Monday, September 26, 2011

AAR - La Longue Carbine (F&IW Sharp Practice)

A recent discovery was made while going through my wife's family heirlooms. In the back of an old desk that was recovered from the family home place in Oxford, Georgia. Taking the desk to an appraiser to determine if there was any value to this antique revealed a secret compartment in the back of the desk where in a bundle of yellowed and faded letters were found. These turned out to be a series of correspondence of a distant relative Elihu Roberts. In addition to the letters was a surprising roll of charcoal drawings depicting scenes from Elihu's military service. These are reproduced faithfully here.

What we have discovered was that Elihu was the second generation of the family to live in the United States. Born on a frontier farm in New Hampshire, Elihu served as a Ranger during the French and Indian War. What makes the letters interesting is that they provide some colorful and insightful glimpses into the small actions that occurred in the back woods during this conflict. The only action we have discovered so far that Elihu details that an official report verifies is a brief action that took place where Elihu's Ranger Company were attempting to rescue some hostages captured by a band of hostile Abenakis Indians. The letter is dated 1756. The month and day are obscured with the age of the document.

The letter begins with a personal greeting to his wife Martha. Quickly he moves to the meat of the story. He begins with outrage at the "Damnable lies and outright falsification of facts offered by that yellow cur dog in an officer's uniform." It was this sentence that led for a search for another account of the action. It was found in the papers of Colonel Sir Bradly Pascall, then a lieutenant of Light Infantry serving on the frontier. What is fascinating is the descriptions of the skirmish read as if they were two separate actions except for the personnel referenced and the situations being identical.

What both accounts agree upon is that there were a body of captives taken by the Indians. The previous day, an unsuccessful attempt was made to secure the captives in a fight near a beaver pond. Here both accounts agree. The next day, the Rangers continue the pursuit and reach the party on the downward slope of a mountain before the Light Infantry arrive. It is here that the similarities begin to diverge. I will begin with quoting from Elihu's letter. His spelling and verbiage are maintained except for a few instances where his script is unintelligible.

From Elihu's letter, "Our Serjeant was one of the best marksmen and trackers in all of the Rangers. He was as quiet in the woods as any red injun and twice the man of any Regular we had ever met. Serjeant Duncan Kelley was acting as captain of the company and led us in pursuit of the red villains that done took them folks. We were in hot pursuit. Sending a couple of fleet footed boys ahead of the company, they fouled up the ambush ole Burning Brook had set for us. Spyin them out, Kelley had us split into two parties. He took ten men with him and Corporeal ??? took the other ten. I was with the Corporeal. Kelley took his party straight at those red devils and commenced to fire upon them. Kelley's men fired accurate and true. I personally saw several of them fall from his men's fire. Our bunch tried to move through the woods in order to catch'em up from behind."

At this point lets look at the official report of the action as filed by then Lieutenant Pascall. "In the morning the Rangers that accompanied our party moved off into the wilderness in pursuit of the savages. The Sergeant leading their number had spied a party of red skins and began to engage them from an impractical distance doing little harm other than notifying the enemy of the presence of his men."

It appears that Elihu was aware of the text of the official report and would comment on this report throughout his letter. "That no account liar was not even present when the Serjeant began to fight. We fought them from no more than 20 yards away."

Continuing his account, "We had difficulty moving through the rough ground. We had only moved about half way around them rascals when the Corporeal spotted some movement down toward the lake. Looking closely, he spotted a group of Canadian Militia in the woods. We had climbed on top of a rocky outcropping and had the drop on them Frenchies. The Corporeal ordered us to fire and it shook them mighty hard. I am pretty sure my round struck home as as saw my man fall. This put the militia into considerable confusion."

What is interesting to note is that Pascall's report does not feature the Canadien Militia at all. He only mentions the French Compaigne Franche de la Marine soldiers who came to the Indians aide. Elihu also discusses the French Marines in his letter. Their arrival was after the initial arrival of the British Light Infantry led by Pascall.

