Unbridled Savagery Part Two

This follows on from Unbridled Savagery Part One.

After a small, and unwanted, post-midnight adventure involving key safes, I managed to get into my lodgings and sleep. Next morning I got up, had an unexpected and rather unwelcome cold shower, wandered into town, ate a decent breakfast and then headed into the sunshine towards B.I.G. I had another small and unwanted adventure, this time smart-phone inspired, on the way, which prolonged the walk by about half an hour. But it was a nice morning and I ended up at the venue in good enough order. On a side note, Bristol is peculiarly American-feeling with lots of social venues like the Bocabar bar (and indeed B.I.G) having taken over units in industrial sites. So this wasn’t as surreal as it might otherwise have been:

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Not Surreal At All

The first game of the day was A Walk in the Woods. The British had to escort Mynheer Sterngange to safety, which would mean crossing the length of the table. This was a tall enough order but as they had been badly mauled the day before, the table was set to be very unfavourable for them, though I think that it was not immediately obvious to the players that this was so.

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The Right Of The Table.

The left hand side of the table (from the British perspective) was unattractive – woods, swamp and a tributary stream to cross from their Deployment Point. The right hand side of the stream, by contrast, offered easier deployment and rapid passage towards the farm.

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French Scouts

Ian, commanding the French, played a very cagey game, refusing to deploy anything but a single unit of Milice for many turns, much to the frustration of his co-player, Dee, who was eager to get stuck in. It was fascinating to me that Ian, playing only his third game, had grasped so quickly the sense in making the enemy commit before himself committing. Of course the danger was he might delay too long, but he remained quietly confident behind his beard.

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The British Advance

Lieutenant Mill seemed to have got lost in the woods but Murray pressed on with his half of the highlanders and led by the rangers. Captain Cutlass and his Mohawks chose to move across to the other flank, but were first delayed by an unexpectedly deep river, and shortly afterwards, and ironically, by becoming parched by thirst.

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Opening Shots
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Mill Arrives
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Save Us!

The rangers’ shooting temporarily chased the Milice from the hill above the cabin, from which two women emerged, begging piteously to be saved from the lecherous and garlic-reeking French. Sergeant Warner was not immediately inclined to offer succour, but after some discussion, more piteous begging and some shots from the returning Milice, he sent them back to Murray so he could decide what must be done.

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The Milice Return Fire
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The Highlanders Press On

The highlanders deploy into line and the Huron appear from the woods to fire into Mill’s men.

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Ambuscade!

Rob and Ben, commanding the British in their first ever games had done pretty well to this point, coming up with probably the best plan available. Now, however, they became painfully aware of how the terrain was going to constrict their options – there simply was not enough room for the highland lines to maintain formation and advance.

Veteran Lardy, Matt Slade of Glenbrook Games, who offers a top-quality painting service (and whose wife, Debs, runs Saddle-Goose Designs, making the world’s best chip/dice bags) had turned up shortly before this. I’d met him at the WorLard Gaming Day earlier this year, and availed myself of his services, getting some rather nice Peninsula riflemen painted by him. He was able to offer some sage advice regarding wheeling of lines.

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Mill Wheels

Mill wheeled to engage the Huron, the rangers drove the Milice from the hill and occupied it, and Murray attempted an advance, but his line foundered trying to cross the fence into the pumpkin field and got seriously bogged down. More Milice arrived to reinforce the French left, but the British were still looking to be doing fairly well.

 

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Captain Cutlass, Somewhat Thirsty, Runs To Engage
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Overbold Rangers
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Murray Struggles Through The Pumpkins
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The Compagnies Franches Volley

A devastatingly effective volley from Clouzeau’s Compagnies Franches de la Marine scythes down a swathe of Mill’s highlanders.

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Mohawk Hunt Huron In The Woods
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On The Brink

With enemies all around, the highlanders hold grimly on until a shot from Capitaine Terieur, who has wiped out the rangers with superior numbers, brings down Mynheer Sterngange. This shot ends the game, rendering a somewhat unlikely British victory impossible.

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Sterngange Killed

Ian’s tactic of delaying his deployment until the highlanders were in the worst position, constrained between river and farm, paid off in spades.

The final game of the weekend was Full Frontal, a straightforward meeting engagement, although again down the length of the table, played between Rob (French) and Alex.

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The British Deploy
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Milice And Huron Forge Up The Flank
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Enter The Compagnie Franches
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Piper M’Intyre Is Shot!
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French and Huron In Action
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Fighting Across The River
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Close Range Volley
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Highland Charge!

Unfortunately this game ran a bit short of time, but it was enjoyable nonetheless as Murray’s highlanders, enraged by Milice sharpshooters picking off not only their piper but the highly regarded Sergeant Watson, launched a classic highland charge with a sharp volley followed by a wild rush into the woods with broadswords swinging, against which the Milice could not stand.

I really enjoyed running these games. Some of my thoughts on the game were confirmed:

New players get the idea quickly and readily buy into the spirit of the game. However certain mechanics are hard to immediately grasp, especially the distinction between a leader activating and having a certain number of Command Initiatives and a unit activating (via CIs or otherwise) and having two Actions (plus possibly a bonus movement). Most players seem to take a full game at least to get the differences straight.

Three and a half hours seems to be a good timespan for an introductory game involving more than one new payer. Three hours is certainly possible but requires briskness and less chatting.

