Saturday, April 16, 2016

Miniatures ~ French Napoleonics

Some more Napoleonics. This time late French from Perry Miniatures.


I painted some without greatcoats...




And some with greatcoats...


Overall I'm pretty happy with how these turned out. I need to add some static grass to the bases, but otherwise I feel they're complete. One thing I might repaint are the grey greatcoats. They aren't quite as flat looking in person, but I think they need some shading. I don't want to make them too dark so I think I'll paint the coats white and then put a black wash over top. That's how I painted the blanket/coat rolls on top six, and it provided a good shading and a good grey.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Miniatures ~ Russian Napoleonics

I got some very nice Russian Napoleonics for Christmas. They're 28mm from Warlord Games...



They painted up pretty easily, and I'm happy with the results – I just need to add some static grass to the base. I got these to provide an opponent (in plastic) for my Victrix French 1804-07 infantry. Now, I know these Russians are from the Line Infantry (1809-1815) set, but they'll do in a pinch.

Although I'd love to play a huge battle with these guys, given my ridiculously slow rate of painting, I'll have to stick with Song of Drums & Shakos for the near future which is a very fine and fun game – it's just not Austerlitz :)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pontiac's War ~ Fort Michilimackinac June 2, 1763

Perhaps it was learning about this event in grade school during Michigan History Week. Perhaps it was visiting the reconstructed fort when I was young. Regardless of the reason, the story of the fall of Fort Michilimackinac during Pontiac’s War has stayed with me.


252 Years ago members of the Ojibwe tribe captured Fort Michilimackinac
using a coup de main unlike any other I know of.

On June 2, 1763, outside the gates of Fort Michilimackinac, the Ojibwe organized a game of baaga`adowe with the visiting Sauk tribe. During the game, one of the players hit the ball through the fort’s open gates. The players rushed after the ball as if still playing the game. However, they were not. Using weapons that had been hidden among the spectators, the players became warriors and attacked the British garrison, killing most of the fort’s inhabitants.

The Ojibwe held the fort for a year after which they returned it to the British in a negotiated settlement. A few years later, the British built a new fort atop a bluff on Mackinaw Island. They were not going lose the fort again. Although they did — to the Americans, about 15 years after it was completed.


Fort Michilimackinac, 1766, by Lt. Perkins Magra.
The Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Revisiting this story as an adult and reading about it in the context of Pontiac’s War, I am struck most by the change in tactics. Four other British fort had been captured by Natives requesting a council with the British in order to gain entry into the fort, and then once inside (or once the British were outside the fort’s walls) they launched their attack.

Why change the successful formula? Perhaps, the Ojibwe had heard about Pontiac’s failed coup de main at Detroit. Detroit was closer to Michilimackinac than the forts that had been captured using this tactic, and the failed surprise attack had occurred almost a month before the Ojibwe launched their attack. Given how slowly news traveled, the Ojibwe most likely only knew that the tactic of asking for a council had not worked and were unaware of its successful use. But this is speculation.
 
What we do know is that the Ojibwe would often play baaga`adowe outside Michilimackinac and that the British soldiers would often watch the game. Therefore the game was a logical choice given local circumstances. It provided a legitimate reason for a large number of warriors to gather under the walls of the fort and it also provided an excellent way to distract the British garrison.
 
What is also important to note is that the British were not on alert – the gates of the fort were open. This is not surprising as the Ottawa tribal members who lived in the area did not participate in the attack even though Pontiac – the leader of the "conspiracy" – was a chief of the Ottawa. This further shows the complexity of the politics of this conflict. Not all Native American tribes participated in the conflict, or participated to the same degree. And not even all members of the same tribe participated.  It was definitely not a simple "British vs. Native" affair.

The Straits of Mackinaw are one of the most most beautiful parts of Michigan. If you ever happen to visit the Great Lakes, I’d highly recommend that you make a stop there as part of your trip.

