Tuesday, July 3, 2012


US forces arrive. Left (your left) to right: Towson's artillery, US  9th, 22nd, and 11th infantry. Winfield Scott just behind them, discussing with his aide ways to have them all killed.
At a quarter-till-eight in the evening, American commander Winfield Scott emerged from the woods with his 1st Brigade of the Left Division and immediately came under heavy artillery fire as his troops hastened into position. There were remarkably few incidents of disorder during this challenging deployment, due in no small measure to Scott's belief in extensive drill and harsh military discipline. It was this discipline that gave his units the ability to march into effective artillery range, about 400 yards from the enemy, and stand there like Russian grenadiers, to be murdered by the bushel, as their commander tried to decide what to do next.

Winfield Scott was a blunder waiting to happen. An arrogant, aggressive, moody, and unpredictable martinet, he was also a remarkably unimaginative field commander who allowed his brigade to be practically annihilated, using up ammunition in wasted shots at out-of-range targets. We didn't use any special rules for him, but there are certainly opportunities to do so. If anyone would suddenly lose patience and order a headlong charge into the teeth of the guns, it would be Winfield Scott, as you will see in time.

Jessup's 25th advances up the right flank along an easily-missed camouflage cloth path.
Fortunately, Scott had an ace-in-the-hole: Jessup's 25th infantry, which was sent on a deep flanking maneuver up a recently-discovered track through the woods along the river on the American far right flank. The 25th included a company of light troops under the command of Ketchum, who skirmished ahead of the main body, and was responsible for taking many officers and messengers prisoner before the night was over. We did not actually march them up the flank as in the photo, but held them off-board and placed them at the start of  American turn 2 astride Lundy's Lane in line, just inside the woods, with Ketchum's tiny unit on their right in skirmish order.

And now for the fashion show. As you're no doubt already aware, Scott's brigade was issued short grey roundabouts instead of blue regimentals due to supply shortages, and the dark machinations of rival commanders elsewhere in the theater. All four regiments under his command sport these, along with the false-front "Tombstone" leather shakos, white summer trousers, and equipment as depicted below.

 Blanket rolls were not unheard of in the war, and the standard-issue pack was plain buff canvas with a light blue painted flap.  The lettering on the flap as well as the "US" on the canteen are available as water-transfer decals from Knuckleduster. The designs in the photo at left were hand-painted.

Scott was accompanied by Nathan Towson's artillery, a section of two 6lb. guns and one 5.5" howitzer, represented on the board with a 6lb. section. The gun is large; it's made by Elite and it probably a bit too big for our figures. I may be replacing these with Front Rank until Knuckleduster can design ones of their own. When choosing artillery pieces to use for the Americans, French Napoleonic pieces work well since the US appears to have mounted their guns using the Gribeauval system, and with mostly iron barrels. I had to file the Napoleonic eagle off this gun (heartbreaking thing to do to an Elite artillery tube) and sculpt an American eagle in its place.

Towson had a lot of trouble putting effective fire on the hill where the British artillery was situated. He tried different angles and methods before admitting that his fire was mostly effective only in bolstering the spirits of the American infantry and gave up. For this reason, artillery fire at the hilltop positions receives a -1 at any range.

The US dragoons. In Black Powder, the commander in the photo is superfluous (I painted him, so I'm putting him in the photo). They are rated as a tiny unit with marauding capability.
The battle began with a token cavalry force of US Light Dragoons and New York militia cavalry sitting on the Portage road awaiting instructions. High command stole them away for messengers and scouts rather than giving them any significant combat role, but they will of course be ridden into the ground by any gamer who gets his fat little hands on them.

In our scenario, the Scott's main body begins the game at the lateral road about 18 inches from the British guns, with the knowledge that reinforcements are due soon and that Jessup is away on his secret mission. The British go first. It is up to the American player, provided he survives the initial British bombardment, what to do with the main body of the 1st Brigade; whether to attack in some manner, retreat into the woods to take shelter until help arrives, or to stay put.



  1. Fantastic! I agree that Scott needlessly sacrificed the 1st brigade. The British had their own tactical blunders. I offer wonder why Drummond never deployed pickets or protected his left flank with natives. And why didn't the Glengarry attack Scott's left flank? Hence the appeal of wargaming Lundy's Lane.

  2. Drummond doesn't appear to have had a good grasp of light infantry tactics. He held his flank companies in close order on the hill; what a waste. The only effective skirmishing appears to have been the Glengarries.

  3. Drummond didn't know how to lay siege at Fort Erie either. Now that would be an interesting scenario to play.