So much of history focuses on armies that it is hard to remember the vast number of civilians swept up into grand conflicts. By many estimates, more than 10 million native people occupied the North American continent through the 18th-century, and only a fraction of them were direct and active participants as warriors.
Visiting sites like Ganondagan State Historic Site is a real opportunity to step back and experience the life among the men, women and children of the Seneca and other members of the Haudenosaunee. Passing through the introductory cultural film and exhibits of the modern museum, a traditional longhouse greets visitors as a passage back in time to the true experience of the people who once populated Western New York in the centuries predating European arrival.
Within the natural light of the longhouse, central cooking fires are surrounded by stacked levels of storage and sleeping platforms. The immersive exhibit teems with traditional wares of everyday life and also reveals the influence of European trade goods. Although tour guides will caution visitors against it, one can reach out and feel the trappings of a indigenous civilian just as it was in the 17th-century and years before and after.
In my pledge I included all the Indian civilians packs, including Iroquois Unarmed Men (FIW8), Iroquois Women (FIW9) and Iroquois Children (FIW10). As with everything in the range, the figures present some nice detail in naturally lean sculpts that hew toward 25mm rather than the larger, more common 28mm heroic scale models of today. The inclusion of children and adolescent figures is of particular note as these are almost completely absent in the hobby.
The full line is now available on the company’s website, retailing for $8 a pack. Taking a dive into the Sash and Saber range is endlessly rewarding whether your armies need more troops or whether you want to get some realism on the table with these native villagers of the period.
The Braddock Expedition in the summer of 1755 was one of the greatest military campaigns (and follies) in 18th-century North America up to that point in history. After diplomatic attempts to oust the French from Fort Duquesne by a young British officer named George Washington were rebuffed a year prior, British General Edward Braddock sought to move an army of some 2,000 through the wilderness and lay siege to the fort. The Battle of the Monongahela on July 9th ended the expedition and Braddock’s life.
Three years later, Washington and 6,000 soldiers returned to the region as part of an army led by General John Forbes. Once again, Fort Duquesne was the target as the Forbes Campaign which set out from Carlisle, PA in September 1758 and cut a new road to the west, just north of Braddock’s doomed route. Along the way, the expedition constructed a string of forts across the wilderness as safe havens for the British. As 1758 drew near to a close, Forbes would succeed where Braddock had failed in removing the French from the Forks of the Ohio forever.
The failures and successes of these men and their soldiers defined the story of the French and Indian War and the decades after in this corner of the 18th-century British Empire. In the aftermath, Pontiac’s Rebellion would rage through the same region, eventually leading to the decimation and removal of the native people who occupied the land well before the French or British came. In these two wars, the British emerged as the dominant power in the region. Unbeknownst to the Crown and Parliament safely at a distance in London, the seeds had also been sown for the eventual colonial rebellion against British rule less than two decades later.
In late September 2018 I set out to retrace these campaigns and stories by train, car and on foot. Over the course of a week, I made my way from my home in Brooklyn, NY to Alexandria, VA and then zig-zagged my way to Pittsburgh, PA and back again. Along the way I sought to get a sense of these historic, out-of-the-way places where armies once moved and pivotal battles were fought over 250 years ago. I also captured a number of videos and photos of the sites, allowing others to visit these places from a digital distance. For me, breathing the air, hiking the trails and camping amid the trees and mountains of what was then known as the Ohio Country was my opportunity to engage with history first-hand.
George Washington in the Ohio Country
Much of the story of the Ohio Country in the mid-18th-century is also the story of one person: George Washington. As an ambitious, twenty-something Virginia Provincial officer, he was eager to prove his worth and earn a place as a full British officer in service of the Crown and Empire.
To that end, in 1753 Washington was appointed as an envoy tasked with delivering a message to the French at Fort Duquesne. The order unceremoniously commanded the French to vacate the region, one the British felt they rightly claimed. The arduous winter journey through mountains, rivers and thick forests had challenged Washington’s physical fortitude. The French commander’s refusal of Washington’s carried message challenged his spirits and ambitions of taking a place among elite society. On his first assignment as a designated representative of the British colonial government, Washington had failed.
