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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Drums along the Wyoming, 1777

The French & Indian War, Muskets & Tomahawks, 28mm

While I’ve played several games using Muskets & Tomahawks, many others in the Edinburgh club hadn’t. This then was a chance for many of them to try the rules out for the first time. The game was staged over at Hugh Wilson’s house, and the rather strange but interesting-looking table consisted of what looked like a flooded valley, with lots of partially linked islands, dotted with woods and villages. This was meant to represent the Wyoming valley in north-eastern Pennsylvania colony, and the flooded banks of the Susquehanna River. A force of British and loyalists entered the valley, supported by their Iroquois allies.fiw-010Their aim was to seek vengeance on the troublesome American rebels who were quartered there. A number of small hamlets dotted the high ground of the valley, while at one end of it lay Fort Wintermoot. The objective was to clear the villages and capture the fort. Both sides were likely to receive reinforcements – the British from a late-arriving column, and the Americans from the garrison of nearby Forty Fort. The scene was set for what turned out to be a highly enjoyable game, fought out over some of the strangest terrain one can imagine!fiw-002Due to the geography of the place the British force divided in two. The “left flank” column assaulted the head of the valley, with the aim of clearing the settlements dotted around the headwaters of the valley. Then they would work their way up the far bank towards the fort. The “right flank” column (commanded by Bart and I) were to clear a settlement in front of us before rendezvousing with a party of Hessians who were to advance towards the fort by boat. We would then pin the defenders, while waiting for the “left flank” column to reach us. Then we would take and destroy the fort. It all began rather well. On the left the British and Hessian light infantry and their Indian companions breezed through the first American settlement, and massacred its militia defenders. The civilians who tried to defend their settlement were then cut to pieces by the Iroquois. The column moved on, and encountered a mixed bag of American militia and mounted riflemen.fiw-019The rebels deployed in front of another settlement, and they soon found themselves facing a mob of Indians, whooping, hollering and shooting, while the British and German regulars worked their way around the American flank. The rebels put up a good fight, and caused a few Indian casualties, but eventually they were either shot or dispersed, and the Indians moved in to “clear” the second hamlet. Having cleared the headwaters of the Susquehanna there was now nothing to stop the “left flank” column from advancing up the far bank towards the fort, passing through another defended settlement on the way.fiw-005Over on the “right flank” two companies of green-coated loyalist infantry took on the defenders of the small settlement that lay in front of them, halfway up the western bank of the river. The civilians were dispersed after firing at the loyalists, but the supporitng company of riflemen were made of sterner stuff, and caused several casualties before they were finally driven off. One particularly rewarding moment came when they fled across a creek and scrambled up the far bank. My loyalists moved forward and shot them in the back as they tried to escape – a suitably shabby end to what I saw as a pack of pesky traitors!fiw-020The loyalists moved on up the west bank of the river, where they met the part of Hessian infantrymen who had just arrived on the scene by boat. Bart’s Hessians disembarked some way short of the fort, and advanced through the woods to take on the garrison. Meanwhile the loyalists used the boats to ford the river, and they moved up in support of their German allies. The American rebels seemed in disarray, but the fort itself was well-manned by militiamen, while a company of Continental regulars blocked the western approaches to the stockade. Another company of Continentals was garrisoning the remaining settlement on the eastern bank, together with some more militia, but the American regulars spent much of the day marching and countermarching, looking for a way across the river. They would have been more useful marching to the defence of the fort.fiw-018At that point I had to leave – I had to pick up someone from the airport – but apparently the game soon reached a heady conclusion. The “left flank” column continued to sweep all before it, with the Iroquois taking the lead and massacring yet more rebel militiamen and Wyoming valley settlers. This meant they were also closing in on the fort. Meanwhile the “right flank” column had a tough time of it, as the fort’s defenders put up a heavy fire, and caused substantial casualties to the loyalists and Hessians. However, the continental regulars were eventually broken, and  after some nifty shooting by both sides the heavily-depleted Hessians managed to disperse the last of the fort’s militia defenders on the final turn. Both sides took seven out of twelve casualties in the exchange, but Bart rolled well, while the American player failed his rally roll. The game was therefore declared an emphatic British victory. Even more importantly, everyone had a great time, and the rules proved a great success. I imagine it won’t be long before we play another Muskets & Tomahawks game… a truly excellent set of rules, which – like Black Powder – help put the fun back into wargaming.fiw-012


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