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Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Boucharde Raid 10th of May 1758 – French Indian Wars.

This little known raid by a small band of Rogers Rangers and Indian Allies is but a footnote in the historical records so you may never have come across it before, indeed unless you read an article in Wargames Manual 1983 this maybe the first time it’s come to light since then.

This is the backdrop to my 3rd game to be played down in deepest darkest Devon in about 6 days now.

The corridor of the Richelieu River, down through Lake Champlain and Lake George into the Hudson Valley was seen as one of the 3 strategic keys to the fighting in North America during the period we refer to as the French Indian Wars, some may know it as the 1st of the World Wars others as the 7 Years War.

New France and New Britain - the disputed area behind the East coast are the Appalachian Mts.

There were some 2 million people in the East Coast Colonies and about 60,000 in New France, a bit of a one sided struggle.

The war started early in the great American woodlands, more a push west by the Colonists on the East Coast, eager for land and the only 3 things stopping them were the Appalachian Mountains, the French.

Plus of course there were the people who already lived there. They had been quite happy fighting each other but then the Europeans came and they had to take a side in that conflict. They split along old battle lines in the East, the Algonquin and Huron against the 5 or 6 nations of the Iroquois confederacy, they had long been competitors and traditional enemies so no great change there.

It was a war conducted in a large under populated landscape of huge woodlands and big rivers, I am only interested at this stage in the area around Lake George a 35 mile long lake, south west of it’s huge neighbour Lake Champlain.

In 1755 the British had moved up the Hudson and been met by the French moving down Lake Champlain, they fought an inconclusive battle at the South end of Lake George, the French retired to the north end of the lake and built Fort Carillon and the British strengthened Fort Edward and built Fort William Henry at the south end of the lake.

This is my hand drawn map of Lake George or Lac Saint Sacrement, based on one by James Gabriel Montresor that I think I found in the Library of Congress. I forgot to put a scale on it but from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry appears to be about 10 miles.

1756 saw little direct action in the region, but there were lots of scouting missions. The area is difficult terrain, the only wagon tracks are from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry and from the portage at the north end of Lake George to Fort Carillon, the river there is impassable. All movement of large bodies of troops is pretty much by boat.

1757 In January Roberts Rangers were active up around the North end of the lake and having taken some prisoners were discovered by the French and ambushed, about half of the Rangers made it back to William Henry. This was called the 1st Battle on Snowshoes.

1757 in March there was a short siege of William Henry but the French were not strong enough to take it, they burned 300 bateaux and put a dent in the British plans.

1757 in July The British commander at Ft William Henry sent a strong scouting force of 350 men up Lake George in new bateaux, they were ambushed and a few made it back. About 10 days later the French moved down the lake in force.

1757 August The siege and capture of Fort William Henry made famous in Last of the Mohican’s. The fort was destroyed by the French and not rebuilt.

1758 in March Rogers led 180 men, in 4’ deep snow, north from Fort Edward to Fort Carillon they ambushed a group of Indians from the fort but in turn ran into an ambush themselves and retreated, they were only able to escape because they had snowshoe’s and the French didn’t. Strangely it’s also called the Battle on Snowshoes but it’s probably more famous for Rogers Rock or Rogers Slide.

Reputedly to escape the pursuit Rogers slide down this rock to the frozen lake and got away.

1758 in May following the defeat of the much vaunted Rangers the French were preparing another strike on Fort Edward and to assist in this they had established a small supply depot at Boucharde Bay on the west shore of Lake George under the command of Captain Louis-Philippe Le Dossu d’Herbecourt. This is my story, taken from an article by Steve Hezzlewood and was a defining moment for me, I stopped fighting large battles and started skirmish actions and then I found Bryan's Blog may the Nuns of St Mary of the Blessed Handkerchief forgive me.

An artists impression of the depot at Boucharde Bay, the Powder Store is in the large building in the centre.

A couple more pictures of what the depot might have looked like.

The barracks are on the far side of the powder store.

Just a pretty picture.

The start of the journey a long way south of Boucharde Bay on the Hudson River, the landing stage just below Fort Edward. This was called the Great Carrying Place because from here, to go north you had to walk until you came to the next piece of water.

The main encampment, food for the men and shelter for those passing through to the fort.