The following spring, Washington returned to the region for a second try at forcing the French from their further-developed positions. This time, Washington was at the head of his first command of some 300 Virginians. Camping in a meadow some distance from Fort Duquesne, Washington was tipped off by an Mingo ally, Tanacharison (“Half King”), to the presence of a French advance guard camped in a nearby wood.
Early in the morning on May 28, 1754, Washington approached the French camp with some 40 colonials and a dozen allied Mingo warriors. Surprising the French (actually French Canadians led by Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville) in their morning camp, a quick firefight erupted. In the subsequent surrender negotiation between Jumonville and Washington, Tanacharison killed the French officer. By all accounts, Washington had blundered into a brief firefight and further lost control of the situation after the smoke had cleared. The encounter at what became known as Jumonville Glen had the potential to be yet another bad mark on the young officer’s record.
When I visited Jumonville Glen in September 2018, I had not been to the site in over two decades. On the morning I was there, I had the site to myself and its still, secluded quiet in a cool morning rain is eerie. Standing at the rocky prospect above at the British position and then at the base of the glen where the French camped, you get a true sense of the intimacy of the place where a major event occurred.
The event at Jumonville Glen didn’t immediately reveal its long term significance, but Washington sensed a French reprisal would be imminent. With that, he returned to the meadows and had a small “fort of necessity” constructed. Some 50′ in diameter, the split-log stockade was surrounded by earth ditches dug into the damp ground near an adjacent trace of a stream.
On July 3, 1754, around 600 French Regulars and Canadians accompanied by perhaps 100 or more Indian allies appeared at the treeline surrounding Washington’s hasty defense. With may only 400 men, many of whom were sick, drunk or otherwise unfit to fight, Washington was vastly outnumbered as Indian and French musket volleys rang out from the trees throughout the day. When rain fell in the afternoon, Washington’s shattered force eventually surrendered. In the negotiation of terms relying on questionable translations, Washington signed his name to a document in which he inadvertently admitted responsibility for the assassination of Jumonville.
As Washington retreated his force from the field, he had delivered a third failure on his third assignment as a want-to-be British officer. With these personal failures, the 22-year-old Virginian had also set in motion events which would erupt in the French and Indian War.
The Braddock Campaign
Following on the failures of Washington in 1753 and 1754, an escalated show of British force was determined to be the solution to finally oust the French from the region. The person tapped for the job was British General Edward Braddock, a veteran in the ways of European warfare and campaigns. The disconnect between Braddock’s military experience and the fighting in the forests of the Ohio Country would prove to be disastrous.
The Carlyle House
In the spring of 1755, Braddock had arrived in Alexandria, VA with 1,200 troops and set up his headquarters at the Carlyle House. There on April 15th, he convened a “congress” of colonial governors from Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts to seek shared funding of the campaign against the French ensconced in the Ohio Country. The governors pushed back on funding Braddock’s expedition but did agree a multi-front campaign against France was the key to their removal from the contintent.
A visit to the Carlyle House today in downtown Alexandria is largely a tour of a grand 18th-century home, not unlike many historic house museums. For someone like me, imagining the heated conversation and planning for what was to become the Braddock campaign and the French and Indian War at large makes it an important part of the era’s story.
By late May 1755, Braddock and his force now numbering over 2,000 set off from Fort Cumberland, MD with the destination of Fort Duquesne over 100 miles to the west and north. Among the troops and working wagon teams recruited by Benjamin Franklin, Braddock’s army contained a who’s who of people who would play a large part in the events over the coming decades. These included the back woodsmen Daniel Boone and Daniel Morgan as well as Thomas Gage; Charles Lee, Horatio Gates and Washington as Braddock’s personal aide.
Braddock’s route was challenging from the beginning. The landscape ahead presented dense forests, rushing streams and steep, rocky hills and mountains. His long column consisted of advance work parties cutting and building a road at the head of the slow-moving army. In some areas rock needed to be blasted and cleared and at other points wagons and cannon were broken down to be hauled over inclines or cross waterways.
