Thursday, October 27, 2016

General Winfield Scott's 1st Brigade

  My 1st Brigade consist of the wonderful figures from Knuckleduster miniatures.  Parading are the 9th, 11th, 22nd and 25th U.S. regiments.  Additional firepower is provided by Captain Nathan Towson's artillery company.  Leading the brigade is Scott himself.  This portrait figures is based on the painting "Those are Regulars" by
Charles McBarron.  It certainly captures the spirit of the man.  Each regiment is made up of 24 figures which gives a very nice table top appearance.  Regimental flags are from Flags of War.

 General Winfield Scott's 1st Brigade of General Brown's army in 1814 is the stuff of legend.  Evan today, regiments in the United States army trace their lineage to these regiment and soldiers know the motto "Those are Regulars, By God" earned at the battle of Chippewa.

  At Buffalo in April 1814, Scott had established a camp of instruction and instituted a major training programme while they waited for Brown and the start of the campaign season.  The army of six regular U.S. regiments were all veterans of the previous campaigns.  Here Scott drilled his troops for seven to  ten hours every day.  This ranged from platoon to company to battalion dril and special field days for brigade drill.  He standardized the small arms drill using the 1791 Manual of the French Revolutionary Army.  Scott purged his regiments of any remaining inefficient officers who had gained their appointments through political influence rather than experience or merit.  He insisted on proper camp discipline including sanitary arrangements. This reduced dysentery and other enteric diseases which had been heavy in previous campaigns.

   Scott had been unable to obtain enough regulation blue uniforms for his men. Although correct uniforms had been manufactured they had been sent to Plattsburgh and Sackets Harbor. Once the error was discover over 2,000 new uniforms were made up and despatched to Buffalo for Scott's regiments. Because there was insufficient blue cloth, short jackets or roundabouts of grey cloth were sent
instead. This was a slight as gray were traditional associated with militia units.   When Scott received the grey roundabouts, he gathered up the blue coats from his brigade and gave them to the 21st US Infantry (one of the units in the Brigade of Brigadier General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley), because "the black coatees of the 21st are a disgrace to the uniform and soldier of the army of the United States." Officers of his brigade, who purchased their own uniforms wore the standard blue uniform.   Now uniformly equipped his brigade would step into legeand attitred in their gray jackets.  They were to be a match for the British regulars across the Niagara river.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Towson's battery and U.S. Artillery in the War of 1812

  Nathaniel Towson was appointed a Captain in the U.S. artillery on March 15, 1812. Prior to the war he had served in militia artillery units in Louisiana and Maryland. His first action during the war involved his capture of the brig HMS Caledonia  He quickly gained a reputation for his effective command of artillery.  During the war Towson commanded artillery at the battles of Queenstown Heights, Fort George, Stoney Creek, Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and the Siege of Fort Erie.  His batteries fire during the Siege of Fort Erie was so constant it became known as " Towson's Lighthouse."  His handling of the American artillery at Chippewa heavily contributed the the American victory.

  American  field artillery during the War of 1812 was organized into "divisions"  which is similar to the modern term of "battery” which I will use here.  American batteries consisted of six guns;  either four guns of the same calibre and two howitzers or six guns of not more than two calibres. It should be remembered that the theoretical and actual organization of American field ar­tillery were two very different things. These could and did change from campaign to campaign and battle to battle.

   Gun crews consisted of two types of soldiers: trained gunners and less-qualified men called matrosses. The gunners aimed, loaded and fired the guns while the matrosses assisted by bringing up ammunition or helping to move the gun (i.e. knuckle daggers). Gun detachment commanders were usually N.C.O.'s who supervised the work of the detachment, personally laid the gun, observed the fall of shot and made the necessary corrections. Artillery officers commanded batteries of six to eight pieces or sub-units of two or three weapons. The gun crew for a U.S. 6-pdr. field gun comprised the gun commander, two trained gunners and six matrosses. Howitzers had a similar complement but with four more matrosses.  When additional muscle power was required, it was the practice to take unskilled men from the nearest infantry unit. Visually there was a difference in British and American cannon.  While British and most European guns tended to be cast from brass, American guns tended to be cast from iron.  Iron while heavier then brass lasted much longer and stood up to campaigning better (Birkheimer, William E., Historical Sketch of the Organization, Administration, Materiel and Tactics of the U.S. Artillery.  New York, 1884, pages 260 - 261 for this).  Wooden gun carriages were painted a medium blue.  Iron fittings were painted black to prevent rust.

