At the onset of the French and Indian War, the vast majority of “French” troops in North America were in fact, Canadian militia. First raised as early as the mid-1600s, Canadian militias (or “Milices Canadiennes”) compromised some 15,000 troops by the early 1750s. By the time the Seven Years War arrived in the North American French colonies of Canada, the militia was divided into three main government sections of Montréal, Québec and Trois-Rivières. Despite the local makeup of conscripted Canadian men, each militia was commanded by Compagnies Franches de la Marine officers pulled from traditional European training and tradition.
I have a bunch of Canadian militia already in my collection of 28mm FIW figures, but I’m always on the lookout to add diversity. With my latest from Black Hussar Miniatures I’ve found a great assortment of personality and poses which present the irregular nature of Canadian irregular troops of the period.
While some argue that uniform colors conformed to specific regions, most research shows the Canadian militia uniforms were a true mix of equipment and uniforms. Clad in a mix of jackets, frocks and leather leggings borrowed from the style of trappers and local natives, these figures create a great variety in modelling the period in color and texture.
Black Hussar sculpts scale toward the middle of manufacturers in 28mm, but as a unit, they hold together nicely. With a variety of animated poses firing, advancing, at the ready and in command, the molds all a unique quality which differs largely from the more regular casts of other makers.
Mixed with the militia fighting men, I particularly appreciate the contrasting formality of the French officers clad in their pressed European uniforms with one leaning casually on a walking stick. I made swift work of all these figures in the typical mix of blues, whites, red and picked out details, but upon consideration of the photos here I realize one more pass on cleaning up details would be of benefit. Even so, the irregular painting of these irregular militia was a treat and welcome addition to my tabletop forces of the period.
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.
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.
The majority of my French figures for my French and Indian War collection tend toward irregular Canadian miltia and Compagnies Franches de la Marine troops. To supplement them, I’ve endevoured to add some models to represent more regular French troops to the mix that became a greater battlefield presence particularly as the war went on.
For my French regular troops, I first turned to UK-based AW Miniatures for their stout 28mm scupts which scale well with most of my other figures. To create two units, I picked up two of their eight-packs of French regular infantry (FIW30) and supplemented them with a three-pack of French regular command (FIW31) and one additional standard bearer (FIW37).
Together, this gave me two ten-figure units of French regulars. I like the mix of poses and headwear, as well as their bayonets tipping their muskets. One officer, my favorite of the bunch, sports a broad mustache with a sword at the ready and a commanding hand pointing his troops forward. For the standard bearers, I printed period French flags on paper, attached and stiffened them with white glue.
I am not generally a fan of painting white uniforms, but the blue waistcoats, lapels and cuffs, as well as the yellow-trimmed tricornes, provide a pretty stunningly graphic contrast. Once deployed, twenty of these French regulars on the table in a double-ranked firing line really present an imposing force as they must have in the many of the pivotal FIW battles in which they fought.
Fan favorite Galloping Major Wargames launched its second Kickstarter campaign in July 2017 with a line featuring Compagnies Franches de la Marine. Billed as “regular soldiers recruited in France for colonial service,” this 28mm campaign added seven new packs to their catalog, plus a single character figure which instantly became one of my favorite.
I ordered three packs of figures (FIW FCFI, FIW FCF2 and FIW FC3) featuring soldiers and command clad in “Canadian/outpost” clothes and wearing a mix of bonnets and tuques. I chose to paint them up in a variety of colors so they mix equally well with my Canadian militia units or stand alone as recruited French soldiers.
These soldiers were commonly posted at forts and fought in battles all across the French and Indian War era, so they come in pretty useful in a lot of gaming scenarios. Overall the poses are pretty basic in loading, at the ready, advancing and firing, with a little extra personality in the command figures. Other figures in the Kickstarter featured more formal short jackets and tricorne hats, and the entire range is now available for sale through the company’s website.
GM miniatures are the among the largest in my collection, cast at a 28mm heroic scale. That said, I found my first purchase of their Indians to be just a bit smaller than their other figures I own. The size of the models presents the opportunity for a lot of detail and individual personality, especially in some great facial expressions.
These Indians present a more traditional look with chests bared and dress in leather loincloths and leggings. Knives, hatchets, jewelry, powder horns and various shoulder-slung bags equip these figures nicely for any campaign. As a bonus, the six figures I ordered were supplemented with a seventh figure thrown in for free, a nice thing GM offers to larger orders. And with these Indians complete, I’m sure there will be more of those orders to Galloping Major Wargames in my future.