The route of the campaign today (much along what would be come the National Road and later US Route 40) is traced with dozens of roadside historical markers. Getting off the road, there are opportunities to hike short remnant portions of the road. The experience of walking some of Braddock’s route shows the closeness and seclusion experienced by a massive European army moving through wilderness for which they were completely unprepared.
The Battle of the Monongehela
After some five weeks of slow advance at a pace of what could be less than five miles a day, Braddock’s column arrived near the banks of the Monongahela River. On July 9, 1755, the head of the British force was attacked by over 200 French and Canadian militia along perhaps 600 or more Indian allies. In the bloody confusion and surrounding crossfire, the British were thrown into disarray as multiple officers fell and troops were engaged at close range attacks. Braddock himself fell to a musket wound, and Washington managed to organize a hasty retreat, saving what he could of British line that had been wrecked with nearly 900 dead and wounded.
Thus, just ten miles from Fort Duquense, yet another British force was thrown back by the French. Again, Washington had been a participant and this time he buried his commanding officer and mentor near the ruins of Fort Necessity.
Leaving the Braddock story at its natural and tragic end, I had the opportunity to also visit a number of other mid-18th-century sites of historical significance in the region. With these I followed other travelers, settlers and campaigns of the era from the French and Indian War to the follow-up conflict of Pontiac’s Rebellion.
The entire region is dotted with sites of former stops along major routes of 18th-century travel and trade. In Washington County, MD, I spent the evening at Fort Frederick State Park. After an evening camping in a downpour in an otherwise empty campground along a rising Potomac River, I awoke to an overcast day and a visit to the recreated Fort Frederick. Originally built in 1756-1758, the large stone Vauban-style fortress is today represented as rebuilt by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Initially used for defense and a trading hub for local settlers during the period of the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s Rebellion, the fortress was later used as a prison during the American Revolution and then garrisoned again by Union troops during the US Civil War.
Travelling about 100 miles northwest from Fort Fredrick, is the site of Fort Bedford. Built in 1758 by British troops under Colonel Henry Bouquet, the log star-shaped fort served as one of the string of supply points during the campaign led by General Forbes to take Fort Duquesne. The original fort is long gone but the site today is marked by the Fort Bedford Museum which is home to the fort’s original 1758 flag and a nice scale model of the fort as it once looked.
Following the route of Forbes and his army fifty more miles to the northwest, I arrived at Fort Ligonier. Some fifty miles southeast of present-day Pittsburgh, the fort was the final jumping-off point for eventual siege and taking of Fort Duquesne in late November 1758. During Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, the fort continued as an important British outpost and was attacked twice by united Indian forces during that conflict. Today’s fort is a fine reproduction of the 18th-century log fort and the museum houses the absolute best collection of exhibits on the period I’ve visited.
All roads lead to the the Forks of the Ohio at present day Pittsburgh, PA where the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers come together. After years of attempts by the British through diplomacy and a failed militia campaign with a young Washington followed by Braddock’s fateful end, the Forbes expedition succeeded in taking the site. Ultimately, British seizure of the point was anticlimactic with the French burning the fort before retreating to the north in late November 1758.
The British set to work redeveloping the site with Fort Pitt between 1759 and 1761 where it served as the anchor of the British Empire’s western edge for the remainder of the war. The fort was besieged by Indians during Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763 and then used by Virginian’s during the brief Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774 which many know view as a precursor to the Revolutionary war.
Jutting out from the the modern city of Pittsburgh, a visit to the site easily reveals the important strategic location of the point at the intersection of three mighty rivers. While the Indian villages, trading posts and forts which once crowded to the river banks are long gone, the park and Fort Pitt Museum there offer a marvelous experience and transport back in time.
