Thursday, 8 November 2012

Battle of Sans Ile (fictional solo game) War of 1812

Battle of Sans Ile  (fictional solo game) War of 1812.  November 7, 1812

"God-d*mnit General, I want a diversion for the main landing across the St. Lawrence and I want it here!!", screamed the  Commander, his finger pointing at a small dot named "Landing de Merde" . 
"But sir..." , the General managed to get out before the Commander cut him off.
"But nothing, General!" , the commander's red face from anger and drink irrupted.
"Yes, sir" the General stated while saluting and then walked out into the miserable weather.  Too few boats, he thought and pilots and experienced crews.  I could never hope to get enough regiments across before the British hit us. Perhaps they will be caught off guard. But not likely. Lots of bluster and dreams but little preparation by this commander. 

Thus, the scenario has the Americans coming piecemeal on a small landing on the north bank of the St. Lawrence.  I began the battle with the advance guard of US Riflemen already landed.
The US Rifles and my dismounted General telling them not to go "that way!" The General is a conversion I made.  See: post

 Each subsequent regiment would land on the turn when 2d6 turned up doubles. (this was the case for the British reinforcements also).  Originally facing the Americans were pickets of the Voltigeurs, a French-Canadien light infantry unit,  guarding the east road and two small units of Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia coming across the west bridge.
my Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia, by employing French and Indian War Quebec militia in capots.  Very similar.  I placed in British officers to make them more "1812-ish"
The officers of these units, unused to command in the field, fretted about.
(I rolled a 1 for 'Orders' and for disruption. If a 1 was rolled for the random movement, this added to the disruption. Going THAT slow must be for SOME disrupting reason!  This poor rolling was to affect many units in this battle. Veteran units will be less affected, poor units more unlikely to recover.)

The American Rifles continued their probe up the west road when finally arriving at the fence line to face the militia while under ineffective artillery battery deployed in a rare opening through the heavy vegetation of the slough.  The militiamen's will then collapsed, in part it was said because one of the officers were leading them to the cemetery(!) (and my dice rolls!) and both routed back across the bridge.  But as they crossed the first of the British regiments, the 89th Foot, arrived pushing the militia out of the way. Right behind, was the de Meuron Foot (a 'Swiss' unit of the British army) coming with veteran efficiency and they quickly formed to right and left of the bridge putting the Rifles in crossfire.
The British 'de Meuron' Regiment of Foot on the bridge. Did the unit just for the colorful flag! This formation was involved in the 1814 Plattsburg campaign.

The US 16th Infantry.  It wore black tunics for much of the war.  I wanted to paint it in lieu of doing Napoleonic era Brunswickers!
Meanwhile the 16th US managed to land and move tentatively up the road to support the Rifles.   The regimental records have the colonel ordering the advance. However the officers and sergeants with proper intent to redress instead, caused some confusion and the unit retired slightly to the rear.  [ I 'ordered' the unit to advance but then noticed the forgotten 2 disorder points  which had the effect, with a poor roll {again!}, to have the unit back up according to my "Order Chart".  It would have been better in the circumstances to have the unit redress the ranks and eliminate some of the disorder points. While this 'history' is contrived, it does give the solo game fun to justify the dice!]

British artillery

By this time, the US 28th Regiment had landed but was quite disorganized by its move toward the action and taking hits from effective long range artillery fire and thus finally routing back to the landing. 

While the US 16th together with the Rifles were making a valiant stand, more British reinforcements made their way to the battlefield, as the 104th Foot arrived (this veteran unit never made a shot in anger as it continued to try to force the American flank, advancing all the while in march column without the opportunity to come to grips!) 

Behind the US 16th, the panic stricken mass of the US 28th finally reached the landing area only to come under fire from the Voltigeurs skirmishers.   Into this, the US 17th Regiment arrived on shore, moving passed those soldiers looking for a way on board the boats.  Frightened soldiers grabbed at oars and waded into the deep strong water of the river to gain space in the returning boats. Confusion reigned and the US 17th, a newly-trained unit was much disorganized by all this.  However disorganized they gainfully charged the skirmishers who retired in haste losing half their number back to the north bridge and were done as an effective unit this day.
The US 17th advance upon the Voltigeurs in the background as the US 28th mill about in confusion.  The 'cannonballs' marker show the disorder points
The 17th did not pursue the Voltigeurs but moved west to support the main force.  But this main force was already in trouble. With three full British veteran regiments in the field, the Americans were outgunned and the line started to collapse with the US 16th and Rifles falling back under steady musket fire. (the British artillery, now masked, was slowly repositioning)

The 89th perhaps angered or wanting to be gone from the cemetery, then made a large sweep forward overwhelming the 16th in close combat and having that unit, together with the General accompanying it, surrender en mass.  Continuing the charge, the 89th Foot then collided with the line of Riflemen who had just briefly rallied but who also joined the mad rush of Americans to the dubious safety of the landing. 

The 89th Foot in the cemetery I built for the historic Lundy's Lane battle
The aggressive 89th Foot, as a veteran unit, shrugged off any disorder and continued its advance smashing into the US 17th which also fell apart.  Thus all the American units had collapsed.   And with all hope of meaningful reinforcements or a way home abandoned, the wholesale surrender began.  

Against only under 100 casualties, the Americans suffered some 200 casualties with over 1000 captured including the American General.
As the General was graciously given a horse and led away, he remembered the tirade by the commander who interrupted him off before he could say. "But sir,... .....that is an island.  If the British block the bridges, as surely they will, we will have no where to go, no way to retreat.  Our force can only come piecemeal, and only by luck cross the river, as you have all the boats.  Yes, sir, we must win to get off the island, but if the British outnumber us in strength, what then?"
But he knew, the commander would not have tolerated such talk anyway. With different luck, different throws of the disorder, the whole affair would be much affected.  That is the fog of war and the story of the wargame.


  1. Great report, fantastic looking figures and terrain.


  2. Absolutely fantastic pictures and site. I've just discovered your blog. I'm just starting to paint my first 1812 figures and have been trolling around to find a site just like yours! One grey coated Regt from Scott's Brigade down and a blue coated Regt on the table.

    Keep up the great work, I'm off to sift through your older posts to look for inspiration. Thanks!

    1. Dear "Haggis"
      I am happy you like the post. Please be free to ask any questions you (or my other readers) have about the War of 1812 or anything you see on the blog. Glad to help.

  3. This looks like a great game too although I always struggle with solo games! My "group" of wargaming buddies is just starting on a War of 1812 project - I and another have just invested in a pile of Old Glory - I also got a few Knuckleduster recently. One of the other guys is planning on buying Brigade Games, which I must admit do look very nice figures. I already have heaps of Napoleonic Brits so have gone for mainly US troops for a change. You can follow my progress on my blog BYDAND. Keith

    1. I find with solo is to have a "command chart" which has a unit do certain things based on nearness to the enemy or marching while some distance away, etc. This is a simple d6 roll, 1 being the worst possible outcome, 6 the best ( for the proud soldier...not necessarily for the casualties the action will cause! ) modified by the condition of the unit based on whatever rules you are using.
      In other words, keep the decision making by each commander out of your control. Then write the history accordingly!
      Knuckleduster has some interesting units ( and poses...) and I have the Brigade Games sailors which are a bit slender compared to the others but are very nice. However the bulk of my collection are Old Glory.