In my recent quest to add more variety to my French and Indian War Native American forces, I’ve had to look a bit beyond the usual FIW miniatures manufacturers. My core requirements in seeking new models is that they are metal, a reasonable representation of tribes present during the FIW period and that they scale well at 28mm with my other models. With this criteria in mind, I was happy to stumble across a rack of Knuckleduster Miniatures at a convention earlier this year.
Knuckleduster, as the name evokes, focuses largely on an expanding line of Old West themed miniatures in 25mm, 28mm and 40mm scales. Beyond this core offering, they also have a small selection of British, American and Canadian soldiers for the War of 1812. And, it’s within this era’s figures where you will find a small collection of Native Americans usable in the FIW.
Packaged as “Grand River Nation” Indians, Knuckleduster offers two packs of six models, one in summer dress and one in winter clothing, plus a two-model leader pack. I picked up the summer dress pack for $10, a pretty good deal for a half dozen metal models cast at a true 28mm scale. These are really beefy models with lumpy facial features but with some nice detail in jewelry and clothing. Their dress generally depicts the European-influenced style from trade goods many Indians wore during the FIW era. And, it is their scale, style and variety that makes these a great hidden find for my Native force collection.
With the majority of my core 28mm forces for my French and Indian War gaming complete, I’ve been focusing on filling out my model variety with more Indian figures from a number of manufacturers. The FIW lends itself to having a lot of different Native American models on the table, given the numerous North American tribes which participated in the conflict. Most of my Indians are from Conquest Miniatures distributed by Warlord Games but my next few posts are focusing on some small units I’ve been adding from other makers.
First up are a half dozen figures from North Star Military Figures. Until recently, Northstar was manufacturing figures packaged specifically for use with the very popular Muskets & Tomahawks rules set. With a second edition of M&T pending at some unnamed future date, Northstar recently put their figure line on hold.
Fortunately I had grabbed a pack of Indian reinforcements at a convention earlier this year. The six models, armed with muskets and hatchets, all come with nice detail of equipment, jewelry and some hooded frocks. I chose to paint them in colorful reds, greens and blues, reflecting the steady trade of European goods during the era. The sculpts are solid with a real 28mm feel a bit larger than my Conquests which stand closer to 25mm. With these Northstar Indians, my native forces have grown in variety and scale as I build out a larger group of allies for my French.
The French and Indian War (1754-1763) called for new tactics for old, professional armies steeped in traditional European warfare. With hostilities among French, French-allied Indians and Canadians, British and colonists of all stripes erupting over territorial disputes on the frontier of North America, locally-mustered soldiers were of paramount importance to all sides.
Robert Rogers, born in Massachusetts of Irish immigrants in 1731, was key in raising forces in New Hampshire for the British in the mid 1750s on the eve of the conflict. With animosity toward Indians in the region, his recruits formed what came to be known as Rogers’ Rangers. Operating out of Northeastern and Central New York, the company of some 600 men who formed Rogers’ Rangers participated in some of the key actions of the war including the Battles on Snowshoes and the Battle of Carillon, both in 1758.
Aside from his leadership during the FIW, he also contributed significantly with his “Rules of Ranging.” Written in 1757, the 28 rules provide an outline for the discipline and tactics which defined Rogers’ own brand of guerilla-style wilderness war. So visionary in their combination of Native American style warfare with some European principles for the rules of war, some version of these have been used by US Army Rangers to this day.
Following the end of the FIW, Rogers continued to work with the British military during Pontiac’s Rebellion that swept through the Great Lakes in 1763-1766 and finally during the American War of Independence in the 1770s and 1780s. Despite having devoted his entire adult life to warring on behalf of the British in North America, Rogers died in 1795 poor and in obscurity in England at the age of 63.
Rogers’ Rangers in Popular Culture
Robert Rogers has managed to hold considerable space in pop culture for generations. Even though his alliances were with British rule during his decades-long career, his legend rests squarely within a particular type of colorful American frontier character who succeeds by breaking the rules and forging his own path. The persistence of his legacy has been helped by comics, books, movies and TV shows that continue to today.
The modern iteration of Robert Rogers appears in the AMC series TURN: Washington’s Spies, now into a fourth season. While the story focuses on the spy network surrounding New York City in the early days of the American Revolution, considerable space is given to Rogers and his complicated relationship with the British a decade after the FIW.
Modelling Rogers’ Rangers
For my Rogers’ Rangers, I’ve turned again to Galloping Major Wargames. GM figures, like those I modeled as my FIW Virginia Provincials, have a chunkier heroic 28mm scale I love for their detail and personality. The ranger miniatures offer some variety of irregular outfits and weapons including muskets and hatchets. Headgear include the signature bonnets as well as tricorn and rounded jockey hats with fronts cut and cocked back to the crown and detailed with white edging.
