Monday, 9 June 2014

Stoney Creek 2014

Last Saturday, a number of us travelled to Hamilton, ON for the annual reenactment of the battle of Stoney Creek. In my opinion, it is one of the better managed reenactments, with a meal ticket for each pre-registered reenactor, allowing us either a hamburger, a hot dog, or a sausage with a cold drink. Other parts of the experience seem to be well thought out as well. Since Beth was still using her crutches because of a broken leg and an air-cast, we didn't take any tentage and just sat down in the shade of a tree. We had to park the car somewhere in what seemed like Nova Scotia, but the shuttle bus made it a little simpler.

The reenactment includes two "battles", one of which is a night battle at about dusk. The afternoon battle represents the British/Canadian retreat from Fort George and the evening battle represents the attack that surprised the US forces at Stoney Creek. Our unit, Croghan's Company of the 17th US Infantry, was represented by Lyle (who served as corporal), his son, Andrew (who's on his way to the Royal Military College in Kingston later this summer), Kevin, Tyler, Andy, and myself. The US forces are generally outnumbered in these event and this held true here.

The afternoon began with a brief ceremony honouring the dead of this battle and of the Normandy Landings in WWII since those landing were 70 years prior to the day. One of our reenactors, the first sergeant of the 22nd Infantry admonished us to do our best drill in memory of those soldiers. He is a former paratrooper himself... and we did our best. He appeared satisfied.

With Beth on crutches and hurting from her fall, we did not have a camera at our disposal, so I've gleaned the photos I've used from a number of sources. including Laughing Devil Photography, Alex Cuberovic, Cannonfire Image Works, and Deb Lewis Brown. I thank them for the kind use of these pictures.

The Royal Scots Light company prepare for the battle.

I believe the commands are "Make ready!  ... Present!  ... Fire!"

Our good friend, Aaron, known as White Turtle relaxes before the ambush by the warriors.

Our friend, Raiffe, serving that day with the artillery, hoists the sign that the gun is loaded.

Musket smoke obscures things quite well.
In the afternoon battle, the US forces "win" driving off the Crown forces. The weather was perfect for firing muskets; I shot off about 14 rounds and only had one misfire. The rest of the crew did as well. The Colonel in charge of the Crown forces came forward with his chapeau off and declared they'd "had enough." So we held the field and marched off first to drink water and sit under a tree. Perfect or not, the weather was still hot, for me anyway.

In the evening battle, the US troops are caught napping. The actual battle started at about 2:30am with only the US pickets and bakers awake. Eye witnesses noted the field covered with blankets and discarded gear. We were told to go out with partial kit, i.e. leave your bayonet or jacket or shako or whatever in camp. As last year, I asked the question "Must we wear pants?" This year, I was told that one fellow in particular was required to wear his pants, but the colonel didn't care about the rest of us. Modesty got the best of us and we went out without coatee or shako or some belting. Kevin laid aside his jacket and marched out in his jacket and vest (still looking rather dapper). Andrew and Lyle laid aside their shakos but just unbuttoned their jackets since their suspenders (not usually seen) were more modern. I left my shako with Beth but I won't be without my water bottle! (It seems that putting on the uniform dehydrates me.) Major Phil, our adjutant, told us to join the battle when the Canadian Volunteers were engaged. We were to run down the hill and line up to their left. Lyle saw to that while I reported to Captain Hanna, their officer. My musket was out of order in the evening so I gave orders, shouted encouragements, and shared my cartridges with some of the crew. At one point, Phil gave us order to got to "independent fire", with everybody firing in their own time rather than volleys. After a few minutes of this, Lyle turned to me and exclaimed "This is FUN!" The boys kept up a hot fire from either the standing or kneeling position. However... we were pushed back and in fact were overrun. A unit of redcoats charged past us and took one of the US cannons. Shortly after that, the word came "Save yourselves!" As first sergeant, I told the 17th "Sauve qui peut! Run for it, boys!" We took off for the trees at the back end of the battlefield. Since I can't run and Andy'd rather not run, we formed the rear guard and were ignored by the Crown forces. Either we were too fierce, too ornery, or too insignificant to bother with. I'll let you choose.

US Artillery firing early in the battle. Colonel "Fightin' Rob" Turmbull reclines in the background.
As the evening darkened, the firing of guns and muskets is more spectacular.

Dusk came on, the gun smoke settled on the ground, giving it all a rather surreal feel. Very atmospheric!

With the British camp in the background, the evening battle becomes hot and heavy.

After capturing the gun, this light company turned on the flank of the US forces. Here, they face the Canadian  Volunteers whose line has bent back to face them. The 17th had already "skidaddled."

The British line "at the twilight's last gleaming" to quote Mr. Key in a well-knon song/poem of the period.
A view from behind the US lines.

Following the battle, a number of us took part in a remembrance ceremony. The names of all the casualties of the battle were read and a reenactor stood in line to represent the fallen. We stood at "Lean on arms" or "Mourn arms" while the name, rank, and unit of each of the fallen was read. I stood as one of the three American sergeants who fell. After "casualty call" and the ceremony, we left the field and the fireworks display took over.
All in all, a good day with a long ride home at the end.

A few more photos:

Grenadiers defend the breastwork during the afternoon battle.

A mixed group of Canadian Volunteers and US Regular Infantry serving as light infantry, return fire.

The Kentucky Volunteer rifles and the 16th Infantry push back the redcoats.

Lyle gets off a shot in another good volley.

Tyler and Kevin choose their targets.

Croghan's Company (unfocused in the foreground) fires another volley.
From the left - Lyle, Kevin, Andrew, Tyler (obscured by Andrew), Andy, and your humble blogger.
the 19th Light Dragoons were present.
The British Colours

The 22nd Infantry and their colours. The 17th is to the left, the Volunteers to the right.

Major Phil and Captian Ollie (background) at "Mourn Arms"

The 17th advances on the left of the colours in the afternoon battle.
Lyle and Andrew are right on the end - looking good!

"Steady, boys!" Captain Ollie lines us up in the afternoon.

One last thing I didn't tell you before... As we entered the field for the evening battle, something was hanging in the air. I learned it was a photographic drone! I'd never seen one before and I was amazed. (I guess I'm such a hick.) It took some amazing video which I'm sharing here:   Battle of Stoney Creek 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Campaigns in Libraria: the Battle of Zuckerman's Stream 31 May 2014

Not so much of a campaign battle... more of a scrimmage... a time of manoeuvres for training... at least until Martin completes the map.
The forces of the Grand Elector of Freedonia, Rufus I Glöwurmchen, marched to the assistance of our staunch ally, the Duke of Frankenschwein, in order to defeat the ridiculous, insidious and perfidious forces of the autocrat of the Serene Republic of Rationalia, Karl Mar X, and his toady, Mongo, the Duke of Worchestershiresauce. We met in battle over Zuckerman's Stream which took up only a small part of the battle field. The glorious allies held the great Hambone ridge north of the stream and the small Oreo Forest to the west of the ridge. Andy (Frankenschwein) and I both had a brigade of line infantry, a grenadier battalion, two regiments of dragoons each and a medium and a heavy field piece each. Andy included a militia battalion, while I took two battalions of irregular light infantry who garrisoned the forest. Rationalia fielded a similar infantry force, but included two hussar regiments, both confusingly called "The Todtenkopf". Worchestershiresauce (which is contemplating changing its name to something less greasy) fielded a similar infantry force with one dragoon regiment and a warband of mounted warriors of the Turtleburper tribe, under the command of General Harry Dresden himself, the Worchestershiresauce Indian Department being flat on their backs because of a holiday party's results.
The glorious Allies moved to the edge of the ridge and down the slope in order to allow the artillery to fire ovre their heads. My light troops, Pavkovic's Pandours and the Chasseurs d'Poutine, moved to cover the allied right flank while the Freedonian dragoon brigade - the Scungili and von Doom dragoon regiments under Colonel Korn - stood in the valley between the ridge and the woods. The Frankenschweiner dragoon brigade lined up to flank the force of the evil coalition from the left.

Rationalian troops including the Todtenkopf Hussars and the sedan chair of Comrade-General-in-Chief N. Guels.
In the far back, a mob of sailors on land brings up the rear.

The Turtleburpers follow General Dresden on a flanking move.

