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.



7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Michael. I'm stuck in that scale I'm afraid and too old to change and no one to change with ;-) Thanks for stopping by,

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  2. Thank you for sharing your lovely figures and their history;
    Have you tried these model sets in 1/72;
    http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=2047
    http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=836
    I'm begining a blog about The AWI in 1/72 scale, i hope your opinion!
    Antonio.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Antonio. The first set is from the French and Indian War. I have a few of them mixed in with my Native Americans. William Johnson had a personal force of 150 Tory Highlanders and the figs with the bonnets mix in well. The second set are Italeri as you know. They went for a mixed bag of Native Americans. The Mohawks are the best imo but the others are not bad and just meant to represent different tribes.

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  3. I'm visiting your blog,Bruce; what a huge amount of figures and periods!ah, this is the blog I'm begining...
    http://modellingawi.blogspot.com/?m=0
    Thank you!

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  4. Awesome minis and buildings Bruce, looks superb!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Phil. Your site inspires me to try and do as well!

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