Monday, April 29, 2019

Butler's Rangers and Brant's Mohawks

I specifically painted up a unit of Butler's Rangers and 4 units of Iroquois in preparation for Rebels and Patriots. As a result of the early preparation I was just about ready for a test game when the rules arrived. I reported on my first test game  here: Rebels and Patriots First Gamel

One of the things I enjoy about miniature wargames is the research involved in doing a period. For me, the history matters and so do the details surrounding the armies and units involved. It's especially fun to research a unique unit and paint them up for a uniform geek like me.

The scale we primarily work in is 1\72. In millimeters that translates roughly into 20-25mm depending on how you measure and the manufacturer of the models.

I searched far and wide for specific models of Butler's Rangers finding what I needed at bandbminiatures in the UK.

My Iroquois Confederacy collection is built around the excellent Italeri figures that are available as well as a dozen in metal (20mm) from Newline in the UK. In this post I've chosen to feature the Newline Miniatures from my Iroquois collection.

Butler's Rangers was a unit of Tory Loyalists raised primarily in New York. It's been said that as many as 1\3 of population supported King George  in the American War for Independence. Approximately, another third were Rebels or Patriots depending on your point of view. Still another 1\3 appear to be pragmatic about the whole thing, ether wanting to be left alone or being content with whomever emerged as the victor. Whatever the case, the war had much in common with a Civil War and the conflict as a whole is often thought of as such.

The Crown had good relationships with the Iroquois that dated back to the French and Indian War when various bands of Mohawks and others supported the British against the far more numerous tribes that supported the French.

This was largely due to the influence of William Johnson. Johnson is a fascinating character in his own right. He not only managed to get along with the Iroquois (especially the Mohawks) and establish a bit of fiefdom in upstate Nw York but also managed to father over 100 children by some accounts. Even if the number is exaggerated it is true a number of Mohawk women gave birth to Johnson's children.

Molly Brant was one of Johnson's wives and probably a favorite. Her younger brother Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) would emerge as the most significant native leader during in War for Independence. Brant and his Mohawks would prove to be loyal allies of Butler's Rangers for the entire war.

John Butler was an associate of William Johnson. Their relationship dated back to the French and Indian War. Later Butler worked under Johnson who was Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Butler, like Johnson was on excellent terms with the Iroquois and served as a defecto war leader of them prior to him raising his own regiment of Loyalists.

This all came about during Burgoyne's disastrous Saratoga Campaign.

Butler and his Mohawks and a few of Johnson's Royal Greens (another Loyalist outfit) were part of Barry St. Leger's command. St Leger's command was to take Fort Stanwix. This is ultimately failed to do but in the short term settled in for a siege.

During the siege it became known that a large force of Patriot militia was marching to the relief of the fort. Brant and his Mohawks plus the Royal Greens, some of Butler's Loyalists and even a few German Jaegers ambushed the militia at the Battle of Oriskany. 

The initial attack was a remarkable success but many of the militia rallied under the leadership of Nicholas Herkimer (who later died of his wounds). The militia who rallied were largely surrounded and fought off the ambushers until a thunderstorm broke off the combat. The Iroquois who made up most of the British force took huge casualties agains the trapped militia. This would have consequences for events later in the campaign.

Because of his service Butler received permission to raise his own regiment and Butler's Rangers were born.

It was a matter of great concern that Britain decided to use Native Americans against the revolting colonists. There was an outcry even in Parliament itself with many realizing that no matter what it would be hard to control Native American's whose style of warfare and captive taking was contrary to what Europeans thought proper. The Continental Congress protested as well but in the end it served the Patriots\Rebels by providing great propaganda.

After Saratoga there would not be another major campaign coming from Canada to subdue the colonies. Instead, units like the Royal Greens, Butler's Rangers and their Mohawk\Iroquis allies would send raiders and terrorize wherever they could; thus tying down militia that could be useful elsewhere.

It was during this time that Butler's Rangers received the nick name "Butler's Baby Killers." The name came in the aftermath of the Cherry Valley Massacre an expedition led by Walter Butler. Butler and Joseph Brant were powerless to stop the rampaging Seneca's from killing women and children. The massacre prompted George  Washington to send Continental Regiments to suppress and drive out the Iroquois which they succeeded in doing by 1779.

