Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Battle of Bladensburg Scenario Rules and Order of Battle

The Battle of Bladensburg
August 24th, 1814

                                                      Starting Positions

*1 man = 15
2 Guns = 3 Guns

British Army Scenario Rules

Victory Conditions; The British must rout the Americans. 

1. British Infantry Shooting Bonus; British / Canadian infantry get +1 to shooting rolls when in line. Militia and Indians do not get this bonus

British Order of Battle
Major General Robert Ross (Excellent)

*The British enter the table one brigade after the other. The first brigade begins as shown on the far right, then the second brigade, then the third brigade. 

1st (Light) Brigade
Colonel William Thornton (Average)

Light Companies 4th, 21st, 44th (217 men) X15 (Veteran)
Light Comp. 63, 66 +88
+1 morale
Can refuse a flank
+1 to shooting in line
*Entire formation can skirmish

85th (Bucks Volunteers) Regiment of Light Infantry (800 men) X30 X30 (Veteran)

+1 morale
Can refuse a flank
+1 to shooting in line
Up to 50% can Skirmish

2nd Royal Marines Detached Company (86 men) X12 (Line)
2nd Colonial Marines (100 men) 
*these were former slaves
+1 melee
+1 to shooting in line
Can deploy as skirmishers

Royal Marine Rocket Section (X2 Rockets) X2 Rockets (Veteran)
+1 Morale

Rocket Rules
-Range of 48 inches, must have line of sight, may fire overhead
Roll 2 D6
12 Direct and devastating hit. Six casualties. Consult double six table
11 – 9 Target unit lose 1 casulty and falters BUA’s set alight.
8-4 Miss
3 The nearest friendly unit to the rocket battery is hit by stray rockets and loses two casulties.
2 Rockets double back and strike ammunition. Rocket battery completely destroyed. (Rout)

Royal Marine Artillery (2 X 3 Pounders) X1 Gun (Veteran)
+1 morale

2nd Brigade
Colonel Arthur Brooke (Average)

4th (King's Own) Regiment of Foot (630 men) x40 (Veteran) 
+1 morale
Can refuse a flank
+1 to shooting in line

44th (East Essex)Regiment of Foot (610 men) x40 (Line)
+1 to shooting in line

3rd Brigade
Colonel Patterson (Average)

2nd Marines (600 men) x40 (Elite)
+1 to shooting
+1 morale
+1 melee
Can refuse a flank
+1 to shooting in line
Can form open order

21st (Royal North British Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot (884 men) x32 and x32 (Line)
+1 to shooting in line

Not Engaged, Guarding the Shore 
Converged Royal Marines Battalion (564 men) X36 (Elite)
+1 to shooting
+1 morale
+1 melee
Can refuse a flank
+1 to shooting in line
Can form open order

American Army Scenario Rules
Victory Conditions; The Americans must stop the British from reaching Washington. 

1. Linear Tactics; Line units in the same brigade have to have the same formation except to go around terrain and other units.

2. Buck and Ball; American Regulars used “Buck and Ball”; a round shot with 3 buck shots, they get +1 to hit at close range.

3. Chosen Men; Up to 12 men maybe deployed as Chosen Men (Rifles). They roll 2D6 per 4 figures. They can form part of the skirmish screen or operate independently. They do not need to stay within 18 inches of close order units. This unit has a range of 17 inches.

American Order of Battle
William H. Winder (Poor Command)

First Line (Far Forward Left)
(Average Command)

Baltimore Rifles (150 men) x18 (Second Line)
Virginian (James City) Light Infantry (100 men)  
-1 morale
This entire unit can skirmish 

Baltimore Artillery (4x6 Pounders) x2 Guns (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

Baltimore Artillery (4x6 Pounders) x3 Guns (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

Second Line (Forward Left)
(Average Command)

5th Baltimore City Regiment 500 men  x40 (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

1st Baltimore Militia (675 men) x40 (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

2nd Baltimore Militia (675 men) x40 (Conscript) 
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

Baltimore Artillery (3x6 Pounders)  x2Gun (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

