Sunday, 23 August 2020

Carry On Up The St Lawrence - Game 3 Table and Forces


James Pendrick & the local scouts

Brackenreid, Higgins, Bonzo and the Canadian Fencibles

Murdoch with the 6th Battalion SEM and the Voltigeurs Canadiens

Jim Rockford with the 23rd US Infantry Flankers

Brett Maverick & Sergeant Columbo with the Pennsylvania Militia and Rifles

Magnum with Sergeant TJ Hooker, Buddy Rich, and the 8th US Infantry

The scenario is "Fighting Withdrawal" from "Dawns and Departures" by TooFAtLardies. All the forces are based on the lists in Mike Hobbs' "The War of 1812" supplement for Sharp Practice.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Carry On Up The St Lawrence - Chapter 6 - If you've been bad, Oh Lord I bet you have, And you've not been hit, Oh by flying lead

But even though they were sheltering in the upper storey of Cheery Welcome's tavern,  Murdoch's voltigeurs canadiens were beginning to suffer from the fire of Captain Rockford's skirmishers. Reduced to half their original numbers they were  thinking of abandoning the position, when suddenly the American officer who had been urging his men on fell to the ground. The grey-clad men from Lower Canada regained their composure and continued firing with renewed purpose. The officer was seen to recover, but not before the blue skirmish line had fallen back a little.

Meanwhile, on the right of the Canadian position, Henry Higgins could see trouble coming and there was very little he could do about it. A wall of grey was approaching and Brackenreid was nowhere to be seen. Time seemed to slow down. The Americans marched towards him. They paused, then aimed and ultimately fired. He felt an agonising pain in his shoulder and several of his men fell. The little band of redcoats recoiled from the fence and when time resumed its normal speed Higgins suddenly realised that he wasn't dead.

Then, just when it seemed as if all was lost, he heard the unmistakable sound of Bonzo's drumming and there at the fence stood Brackenreid and the rest of the company.

"!", and once again the men of the 9th U.S. infantry felt the full force of Canadian musketry. When the ringing stopped in his ears, Major Magnum saw that of his men only one rank remained.

The end?
Maybe not..................................................................

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Carry On Up The St Lawrence - Chapter 5 - Groundhog Day For Henry Higgins

Major Thomas Magnum was quite pleased with his progress down the St Lawrence thus far. He had successfully outmanoeuvred the small force sent to oppose him previously and he was pretty sure that he had managed to do the same again. Swinging off the main road he advanced parallel to it with all the speed that only American forces without any actual opposition in front of them can achieve. Having now reached the twin landmarks of Cheery Welcome's tavern and Ford's farm, he swung back towards the road in order to cut off the enemy forces.

Captain Jim Rockford deployed his flankers speedily from the orchards to the rear of the tavern, heartened by the thought of not only outsmarting the Canadians, but also replenishing supplies. He might even be allowed to burn the place to the ground too, that would be fun. But as Magnum's men were deploying to his left and rear, much to his consternation shots rang out from the fields to his right. "Oh dear, what is happening?", were not exactly the first words that came to his mind.


Mr James Pendrick was not a man who was troubled by setbacks. In fact Captain Murdoch had come to know him as a man to whom retribution and revenge came as naturally as thinking Canada belonged to America did to American presidents. He had been hurt in the previous skirmish and had barely escaped the field accompianied by only half the men he had taken into action. It was now time to do what he did best - be sneaky and devious.

Whilst Brackenreid and Murdoch had taken the militia and fencibles straight back down the Montreal road, Pendrick had patched himself up and followed the bluecoats across the countryside. Seeing the Americans turn back towards the road, he had hidden  his scouts in a field on the american flank, and when they cleared Cheery Welcome's orchards, he opened fire.

Back down the road Brackenreid and Murdoch heard the crack of musketry as the scouts opened fire. "Bloody hell Murdoch, the buggers have done it again!", he exclaimed. "Indeed I fear they have", replied Murdoch in a tone that suggested he was not entirely surprised.

"Higgins, get a shift on and take some lads down to the fence by the tavern and hold on until we get there. Murdoch, get the Voltigeurs up there with them and chivvy the militia along. I'll follow as fast as I can with the rest of the fencibles", ordered Brackenreid.

Henry Higgins sighed to himself and thought that if ever a day came when you were able to copy what people said to some sort of device and that device got stuck, it would probably sound just like Major Brackenreid. He then became very concerned as he realised that was exactly the bizarre sort of thing that his friend sergeant Crabtree would come up with. "I've been hanging around with that daft Newfie for too long", he thought to himself.

Captain Murdoch moved his men speedily down the road, and soon after Higgins had positioned himself at the fence, the Voltigeurs Canadiens opened up a destructive fire from the upper floor of the tavern. Rockford's flankers were now caught in a crossfire  between Pendrick's scouts and Murdoch's voltigeurs. Blue coats began to litter the field.

To be continued................

Pendrick's scouts open up on the flank of the advancing american skirmishers.

Magnum's men advance from the orchards
Men of the 6th battalion of the Lower Canada Embodied Milita rush to the sound of gunfire.