Everyone who plays the game really likes it.

Umpired games are enhanced by introducing special random events and encounters, allowing the players to interact with ‘NPCs’ as if in a role-playing game (at least to a degree).

The game probably begins to ‘break’ with more than 16 leaders in total and more than four command cards per side has some undesirable consequences. 10-14 leaders in total would seem to be ‘optimal’ in terms of promoting player involvement and enjoyment.

There is a huge appetite for this kind of game outside the usual club/event circuit. Open gaming venues are not just about fantasy and science fiction games.

As I said in part one, Bristol Independent Gaming is a fantastic venue and offers a great gaming experience. If you are in the Bristol area, it’s well worth a look, with Peninsular War Sharp Practice now set to be a staple for many of the regulars.

 

 

 

 

Unbridled Savagery Part One

Which it was another French and Indian War Extravaganza, using the most excellent Sharp Practice 2 rules from TooFATLardies, at Bristol Independent Gaming in Bristol. B.I.G. is undoubtedly one of Britain’s best open gaming venues, with several gaming rooms, plenty of available tables and terrain, a nice wee shop and a really friendly and helpful owner. A day’s gaming is very cheap and Jim has a facility which is very reminiscent of the old Firestorm Games in Cardiff – less polished than the current Firestorm, but with perhaps more charm.

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The Main Gaming Hall at B.I.G.

Note that there is a boxing ring to help resolve any rules disputes, surely something that every venue should possess.

When I had run A Scalping Party, my first trial at running multi-player games based in my Saindoux Valley campaign, I had taken the precaution of inviting almost exclusively people who were known to me, and had included a few players with a fair amount of experience with the game. This had allowed quite an ambitious day with several games running in parallel, individual victory conditions for each player and other things that I feel add a lot to the day but do need some certainty as to who will turn up and when.

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A Scalping Party Underway

At Bristol, although I had met several of the people who would attend, I only really knew one of them at all well and I knew it was only Dee who would have had any experience of the game. So I decided to run just the one game at a time but to have forces that could be divided easily into three distinct commands, allowing up to six players at any one time.

Also, Unbridled Savagery was to run over both days of the weekend, so I planned for four games. In the end because of chatting, the players being almost totally inexperienced, and the general sociability, we didn’t complete the fourth.

The first game was between Ian and Dee. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this game but the British had been charged with rescuing some settlers and the French with capturing the families. In the event, neither was really successful, the French got no captives but only the women and children escaped the burning cabin into British hands.

Next was was I’ll Be A Dutchman. This was fought between Ian and Jim (British) and Dee and Alex (French).

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The Scene, Set

The 42nd Foot, accompanies by some of Gorham’s Rangers and Mohawk allies had to bring Mynheer Sterngange of the Dutch West India Company to a place of safety. Sterngange was standing placidly by the cabin, puffing on his pipe.

The British could enter either by canoes from the Secondary Deployment Point which, unsurprisingly, featured a canoe or marching on from their Primary Deployment Point on the right of the above photo. The French, a mix of Compagnie Franches de la Marine, Milice Canadienne and Huron warriors could deploy from their respective Deployment Points on the top, bottom and left table edges. The British got one complete turn to deploy before the French players could do anything. This helped offset the fact they had to reach Sterngange and then get him back all the way across the river to their Primary Deployment Point.

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An Opposite View
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Highlanders Ashore

The British deployed Captain Murray, 42nd Foot with half of his highlanders and Sergeant Ichabod Warner’s rangers. With the possibility of being flanked on both sides, Murray’s plan was to send the fleet-footed rangers to fetch Sterngange while he and Reid used the steady regulars to cover the retreat.

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Lieutenant Clouzeau Arrives With His Compagnie Franches De La Marine
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Lt. Mill Brings His Men Ashore Under Fire
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Capitaine Alain Terieur Of the Milice Canadienne Springs An Ambuscade
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The Huron Attack
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Enseigne Laroux Threatens The British Line Of Retreat
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Murray Faces About As The Battle Rages

Up to this point, the British were doing reasonably well. Sterngange had agreed to accompany the rangers, despite the language barrier and although the highlanders were suffering somewhat from the incoming fire of the French, they had taken no serious losses. Encouragingly also, Captain Cutlass, that doughy Mohawk chief, had charged across the river and driven Terieur’s men back with some loss. The prelude to this assault caused much amusement. Terieur’s men had been at the top of the small rise, firing into the highlanders. Cutlass charged using three dice for movement. The first was a 6, allowing him to cross the 4″ river and leaving two dice to travel under four inches into contact. Needless to say, the total rolled was 3, leaving the Mohawk just short of their target, their wet moccasins slithering on the slope. However next turn, their chit came up before Terieur’s and they completed the charge into the flank of the skirmishers.

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The Mohawk Drive Terieur Back

This heralded the most intense series of Fisticuffs I have ever seen in a game of Sharp Practice. A conservative estimate from memory puts the total number of bouts at at more than half a dozen as the rangers were charged twice by the Huron, the Mohawk charged Terieur again and the Huron went on to assault the highlanders several times.

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Caught At The River

The rangers had fallen back from an initial bout of fisticuffs with the Huron, in which Sterngange was wounded, and had then retreated behind the highlanders. But in an audacious move, the Huron charged through the swamp, catching the rangers in the rear. Sterngange, Sergeant Warner and the sole remaining ranger managed to escape across the river but were pursued by the Huron.

