Thursday, October 28, 2021

Baccus Pony Wars Reinforcements

One of the great advantages of the Baccus queuing system is the it allows you to clear the decks as you watch the ticker click down, Looking at Pete's latest update I still have 300 orders in front of me before my latest consignment is shipped so that gives me the momentum to get some of the remaining bare metal painted.

Last weeks game was great fun, but like most gamers what it needs is that 'one' extra unit.

In 6mm who can really tell what's on a base? - Two groups of Wood Cutters/Civilian Contractors/Civilians/Dismounted Scouts together with a stand of horse holders. These are made up of the civilian and Boer packs from Baccus and will be a useful addition to support the cavalry or be rescued.

Nothing can stop the Pony Express or for Sharp Practice games a useful messenger from the Officer in Command.

Crow Scouts and their leader the Chief of Scouts. Useful for picking up trails and spotting the elusive Sioux, The Crow, Arikara & Shoshoni Scouts made up the largest contingents of Indians fighting for the US, dressed in a mix of US Uniform and native dress together with a red sash or arm band to help them be recognised from the 'hostiles'.

The Indian gain reinforcements in the shape of Smoke Signallers, these will extend the command range of the Indian Big Men and serve to warn the braves of the approaching US forces.

The smoke is detachable......
Not a bad output a few more odds and ends before the postman knocks.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Wargaming the Battle of Powder River 1876.

After several weeks of painting, the troops to finally hit the table in their first proper outing and perhaps my first actual refight in over 30 years of gaming.... With the Battle of Powder River March 17th 1876

Having picked up two excellent books. Paul Hedren's Great Sioux War Orders of Battle and Jerome Greene's Battles and Skirmishes of the Great Sioux War, I had the idea to refight each of the 28 most significant encounters of the Great Sioux War.
The first engagement was the Battle of Powder River or the Reynolds Fight when Colonel Reynolds attacked the camp of Old Bear, destroying the camp, but the attack was poorly executed and Colonel Reynolds was later court marshalled for dereliction of duty.

You can read more about it here.

Greene's book has a great map of the battle and direction of attack, our table starts just across the first creek and the north approach to the village.

Meanwhile Hedren's book details the officers and make up of each of the attacking forces, the level of detail is perfect for Sharp Practice. I kept the status levels low to represent the quality of officers with only Reynolds and the Leader of the Scouts greater than level 1.

The US Player had the option to take additional support options in terms of additional scouts and mule trains, however this would increase the Indian defenders. The US player was unaware of the number of Indian defenders (60% vs the US 100%)

Colonel Joseph J Reynolds - Third Cavalry Commanding. (Big Man 1-II)
Asst Surgeon - Capt Curtis E Munn.

First Battalion 
Capt Anson Mills Commanding Battalion (Big Man 2-I )
Co M Third Cavalry
Co E Third Cavalry

Second Battalion
Capt Henry E Noyes Commanding Battalion (Big Man 3-I)
Co I Second Cavalry
Co K Second Cavalry

Fifth Battalion
Capt Alexander Moore Commanding Battalion (Big Man 4-I)
Co F Third Cavalry
Co E Third Cavalry

Maj Thaddeus H Stanton Chief of Scouts (Big Man 5-II)
Mule Train (Big Man 6-I)

Can the new Col Reynold's succeed were the original Colonel failed?
To try and represent the friction in the field we introduced written orders for each battalion commander, orders that could only be changed by Reynolds sending out a rider, although each command could make tactical decisions based on their own circumstances. 

Moore's Fifth Battalion following history was sent across the shallow's of the Powder River to round up the Indian's pony herds. They crossed the river with no sign of any hostile activity.

The Cavalry closed on the village with Mill's first Battalion skirting the river, when Indian pickets opened fire from the tree line. The Indian fire was largely ineffective but it was a distraction to the approaching cavalry. The Indian Big Man (I) - Little Wolf urged his young braves in defence of the village and pony herds.

Mill's turned his Battalion to face the hostiles, the Indian fire rifle and musket fire continued to snipe at the men in blue, a trooper fell from his saddle, out of the fight. With Mill's battalion drawn into a firefight, the attack on the village was left to the Noyes.

To keep the Indian player focused on defending the village, every lost section of the village would cost the Indians a roll on the force morale table with a roll for loss of face, should a section be burnt to the ground then a roll for loss of a support unit should be rolled.

Irregular Skirmishers were no match for mounted dragoons - He Dog was beaten back. The Indian force morale slipped backwards as section after section of the village fell to the cavalry.

The cavalry swept through the village, Old Bear the head man headed for the bluff and the tree line, while other Cheyenne fled across the river to the safety of the woods. 

