The Sodom Vale was, as the reader will doubtless recall, rather coarsely described by General Braddock as ‘the arse end of Saindoux’. In fact it is a pretty enough bottom to have attracted a number of bolder settlers to the region, that lies within the wider tract of land known as The Devil’s Kitchen. Following his reverse at the hands of the 42nd Foot, Capitaine de Givenchy of the Régiment de Languedoc attempts to force his way to safety through Sodom Rising, a piece of land noted for fast-flowing streams, rather salty marshes and, naturally, many trees. De Givenchy has been reinforced by men of the Milice du Trois Rivieres, having been abandoned by his fickle and possibly treacherous native allies. It is these natural born sons of New France who he trusts to guide him out of danger. Will de Givenchy force a passage, or will his fancy French tactics unravel again? Read on . . .
Monsieurs Daniel Leroux and Felix Lechat lead the small group of Milice Canadienne who are guiding de Givenchy. They have, however, badly misjudged just how slow the regular troops are across rough-country and de Givenchy’s column has become badly scrunched up on their approach to more open ground across the Brimstone Stream.
The men stumble through the dark forest, urged on by the increasingly worried Lechat and Laroux.
As dawn draws nearer, the French look for good crossing spots.
The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin is the sole building on Sodom Rising. As her sons have joined the Virginia Regiment, she has wisely decamped to the relative safety of Canaan, where she hopes to find an able-bodied protector.
With the white-coated regulars still crashing through the woods, the Milice Canadienne scout ahead.
Will the French luck hold?
Captain Murray brings forward his men with amazing speed, the highlanders proving as nimble through the trees as across their native heather. Dawn breaks just as Murray reaches the borders of the woods looking out onto the Widow Bumgardener’s land.
Suddenly, Lechat feels rather exposed.
Fortunately for Lechat, Murray’s men are not immediately concerned with his small band.
Meanwhile de Givency urges his men forward through the woods.
Laroux has identified the best crossing point for de Givenchy’s men. The Widow Bumgardener’s cabin will shelter men from the enemy while they regroup after fording the stream.
Captain Cutlass, Murray’s chief Mohawk scout exchanges fire with Lechat’s milice.
Lechat loses a man and decides to fall back.
Laroux gets his boys across the Brimstone and finally de Givenchy has his men on the banks.
Lechat gets back behind the Widow Bumgardener’s fence, which provides at least the illusion of protection, without further loss. The whoops of the Mohawk ring in French ears.
The first of the Regulars cross the Brimstone.
Murray leads his men over the boundary Fence. His line now covers the route the French must take to safety.
Faced with running a gauntlet of fire, and with little prospect of being able to form a decent firing line himself without his men being severely mauled in the process, de Givenchy orders his men to retire. An almost bloodless battle with very little powder expended. But as Maurice de Saxe was fond of telling the young de Givenchy, ‘La discrétion est parfois la meilleure partie de la valeur.’
A series of unfortunate encounters with Captain Murray’s 42nd Highlanders has resulted in the overall commander of French Forces in Saindoux, Lt. Colonel Grenouille committing his own men of the Regiment Languedoc to the fighting. The splendidly dressed Capitaine Hubert Taffin de Givenchy has orders to fire Brimstone, a small settlement that lies near the rather pungent marsh known locally as Skunk Bottom. Will the true professionals of La Belle France show that they are not merely the best dressed soldiers in Saindoux but the most formidable? Or will Murray prove them to be as ridiculous as their grenadiers’ moustaches? Read on . . .
De Givenchy sent his Huron ahead into the forest, hoping they would threaten the flank of any British advance. The Fusiliers had begun to straggle a bit in the thickly wooded approaches to Brimstone and it was Sergent Bacon’s advance guard who first arrived.
Captain Cutlass, Murray’s Mohawk ally, has brought word of de Givenchy’s approach and Murray has hastened to Brimstone with the men he has immediately available, leaving his able subordinate, Davey Mill, to muster the rest and follow as quickly as he may. Doubtless the sound of the pipes and drum filled the hearts of the Widow Goodbody and her neighbours with hope.
Murray shakes his men into line. Cutlass and his rather rank-smelling comrades emerge from Skunk’s Bottom, where they had been lurking, and form to protect his right. De Givenchy arrives with the rest of his fusiliers and begins to organise them. The Huron move up towards Murray through the woods.
The Mohawk and Huron trade shots. Cutlass’ men quickly lose heart and withdraw at some speed to the rear.