"After firing on the Frenchies, we backed down off the hill to approach the Injuns from their flank. Once we had backed down the hill, we had a good sight of the path on the other side of the Injun war party. That is when I recognized their chief - Black Brook. This was definitely the bunch we was looking for. I never did spy out the other fellow, Big Tree. Once we spotted them, they spun and turned their backs to us. We next saw what had spooked them, the Light Infantry had finally arrived. They stopped some 20 feet from Black Brook's bunch and just looked at them. It was the oddest thing. Black Brook fired into the Light Infantry but it did not appear to have any effect as the next thing you knew, the Lights got their backs up and charged. What I thought odd was that they did not fix bayonets. The one advantage they had over the savages in a fight and they did not use them. Well that decision cost them dearly. I spotted at least two red coats laying on the ground and the backs of the Lights as they ran away from Black Brooks band. Ole Black Brook seemed dazed by the exchange and did not pursue."

The account provided by Pascall differs considerably. "We burst upon the trail and spotted a large formation of the Abenakis Indians. We promptly charged into the backs of the Indians. In a fierce fight, I lost two men under my command. Given their strong position we were obliged to fall back, but not before taking a terrible toll on them. From our new position we began a murderous fire upon them. This broke them and they fled down to flee in their canoes across the lake. It was at this point that we rescued one of the captives. The man had taken the initiative and fled from the Indians as they approached the lake. From his story, I learned that the head start that Chief Jarome had was just too great. The captives had surely been taken across the lake before we even fired a shot. To continue pursuit would incur too great a loss for no chance of reward."

Elihu contends that upon being repulsed, Pascall began to fall back. "Once the Lights were compelled to fall back from loosing their fight against Big Tree, the French Marines made their appearance. The appearance of the French Marines was the straw that broke the cowardly camels back and the lobster backs began their flight away even though we were so close to rescuing the whole body of captives."

It appears that Elihu and the Rangers were not aware that Pascall's men had rescued one of the captives. They believed that the captives were just ahead at the lake shore, there to be rescued. "We watched in horror as the light infantry backed away. They left us to deal with the French and Injuns by ourselves. However, it is at this point that the most humorous event occurred. The French Marines moved to the wood line to take an advantageous position to fire on the retreating Light Infantry. When all of a sudden they fled across the path opening themselves to Serjeant Kelley's men. A bear chased them from the wood. The look of fright upon their faces caused many a man among the rangers to laugh. The beast was a scrawny hungry thing that was looking for any scrap of food to last it through the winter. The Marines sorted themselves out and detailed some men to put down the poor creature. Kelley's boys took advantage of the exposed Marines and began to pick them off. I learned from Buford that Kelly took careful aim at the French Captain and shot his hat from the man's head in a show of great marksmanship."

"Later I learned that it was not all of the Lights that were yellabellies, just their officer. Their serjeant ordered a volley fire during their retreat that took a considerable toll on the French Marines. We added our fire to their and Kelley's men. Surely it was hot work for for those Frenchmen pinned three ways on the trail."

It is important to note the differences in Pascall's claims. "Knowing that the captives were lost, we fell back along the path that we came up. We formed a line and put volley after volley into the French Marines that had come to support their fleeing Indian allies. The French Marines were shaken badly by the force of our volleys and we were able to safely make our way back to the fort."

Elihu notes that the skirmish was hardly over when they left. "The echoes of the Light Infantry muskets fades as they ran back to the fort when out of the woods, the Canadien Militia burst out upon us. We exchanged volleys briefly but both parties had enough for that day. In the fighting, our Corporeal was gravely wounded. I was one of the men who carried him from the wood back up the mountain. We lost one other man before we were able to break away. The militia turned on their heels and fled back as well. Kelley moved with great discipline backwards keeping the French Marines pinned as they pulled away. Kelley lost two good men dead in this foolishness."


I played the game on Saturday, September 24th, 2011. Mark created a whale of a scenario that the two of us played through. It was made for four players but only the two of us were available. The pictures do not show it, but the game was absolutely beautiful. Mark modeled a mountainside leading down to a lake where the Indian's canoes were waiting for them.

The game was great fun. The bear appearance was very humorous. The Indians under Black Brook fled to the lake and actually sank two of their canoes in their haste. The Indians under Jarome/Big Tree attempted to recapture one of the captives who got loose early on in the game. This prevented them from fleeing early on. Once the men returned, the Indians made their escape with 4 or 5 of their captives. Lieutenant Pascall was generally disliked by his men. As such, I made him a weasel who fled out on the Rangers when things looked tough. The Rangers did not do badly but never came close to the captives. They got stuck in a fight with the Indians first and the French Marines after them. I hope Mark publishes this one in a special or supplement of some kind as it was not only a good scenario, but great fun too.