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Mill Retreats

An surprisingly devastating volley from the Compagnies Franches de la Marine killed several highlanders, and it was high time for Mill and his rearguard to retire.

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The Mohawk Charge Again

Captain Cutlass pursued his murderous feud with the Canadians, leading his braves forward again and this time sending the two survivors, including the wounded Terieur, fleeing deep into the woods.

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Terieur Departs
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Huron And Highlanders At Grips

Lt. Mill’s men had been savaged by constant firing to their front and flanks and their line broken. Sensing victory, more Huron charged from the woods, catching a group in the flank and sending them flying back across the river. Mill’s command had ceased to be a viable fighting force but their sacrifice had allowed Sterngange to reach Murray (who as an ex-officer of the Saxon Guards could speak fluent German and so could inform the Dutchman of his mission).

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Huron Victory
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Mill’s Remnant

At this point, British morale was broken. The French could count a victory but it was not an utter disaster for the British as there was still a fair body of men left under Captain Murray to escort Sterngange from  the field, with too few French – a mere half dozen of the Milice, to prevent their quitting the field.

This had been quite a long game, taking us into the early evening, but the Bristol lads are a hospitable bunch so we went to the Bocabar bar for some much needed refreshment and a rather nice pizza (it was so nice I went back the next evening for more). It’s fair to say that the Bocabar is probably not a traditional Lardies type of venue, but I really liked it and despite its hipster appearances, it does nice beer and probably some sort of cooking lager.

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Bocabar

To be continued in Unbridled Savagery Part Two

A Scalping Party

Which it was a French and Indian War Extravaganza using the absolutely superb Sharp Practice 2 rules from TooFATLardies at the Sanctuary Gaming Centre in Sutton-in-Ashfield, a great venue with plenty of space and a really laid back, unobtrusive but very helpful owner. A day’s gaming is dirt cheap – even a Yorkshireman could not quibble with the price – and Richard will even open up early if you ask him.

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Sanctuary Gaming Centre

Because this was the first Sharp Practice day of any size that I’d run, I decided to run it as an invitational event rather than throwing the doors open to all and sundry. This had the advantage that I knew everyone attending and they would be forgiving of any dreadful cock-ups, but the downside that only two of them had any substantial experience (i.e. more than three games . . .) of Sharp Practice, and three had never played it at all. However the enthusiasm of a certain Jim from Glasgow for the concept, and the fact he was prepared not only to bring a full force but also livestock, civilians, rabbits (I kid ye not), buildings and an amazing objective/Deployment Point, led me to extend an invite to him upon request. And I was very happy that I did because it provided another experienced player. And this . . .

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Lieut. Kennedy, Captured

Clearly anyone prepared to make something like that had to be included.

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Inside Sanctuary And Underway

My original plan was for three games but my experience at the WorLard Gaming Day 2017 and the impromtu  Sharp Practice day at Grange-over-Sands (covered by Lardy Rich in this post, which also covers the Durham day)  convinced me that two games would allow a more enjoyable day with less pressure on time. I’m glad to say that this decision was more than vindicated. Three and a half hours per game allows a comfortable amount of time to either get a definite result, or so close to one that who’s got the upper hand is obvious, and allows some chat amongst the players.

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Old Man Rivers’ Farm – The Setting For Little Beaver Hunt

With nine players, three of whom had never played a game and only three with any real experience of the system, I decided to have the first games as 3 vs 2 and 2 vs 2, then the second games as 2 vs 1. This seemed to work fine, and allowed me to place at least one experienced player in every game. Sharp Practice, being a game that really is narrative-driven, and (at least partly) a character-driven focus also – which very few other wargames do, whatever their pretensions – the social nature of such a game makes 2-3 players per side something that probably enhances the overall experience to an unusual degree. It also allowed me to give players on the same ‘team’ different objectives to accomplish, some of which would  not necessarily be for the good of everyone on their side.

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The Fort At Number Four – Sing Tow-Row-Row!

My initial player pack underwent fairly significant revision with respect to victory conditions for each player and who would command what. This was my master document from which I compiled a player sheet like this example for each player. That way everyone knew what missions they’d be playing, how to win, and what leaders and units they’d be commanding. Players could say what they liked about their victory conditions but weren’t allowed to let anyone else look at their sheet.

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Burning Passion – Kennedy’s Mohawk Blood Brothers Attempt Rescue

The five games were:

  1. Going Down in the Woods/Little Beaver Hunt – while the British hasten to defend an outlying farm, the Huron search for the missing son of their chief.
  2. Exposing Young Fanny/Grab Fanny – the French attempt to secure a British ammunition convoy, which also contains the lovely daughters of their commander, Colonel Flower.
  3. The Fort at Number Four – The Regiment Languedoc assault the fort. Will relief come in time?
  4. Big Bottom Girls/Raiding Big Bottom – The Virginia Regiment must defend Big Bottom, where the daughters of Colonel Flower have sought refuge, while a mixed force of Compagnie Franches de la Marine and Milice Canadienne look to burn the settlers out.
  5. Sweet Release/Burning Passion – Kennedy of the 44th has been kidnapped. A mixed force of men from the 44th Foot, Dank’s Rangers and Mohawk try to free him from  the clutches of the Huron.
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British and French Fight To A Bloody Standstill – Exposing Young Fanny

I’d an image of each table lurking in my head. I knew the key features and terrain that each needed to have. The fort, provided by Bob Emmerson of Mad Bob Miniatures, proved a little larger than I’d envisaged but fitted just about reasonably into the middle of the table.

