“With his ‘extensive’ Militia (sorry, Miwitia) background, Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies felt it should be he, not that guttersnipe Captain Fondler and his Rifles (sorry, Fondwer and his Wifles), who should be the one to rescue (sorry, wescue) the beautiful spy, the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca (and no doubt weap whatever wewards were on offer).”
Back in May 2009, the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website published the following game report of our first game of the Too Fat Lardies’ Sharp Practice rules for skirmish battles in the age of black powder. As this was our first game with these rules, we got a few things wrong. But overall the rules worked, and a story emerged from the chaos.
I thought it was such a fun game report, that it’s worth re-publishing here for your entertainment.
The scenario we played was Fondler’s Colonel from the The Compleat Fondler scenario book, also by the Too Fat Lardies. Captain Richard Fondler, of course, is a take-off of that well-known mullet-wearing 95th Rifles officer, Richard Sharpe.
The premise of the game is that the British are to pick up a Spanish spy, the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca, who is currently under the care of Abbott Costello at a local monastery. At the same time, they are to deliver a cart-load of gold to a Spanish guerilla chieftain, El Cascanueces. Meanwhile, Colonel Daniel Laroux of the French Imperial Intelligence Service is setting a dastardly trap to capture his hated nemesis, Captain Richard Fondler.
Before you continue reading this game report, you might like to scroll to the bottom of this page to read the scenario notes leading up to this battle. Spoiler alert: if you intend to play this scenario, be aware that there are some spoilers contained in the scenario notes.
(above) Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies, the new commander of the South-East Essex, leads the column to rescue the Marquesa.
With his ‘extensive’ Militia (sorry, Miwitia) background, Grabbe-Ghoullies feels he should be the one to rescue the beautiful spy (and no doubt reap whatever rewards are on offer), not Fondler and his Rifles (sorry, Fondwer and his Wifles). No low-born guttersnipe who has become an officer out of the ranks (sorry, wanks) will outshine him. So he orders Fondler’s Rifles to a lowly wagon-guard role. The scenario rules state that the Rifles can’t do anything major until they are either fired upon or the redcoats suffer three or more casualties.
(above) French voltiguers under the command of Caporal-Bugler Petain (don’t ask – I just didn’t have enough ordinary French NCO figures, so used a bugler instead!) open fire on the British column from their eyrie amongst the rocky outcrops.
Lieutenant Harry Cost peels his company of redcoats away from the column to chase off these pesky skirmishers.
(above) Oh dear, the skirmishers score a kill on Lieutenant Cost’s company. Captain Fondler and Sergeant Paisley of the Rifles look on helplessly, still being under Grabbe-Ghoullies’ orders to stay out of the fight and guard the wagon.
(above) Caporal-Bugler Petain’s cornet catches the sunlight, making a perfect target for the redcoats. A bullet flies right down the cornet’s tube, badly wounding the caporal-bugler. His voltiguers obviously don’t think too much of him, because he is left lying in the hot sun for the remainder of the game, instead of being carried to the rear.
Shortly after, Sergeant Ducrot, another French NCO, runs up the hill to take over command (not in this picture yet), so no major damage is done (other than to poor Petain and his cornet, of course).
(above) Harry Cost’s men blaze away furiously, while Fondler grits his teeth and wishes they would just get up there into the outcrops and weed those Crapauds out – or send in the Rifles to do the job. Even his wagon has been taken away from him now.
(above) Grabbe-Ghoullies finally gets his column moving – or inching- along the road, taking the gold cart with him, ordering Fondler to deal with the skirmishers at last.
(above) But hark, what is this? Do you hear the sound of drums coming from up the side road?
(above) Four companies of French infantry, lead by the Colonel Visage de Vache, hasten towards the battle. They were supposed to close the trap after the British passed the intersection, but their attack is launched prematurely and they march steadily towards the intersection before the British get there. Meanwhile, Sergeant Ducrot and his voltiguers continue peppering the British from the rocky outcrops.
(above) Colonel Visage de Vache proudly leads his column out. The grenadier company takes the lead.
(above) “Hop to it, mes amis, form line, and let’s give zese Ros Bifs some French dressing!” roars Colonel Visage de Vache to his men. The four companies swing into line with well-drilled precision.