Battle of Bushy Run
Squeezed between the little known French and Indian War and the mythic American War of Independence is the almost completely forgotten Pontiac’s Rebellion. From 1763 to 1766 a confederation of Indian nations from the Great Lakes and Ohio Country united to push back the tide of European settlers encroaching westward following the French and Indian War. By the spring and early summer of 1763 dozens of settlements, forts and outposts fell to Indian forces across the entire region, and once-inconceivable Indian sieges of Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt were underway.
In the hopes of relieving the siege at Fort Pitt, British veteran of the region Henry Bouquet led about 600 men over the route once used by Forbes and his army just a few years prior. On August 5, 1763 Bouquet’s force was about 25 miles from the fort when attacked by hundreds of Indians from the thick woods. After a first bloody and disastrous day of defeat, Bouquet’s men rallied the second day in a surprise flanking attack through the woods. The narrow defeat by the British threw back the native rebellion, effectively ending the brief war and assuring British supremacy in the region.
A visit to Bushy Run Battlefield today is a long, winding, out of the way trip to beautifully preserved grounds over rolling hills and wooded trails. The small museum does an out sized job in defining the battle and overall period in context, and its annual reenactments are some of the most picturesque recreations of the period.
While the empires of the British, French and Indian people of the region clashed over the grounds I visited for decades of the 18th-century and involved tens off thousands of participants, my trip allowed me to quietly consider the region from a singular observer’s point of view. Over a week of travel and contemplation, I sought and found a journey back in time to the 18th-century found no so far off my usual 21st-century trail.
North America in the 17th-and-18th-centuries was a clash European and Native cultures in many ways – ways of life, ways of trade, ways of war and ways of faith. Faith for all people in this era was not an abstract but a truth that informed every part of their existence. Finding ways to incorporate the dynamic push-pull between these faiths into games provides an interesting challenge and opportunity.
The False Face Society figure depicts a member of the Haudenosaunee healer tradition. Wearing a fearsome carved and painted wooden mask and carrying a turtle shell rattle, a member of the society would make rounds twice a year to chase away evil spirits and disease from a village. Masks came in a lot of varieties, including some woven from corn husks, and the healing rituals would also include singing and burning tobacco.
The Jesuit Order was founded in Spain in the mid-1500s and its member missionaries spread through North, Central and South America in the 17th-and-18th-centuries. Rooted in Catholic faith, Jesuits lived a life of meditation and contemplation of Jesus Christ. Intellectually, they sought to bring formal education of languages, history and science in a reform of church leadership.
Missionaries to what Europeans called the New World viewed natives of these regions to be in need of saving through baptism and rejection of their perceived savage rituals and traditions. At the same time, Jesuits were at odds with European secular colonial governments for their documentation of native cultures and languages during their years of living among these people. Effectively living between the two societies, Jesuits were famously the victims of torture and martyred execution by natives who recognized the threat they symbolized.
With no experience in the wilderness of the Americas and only their faith to guide them, Jesuits ventured deep into heart of the country largely unexplored by other Europeans. The Jesuit figure depicts the plain dress and spare possessions of a missionary of the era, clutching a Bible close to his heart and a cross hanging from his waist.
Together, the False Face Society Shaman and Jesuit models depict two competing traditions of faith in the Americas during the era of European colonization. In each tradition, rituals and physical items — whether a turtle rattle, mask, Bible or cross — provide opportunities for contrast but also a shared belief that something exists beyond the physical land where people clashed for domination.
As I have researched, played and traveled sites of 18th-century in America, I’ve amassed a reference library of books, pamphlets and websites I’ve found most useful to those interested in the period. Below is a personal, albeit not comprehensive, list of references useful to amateur historians of the decisive era that shaped the continent and world.
If I were to read just one book, I would suggest Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War which not only covers the major military actions of the French and Indian War but also goes into the effects of the conflict on world politics and conditions that led to the American Revolution. Start with this book and take it from there, and I’ll be certain to update as my reading makes new discoveries in the American wilderness.
Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
———. The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005.
Anderson, Niles. The Battle of Bushy Run. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, 1975.
Baker, Norman L. Braddock’s Road: Mapping the British Expedition from Alexandria to the Monongahela. Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2013.
