Monday, 20 February 2012

The Battle of New Orleans

Yesterday I was able to attend a meeting of the 'Jockey's Fields Irregulars' for the first time in almost a year. Alan Buddles had organised the event, and had chosen to stage his wargame about the Battle of New Orleans.

The players were split into two teams (British and United States), and given a copy of a hexed map of the area around New Orleans ...


... and a small box containing the troops under their command. The map came from Liberty Games Inc's 'Battle for the Bayous: The New Orleans Campaign' that was published in 1998, and Alan used the original map to plot the progress of the various units involved in the campaign. The 6mm figures were all made by Baccus and painted by Alan.


I was part of the United States 'team' and was given command of the Tennessee and Kentucky Militia – along with Hind's Dragoons – that were occupying Slaughterhouse Point. At a council-of-war the American defenders – led by Andrew Jackson (Ian Drury) – decided that the best course of action was to concentrate their forces in and around New Orleans, and to use Hind's Dragoons and the native Indians as scouts who could warn of any British advance. Preparations were also made to fortify the nearest approaches to the city as it was felt that the American troops would fare better if they were in entrenchments. Contact was also made with the pirates led by Jean Lafitte, and after some negotiations (and a promise of a pardon and gold) they agreed to assist in the defence of New Orleans.

As anticipated, the British landed a brigade on the shores of Lake Borgne (to act as a diversion) whilst the bulk of their forces (two brigades) landed on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Whilst the British slowly manoeuvred their forces forward – shadowed all the way by the Dragoons and Indians – the Americans prepared.

The British began their attack by advancing their right-hand brigade towards the flank of the incomplete American defences. These troops were faced by a regiment of Tennessee Militiamen armed with long rifles. At that point news reached General Jackson that a second British brigade was moving across the front of the American defences ... and seeing that he had the opportunity to defeat the British attack piecemeal he ordered an all out attack upon the British.

The resulting battle was a rather confused affair. The American advance was met by an advancing British Brigade ... which fell back before battle could be joined. Whilst the Tennessee Militia Regiment harassed the other British brigade, the Americans continued their advance. Unfortunately, just as the third British brigade arrived, the majority of the right-hand British brigade was able to shrug off the Tennessee Militia and crossed the bayou towards the American defences (which were manned by some of Lafitte's pirates), thus threatening the American rear.

The Americans rapidly withdrew, with the intention of defeating the right-hand British brigade before the rest of the British force could come up to support them.


The battle did not go according to plan for the Americans, who found themselves gradually being attacked from both sides and slowly but surely annihilated. When the Kentucky Militia Regiments collapsed and fled the field just as the American Regulars found themselves fighting the British on two fronts at the same time, this marked the end of the battle. The defenders were defeated and New Orleans lay at the mercy of the British.



This was a very enjoyable game, the more so because it was not just a straight re-fight of the Battle of New Orleans. The pre-battle planning and manoeuvring created the narrative for the battle that was actually fought, and although the result differed considerably from what happened during the real Battle of New Orleans, one felt that it worked very well indeed.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like taking advantage of all that digging might have been a good idea, and also sounds like an interesting and enjoyable game.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ross Mac,

    We were suckered into leaving our entrenchments to attack what we thought was a British brigade in column of march ... only to find that they were actually advancing towards us.

    Our decision to try to defeat the British before they could concentrate was a good one, and we almost pulled it off ... but the quality of some of our militia units was not good enough to face experienced regular British infantry in open battle.

    It was a very enjoyable battle ... and I am very pleased that I had the time to take part.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Bob,

    Looks like a very interesting action - and a great time was had by all. The figures look very good and I had often wondered about using 6mm figures....but not that often!

    All the best,

    DC

    ReplyDelete
  4. David Crook,

    I have only tried to paint 6mm figures once ... and did not do very well! I think that you just have to have the sort of patience that I just don't have. This is a great pity as they look very impressive on the tabletop and are very easy to store.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  5. That looks like my sort of game Bob. Was there a ruleset or was is a Kriegpsiel?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Conrad Kinch,

    The pre-battle part of the game was run like a Kriegpssiel, with the umpire taking orders and moving units on a master map and reporting back to the two teams (who were in separate rooms) what was happening.

    The tabletop part of the battle was fought using a simple set of rules that were tailored for this particular battle.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete