Battle of Fort Bull, 27 March,1756

Chaps,

Another dash through the forest with Canadian French, Indians and British settlers. This time we see the action during the French and Indian War in upstate New York, home of many a clash on the American Frontier, c. 1756.

 

Historical Background

Following the failure of aggressive British campaign plans in 1755, a chain of forts along the Mohawk River riverway connecting the Hudson River to Lake Ontario were garrisoned during the winter of 1755–1756. The largest garrison was left at Fort Oswego, at the end of the chain, which depended on the others for its supplies. Two forts along the Oneida Carry were a key element of this supply chain. The Oneida Carry traversed an unnavigable section between Rome, New York and Wood Creek that was between one and six miles long, depending on seasonal water levels. Fort Williams, on the Mohawk, was the larger of the two, while Fort Bull, several miles north of Fort Williams on Wood Creek, was little more than a palisade surrounding storehouses. Fort Bull was garrisoned by a small number of men from Shirley’s Regiment under William Bull, and held large quantities of military stores, including gunpowder and ammunition, destined for use in the 1756 campaign.

In early 1756 French military leaders in Canada decided to send a raiding expedition to attack Oswego’s supply line. On March 12, a company of men left Fort de La Présentation and began an overland trek toward the Oneida Carry. Under the command of Lieutenant Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry, a Canadian-born seigneur, the force consisted of 84 troupes de la Marine, 111 Canadian militiamen, and 110 natives, mostly Iroquois but also some Hurons. After nearly two weeks of difficult winter travel, they arrived near the carry on March.

The Scenario

The scenario is a subtle variation to the actual battle.

Using Musket and Tomahawk Rules, in this scenario  a British column arrives to relieve the fort, and is attacked by the French. The French are aware of the impending arrival of the British force, under Sir William Johnson, moving to secure the 45,000 pounds of powder stored at the fort. The French are attacking with a larger force , with a significant  Indian allied Huron force.

 

FRENCH

French Objective Slaughter , British Defend

French Leader Lieutenant Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry

  • French Have 1300 points;
    • divisible between 4 commands, Indians are numerous so in units of 8 , and are bloodthirsty – making them quite a threat (hence not a huge difference in army points.)
    • One command contains the French Marines (at least 5 units of 10 )
    • There are a minimum of three Canadian units with the rest being Indians (at least half), Courer De Bois, etc ..no artillery.

BRITISH

British Leader Sir Willian Johnson

Secondary Leader Colonel John Parker Colonel of Provincial New Jersey Blues Regt

  • British  Have 1100 points
    • In up to 4 divisions/commands.
    • One large command has the Provincial Regt
    • The fort is loosely held by two sections of Militia Inside .
    • A maximum 6 units of Indians for the English, in units of six.
    • The British need to protect their Transport /convoy arriving on the forest road ..and see off the French, thereby relieving the fort.

 

 

The Game

 

…forest road, centre left, is the entry point for the relief column. These woods however are likely to be crawling with Huron warriors so the British will have their work cut out for them.

 

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The forest road, top right hand corner, turns into the open field and toward the fort. The British arriving on the right, the French the left.

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Close up of the fort.

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British cannon crew, who take no part in the action, but otherwise remonstrate from the barricades. The French line of Marines enters left field to secure a position and dominate the road leading to the fort…looks like the British will have to fight their way through.

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…better get the canoes ready just in case…

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…and here come the Troupe de la Marines…steeling a march on the British…where are the Blues?

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British relief column moves at a stead (read slow) pace…

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The opening clash between the British rangers and Huron warriors in the woods…

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…pressing forward, the ‘supporting’ militia line thickens…they mean to make a stand.

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…dealing with militia is one thing, but the British commander gives the order to his rangers to clear the woods through which the forest road runs…they should give a good account of themselves…

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…allied British Mohawk add their tomahawks to the teeth of the British sweep through the woods…it’s all quiet up to this point excluding a few shots and war-whoops from the initial clash heard through the forest…

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…with a shrill scream, a group of Huron surge from the undergrowth straight at the column!

(Play note – we always use the hidden movement rules…pretty much mandatory for this period in our opinion…hence the nasty ambush attack).

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…rangers! Present!

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…in the background you can see the ranger fire. They do some damage but the Huron close.  A bloody combat ensues and the rangers retreat….Huron bloodied but with some scalps…

…meanwhile, the French continue their advance and the British ‘main force’ Jersey Blues are still no where to be seen. If the Marines can make it to that road the relief column will have little chance of getting through.

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…in the thick of the woods the militia give as good as they are able…but a close range Huron charge is too much for these part time soldiers…

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…but wait, those are Jersey Blues grenadiers! In the nick of time the blue coats have marched on the field and now provide some protection for that oh so vulnerable relief column.

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…more Jersey Blues…and now battle is joined!

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An overview of the action…

Some initial firing has occurred but caused little damage.

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In the woods the Huron successfully press forward against the militia and Mohawk allies.

In the open field the two ‘regular’ forces open up on each other.

 

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The rangers hold the road open whilst a desperate struggle ensues in woods. The ‘near pic’ indians make a bee-line toward the Jersey Blues, hoping to engage only with tomahawk, not stopping to fire…

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… a lone and somewhat anxious militia leader about to be overrun…

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…Huron and Mohawks battle it out…

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…Hurons prevail….

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An initial volley from the Marines forces the retreat of one Jersey blue platoon, the rest however, hold steady.

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…after successfully dispatching all militia, a unit of rangers and Mohawks, the Huron push forward…plenty of scalps alround…

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The Huron attack the relief column baggage and the sole remaining ranger unit…the others, whilst giving a good account of themselves, succumbed to the ferocity of the Huron charge.

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…axe in hand, musket in another, a lone ranger stands his ground…

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…back to the box for you I’m afraid!

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The column now being attacked by vengeful Huron…things do not bode well for the British…

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…Huron assess the booty…

 

POSTSCRIPT

Though the photos don’t show it, the engagement between the Marines and Jersey Blues turned into an unmitigated disaster for the British. The Marines, in a sequence of cards and with some devastating volley fire shattered the Blues. The losses sustained were unable to be sustained with one unit routing completely. The above picture shows a lone standing Blues platoon remaining in the line…a bad day for the American subjects of King George…

 

such was the carnage that…at this point the French commander moved forward, calling a halt to the slaughter…offering terms to the surrounded relief column survivors….

 

…a solid and decisive victory for the French.

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….to the boats!

 

An excellent game and day had by all. As mentioned, the table had on it around 1200 points a side in figures fundamentally in three commands – the rules handled this size game effortlessly. The game played in a ‘lazy’ 5 hours, six players involved on a lovely ’18’ x 6′ table.

 

Au Revoir!

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