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.

 

Loose, Idle Persons

‘ the generallity of those who are to be Enlisted, are of those loose, Idle Persons that are quite destitute of House, and Home, and I may truely say many of them of Cloaths’
– George Washington describes his regiment.

PROVIDENTIAE MEMOR

The Virginia Regiment was one of several British regiments raised in the colonies.

This company is led, in the absence of the sadly anaemic Captain Bland, by Lieutenant Launderville, rumoured to be the bastard offspring of the late Justice of Westmorland County Court. Like his better-known, higher ranking and legitimate half-brother, he has a scarcely justifiable reputation for integrity and has invested heavily in the Ohio Company.

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Lieutenant Launderville

Launderville has two officers beneath him, the rather intemperate Lieutenant Nutter and, at the very bottom of regimental seniority, young Ensign Bumgardner. Nutter and Bumgardner are from the lower reaches of polite Virginian society, but are gentlemen nonetheless.

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Lieut. Nutter and Ensign Bumgardner

The company has four sergeants. Fear is well known to all the soldiers in the regiment and his old red coat proves his long service in the ranks. Forcam is foul-mouthed but much liked. The Irishman, O’Rear delights in proclaiming he is the man who put the gin in Virginia. Sergeant Toombs is a grave fellow.

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The Sergeants Four

Drummer Akin can beat the Retreat as well as any man in the army, as Colonel Washington delights in recounting.

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Akin, Drumm.

While about half the men have smart new blue jackets and white-laced hats, some of the rest are still clad in their worn out old red coats and a substantial number have scarcely an item of military dress to mark them out as soldiers. While things are not quite as bad as in 1754, when Washington wrote ‘they are now Naked, and cannot get credit even for Hatts’, overall they have an unprepossessing appearance. Desertions and sickness have reduced the ranks well below their theoretical number.

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Skirmishers Out
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Virginian Line
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More Viriginian Line
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Yet More Virginian Line

In Sharp Practice terms the force comprises 73 points:

  • Leader Status II (Lieutenant Launderville)
  • Leader Status II (Lieutenant Nutter)
  • Leader Status II (Ensign Bumgardner)
  • Leader Status I (Sergeant Fear)
  • Leader Status I (Sergeant Forcam)
  • Leader Status I (Sergeant O’Rear)
  • Leader Status I (Sergeant Toombs)
  • A Musician (Drummer Akin)
  • Six Groups of 8 Provincial Regiment of Foot Line
  • Three Groups of 6 Provincial Regiment of Foot Skirmishers

The figures are by from the excellent Galloping Major, bar three which are from Redoubt Enterprises and three from Perry Miniatures.