Bellico, Russell P. Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2010.
Berleth, Richard. Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York’s Frontier. Delmar, NY: Black Dome Press, 2009.
Borneman, Walter R. The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
Kummerow, Burton K. and Christine H. O’Toole and R. Scott Stephenson. Pennsylvania’s Forbes Trail: Gateways and Getaways Along the Legendary Route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2008.
The Last of the Mohicans. 20th Century Fox, 1992.
Leckie, Robert. A Few Acres of Snow: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars. New York: Wiley, 1999.
Loescher, Burt Garfield. The History of Rogers’ Rangers, Volumes I-IV. Berwyn Heights, MD: Heritage Books, 2006.
c, 1754-1760. New York: Routledge, 2003.
May, Robin, and Gerry Embleton. Wolfe’s Army. London: Osprey Publishing, 1998.
McCulloch, Ian MacPherson. Highlander in the French-Indian War: 1756–67. London: Osprey Publishing, 2008.
McDonnell, Michael. Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America. New York: Hill & Wang, 2016.
Silver, Peter. Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 200
Stark, Peter. Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father. New York: Ecco Press, 2018.
Tanner, Helen Hornbeck. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.
Taylor, Alan. American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.
Tilberg, Frederick. Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site, Pennsylvania. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, 1956
Todish, Timothy J. and Todd E. Harburn. A “Most Troublesome Situation”: The British Military and the Pontiac Indian Uprising of 1763-1764. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2006.
Treganza, Adan E., and J. C. Harrington. “New Light on Washington’s Fort Necessity: A Report on the Archeological Explorations at Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site.” American Journal of Archaeology 63.2 (1959)
Waddell, Ward and Bruce D. Bomberger. The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, 1753-1763: Fortification and Struggle. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1997.
Ward, Matthew C. Breaking the Backcountry: The Seven Years’ War in Virginia and Pennsylvania, 1754-1765. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003.
West, J. Martin (editor). War for Empire in Western Pennsylvania. Ligonier, PA: Fort Ligonier Association, 1993.
Windrow, Martin, and Michael Roffe. Montcalm’s Army. London: Osprey Publishing, 1973.
Wullf, Matt. Henry Bouquet’s Destiny – The March To Bushy Run. Lewisburg, PA: Wennawoods Publishing, 2014.
The War That Made America–Parts 1-4, A Country Between. PBS, 2005.
I took advantage of having a few four-packs of unpainted British Provincial models from the relatively new and extensive line of FIW models from Sash and Saber Castings to add a Pennsylvania Provincial Regiment to my collection. My force consists of Provincials Firing (FWB28), Loading (FWB29) and Advancing (FWB30), plus Provincial Officers and NCOs (FWB213). With green coats, red vests and tan leather breeches, the color scheme provides a great break from the more typical mix of red and blue clothing on most British soldiers. Together, the sixteen figures allows me to field two units of Pennsylvania Provincials.
Sash and Saber sculpts hew toward the smaller side of 28mm figures (like those from Conquest and Perry Miniatures) with thinner, naturalistic scaling still filled with decent variations in pose and personality. While details fade a bit in faces, sculpted equipment, uniforms and poses all offer the kind of variety I seek in the models I like to paint.
I also purchased the British Personalities pack (FWB402) which includes Lt. Col. George Washington and Jeffrey Amherst, Commander-In-Chief of British Forces in North America during the FIW. The Washington figure is one of three I own of him (along with those from Eureka and Warlord), and he is dressed in his blue British Virginia Provincial officer uniform he wore during the war. Amherst stands with orders in his hand by his side, a nice detail that makes Sash and Saber sculpts unique within such an extensive line.
North Star figures, cast in my preferred material of metal, are on the large end of the 28mm spectrum and showcase thick, broad details that make them a joy to paint. Features really pop on their castings, allowing my painting to capture a lot of the intricacies of the 18th-century uniforms and equipment.
With my order, I also added in an Indian warrior figure clad in a stolen red coat, ostensibly taken from the corpse of a fallen British soldier. This kind of unique character figure is what makes me a fan of the period and North Star’s models.