Meanwhile, de Givenchy forms a line looking towards the Widow Goodbody’s house. Murray moves up adjacent to the Widow Fokker’s cabin.
The Huron shoot into Murray’s line from the woods, dropping one man. Murray fires his first volley into De Givenchy’s line but the powder proves of poor quality. Vast clouds of smoke and no real impact is the result.
Cardin’s grenadiers, who have been delayed by the need to wax their moustaches, arrive. Their volley produces as much smoke as Murray’s and is as ineffective.
De Givenchy focuses on his orders to search and burn the settler’s cabins, counting on the highlanders’ poor powder and the range to keep his line safe.
Showing his fine contempt for both French and Huron, Murray holds his ground. De Givenchy sends Enseigne Lacroix with some fusiliers to ransack the Widow Goodbody’s house. Murray is struck and winded by a spent ball but the chaplian is quick to assist him back onto his feet.
Mill and Cutlass, who has rallied his shaken men and returned to the fight, fire, inflicting casualties on the Huron.
Cardin’s grenadiers finally get into their stride and the pace of their volleys picks up.
The Huron fall back to regroup and recover.
While Murray advances into the smoke, Cutlass leads his braves forward once more and Mill gets ready to move up in support.
De Givenchy’s men are struggling to hold in the face of mounting casualties and shock.
In his enthusiasm to get his grenadiers firing to a peak of efficiency, Cardin strays too close to one of his men’s bayonets, to the detriment of both his natty breeches and posterior.
Murray advances his line out of the smoke. A couple of brisk close-range volleys break De Givenchy’s line.
Murray consolidates his own thinning line and fires a final, crunching volley that sees the French fusiliers off.
Once again the Highlanders triumph. However Lacroix did ransack and set light to the Widow Goodbody’s house, and the Widow Fokker’s house mysteriously caught fire towards the end of the action, curiously just after Cutlass’ Mohawks passed by. The Huron lost half their warriors, having tarried too long in the face of volleys from Mill’s detachment.
The French View:
The Huron war parties led by Quatoghees and Pemedeniek did well initially but proved unreliable. They used the position in the woods to heap fire on the hated Mohawk scouts and then later the advancing British; however this proved their undoing as several rounds of accurate return fire from the Scots reinforcements took its toll sending the lurking war parties into retreat. The Huron were the biggest losers of the battle, thoroughly bloodied with little to show for their losses.
Under the hand of Lieutenant Cardin the wily old hands in the Grenadiers had a better time of it on the field and almost ran out of powder firing volleys into the British troops. Although at times accurate and dangerous it had little overall effect on the outcome of the battle. In his effort to exhort his Grenadiers, the Lieutenant was badly injured as confused by the huge banks of powder smoke he was caught by a friendly ball and was lucky not to be killed outright.
Led by Capitaine de Givenchy and ably supported by Enseigne Lacroix and Sergent Bacon the men of the 2nd battalion advanced well initially, with good supporting fire from the Grenadiers and Huron in the woods hindering the advance of the British on their flank as the heavy clouds of smoke obscured much of the battle field. Lacroix and his men were delighted to advance into the relative safety of the settlers cabin to search it as per orders,.
Meanwhile with the Huron in retreat and supported by the regrouped Mohawk, the British continued to give accurate fire and the reduced numbers of the French soon fell prey to the combined musketry and were forced to retreat quickly from the field in some disarray.
Overall the French regulars gave as good as they got and showed they are very much a match for the Highlanders and will be dangerous opponents. The real winners of the day had to be the Mohawk. With no casualties taken, the enemy Huron badly hurt, and a score of French and British troops dead, it was suspicious that no sooner had the Mohawk been amply resupplied by the Commissariat that they happened to be nearest a settlers cabin when it mysteriously ‘caught fire’ and burnt to the ground . . . a happy hunting ground indeed for the Keepers of the Eastern Door.
After a long time and a lot of effort, the dogged Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot has nearly succeeded in bringing Fanny Flower, and her sister, Phemie, to Climax, a hard to reach settlement on the southern borders of the Saindoux Valley. Little Beaver Creek must be forded, after the forest on its approaches has been negotiated, and Climax will be reached! But while the 42nd have been spending the past days fighting with the Huron in the woods, Lieutenant Clouzeau of the Compagnie Franches de la Marine de Vindail has stolen a march and come to Climax first. The unexpected intrusion of the dastardly Frenchman’s has already given the Widow Gotobed an untimely awakening; will the over-eager French shoot too soon, or will Murray’s Highlanders be taken unawares? Read on . . .