Cavalry *Independent Unit
(Average Command)

Maryland  District Cavalry 260 men (Conscript) x21
4 Companies Maryland Cavalry
DC Alexandria Dragoons 40 to 50 men
-1 morale
-1 melee

Third Line
Scott (Regulars) Smith (DC Militia) (Average)

12th / 36th / 38th US Infantry (400 men) x30 (Line) 
+1 to shooting at close range

1st DC Militia (535 men) x42 (Conscript) 
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

2nd DC Militia (535 men) x42 (Conscript)
DC Detachments (200 men)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

DC Rifles: 3 Companies (330 men) x18 (Conscript) 
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier
This whole formation can skirmish

Washington Irish Artillery (6 6 Pounders) x4 Guns (Conscript) 
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

DC Militia Artillery (6 6 Pounders) x4 Guns (Conscript) 
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier


U.S. Flotilla Servicemen (200 men) x24 (Veteran)
U.S. Marines (120 men)
+1 morale
+1 to shooting at close range

Naval Guns (18 and 12 Pounders x5 Guns) x3 Guns  (Veteran) 
+1 morale


Annapolis Militia (800 men) x24 and x30 (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier


Maryland Militia (250 men) x24 (Conscript)
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

Reserve Cavalry *Independent Unit
Colonel Jacinct Laval (Average Command)

2nd Light Dragoons (140 men) x16 (Second Line) 
Virginia Militia Dragoons 100 men
-1 morale
-1 melee

Reinforcements *Arrive turn 15 

60th Virginian (700 men) x24 and x24 (Conscript)
*Arrived late and out of ammunition
-1 morale
-1 melee
-2 firing modifier

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Newest Offerings From Warlord Games and Perry Miniatures

Warlord Games came out with marching plastic Napoleonic British infantry for both early and late war.  They also have expanded their range of light infantry as well. They look great.

Perry Miniatures is creating early war British infantry now as well. I have e-mailed and asked if there are any plans to to the War if 1812, and they said not at this time. In addition, Perry Minuatures recently came out with plastic early war British Light Dragoons.

New Perry British Light Dragoons. These could represent the 19th Light Dragoons up until the end of 1813. A small number would have been present at the small battle at Black Rock in this uniform. For all of 1814 they would have had the newer style uniform with shako (Chippawa, Lundy's Lane, Plattsburgh). I chose to make mine with shakos.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Newest Brigade Games Releases

Some great new miniatures from Brigade Games.

Caldwell's Western Rangers. Fought at Moraviantown, Lundy's Lane, and many other actions in the West. Knuckleduster also make these guys.

British / Canadian artillery men.

Frontier Militia. These would represent Kentucky or Tennessee militia.

Full Range of American Militia Infantry

Knuckleduster have released 3 new units for the War of 1812 which are great additions to the American militia ranges. The new units are Virginian Infantry, Lafayette's pirate gunners (New Orleans), and District of Columbia Militia (Bladensburg). 

For most of the war the majority of uniformed soldiers in New York and Massachusetts would have been uniformed as above. Many other states would have had this uniform as well. 

At Plattsburgh the Vermont militia were largely ununiformed. In addition, a portion of any militia force would have been ununiformed.

A large portion of the American at Bladensburg were District of Columbia Militia.

Virginian infantry were present at Bladensburg, as well as in the West.

Frontier Militia, mainly Kentuckians were the majority of militia in the West and were also at New Orleans. These troops can also be used to represent various militia rifle units (for example NY rifles).

Sunday, 14 June 2015

War of 1812 War Heroes; John Norton

Probably the most unsung hero of the War of 1812 is John Norton. He was a Mohawk chief in the Niagara area and was present at many actions in the Niagara.

He was half Scot and half Cherokee. Without him Queenston Heights and Stoney Creek would probably both have been lost.

Queenston Heights; after Brock was killed, Norton with 300 warriors, kept the Americans pinned to the heights and under constant fire. His warriors' war cries kept thousands of Americans from crossing the river. By the time the British reinforcements arrived the Americans were exhausted.

