The French & Indian War is something I studied as a child in Canada, where we call it by it’s European name of the Seven Years War. We study it primarily as a theatre of the wider conflict, and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham is where I was told Canada starts to develop it’s unique character, apart from French and British influence.
The Americans learn this war in an entirely different context, a frontier war that leads to the American Revolution, with the colonial grievances of the Provincial troops leading to great distress, and later, rebellion.
The truth is of course, somewhere in the middle. The political situation in New France and the 13 Colonies, and the indigenous peoples stuck in the middle, is incredibly interesting. It is a war where the relatively generous peace, often spoken of as the first Canadian compromise between French settlers and English colonists….would cause anger and resentment in the American colonies, who wished for greater concessions. The indigenous nations, of course, had their own aims and ambitions, and fought for the Europeans mainly out of treaty agreements, but in their own way. Of course, such things are beyond the scope of a wargaming blog, so lets get to the nitty-gritty.
The frontier fighting is great wargaming fodder, a combination of the traditional blackpowder line-fighting, and skirmishing warfare common to the New World, where such tactics don’t work as well. It is a war of raids, counter-raids, sieges, and larger set-piece battles in the European fashion. It really has a bit of everything for any historical wargaming.
Muskets and Tomahawks is a skirmish game, and is particularly excellent for the smaller raiding actions. I’ve yet to play a game, but its small scale and particular suitability for North American warfare is very appealing. Ty of Hussars & Handgrenades was convinced to try the setting after some appeals to his love of blackpowder warfare, and he set about collecting a force of French. That left me to collect the British and American Colonials, and luckily while not the most popular period to wargame it is very well covered! I was spoiled for choice, and in the end went with Warlord Games/Conquest Games miniatures, as those could be ordered through my local store. Any way to help your local store in these trying times should be taken!
This was all done in November and December, and left on the back burner for quite a while. Other games took my interest. But Ty started to work through his backlog of Canadian Militia and French Regulars, so of course I needed to play catch-up. While I had the British done previously, the indigenous allies and Provincial troops still laid in their boxes.
I tackled that today. After some scrubbing and some gluing, which took about an hour and a bit, I had a nice large amount of troops ready! Far too many for Muskets and Tomahawks alone, but I can easily play Sharp Practice or various other larger scale rulesets now!
I was pleasantly surprised by how clean most of the figures were, with a minimum of flash. I had heard horror stories of how bad the molds were, but honestly I had no trouble.
Lets start by having a look at the Indigenous models!
Next up I did some frontier settlers! These are really great characterful sculpts. Lots of uses for these, from defending homesteads to fighting on the walls of Fort William Henry.
I also bought a box labeled Rogers Rangers. A famous(or infamous?) French & Indian War ranger unit, these fellows are sculpted skirmishing, and will be a good foil to Ty’s French irregulars. I will field them as generics, but will paint up Roger as he is meant to, so I can field them as Rogers Rangers if I have to.
To go with my British regulars, I also picked up a box of Provincial infantry. These units of American regulars were not as well trained or disciplined, but could fight as the indigenous did if allowed. At Monongahela they weren’t allowed to, and suffered for it.
Now, since this is my first post about the French & Indian War, I thought I’d show off my primed British. I’m agonizing over what regiment to paint them as, and I have 2 boxes worth! So plenty of Redcoats. In reality they would be fighting in cut-down tunics and caps, but for wargaming I want the flashier uniforms.
Finally, I got a pack of some interesting French & Indian War personalities. The pack included Colonel Munro, General Wolfe, and Lieutenant Colonel George Washington! The latter two are of particular interest to me. Wolfe as a famous figure in Canadian history, and George Washington was pivotal to the beginning of the French & Indian War, well before the Revolution.
The French & Indian War is a war that greatly affected the fortunes of North America, and was the root cause of the American Revolution and Canadian politics right up to the present day. The peace terms allowed the French settlers to keep their faith and language, a compromise still respected to this day. Really, it is the indigenous who came out of it the worst; the British were not kind to their allies. And yet, it was not enough for the American Colonists, promised lands further inland, and the taxes levied to pay the British war costs, well, lets just say the United States exists for a reason.
Wargaming a historical topic can be a difficult thing, especially in Canada were the indigenous have been so poorly treated over the years. More then a few people have expressed that this is a period that must be handled carefully…and I intend to showcase both the good and the bad, as that is the historical record. The indigenous allies I particularly want to get right.
For further research, I heartily recommend The War that Made America by the PBS in the US. It is on YouTube currently, and is very fair to every side involved. It even features the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which I didn’t expect to see.
Anyways, that is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this! Once I feel less nervous about painting the fancy British uniforms, I will have more for you. For now, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and keep your powder dry!
*Edit: A friend of mine who works on a Reservation helped me change up some of the vocabulary and historical details to get this correct, so I have changed some minor elements in this post.
Native has been replaced with Indigenous, which is the term they are asking we use going forward. As well, Tribes have been replaced by Nations, as a lot of these Indigenous peoples were organized into large nation-states, and had advanced forms of governance, which is something I knew but used poorly. Finally, while the Indigenous peoples fought differently and for different reasons, they were honouring their treaty’s with the European powers and this was something they took very seriously, to the point that enlistments in WW1 and WW2 among the indigenous peoples were really high, as they still felt the obligation was there.
I really want to get this right, so I’m glad he helped me get the verbiage correct for future posts.