As a collector of all their previous FIW miniatures, I was so glad to see the return of North Star’s FIW figures after many years of being out of production and only available on the secondary market. Aside from my British Regulars, they’ve also released new sets of British Rangers, Highland Light Infantry, Indians and Canadian Militia. For gamers in the US, North Star’s figures are available from Brigade Games, a distributor I’ve used for many years to source models from many eras. I’ve also heard they are about to launch their own lines of new FIW figures, something I am very excited about as I continuously build out my 18th-century tabletop forces.
Gaming miniatures scenarios in the wilderness of 18th-century America and the French and Indian War period necessitates terrain that speaks of the period’s stories, often played out far away from towns and homesteads. With campaign seasons hacked through the woods of the Northeast, Ohio Country and Great Lakes region, impermanent campsites are often the more regular terrain encountered during play.
I’ve found a couple manufacturer’s that provide some great, inexpensive plastic terrain to create campsite vignettes on the table. The Terrain Crate Hunter’s Camp from Mantic Games, while produced for fantasy role-playing gaming, is a great out-of-the box foundation for any wilderness camp. The inexpensive box comes with a tent, campfire, bedroll, stack of gear and firewood pile. My one knock on the set is the rubbery plastic that takes flat paint and creates a bit of a gloss.
To supplement this set, I have a couple more bedrolls from the blisterpack from WizKids. These casts are primed and take paint exceedignly well right out of the box. The company has been adding all sorts of terrain, bits and pieces to their line of figures over the past few years including cannons, barrels, boxes, furniture, etc., all of which can find a home in a historical setting.
I painted and glued up all the smaller WizKids and Mantic pieces onto a freeform cut balsa base which I flocked. I kept the tent and campire (mounted on a large metal washer) separate from tha larger campsite scene for ease of tarnsport and a bit more flexibility of use on the table.
I also have a number of ridge tents, a campfire and barrels from Renedra Ltd. Like the other manufacturers above, this UK-based company manufacturers a variety of plastic terrain including buildings, fences and gabions apprpriate to the 18th-century. The barrels glue up from two halves and I mounted them up in various piles on smll strips of balsa.
Along the way, I’ve also picked up a resin cast of a pile of beaver pelts, a key item for traders making their way through the North American back woods of the 1700s. All together, these elements from three manufacturers combine to give me a pretty good sized campsite for trappers adventuring in the wilderness or a European army on campaign.
Looking across my couple hundred British metal models, they are reflective of the diversity of the British in North America of the 18th-century. These include regulars, irregulars, colonial forces and civillians. Following on my recent post comparing 28mm Indian scales, I’m having a look at these British figures and their comparitive sizes for French and Indian War tabletop gaming.
As with other sculpts in their lines, the traditional Conquest models (now distributed by Warlord Games) tend toward a 25mm scale along with those from Front Rank. On the other end of the spectrum, figures from Redoubt Enterprises and Galloping Major Wargames stand a head above other makers with their heroic-scaled 28mm. Two different sized casts from the Blue Moon Manufacturing shows how their can be significant variation even with the same manufacturer’s offering.
In the above, I’ve got common British Regulars (“Redcoats”) from both Blue Moon and Conquest side-by-side to show the extremes in scale. By keeping my units grouped by manufacturers when I play, I can generally avoid any of this standout size difference that practically disappears at arm’s length on the tabletop battlefield.
On the smaller side of the 25/28mm range, I’ve got three officers above from Warlord, Eureka Miniatures and Sash & Saber Castings. Again, I find these three companies mix pretty interchangeably with each other with accurately-scaled features and equipment details. (I also can’t speak more highly of the Sash & Saber models which launched a huge line of figures over a year ago. I syill have a bunch on my workbench in progress).
Finally, my British inventory holds a fair number of civillian models as laborers of frontier fighters. Workers from Front Rank and the Perry Miniatures American Revolution line have sharp, realistic scaling toward the 25mm side. As with their other castings, Galloping Major and Redoubt civilian figures offer a lot of animated variety at the larger 28mm size.