An old campaigner, Murray has a nose for a Frenchman, and who could mistake the garlic reek coming from the Widow Gotobed’s farm? Suspicious, he moves up with the greater part of his men on the east bank of Little Beaver Creek, approaching the fork of the river. Lieutenant Mill, the redoubtable veteran of Flanders has a smaller detachment on the other bank, with Fanny and Phemie in tow, much to his annoyance and Phemie’s evident delight. Fanny casts longing looks across the creek at Murray, who cuts a fine figure marching proudly at the head of his men.
News of the capture of the dashing Lieutenant Quintin Kennedy (recounted here) has reached that officer’s blood-brothers amongst the Mohawk (look, this isn’t far-fetched romantic nonsense, Kennedy really had lived amongst the Mohawk), and a small party of those warriors under a savage known to the British as Captain Cutlass protects Murray’s right flank.
Save for the steady tramp of highland feet over the leafy forest floor, all is deathly hush. Murray sees the river and the boundary of the Widow Gotobed’s farm beyond. Seeing no Frenchmen, he pushes on fast, ordering both pips and drum to play a rousing tune composed by Captain Reid himself (seriously, Reid was an internationally renowned flautist and composer, look him up if you don’t believe me).
But as the highlanders come clear of the trees, the villain Clouzeau springs his trap! He has hidden his men along the line of the Widow Gotobed’s fence. With typically knavish Gallic cunning, they have lain down and covered themselves with freshly cut grass. Clouzeau leaps up, uttering the immortal words ‘Levez-vous et ayez-les, mes enfants! C’est maintenant votre temps!’
His men rise as one, present and volley at close range – the highlanders a mere stone’s throw across the river. However the cut grass must have made many of the men sneeze as the volley, although startling in its unexpectedness, is less effective than Clouzeau might have hoped. Only three highlanders fall. Clouzeau must trust in his men’s musket-handling and hope Enseigne Maudit and his Huron allies play their parts.
Davey Mill, trying to ignore the squeals of admiration and dismay coming from Phemie and Fanny respectively, brings his men steadily forward to a position where the can see Clouzeau’s firing line through the trees. Meanwhile the Huron are stealing through the woods towards Captain Cutlass’ Mohawks. The Huron have twice the numbers of their blood-enemies and are behind Murray’s flank. Will Cutlass be able to cut it?
Clouzeau’s line reload and present while, unperturbed, Sergeant M’Andrews dresses the ranks, waiting for Murray to give the order to present and fire, which that officer does after coolly assessing the Frenchmen’s speed of reloading, pausing deliberately to tell Piper M’Intyre to play a tune to make the French hop.
The skirl of the pipes and Murray’s droll humour stiffens the resolve of the highlanders and they bring up their muskets bravely. The volley rings out, the pipes sounding above even that fierce roar! Six Frenchmen fall and Clozeau curses savagely.
Lieutenant Maudit’s small group of Troupes de la Marine emerge from the swamp where they have been hiding and fire on Captain Cutlass’ Mohawks, killing one warrior.
The Huron begin to close in, firing without accuracy but unnerving their Iroquois foe.
Maudit’s men kill another Mohawk and Cutlass gives ground, not liking the odds one bit.
On the other flank, Mill starts his men volleying into Clouzeau’s line, killing two more men. Clouzeau’s reply sees two more of Murray’s men stricken but the highlanders aren’t showing much sign of being cowed by the fire. The Scots have twice as many muskets firing as Clouzeau’s line can now muster and Clouzeau can be heard exhorting, ‘Trois coups d’une minute, pour l’amour de la baise!’.
Murray’s crisp, ‘Reload. Present.’ may focus French minds.
All now hinges on whether Maudit and the Huron can move fast enough to take Murray in the rear because another volley from Murray’s boys has Clouzeau’s line on the verge of faltering. The French Lieutenant’s foul-mouthed exhortations spur his men to remember they are no longer the sweepings of Parisian gutters but proud sons of New France and they manage another, almost despairing volley.
Just as Clouzeau’s line finally begins to give ground in the face of the determined volleys of the highlanders, Maudit begins to fire into the line’s flank and rear. The Scots hold firm, for the moment.