Stoney Creek; in the night time attack at Stoney Creek Norton led 30 natives to attack the rear if the American encampment while the British main force attacked the front. This was the turning point of the war, Norton's natives terrified the Americans and much if their forces dispersed.

Chippawa; though the British lost this battle, Norton's natives as well as the Canadian militia were the last off the field.

Lundy's Lane; He lead a contingent of natives.


Tecumseh has been viewed as a war hero in the War of 1812. I actually believe he hurt the overall war effort by threatening the British unless they fought on his terms. Overall native allies were instrumental in the defence of Canada, but John Norton and other leaders helped Canada not hurt it.

From Richard Feltoe's the Flames of War;

The British were forced to fight two unwinnable battles by Tecumseh and his natives. The result was the loss of all of their forces in South Western Upper Canada at Fort Stephenson and especially Moraviatown. Proctor actually fled the field before the Americans even attacked at Moraviantown. He knew they were being forced to fight an impossible battle.

Other Sources; Osprey's "Tecumseh" and Pierre Burton's volumes. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Myth of the Militia Myth

I have read about the militia myth in many sources. It persists as an idea today though I have read other sources which don't agree.

The Militia Myth holds that Canadians believe;
1. Canada would have been lost if not for Canadian Militia 
2. That Canadians are taught in school that the war was won by mainly militia 

There are giant problems with both of these.  Canada would have been lost without the militia. Canadians are not taught the militia myth in school.  Also, the majority of active troops in Canada were Canadian up until 1814.

There is even revisionist history happening now as well.

In this article the author claims that the British and Indians were the ones defending Canada; not really the Canadians. He also says that Tecumseh was defending a British retreat at Moraviatown. Proctor was slowed by Tecumseh's followers and was threatened by Tecumseh. John Norton was the native leader more instrumental in defending Canada.

The natives defending Canada were important, but there were never anywhere near as many natives involved as militia. 

Forces in Canada in 1812 to 1813
1. 13 Batallions of British regulars 
2. 1 regiment of British Cavalry
3. Several Batteries of Guns
Total; 8000 men

Canadian Regulars and Irregulars
1. 5 Battalions of Fencibles (regulars)
2. 8 battalions of Select Embodied Militia (Provincial Regulars)
3. 1 Battalion of Upper Canadian Militia (Provincial Regulars)
4. Several troops of Cavalry (Provincial Regulars)
5. Several volunteer gun batteries, plus artillery "car brigades" (horse artillery)(Provincial Regulars)
6. Provincial Marine (Ferried Supplies)
7. 600 to 800 Voyageurs
8. Indian Department; Around 50 men, often Metis who worked closely with Native Allies
9. Caldwell's Western Rangers; These were Roger's Rangers previously. There were about 100 of these organized into two units. These may have included black and native soldiers.
Total; 10000 men

Canadian Militia
1. 10 000 Upper Canadian Militia (2500 active at a time)
2. 60 000 Lower Canadian Militia (15 000 active at a time)
3. 10 000 Maritime Canadian Militia (2500 active at a time)
Total; 20 000 men active at any given time 

Natives Involved in the War
1. Tecumseh's Western Natives; 3000 total (numbers ranged)
2. Mohawks and Other Canadian Natives; 1000 total
Total; 4000 men

The truth is that all of these branches were necessary to defend Canada. British regulars did kill and die more than the other groups, but they could not have been successful without Canadians and natives.

In 1814 around 50 more British line battalions came to North America. After two years however, they were probably unnessary to defend Canada. By the end of the war British forces were occupying parts of Maine, Alabama, New York, and Michigan. They had also burned Washington. They failed to capture New York or New Orleans. The Americans had driven the British from South Western Upper Canada.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Wargame Balance in the Black Powder Era

  I have been gaming for 28 years off and on. My favourite era is anything black powder. The strategic elements and uniforms are my favourite for gaming. I originally started playing with my father on a permanent 14 by 8 table with almost 4000 1/72 Napoleonics. We mostly developed our own rules, heavily influenced by Featherstone's books. Each battle we played we would have to adjust the rules for one branch of the army or another.