(above) Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies looks around wildly. A Fwench line in fwont of him, skirmishers to his left … maybe he should’ve stayed in the compfowtable miwiltia officers mess back in Bwighty.
(above) A pall of smoke drifts between the two formations, as the British column is decimated by the disciplined fire from the French line. The British companies suffer so much shock that after two volleys they begin to lose their bottle, and the game ends with a British surrender.
Oddly, it wasn’t till after I took the above photo that I noticed that Grabbe-Ghoullies, who had supposedly been badly wounded in front of his men by the French volleys, had not been wounded at all, but merely scarpered into cover (those sneaky British players!).
And so, what was the outcome?
Grabbe-Ghoullies, only his dignity harmed, will be captured by Colonel Visage de Vache. No beautiful Marquesa to entertain tonight, only a few wats in a locked woom behind the Fwench lines.
In the monastery, Colonel Daniel Laroux jumps up and down in frustration (then promptly falls over as he forgets he is tottering round on high heels). His carefully-laid plan to dress up as the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca (who is safely closeted miles away in a prison cell) and so ensnare Fondler to finally get his revenge for the false teeth his arch-nemesis had smashed in an earlier encounter, has been foiled by the over-efficiency of the line infantry officers. “One day, Capitaine Dick Fondler … one day I’ll get you!”
El Cascanueces, however, is pleased. He had thrown in his lot with Laroux. But with the British surrender, he has got his gold without having to risk anything at all.
Abbott Costello sleeps blissfully on, happily drugged with several bottles of cheap French plonk provided by the beautiful (but rather hairy and with big hands, now that he comes to think of it) “Marquessa de Una Paloma Blanca”. He remains totally unaware of all that has happened today.
Meanwhile, Captain Fondler and Sergeant Paisley beat a hasty retreat to the British lines. Fondler will have to report to Wellington that he has lost the gold and not rescued the Marquesa. But the two riflemen are sure to march together again one day soon, and retrieve Fondler’s honour.
OK, probably not the best of games for the British players, but that wasn’t so much their fault as that of the game-master (er … me) who let the French fusilier battalions come into the battle far too soon, and thus prevented the latter stages of the scenario from playing out. However, it was our first time, so lesson learned!
Based almost entirely on the scenario Fondler’s Colonel in The Compleat Fondler scenario book by the Too Fat Lardies.
“I see, Captain Fondwer, that you and your men weah the uniform of the Wifles. Is there a weason why you do not wish to be a pawt of my wegiment?”
Whatever Captain Richard Fondler had expected of the newly appointed colonel of the 1st Battalion of the South-East Essex, Sir Henry Grabbe-Goullies was not it. After three years fighting in Portugal the British Army had weeded out most of the stuffed-shirts amongst its commanders; they either learnt to fight or had been replaced. But the Army must’ve missed Sir Henry.
“No, sir.” Fondler fixed his eyes on an imaginary mark some six inches above the colonel’s head. “I am proud to command the light company of the South-East Essex, but I and my men are also proud to be riflemen, and we continue to wear this uniform as a mark of that.”
The colonel paused, his knuckles turning white as he fought to control his anger. “I must say, Captain, that I disappwove of your attire and, sir, of your wifles. Why, you’ve even got some Portugwese with your wiflemen! I am a fiwm bewiever in discipwine. My expewiences in the Miwitia have taught me that a unit that has dissipwine fights well. Your wiflemen and Portugwese do not have dissipwine!”
Sir Henry paused to wipe the spittle from his chin. “It is my intention to wemove your wifles and weplace them with muskets so that your men may line up with the west and fight as men!”
The colonel paused and stared at the rifleman before him. He had heard much of Captain Fondler, and none of it he liked. Now he could see that the rifleman was fighting to control his anger, confirming Sir Henry’s suspicions that Fondler would not be a good man in battle, would not have the clear head and cold heart needed for command; traits that Sir Henry had, he was sure, in abundance. He stroked his moustaches and allowed his lip to curl into what was both a sneer and a smile of victory. Order would be maintained.
CRASH! The door did not so much open as erupt, and a large man with a mop of unruly red hair wearing the uniform of a major of engineers flooded into the room. “Top o’ the mornin’ to you!” the newcomer bellowed.