The missions were modifications of the ones in the rules and sometimes, like in Game One, the two sides were playing different missions (which in that particular game allowed both to emerge with a Small Victory). In general they seemed to work pretty well, although I made a big mistake in Game Five in not allowing the 44th a Moveable Deployment Point, which left poor Jim very much up against it, and also in Game Four in not delaying British reinforcements for a turn at least.

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Bear Attack!

I had some special random events and also events that had certain triggers – mainly inspired by Lary Rich’s mad potter monk. These included a bear attack, a wandering Huron (who might have grabbed Fanny had be not tripped over a branch), a boy who rescued his horses from a burning barn (but sadly he and his horses met a rather excruciating death impaled on bits of broken fence). I told players on the relevant tables to call me over when they drew a random event, or at Tiffin for the triggered events and then, depending on where the unit that triggered the event was, the special event might be triggered, or a normal random event rolled. Again, this seemed to work pretty well, with players I think unsure whether some thing were inflicted upon them by my malevolence (acting as Fate) or by pre-planned design. I at least found most of them rather amusing.

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The Boy Fell From The Burning Cart

At Old Man Rivers’ farm, the Huron escaped with significant losses but with a captive and , importantly, having rescued Little Beaver. The British could not save the farm from burning, but at least dowsed the flames before it was utterly destroyed and rescued Old Man River and his fair daughter from the clutches of the Huron.

The French and 40th Foot battered each other in a bloody stalemate. The British failing to get the convoy through but the French failing to secure any of the ammunition (or accompanying females).

In the second games, the Virginia Regiment failed to prevent most of Big Bottom being razed, but inflicted some fairly heavy losses on the attacking Milice and Compagnie Franches. However Fanny and Phemie were saved, as were most of the settlers.

Lieutenant Kennedy, 44th Foot seems doomed to meet a fiery end after his comrades were foiled in their attempted rescue by their savage foe.

The Fort at Number Four did not fall to the French. Sing tow-row-row for the British Grenadiers!

Lots of pictures follow, in no special order, I’m afraid. The better ones are by Jim and Sam.

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I had a great day and was really pleased things went as well as they did.

Thanks to:

Bob for bringing the fort and driving all the way from Dorset! Dee for making the trip from Bristol and bringing his usual unbridled enthusiasm. James for bringing his grenadier force, which is very nicely done indeed. Jim for making the trip from Glasgow, for bringing terrain and models and, especially, for the Kennedy diorama. Rich for the nice custom markers and providing some much needed experience in the player-base. Richard, ditto on the experience and for basically running Grab Fanny for me whilst also playing. Roger for bringing Huron and affording me the opportunity of the bear attack. Sam for putting me up, providing more Huron and terrain. Stuart for terrain and a nice snow mat and the Regiment Languedoc. Lastly to Rich from the Sanctuary Gaming Centre for providing such a great venue for so little cost.

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The Grenadiers Secure a British Victory! Huzzah!

On the Edge of Perdition

Can Lieutenant Launderville avenge his recent defeat and save the settlers of Perdition?

After a chastening defeat at the hands of French native allies, Lieut. Launderville, commanding Bland’s company of the Virginia Regiment has managed to get his surviving men to the settlement of Perdition, just in time to see the fort fall to a force of French Milice under the intrepid Capitaine Terieur. Launderville determines to stand and fight on the edge of Perdition. The captured Ensign Bumgardner has been replaced by his brother, a gentleman volunteer in the regiment now temporarily promoted ‘in room of’ his brother.

While his Indian allies skulk deep in the woods, the intrepid Terieur and his band strike out towards the Widow Marrow’s house. The Virginians begin to move forward to the edge of the fields.

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Opening Moves
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Lieut. Nutter’s Men Skirmishing
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Virginian Line

As Terieur’s men begin to close, first blood goes to the Virginians. A scattered volley of shots from the skirmishers sees a Canadian brought down.

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Nutter’s Men

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The Younger Bumgardner Moves Up

Some of the Virginian skirmishers move up to the fence, to be startled by shots from the woods overlooking the farmland.

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The Action Begins

Terieur comes up to add more musket fire against the skirmishers on the fence line, who fall back badly shaken leaving one of their number behind dead. A heavy pall of smoke lingers, shrouding the Canadians in the woods.

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Virginians Fall Back

Lieutenant Launderville arrives to the west of the Widow West’s two-storey cabin. He leads his tight packed column down to Paddle Creek; his intent is to turn the Canadian flank. His arrival sees young Bumgardner take his men over the fence.

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Launderville Arrives

The unspeakable Garennajenhaga, lurking in the woods on the appropriately named Shooter’s Hill, has his warriors begin to shoot at the advancing Virginian line but to little immediate effect.

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Huron Firing

Is history repeating itself? Young Bungardner, thirsting to avenge his brother has urged his men to press on fast. Launderville has once again been slowed more than he expected while crossing a creek and Nutter’s skirmishers are getting the worst of their musket duel.