  My group has been playing 28mm Napoleonics, 7 Years War, and War of 1812. We have been using Musket and Tomahawk for smallish skirmish games, and General De Brigade for large battles. I highly recommend both rules sets. I have also heard Sharpe Practice is good but haven't played it. I tried Lasalle, but it was not for me, too fast, units disappeared easily, and did not come back, maybe for really big or fast games it's ok.

Balancing Troop Types
  General De Brigade has great rules for infantry, cavalry, artillery and skirmishers. They recommend 1 man equals 20 for Napoleonics, with 1 cannon equals 2. For the War of 1812 they recommend 1 man equals 10, and 1 cannon equals 1. The biggest battery you can have in GDB is 4. The scales for cannons would be way too many cannons IMO, we are usually have more like 1 cannon per 4 for Napoleonics and 1 per 2 for 1812; sometimes I will do 2 models for every 3 cannons. Cannons would often be in reserve in battles as well so it may still make sense.  For 1812 I change the scale for each battle to match my units of 24 to 48; 1 man equals 5, 8, 10, 15 or 20. If you have smaller units you probably need even fewer cannons. 

  I was reading about rate of fire for cannons for each Napoleonic nation. The French not only usually had more cannons than their enemies, they fired each cannon twice as often as other nations on average! Cannons win battles. But having too many of them becomes unrealistic and can ruin the balance of the game. In the War of 1812 batteries of cannons on both sides were almost always between 1 and 4 guns. So depending on the scale we are using a 4 gun battery will be 2 or 3 guns usually. 

  Skirmishers are tricky to make balanced to. If they are allowed too much freedom of movement they can do unrealistic overpowered maneuvers. 

  Cavalry too is hard to balance. In GDB they successfully charge about half the time which seems about right. When they don't charge they might rout the field, but they will more likely just retreat to their own lines. They usually win vs infantry not in square so that also seems right. 

  Infantry is the easiest to balance, and everything else has to balance with them. I like a morale system which allows troops to fall back before they just flee the field. Again GDB does this well. I'm sure there are other great rule sets out there that I haven't played.

Starting Positions and Orders
  I figured out what happened in the two big What If? battles. The American troops won both, I think in part because the British started deployed on neutral ground (not particularly defensive positions). This allowed the Americans to concentrate their forces and deploy their artillery where it was needed while avoiding the British guns. I would not change the What If? Scenarios, as the British were lead by Prevost who was a cautious defensive commander. Still that is how most battles looked, one side awaiting an attack by another. 

Sunday, 31 May 2015

War of 1812; The Battle of Montreal Battle Report

The Battle of Montreal Battle Report

  For most of our battles we take different sides each time. We are all experienced with this rule set, and typically no big mistakes are made in our games. So... why do the Americans keep winning?

  The Americans won the Battle of Montreal "What if..." Scenario again. The British began the battle deployed, with artillery set up, more infantry, slightly less but better cavalry, better command and just slightly less artillery. It was a very close battle up until the last couple of turns where a couple of rolls meant several British units were routing on top of a brigade on "retire" and a completely dispersed British cavalry brigade.

  This is the time period I had created my army for; 1813, specifically Niagara 1813 and the St.Lawrence campaign. Uniforms changed so much during the war that the American infantry would have looked like this for this year only.

The Battle

In the foreground is a tributary of the St.Lawrence, this is the American right, and the British left: which is made up entirely of French Canadian Select Embodied Militia. In this scenario I am playing the American left, right beside the mountain, which includes two battalions of infantry, a rifleman detachment, 2 batteries of guns and all the U.S. Cavalry. The other 2 American players have 5 battalions and a large battery of guns each, plus riflemen.