  The rules I will be adapting for this period are my Crimean war rules "Charge of the Light Brigade." Since the Crimean was really the last of the Napoleonic wars (fought with better weapons) this should work.   I have played the rules for many years and enjoy them very much. I feel they give a fun, fast paced game.  In the rules artillery batteries consist of three gun models and six crew figures.  I like the look of this as it looks more like  battery of three guns then just a single casting on the table.  It gives you something to command, and can take hits yet still be on the table top.  But mostly I like how it looks.  And after all is this not why we game with miniatures and not paper counters?


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

9th and 25th U.S. Infantry Regiments

  The 9th and 25th regiments were part of General Winfield Scott's 1st Brigade.  Both were long service regiments and saw action at Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and the siege of Fort Erie.  The 25th under Major Jessup were detached in a independent role at Lundy's Lane and  turned the
flank of the British/Canadian position.

  As part of Scott's brigade both regiments were issued the famous gray jackets rather then the blue regulation coat.  There are various legends why his brigade was sent gray roundabouts or jackets.  But once they arrived all blue uniform coats were gathered and given to the 21st regiment (thank you said the 21st!) while his brigade wore them with pride.  They were issued the newer shako.  I have painted both regiments with black belts.  This is a
personal preference as both black and white accoutrements were available and in inventory in equal numbers.  I think they look better with black accoutrements. Regimental colours are from Flags of War and beautifully done they are.  Nice bright color and superb details. Again Front Rank came through with their finals and tassels to make the colours look right.

Miniatures are from the wonderful Forrest Harris of Knuckleduster miniatures.  His superb sculpture of Winfield Scott leads the two regiments and captures the spirit of the man.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Volunteer Regiments 1814

   For the Niagara campaign of 1814, the US Left Division under General Brown was made up of two brigades of regulars and a brigade of volunteers.  This 3rd Brigade under General Peter R. Porter were not the usual lackadaisical militia but volunteers.  One regiment was from Pennsylvania the other from New York.

  Unlike militia they had signed on for the campaign and were to be uniformed and equipped like regulars.  While their drill may not have been up to Winfield Scott's approval the brigade nevertheless fought hard and acquired a solid reputation for dependability.

  To represent them on my table top I used figures from Forrest Harris Knuckleduster miniatures.  Since they were to have been uniformed and equipped as regulars I wanted a look between regular and militia.  Knuckleduster provided that.  These especially made figures are in bits of uniforms mixed with civilian clothing.  Round hats, shako and straw hats mix with civilian coats, regular jackets and farmer smocks.  The New Yorkers have either older militia coats in blue with red collars and cuffs or plain blue coats.  The Pennsylvanians have plain blue coats.  Officers and NCO's in both groups have fancier more regular uniform coats.  Accoutrements are standardized but varied. All have cartridge boxes and belts but some add bayonets, some knapsack and few blanket rolls.  Just the perfect look I was looking for.

  I have no documentation if these two regiments carried colors or not. It appears to be a "best guess" which I based on other period examples. For these volunteer regiments the flags I am going to use are
based on descriptions carried by Pennsylvania and New York units.   As both regiments were volunteers I wanted then to have a national flag similar to the regulars.  For the regimental flag I used a New York state Flag from the rev war period. It looks very much like one captured
by the British and still in existence today.   The Pennsylvania regiment I gave a copy of the Easton flag.  This was not a Rev War flag but a well documented war of 1812 flag carried by Pennsylvania militia.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fort Devens gaming event

   I attended the gaming event at The Fort Devens Museum on Saturday October 15.  This was a small event put on by local gamers  to introduce the public to historical miniatures.  There were a wide variety of games and the event was very well attended.  I enjoyed myself very much, met local gamers I never knew were out there and had  a wonderful time.

  This is the second year for the Fort Devens event.  It is put on by Peter Leavitt who did a wonderful job.  Peter was extremely friendly and took the time to show me around and I introduce me to several locals.  One individual I met was Adam Carriere of the website Fencing Frog.  Adam was putting on an American Civil War game.  There were also a neat China 1936 game and an outstanding Raid on Dearfield game.

 Because I had to leave early to attend Jim's memorial service I opted to play in a Wings of War game.

  The host, Peter Landry did a fantastic job of teaching the rules to both novices and veteran gamers.  An interesting twist was if you got shot down you could
return with a better plane!  You start with very early war planes and move up.  The game was great fun.  Peter also made neat little awards for each player.  A thoughtful neat touch!

