Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, Quebec 1759 - Black Powder

Having played a number of skirmish games using my French Indian War (FIW) collection, I wanted to find a set of rules that could handle more of a ‘ field battle’. I also needed to find a battle or scenario to experiment with.

Actual ‘battles’, using formed, regular troops in the FIW are quite limited. Quebec, or the ‘Plains of
Abraham’ was the obvious one but using the historic scenario & set up would not make it much of a

Then, while browsing the Warlords games website, I came across a scenario from the author of the
Black Powder (BP) supplement ‘The Last Argument of Kings’ (Pete Brown) for Quebec

I looked at our usual skirmish sets, ‘Sharp Practice’, ‘Muskets & Tomahawks’ & ‘Donnybrook’, but
didn’t feel that they’d really fit what I was after. ‘Maurice’ was another option, but the FIW didn’t
lend itself to that type of game (in my opinion!)

So, being that the scenario was written for BP, BP it was! There are a few options in the scenario;
more French troops are released from the City, reinforcements (which did arrive at the end of the
actual battle) are available immediately or turn up early, or the one I went with; dice to see which
British troops are deployed, which simulates either the French reacting quicker, or the British taking
their time to get up from the landing point. In addition, the French don’t know how many troops are
in position until they crest the ‘Buttes a Neveu’.


If you are familiar with BP, you will know that each troop type is allocated factors for firing, hand to
hand, stamina, morale etc. There are provided in the scenario, but I tweaked them slightly for the
game, with my ‘take’ on things. I also had to use what forces I had available, so again they did differ
slightly from the scenario. I gave each force one gun, that’s all I’ve got! And allowed them to allocate
that to any brigade. Just to note, the author of the scenario uses rangers on the British side and
Indians on the French, I can find no reference to either on my research, but stand to be corrected!

The battlefield, played on a 6x4, is pretty simple; Buttes at the Quebec end, with scrub on either
flank and Sillery wood behind the British, with a couple of roads. I did tell the players that French
reinforcement’s may turn up on the left, as you look towards the Buttes, but in the end I held them
off table.

On the day, Ian took the British and Steve L the French. Ian rolled 2 D6 to see how many British battalions would be deployed and rolled a 4. Not brilliant, but that did nicely equate to one brigade, to which Ian allocated the gun. Ian told me where he wanted to deploy them, but they wouldn’t be on the table until the French crested the Buttes. The other two British brigades would arrive in march column along the right hand road.

Steve deployed his three brigades on the table edge, but then only the centre one moved forward, but
far enough to view the deployed British. Next turn the British columns decided they didn’t feel like
getting into battle straight away, so a bit of a stalemate occurred, although they British gun did
cause a casualty on one of the French regulars.

Steve managed to get all his brigades moving and the British came up from the beaches, deploying
behind the right hand brigade, to form a line running across the battlefield.

Both forces closed to musket range on the British right, while the artillery caused the odd casualty.
The French initially got the worst of the exchange but manage to rally off hits before they became

On the British left, a Canadian militia battalion closed in on a British line btn for ‘hand to hand’,
Although the militia broke as expected, the British were also pushed back, which was the story of
Ian’s day pretty much!

Across the field now casualties started to mount, the British in particular finding they were having to
miss firing opportunities to rally off ‘shaken’ markers, by attaching brigade commanders. Of course, there is always a risk, and so it was that General Townsend on the British right flank went down, to be replaced by a lesser officer.

On the far right of the British line, the Scots light infantry charged a French marine battalion, the French lost and retreated, but the Scots, also shaken, failed their break test with a ‘3’!

In the centre, the Scots line battalion and the 60th ft also closed to contact. Again, although the French were pushed back, the British were ‘shaken’ and managed to roll 2 ‘3’s again on their break tests!

At this stage, although starting with a numerical advantage, the British were down four battalions broken to two French, and a lot of the British battalions were not in a good state! We called in a day, victory to the French and history is reversed!

Thanks to Ian & Steve L for a good game, played in a gentlemanly manner and Bob, another club
member, for allowing me to use his British Grenadiers, Light Infantry and some French. I may not
have played all the rules exactly to the letter, and probably forgot a few, but I certainly enjoyed
running it.

Terrain mat is by ‘Tiny Wargames’. My figures are a mixture of 1st Corps, Galloping Major, Warlord,
North Star and Redoubt. Not all compatible in size close-up, but work in their own units.

If, like me you thought the FIW was ‘done and dusted’ after the Plains of Abraham, then think again!
The following year the French came back to try and retake Quebec and what is known as the ‘Battle
of St Foy’, where the attacker/defender roles are reversed, took place. That’s on my list to put on as
a game, but if you want to know more, look at the Osprey ‘Combat’ series, ‘North America 1755-63,
British Redcoat verses French Fusilier’.

Steve M


  1. GLad to see this of report, many beautiful figures here!

  2. Nice looking game Steve. Not so sure I like the result as much though !

    As to the forces used this site gives a "reasonable" picture, although there will always be arguments:

    Personally I think Wolfe had 6 companies of American Rangers with his force, but that he only took regulars up the heights.

    As to the French, Montcalm mixed militia into his regular regiments. We all know how well that went. I can find references to "Indians" being present and if they were mixed with the regulars and militia I can see why they weren't mentioned further. Removing the advantages of local irregulars and making them fight like trained troops is not something that sounds too clever.


  3. Cheers Vince,

    Don't appear to be able to click on the link at the moment, will type it in when I've got half an hour!

    4 companies from what I've seen :) But no mention of who he left on the beach. In fact no reference, from what I can see, of them even getting in the boats? They do make an appearance at St Foy though.

    Yes, reading again, there is a reference to 'Indians' skirmishing, but no details in the orbat. Which makes me think they weren't there in numbers. No harm in putting a skirmishing unit in for effect :)

    Mixing the militia with the regulars is why the French don't get 'first fire'. Although according to sources, the French weren't much for 'volley fire' anyway!