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The Bigger Picture
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A Closer View

While Launderville exhorts his men to wade faster, Bumgardner turns his men out of line and closes them up, preparing to sweep the woods clear of the Canadians. His men are thrown into some disorder by Huron fire from Shooter’s Hill, but Bumgardner brings them back into line with a precision that would do credit to regular troops. Their volley creates some confusion amongst the Canadians holding Woody Hill (an imaginative lot, the folk of Perdition), but no real harm.

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Bumgardner Forms Column
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Back Into Line

The Canadian shooting drops more of Nutter’s skirmishers and wounding that officer whose men are becoming ineffective, a situation not helped by the incapacitation of Sergeant Fear. When Nutter is hit a second time, only the newly promoted Sergeant Knott is holding the skirmishers together.

Launderville is across the creek now and forging on towards the Huron on Shooter’s hill, whose fire is proving thus far a mere irritation to his men who he brings into line just as smartly as Bumgardner.

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Column
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Line

Seeing his men begin to falter under fire from the Canadians to the front and Huron to their rear on Shooter’s Hill, Bumgardner asks for three cheers for good King George, God bless him. His men respond lustily, and their next volley is shatteringly effective, killing five of the dozen or so Canadians with Terieur and Enseigne Laroux on Woody Hill. Laroux draws his men deeper into the woods, away from the galling fire.

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Bumgardner Attacks!
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Huzzah, Boys!

But Bumgardner’s men are unwilling to press on; the fire from Shooter’s Hill is still unsettling them and they fall into confusion. Neither Bumgardner nor the stalwart Sergeant O’Rear can restore order. Terieur takes advantage of their irresolution to send his own men forwards to administer the coup de grace to Nutter’s rapidly fading skirmish line. Only the faithful Sergeant Fear stands his ground over the badly wounded Nutter’s prostrate form, everyone else dead or fled except Sergeant Knott who is retiring with his two remaining men.

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Finish
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Facing Defeat

Once again, Launderville has been defeated by inferior numbers and Perdition will be plundered and burnt by the French and their native allies.

 

 

Virginian Sacrifice

Bland’s Company of the Virginia Regiment, newly arrived in the Devil’s Kitchen, have been ordered to escort Meneer Sterkgange, a representative of the Dutch West Indies Company, to Fort Perdition. At least Lieutenant Launderville presumed that his colonel’s utterance, ‘God be pleased but that damn’d Frog and his foul pipe be taken swiftly to Perdition!’ constituted orders to take the gentleman to the fort of that name (the reader will recollect that until the late 1700s it was Dutchmen who were known to the English as ‘frogs’) .

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Meneer Sterkgange Takes A Puff

Launderville intends to skirt the right bank of Sulphur Creek with the bulk of his force, half under his own command and half under Ensign Bumgardner, who is entrusted with the care of ‘Frog’ Sterkgange. Meanwhile Lieutenant Nutter and Sergeant Fear are skirmishing across the stream to flush out any potential ambush and Sergeant Forcam leads more skirmishers into the small wood atop Horny Hill to cover the open right flank.

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Onward Virginia!

Sergeant Fear’s bold foray towards the woods has upset the cunning plans of the unspeakable Khionontatehronons whose fiendish aim is to seize the strong tobacco of Sterkgange for his own, letting his warriors content themselves with scalps, clothing, weapons, etc. With a cry of fury, he opens the fight. A dozen of his braves fire from the woods upon the hapless Forcam and his men, who, finding Horney Hill clear of foes, have descended to Sulphur Creek. Private Branch will live no more to carry on his family’s tree and Forcam himself is hit in the left buttock, a fact made known to all in the vicinity in no uncertain terms by the man himself, with an ample selection from his extraordinary repertoire of oaths.

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The Unspeakable Khionontatehronons Attacks!
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Forcam Under Fire

Forcam, hopping switly and cursing all the while, leads his men smartly back into the wood atop Horney Hill.

The twin colums of Virginian line advance and Khionontatehronons decides to risk advancing some of his men from the woods to fire on Bumgardner’s men while Khionontatehronons himself leads more warriors against Sergeant Fear. The natives must have been swindled in their latest trade for powder as all their shots result in nothing but noise and smoke. Fear falls back to align himself with the advancing Nutter who has gained the woods atop the little ridge that overlooks Neck Woods.

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Ineffectual Firing
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More Ineffectual Firing
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Fear Falls Back
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Garennajenhaga Across The Creek

Garennajenhaga, Khionontatehronons’ right-hand man strikes out across Sulphur Creek to try to take the provincials in the flank. Nutter and Fear get their men fighting in Indian style, dropping back through the trees to reload after firing.

The main body of provincials press on. Launderville takes his column down to ford the creek, which they begin in splendid, splashing style, while Bumgardner presses on.

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Forwards Virginia!
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Sterkgange Still Puffing
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A Native Up The Creek

Khionontatehronons is becoming annoyed by Nutter’s skirmishers and when two of his warriors are killed by the hitherto ineffectual sniping from the ridge, he launches a charge with a whoop. Half the men he has ordered forward are too preoccupied with shooting at Bumgardner to react quickly enough and so Khionontatehronons is outnumbered by Nutter’s little band. The fight is short but furious. Both Nutter and the unspeakable Khionontatehronons are wounded and the unquenchable vigour of the natives sends Nutter and the two of his men who retain their scalps reeling for the shelter of the far bank of Sulphur Creek. They have given a good account of themselves though as three more braves lie stark amongst the trees.