The famed short forest green jackets are detailed with lighter green lapels and cuffs finished with silver buttons over earthy red vests. For leggings, I mixed the figures up with colors ranging from a light brown buckskin to a more colorful blue.
Together, I feel my painted Rogers’ Rangers typify how they would have looked as they fought in the fields and forests of 18th-century North America.
Major Robert Rogers and “Duke” Jacob, a freed former slave who is said to have been a member of Rogers’ Rangers
After facing my fear of painting all the details on my first 18th-century British Redcoats, I turned next to North American Indians and another challenge – painting lots of flesh. Getting Indians in the mix with my French and Indian War gaming project was key, and my focus on the era of the Braddock Expedition and the Battle of the Monongahela meant I was going to need lots of Indians. In addition and since both the British and the French allied with different tribes throughout the war, I was going to need a fair amount of variety from the figures I chose.
As I entered into modelling my first North American Indians of the 18th-century, I went to two books. Jill Lepore’s The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (1998) focuses on how warfare in New England in the 1670s shaped the mindsets of European settlers as well the native people they encountered. In a follow-up of sorts, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America (2007) by Peter Silver picks up this thread in the Mid-Atlantic colonies of the 1700s as multiple nationalities and ethnicities of Europeans again ran up against a population of natives set on halting the expansion of these new arrivals. Both books are remarkable and still ring as relevant to this day as fear and violence remain a cultural and poltical driver as we Americans continue to grapple with new cultures of people looking to share space.
With a bit of reading under my belt, I was fortunate to have a fellow member at Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, NY who had piles of extra Indians from Conquest Miniatures sitting in a box. These metal cast models are now carried by Warlord Games in both boxed sets like the Woodland Indian War Party and in smaller packages. From my friend’s stash and without duplicating poses, I was able to pull out a couple dozen different models to build my initial Indian force. The models show a lot of unique personality and equipment with both traditional weapons (bows, war clubs, knives and hatchets) and European guns. The mode of dress also varies, with some figures wearing only the minimum of a loincloth and leggings while others are in long-sleeved shirts.
My first Indians get their base flesh coat
As per my usual process at this scale, all the metal was cleaned up, the figures were based on washers and the bases were filled in roughly with wood putty. After a black spray coat, the first challenge was in finding a proper flesh tone to represent Native woodland Indians of northeastern North America. I read a lot online debate on how to capture the skin tone of a varied people, so I settled on a two-part process of my own.
A second lighter flesh coat is added
Over the black primer I applied a first coat to exposed skin areas using a 50/50 mix of red and dark brown paints. As the paint was drying, I immediately noticed the skin was a good dark color but translating as overly red even at arm’s length. In order to preserve the richness of the color while also tempering the bright redness, I gently dry brushed a coat of light brown over all the skin areas again. Once dried a second time, I felt I had a fairly decent tabletop rendition of skin tone capturing the creases, shadows and shape of the bared muscles without tipping into caricature.
Details in equipment and clothing begin to be blocked out
As opposed to the sameness of European uniforms of the FIW period, the real fun in painting these Indian models is in the imagination that can be put into them. Not surprisingly, there’s not much of a detailed historic visual record of exact modes of dress for Native Americans of this period. With that, I let my creativity reign. Most leggings, loincloths and satchels got a basic leather brown color with fringe highlighted in slightly lighter brown. Jewelry such as necklaces, earrings and bracelets got a mix of metallic and red, blue or green colors to represent precious stones or trade beads.
Since decoration was very prominent with most tribes of the Northeast, all bags, leggings, belts and other gear got a mix of geometric patterns applied to represent this native craftsmanship. Detail also extended to some of the flesh on the models, with most receiving body paints or tattoos in red, dark blue, black and white. In the end some of the figures wound up with their arms, heads or even entire torsos covered in paint.
Painted models are finished off in a woodland-like basing mix
While half the models carried the look of their native cultures, the other models sported more European-style clothing with long shirts, blankets and leggings, all of which were done in various colors. I especially liked one figure who seems to be striding along proudly wearing a captured British red coat. With everything painted, the bases were finished with Green Adirondack ground cover from Scenic Express.
My first two dozen completed Indians wound up dividing nicely into two groups of twelve. This will make them easier to identify as diffrent units on the same side or different tribes altogther choosing to swing their aliance to the opposing British and French.