Log cabins are the iconic backwoods building, this one was built many years ago and now has a door, especially for this game, but one of the first things built at Fort George was a sawmill and so even in remote places, planked buildings would be seen.

One of the many bateaux plying the Hudson River between Albany and Fort Edward.

Coming in to land moving against the flow of the water is a home made bateaux.

Perfectly positioned to make a landing and is that Major Rogers himself in the bow. Sorry that was my Irish accent. ;)

Watched over by the watchman in the watch tower. Sorry!!!

Major Rogers orders are to move up Lake George by bateaux and destroy the powder magazine at Boucharde Bay.

Well that’s easily said but the bateaux have been built on the Hudson River near Ft Edward and need to be moved to the south of Lake George. It takes a lot of horse power to move these boats and not everyone is happy about it.

Captain Lacy thinks this is beneath his dignity, he’s recently come from fighting in the European wars and this backwoods show is not to his liking, where does a man get a bath, shave and a good hot Whore in this gawd forsaken wilderness. Even the scar he got at the Battle of Fontenoy is more livid than usual.

Nathanial Jones helping in this difficult task and he likes it about as much as Captain Lacy. He’s not worried about the bath and shave because he knows where to get a hot Whore, but even so this is dangerous work. The Indians allied to the French are constantly raiding in the area and a sharp look out needs to be kept at all times.

When these Bateaux fall off the wagon it’s just like a long term drunk, they both go with a big bang.

Journeys end, they have finally arrived at the south end of Lake George and this is the last bateaux needed for the raid. The ruins of Fort George are just in the foreground out of sight.

A hardy mixture of Native Americans and Incomers.

The final Bateaux makes it weary way to the waters edge. I was quite pleased with these, they are Lego and I picked them up for 50pence each in a flea market.

Target practice for some of the woodsmen who will be part of the raid.

Down by the waters edge Major Roberts greets Silas B Huggett. Roberts is delegating the raid to Silas, here he introduces him to the 2 Officers of Engineers who will be accompanying him. They are the ones who will set the charges to blow the powder, all Huggett has to do is get them into the powder store and hopefully back out as well.

After quickly wishing them the best of luck the expedition loads up the bateaux and set off up Lake George on their way to Boucharde Bay and whatever destiny has in store for them.

They keep closely together as they make their way northwards, its a 20 mile row and they need to do it in 1 day.

Silas in the big dory with the bulk of his Rangers and the Engineers, surrounded by smaller bateaux carrying the Indians.

After hours of rowing they arrive just south of Boucharde Bay. They are hoping they don’t get the same reception as their compatriots did at Sabbath Day Point.

Someone always has to go first. The lead boat goes in to make sure it's safe.

Quickly jumping out of the boat they spread out looking for any sign of the enemy, but there are none.

As the rest of the raiding party quickly row to shore.

And disembark. The landing seems to have been a complete success.

The last ones off, and the raiding party has made it safely ashore and as far as they can see, they have been unobserved.

Quickly Silas delegates a boat guard and they finalise their plans.

Meanwhile Captain Louis-Philippe Le Dossu d’Herbecourt and a detachment of the Regiment Du Languedoc, with other troops are marching south.

This seems to be quite a strong detachment.

So it looks like Silas Huggett and his force are going to be outnumbered by at least 2 to 1 maybe more and so a stealthy approach is going to be in order, but that's what his Rangers were recruited for, and his Indian Allies were born to this style of warfare.

They will not stand in line and face musket volleys but will use whatever cover is available. One of the tricks they have perfected is 2 man rolling fire. The musket takes a long time to load, about 20 seconds and so the trick was for 2 men to use a tree for cover, one fires from 1 side as the other loads, then they swop roles.
We are going to be using my rules and it takes 3 periods to load a musket, a man can run a long way in that time.

As with the previous post we shall be using a different set of terrain boards, also by Silent Invader from the LAF, he built them for a Game of Thrones/Canadian wilderness setting and I think they look brilliant, so am really looking forwards to seeing them in the flesh.

Just to whet your appetite.

I thought I'd just show a few shots from my trial game. The Rangers attacked in the early morning.

The Rangers creeping through the corn field with a lone French Sentry making the rounds.
Once the French were awake, things got a little tricky.
And then even trickier.
These guys had a lot of trouble getting in to the Powder store.