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Close Combat
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The Victors

Sergeant Fear’s men take their first casualty and  begin to shrink from the fire of the warriors facing them. Fear shepherd’s them back across the creek, the mocking calls of the natives ringing in their ears.

Bumgardner has advanced quite rapidly, despite harassing fire and now shakes his men out into line. The young ensign has widely separated groups of warriors to his front, and another over the creek to his left flank but he is counting on Lieutenant Launderville to deal with the latter.

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Bumgardner’s Column
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Bumgardner’s Line
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What About Them Crossing The River?
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Bumgardner Under Fire

Some rapid if none too accurate firing from Khionontatehronons and the young warrior accompanying him is too much for the already shattered nerves of Lieutenant Nutter’s men. Despite the officer’s exhortations the pair take to their heels, Nutter chasing after them damning them for vile dogs (because as every British officer knows, vilifying an already frightened man is the best way to restore his self-esteem and get him back in the fight).

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Nutter’s Remnant Flees
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Trying To Send Fear Packing

Sergeant Fear isn’t doing much better but he’s falling back slowly with his men just about in hand and getting off some shots in the general direction of the enemy.

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Bumgardner Holds!

It is a sad fact that while Ensign Bumgardner brought his men into line beautifully, their now have no targets, the pesky foes having slipped off to the flanks. The injured Sergeant Forcam can do little more than curse his sore buttock, though his men have at least managed to account for one of Garennajenhaga’s warriors.

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Bumgardener’s Line Recoils

Where is Launderville? His men have encountered muddy ground on the far side of the creek and are slithering about in their sodden shoes. Progress is slow and Launderville has dithered too long dressing his ranks. Young Bumgardner is perilously exposed and the men’s morale begins to crack. They give ground nervously, eyeing the warriors to flanks and front.

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Drawing A Bead
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Bumgardner’s Line Recoils Again!

The fire is becoming deadly accurate and feeling themselves isolated and with ever-thinning ranks, the retreat seems inexorable.

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Come On Boys!

Lieutenant Launderville realises that if he can drive the Huron from the woods in front of him, and kill the unspeakable Khionontatehronons into the bargain, the day may yet be saved. He leads his men forward, but their charge is rendered farcical by the men’s continued slithering and Launderville’s attempts to keep them in ranks.

Meanwhile, Garennajenhaga sees his opportunity to prove himself as mighty, perhaps mightier than the unspeakable Khionontatehronons. He leads his small band of brave hearts against the flank of Bumgardner’s line.

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Flank Attack!

It is a massacre. A third of Bumgardner’s men are cut down before they can react or are tomahawked while begging for mercy. Only the ensign himself and Menheer Sterkgange are taken captive. A handful of men have stuck with Sergeant O’Rear, who helps himself to a stiff nip of gin from his water bottle and ushers his little group back to what might be safety.

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Captured!

But can Launderville still salvage some honour from the wreck?

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Too Slow!

Alas, Launderville proves too slow. With provincial morale shattered, who can save the day?

But wait! From the woods atop Horney Hill comes a foul oath! Down hops sergeant Forcam, cursing vilely, trailing blood from  his injured buttock. Down with him come his small band of stout hearts to fall upon Garennajenhaga’s savages while they are at their gruesome scalpings.

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Also Too Slow!

Alas again. A man may hop of his left foot only so fast, and Forcam’s oaths alerted Garennajenhaga whose warriors fire and charge. It is a bitter end. Brave Forcam joins the list of captives and only one of his men manages to escape the scalping knives and run.

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Finish

A bad day for Virginia.

 

Firing Brimstone

A series of unfortunate encounters with Captain Murray’s 42nd Highlanders has resulted in the overall commander of French Forces in Saindoux, Lt. Colonel Grenouille committing his own men of the Regiment Languedoc to the fighting. The splendidly dressed Capitaine  Hubert Taffin de Givenchy has orders to fire Brimstone, a small settlement that lies near the rather pungent marsh known locally as Skunk Bottom. Will the true professionals of La Belle France show that they are not merely the best dressed soldiers in Saindoux but the most formidable? Or will Murray prove them to be as ridiculous as their grenadiers’ moustaches? Read on . . .

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Sergent Bacon Leads the Way

De Givenchy sent his Huron ahead into the forest, hoping they would threaten the flank of any British advance. The Fusiliers had begun to straggle a bit in the thickly wooded approaches to Brimstone and it was Sergent Bacon’s advance guard who first arrived.

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The 42nd March On

Captain Cutlass, Murray’s Mohawk ally, has brought word of de Givenchy’s approach and Murray has hastened to Brimstone with the men he has immediately available, leaving his able subordinate, Davey Mill, to muster the rest and follow as quickly as he may. Doubtless the sound of the pipes and drum filled the hearts of the Widow Goodbody and her neighbours with hope.

Murray shakes his men into line. Cutlass and his rather rank-smelling comrades emerge from Skunk’s Bottom, where they had been lurking, and form to protect his right. De Givenchy arrives with the rest of his fusiliers and begins to organise them. The Huron move up towards Murray through the woods.

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The Highland View
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Trading Shots With Trade Muskets

The Mohawk and Huron trade shots. Cutlass’ men quickly lose heart and withdraw at some speed to the rear.

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The French Fusiliers Form Line

Meanwhile, de Givenchy forms a line looking towards the Widow Goodbody’s house. Murray moves up adjacent to the Widow Fokker’s cabin.