Yet another volley from Murray, who steadfastly ignores the threat to his flank and rear, forces Clouzeau to give more ground; the French Lieutenant’s men are nearly down to half their original strength and on the verge of breaking. Clouzeau takes a ball in the shoulder but somehow manages to conceal the wound from his men.
Now though, the tide may be turning. Murray has distained the threat from Maudit and the Huron, but the steady firing into their rear from some of the Huron is demoralising the Scots, who give ground in confusion as Clouzeau somehow holds his men together as they retreat inch by dogged inch across the Widow Gotobed’s fields.
The Widow Gotobed, distracted by the fight she has been watching from her front porch, has burnt her buns, and worse, set her chimney on fire!
Davey Mill saves the day with a well-timed crashing volley that sends half of Clouzeau’s line running and demoralises the rest. Maudit and the Huron fade into the forest and the Highlanders tend their many wounded.
‘A damnably close rubber, but Mill came up trumps.’ – James Murray, Capt. 42nd Foot.
The British have not been slow to recognise the manifest desirability of Big Bottom’s broad expanse. The fertile valley needs only its forest to be cleared to be ready for ploughing and the sowing of seed. Several pioneers have built their cabins near the fork of Old Bush Creek and the small area of marsh known as Soggy Bottom.
Ouaouackecinatouek, a chief of the Bear Folk Huron, has been moved to avenge the capture of his cousins, Hawhendagerha and Catchawatchecka by the 42nd Highlanders, as described here and here. Ouaouackecinatouek intends to destroy the entire settlement and to kill or capture every man woman and child.
Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot stands ready to defend the settlement. Having whipped the Huron twice before, he looks forward to delivering another sound thrashing at Big Bottom. Will Ouaouackecinatouek be thwarted, or will the unspeakable savage avenge his captured cousins? Read on . . .
The Huron approach from the west, small numbers swimming across the river near the fork, allowing themselves to be seen so as to draw their enemy forward while the bulk of the warriors are slipping through the forest further north.
Murray keeps his highlanders in the vicinity of Widow Rattlebag’s impressive two-storey cabin and sends Lieut. Kennedy and his 44th Foot skirmishers over the river to scout the woods.
Kennedy’s men are quick enough to stop most of the Huron getting across the river into a position where Lieut. Mill’s flank might be threatened.
Kennedy has only a few men and, if he presses on too far, might be in danger of a haircut rather closer than currently fashionable amongst British soldiers.
Lieut. Kennedy loses a man to musket shots and his men send two quick volleys at a small group of Huron, sending the warriors to ground, pinning them down.
The Huron are getting across the river in some numbers.
Kennedy falls back in the face of superior numbers, exchanging fire but losing more men.
Captain Murray has used the time Kennedy has bought him to reform into three platoons, Sergeant M’Andrews in charge of the third with Sergeant Watson to assist him.
Murray’s own command catches some Huron who are trying to get round his flank with some brisk volleys that drop several braves before they can seek cover.
Has time run out for Quintin Kennedy? The dashing lieutenant is outnumbered and caught with his back to the river. The Huron charge, wielding their tomahawks with relish.
Kennedy’s men, their ammunition gone, meet the hatchets with musket butt and bayonet but are overwhelmed. Kennedy himself pistols one warrior, tomahawks another and levels a third with the butt of his empty pistol. He is brought down at last by a blow to the head. The Huron, impressed, take the lieutenant captive to burn later.
After a slow start, Ouaouackecinatouek’s plan is beginning to work. The bulk of his warriors are now shooting at the highlanders from the woods, protected from a charge by the river. The highlanders must stand in the open and volley at shadows, which it must be admitted they do with reasonable effectiveness. Casualties are taken on both sides.
Meanwhile, Ouaouackecinatouek himself has led some of his followers round Murray’s other flank and is also inflicting casualties.
Private Robert M’Gregor (‘Rob Roy? Oh, aye, ah kent his faither.’) has taken it upon himself to guard the Widow Rattlebag in her house.
Despite their advantages of cover, the Huron are getting by far the worse of the fight. Some of them are falling back deeper into the woods, seeking shelter from the relentless volleys of the highlanders.
Captain Murray has been nicked on the arm by a musket ball, but it takes more than a flesh wound to worry the redoubtable Scot. A couple of Huron are shooting at his men from their flank but he has shaken his men back into line and his volleys hammer Ouaouackecinatouek.
Sergeant M’Andrews is hit! Watson takes over and keeps the men firing. Enraged at the loss of their popular sergeant, the volley is devastating, killing three Huron; the remaining warriors turn and flee for home.