For a very detailed study of Fort Michilimackinac during Pontiac's War see Beyond Pontiac's Shadow by Keith R. Widder.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pontiac's War ~ Fort Ouiatenon June 1, 1763



Two hundred fifty-two years ago a confederation of Native tribes was at war with the British empire, and by early June various tribes had successfully captured several British forts in the Great Lakes region. On June 1, 1763, members of the Wea, Kickapoo and Mascouten tribes captured Fort Ouiatenon without bloodshed. The tribes had good relations with the British garrison and told the British that they had felt obliged to act due to pressure from other tribes. This reveals a diversity of positions among the native tribes and shows the picture of a single, massive native "conspiracy" against the British is too simple – the reality was much more complex.
 
The fort was located approximately three miles south-west of present day West Layfayette, Indiana. Today, an historic park is located near the original site and includes a replica of the original fort.

Your can learn more about the site here. Every year the park holds the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon. The event “is a re-creation of the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans which took place Fort Ouiatenon, a fur-trading outpost in the mid - 1700s. It is held annually in early autumn on the banks of the Wabash River.” For fans of the 1700s and reenactments, this looks like a fun event.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pontiac’s War ~ The Battle of Point Pelee


In the early hours of May 29, 1763, the guns of Fort Detroit fired a salvo. It was not, however, directed at the Native besiegers. Rather, it was intended to warn the British schooner anchored down the Detroit River of a rumored attack by Pontiac’s forces. As it happened, the schooner had already set sail and was out of danger.



The schooner had set sail in an effort to met and protect a British flotilla filled with supplies for Fort Detroit. However, the schooner would be too late. Traveling across Lake Erie from Fort Niagra, the supply flotilla consisted of twenty bateaux, lead by Lieutenant John Cuyler, and manned by a sergeant and 96 men. On the night of May 27, they camped on Point Pelee on the lake’s northern shore.

The next morning, Native warriors attacked the camp. Only two bateaux escaped. The rest - along with the supplies – were taken to Pontiac’s camp north of Detroit. On May 30, indignity was added to defeat as the British defenders of Detroit had to watch the much-needed food, military supplies, and their captured comrades sail passed them.

 
However, there was one bright spot for the British. One of the Bateau drifted closed to the British controlled shore, and the captured British soldiers took the opportunity to push their Native guards overboard and row the bateau to shore. This effort not only gave the soldiers their freedom, but it also brought seven barrels of pork and one barrel of flour to the hungry defenders of Detroit.

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25, 1763 ~ Potawatomis capture Fort St. Joseph

252 years ago today, the British outpost Fort St. Joesph (near present-day Niles, Michigan) fell to Potawatomi warriors. They used the same tactic that had succeeded at Fort Sandusky, but had failed at Detroit. Over the next eight days, Fort Miami (Fort Wanye, Indiana), Fort Ouiatenon (Lafayette, Indiana), and Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Michigan) were captured by Native warriors. This left Detroit as the only British held fort west of Pennsylvania.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Miniatures ~ Native Warriors

Here are two of my latest painted miniatures...


These two figures are from Old Glory - the "Natives in Ambush, wounded, personalities" pack (FIW-05). Overall, they are very nice figures albeit a little smaller than the latest 28mm figures on the market. But they are close in size and I'm happy to put them on the same table. The only drawback is that most of the figures in the pack do not have leggings which is a big omission for woodland Indians. I'll probably paint legging on them in the future.

They are painted mostly with Games Workshop painted – with the exception of the red. The red is Viking Red from Army Painter's SAGA set. It's a nice dull red, the closest to madder red I've been able to find. I experimented quite a bit with the skin tone and finally settled on GW's Elf Flesh covered with a wash of Ogryn Flesh and Gryphonne Sepia.

I mounted them on 25mm bases and gave them some  nice brush to hide behind. This way I can use them for a skirmish game (Song of Drums & Tomahawks or Muskets & Tomahawks), or as a skirmish unit in a larger battle using the Black Powder rules.