  As you can tell I had a great time.  It was an intimate atmosphere resembling a club game night.  Having exhibits around you on the history of fort devens added to the event.  I look forward to attending again next year.  Highly recommended!

Maryland-Delaware Light Infantry battalion

The most famous of Greene's units during his southern campaign, the Maryland-Delaware Light battalion saw service during the Battle of The Cowpens and later the retreat to the Dan.  After crossing the Dan river the battalion was disbanded and the various companies returned to their parent regiments.  A second version of the Light battalion was then formed and it too was disbanded just prior to Guilford Courthouse battle.  The service of these battalions at The Cowpens , covering the armies retreat to the Dan river and at the battle at Weitzels Mill are the stuff of legend.

 The Light battalion comprised the best and most veteran soldiers and served as the elite of that small army.  They were one of the few continental battalions who could stand toe to toe with British regulars.  At The Cowpens they captured one of the colors of the 7th Royal Fusiliers;  a unique honour.

The make up of the battalion is open to debate. Equally honest historians using similar materials arrive at different conclusions.  My proposed organization is my best guess.  For the battle of the Cowpens the battalion was made up of one Maryland light infantry company, two Maryland line companies, one Delaware Light company (Kirkwood's) and one Virginian light company.

Reorganized when Greene returned to North Carolina this new battalion was slightly smaller.  It was made up of four companies and could be one Virginian company, two Maryland companies and Kirkwood's Delaware company.

The figures for my battalion come from that outstanding line of figures from Fife and Drum.  They are wearing regulation 1779 uniforms although they are all wearing overalls. Clothing returns for the period support this view. Since a portion of both battalions were made up of Kirkwood's Delaware company I have painted those figures with that regiment's yellow hat braid.  I have found no period evidence the Delaware regiment wore leather caps during this time, but found strong evidence for the yellow hat braid still being issued.

This gives me a second units to play with as I can detach the Delaware figures to operate with William Washington's dragons during skirmishes and raids.  When fielding the entire unit I usually brigade them with a veteran militia battalion and a rifled armed militia battalion.  Similar to the force Morgan commanded in early January 1781.

Colonel Otho Williams' Maryland Brigade c. 1781

Following the destruction of the two Maryland brigades at the battle of Camden General Gates set
about reorganizing the survivors.  The Marylanders were placed into a new 1st Maryland Regiment of two battalions (the 1st and 2nd Battalion). In addition a light infantry battalion was formed from three Maryland companies (as well as a Delaware and Virginian company).   Including about one hundred new recruits from the Maryland additional battalion,  there were about nine hundred men in these three battalions.

During the campaign that followed the Marylanders added to their splendid record started on Long Island in 1776.  The great fight between the 2nd Guards and 2st Maryland was the clash of titans and served as the dramatic moment of that battle.

While it has been traditional to describe the 1st Maryland battalion as veteran and the 2nd Maryland as green I have my doubts.  Both battalions were created from survivors of Camden, and enough of the survivors were around to form two line battalions and a light battalion.  The Maryland Additional Battalion was added to the 2nd so possibly it had a slightly higher percentage of recruits.  I suspect it was the defeat of the 2nd Maryland  and hard fight of the 1st at Guilford Courthouse which gave rise to this veteran vs green debate.  But consider that the 1st fell apart while maneuvering under fire at Hobkirk's hill a month later.  If anything I would consider the 2nd a hard luck unit.

My Maryland Brigade is made up of Perry miniatures.  Based on existing clothing returns I have painted them in regulation uniforms of blue faced red.  Too add some color to my army I painted the 2nd Maryland in Brown faced red coats as the Maryland Additional regiment were issued.  I have always felt two flags looked better on war game units then a single flag.  So all my American continental carry two flags.  The battalion colors are based on the Virginian colors captured by Tarleton and recently sold at auction.  They are a solid color with wreath in center with battalion number on it.  I then added a grand division color.  Again a solid color but with similar canton.  A neat contrast to the British regimental and Kings colors.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

RIP Jim Hayden

It was with a great shock  that I leaned of the death of an old friend Jim Hayden.  I am not on Facebook, but Janine is which is where we learned of this.  It appears he died Friday 7 October.

  Jim and I worked together at Minute Man National Historical Park back in the 1990's. He ran the bookstore for Eastern National while I was a front line Ranger.  Both of us had been involved in reenactment groups and both of us had a life long love of the American Revolutionary war.