Here is the American left (me), facing off against a brigade of French militia and Indians. The brigade behind the fence was unable to change Prevost's hold orders for the entire game, but stopped me from pursuing the militia brigade which broke. The Brigade behind the fence was a small brigade but contained the two best British units; the Royal Marines (played by British Guards today). His two rockets and his twelve pounder killed one of my batteries of guns and a cavalry unit. My cavalry was hoping for an easy win vs. the militia. Just to the right of the cavalry visible is a second unit of my cavalry which absorbed a lot of fire, mainly from the two rockets and twelve pounder, and dispersed. 

The Americans deploy into line and advance.

The U.S. Right, and British left manoeuvre for advantage.

My smaller unit of cavalry fails its charge because of artillery fire and disperses. My larger unit succeeds in reaching the French Sedentary Militia but they formed square! I was driven off behind my own lines but remained in good order. British Marine rockets also take out my 6 pound battery and my guns disperse. 

In the British centre the 19th Light Dragoons (at right) and French Canadian Light Dragoons (at centre) position to charge the U.S. Guns and American lines.  The 19th Light Dragoons take heavy casualties and disperse. 

On the U.S. Left / British Right a unit of Voyageurs and a unit of Indians disperse from casualties in our skirmisher battle. The whole Brigade of French/British militia and Indians breaks and falls back. They remain broken for the rest of the game. 

Another view of the U.S. Left with my cavalry reformed. My twelve pounders are just out of sight to the right of my cavalry. My artillery threatened the British enough that the Brigade behind the fence did not start trying to change orders to advance until around this point in the battle. Twelve pounders have a longer range for cannister and hit harder than six pounders.

A view of the intense but even firefight along the St.Lawrence (a tributary not the main river) side of the battlefield. 

In the centre, the Canadian Light Dragoons successfully charge and break the 5th U.S. Regiment. 

Two French ladies cheer on the French cavalry as they run down the Americans. 

My second unit of Light Dragoons is now out for blood. They position to counter the Canadian cavalry.

On the British left one of the three units of SEM breaks from the firefight. Things are not looking good on the British / French Canadian Right and Left.

A view of the field from Mount St. Royal. The French militia and Indians remain broken to the rear. The Marine Brigade fails to change their orders. The British command stays in the centre to help boost the British and Swiss (De Meuron regiment; made up mainly of POWs from the peninsula). Because of this, these crack units of British remain unengaged. I tentatively approach them with skirmishers and shell them with my twelve pounders.

A successful cavalry charge and counter charge means an almost equal melee. The De Meuron Regiment can be seen breaking and retreating behind British lines in the background. In the centre each side has lost one line unit. 

The Americans take advantage of the hole in the British lines.  The Anerican cavalry defeats the Canadian Light Dragoons. The British Cavalry brigade is now completely dispersed. 

Another view of the centre.

Another unit of French SEM breaks, the remaining unit is now severely outnumbered. The British / French now have lost enough units that they have to take an army morale test. They fail and rout the field.

Another view at the end of the action. Three British units remain out of action behind the fence. They probably could have defeated my two depleted units. Prevost was a cautious commander so all British but the Militia began the battle on hold orders.

Battle Aftermath...

  So what would happen now? The Americans had only one unit of Cavalry so would not be able to follow up on their victory.  Montreal is a walled city. There are two more SEM units guarding the city plus English and French militia. Not to mention that 3 units of British remained fresh after this scenario. Montreal is a Kilometre away from this battle site. Surely the British and Canadians would retreat within the walls. Without French support the Americans probably stood little chance of following up.

  The Americans suffered heavily during this battle as well, probably 25% casualties, they also lost 20% on their way down the St.Lawrence; for a total of 45%. If this scenario took place after our version of Crysler's Farm then the US forces would be at less than 50%. The Americas brought along 18 Seige guns but no cold weather clothing, and they were out of food. It would now be mid November in Canada (already very cold). After this battle the Americans would probably have 3500 effectives vs. 4500 to 5000 British and Canadians.

  The Americans would probably have to withdraw to the American side of the River. Montreal already had a large proportion of British by this point, so an uprising to join the Americans seems unlikely. The British could also call upon more units from the South East (including DeSalaberry's force) and East (the Garrison at Cornwall) which alone would almost be equal in size to the remaining American Army, making the beseiging army outnumbered 2 to 1. The Isle of Montreal is 50 km long allowing for guerrilla warfare against the Americans. 

