Saturday, September 08, 2018

Cuban War Dogs in Haiti

A little behind on posts this week, but good news the focus is back on the Haiti project with new units landing on the paint table, thoughts for a campaign and new terrain items.

I picked up these Caban War Dogs from Trent Miniatures several months ago and with a game based on an attack on the Plantation House, it felt the right time to get those on the table. These units were pressed into service by both the British, Spanish and French in trying to supress the various slave revolts.

The dogs were a cross between a Bloodhound and a Lurcher were and initially used to chase down escaped slaves “These dogs can catch up with a Negro even if they are unleashed two days after he escaped,” wrote Louis de Noailles. In military planning they were also used as "the most efficient way to avoid ambushes and pursue the rebels as they flee,” 

The punitive expedition to La Tortue marked the dogs’ first use in combat. Hopes were high and their deployment was prepared conscientiously. The Cubans handlers and their dogs were segregated from the main body of troops to ensaure their effectiveness. People of color, it was feared, might attempt to poison the dogs. There was also the risk that the dogs would become used to “the Negroes’ appearance and smell” if they lived in close proximity with the guardsmen, or that they might mistakenly turn against loyal troops of color if they were sent into combat side by side.

Without doubt a weopon of terror there is a mixed view of their effectiveness. 
In Jamacia when used by the British the following was reported. "The dogs were loosed on a small body of troops and despite a volley of musket fire being discharged (presumably blanks) the dogs charged home into the ranks of the soldiers, seizing the muskets in their jaws and causing the commander to run for his carriage to escape, before the handlers brought the dogs under control".

However Madiou and Ardouin (drawing from oral traditions) specify that 50 dogs were used in a French attack to help pursue retreating rebels. The French columns’ own retreat sparked so much confusion, however, that the dogs turned against their own side in the heat of battle. The account is consistent with a memoir by a French officer that described how “the dogs devoured some of our wounded” during the retreat.

Thinking about how to portray them in Sharp Practice, on first impressions it feels like they should be similar to Impact cavalry, with the Big Chopper rule once the first round of combat is complete, with perhaps ignoring all morale or break rules due to their training and bloodlust.
I would welcome people thoughts.

The pack includes two Dog handlers, or Chasseurs and four dogs. I purchased the specific movement trays to make them easier to move and deploy on the table.  

Stay tuned to see how they perform....