Tuesday, June 26, 2012


After much experimentation, our game club has put Lundy's Lane on the table using Black Powder rules. There was a lot of anquish and hand-wringing during the research and conversion of the historical roster into something workable in Black Powder.

We had a look at our limited table size (6' x 8'), and formed our units mounted four-to-a-stand with a 15mm frontage. We chose six stands as the Black Powder average unit, eight stands as large, four stands as small, and two stands as tiny. Any stands of skirmish troops were split front and back into two half-stands, each pair counting as one stand for unit size calculations. Distances were reduced to 2/3 (12" instead of 18" for fire, etc.).

Most units could be represented in a fairly straight-forward way, but some of the smaller light infantry units were combined in order to make formations that stood a chance of survival on a Black Powder battlefield. The light companies of the 41st and 8th were combined into one "tiny" unit ("tiny" being the smallest unit in Black Powder). In other cases, larger units were split up to operate as independent wings, as appears to have been done on the actual day of battle.


Let's take a look at Gordon Drummond's position at the beginning of the battle, and begin examining the units involved and how they are represented in Black Powder.

The first view is the center of his position on a 25-foot elevation crowned by a cemetary and one-story log church and meeting house. A potentially unweildy set-piece diorama was eschewed in favor of small stands bearing clusters of tombstones and a stand-alone resin building whose entirely representative position could be nuanced in order to fit troops in where needed.

Morrison and Drummond contemplating the ghastly business at hand.
Here we have the Commander-in-Chief, General Gordon Drummond and to his right (our left), Lt. Colonel Joseph Morrison, who commanded Drummond's center: the enormous 89th, flank elements of the 41st and 8th, a substantial part of the 1st Royal Scots, and an impressive collection of artillery. In addition to these assets, he theoretically commanded 500 Western and Grand River warriors, but they decided not to be commanded that day and took little part in the day's excitement (a few might be found roaming the right flank, skirmishing, taking scalps, posing for souvenir photos, etc.).

On the right end of Morrison's position (here and henceforth his right, the reader's left) were three companies of the 1st Foot, 171 men in total, described in some accounts as "flank" companies, and in others as "light" troops. We represented this with a small unit of lights and grenadiers, the former mounted on split stands for skirmishing in mixed order.

In the graveyard we find Drummond's artillery, including 24-lb. guns (we used Elite Miniatures' Russian Licornes mannned by Victrix artillerists), a 5.5-inch howitzer (all Victrix), and a Congreve Rocket battery (Old Glory). Two of the stands here belong to Morrison; the Congreve rockets and the 24-lb gun. The howitzer belongs to the light brigade, and represents a section of two 6-lb guns and a howitzer. The howitzer was chosen over a gun in order to give the British player some interesting variety; how often do we get to play with howitzers?

In the games we have played thus far, the heavy gun was given long range fire with no penalty, and caused a -2 on the target's morale saves. This, combined with the -2 morale save suffered from Congreve and howitzer hits, made the graveyard a daunting position to assault, at least in the daylight, and satisfactorily massacred Scott's brigade if they stood to face it during the long wait for reinforcements.

Along a road behind the guns were posted the 89th foot, rated as a "large" unit in Black Powder. The 89th had black facings, and was one of only three British units that carried colours that day. Not much to say about them, except that they had black facings and, like the other British regulars that day, wore Belgic shakos. Initially, we gave the British regulars all kinds of special rules, such as first fire, crack, etc. We are in the process of taking another look at our use of special rules and perhaps trying a different approach, because we keep forgetting to apply them.

A tiny unit was created from the flank companies of the 41st and 8th. The 41st was said to be wearing white trousers as was their custom (see Osprey's British Infantry Trousers in North America), so I've painted half the figures in white trousers and half in grey. A Front Rank officer rounds out the unit.


The job of holding Drummond's left flank fell primarily upon the Incorporated Militia Battalion, a well-trained formation of Canadians who should be considered regulars in all respects. According to author Richard Feltoe, (Redcoated Plowboys, A History of the Volunteer Battalion of Upper Canada) they wore stovepipe shakos and red coats with green facings, in spite of speculation to the contrary by those who would have them in Belgic shakos and blue facings. The officers were probably in blue facings by recently introduced regulations, however many would probably still be in the round hat, very popular among officers of every ilk during the War. They would not necessarily be carrying colours, a tiny scrap of the truth I stumbled across but can no longer remember where. This is a six-stand, average-size unit in our Black Powder game.