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The Fight Begins

The Huron shoot into Murray’s line from the woods, dropping one man. Murray fires his first volley into De Givenchy’s line but the powder proves of poor quality. Vast clouds of smoke and no real impact is the result.

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Murray Opens Fire
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The Huron Kill More Highlanders

Cardin’s grenadiers, who have been delayed by the need to wax their moustaches, arrive. Their volley produces as much smoke as Murray’s and is as ineffective.

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Les Grenadiers Arrivent!

De Givenchy focuses on his orders to search and burn the settler’s cabins, counting on the highlanders’ poor powder and the range to keep his line safe.

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Showing his fine contempt for both French and Huron, Murray holds his ground. De Givenchy sends Enseigne Lacroix with some fusiliers to ransack the Widow Goodbody’s house. Murray is struck and winded by a spent ball but the chaplian is quick to assist him back onto his feet.

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Outnumbered!

Mill and Cutlass, who has rallied his shaken men and returned to the fight, fire, inflicting casualties on the Huron.

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Mill Volleys
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Hurra!

Cardin’s grenadiers finally get into their stride and the pace of their volleys picks up.

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Cardin’s View

The Huron fall back to regroup and recover.

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Run Away!

While Murray advances into the smoke, Cutlass leads his braves forward once more and Mill gets ready to move up in support.

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Huron Continue to Snipe
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Mill’s View
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Rester En Ligne!

De Givenchy’s men are struggling to hold in the face of mounting casualties and shock.

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Merde!

In his enthusiasm to get his grenadiers firing to a peak of efficiency, Cardin strays too close to one of his men’s bayonets, to the detriment of both his natty breeches and posterior.

Murray advances his line out of the smoke. A couple of brisk close-range volleys break De Givenchy’s line.

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De Givenchy’s Line Crumbles

Murray consolidates his own thinning line and fires a final, crunching volley that sees the French fusiliers off.

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The Final Volley
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Time For A Sharp-Dressed Exit

Once again the Highlanders triumph. However Lacroix did ransack and set light to the Widow Goodbody’s house, and the Widow Fokker’s house mysteriously caught fire towards the end of the action, curiously just after Cutlass’ Mohawks passed by. The Huron lost half their warriors, having tarried too long in the face of volleys from Mill’s detachment.

The French View:

The Huron war parties led by Quatoghees and Pemedeniek did well initially but proved unreliable. They used the position in the woods to heap fire on the hated Mohawk scouts and then later the advancing British; however this proved their undoing as several rounds of accurate return fire from the Scots reinforcements took its toll sending the lurking war parties into retreat. The Huron were the biggest losers of the battle, thoroughly bloodied with little to show for their losses.

Under the hand of Lieutenant Cardin the wily old hands in the Grenadiers had a better time of it on the field and almost ran out of powder firing volleys into the British troops. Although at times accurate and dangerous it had little overall effect on the outcome of the battle. In his effort to exhort his Grenadiers, the Lieutenant was badly injured as confused by the huge banks of powder smoke he was caught by a friendly ball and was lucky not to be killed outright.

Led by Capitaine de Givenchy and ably supported by Enseigne Lacroix and Sergent Bacon the men of the 2nd battalion advanced well initially, with good supporting fire from the Grenadiers and Huron in the woods hindering the advance of the British on their flank as the heavy clouds of smoke obscured much of the battle field. Lacroix and his men were delighted to advance into the relative safety of the settlers cabin to search it as per orders,.

Meanwhile with the Huron in retreat and supported by the regrouped Mohawk, the British continued to give accurate fire and the reduced numbers of the French soon fell prey to the combined musketry and were forced to retreat quickly from the field in some disarray.

Overall the French regulars gave as good as they got and showed they are very much a match for the Highlanders and will be dangerous opponents. The real winners of the day had to be the Mohawk. With no casualties taken, the enemy Huron badly hurt, and a score of French and British troops dead, it was suspicious that no sooner had the Mohawk been amply resupplied by the Commissariat that they happened to be nearest a settlers cabin when it mysteriously ‘caught fire’ and burnt to the ground . . . a happy hunting ground indeed for the Keepers of the Eastern Door.

Bringing Fanny to Climax

Will Captain Murray successfully bring Fanny and her sister Phemie to Climax?

After a long time and a lot of effort, the dogged Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot has nearly succeeded in bringing Fanny Flower, and her sister, Phemie, to Climax, a hard to reach settlement on the southern borders of the Saindoux Valley. Little Beaver Creek must be forded, after the forest on its approaches has been negotiated, and Climax will be reached! But while the 42nd have been spending the past days fighting with the Huron in the woods, Lieutenant Clouzeau of the Compagnie Franches de la Marine de Vindail has stolen a march and come to Climax first. The unexpected intrusion of the dastardly Frenchman’s has already given the Widow Gotobed an untimely awakening; will the over-eager French shoot too soon, or will Murray’s Highlanders be taken unawares? Read on . . .

An old campaigner, Murray has a nose for a Frenchman, and who could mistake the garlic reek coming from the Widow Gotobed’s farm? Suspicious, he moves up with the greater part of his men on the east bank of Little Beaver Creek, approaching the fork of the river. Lieutenant Mill, the redoubtable veteran of Flanders has a smaller detachment on the other bank, with Fanny and Phemie in tow, much to his annoyance and Phemie’s evident delight. Fanny casts longing looks across the creek at Murray, who cuts a fine figure marching proudly at the head of his men.

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Mill’s Detachment

News of the capture of the dashing Lieutenant  Quintin Kennedy (recounted here) has reached that officer’s blood-brothers amongst the Mohawk (look, this isn’t far-fetched romantic nonsense, Kennedy really had lived amongst the Mohawk), and a small party of those warriors under a savage known to the British as Captain Cutlass protects Murray’s right flank.

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Captain Cutlass

Save for the steady tramp of highland feet over the leafy forest floor, all is deathly hush. Murray sees the river and the boundary of the Widow Gotobed’s farm beyond. Seeing no Frenchmen, he pushes on fast, ordering both pips and drum to play a rousing tune composed by Captain Reid himself (seriously, Reid was an internationally renowned flautist and composer, look him up if you don’t believe me).

But as the highlanders come clear of the trees, the villain Clouzeau springs his trap! He has hidden his men along the line of the Widow Gotobed’s fence. With typically knavish Gallic cunning, they have lain down and covered themselves with freshly cut grass. Clouzeau leaps up, uttering the immortal words ‘Levez-vous et ayez-les, mes enfants! C’est maintenant votre temps!’

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Clouzeau Springs His Ambuscade

His men rise as one, present and volley at close range – the highlanders a mere stone’s throw across the river. However the cut grass must have made many of the men sneeze as the volley, although startling in its unexpectedness, is less effective than Clouzeau might have hoped. Only three highlanders fall. Clouzeau must trust in his men’s musket-handling and hope Enseigne Maudit and his Huron allies play their parts.

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A Highland Perspective

Davey Mill, trying to ignore the squeals of admiration and dismay coming from Phemie and Fanny respectively, brings his men steadily forward to a position where the can see Clouzeau’s firing line through the trees. Meanwhile the Huron are stealing through the woods towards Captain Cutlass’ Mohawks. The Huron have twice the numbers of their blood-enemies and are behind Murray’s flank. Will Cutlass be able to cut it?

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Les Huron Arrivent

Clouzeau’s line reload and present while, unperturbed, Sergeant M’Andrews dresses the ranks, waiting for Murray to give the order to present and fire, which that officer does after coolly assessing the Frenchmen’s speed of reloading, pausing deliberately to tell Piper M’Intyre to play a tune to make the French hop.

The skirl of the pipes and Murray’s droll humour stiffens the resolve of the highlanders and they bring up their muskets bravely. The volley rings out, the pipes sounding above even that fierce roar! Six Frenchmen fall and Clozeau curses savagely.

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The 42nd’s Reproof to the French

Lieutenant Maudit’s small group of Troupes de la Marine emerge from the swamp where they have been hiding and fire on Captain Cutlass’ Mohawks, killing one warrior.

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Maudit Emerges

The Huron begin to close in, firing without accuracy but unnerving their Iroquois foe.

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Ragged Volleys

Maudit’s men kill another Mohawk and Cutlass gives ground, not liking the odds one bit.

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Maudit Advances

On the other flank, Mill starts his men volleying into Clouzeau’s line, killing two more men. Clouzeau’s reply sees two more of Murray’s men stricken but the highlanders aren’t showing much sign of being cowed by the fire. The Scots have twice as many muskets firing as Clouzeau’s line can now muster and Clouzeau can be heard exhorting, ‘Trois coups d’une minute, pour l’amour de la baise!’.

Murray’s crisp, ‘Reload. Present.’ may focus French minds.

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What Is the French for ‘Three Rounds a Bloody Minute’?

All now hinges on whether Maudit and the Huron can move fast enough to take Murray in the rear because another volley from Murray’s boys has Clouzeau’s line on the verge of faltering. The French Lieutenant’s foul-mouthed exhortations spur his men to remember they are no longer the sweepings of Parisian gutters but proud sons of New France and they manage another, almost despairing volley.

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Huron Behind the Line
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Maudit Approaches the Flank

Just as Clouzeau’s line finally begins to give ground in the face of the determined volleys of the highlanders, Maudit begins to fire into the line’s flank and rear. The Scots hold firm, for the moment.

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Crisis Point

Yet another volley from Murray, who steadfastly ignores the threat to his flank and rear, forces Clouzeau to give more ground; the French Lieutenant’s men are nearly down to half their original strength and on the verge of breaking. Clouzeau takes a ball in the shoulder but somehow manages to conceal the wound from his men.

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Clouzeau’s Retreat

Now though, the tide may be turning. Murray has distained the threat from Maudit and the Huron, but the steady firing into their rear from some of the Huron is demoralising the Scots, who give ground in confusion as Clouzeau somehow holds his men together as they retreat inch by dogged inch across the Widow Gotobed’s fields.

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Murray’s Men Recoil
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Mill’s Perspective

The Widow Gotobed, distracted by the fight she has been watching from her front porch, has burnt her buns, and worse, set her chimney on fire!

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Fire!

Davey Mill saves the day with a well-timed crashing volley that sends half of Clouzeau’s line running and demoralises the rest. Maudit and the Huron fade into the forest and the Highlanders tend their many wounded.

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Flee!

‘A damnably close rubber, but Mill came up trumps.’ – James Murray, Capt. 42nd Foot.