The campaign to drive out the Iroquois did little to mitigate the savagery of frontier warfare in which both sides played a part. After the war the rangers were located to Ontario where their descenandats live to this day. A unit of Canadian Army can trace it's lineage to Butler's Rangers.

I wanted to take a few posed pictures of Butler's Rangers and their Mohawk allies. Below you will see some of the best pictures that I took with my iPhone.

A great uniform print of Butler's Rangers. Here some rangers and Mohawks loot some unfortunate 's cabin.

Bandbminiatures excellent Butler's Rangers. They are all clad in dark green hunting shirts and leather leggings. 

A small farm complex and possible target and the rangers and Mohawks.

The rangers would probably not have carried a flag given their role as light infantry.

Ranger officer and ranger.

Rangers and Mohawks advance past the small farm.

My Italeri Jospeh Brant figure and some Newline Mohawks.

2 units for Rebels and Patriots plus a couple of extras.

Intimidating Mohawks!

Life on the frontier had to be a combination of fear and courage to face these formidable warriors who in their element were a force to be reckoned with.

Nice close up of a ranger officer urging his men onward.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Classic Airfix Painted Over 40 Years Ago.

This post is a tribute to my friend Jim Z. All the Patriot\Rebels were painted and converted by him over 40 years ago. When I decided to do Rebels and Patriots he donated his collection. Jim and I first started doing the American War for Independence in 1975 in order to game it in the Bicentennial year 1976. It's special to do it once again and get to use the old figures.

I painted the Loyalist opposition.

Not an actual game-just some posed pics from my 4' by 4'. The Patriots\Rebels are all old classic Airfix painted (with some conversions) over 40 years ago. They have been preserved with a gloss lacquer and have held up well. The Redcoats are Irregular Miniatures. Butler's Rangers are from BandBMiniatures. Most of the Indians are Italeri but one unit is Newline.

Iroquois Confederacy warriors. Four of the Six Nations supported the King and therefore were Loyalists.

Continental artillery howitzer with a crew concerted from other Airfix sets over 40 years. 

Neat little diorama in its own right.

Colors for the 2nd New Hampshire. Note the mixture of hats. The flopping variety are from a set other than George Washington's Army set.

The whole 2nd New Hampshire in a variety of uniforms.

A little homestead. The house is a paper model and the two out buildings are 3d Printed Resin. The chickens are from the old Airfix Farm Animals set.

Paper building and the pigs are from the same Airfix set as the chickens.

The 2nd New Hampshire's flags are hadn't painted (over 40 years ago).

Hand painted flag for this Patriot militia unit.

Newline 20mm Mohawks.

Newline 20mm Mohawks

Airfix militia from a Massachusetts unit.

Mohawks and Militia face off. Who will blink first?

It's not exactly Bunker Hill. Irregular Miniatures Redcoats.

Up the hill lads! 

A Continental loses his hair (and life) to an Italeri Seneca.

Airfix Johnson's Royal Greens (Tories) for King and Country face off against a Rebel Militia unit apparently demanding Liberty.

Oh, oh, a strong battery of Patriot artillery. Crewmen are all conversions from other Airfix sets. We didn't have much to work with 40-50 years ago.

Simply impressive.

Italeri Indians representing different tribes but quite a few with the distinctive Mohawk hair style.

Danial Morgan's rifles-more conversions!

The 11th VA of the Continental Line. 

The flag is hand painted. 

Italeri Indians

Butler's Rangers from BandBMiniatures.
This set and the one below is all we had in 1976. Conversions were made from some of the Airfix Napoleonic sets.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Rebels and Patriots First Game

Image result for rebels and patriots rules

Recently, I ran a game based on the new rules, Rebels and Patriots by Michael Leck and Daniel Mersey.

The rules cover small scale warfare in North America from the time of the French and Indian War to the end of the American Civil War. Having played numerous games with The Men Who Would Be Kings I expected similarities in the gaming mechanisms used and they were.

There are enough differences however that required me to run an experimental game to make sure I got the rules right. After all, similar does not mean same.

I selected their first suggested scenario as my test. The scenario pitted two equal point value forces against each other for the control of a small ridge. In that scenario there is very little terrain and as a result it's a bit easier to get your mind around what the author's intended.

I pitted a Loyalist\Native force of 24 points against a Rebel\Patriot force of 24 points.

