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

Two Sodom Nights, Part I: Damp Squibs

The Sodom Vale was, as the reader will doubtless recall, rather coarsely described by General Braddock as ‘the arse end of Saindoux’. In fact it is a pretty enough bottom to have attracted a number of bolder settlers to the region, that lies within the wider tract of land known as The Devil’s Kitchen. Following his reverse at the hands of the 42nd Foot, Capitaine de Givenchy of the Régiment de Languedoc attempts to force his way to safety through Sodom Rising, a piece of land noted for fast-flowing streams, rather salty marshes and, naturally, many trees. De Givenchy has been reinforced by men of the Milice du Trois Rivieres, having been abandoned by his fickle and possibly treacherous native allies. It is these natural born sons of New France who he trusts to guide him out of danger. Will de Givenchy force a passage, or will his fancy French tactics unravel again? Read on . . .

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Between A Stream and a Boggy Place

Monsieurs Daniel Leroux and Felix Lechat lead the small group of Milice Canadienne who are guiding de Givenchy. They have, however, badly misjudged just how slow the regular troops are across rough-country and de Givenchy’s column has become badly scrunched up on their approach to more open ground across the Brimstone Stream.

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Quelles Grand Moustaches Les Granadiers Ont

The men stumble through the dark forest, urged on by the increasingly worried Lechat and Laroux.

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Water, Water, All Around

As dawn draws nearer, the French look for good crossing spots.

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The Brimstone Stream and Sodom Rising Beyond

The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin is the sole building on Sodom Rising. As her sons have joined the Virginia Regiment, she has wisely decamped to the relative safety of Canaan, where she hopes to find an able-bodied protector.

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Lechat Fords The Stream

With the white-coated regulars still crashing through the woods, the Milice Canadienne scout ahead.

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Traverser Ici

Will the French luck hold?

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The 42nd Arrive

Captain Murray brings forward his men with amazing speed, the highlanders proving as nimble through the trees as across their native heather. Dawn breaks just as Murray reaches the borders of the woods looking out onto the Widow Bumgardener’s land.

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A Maginficent Seven?

Suddenly, Lechat feels rather exposed.

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How Many?

Fortunately for Lechat, Murray’s men are not immediately concerned with his small band.

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Allez!

Meanwhile de Givency urges his men forward through the woods.

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Milice Canadienne

Laroux has identified the best crossing point for de Givenchy’s men. The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin will shelter men from the enemy while they regroup after fording the stream.

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The Situation

Captain Cutlass, Murray’s chief Mohawk scout exchanges fire with Lechat’s milice.

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Captain Cutlass And His Braves

Lechat loses a man and decides to fall back.

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A Poor Exchange Rate

Laroux gets his boys across the Brimstone and finally de Givenchy has his men on the banks.

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Preparing To Cross

Lechat gets back behind the Widow Bumgardener’s fence, which provides at least the illusion of protection, without further loss. The whoops of the Mohawk ring in French ears.

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Tirez!

The first of the Regulars cross the Brimstone.

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En Avant!

Murray leads his men over the boundary Fence. His line now covers the route the French must take to safety.

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Highland Line

Faced with running a gauntlet of fire, and with little prospect of being able to form a decent firing line himself without his men being severely mauled in the process, de Givenchy orders his men to retire. An almost bloodless battle with very little powder expended. But as Maurice de Saxe was fond of telling the young de Givenchy, ‘La discrétion est parfois la meilleure partie de la valeur.’

De Givenchy will find a better time and place.

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.

Raiding Big Bottom

Who will hold Big Bottom?

The British have not been slow to recognise the manifest desirability of Big Bottom’s broad expanse. The fertile valley needs only its forest to be cleared to be ready for ploughing and the sowing of seed. Several pioneers have built their cabins near the fork of Old Bush Creek and the small area of marsh known as Soggy Bottom.

Ouaouackecinatouek, a chief of the Bear Folk Huron, has been moved to avenge the capture of his cousins, Hawhendagerha and Catchawatchecka by the 42nd Highlanders, as described here and here. Ouaouackecinatouek intends to destroy the entire settlement and to kill or capture every man woman and child.

Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot stands ready to defend the settlement. Having whipped the Huron twice before, he looks forward to delivering another sound thrashing at Big Bottom. Will Ouaouackecinatouek be thwarted, or will the unspeakable savage avenge his captured cousins? Read on . . .

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The Scene, Set

The Huron approach from the west, small numbers swimming across the river near the fork, allowing themselves to be seen so as to draw their enemy forward while the bulk  of the warriors are slipping through the forest further north.

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Decoys

Murray keeps his highlanders in the vicinity of Widow Rattlebag’s impressive two-storey cabin and sends Lieut. Kennedy and his 44th Foot skirmishers over the river to scout the woods.

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Not Taking the Bait

Kennedy’s men are quick enough to stop most of the Huron getting across the river into a position where Lieut. Mill’s flank might be threatened.

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Kennedy Scouts the Woods

Kennedy has only a few men and, if he presses on too far, might be in danger of a haircut rather closer than currently fashionable amongst British soldiers.

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Lurking

Lieut. Kennedy loses a man to musket shots and his men send two quick volleys at a small group of Huron, sending the warriors to ground, pinning them down.

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Three Rounds a Minute

The Huron are getting across the river in some numbers.

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Keeping Their Powder Dry

Kennedy falls back in the face of superior numbers, exchanging fire but losing more men.

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Kennedy Under Pressure

Captain Murray has used the time Kennedy has bought him to reform into three platoons, Sergeant M’Andrews in charge of the third with Sergeant Watson to assist him.

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Murray Reorganises

Murray’s own command catches some Huron who are trying to get round his flank with some brisk volleys that drop several braves before they can seek cover.

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Murray’s Volleys Do Great Execution

Has time run out for Quintin Kennedy? The dashing lieutenant is outnumbered and caught with his back to the river. The Huron charge, wielding their tomahawks with relish.

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Fighting to the Last

Kennedy’s men, their ammunition gone, meet the hatchets with musket butt and bayonet but are overwhelmed. Kennedy himself pistols one warrior, tomahawks another and levels a third with the butt of his empty pistol. He is brought down at last by a blow to the head. The Huron, impressed, take the lieutenant captive to burn later.

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Shooting From the Woods
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More Shooting From the Woods

After a slow start, Ouaouackecinatouek’s plan is beginning to work. The bulk of his warriors are now shooting at the highlanders from the woods, protected from a charge by the river. The highlanders must stand in the open and volley at shadows, which it must be admitted they do with reasonable effectiveness. Casualties are taken on both sides.

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Murray Turns to Chase Off Ouaouackecinatouek

Meanwhile, Ouaouackecinatouek himself has led some of his followers round Murray’s other flank and is also inflicting casualties.

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How Is Your Father?

Private Robert M’Gregor (‘Rob Roy? Oh, aye, ah kent his faither.’) has taken it upon himself to guard the Widow Rattlebag in her house.

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Lieutenant Mill’s Men Volley

Despite their advantages of cover, the Huron are getting by far the worse of the fight. Some of them are falling back deeper into the woods, seeking shelter from the relentless volleys of the highlanders.

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Sergeant M’Andrews’ Men Volley

Captain Murray has been nicked on the arm by a musket ball, but it takes more than a flesh wound to worry the redoubtable Scot. A couple of Huron are shooting at his men from their flank but he has shaken his men back into line and his volleys hammer Ouaouackecinatouek.

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Murray’s Men Volley

Sergeant M’Andrews is hit! Watson takes over and keeps the men firing. Enraged at the loss of their popular sergeant, the volley is devastating, killing three Huron; the remaining warriors turn and flee for home.

His men vanishing from the field in increasing numbers, Ouaouackecinatouek decides to cut his losses and call it a day.

Victory to the British!

But the Huron have the consolation of a valuable captive.

British force here. Huron force here.

Finding Phemie

What Became of Euphemia Flower?

When the much-feared Huron war-chief, Hawhendagerha made off with the two lovely daughters of Colonel Flower, 44th Foot (as described here), he reluctantly traded the elder daughter, Fanny, to his French ally, Capitaine Vindail of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine. Fanny’s rescue by the doughty highlanders of the 42nd Foot and the capture of the villain Hawhendagerha by Lieutenant Kennedy of the 44th Foot have been described elsewhere. But the Huron kept hold of Euphemia Flower (Phemie to her more intimate acquaintances) and plan to wed her to their leader, Aghstaghregck, known to the French and British as Le Grand Franc.

Supplanted in Fanny’s affections by the rather dour, but also rather compellingly competent Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot, the dashing Quintin Kennedy hopes that it might be he who will save her younger sister from the unspeakable Aghstaghregck.

Will Quintin succeed? Or will, perhaps, Murray’s right-hand man, that rugged veteran of Flanders, Lieutenant Mill, free Phemie? Read on . . .

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The Stage, Set.

Catchawatchecka, brother of the mighty war-chief Hawhendagerha, is making haste to bring Aghstaghregck his bride. But the chance to indulge in a little arson, rape, robbery and murder, perhaps with some drunkenness, mutilation and torture thrown in if things go especially well, is hard for any red-blooded warrior to resist. And so rather than sensibly skirt the hamlet of Knockemstiff (look it’s a real Ohio place name, okay? I can’t be held responsible for colonial peculiarities of toponomy), he’s decided to give his lads the opportunity for some self-indulgent fun.

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Captive Phemie Dragging Her Heels

Unbeknownst to Catchawatchecka and his soon-to-be-merry men, the intrepid Quintin Kennedy, Lieutenant in the 44th Foot, has been trailing his band and, realising that they must pass Knockemstiff, has alerted Captain Murray and his 42nd Highlanders who aim to spoil Catchawatchecka’s party and free Phemie Flower into the bargain.

