I have never really been interested in 18th Century warfare. I remember seeing a demo game probably 30 years ago in Stafford at some venue or other (it was not even a wargames show, but I also remember I first encountered live action role-playing there too...) which featured Austria's and Prussia's finest in the age of Frederick and Maria Theresa. I liked the colour, I liked the big units (I think they were using WRG 1685-1845 rules), but I had no knowledge of the period, had never heard of Charles Grant and had not at that time developed an interest in the Austrian Empire.
Fast forward 30 years and I have taken the plunge with my FIW forces, with "Muskets & Tomahawks" as the initial fuel and "Sharp Practice 2" the spark which ignited it. Not an Austrian in sight and nowhere near where I thought I would dip into this period, namely in India with Clive and Eyre Coote.
Yet, probably, this is exactly where I should be. Not only am I seriously inspired by the likes of the above rules sets, but I am also in "grand skirmish" mode and I can think of no better 18th Century conflict to fulfil that mode than the FIW (or "French & Indian Wars" for those who hate acronyms or simply don't know what this particular one stands for).
So far, I have painted around 70 figures and I have two "armies". I can certainly see the point of all those articles bemoaning the death of the "big game" in preference to these quick-to-table affairs, but I personally believe there is more than enough room for both. The FIW also gives me two very distinct-looking sides, lots of colour, varied troop types and the aforementioned quick entry to a new period. Whilst there might have been the odd big battle, I think the conflict is synonymous with small groups of protagonists sniping at each other from behind trees and rocks, raiding each other's villages and crawling around the primeval forests of the New World in search of profit or a scalp or two. My only grievance is that I have come to it so late.
And, the subject of this post, I get to play with some crud too! Civilians!!! The long-suffering commoner has been at the wrong end of various sharp sticks since time began and this war was no different. But this time they get to fight back! What better way to fend off a raiding party than to have your womenfolk load your muskets whilst you pop off the odd Frenchie/ Brit/ Native from behind the stout walls of your log cabin somewhere out in the Wilderness? So these particular civilians might not be quite the crud of legend, but they are not exactly staunch regulars either.
I bought these figures from the lost, lamented Stafford Games a few years ago when I first put this project on the "to do" list. I am not entirely sure that a couple of them are not more Gary Cooper than Fennimore Cooper. I have no idea what make they are either, but I had them, I liked the look of many of them and, therefore, painted them up to join the war for control of the New World.
|The entire dozen - I hesitate to call them "dirty"...|
|And slightly closer in. I reckon the man on the far right (positionally rather than politically!) is more Wild West than FIW, but who cares. My usual group won't even notice anyway!!!|