One of these days, we need to have a games day here in Atlanta.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Work on the Frigate

Well last night I had the opportunity to work a little bit more on the Frigate. Most of the main rigging in in place. The braces still have to be done as well as deciding how to do the shrouds and backstays. The model came with a mesh that you are supposed to cut to shape and glue in place. I am tempted to just go with this. Another method would be to cut more wire and glue a multitude of those together for them. I do not think my patience can handle that. Anyway, I spent an hour on it and achieved remarkably little for the effort. I should be able to get cracking on it again this weekend. My mother-in-law has offered to babysit and my wife feels the urge to scrapbook. This could be one of those rare golden opportunities to get something done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Terrain has arrived!

I just got my brand spanking new ruined building from Fieldworks. It is item F10 "Derelict Buildings". It is an L shaped building with one section with a removable second floor. It looks like it will be entirely compatible with the three buildings that I have from JR Miniatures. It has a base of about 7 1/4" by 6 3/4". There are no discernible air bubbles in the piece which is nice. It arrived in a much larger box and was packed extraordinarily well. I now have plenty of bubble wrap to play with.
Once unpacked it was a nice model.
Anyway, this will make a nice addition to my slowly growing collection of urban terrain.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Reassessing the Project Bin

In my continuing fight with my Wargamer's Attention Deficit, I am struggling with what to work on next. The CY6 Game this past weekend has gotten me back interested in North Africa again. Inter-library loan has once again come through and I have Christopher Shores book on North Africa again. I am looking to expand the supplement I wrote with the first few desert actions leading up and through Operation Compass. Fortunately, there is some new scholarship out there concentrating on the Italians for this period. In support of this I have purchased additional Pico Armor aircraft. I picked up 9 CR.42s, 9 MC.200s and 8 SM.79s. The fighters are multi-part models which are slightly daunting but not nearly as daunting as the thought of painting them. What I have found online gives some references to the camo patterns but what I need is something more explicit. Does anyone out there have a painting guide that gives some specific paint colors and a how to on these camo patterns? At the same time I am working on scenarios for the Italians on the Eastern Front during August to December 1941. This has been fun to research but is requiring me to learn some Italians in the process. With 4 years of High School Catholic education, they never taught me any Latin. The standards dropped post Vatican 2. While it made the experience less painful at the time, I sure could have used that now. Then there is still the frigate. Boldly taunting me from my painting table. My wire cutters are nearly worn out and each wire I cut is bent at the end and needs to be straightened thus slowing the process. I will get back to this by the weekend.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

AAR - Check Your Six over Greece

A recently discovered document has been unearthed has been unearthed dealing with the German invasion of Greece. This document is the proceedings from a courts-martial of a Greek officer following an unusual incident. The trial an incident the striking of a superior officer after a particularly disastrous action attempting to defend the harbour facilities near Athens on the 14th of April, 1941.

"If it will please the court, in order to fully explain the events that led to the incident it is necessary to recap the several days preceding. On Thursday evening a rather spirited game of cards was held between the pilots of 24 Mira and the Captain's artillery company of Evanzone's Division. Lieutenant Milos Papadopolouis and myself won a considerable sum from the Evanzones and Captain Yannis Manos in particular. At the close of the evening, the Evanzones were unable to pay their debts and went so far as to accuse us of having cheated. Threats were issues and the implication was that if our aircraft were seen over their anti aircraft guns, we would be fair targets."

"Friday, Lieutenant Papadopolouis and myself were called upon to join elements of the British 80 Squadron and 33 Squadron."

Translators note, the section of 33 Squadron was lead by the Ace Prattle and included later Children's Author Roald Dahl. It was unclear who the pilots were from 80 Squadron but this day also would see 80 Squadron's ace Flight Lieutenant Woods would also be hot down during some aspect of this fight. It is unclear if Lieutenant Elias Stephanopolous and his wing man were witnesses to Woods demise as well. British records clearly indicate that Dahl survived the day but this record implies he was also shot down. No other sources verify this.

"We kept well clear of the guns surrounding the port facility given the threats we had received from the Captain and his men. We spotted the first four German aircraft, Bf 110s, arriving in pairs and headed directly for the port. We maneuvered to come in behind the Bf 110s while the two British sections drove straight ahead at the aircraft. As they closed, we spotted two additional German fighters arriving above us. We adjusted our course to attempt to intercept the new aircraft which were Bf109s. Our French MB 151s were far slower aircraft and we were to circle behind them."

"The air battle between the British and German fighters did not go well. One suicidal lunatic among the Bf110s rammed two British planes causing all three two eventually crash. This left only the ace Prattle in the air from 33 squadron. The 80 Squadron fellows drove straight at the lead Bf 110s but failed to shoot one down. They turned to follow the lead aircraft when the wingman of the suicidal chap began to hammer away at one of the British planes. It appeared that the Bf 110 was behind the hurricane for a full minute but did not do significant damage to shoot the plane down. This had to be the luckiest pilot that I have ever seen. Eventually he was able to loop away from the German."

"We were still closing in on the incoming Bf 109s that were following behind the Bf 110s. It is at this point that the initial German aircraft reached the anti-aircraft guns of the Evanzones. Whatever their faults, they new their business. The two initial Bf 110s flew in very low and did not present a target to the gunners until they were on top of their positions. As I learned later, one of the light guns was destroyed in the engagement. But both of the attacking planes were hit. One took numerous hits from the AA batteries and fell from the sky. However, one of the AA Batteries took a direct hit from the low flying aircraft and was destroyed."

"The Bf109s led us into the main fight with the British and German fighters. We had several shots on the Bf 109s and caused some hits but our light guns were not strong enough to damage the aircraft. 80 Squadron has similar luck and chased one of the Bf 110s from our field of view. As the battle raged on, Prattle was closed on by one of the Bf 109s and shot down. This pilot also claimed one of the fighters from 80 Squadron as well."

"At this point, we were the last remaining allied aircraft in the area. My wingman and I were flying among four enemy aircraft. The battle brought us lower and lower towards the earth. My wingman was shot down leaving me as the sole allied aircraft on the table. I pulled up and left the Germans to return home at this point."

Translators note: It is at this point the document begins to cover the cause of the courts-martial. But being that the incident is not entirely germane to our study of the air conflict over Greece in 1941 we will just summarize it here. Apparently the Evanzones sought out Lieutenant Elias Stephanopolous and began an altercation in which the battery captain challenged his courage and resolve in the fight and blamed him for the cause of the death of his men. At which point, Lt Stephanopolous resorted to fisticuffs and breaking the Captain's jaw before authorities could arrive. Little has been discovered of the combatants before or after this one incident. The document was discovered in a farmhouse outside of Athens. It seems there was a large quantity of paperwork stored at this farm that the farmer had been using for some time now to line the bottom of a chicken coop. This was one of the salvaged documents. How it came to be here, we may never know.


This is my biased AAR of a great Check Your 6 game that I enjoyed last Sunday with Mark and James. I commanded the two Greek aircraft as well as the AA Batteries. It was great fun. Thanks Mark and James. The lighting at the new Gigabytes store is terrible and that accounts for there only being one picture in this AAR as they all came out bad. Until I can steal away the camera and get better shots, I will limit the poor quality of pictures I subject everyone too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Frigate Updates - More Rigging

The rigging of the ship is proving to be a tedious task. Unfortunately the pictures I took are rather terrible. So I will only post one of them here. You can make out the wire that I am using on the table top and on the model. I think this will take several more hours of work to get this part done.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Frigate Update - Rigging

I attempted to use the rigging that came with the kit. It was a close to nine feet of elastic cord. This did not look the way I wanted it to so I pulled it off of the ship and tried again. War Artisan Workshop has instructions for rigging their ships by running elmer's glue on cotton thread. This creates a stiff thread that you cut to size and glue in place. Their ships are 1/300th scale. I tried to fix the elastic cord this way and that was a total failure. What I settled on was using lengths of cut floral wire. This will need to be painted black but it will serve the same purpose as the stiffened cotton thread for the smaller scale ships. It is sturdy and will hold its shape while it is glued in place. I also glued a dolphin striker and a spar across the bow spirit. Both of these still need to be painted. And speaking of paint, I got the interior railings painted as well. It is really starting to shape up. No pictures this post. I will try to take some at lunch and update this.