Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fort D'espoir - A French Indian War Wargame

Inspired by a fellow collector we decided to spend an afternoon wargaming with our collections over the seasonal break. It was a slightly larger skirmish than the last game we played, as our collections had grown and there was plenty of new sets to add to the table.

It had been a while since we had all of our john jenkins figures out together. At the prospect of an afternoon of gaming, enjoying our collections and copious amounts of tea and cake, we lit the fire, put the kettle on and settled in for an epic fight over a contested area of the Ohio Valley.

The game was played on a table 5ft by 9ft, just about the right amount of space for the number of figures we were using.

The British advance on Fort D'espoir.

The gaming rules were fast and easy to learn, once again a modified version of GW's Lord of The Rings Battle Strategy Game, affectionately now known as Drum of The Mohawks and we invited a long-time wargaming friend to join us.

House rules
In contrast to the display game we put at Eastern Front Wargames show back in 2010, this game was played on a slightly taller table. So in addition to our original rule: 'no figures closer that 6 inches to any table edge.', following a couple of unfortunate bayonet-caught-in-a-jumper front line re-arrangements, we added: 'no jumpers at the table.'

The Battle of Fort D'espoir
The game represented an engagement during the French Indian War outside a fictional French Fort D'espoir somewhere in the Ohio valley in the late 1750's. British line infantry, Militia and Roger's Rangers assault the fort, defended by French Marines, civilians caught in the conflict and French Indian Allies.

The French, alerted by their Indian scouts, knew the British were inbound and had began the hasty construction of a defensive abatis just outside the fort.

Marching out.

Unfortunately for them the Rogers Rangers had undertaken a successful scout of the fort and mounted their attack before the defences could be completed.

The British Advance.

The British plan was simple, attack in strength, send the militia to attack through the Indian village and the line infantry forward in strength, supported by a single cannon, in the centre and on the left flank.

Behind the Thin Red Line.

Troops of the 44th Regiment of Foot drew the short straw and advanced on the abatis, the British command had insisted it was imperative to ensure an anchor for the main thrust of the assault in the centre.

Closing In.

Caught off guard the French Marines manned the defences and brought their cannon to the front of the fort. A messenger raced back to the fort to call forward more men.

French Marines Counter-Attack.

As the British pressed on war cries filled the air and the Indian warriors mounted a savage counter-attack. The unit suffered heavy losses and fell back in the face of the overwhelming assault but re-grouped and reduced the Indian numbers so that only a small number engaged them in vicious hand-to-hand combat.

Indian Warriors charge the British Line.

The 44th Regiment of Foot's advance on the left flank was strong and whilst the French fire was hurried and ineffective an Indian wearing the spoils of a defeated ranger stood firm until finally British bayonets lead a decisive assault over the abatis.

The French marching out of the fort put up a solid defence, raining withering fire on the British Line, but in the end it was too late. With French and Indian forces in disarray, the French commander called a reluctant retreat. With their supply train headed out towards another French stronghold, they abandoned D'espoir.

The field of Fort D'espoir.

A British victory, but at a heavy cost.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable game. The perfect combination of john Jenkins Designs toy soldiers, gaming, good company and humour, amply lubricated with lashings of hot tea and some preposterously large helpings of Christmas cake. We are already planning our next game and look forward to enjoying another session when a fellow gamer/collector is due to visit with us from across the pond later this year.