Noyes's Battalion exited the village but found themselves under increasing pressure from the quickly regrouping hostiles. With fire pouring in from both flanks Capt Noyes struggled to reduce the shock steadily rising in his unit as horses and men were slowly worn down despite having whipped any Indians who had tried to stand their ground.

Mill's 1st Battalion had finally extracted themselves from the gunfight with Little Wolf's pickets and rode into the village to support the 2nd Battalion. Indian fire was increasing from the high ground and the arrival of Wooden Leg another senior leader in the Indian camp.
Both battalions now had a number of casualties to tend to. There was little time to collect or destroy the Indian provisions from the lodges. The cavalry turned about and headed south.

Meanwhile Moore's 5th Battalion had rounded up the Pony herds and were also heading south away from the village. A dust cloud was seen approaching from the North, Moore did not stop to see what or who it was.

The approaching dust cloud was Two Moons (Big Man II) racing to recapture their ponies critical if they were to survive the winter.

The ponies were difficult to control, Moore considered dismounting but opted to run the horses, Two Moons was fast and with the benefit of 4 flags enabled him to get the drop on E Co. who lost several men as they where caught in the rear and driven backwards. Captain Moore took a bullet to the head which knocked him back in the saddle. (lowering his status by a single level.)

The sacrifice of E Co was enough to buy time for the injured Moore to drive the Indian herds off the table. Two Moon's warriors were spent and he was nursing a serious wound which also reduced him to a Status I.

What a game.....

In a mirror of history - Reynolds claimed victory having run off the herds and having cleared the village and broken several groups of Indians, however the lodges were intact and the Indian supplies still available to the Cheyenne. Several cavalrymen had been killed or wounded in the attack and had retired from the village.
In the minds of the Indian this was a victory for them.

Casualties after roles for recovery.
1st Battalion Capt Mills
Co M Third Cavalry - 2 Men KIA
2nd Battalion Capt Noyes 
Co I Second Cavalry 1 Man KIA/ 2 Men WIA
Co K Second Cavalry 
5th Battalion Capt Alexander Moore Wounded.
Co E Third Cavalry 2 Men WIA

Lot's to ponder for future encounters with the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne.

Dismounting would have increased the fire power of the Cavalry, but not knowing the strength of the defenders restricted their ability to keep mobile and escape any Indians encircling them. The attack on the village felt really good and the skirmishing Indians were unable to hold back the galloping cavalry or react to the attackers until their pickets had raised the alarm.

The charging cavalry found manoeuvring difficult when hemmed in by the river and high ground which allowed the braves the change to flank them. 

Reynolds one of only two Big Men II on the table stayed away from the fight with the ammo train, which restricted Mills and Noyes ability to reduce shock, which in turn restricted their fire power when faced with the reinforced Indian defenders, which turned the game into a more defensive game for the cavalry, although by staying in the saddle did save them from having to roll for low Ammo.

The capture of the pony herds further drove down the Indian force morale, although perhaps dismounting one of the companies would have allowed the US player to have engaged Two Moon at long range rather than being caught trying to drive the herd off table in a race for the finish.

A great opening game which really captured the feel for the period and casualties were very similar in which on the day saw 4 men killed and 6 wounded. 

If anyone is interested I have posted by house rules and Orbits here.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Irregular Miniatures - 6mm Teepees.

Wigwam, Lodge, Teepee, Tipi - who knew there were so many names....

With so many encounters based around the hunt for the elusive Sioux and Cheyenne, an Indian village is a must.

These from Irregular Miniatures and are great value at 88p each, I based them in clusters so they can be grouped together for a large village or smaller family groups. 

The main camp with a burnt out camp fire, is this yet an abandoned camp? 

The Chief's lodge, I toyed with painting all of the Teepee's with designs or colour but in the end opted for plain approach, perhaps the next batch?

The full village - But how many Indians are home.

With the village complete - Now for the Battle of Powder River March 1876...

Monday, October 11, 2021

6mm Sioux & Cheyenne - Baccus Miniatures

I missed out on Partizan this year but the weekend was not without some gaming activity and yet more native Sioux and Cheyenne to try to stem the US Army incursions.

6mm is certainly growing on me, largely as a single batch on the paint table creates multiple units for Sharp Practice in this case 16 Irregular skirmish units, great castings from Baccus.

These are perfect for the first historical outing and a refight of one of the opening engagements with Colonel Reynolds attack on a Cheyenne encampment in March 1876

Can the Indian's defend their camp and pony herds?
Just the teepee's to go, nothing like the pressure of game to get the brushes working.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Blood on the Plains #1 - Off Reservation

After a number of months of painting and a couple of sessions play testing the rule refinements finally the first outing of the Great Sioux War for Sharp Practice. 