His men vanishing from the field in increasing numbers, Ouaouackecinatouek decides to cut his losses and call it a day.
Victory to the British!
But the Huron have the consolation of a valuable captive.
When the much-feared Huron war-chief, Hawhendagerha made off with the two lovely daughters of Colonel Flower, 44th Foot (as described here), he reluctantly traded the elder daughter, Fanny, to his French ally, Capitaine Vindail of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine. Fanny’s rescue by the doughty highlanders of the 42nd Foot and the capture of the villain Hawhendagerha by Lieutenant Kennedy of the 44th Foot have been described elsewhere. But the Huron kept hold of Euphemia Flower (Phemie to her more intimate acquaintances) and plan to wed her to their leader, Aghstaghregck, known to the French and British as Le Grand Franc.
Supplanted in Fanny’s affections by the rather dour, but also rather compellingly competent Captain Murray of the 42nd (Highland) Foot, the dashing Quintin Kennedy hopes that it might be he who will save her younger sister from the unspeakable Aghstaghregck.
Will Quintin succeed? Or will, perhaps, Murray’s right-hand man, that rugged veteran of Flanders, Lieutenant Mill, free Phemie? Read on . . .
Catchawatchecka, brother of the mighty war-chief Hawhendagerha, is making haste to bring Aghstaghregck his bride. But the chance to indulge in a little arson, rape, robbery and murder, perhaps with some drunkenness, mutilation and torture thrown in if things go especially well, is hard for any red-blooded warrior to resist. And so rather than sensibly skirt the hamlet of Knockemstiff (look it’s a real Ohio place name, okay? I can’t be held responsible for colonial peculiarities of toponomy), he’s decided to give his lads the opportunity for some self-indulgent fun.
Unbeknownst to Catchawatchecka and his soon-to-be-merry men, the intrepid Quintin Kennedy, Lieutenant in the 44th Foot, has been trailing his band and, realising that they must pass Knockemstiff, has alerted Captain Murray and his 42nd Highlanders who aim to spoil Catchawatchecka’s party and free Phemie Flower into the bargain.
The Huron split into two groups. One under Adyughkannorwn moves into the wooded hill overlooking Knockemstiff. The other under Catchawatchecka, with Phemie in tow, heads for the largest building. Meanwhile the British burst onto the scene. Kennedy and his boys of the 44th are near dying of thirst, having been many hours on the trail, and so are more sluggardly than light bobs are wont. Murray shakes half his men into line and advances on the enemy, taking some stiff fire from the braves in the woods, who fall back deep into the cover of the trees after their initial salvo.
Lieutenant Mill brings up the rest of the highlanders in close column, but too slowly for the brisk Murray’s liking.
Irritated by the slowness of his subordinates and infuriated by the sniping from the woods, Murray brings his men into action with a devastating volley that kills five of Tahaddy’s six men and leaves Tahaddy himself wounded.
The two surviving Huron scuttle for shelter behind the loft cabin.
Lieutenant Mill realises that Catchawatchecka is slipping away through the woods, taking with him the fair Phemie. Seeing Kennedy’s men advancing to his right inspires Mill to get a move on and the highlanders begin to outstrip the dehydrated light infantrymen.
However Kennedy’s men are checked by fire from a group of Huron under the Canadian Lieutenant Babel. One redcoat falls. Babel’s dander is up and he leads his warriors forwards in a rush, hurling their tomahawks at Kennedy’s stout lads who stand firm.
The Huron get the worst of it and fall back to the woods. But Kennedy and Babel fight it out man to man. Kennedy has been enraged by the suggestive way Babel has stroked his moustache at him and offers to show Frenchman ‘the braid side of ma’ hand’. Babel gets the better of the initial exchanges until Kennedy throws caution to the wind and with a flurry of blows brings Babel crashing to the ground, whereupon the bloody Scot tomahawks him to cheers from his men.
The cheers are short-lived, however, as the warriors who had accompanied Hector fire some shots that send another of the 44th sprawling to bleed his life away on the ground and the rest scuttling backwards.
Meanwhile Murray’s line are still taking casualties from the Huron in the woods, and Catchawatchecka, now deep in the woods, is still trying to slip away from the action with Phemie.
Only Davey Mill can save Phemie now . . .
