Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Saturday 7 September 2019

Battle of Chippawa - A Polemos Ruse de Guerre AAR

The Battle of Chippawa took place in the War of 1812 featuring a successful US defence in the open field against a British attack.  There is a scenario for it in Glenn Pearce's Polemos: Ruse de Guerre rules which I have adapted - using guidelines within the rules - for a smaller game.

Historically the British attacked but the strategic situation would have supported attack or defence by either side.  Thus the aim for both sides is to simply defeat the enemy.

Orders of Battle:

United States Army:
7 bases of Trained Infantry, 1 base of Trained Skirmishers, 2 bases of Poor Skimishers (Native Americans), 3 bases of Artillery, 1 base of Cavalry

(optionally a further 3 bases of Trained Infantry and 1 base of Artillery could be added to represent a flank attack which historically did not come off).

British Army:
6 bases of Trained Infantry, 1 base of Well-Trained Skirmishers, 1 base of Poor Skirmishers (Native Americans), 3 bases of Artillery

The Set-Up:
The US Army (bottom) faces the British Army (top) by the banks of the Niagara.

The main British line

The main American line

The British light companies and Native Americans
The Battle:

Due to the quirks of my scenario (which I will discuss later in the game notes) the British light dragoons were in a position to carry out an early charge on the flanking US artillery.  Not that it did them any good: the US artillery stopped them cold and drove them back!

This tilted the British commander into following history and ordering a more general frontal attack!

The British advance into close range...

Lots of command effort is used to keep the British infantry advancing into the face of the American guns!

The American foot isn't feeling too great about the fire from the British artillery either (centre-left)

Musketry rattles across the line...
Some of the American infantry can no longer stand the fire from the British gunners and break!

Perhaps surprisingly, Scott seizes the intitiative and orders a bayonet charge!  The British have suffered slightly more in the more musketry exchange, so maybe a smart move...

The British commander agrees!  He therefore pulls back his line...the US artillery on the right has finished off the British Light Dragoons who have now routed from the field

Scott continues his attack!  A combination of artillery and the threat to the flank has broken the British battalion (top-left) on the right flank (centre-left); but the American infantry have suffered a little from more British musketry...

After some very desultory skirmishing, the British and their Native American allies advance against their opposite numbers in the woods...

The Native Americans on the US side feel no great desire to get stuck in, and withdraw slightly

The battle rages on...

And does so in the woods too...

Both sides suffer heavy losses in the central fighting, but the British come off best - one of the British battalions routs, but two of the US battalions have also broken..

Both sides reform their centres....

Whilst the Americans push up  a battalion by the woods (centre)

Infantry firefights continue on the line, but Brown brings up the US cavalry (bottom-right)

The Native Americans are being worsted by the British light bobs and are replaced in the line with American infantrymen

The situation in the centre gets desperate: a further battalion breaks on each side...

Both sides have run out of steam, but it looks like the British are going to win since they just have more formations intact...

So Brown leads in a cavalry charge!

And orders last-ditch attacks all along the line to try and break the British...

The British guns are taken and the crews captured or killed

The American bayonet charge by the woods is driven off by musketry fire...

The British light infantrymen drive off the American foot but their Native American allies break and flee! (top-centre)

The position at the end of the battle.  Both sides are exhausted with morale collapsing and need to withdraw from the battlefield to regroup!
Game Notes: A very close game this one.  The Americans morale collapsed slightly before the British but the last ditch attacks were able to drag the British down too!  So overall, a very sanguinary draw. 
As ever the rules gave a very good game.  The tempo process is slightly more involved than in other Polemos games but it is hardly an unbearable burden, it just needs five minutes thought before play. I did find myself with a rules query though.  Close combat occurs after both sides have moved.  I couldn't therefore see why in the rules troops contacted in the tempo players' phase can't move back or reform before the close combat phase.  I am not sure if this is intentional or not: I could argue it either way.  Alternatively I may have missed the relevant rule!
There is a slightly more random element in this game than in many others because of the big swings possible in using a D10.  There is thus always the chance that a base will be broken by some particularly sharp firing, or will break when trying to rally.  As army morale goes down in d10 chunks (i.e. when a force is broken, the Army loses d10 from its morale) this leads to some armies randomly proving very resilient, and at other times very brittle.  Apart from in taking care not to lose leaders (you should never chuck them in in this game) there is nothing that can be done to influence this.  The Americans suffered in this game from losing big chunks of army morale early.
Figures by Baccus 6mm, building by Timecast.


  1. Apt timing for this as I'm considering some 1812 action in 6mm, using Commission Figurines MDF figures, with some added metal ones here and there. The scenario looks interesting and will consider this for some trial games, maybe with my wooden blocks.

    1. Yesm this scenario does seem well suited to trial games, having a little bit of everything in it.

      At some point, I am vaguely considering using the Commission Figurines mdf figures for an ACW project (I already use some in my Napoleonic Prussian armies). I need to figure out how to make the artillery look better though...