Legio Wargames

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By smacdowall, Mar 8 2019 05:00PM

In September 1775 a force of around 2000 rebel colonists (not yet the United States) invaded Canada, led by Brigadier Montgomery. Their objective was to take Montreal and then move on to Quebec. They were checked at Fort St. Jean on the Richelieu River which was garrisoned by 750 men of the 7th and 26th Foot as well as local militia and ta detachment of the Royal Highland Emigrants. Mohawk Indians led by Guillaume, Chevalier de Lorimier, also took an active part in the defence.


The death of Montgomery at Quebec
The death of Montgomery at Quebec

There were a number of small scale encounters during the three month siege which offer good wargaming potential. I devised a game based on the capture of a British re-supply convoy from Montreal by 80 Americans under John Brown. This resulted in a 200 man sortie from the fort, commanded by Major Charles Preston, which in turn was attacked by an American relief force of New Hampshire men led by Timothy Bedel.



Brown's men come under fire
Brown's men come under fire

The game started with Brown’s New Yorkers coming under fire from Lorimier’s Mohawks and local Habitants. Brown’s objective was to keep the captured supplies out of enemy hands. He sent out a skirmish line to hold off the Mohawks to give him time to destroy the supplies rather than attempting to take them with him to his boats on the banks of the Richelieu.


The British column advances
The British column advances

Major Preston advanced along the road, his column led by a company of the 7th Foot (Royal Fusiliers), his right flank protected by a light infantry company and the Royal Highland Emigrants, a company of the 26th Foot (Cameronians) following on behind.



The Americans attack the farm
The Americans attack the farm

Taking fire from the habitants occupying a farm house to the north, Brown detached a small number of men to clear the farm to give time for his other troops to destroy the supplies. This resulted in a desultory fire-fight with neither side inflicting any damage on the other.



The fusiliers deploy
The fusiliers deploy

Preston’s fusilier company deployed to engage the Americans from the south as they were fending off the Mohawks to the east and habitants to the north.



The British light infantry attempt to recapture the supplies
The British light infantry attempt to recapture the supplies

The British light infantry company rushed forward to re-capture the supply convoy but by the time they reached it there was not much of left. Anything of value ended up in the knapsacks of the light infantry who reported back that everything had been destroyed.



The Mohawks attack
The Mohawks attack

Then Lorimier’s Mohawks emerged from the forest...



The Americans head for their boats
The Americans head for their boats

... sending Brown's men off to the safety of their beached boats.



Timothy Bedel's relief force arrives
Timothy Bedel's relief force arrives

Meanwhile Bedel’s relief force had landed and the British had to turn to their flank to face them, giving Brown’s men time to escape.



Steady lines of British regulars
Steady lines of British regulars

Faced by the steady ranks of British regulars, Bedel did not fancy his chances in a close fire-fight. He used a skirmish line of the Green Mountain Boys to delay the enemy to buy more time for the rest of the American force to reach their boats and escape.



The Green Mountian Boys are surrounded
The Green Mountian Boys are surrounded

One company of the Green Mountain Boys ended up surrounded by British light infantry, Mohawks and Habitants. The British accepted their surrender but the dice decided that the Mohawks and Habitants were not so inclined. The resulting massacre ,no doubt, handed the Americans a useful propaganda victory.


We played the game using Andy Callan’s Loose Files and American Scramble rules with a few modifications, reducing the scale to one base of 3 miniatures representing 10 men and 1 inch representing 10 paces. On victory points the Americans won as they had successfully kept the supplies out of enemy hands despite fairly high casualties. Although the British had failed to re-capture the supplies before their destruction, they had reason to feel pleased with the result. They had managed to drive off the Americans and inflict serious casualties without loosing a single man.






By smacdowall, Mar 6 2019 02:04PM

My latest troops off the painting table are a bit of a departure from the norm.


This because I am running a small game based on the American invasion of Canada in 1775. A key unit in the defence of Canada was the Royal Highland Emigrants, later 84th Foot, raised from veteran Scots of the French and Indian War who had settled in Quebec. A second battalion was raised in Nova Scotia.


My AWI troops are 1/72 scale plastics
My AWI troops are 1/72 scale plastics

My AWI collection is all 1/72 plastics — a mix of Airfix and Revell. I am rather fond of them and have no desire to replace them with more modern metal miniatures, despite the excellent ranges now available. Raising a highland unit from plastics would, however, take more difficult conversion work that I was inclined to undertake.



Irregular Miniatures 20mm AWI Scots
Irregular Miniatures 20mm AWI Scots

So I looked to see if there were some metal figures that might fit in with my plastics. With some trepidation I ordered a small number of 20mm Irregular Miniatures’ Scots. My trepidation was down to the fact that some Irregular castings are, well, somewhat irregular. I was reassured by the fact that the website says this range has been designed to fit with the plastic figures currently available, and the photos (above) looked OK.



My unit painted and ready for battle
My unit painted and ready for battle

I was more than happy with the result. The miniatures are well cast, with an old school charm — their size and proportions indeed fitting well with 1/72 plastics. They were a joy to paint and I think the final result gave me just what I was looking for.


Royal Highland Emigrants 1775 uniform
Royal Highland Emigrants 1775 uniform

The 1775 uniform of the Royal Highland Emigrants was a typical loyalist green coat. It is likely that they did not yet have Scottish distinctions but I wanted my unit to stand out from other loyalist troops — hence choosing figures with Scottish bonnets.



The original regimental colours
The original regimental colours

I based the unit’s flag on an original held in the Fort Ticonderoga museum. Judging by the writing on the flag, it may be at this time the regiment was known as the Royal Emigrants rather than the Royal Highland Emigrants. On the other-hand this may have been nothing more than limitations of space.



My painted version of the colours
My painted version of the colours

I copied the original photo into my computer, added a copy for the reverse side, scaled it to fit, printed it and then painted it over. I find over-painting a printed flag looks so much better. Otherwise it looks too much like what it is — a computer print out — rather than colours that blend with the painted miniatures.


By 1778 the Regiment was in full highland dress
By 1778 the Regiment was in full highland dress

Later the Royal Highland Emigrants were kitted out in full highland dress with red coats and government tartan kilts, as shown in the above contemporary print from 1778.






By smacdowall, Jan 29 2019 10:15AM

In 1777 General Johnny Burgoyne led the Royal army south from Canada to clear the American rebels from upper New York.



The British camp on the Hudson
The British camp on the Hudson

In present day Suffolk I am playing Burgoyne with a small but perfectly formed force of British, Brunswickers and Mohawks that is encamped on the Hudson River together with guns, baggage and camp followers. I am told by our kindly umpire that I need to break through the rebel lines to find a way through to Albany. Intelligence from loyalists tell me that the rebels are strongly emplaced, especially along the one road. I therefore need to find a way around the American flank.



Our Mohawks scout the forest
Our Mohawks scout the forest

Our plan is to probe forward on our right to find a weak spot where we might break through. To this end Simon Fraser with Mohawks and light infantry, backed up by the 24th Foot, push out on the right, The Brunswickers, their advance led by Jaegers, will do the same in the centre while I hold back the grenadiers, most of our guns and a brigade of foot to protect our camp and be ready to intervene if necessary.



British light infantry see off Morgan's riflemen
British light infantry see off Morgan's riflemen

It is not long before Fraser’s men are ambushed by Daniel Morgan’s riflemen and light infantry. A fierce fire-fights ensues but eventually our gallant British light infantry drive them off, our Mohawks not doing very much to help.


The 24th Foot close with the American light infantry...
The 24th Foot close with the American light infantry...


...with disastrous results
...with disastrous results

Encountering an open field the 24th Foot find it lined with rebel foot supported by a battery of guns. Taking casualties from the rebel artillery they decide to charge across the field with disastrous results.