Catchawatchecka and his braves make a run for it, carrying Phemie like a sack of potatoes (or a sack o’ tatties, as Mill put it later in his report). Mill, as stated before, is a tough veteran of many a Flanders field and no stranger to making hard decisions. With nary a moment’s hesitation, he wheels his line and orders a volley. Seeing the muskets raised, Phemie faints.
Two braves fall and Catchawatchecka is hurt. Mill orders his men to fire at will and they blaze away, dropping three more braves and sending Catchawatchecka and his sole remaining companion swimming for their very lives across the river.
Mill orders his men to cease firing, and ever careful, to reload. Such has been their rate of fire though, most of the barrels are fouled.
Meanwhile, Murray has been trading shots with the skirmishing Huron. His careful volleys have inflicted some losses but a group has worked round his flank and Kennedy’s light bobs are still regathering themselves after their melee. Murray’s line is beginning to look a bit thin. Both Murray and the chaplain are hit! The line recoils and both sides’ morale is now very fragile.
Catchawatchecka, realising his reputation will be forever tarnished if he fails to bring Phemie to Le Grand Franc, swims back across the river to where she lies in a swound. Mill’s men are advancing implacably a mere stone’s throw away.
Mill’s men dash forwards. Catchawatchecka, one man alone against more than two dozen, stands tall and proudly issues a challenge to single combat. The practical Mill merely spits in contempt and the ensuing combat is very short and one-sided as brawny highlanders quickly subdue the Huron chief. Mill prods Phemie awake with the toe of his shoe and is rewarded with fluttering eyelashes and feminine gasps. The remaining Huron vanish into the woods.
A British victory! But a damned near run thing. Murray’s line was on the verge of collapse and Catchawatchecka very nearly escaped with Phemie. The pragmatic (ruthless?) Mill saved the day, although the tale of Kennedy’s fight with Babel is on everyone’s lips. Everyone’s except Phemie’s, that is. She has eyes only for the unromantic but phlegmatically formidable Davey Mill and talks of no-one else.
Poor Fanny Flower has become a prisoner of the French. She is locked upstairs in an abandoned cabin, and is fending off the advances of the lecherous Hugo de Nigot, who Lieutenant Clouzeau has, perhaps unwisely, left in charge of her guards.
But hope is at hand! The intrepid Lieutenant Quintin Kennedy is attempting her rescue, ably assisted by Captain Murray and the doughty highlanders of the 42nd Foot. Will the handsome Quinton save the day and come up trumps by grabbing Fanny? Or will Fanny succumb to the Gallic (and rather garlic) charms of young Hugo de Nigot? Read on . . .
Germans of the 60th Foot will ferry Lieutenants Kennedy and Mill with men of the 42nd and 44th Foot to the cabin, landing the rescuers at dawn.
The guards stand ready, stoically ignoring the sound of de Nigot’s increasingly desperate ejaculations coming from upstairs.
Alarmed by de Nigot’s inflamed passions, Fanny climbs from an upstairs window and leaps to the ground, landing in an ungainly heap but unhurt and honour intact!
Getting to her feet, Fanny hitches up her skirts and runs for it! De Nigot hauls up his breeches, dashes downstairs, and leads his men in pursuit. The sight of the French on the river bank alarms the canoeists so that they decline to land. Fanny, however is showing an impressive turn of speed and heads for the sound of the bagpipes that herald Captain Murray’s arrival.
De Nigot, frenzied at the thought of Clouzeau’s wrath (and possibly by the sight of Fanny’s ankles as she runs) rushes in pursuit followed by his men. Unfortunately, Igor has failed to button his flies and, just as he catches up to the flagging Fanny, his breeches fall down, he tumbles and he is trampled by his men! Luckily for him, one of his quicker-thinking soldiers grabs Fanny’s skirt and she is recaptured. De Nigot recovers his dignity, carefully buttons his flies and wonders if he can regain the house before Clouzeau discovers anything has gone amiss.
Kennedy has persuaded the German canoeists to land him downstream, near to where Murray has deployed his men into a rather imposing line.
Clouzeau has also arrived and is feeling rather outnumbered by the highlanders, who are just out of musket range. A force of Huron is slipping through the woods ready to aid their allies.
Enseigne Maudit’s skirmishers and some Huron snipe at the 42nd, who advance in two groups under their officers. A couple of men fall to the crackle of musketry, but the highlanders advance at a fair pace and Clouzeau begins to worry about his line of retreat being cut off. Kennedy covers Murray’s exposed flank with his handful of 44th light infantry.