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A Perfect Spot For An Ambush

The Huron split into two groups. One under Adyughkannorwn moves into the wooded hill overlooking Knockemstiff. The other under Catchawatchecka, with Phemie in tow, heads for the largest building. Meanwhile the British burst onto the scene. Kennedy and his boys of the 44th are near dying of thirst, having been many hours on the trail, and so are more sluggardly than light bobs are wont. Murray shakes half his men into line and advances on the enemy, taking some stiff fire from the braves in the woods, who fall back deep into the cover of the trees after their initial salvo.

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Murray Gets His Men Ready

Lieutenant Mill brings up the rest of the highlanders in close column, but too slowly for the brisk Murray’s liking.

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Tahaddy’s Group (left by the cabin) Before Murray’s Volley

Irritated by the slowness of his subordinates and infuriated by the sniping from the woods, Murray brings his men into action with a devastating volley that kills five of Tahaddy’s six men and leaves Tahaddy himself wounded.

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The Volley

The two surviving Huron scuttle for shelter behind the loft cabin.

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Tahaddy’s Group After Murray’s Volley . . .

Lieutenant Mill realises that Catchawatchecka is slipping away through the woods, taking with him the fair Phemie. Seeing Kennedy’s men advancing to his right inspires Mill to get a move on and the highlanders begin to outstrip the dehydrated light infantrymen.

However Kennedy’s men are checked by fire from a group of Huron under the Canadian Lieutenant Babel. One redcoat falls. Babel’s dander is up and he leads his warriors forwards in a rush, hurling their tomahawks at Kennedy’s stout lads who stand firm.

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Fisticuffs Commence!

The Huron get the worst of it and fall back to the woods. But Kennedy and Babel fight it out man to man. Kennedy has been enraged by the suggestive way Babel has stroked his moustache at him and offers to show Frenchman ‘the braid side of ma’ hand’. Babel gets the better of the initial exchanges until Kennedy throws caution to the wind and with a flurry of blows brings Babel crashing to the ground, whereupon the bloody Scot tomahawks him to cheers from  his men.

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Quintin Kennedy Shows Hector Babel the Braid Side of His Hand

The cheers are short-lived, however, as the warriors who had accompanied Hector fire some shots that send another of the 44th sprawling to bleed his life away on the ground and the rest scuttling backwards.

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Still Sniping From the Woods

Meanwhile Murray’s line are still taking casualties from the Huron in the woods, and Catchawatchecka, now deep in the woods, is still trying to slip away from the action with Phemie.

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Deep in the Woods

Only Davey Mill can save Phemie now . . .

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Within Musket Shot

Catchawatchecka and his braves make a run for it, carrying Phemie like a sack of potatoes (or a sack o’ tatties, as Mill put it later in his report). Mill, as stated before, is a tough veteran of many a Flanders field and no stranger to making hard decisions. With nary a moment’s hesitation, he wheels his line and orders a volley. Seeing the muskets raised, Phemie faints.

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Mill Gives the Order to Fire

Two braves fall and Catchawatchecka is hurt. Mill orders his men to fire at will and they blaze away, dropping three more braves and sending Catchawatchecka and his sole remaining companion swimming for their very lives across the river.

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Blazing Away to Good Effect

Mill orders his men to cease firing, and ever careful, to reload. Such has been their rate of fire though, most of the barrels are fouled.

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Sorry, Chief, I’m Off!

Meanwhile, Murray has been trading shots with the skirmishing Huron. His careful volleys have inflicted some losses but a group has worked round his flank and Kennedy’s light bobs are still regathering themselves after their melee. Murray’s line is beginning to look a bit thin. Both Murray and the chaplain are hit! The line recoils and both sides’ morale is now very fragile.

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Murray’s Line Wavers

Catchawatchecka, realising his reputation will be forever tarnished if he fails to bring Phemie to Le Grand Franc, swims back across the river to where she lies in a swound. Mill’s men are advancing implacably a mere stone’s throw away.

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Come On Then!

Mill’s men dash forwards. Catchawatchecka, one man alone against more than two dozen, stands tall and proudly issues a challenge to single combat. The practical Mill merely spits in contempt and the ensuing combat is very short and one-sided as brawny highlanders quickly subdue the Huron chief. Mill prods Phemie awake with the toe of his shoe and is rewarded with fluttering eyelashes and feminine gasps. The remaining Huron vanish into the woods.

A British victory! But a damned near run thing. Murray’s line was on the verge of collapse and Catchawatchecka very nearly escaped with Phemie. The pragmatic (ruthless?) Mill saved the day, although the tale of Kennedy’s fight with Babel is on everyone’s lips. Everyone’s except Phemie’s, that is. She has eyes only for the unromantic but phlegmatically formidable Davey Mill and talks of no-one else.