-centre, but troops were able to form square, although the Worchestershiresaucer dragoons took it on the chin from the horse guards and fled. The cavalry charging the squares fought each other to a stand still. Then the fun began!
Martin's Rationalian Horse Guards begin their charge.
Rob's Regular brigade advances. The dragoons are seen in the lower right.
Martin's cavalry charges home. Frankenschweiner dragoons, one of Martin's
Todtenkopf Hussars (he has two), and the horse guards menace Rob's squares
and his dragoons... who were to be hurt badly.
Todtenkopf #2 hits the square of 1/Hoch-und-Deutschmeister. Sky blue
facing on a deep green coat turns up odd, but they're my favourite Austrian
regiments, and I had to paint them. (Real Austrians wear white!)
Warriors of the Turtleburper tribe snipe from the large woods.
The brave and unlucky Militia brigade deploys to hold the hill.
(Figures - Frying Pan and Blanket Continentals in hunting shirt)
The Freedonian Hesse-Burder Hussars charge into sabre range!
For once, I was smart I saw the cavalry coming and I sent my cavalry - the Adelsfahnetrabantenkorp (armoured guard cavalry) and the newly recruited Dragoon Regiment Shanton to meet the horsey onslaught. The Adelsfahne took a hussar regiment in the flank while the hussars fought the 2/Hoch-und-Deutschmeister regiment while in square. The hussars realised that the better part of valour is discretion and discretely fled ...and fast! The Dragoons took the horse guards in the rear but since the horse guards were SOOO sarcastically superior, the melee carried on. Meanwhile, Rob had his hands full with the Rationalian line infantry that advance toward the hill held by 3 Freedonian militia battalions - Battalions Groucho, Chico, and Zeppo. (There's a theme developing here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.) Eventually two of the three militia units took off to Alabama (... to hunt elephants... 'cause in Alabama the Tuskaloosa.) (That one hurt ME to hear.) In the centre, Kevin and I fought over the town. He had some Frankenschweiner grenadiers and some large, 6-stand Rationalian infantry, neither of which can be taken lightly. I had 1/H-u-D and 1&2/Regiment Tom Servo. When the Adelsfahne chased off the hussars, they hit one of Martin's large regiments and shattered them.
To the west of the town, Derick charged some Frankenschweiner infantry with the Freedonian Hesse-Bruder Hussars and I supported him with three grenadier battalions of Stinner, Curatola, and Hohn. Things got touchy as the time bell rang.
The town... The Adelsfahne charges Martin's infantry at the bottom right.
while 1/HuD melees with Frankenschweiner grenadiers. The town is the area
within the tan felt. The houses are just for show.
The attack of the Freedonian Hussars.  The blue bingo chips denote casualties.
The blue pipe cleaner lengths denote "disorder". Yellow means "broken"
and red "routed."
Rob's regular brigade faces the Frankenschweiner dragoons
and Rationalian infantry.
General Flern of Freedonia bravely leads his troops into the heart of Dacron.
1/Hoch-und-Deutschmeister faces Frankenschweiner grenadiers and
1/Tom Servo mixes it up with Rationalian grenadiers.
In a truely self-serving and triumphalistic photo, here we see the TWO
Rationalian Todtenkopf Hussar regiments  heading for the hills.
I always enjoy these games and this was more fun for me since the Allies caused the forces of the Axis of Evil to sweat some. Credit goes to Rob for suggesting the strategy and to Derick for holding the right flank as ordered. Some goes to Martin who threw his cavalry into our front... AND we got to see how the monster works - the usual purpose of "red shirts" in Star Trek.
Andy generously sat out and let Bear take his division and both sides could gloat that their chosen flank did just what it was supposed to. Since the Rationalia-Frankenschweiner side held two of the three objectives, they could claim a win with some evidence. Still Dacron was in dispute and the one hill could have been turned if we had unlimited time, tremendous patience, and  pizza delivery. 
Maybe next time, we'll leave off the towns altogether. We might use two smaller tables and run two smaller games  now that most of the major players have enough painted troops to make a go of it.
I won't be back to the games group for a month or so. This weekend I'm in Ottawa at the afore-mentioned National Convention. Next weekend, I'll be helping to set up for Vacation Bible School at the church, and after that are two 1812 reenacting events. I hope I can blog something about them. In August, the library branch will be closed for renovations, so no games group meetings. I'll also be on holiday, which could mean home-based games of Shako, Where Heroes Dare, and maybe even Warhammer 40K Epic! I'll have to see. I also want to go to the Toronto Zoo to see the pandas and penguins.
Kevin prepares to "arm" his artillery.
Frankenschweiner infantry enters Dacron only to be faced by 1/ Regiment Tom Servo! 
The finger of God? The hammer of Thor? The declaration of the bombardment
from orbit? Martin saying "Put your finger back there, John."?
I'll let you decide. (To be honest, Andy looks a little god-like in this photo.)
My recently-graduated-from-high-school son stares down the Rationalians.