I shall not tell you how it went but it was an amazingly exciting game, I just hope it goes as well next week because I think it's got the potential to be a total disaster with some bad dice rolls, although I must have played this out 5 or 6 times over the years and don't remember it ever being a bad game, mind you I can't remember what I had for breakfast so that's no comfort.

Well if you're still here - thanks for reading.

Friday, 2 November 2018

DevLAM in the Desert - The Scoop

It’s like going to see the Head Mistress at Roedean moaned Katie Monk to her cameraman, you know never know why she wants to see you. Could be smoking behind the bike sheds, or the small incident in town with the butchers boy, what ever it is, it’s usually the one thing you’re not prepared for. What do you think it could be this time, I know we didn’t cover ourselves with glory on that last story, but if it hadn’t been for that interfering mother it would have been fine, we should have got an award for investigative journalism instead of being hauled over the coals.

Donald Tronji reflected on that last shit storm, the kids were all happy and content, they were living in a very poor country, in squalor, very little to eat and washing in the street drain but they had been happy. Katie wanted a piece to camera with a grubby, crying little bairn so she could bewail their plight on national TV. The upshot was she had hit the kid in face, made his nose bleed, thrown him in a muddy puddle and she had the centre of her piece ready for the camera in no time at all. The look of concern she had on her face as she started the third take was as good as it had been on the first, she was good. Katie had to pinch the child hard to make him continue crying for the last shot but it was going well, they would soon have everything in the can and be able to get out of this godforsaken hole.

The problem was the child’s mother saw everything, there was hell to pay, the Press Council was called in, even a question in Parliament, although that was about Police brutality not Press brutality (you know they never get their facts right) and the Editor would have sacked them both on the spot except that the news station owner thought Katie was the best thing since smoked kippers, and he liked smoked kippers.

Even so they had a severe dressing down and missed a couple of good stories that had gone to other reporters who were more the flavour of the month with the Boss.

Don Tronji wondered and not for the first time how long could he put up with this woman, and the answer was the same every time, as long as he got paid top dollar. They were a successful team, she had no morals or scruples where a story was concerned and would do anything to get it and his ratings in the industry as her camera man were sky high, a crying brat was a small price to pay.

Liam O’Rorke was wondering pretty much the same thing as Katie, not about the Butchers boy or Roedean but about why the Boss wanted to see him and his cameraman so early in the morning. Damn the man, where was he, Liam had tried all the usual haunts but Billy was no where to be found, he would be sleeping off another drunken binge, that’s for sure. There’s going to come a time I won’t pull his chestnuts out of the fire he thought, and if he wasn’t the best S.L.R. man in the game, drunk or sober it would have happened before now.

I wonder what excuse I can give this time, but then again the Boss knows his problems, after all he is his son, must have been difficult bringing him up without a mother, but other kids don’t seem to go so far off the rails. Well not all of them.

The Editor was waiting in the corridor for them, this wasn’t looking so good.

Katie pushed to the front and slapping a bright smile on her hard but beautiful face said Hi Boss it’s good to see you, I waited for Liam to get here otherwise we would have been on time. Liam just glowered at this lying toe rag of a woman but said nothing.

Joe Diamond looked questioningly at Liam but he just shrugged so Joe didn’t ask where his son was.

Ok I think you all know Mr Kolinski the company lawyer, I’ve asked him to sit in on our meeting and give us the benefit of his knowledge on State Security and the law of Trespass, that sort of thing. This caused a few raised eyebrows and Liam wondered where this was going, maybe not where he wanted it to, but it was nectar to Katie.

OK come to my office and we’ll go over the details.

Well I’ll get straight to the point, we’ve had contact from a fellow name of Tomori Daisuke, I’m still not sure which is his given name but no matter, his story is interesting though. Claims he was flying over the Mojave Desert with his Boss Hasimoto Taichi, that got everyone’s attention, when the helicopter had an engine problem and they went down in a fairly controlled landing in a small built up area. They called for assistance and were informed that they were in a restricted area and to sit tight and some one would come and escort them out.

