Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Quebec 1759 in 2mm: Part 2

A look now at some of the supporting acts in the drama of re-creating the battle of the Plains of Abraham in 2mm. Whereas constructing large sized battalion bases for the regular contingents was relatively straightforward, the very nature of irregular troops does not lend itself very well to being depicted by tiny men. A nice solid line of redcoats pops out against the background terrain, but how to create a visually appealing base of types who are doing their best not to be seen?

The result was obviously going to involve some compromises, firstly in the size of the bases themselves. I had not settled on a particular set of rules for this project, and was likely to use a modification or 'home brew' version of either 2x2 Napoleonics or Horse, Foot and Guns, so luckily could operate outside of normal basing conventions, but the more awkwardly sized a base, the worse it is in dealing with such tiny miniatures.
It is for that reason that I decided on using a regular, half sized, 40x40mm base for the Rangers etc, that although not present in the centre of the line of battle, were intrinsic to the events that happened during the engagement. To break down the units into any smaller sizes would perhaps be more historically correct in appearance, but would mean that the troops would simply get lost on the tabletop!

First up is perhaps the best example of this, namely bases of the First Nations Peoples that were allied to both the French and English, although at Quebec were principally operating for the former.
Montcalm could call on the services of perhaps 2,000 warriors, but it was not reasonable to expect that they would operate on the field; what was more significant was their impact on the wooded edges of the battlefield, and particularly in forcing Brigadier Townsend, on the left of the English line, to form elements of Amherst's 15th Foot, and the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the Royal Americans in echelon to the main line to deal with their skirmishers.

Their bases were formed from 2 x BG23 10 man skirmisher blocks, fronted by 2 x IK1 infantry from the Modern range, and following an excellent suggestion from Tony at Tiny Tin, 2 x ABG12 light infantry archers; gotta have some bows! The latter strips were cut into random lengths and spread out across the front of the base itself. It is not easy depicting the colourful clothing of the Natives in 2mm, but I think he has done quite a good job:

Next we see some Acadian or local Militia, the so-called Coureurs de Bois, who would also appear on the flanks at Quebec; Tiny Tin Troops added in some of the distinctive coloured Capot headgear to make these guys stand out; they appear, of course, without the addition of the ABG12 bowmen, and with the IK1 replaced by BG3 5 man skirmisher strips, cut randomly:

Their arch-enemies appear in the form of two charismatic units on the English side; principally in blue, a detachment of Gorham's, and beyond, the green of Roger's Rangers can be seen. There is some debate as to their presence at the battle of the Plains itself, in that most from the 600 or so strong brigade of various New England companies were detached in punitive operations up and down both banks of the St. Lawrence. It is known that light troops were involved in silencing the Samos Battery close to the landing point at the Anse au Foulon, and some sources put them skirmishing with French militia on the far English left in the vicinity of the road to Sainte Foy and the buildings near the Hospital General later in the day; in any event, I couldn't resist including these emblematic troops!

Moving on know to some of the ancillary stands for the regulars, namely the command bases. I didn't order these from Tiny Tin Troops as part of the painting commission, in that I felt I had to make a contribution to the project, and not be too lazy - it might have been an indulgence or 'pet-project', but I couldn't rest on my laurels too much! In any event, Tony Hughes kindly provided some extra flags to make the bases stand out.
In order to allow the command stands to attach themselves to various units, I had to decide on making, somewhat counter-intuitively, smaller bases, so these ended up being a diminutive 20x20mm. The overall Army Commander's base is distinguished by having a single RBG12 three rank forlorn hope acting as a detail of Grenadiers, as well as an oval base of the excellent RBG24 command; it's really useful being able to mix and match with this size of minis!
The stand was then completed with some individual RBG11 dismounted dragoons cut from the strip; bases for subsidiary commanders or brigadiers lack the Grenadiers, and have BG13 blocks in place of the RBG24:

Here we see General Wolfe and his staff at the head of another of the units unique to the campaign, namely the Louisbourg Grenadiers:

It was in this position that Wolfe was struck first by a musket ball through the wrist, which he bandaged with a handkerchief in order to carry on, before receiving two further wounds that led to his death on the field of battle.
The converging and brigading together of detached Grenadier companies from their parent battalions was common practice during the Seven Years War, and this unit was formed from the Grenadiers of three regiments that were left behind as garrison after the capitulation of Louisbourg, namely the 22nd, 40th and 45th of Foot, hence their enigmatic title.
With only a little over three hundred men in the unit, this base had to be one of the smaller sized 40x40mm ones, and I decided on 3 x BG 16 three rank blocks to represent the individual companies, as well as reflect the densely massed appearance of shock troops, that was their raison d'etre in this campaign.

Finally we see the gunners of the Royal Artillery, again on small bases, in line with the commands, being 20x20mm. Now of course artillery might have a relatively small frontage when deployed, but with all the usual extraneous limbers, caissons and draught horses, would rightly need a greater depth. In this battle, however, it was significant that in the field only light, 'galloper' pieces were used; indeed, Wolfe's artillery crossed the St Lawrence by boat and had to be manhandled up the steep earthen slope of the Heights above Quebec! Therefore I chose to only show a modest single BG22 caisson alongside a BG19 field artillery piece for these bases. There is some debate as to exactly how many guns were involved in the action; on the French side, the governor of Quebec city is alleged to have refused to allow guns of the fortress to accompany Montcalm out onto the Plains, yet English accounts speak of being 'played upon' by light artillery, and the exact number of English pieces that made the climb is unknown, conventional wisdom, in line with first-hand accounts, mentions two as a likely number.

Next up, I'll be looking at the French units in detail, and discussing the terrain......

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