The Voltigeurs Canadiens open fire from the tavern.

Note: "Cheery Welcome's tavern is based on a real tavern near Oshawa owned by a Mr Acheus Moody Farewell and his wife. Details can be found here and here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Prince Rupert's Land

I feel a bit odd today, my youngest daughter and her husband flew across the pond to start a new life in Prince Rupert's Land, British North America. It's a great opportunity for them and I wish them every happiness. The NHS's loss is Canada's gain.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Carry On Up The St Lawrence - Chapter 4 - A Lot Of Shock And A Little Bit Of Awe

Amid a hail of ill-aimed lead, the men of the Canadian Fencibles stood resolute, waiting for the words of command, following the book.......

"Present, fire", and a volley not seen since in North America since the Heights of Abraham, shattered the US infantry and sent it into precipitous retreat.

Brackenreid had no time to gloat. The US rifles were now causing havoc in Pendrick's ranks and a large force of skirmishers were heading down the road toward him. "Bonzo, beat retreat!" he ordered.

Pendrick was wounded, and it was only with great difficulty that what remained of the scouts got off the field. Finally, as Magnum left the routing infantry to lead the Pennsylvania militia forward, the Fencibles turned to their left and marched towards Montreal.

American infantry rout and the militia move towards the road 

American skirmishers swarm along the Montreal road

The Pennsylvania militia exploit the Second Amendment

 The final morale levels, US at the bottom

That was the first Sharp Practice campaign game that Dave and I had fought, and I think we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It brought out all the subtleties of the rules including cards coming out at the right time that enabled  the Fencibles to deliver that final crashing volley, and  having the drummer on hand that extended Brackenreid's command range allowing him to order the scouts off the table.

At the end of the game both sides have a few of men convalescing, with the Americans having 3 men lost and the Canadians two. The volley that devastated the American ranks opened up the morale difference so much that all of the Voltigeurs Canadiens who had been hit were able to be got off the field and immediately "patched up".

Stay tuned for the next instalment..............

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Carry On Up The St Lawrence - Chapter 3 - What Goes Around Comes Around

A furious exchange of musketry opened up between the Fencibles and the approaching American infantry, with the former getting much the better of it.

But from along the road came shouts as the Voltigeurs Canadiens were driven back from their position with heavy losses caused by the American skirmishers in the woods. 

Further along the line, the pressure on Pendrick's local scouts eased as the enemy concentrated his attention on the voltigeurs. They took the opportunity to pour fire into the trees and then, full of bravado because no shots were coming in their direction and heartened by the assumed effectiveness of their own musketry, leapt over the fence and headed for the copse.

Thomas Brackenreid was as pragmatic as he was Yorkshire. He had come to terms with the fact that life had its ups and downs, and life had now decided to play silly buggers. He turned to sergeant Higgins. "Bollocks", he said resignedly.

"Murdoch, it's time to go. Get the militia  and the voltigeurs off towards Montreal. We'll hang about here for a bit and cover the road. I think Mr James-bloody-Pendrick will have to get out of his own damn mess", Brackenreid shouted up the road.

"Right away sir!", replied Murdoch and immediately sent the militia off at the double eastwards.

Meanwhile Major Thomas Magnum thought he had spotted an opportunity and, with all the impetuosity of an impetuous American  person, shouted to his men "Forget the drill book men, fire at will and fire fast!"

Sergeant T.J. Hooker wasn't too sure about this, but Magnum was in charge so there was No Ruddy Alternative. "Yeehaw" he whispered quietly to himself.



The Montreal Militia Head East. The American Rifles And Pennsylvania Militia Move Up

 Shock accumulating on the American line

The Americans disappear behind a cloud of smoke as they "go uncontrolled". The rifles have moved up to their left and can just be seen at the right of the picture. The Pennsylvania militia are behind them, desperate to make best use of their second amendment rights.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Carry On Up The St Lawrence - Chapter 2 - If You Go Down To The Woods Today.........

Major Thomas Magnum considered his options. He decide to forge ahead towards the road with the main body, but to send Captain Rockford and the skirmishers into the copse to the left.........

..........just as James Pendrick arrived with his local scouts on the road opposite, together with Captian Murdoch with the Voltiguers Canadiens. They proceded to pour some withering fire into Maverick's formation. Men were lost, but Magnum took some satisfaction in the fact that his numbers had grown too with the arrival of Captain Maverick with the Rifles and Pennsylvania Militia to his rear.

Rockford's men under fire from the scouts and voltigeurs.

The Montreal S.E.M. take up position west of the road, Captain Murdoch and Pendrick direct the skirmish line.Brackenreid and Higgins steady the Fencibles.

Magnum's men advance out of dead ground to the edge of the hill.

The Americans advance.

Thomas Brackenreid took a swig of whiskey from his flask and looked around. He was as happy as a Yorkshireman could ever be. The Fencibles were steady, the skirmishers seemed to be getting the better of the Americans in the copse, and the Milita were deployed to the rear. He turned to look at his sergeant: "Now Higgins, now's your time!" he cried.

[camera pans out for dramatic wide shot of the field]