De Nigot regains the cabin and sternly admonishes his men not to mention the escape attempt or the sordid state of his breeches. Upstairs, Fanny eyes the window again . . .
The Huron and French skirmishers continue their rather ineffectual sniping. Kennedy leads his men into the woods but they are surprised by the Huron Hawhendagerha and his braves who kill over half Kennedy’s small band with some close-range shooting.
Murray is equal to the situation and crisp orders see part of his line break off to deal with Hawhendagerha and Lieutenant Mill’s platoon surging forward to hammer Maudit’s skirmishers with close volleys, leaving Maudit himself stunned by a musket ball that grazed his temple. With Lieutenant Clouzeau unwilling to close to musket range against more than twice his numbers of highlanders and the skirmishers shaken, things look grim for the French.
Only De Nigot is laughing on the French side now.
With a yell, the lowlander Lieutenant Mill leads his men in a wild charge through the woods. The dazed Maudit has recovered enough to instruct his few remaining men to prove discretion the better part of valour; they, reluctant to leave their staggering officer, only just stay ahead of the screeching highlanders.
Lieutenant Clouzeau brings his men into musket range and prepares them to give a controlled volley.
Meanwhile Hawhendagerha’s little band are being whittled down as they fall back through the woods. For the second time in as many weeks, Hawhendagerha is wounded. The mighty chief bears many scars.
Lieutenant Kennedy adds to the pressure, directing the fire of his two remaining picked men.
At close range now, Murray and Mill hammer Clouzeau’s men. The Frenchmen may be handier with their muskets but simply don’t have the numbers to compete with the controlled volleys of the Scots.
The last of Hawhendagerha’s warriors falls and the chief himself is knocked out when a ball creases his scalp. Another scar . . .
Murray’s men are taking casualties from the Huron in the wood but stolidly keep firing.
The Rev. Dr. Ferguson can be seen in his wig and black coat, well to the fore, tending the wounded.
At this point, with his forces in increasing disarray and morale beginning to plummet, Clouzeau decides to withdraw. This leaves De Nigot in a quandary: he has the spirited Fanny at his mercy (and has the scratches and bruises to prove it) but his men are bolting from the house and the wail of the pipes is increasingly close. With a cry borne of frustrated lust and fury, he abandons Fanny and makes haste for safety, leaving her to be swept of her feet not by the dashing Kennedy but by the sober Murray who is first on the scene.
Fanny is freed and the brute Huron chief Hawhendagerha captured! A triumph for the British.
Details of the French and Huron force can be found here.
On the 19th Inst. an engagement occurred between a half-company of the 42nd (Highland) Foot, accompanied by Lieut. Kennedy with some men of the 44th Foot, and a mixed force of French and Huron.
Lieut. Kennedy had been informed that the missing daughters of Col. Flower, 60th Foot, had sought refuge in an abandoned cabin some miles north of Fort Tallow. Capt, Murray, commanding the company of highlanders garrisoned there, agreed that immediate action was necessary and led the rescue force in person. Capt. Murray’s force is detailed here, gallant lads all.
Meanwhile Lieutenant Clouzeau and his nefarious Huron ally Hawhendagerha were closing in fast. Clouzeau’s force, reeking of stale garlic and cheap spirits, can be found here.
With Fanny and Euphemia hiding in the chimney, doubtless anticipating a fate worse than death, the stage was set.
Looking south. The French Primary Deployment can just be seen bottom left. The Highlander Primary Deployment Point was almost directly opposite, just behind the rather glaring sun. The French had a Movable Deployment Point and also a Dummy MDP. The river in the middle of the board rather restricted the area of operations and most of the action happened on the west bank. Apologies for the rather nondescript green felt and the odd intruding ‘white edge’ of woodland bases but the terrain is not yet in its finished form.
Clouzeau advanced in textbook fashion with Enseigne Maudit’s skirmishers ahead of the main line. The woods slowed them down terribly but with typical Gallic cunning he had sent his Huron allies ahead via the Movable Deployment Point, which can be seen in the centre of the picture near the river. The Dummy MDP is hidden by the tree to the right.
Hawhendagerha’s Huron fire from the safety of the far bank as the British make a rapid advance.
A neck-or-nothing dash saw Tobacco’s warriors just beat Lieut. Kennedy’s men to the shack.
Tobacco’s men quickly searched the shack and it wasn’t long before the rather dishevelled Fanny and Euphemia were dragged unceremoniously from the chimney.
