Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Highlanders and History Books

One of the good things about turning my mind back to the Seven Years War in America is that its got me finally reading some of the histories that have been written this century. Its not that there is any challenge to the overall traditional story line, but there has been some correcting and explaining or expansion of detail and more inclusion of the Canadian rather than French point of view.

And here they are, my Willie Highlanders! I've seen better but I've painted worse! 
(I haven't decided on a basing finish for the collection yet so left these  plain green for now.) 
I used to wonder how the British so quickly dragged 6,000 men and 6 guns up such a steep wooded slope as described by Parkman and others and speculated how much easier it would have been if the road that now runs from the Anse au Foulon had been there. I also wondering why the defence was so inadeqaute and how a supposedly timid officer who had bungled the defence of a fort, could be exonerated and given such an important outpost, supposedly running away and being shot in the butt. Certainly Parkman does a pretty thorough character assassination of him but then one of his main criticisms of the French Aristocracy is that they liked brightly coloured clothes and were Roman Catholic.

Well, a slim history of Fort Beausejour I picked up in New Brunswick a few years ago presents a rather different picture of the Beausejour matter, which helps to explain why de Vergor, the decorated veteran who was twice wounded in defence of Louisburg in 1745, was  exonerated for surrendering an indefensible fort earlier rather than later. This year, Peter MacLeod's Northern Armegeddon helped clear up the Anse au Foulon matter.  It seems that the track followed by the main British army was actually a wagon road and apart from the camp at the top of the cliffs, there was an abatis and barricade across the road manned by an alert garrison with de Vergor at their head.  Too bad for him his authorities had ignored an engineer's suggestion that the entrenchments and abatis be extended in either direction to prevent outflanking because the advance party of light infantry and Highlanders drifted too far down river and instead of attacking up the road they had to pull themselves up the steep cliff, arriving behind the defenders while they were busy repelling a frontal assault. Rather than running off when awoken in his tent, De Vergor was at his post and again wounded twice and captured with half of his little garrison while the rest retreated and joined in the skirmishing that went on all day. 

Anyway, there are lots more such trivial bits including a fresh look at the details of the line infantry clash which lasted longer than the single volley of legend, the effect of the broken ground which the French regulars attacked through, more details and accounts of the fighting before and after the French assault and so on. The real meat of the book though is the inclusion of first hand accounts and more details about the summer and fall, the raids up and down the river including the scorched earth ones, the bombardment, the supply system, the naval issues and so on.

There are many excerpts from diaries from both sides, including Canadian civilians and a young First Nation's man, as well as British navy and army. These really seem to bring it all to life and make it easier to relate to, almost familiar in some ways. 

(Kindle version available)

His second book, Backs to the Wall, looks at the winter for both sides and the French counter attack. It is, if anything, even more interesting. Certainly some of the first hand British  accounts of the fighting during the St. Foye battle give a rather different picture of what it was like to fight in an 18thC linear warfare battle than your average wargame summary.

(Kindle version available)

Both books recommended by me.


  1. Not heard of either of these books , but will get them on kindle when I've my present reading done .

  2. Sounds like a truly revealing read, a gem just waiting to take your fancy. I had a similar experience with a book about the T34 tank or I suppose more importantly, battle through the eyes of their crew. It is that personal account that brings the connections.

    1. I find that personal connection and view point very important. One of the reasons I like memoirs at least back as far as Xenephon.

  3. Very interesting books, may I ask where you saw the kindle version - can only find Hdbk/ppbk and audio cd

    1. Got it from the richest man on earth or in other words, Amazon. (.ca in my case).