The Allied columns advance to the edge of the Hambone Ridge. Von Castle's Grenadiers follow the Frankenschweiner grenadiers. The 2nd Electoral Marines, the Elector's personal guard (hired thugs) and the Zouave regiment  Gondor can be seen in the foreground,

The Freedonian Dragoon brigade under Colonel Korn -
Dragoon Regiment v. Doom & Dragoon Regiment Scungili.

The ridge - The Elector himself can be seen in his white battle coat at the ridge. The entire area was considered higher ground because we didn't have enough hill piece, so suspend disbelief!

The Turtleburpers terrifying advance.
The Rationalian Hussars soon faced the Freedonian Dragoons sabre to sabre. We both charged and one combat was prolonged while in the other, the hussars got the worst of it and fell back behind the small village of Milkbone, under the protection of the Worchestershiresauce artillery.

The swirling cavalry melee in the area between the Hambone Ridge, the Dark Forest, and the village of Milkbone. Karl Mar X accompanies one of the hussar regiments and Colonel Korn rides with the von Doom dragoons.

Karl Mar X in better days.

Karl Mar X after the initial exchange of sabre cuts. ("He'd dead, Jim.")

Rationalian and Worchestershiresauceian infantry with one of the hussar regiment's remnants taking cover behind them.
Colonel Korn was actually captured in the fight and was sent to General N. Guels for questioning and backgammon.

Pavkovic's Pandours line up to fire at the Worchestershiresauce cavalry. ("Yok she mosh, Chunkaglava?")

Freedonian Zouave regiment Gondor advances supported by the Freedonian Freikorps.

General Dresden came unglued and kept falling off his horse.
Here he doesn't look happy.
Over on the ridge, the Allied artillery fired on the Vendetta's troops as they advanced, but did little damage. Andy's dragoons worked their way around the flank and began to push into the centre.

The Turtleburpers attempt to turn the right flank of the allies. They were discouraged by the light troops whom they eventually either destroyed or chased away and the dragoons who had recovered from their melee.

General Mar X litters the field while the dragoons and the Worchestershiresauce redcoats exchange hollow threats.

Martin's Rationalian right flank advancing toward the victorious and generally up-beat Frankenschweiners.

As Robby's Worchestershiresauce dragoons charge my von Doom dragoons, Mitzi, the symbol of Frankenschwein visits the field. She was later kidnapped and held for ransom by Rationalian thugs... or sailors as Martin calls them.

Andy's Frankenschweiner dragoons ride down the road to assault the Vendetta's line.

It's time for bayonets at the end of Zuckerman's stream.

My cavalry and Robby's square off. The blue bead and the blue pipe cleaner indicate that the units are "disorganised."
There was a bit of a see-saw battle with the cavalry in the centre between the ridge and the forest. Robby's dragoons and mine both fell back after taking casualties. Rob's native cavalry destroyed the Pandours and were able to throw the Chasseurs d'Poutine back, but that was about all that could be accomplished there. The ridge was held and the Allied troops (almost all Andy's) came off the ridge and threw the Rationalians back.

The Freedonian medium gun battery on the high ground.

The Turtleburpers prepare to charge the Pandours. The infantry broke and ran.

The zouaves warily approach the cavalry melee to head off a possible break-through by Robby's dragoons.

Mitzi is kidnapped by Rationalian maritime thugs in a sort of a press gang.

Andy's cavalry assault the Rationalian line. This was trouble.

General N. Guels with his captive, Colonel Korn. Korn was expendible and considering his prodigious drinking, he'll bankrupt the Serene Republic before long!
When curfew fell, we had to say that the game was a victory for the allied powers of Frankenschwein and Freedonia. Since it was a practise game, it really just kept our game sharp. Martin has finished a map of sorts and we're going to see how it all fits together soon. He and Andy have been discussing campaign things that would effect what our armies could build and what equipment they could have. I'm looking forward to seeing all that in writing.

The Chasseurs d'Poutine in their mustard coloured coats.

One of Robby's brown-coat regiments faces down the Chasseurs and the Pandours.

As Martin studies the rules, here's a view of the entire board late in the game. Andy's dragoons have charged Martin's infantry and my dragoons are in a death struggle with Robby's.

Zuckerman's stream with Andy's Frankenschweiners coming up on Martin's Rationalian line of dismounted hussars and the artillery.