Thanks to Simon Walker for his original thoughts in bringing adaptions for Sharp Practice I to the table, I have made a number of of further tweaks to scale SP to 6mm gaming and introduced elements from Infamy around fervour and the original SP around ammo restrictions.

Outside of the Battle of the Little Big Horn many of the encounters were light on casualties so let's see how it goes.


A detachment of cavalry is sent out on patrol to dissuade reservation Indians from leaving the reservation and join Sitting Bull and the other 'hostile' Indians up on the Black Hills and the last great buffalo hunting grounds.

From the photo the table looks rather barren however thanks to a new set of hills from Kallistra line of sight is difficult with numerous gullies and rolling hills

The reservation Indians under Spotted Elk must exit the table on the far edge, the cavalry must stop them and turn them back. The Sioux start on blinds, a mechanism take from the Mud and Blood rule set, each blind could be up to three groups of Indians or a feint. To win the game at least 50% of the Indians must cross the table avoiding the cavalry looking to block their path.

The US Cavalry have elements of the Second Cavalry under Capt Roe, MacAdams & Mitchem together with a mule train carrying extra ammo.

Early on the first US cavalry Co crest one of the hills on the right flank, dismount and peer across the rolling grass land. The horses are set to the rear as the first blind is unmasked revealing a group of hostiles.

The Cheyenne make their move and several blinds move forwards towards the US cavalry position. They could all not be real could they?

In the centre of the table the a second US cavalry co gallop over the rise to engage the recently spotted Indians, the Indians turned and fled, it was a sneaky trap as the hostiles hidden in a stand of trees fired on the cavalry, fortunately for the cavalry the Indians were poorly armed and poor shots and they suffered no casualties.

The true Indian plan is revealed as they came off blinds, Spotted Elk had placed the bulk of his forces on the Indian right flank and were rushing towards the table edge.

all that stood in their way was Capt. Mitchem and C Coy. The Indian ponies could be heard picking up speed on the other side of the low rise.

On the far side of the battle field and Capt MacAdams was on the tiffin card, the hostiles moved first and charged into the dismounted cavalry, they were able to get off a single round before the Cheyenne braves hit them.

The cavalry fell back in disarray leaving their horse holders and three soldiers dead on the rise. The troopers ran for the tree line as the savages set about scalping the three defenders. 

With the Indians occupied on the hill, MacAdams was able to call back his horse holders as other braves slipped past heading for the Black Hills and Sitting Bulls growing band.

On the right Mitchem had turned back the first group of braves, unloading his pistols from the saddle before the warriors could close and sending them back over the ridge. But he was out numbered 4:1 and decided that today he would let the Indians pass, he turned his company about and headed for the main command. Spotted Elk and his band slipped the cordon.

A good first outing and an unexpected victory for the Indians. 

Post battle thoughts.

The adaptions and amendments worked well in 6mm and it had a good feel for the frontier, casualties were light on the cavalry side.  
When they had the distance they were able to lay down quite a rate of fire, breaking Indian warbands, but should the Indians close their ferocity told, however this was tempered by he scalping rules which distracted men from the fight.

Mounted US cavalry had to step through the gears and could be powerful on the gallop, but where a little cumbersome to slow down and turn around whilst the Indians did not suffer this penalty.

The next outing is a refight of the Reynolds fight on the Power River, let's see how the Indian's get on when they are on the defensive. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Perfect Six Miniatures - Ponies

I really should be finishing off the dismounted Indians but a short detour to finish the recent purchases from Perfect Six Miniatures.

Many of the US campaigns and tactics of the Great Sioux War was focused on destroying the villages and Indian ability to wage war - This involved the destruction or capture of the Indian pony herds. So if I was to recreate certain engagements I would need a bunch of ponies - step forward Perfect Six perhaps the only provider of horses without saddles in 6mm....

I opted for basing them on circular bases, which represent them within their Indian camp, initially I had thought about having several bases to represent Indian horse holders but in the end will opt for one type or another, only having the cavalry needing horse holders.

Sioux warriors oversee a number of herds on the lookout for Crow or Cavalry raiders.

It seemed a shame to just buy ponies, so I also picked up several hay piles, these will be useful for the Battle of the Hayfield /Wagon Box Fight or an objective for the cavalry to defend as they venture at from Ft Phil Kearny.

Early memories the Ladybird book on Indians.... who would not want to refight this :-)

In breaking news Perfect Six Miniature have just released dead horses and buffalo..... How could I resist. 
Right back to the dismounted Indians........