As with my Indian FIW models, its the variety to be found across manufacturers the weighs heavier than any difference in side-by-side scaling. The differences in kit, headgear, uniforms, poses and personalities are what call out to me strongest for the period and keep me coming back to the table again.
In the close forests on 18th-century North America during the French and Indian War, the vast majority of the skirmishes and battles among French, Briitsh and Indian forces took place on foot among individual warriors. That said, especially among Europeans, mounted officers still held a place on many battlefields.
Of the hundreds of figures in my collection, few are mounted for this very reason. Aside from that, I’m not a big fan of painting horses although I’ve developed some quick techniques to get tabletop quality mounted models on the table. With this in mind, I recently set to fiishing up some horses and riders for the period.
One other Warlord figure is a plastic officer on a rearing horse. I pulled this figure from the Field Artillery and Army Commanders box made for the American War of Independence. This is one of the few plastic figures in my entire collection, but its sprue provided some options for choices in heads and poses. I’ve modelled mine as a British officer, and atop his bucking horse he is serviceable as a command figure for the earlier period.
Together, this half-dozen mounted officers made for a bit of a break in my usual rotation of purely foot figures. Set at the lead of dozens of other soldiers in the American wilderness, they’ll be a great fit with any number of units of my tabletop.
Sometimes it seems the #1 topic all miniatures gamers have is one of scale and how miniatures from different manufacturers scale together. When I run convention games or post photos of scenarios online, people don’t ask about what books I used in my research or what sites, museums or archives I’ve visited. What they do ask about is manufacturers and scale.
So here it is, taking the first of a couple swings at addressing scale for French and Indian War tabletop gaming with a look at Indians from my collection. After some visual comparisons, I’ll weigh in at the end with some commentary about how I feel about the scale conversation.
In the next photo, I’m showing a zoomed-in look at the manufacturers on the smlaller side — Conquest, Sash and Saber and Knuckleduster. I find these three hew more toward a thinner, more traditional 25mm scale.
On the larger end of the spectrum, I’ve shown a line-up of North Star, AW, Galloping Major and Redoubt as the modern 28mm “heroic” scale.
Finally, I’ve placed two Indian leaders side by side with the Conquest model at one extreme and the towering Redoubt figure on the other.
So there you have it, some visual comparisons of what are broadly viewed as 28mm Indian miniatures. And with that, I have a lot of opinions.
The first one is that many manufacturers use different sculptors over time, creating variations even within one company’s lines of figures. For example, Warlord Games uses older Conquest sculpts in their FIW offering but have also added work from other artists. Companies like AW, Galloping Major and Sash and Saber have a lot of consistency in their models since they are owned and operated by the sculptors themselves. So, broad statements like “X manufacturer always scales well with Y manufacturer” are not always 100% accurate.
Next, my bias is toward metal castings and I try to avoid plastics. I like the heft of metal on the table, I don’t like to put in assembly time and I like how metal takes paint. This means I’m not looking at a very popular manufacturer like Perry Miniatures in the photos above. I have played with Perry plastics and I own some of their wagons cast in metal. Mostly, I find their sculpts are thin, with very acurate real-life scaling that tends toward the smaller end of the 25mm scale.
As a third point, few players I know put their heads right down on the table at figure eye level when playing. Figures used in actual play are seen at arm’s length or table distance of some three feet or more, obscuring fine differences of a millilmeter or two between models. Differences in models on the table can be further obscuredby keeping manufacturers together in cohesive units. I use the approach, and my “tabletop quality” of painting allows my miniatures to fight just fine (provided the dice are cooperating on any given day).
Finally, variety to me is so much more important than scale. With over 120 Indians painted up in my collection (and probably more on the way), I’ve always been more focused on the visual interest of the sculpts than height of one versus another. By stretching across seven manufacturers I’m supporting more companies and artists feeding the hobby and getting a ton more interesting looking Indian units on my table.