Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Rogers' Rangers and the French Indian War

Rogers' Rangers by Ronald Embleton

A year or two ago I bought from someone at Guildford all of Conquest Miniatures superb French and Indian War figures, although new releases for this range seem to have, sadly, dried up. I am very pleased to see, therefore, that a new company called Galloping Major Wargames is looking to do the French and Indian War in depth. I don't have any of the GMW figures yet so can't compare them to Conquest but they look pretty good whilst perhaps not reaching Conquest's standard (which really are superb). All I want from a firm doing this period are Indians, regulars and irregulars but no one out there has achieved this yet in an acceptable (to me) style.

It's interesting to note that my interest in the period originated from the same two influences as noted on the Galloping Major website.

Firstly, the BBC series the Last of the Mohicans (1971) which is now out on DVD and was shown Sauturday evenings.

More fake tan than Girls Aloud!

Reviews tend to comment that the sets and battles are rather poor and that the Indians are all played by British actors in make-up. Well, that is because that there really aren't that many Native Americans in Britain! Given that there are a lot more Native Americans in America then Hollywood was even more guilty in continually using white people to play Indians (for example, the otherwise excellent The Mountain Men (1980) with Charlton Heston and Brian Keith).

Philip Madoc: as scary as a Dalek!

The two things I remember about the show were Philip Madoc's brooding Magua the Huron: one of the great villains of 1970s British TV (up there with Anthony Valentine's Major Horst Mohn in Colditz (1972)) and the title music; which, nearly forty years later I can still sing and always comes into my head if I am walking in forests in Canada!

The other influence was the Look and Learn magazine series Rogers' Rangers which ran in 1970 and had wonderful art by Ronald Embleton. This 15 part picture series was on the back of the magazine and was beautifully illustrated with wonderfully evocative renditions of the North American wilderness and gorgeously composed action scenes.

The third influence, which the Galloping Major site didn't mention was seeing the excellent Spencer Tracy film North West Passage (1940) on colour TV for the first time back in about 1970. Sadly, the latter is not available on DVD (and the book is out of print too) so I am very glad I managed to tape it off the TV a few years ago. In fact, the film's full title was North West Passage Book 1: Rogers Rangers but the sequel based on the second part of Kenneth Roberts 1937 novel was never made. Largely, I suspect, this was becuase the tone of the latter part of the book becomes increasingly critcal of Britain as Rogers, as a loyalist, and his friends disagree on the way the colony is run.

Recently I bought some model spruce trees and it has got me thinking about painting some FIW figures again. Maybe now could be the time to complete my half finished Conquest figure!


  1. I think the Galloping Major figures are more Redoubt size than Conquest size, although I haven't seen them up close. The trouble with the Conquest range is that the chap who runs the company is very busy and consequently (like many other one-man-band wargamers business) new releases arrive in a haphazard fashion. I've also seen him mention on TMP that he can't release more figures unless more people buy the ones he's already released! There is talk of British regulars having been sculpted already, but who knows?


  2. Dear Sir,
    You comment concerning the employment of Amerindians to portray their ancestors seems naive. The BBC doesn't use Italians to portray Romans! They don't use Devonshire men to portray pirates. Acting is not reality.
    Superb blog by the way and the BBC "Last of the Mohicans," was in spite of some flaws, a serious adapation and superior in many ways to the versions on the silver screen.
    David Corbett

  3. This is very interesting to me.
    I am a great fan of Ron Embleton. His portrayal of scenes verying from Boonesborough to The Battle of the Little Big Horn are imensely powerful and exciting.
    On the subject of the BBC series of the Last of the Mohicans. This is a fine adaptation but I hanker forever to watch again it's ( I believe ) sequel. Hawkeye the Pathfinder. I fear it has been lost for all time and lives on only in my memory.

  4. I don't think I could stand to watch these movies now, now that I know so much more about the correct clothing and equipment etc, it just spoils it.
    Yes the Indians look crook too, the latest "Last Of The Mohicans" had a large cast of REAL Indians and it certainly made a big difference. Some effort was made in this movie to get things authentically correct, but they still did not manage it.
    Le Loup.

  5. Lance from Galloping Major Wargames here (also CO of The Tower Hamlets Trayned Bandes -no apostrophe - see the link under English Civil War Parliamentarian, take a look).
    Really interesting to see how many of us share the same early influences, all the other stuff mentioned would be part of an expanded list of my favourites.
    I haven't quite been able to bring myself to buy the old BBC serialisation of The Last of the Mohicans, although I loved it at the time I suspect time may not have treated it well (no doubt I will buy and watch it before long), but the Day Lewis version - especially in the expanded director's cut (in Region 1 only as far as I'm aware - why!) with the extra battle scenes, still ranks among my favourites.
    Great blog, I'll be a frequent visitor.
    One more blog you need to add to your list of those you follow is Flintlock and Tomahawk by Ralphus.

  6. Sorry about the apostrophe- no idea where that came in. I actually had an office in Tower Hamlets for a while so should no better!

    Thanks for the heads up on the Region 1 Last of the Mohicans DVD. I'm currently in Vancouver so will try and pick it up in HMV tomorrow.

    Thanks for the note about Ralphus Blog too.

  7. Lance Cawkwell said...
    Our first pack of rangers have been released, along with 3 packs of Huron.

    Galloping Major Ltd