  During the time we worked together Jim made each day a treat.  He was a happy man who always saw the funny side of things.  No matter how bad a meeting went Jim would come out with a one liner that made us laugh and forget the bureaucratic madness.  He was always there to help me with crazy interpretive programs.  Heroes of the Battle Road candle light tour, Halloween story readings, living history weekends at Hartwell Tavern or school programs Jim could be counted on to roll up his sleeves and help out.  And to get others to volunteer!

    I introduced Jim to miniature war games.  While he never painted miniatures he made great terrain pieces.  Fields, roads, stone walls, fences and houses he made were little works of art.  Since we had both been in rev war reenactment units I made sure I painted both his regiment (1st New Hampshire) and my regiment (23rd RWF).  Jim would take delight in routing my regiment as I would his in return.  The moment of Jim's greatest triumph was when his cavalry, which he had carefully concealed charged and took out all my guns in one shot!  It was an embarrassment I never forgot nor one Jim failed to reminded me about;  always in a most humorous manner. We both laughted a lot about our games.

   Jim moved on to better jobs and we drifted apart. I looked forward to his and Karen's Christmas cards and occasionally their  marvelous Christmas party. When watching New England Patriots football games Janine and I would always look out for Karen and Jim who were members of the End Zone Militia.  This past January Janine and I were invited to his holiday party.  A great time was had.  When leaving Jim and I both said we have to get together more often.  I think sometimes you should not put things like that off.  I wishing I hadn't.

Monday, October 10, 2016

War games at Fort Devens

Saturday October 15
10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

Miniature Wargaming at Fort Devens museum
94 Jackson road
Devens, Ma 01434

Just discovered this from a local paper.  I lived on Fort Devens for about six years and now live around the corner.  Kinda of exciting to discover gamers are in the area and never knew about them.  I plan on dropping by to check it.  Perhaps volunteer to put on a game next year to support them.

Friday, October 7, 2016

21st and 23rd U.S. Infantry Regiments

Scott's brigade (9th, 11th, 22nd and 25th U.S. regiments) gets the lion share of credit in most books on the 1814 Niagara campaign.  And this is understandable. Scott is a legend in the history of the army and his training camp outside Buffalo New York set a standard of professionalism unmatched up to that time.

  But the other regular regiments of the army also fought well.  In Ripley's brigade both the 21st and 23rd U.S. Regiments had had long service records during the war.  Both regiments trained with Scott's command.

  At Lundy's Lane Miller's 21st regiment did yeoman service.  His laconic remark, "I'll try sir" when asked to charge the guns is a legend in the U.S. army and is the motto of today's 5th U.S. Infantry regiment.  Miller brought the 21st as close to the British hill top position as he could utilizing dead ground and the dwindling daylight.  A point blank volley and bayonet charge  broke the British center, capturing the Royal Artillery guns opporsite him. The 23rd then moved up to supported their comrades in the 21st and stood by them during the fight.   Miller held his hill top position throughout the night against all odds until order to fall back by General Ripley.

Both regiments are in the new 1813 regulation uniforms.  These are blue coats with no facings but white trim around the collars.  The shako is very similar to its British counterparts and in the night fighting created identifying problems.   This is a simple but sharp looking uniform.

The regimental colors are from the outstanding Flags of Wars range for the War of 1812.  Each flag has the name of the regiment on it within its scroll.  Great detail!  The tassels and finals are from Front Rank and add a nice touch.  The miniatures are from the fantastic Knuckleduster War of 1812 line.  Leading the two regiments is the figure of General Ripley himself.  I plan on adding the 1st U.S. Regiment and also mounted command figures for each regiment to complete the brigade.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Left Division Order of Battle

When I put together my war game armies I usually pick a battle or campaign.  Once I have that I gather a historical order of battle and put together my armies based on.  I do not worry about actual historical  strengths of regiments and squadrons.  These fluctuated up and down from month to month.  On the table top I tend to use a standard organization of six stands of four figures each for my battalions, twelve figures for cavalry and three guns and six gunners for batteries.  In addition I like to add a regimental commander to my regiments.  In my Crimean armies I actually added the name of the colonel or major to his base.  To me,  this adds personality.  This table top organization looks very nice and I have the added bonus of evenly matched armies for most fictitious battles. It also avoids those types of annomaly of a militia battalion beating a elite Grenadier battalion solely because they have more figures.   If I am doing a historical recreation I will scale units up or down to match that day.