Major Michael O’Stereotype was well known to Fondler; as well as being a major of engineers, he was one of Sir Arthur Wellesley’s exploring officers, roaming through the Peninsula in an attempt to discover information that would harm the Corsican Tyrant and assist the cause of His Britannic Majesty King George.
“Tis a fine day to be meeting yourself, Colonel.” The big man had turned to address Sir Henry. “I am havin’ your orders from Sir Arthur with me here, to be sure. Gather round this map and I’ll tell all.”
Sir Henry was aghast. He had been told to expect the major, and knew that the man was one of Sir Arthur’s most trusted confidants. It seemed clear, however, that the army in the Peninsula had lost all sense of discipline and propriety. First a guttersnipe who had been promoted to a captain, and now this bog-trotting buffoon!
The buffoon spoke, and Sir Henry had the distinct feeling that Sir Arthur’s orders were being conveyed to Captain Fondler rather than himself.
“You’ll loike this, Dick, it’s a cracker! One of our main agents in Spain is the beautiful aristocratic Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca, the wife of the suitably absent Marques who happens to be many thousands of miles away in South America, and is probably impotent anyway. Now, the Marquesa has, through her incredible beauty, sophistication and not entirely appropriate behaviour for a married woman, penetrated the French intelligence network headed by Colonel Laroux of the Imperial Guard, a truly evil man whose sadism knows no bounds – oh, I forget Dick, you and he have already met.”
Fondler looked grim. He and Laroux had indeed met, and on several occasions the rifleman had been instrumental in foiling Laroux’s dastardly plans. In an act of revenge that he now felt he may come to regret, he had smashed the Frenchman’s false teeth.
“Well, the Marquesa has been unmasked,” the big Irishman continued. “It seems that she was caught whilst getting her hands on a list of French spies in Lisbon and only just escaped with her life. In a desperate act the Marquesa made contact with one of Spain’s most notable guerrilla leaders, El Cascanueces. He is escorting her to the Monastery of Madre de Deus, where Abbott Costello, one of our agents, will protect her until we can arrive.
“The monastery is two days from here. Dick, I need you to deliver a consignment of gold and powder to El Cascanueces. I fear that he is an untrustworthy ally, little more than a bandit in fact, and we need a gift to ensure he fulfils his part of the deal. Ten thousand guineas in gold should do that.” He looked across the map at the two faces, grinned and reached towards the colonel’s brandy decanter. “Now, let’s drink to your success, Dick!”
The colonel spoke first. “Hold with that bottle, sir! You pwopose, Major, to send Captain Fondwer to undertake a mission of such import?”
“I do, Colonel, and what is more, I know that he will not let me down.”
Sir Henry spluttered in amazement. “You, Major, may be pwepared to leave matters such as this in Fondwer’s hands. I am not. I can see now that life on campaign has been too fwee and easy these past years, and that a lack of discipwine permeates nearly all stwata of our army. Order must pwevail!”
The engineer’s expression had changed, his drink now forgotten. “Colonel, I will not release the consignment of gold and powder to any man other than Captain Fondler. These are my orders from Sir Arthur himself.”
In the ensuing silence Fondler could almost hear Sir Henry’s brain at work, his discomfort and anger as clear as Fondler’s had been earlier in the conversation. Then the colonel spoke.
“Vewy well. Captain Fondwer and his wiflemen may escort the gold, but it is my intention to lead this wescue mission, and fwom that you may not divewt me, Major. The Captain may guard your pwecious wagon. I think, however, that you will find that it is my wedcoats and their muskets who do the gweatest service.”
The colonel turned to the rifleman. “Captain Fondwer, be weady to march at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.” Then, secure in the knowledge that he had out-manoeuvred both the captain and the major, he dismissed them from his presence.
O’Stereotype and Fondler walked together across the main square. “Mary, Mother of God,” the Irishman blasphemed, “you’ve got your work cut out with that eejit, so you do. You take care, Dick. Laroux has his men combing the mountains looking for the Marquesa. I can only pray that you get to her in time. Between you and me vital information is haemorrhaging out of Lisbon all the time and things look bleak for old Nosey. The sooner we get a list of Laroux’s agents the better things will be.”
Fondler’s face was troubled. “Aye Mick. If we fail we shall die at the hands of Laroux. If we succeed Sir Henry will claim a victory for the musket and we shall lose our rifles and, most likely, our green jackets too.”