  The Americans won the battle but probably not the city. It would be similar to the Chesapeake campaign. The British won at North Point, but the Americans retreated to Baltimore which the British realized they could not take so left the area.

French Uprising?
  Apparently during the war there was widespread French dissension about conscription which was hushed up by the British. If the French in Montreal joined with the Americans the British would be lucky to keep anything but Halifax, they would probably lose the rest of Canada. If Canada had fallen I have little doubt that when Napoleon was defeated, an even larger British army would have come in 1814, possibly lead by Wellington.

  Of the army in Quebec and Montreal the following units were fully French;
1. Canadian Voltigeurs Regiment (Excellent Troops)
2. Canadian Fencibles (Line light infantry)
3. Eight Full Regiments of Select Embodied Militia (second rate line)
4. 500 Voyageurs
5. 5 or 6 Troops of Light Dragoons
6. 2 Small Batteries of Guns
In Addition;
7. De Watteville's and De Meuron's Regiments were 75% 
POWs from the peninsula. (Swiss, Poles and Germans)
*In addition, the American Army had 48 regiments, 2 large Cavalry regiments and a lot of artillery.

That's 13 Regular French regiments. Probably equal to all British troops in all of Canada in 1813. Not to mention the 60000 French Sedentary Militia. If even half of these forces joined the Americans the British would lose Canada in 1813.

The British army in 1813 consisted of;
1. 13 Foot Batallions 
2. 3 Squadrons on the 19th Light Dragoons
3. 3 English Fencibles
4. 20000 English Sedentary Militia (half were in the Maritimes)
5. 2 Battalions of Royal Marines
6. Several Batteries of Guns
7. 2 or 3 Militia Troops of Light Dragoons

Would they have joined the Americans if the Battle of Montreal was lost? Who knows, but it's possible. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Miniature Spotlight; War of 1812: Putting it all Together

  Rather than revisiting Victrix and Perry miniatures, I will instead include them here. Below are the best options for 28mm. I'm sure I would have more Brigade Games and Knuckleduster in my collection if they had all of their figures out 3 years ago. As it is I will still be picking up more from both.

There are definitely good options for gaming at 25mm with Old Glory and Foundry as well. 

Building Your Armies
British Infantry;
Perry, Victrix, Warlord Games, Knuckleduster or Brigade Games

Knuckleduster British infantry, mixed with Perry command, Victrix artillery and Old Glory rockets.

Canadian Infantry;
Knuckleduster or Brigade Games

Old Glory at right, Knuckleduster centre with North Star at Right.

Canadian Militia; 
North Star (French), Brigade Games or Knuckleduster

North Star French Militia (From their French Wilderness Force)

British Artillery

Victrix British Artillery

Victrix or Perry with a stove pipe head swipe where necessary (Perry cannons are nicer IMO). Knuckleduster and Brigade Games make crew but no / few cannons. 

Brigade Games British / Canadian Artillery

British Rockets
This Warlord Games ladder stand with some converting of uniforms could work. *One battery of RHA did fight at New Orleans. Otherwise they were all marine rockets (see below).

Perry Carlist War rockets with a head conversion and a Brigade Games officer. As mentioned in an earlier post there were three types of British Rocket launchers, presumably all would have been in North America. 

Knuckleduster, North Star or Brigade Games

Brigade Games Indians

US Regulars Artillery and Cavalry;
Knuckleduster or Perry/ Victrix Conversions *I have Perry French cannons
*Brigade Games 1814 only

My most complicated conversion US Light Dragoons (from Perry plastic British Hussars and French Dragoons).

US Militia;
Knuckleduster, Brigade Games or Perry (American War of Independence)

Generals and Colonels;
Perry British (And US = Dutch / Belgian), Knuckleduster or Brigade Games

American Command made from Perry Dutch / Belgians

U.S. militia General from Knuckleduster.