For my American War of 1812 army I will be using the historical organization at Lundy's Lane.  This gives a nice collection.  But since I cannot help tinkering with things I will eventually add a couple extra militia battalions in hunting shirts and top hats and perhaps an American Rifle regiment.  They look too good to leave out!  So, here is my organization I am working on

Major General Jacob Brown: Commander, Left Division, U.S. Army:

◦1st Brigade : Brigadier General Winfield Scott
9th Infantry  (Major Leavenworth)
11th Infantry (Major McNeil)
22nd Infantry  (Colonel Brady)
25th Infantry (Major Jessup)

◦2nd Brigade : Brigadier General Eleazer W. Ripley
1st Infantry  (Lt. Col. Nicholas)
21st Infantry ( Lt. Col. Miller)
23rd Infantry (Major McFarlane)

◦3rd Brigade : Brigadier General Peter B. Porter
5th Pennsylvania (Militia) Regt (Colonel Fenton)
New York Volunteers
Canadian Volunteers (Major Wilcox)

◦Artillery : Capt. Nathan Towson, U.S. Artillery Corps
Foot Artillery (Towson)  : (2-6pdr, 1-5.5inch howitzer)
Foot Artillery (Ritchie): (2-6pdr, 1-5.5inch howitzer)
Foot Artillery (Biddle) : (3-12pdr)

◦Cavalry : Capt. Samuel D. Harris
U.S. Light Dragoons
New York Volunteer Dragoons

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Niagara 1814

Back in 1985 as part of our honeymoon Janine and I traveled around the Niagara Falls area.  Our visiting the battlefields of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, Forts George and Niagara was the start of a life long fascination with not only the War of 1812 but especially with the Niagara campaign of 1814.
It was also the start of my interest in wargaming this campaign on the table top and collecting its armies.

For the miniature war gamer this is an ideal conflict to game.  The armies and leadership were equal.  No difference in weaponry and tactics.  And the armies were sized for the table;  a very economical endeavor.  Figures are provided for by a great number of companies.  All are wonderful and provide for almost everything you would need.  So, this long deserved project is finally under way. For those who are also interested in gaming this conflict here are some suggestions I have discovered.

 I picked the outstanding miniatures from Kuckleduster for my collection. They are little works of art with great animation.  Most importantly Forrest Harris (the owner) has provided a complete line of figures. There are few gaps in the line and these are rapidly being filled.  He is also a joy to buy from with outstanding customer service.  His web site provides excellent down loads and suggestions for the novice gamer on campaigns, figures and unusual regimental details.  There is a guide to which figures to buy to correctly portray a regiment for each year of the war. Please visit both his website and blog.  You will be glad you did and rewarded by the experience.


A challenge for any gamer creating an army is getting the details correct. For the War of 1812 the details of uniforms are few and often contradictory. American uniform details changed almost yearly.  British uniforms also had major changes.  The Canadian militia system and uniforms are almost a study in themselves.  So good research materials are desperately needed.  Fortunately they are out there.  Mandatory for any uniform study are "A Most Warlike Appearance: Uniforms, Flags and Equipment of the United States in the War of 1812" and "The Scarlet Coat" both by the authoritative Rene Chartrand.  These are must have and should be in your library. Within each volume are most of tiny details of uniforms you will need.   They are expensive but also available through inter library loan.  Your local library is your friend and there to help you.

 For battles and campaigns you cannot go wrong with Donald E. Graves' books.  His books on Chippewa and Lundy's Lane are must reads and incredibly details studies of this battles.  His biography of Thomas Pearson made me want to paint up his light brigade and game with it!   Another author Richard Feltoe has provided details campaign histories of the various Canadian campaigns.  His battle studies are wonderful, and the plentiful maps and detailed orders of battle a treasure trove of information.  I highly recommend his regimental history "Redcoated Ploughboys: The Volunteer battalion of incorporated Militia of upper Canada 1813 - 1815."
Again made this a must have regiment on my table top and finally led me to understand the various Canadian militia type units.  Plus it's a fun read.

  For websites you can do no better then  It is an outstanding reference and beautiful art work.  Great details for uniforms.  All you need at your finger tips. I would recommend the following warga me blogs that have inspired me and thought me a lot about the period, and

 Lastly for regimental flags I suggest the ones by Flags of War.  Great details and wonderful colors. They provide correct flags for almost every British and American Regiment.
 They are works of art.  If you are looking for tassels and tops for your flag poles try the ones from Front Rank miniatures.   The only gap in flags is American militia and Volunteers colors.  The Flag Dude has done these but I have been unable to contact him recently.

So there you have it.  My list of helpful hints to get you started in this field.  In my next posts I will be sharing my table top army that came about from this study.  As mentioned before it is a work in progress.