The dashing Kennedy immediately ordered his brave boys to charge. In the frenetic melee, Tobacco was shot dead but Kennedy was wounded and the attack repulsed.
The Highlanders and French exchanged fire. Captain Murray was wounded, as was Hawhendagerha. But the woods had slowed down Lieut. Mills’ command enough that they could make little impact on the fight.
While Lieutenant Clouzeau’s Compagnie Franches de la Marine hold off superior numbers of highlanders, Hawhendagerha makes off with his captives.
A win for the French! Or is it in fact a win for the Huron?
Captain James Murray commanded Reid’s Company of the 42nd (Highland) Foot in 1757. Although at this time companies were named for their notional commanding officer, often another man commanded, and his company, named for him if he were major or captain, would be taken over temporarily by another; such were the tangled webs of nomenclature woven by the system of seniority in the British army of the time.
A full company is a bit too large a force for a normal game of Sharp Practice, but a half-company is a pleasing size for a game, allowing some additional supporting units without things getting out of hand. More pleasingly still, a half-company was a recognised tactical sub-unit and were often used independently, for instance, as garrisons or, more romantically, as raiding columns such as that commanded by Lieut. Quintin Kennedy of the 44th Foot, who took a half-company of the 42nd Foot deep into French-claimed lands in the summer of 1756.
Happily there is an extant muster roll for Reid’s company, so the names and status of all the men are known. Now this muster roll is actually from 1758, but it provides enough historical flavour for my purposes, so I’m using it for my highland half-company in the Saindoux Campaign. The officers at least are the same, as the excellent second volume of Sons of the Mountains by Ian McCulloch reveals. Buy both volumes of this superb work here rather than paying over the odds from allegedly ‘specialist’ shops.
Capt. Murray himself will command this half-company, assisted by the junior of his two lieutenants, David Milne. Milne’s name is persistently spelt wrongly as ‘Mill’ or Mills’ in the rolls, a tradition with which I shall continue.
Two of the company’s four sergeants, McAndrews (or M’Andrews as he appears on the rolls, officers seem to have been Mc- but the other ranks were invariably M’-) and Watson. The sergeants of the 42nd were loathe to swap halberd for musket and it was not until directly ordered to in 1759 that they abandoned their fearsome badge of office in the field.
The drummer, one of two in the company, is Alan Campbell and there is also a piper, Walter M’Intyre. Although it’s sometimes thought that pipers were always supernumerary and unofficial, in fact various highland battalions were allowed them, in varying numbers, as an official part of the battalion, and many were ‘on the footing of a Drum.’
A chaplain was available to the 42nd, and he may, from time to time, put in an appearance. Adam Ferguson was ever to be found ‘in the hottest of the fire, praying with the dying, attending to the wounded, and directing them to be carried to a place of safety.’
Forty-eight men make up the rank and file of the half-company. Two corporals, an unknown number of gentleman volunteers (there were always a large number of these in a highland battalion of the time, as more men sought commissions than were available and many of those opted to serve in the rank and file whilst messing with the officers, hoping to be nominated to fill any vacancy in the officer ranks) and of course the bulk being private soldiers, who nonetheless often regarded themselves as gentlemen in a highland regiment, often being the sons of tacksmen, the second rank of highland society after the clan chiefs.
In Sharp Practice terms the force comprises 59 points:
Leader Status III (Capt. Murray)
Leader Status II (Lieut. Mill)
Leader Status I (Sergt. M’Andrews)
Leader Status I (Sergt. Watson)
Musician (Drummer Campbell)
‘Holy Man’ (Piper M’Intyre)
Six Groups of 8 Highland Regiment of Foot Line
with another 16 to flesh it out provided by a Leader Status II (Lieut Quintin Kennedy) and one Group of 6 Regiment of Foot Skirmishers (chosen men of the 44th Foot). The single remaining point will allow the Rev. Dr. Ferguson to appear as a Physic.
The figures (except Lieut. Kennedy who is from Galloping Major) are by Redoubt Enterprises. They are rather nice models and there’s a decent number of poses available. The big downside is that unfortunately Redoubt aren’t very speedy at dispatch, neither are they especially good at answering emails or the phone, although they do sometimes pick up. To my mind they are the best models for highlanders in the earlier part of the war, although the North Star Military Figures highlanders look good, and are in more of ‘campaign dress’. I’d be tempted to use Redoubt for the Line and North Star for Skirmishers, perhaps.