Speaking of powder, here are some troops who took a powder in the battle. This tiny unit of dragoons is composed of Perry figures, and their counterparts were not risked on the field of battle by Riall that day in 1814, which of course doesn't prevent gamers from doing the obvious: frontal assault on the American guns! 

In the background can be glimpsed Phineas Riall, commander of most of the militia and light troops that day. One of the toughest choices to make regarding the command structure was what to do with Riall's division. His entire division is only the size of a brigade, and if two of his so-called "brigades" were only battalion-strength militia units. In our game OB we eliminated all of his subordinate commanders and traced the command of all his units directly to him. This had the most profound implications for the next two units . . .


Far out on the British right flank were The Glengarry Light Infantry, dressed exactly as Sharpe's boys, the 95th Rifles, but carrying Brown Bess muskets. They were part of Riall's division, but are considered marauders in Black Powder, which makes their extreme distance from Riall no problem when rolling for orders.

We represent them as a small unit (instead of 4 normal stands they are 8 skirmish stands). We found that Average size units with the advantages of skirmishers become far too powerful on the game table; only the lack of rocket-propelled grenades and GPS prevent them from destroying everything else on the board. It is our studied opinion that the spirit of the rules was for skirmish units to always be tiny or small, and that larger formations should be divided into these morsels.

The 36-inch journey to the commander, Riall, was an extreme impediment to the next unit, the sedentary militia of Lincoln and York. If they are meant to take a meaningful part in the battle, one has to ride over to them long enough to put them in march column, run them up the field using that formation's free moves, and then deploy into line or mixed order (they have light troops present) when close enough to use an initiative move.

In their collection of red and green regimental coats and multi-coloured civilian dress, they look just like a heavily-armed Christmas tree marching across Canada.

That does it for the British initial dispositions. The British player has a formidable position at the start of the battle, and one that must be carefully preserved until reinforcements arrive.



  1. Bravo! I am curious if Colonels in 1814 wore bicorns or belgic shakos?

  2. I'm sorely tempted to get into gaming the 1812, these posts are great for me, in that they give a good representation of the forces involved, and therefore the minis I need to collect. Keep up the good work.

  3. A great AAR, your pictures are really nice. Very nice blog too, I'll come back!

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys. Tim, I've been doing some double-checking this morning, and I think your mounted Colonels should be in Shakos for marching order, even when mounted.

  5. Very encouraging, the pics are great!

  6. Thanks Forest. I have come to the same conclusion. My other thought is to give the Glengarry Light Infantry only the skirmishers trait. Marauder does seem to turn them into Seal Team 6. BP pg 127 lists Light Infantry as sharpshooters too, but from what I read of the Glengarries, they did not have the same combat experience of the 95th.

  7. The 41st was said to be wearing white trousers as was their custom (see Osprey's British Infantry Trousers in North America)
    your Osprey's title! LOL
    But are you kidding about the white trousers?? If that correct, do I want to hear it? If so, it would mean I would have to, yes have to, repaint the 41st. (sigh) being the anal in me....

    1. Hi Doug,
      This was told to me by a researcher named Randy Ditmar; I believe it was an eyewitness observation from someone in the American lines.
      For a source, it would be worth bringing it up on the reenactor's forum; I'm sure someone there has encountered this along the way--there are 41st reenactors.

    2. Forrest,
      Within this useful website of which are no doubt aware, a specific article about trousers in the War of 1812 (it's all in the details! LOL) http://www.warof1812.ca/trousers.htm suggests grey trousers were issued even in advance of the Belgic shako.
      However the website of the 41st among others suggest white trousers but these are inevitably shown with the early stovepipe with some suggesting both were never issued to those units in Canada ( Notably: http://www.cmhslivinghistory.com/49th_equip.htm ) as if Canada was next to the moon or something. Well we know even native West Indies regiments were issued with them by 1814!
      No, for me at any rate, and for the sake of not repainting; my 41st, set for the latter 1814 Niagara campaign, will remain with grey trousers. But you did give me a bit of stroke! (grin)

  8. Fair enough; anyway, I'm sure they all looked grey by the end of the campaign, unless a 1950's housewife was doing the laundry every night!