Our Jaegers hold up the rebel right
Our Jaegers hold up the rebel right

To Simon Fraser’s left the Brunswick Jaegers encountered a similar open field and are able to engage the rebels on the other side with their long range rifles while the American muskets cannot reach them. A supporting battery of American guns is largely ineffective thanks to counter-battery fire from a well-sighted Hessian battery.



Burgoyne summons the grenadiers
Burgoyne summons the grenadiers

At this point if becomes clear that there are far more rebel troops than we had anticipated. Our only hope of a breakthrough is to concentrate our force on a single point while holding elsewhere. As the Brunswick Jaegers are doing such an excellent job holding the American right, Burgoyne decides to push through on the far right. He sends the British Grenadiers up to replace the decimated 24th foot and shifts the Brunswick foot to reinforce them while the Jaegers hold up the other American Wing.



The British concentrate on the right
The British concentrate on the right

What we do not know is that there is yet another wing of Americans advancing through the woods on their right towards our camp. As our Brusnwickers shift to their right, these previously unseen Americans shift to their left to follow them, pushing our Jaegers back as they advance.



The grenadiers close with the enemy
The grenadiers close with the enemy

Our grenadiers fare far better than the 24th Foot, succeeding in clearing the Americans firm the edge of the open field. The Brunswickers do even better, sweeping battalion after battalion of rebels from the field. It is all going beautifully well until the Brunswickers decide to pursue their fleeing opponents and are shot to pieces as the right wing Americans come up behind them.


The troops from the American right flank manage to halt our potential breakthrough but the result of this is that they do not have sufficient force to take our camp which, as we discover later, had been their objective.



The British drive off the rebel left wing
The British drive off the rebel left wing

Although we players did not know it at the time, we were re-playing the Battle of Bemis Heights (or second Saratoga). The historical battle resulted in Burgoyne’s surrender after the Americans had captured the redoubts defending the British camp. It was the turning point of the American War of Independence.


Our game was a draw. We had failed to break through but we had inflicted heavy losses on the rebels while they had failed to capture the redoubts defending our camp. Who know what would have happened had this been the result in September 1777.


The game was played with Gary Kitching's beautiful 28mm troops using a varient of Andy Callan's Loose Files and American Scramble rules.





By smacdowall, Dec 2 2018 02:00PM

Shortly after the Society of Ancients conference I was back in the 18th century for a re-fight of Guildford Courthouse in the American War of Independence (1781). Gary Kitching put the game on with some beautiful 28mm troops and a most atmospheric table-top.


I played on the British side with a small but perfectly formed force of battle-hardened regulars against hordes of ragged rebels.


The British Advance
The British Advance

One can only admire the fine appearance of our brave men as they advance with confidence and perfect dressing against the rebel position.



The rebels could not be seen
The rebels could not be seen

The trouble was that all we could see in front of us was a fence and woods behind it. We had no idea where the enemy actually were.


Fighting in the woods
Fighting in the woods

We advanced confidently into the woods and it was not long before we began to encounter Virginia and Carolina militia. There were a few surprises, including cavalry and light infantry suddenly appearing on our flanks. For the most part we managed to see off the rebels with relative ease but we took casualties in the process. By the time we cleared the woods, some of our battalions were feeling almost as ragged as the rebels.



The Continentals
The Continentals

As we moved into the open ground to our front we began to see ranks of Continentals drawn up ready to receive us. They even managed some sort of decent military appearance.


At this point I had to leave the field of battle (work interfering). I was glad, later, to read the dispatch from Lord Cornwallis which informed me that although the Continentals managed to see off the 71st Highlanders, a bayonet charge by the Guards settled the issue. It was a close run thing and in many ways the game unfolded in a very similar way to the historical battle.


The rules we used were Andy Callan’s Loose Fire and American Scramble originally published in the first edition of Wargames Illustrated. I recommend them unreservedly. Only a few pages long, they capture the essence and atmosphere of the American War of Independence. The relatively simple mechanisms conceal a depth of subtlety. It is from these rules that I developed my Close Fire and European Order rules for the War of Spanish Succession.




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