The Loyalist\Native force was built around Butler's Rangers (12 figs) as Light Infantry, Johnson's Royal Greens (6 figs) as Skirmishers, a small unit of Loyalist militia (6 figs), 2 war bands (12 figs each) of Mohawks and two war bands of natives (18 figs each) from the Iroquois Confederacy.

The Rebel\Patriots consisted of the 2nd New Hampshire Continentals as Light Infantry (18 figs), 4 militia units of 12 figs each and one unit (6 figs) of Skirmisher sharpshooter riflemen.

Somehow I got all the point values to add up to 24. (One of the strengths of the rules is that each category of troop type can have as many as 6 modifications to the basic modifications.)

I set up the units and told the players they could deploy them one at a time in any way they saw fit. Their goal was to take and hold the control point on the ridge in the middle of the table. I walked them through the rules to explain the differences from TMWWBK.

I took each turn slowly in an effort to get the rules right as the author's intended instead of making up house rules before we knew the basic rules.

The pictures from my iPhone are so-so and I had little time to pose shots and get a true feel for the action.

The Loyalist\Native commander decided to try a double envelopment of the ridge by using the numerous bands of natives. The Loyalist units would take the ridge and hold it. The best unit on the Loyalist side was the Butler's Rangers and they were positioned dead center.

The Rebel\Patriot commander also deployed his best unit, the 2nd New Hampshire dead center. Each flank consisted of two units of militia and his left flank held the deadly rifle skirmish unit with a range of 24".

Butler's Rangers  and the Royal Greens took the control point early on virtually uncontested. They were held there by the 2nd New Hampshire with both sides content to trade fire (for now).

The right flank native units had a difficult time passing an activation test and thus could not co-operate with the two Mohawk units advancing on the Loyalist left. The Mohawks, who did not have cover (not that it would have mattered) took immediate causalities from the rifle unit. In the rules light infantry and skirmish infantry always count "open ground" for their targets-hence the Mohawks could not hide even if they wanted to.

The Loyalist commander wanted to close with the natives because they had a significant advantage in melee.

The native units could never get it together for a combined unit attack. The militia on both flanks could and did and so shot the native units to pieces long before they could get close enough to use their tomahawks to any affect. One unit got to within 3" of a militia unit before it was routed.

In the meantime as the 2nd New Hampshire faced off against Butler's Rangers the Loyalists lost the skirmisher Johnson Royal Greens to the deadly rifles and their small unit of unenthusiastic Loyalist militia.

The 2nd New Hampshire did not attempt to close with the uphill Butler's Rangers. The Loyalist\Native force was totally destroyed except for the rangers.. The rangers would have been easily surrounded so the Loyalist commander called it a day.

The game was 24 points per side but the result was as lop-sided as it could be. The Rebel\Patriots lost only two figures to the Loyalist\Natives who lost virtually everything.

Below are some of the better pictures that I took during the action.

It's important to note that almost the entire Rebel\Patriot force was painted more than 40 years ago. The figures are all Airfix from the George Washington's Army set with many conversions. The one exception is 12 figures from the Revell\Accurate set and they were painted by me recently.

It was special to be able to use the old figures for this period.

Newline Mohawks led by an Italeri Joseph Brant.

The deadly rifles screening the Revell\Accurate militia unit. The riflemen are Airfix conversions!

Airfix Johnson's Royal Greens in the foreground, a small unit of  (Newline) militia behind them and Butler's Rangers (BandBMiniatures) just about to crest the ridge.

The 2nd New Hampshire was a Continental unit that took part in the Saratoga Campaign. They were rated as Light Infantry in the game. These are Airfix figures painted over 40 years ago and lacquered for preservation sake.

Don't Tread on Me! The native units facing them didn't get the chance to tread. (more Airfix figs)

Very intimidating! Italeri Native Americans painted to be part of the Iroquois Confederacy. Jospeh Brant managed to get 4 of the 6 tribes of the confederacy to support the British during the War for American Independence.

A better shot of the Royal Greens. They had the misfortune of facing the Patriot rifles. Some Italeri Mohawks off to the right of the picture and some militia behind.

The Mohawks never got close to the two units of militia and one rifle unit. The rifle unit was positioned to bring fire on the flank and center and did so with remarkable effect. It was an expensive point value unit however.

About 2\3 of the table that shows the face off between the Butler's Rangers and the 2nd New Hampshire. The natives on the far flank can't get it together and went in piecemeal.