Friday, January 19, 2018

The battle of Parramatta Road 1816

More of my knowledge about 19th century warfare comes from watching movie matinees than I would care to admit.

Typically, in these movies, a company/platoon/troop wanders off into the wilderness, threatened as much by the conflict between the handsome commanders (and a femme fatale), as by the dogged, skillful and honourable tribesmen fighting for freedom.

Now there are some skirmish rules I like, Sharpe Practice and The Men Who Would Be Kings to name two. In my head though, the 'groups, in these rules act like companies.

In the movies, the impossibly handsome commander growls: "Corporal o'Brian, take two men and sout that gully". Every time the two men get tomahawked, while Corporal o'Brian staggers back to the main body, to be ministered to by the "love interest". Perhaps the impossibly handsome commander should have sent five men and Sergeant Smith.

In my search for a set of rules that fits this niche I bought "Smooth and Rifled" and played the big version. To be honest my opponents found controlling several units overwhelming, and rules in English are a bit hard to understand.

Still, there were things I really liked:
  1. A man could act as an individual, or as part of a group using the same mechanisms.
  2. Fire can be by crashing volleys, or by a popping individual fire
  3. The army lists make different forces act quite differently.
The author of Smooth and Rifled, Lorenzo Sartori said that  he wanted to do a second edition and could I help. Therefore I decided to play the medium version of the game again.

My friend, who you might know as "Happy Wander" latest obsession interest is the Australian Frontier Wars. Now, in Australia we envy overseas wargamers who get to play games that happened a few miles away. So I find the opportunity to game the local tribes fight against colonisation very interesting.

So we decided to try Smooth and Rifled (with quite a few rules amendments).

The game is set at Cleland's Farm on a bend of Parramatta Road  which runs westwards from Sydney in 1816. A section of the Rum Corps has been detailed to keep the road clear of some combative elements of the Eora tribe.

The main body  comes marching up the road preceded by Private Jonno Smith who sees trouble behind every ghost gum.

Meanwhile Sergeant Parr select four of the less inebriated privates to scout the bush to the south of the road. 

The thick bush means that Parr's detachment losses contact with the column.

While the main body swings on down the road.

Private Smith thinks he sees something, nah, its just a kan-ga-roo

 Wrong! Angry warriors rise silently out of the thick bush.

One warrior dashes forward and throws a spear into poor Private Smith

The commotion in the bush stops the regular troops in their tracks

While a cloud of spears from between the gum trees knocks two off their feet.

Overcoming their shock, the regulars deploy into line, poke their heads into the bushes and open fire. Skippy looks on disapprovingly.

A frantic exchange of musket balls and spears develops

But the tribesmen melt back into the bush like ghosts.

 To the South Sergeant Parr thinks he spots a Wombat

Instead spears fly out of nowhere.

A frantic hand to hand struggle in the bush starts

But all of Parr's men are soon captured.

The yells from the bush to the front and rear is more than the Rum Corp can stand. They break and don't stop running till they get back to Sydney.

Which was just as well as there were nine more warriors in farmer Cleland's back garden


  1. To the victor the spoils! I shall put forth an expanded battlevreport once the lists are released to highlight some aspects of the rules, etc.

    Top report...lovely pics...and terrain mat 👌

    Happy Wanderer

  2. Great looking table- fascinating topic. Great stuff!

  3. Great looking game! Always fun to see battles covering less common conflicts.

  4. Fantastic looking game and a great report. Being Australian, I think this must be the first wargame I've ever seen that's located somewhere I've probably driven past.

  5. Great to see some Australian content in games! Looked like a great game was played and the scenery,especially the trees are fantastic!