He talks of humans there who behaved unnaturally, they seemed to shamble and have very little coordination, like they were on drugs or something, but then they got violent and people got hurt. He’s not seen his Boss since then. He made his own way out because the security guards were also attacked by these drugged up people and surprisingly he made it back to civilisation. He was fairly certain that one of the other occupants of the helicopter Okumura Katashi was alive and well but both of them headed in a different direction to get away from trouble. When he had a phone signal he called Katashi but some one else answered the call, they wanted him to stay where he was and said they would come and collect him, when he asked to speak to Katashi they just said he’s safe and well, just give us you location Sir and we will collect you.

It was the Sir that did it, he broke the Sim card and destroyed the phone, 5 minutes later a black sedan pulled up and 4 serious looking men got out. He’s been on the run, laying low since then, but called us twice a day until eventually Tammy Jones in reception thought there might be a story in it and put him through. After five minutes Bill thought there was some thing in it, we have Daisuke in hiding with a couple of good men looking after him.

We’ve checked out what we can, the helicopter crash was 500 miles further north than Daisuke says they were and was a burned out wreck, with three passengers, no survivors. The radio call wasn’t logged, the flight record show it was not going over the Mojave and Daisuke was not on the passenger list. So either Daisuke is lying or there’s a big cover up. I favour the cover up because the flight log says it was the 21st but we’ve a witness lives next to the field who is sure it was the 20th when they left. He’s a bit of a weird young man but described the 3rd passenger as a very attractive oriental woman with green hair, and that has to be Amori Mizuke the girlfriend and she was reported as one of the fatalities in the crash.

Katie I know you’ll want Gasper your normal bodyguard on the job and I’ve got Big Freddie on stand by, but I’m going to pull in a couple more guy’s for this, better to be safe.

The guy’s in planning think the best way for you to go in is either by helicopter or boat, if they’re there they’ll be ready for trucks. We sent an unmanned drone over the area, but there was a technical failure and we got no pictures back, in fact strangely the drone must have crashed because the pilot lost contact with it shortly after the tech problem with the camera.

So we’ve hired an old river boat the Marie Ann, that’s where we were flying the drone from when we lost it.

The skipper says he can tow a raft carrying a couple of vehicles up the Mojave River and put you ashore close to where we think the buildings are, there was an old adobe village out in the desert, it’s shown on old maps but there’s nothing visible on Google Earth so it’s either not there or it’s been redacted. It’s not quite where Daisuke thinks his buildings are but nothing else is showing up either so it’s our best bet.


Check out Daisuke’s report to see what he says happened, make your own mind up but you will be leaving in 24 hours, I want you to work as a team and I mean you Katie.

I think we have a story on our hands, it could be big and it could be dangerous, I want you to go down there and find out.

OK Kolinski, I think we’ve got trouble with this one, I want you working day and night to get a water tight case together so that if it turns nasty and the Government is involved we can stonewall them forever.

This is the start of one of my games for DevLAM 18 I hope you’ve seen some of the posts the Mad Lord Snapcase has done for his game, they are over on the right somewhere. He’s put an enormous amount of effort into his offering, including building err buildings, a canal, lock gates, fences, as well as painting figures and generally being very creative, his back story is clever, witty, erudite and well worth a read if you’ve not seen it.

If you read my post The Mabel Street Mob to the Rescue you will have seen Mi Lords desert mat, I was much taken with it at the time and this game that I’ve just laid the foundation for came into my head driving home from our meet a year ago.

So to get things rolling I played out an introduction to this game to set the scene, that was the story Red Sparrow Down which left some questions unanswered, maybe they will get answered here and maybe there will just be blood in the desert, who knows.

I’m hoping I don’t have the US Intelligence guy’s hacking into my computer and censoring my reports like last time.

Since then, and at great expense The Mad Lord has purchased from a master modeller Silent Invader on the LAF, three separate sets of boards, one of which is arid desert scenery, I’ve only seen pictures but I would give my eye teeth to own it. Maybe I can get it in the back of the car without him knowing, we’ll see. I might need a bigger car. Humm.

These are the boards and I can’t say how excited I am to be able to play a game on terrain of this quality.

Anyway the boards have built in adobe houses, and the roofs don’t lift off, not quite what I’d envisaged as a secret research facility but they are superb and so I shall try and weave the story around them. Maybe I can have underground bunkers below the buildings.

Any thoughts?

I still have some work to do on the specific detail of the scenario but I know what I’m after and it’s coming along, hopefully it will be alright on the night.

Well if you’re still here - thanks for reading.