EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Last Days Before the War.

We have now a Quorum and a set of rules. Can a wargame be far behind?
The Canadian and US forces meet in peace at the border to discuss cross border incidents.
While I was finishing up A Company, 3rd US Cavalry  I had one of those flashes of more or less irrelevant insight. I originally collected these figures and moulds for a detailed, matte, aborted,54mm Fenian Wars wargame some 16 years ago. The Indian angle came in a few years ago when trying to figure out what to do with some antique Britain's  Indians but when I look back, waaaaay back, my earliest toy soldiers, other than knights, were.....cowboys, Indians, British Guards and US Cavalry. I even had a plastic stockade, Fort McKenzie. Never really thought about that as inspiration but must be in there somewhere. Anyhow......

Having done my best to invent a believable setting and backstory, capable of being turned into a credible campaign, I am about to throw concern about believe-ability and continuity out the window and just use the setting as a background for a series of unrelated  skirmishes  as the mood takes me (which was the original idea). Think if it as a traditional TV series where the idea is just to cram as many episodes in as you can before being cancelled. This should mesh well with the 1950's toy soldier look and the artistic license taken with uniforms etc.

I have decided to condense all of the various parties into  just 3 armies which can each fight each other. I am planning on 6 to 12 units per typical scenario.

1st. The Blackfoot. Having just recently put the boots to their traditional enemy the Cree and made peace with their chief Poundmaker of 1885 Northwest Rebellion fame,  the Blackfoot Confederacy now controls the Cyprus Hills outside of the Whiskey forts. I don't know much about their tactics but they do not seem to have had access to as many horses or modern firearms as their friends the Sioux so they are pretty much restricted to ambushes and skirmishing on foot while moving by horse. I can't fix the horse issue quickly but I can give them better guns. It might also be possible to find them some Metis allies. I currently have  8 units on hand and pkan to add a couple of Metis mounted rifle units. In game terms they are fast and flexible but with low firepower and a tendancy to give ground rather than take casualties.

2nd. The Canadians.  So far for cavalry I have the Princess Louise Hussars from New Brunswick but for nearly 20 years now I've had castings for a troop of the Governor General Bodyguard so their time is nigh at hand. There is one gun and crew now plus some horse gunners currently without a gun. There are also more grenadiers, highlanders and riflemen than I can shake a stick at. Some will stay on the shelf but I want to add some redcoats in slouch hats so I may just rebadge or rather, re-hat some grenadiers. There is also room for some local scouts and some NW Mounted Rifles. On hand I have 2 cavalry, 10 infantry, 1 gun and plan to add at least 1 cavalry and  2 mounted rifles.

3rd. The US. The core of this force will be US regulars on garrison duty in between Indian Wars. They will be supplemented (eventually) by volunteer expansionist Cyprus Hills buffalo hunters and whiskey traders and by Fenians intent on setting up an independent Irish and Metis plus American republic but acting as volunteers to back up the US regulars in this moment of crisis since they "just happened" to be in Bismarck when the outcry for a cross border punishment expedition against the Blackfoot "just happened" to erupt. On hand there are now 1 cavalry, 2 infantry, 1 gun plus 2 volunteer infantry. Planned additions include 4 more infantry, 2 more volunteers, 1 cavalry, 1 mounted rifles. Since the idea was to suggest units bought off tge shelf (without getting pedantic over details), most will be in ACW garb including volunteers in Confederate Butternut and grey.

The rules will be an adaptation of the Tin Army as used in the Oberhilse/Kapelle game last year. First game: ( hopefully on Thursday) US army vs Blackfoot somewhere ABOVE the 49th Parallel.


  1. Replies
    1. I always go fast when the bit is between my teeth and my mind is made up but indecision and repetition do me in.

  2. Lovely figures, can't wait to see more of this project.

    1. Thanks Brian, its been percolating for a while. Not sure where it'll stop yet.

  3. Replies
    1. Its taken me 15 years to go glossy and unshaded but I'm loving them myself.

  4. Sounds a very interesting Project - will be great to see it all in action as Battle rages. Regards. KEV.

  5. Ross Mac,

    This is taking on a great feeling of nostalgia for the sort of wargames that one would have fought when one was young if one had known about proper simple wargame rules. There are very definite echos of your youth in the way you describe what you are planning to do ... and it is something that I am sure chimes with lots of other wargamers of our generation. I only wish that I could join you to fight some of your forthcoming battles.

    All the best,


    1. Bob, you would not believe how strong the pull was to put them on bases and play a Morschauser variant with them but at least I can echo his grid.You would be very welcome to join me.

  6. Have you assembled a corresponding Blackfoot force yet?

    Best Regards,


    1. Thry have appeared previously as 1885 Cree such as in this June10 post

      Where's the Beef

  7. Hi Ross,
    Please be advised that Lt. Col. Lannigan is highly suspicious of the Fenian "volunteers." His belief was that loyalty to his adopted homeland transcended any value that "these people" (as he referred to them) might have. He was willing to use them to fill out the manpower in his column but had a number of his men watching them closely for any signs of trouble making.
    He rated their military ability about on a level with some of the militia he had raised locally and their morale was definitely suspect. In addition, he had received sealed orders which came from the War Department indicating that while he was to punish the natives he was also to be careful to respect the Canadian right to sovereignty and definitely not light a spark which might ignite warfare between the two democracies.
    best regards,