Jackson Gamers' Western Frontier Game, played November 18, 2006
Using The Tomahawk and the Flame rules set
The Woodcutters' Massacre

Photo by Jim Pitts

The mounted warriors of chief Squatting Buffalo (Jay Stribling) ride over Medicine Lodge Ridge. Suddenly the mundane job of wood cutting has gotten a little more serious.

When the wood supply for fort Kearney began to run low in December 1866, it looked like a cold Christmas for the garrison there. On December 21st, Colondl Carrington gave the following orders to Captain Fetterman.

Your objective is to accompany the wood wagons to the trees, safeguarding them on the trip there and back. Once the reach the woods, you wil remain there with them for the time it takes to gather fuel for the fort (two turns) before you may return in the company of the wagons to Fort Kearney.

Do not pursue any hostiles past the Medicine Lodge Ridge.

Your forces are 3 companies of cavalry for the expedition, and one company of infantry which will remain in the fort.

(Signed) Colonel Carrington

A few general notes about the game

The commander of the Cavalry/infantry force was Jim Pitts (playing Captain Fetterman) and John Switzer.

The Indians were led by the noted chiefs Squatting Buffalo (Jay Stribling), Walking Raven (Ed Sansing), Young Buck (Jerry Lee Ainsworth), and Three Wives (Bill Estes).

The groundcloth that we used for the game was tan with green/brown mottle overspray pattern. For some reason, the lights at HOBBYTOWN made the photos look as if the game was played on snow. This would not be bad, as it was a winter game, but to try to blend in with the darker green hills and wooden areas, some greenish and brownish color has been added in the photo editing process. If it looks fake, well it IS just a game with toy soldiers...

Jay Ainsworth ran this game which was played at HOBBYTOWN in Flowood Mississippi. Chad Wilson is the owner of Hobbytown and provides this gaming space as a public service. We try to support him by purchasing all of the supplies that we can, such as paint, glue, scenery, structures, and whatever figures that we can through his store.

Comments on the game and the photos are by Jim Pitts and Jay Stribling. Jim Pitts took all the photos.

Photo by Jim Pitts

The Cavalry come out of the fort, needing to cut wood so they can cook their grub. They aren't going to let a few Indians get in their way! But suddenly after the mounted warriors of chief Squatting Buffalo (Jay Stribling) rode over Medicine Lodge Ridge, the wood cutting job seemed a bit more serious.

Photo by Jim Pitts

The mounted warriors of chief Squatting Buffalo (Jay Stribling) ride over Medicine Lodge Ridge. Suddenly the job of wood cutting has gotten a little more serious.

Photo by Jim Pitts

John Switzer's troop (in the distance) has chased Young Buck's warrior band back through the woods (or did they just fake a withdrawal to lure the blueskins further out). The infantry has come out to help protect the wagon, while Jim Pitts' troop deploys to face off Squatting Buffalo's warriors.

Photo by Jim Pitts

Unbeknowst to John Switzer, Walking Raven has deployed yet more Indians to join Young Buck in preparing a little surprise for the blueskins.

Photo by Jim Pitts

And even more Indians come to join the party! Walking Raven brings another war band out of hiding.

Photo by Jim Pitts

John Switzer's troop advances through the woods and "Oh, no! They're waiting for us!"

Photo by Jim Pitts

The infantry tries to help by advancing against the band enveloping Switzer's left flank.

Photo by Jim Pitts

Meanwhile Jim Pitts decides that his troop can lick their weight in hostiles - all he has to do is show a bold front and they'll ride away. Little does he know that this band, led by Squatting Buffalo, has been training in hand-to-hand combat all winter long.

Photo by Jim Pitts

The infantry charge into the Indians who don't stand to argue with the long knives the blueskins have attached to their rifles!

Photo by Jim Pitts

And Young Buck's warrior band attacks John's troop as they advance out of the woods. Even more hostiles advance against John's right flank but luckily for Cpt. Switzer, they couldn't get to it fast enough.

Photo by Jim Pitts

What's left of John Switzer's troop (left rear) and Jim Pitts' troop (right front) after their individual encounters with the Indian meat grinders! The poor civilian drover and his wood gathering wagon is left all by its lonesome. Even the infantry is too far away to help.

Photo by Jim Pitts

The end of Jim's troop after it is surrounded by Squatting Buffalo's war band. John Switzer tried to come to Jim's assistance but couldn't cut his way through and withdrew to the fort.

Photo by Jim Pitts

Three Wives' band celebrates as they capture the wagon and win the game for the Indians.

So - Who was the winner of this "Wood Choppers Ball?"

There was no surprise on the part of the white men. The Redskins had the numbers (5 war bands of 20 men each) vs the Blue Jackets (3 units of 12 men each) and they did preliminary skirmishing to reduce the white men's numbers on the first three turns of the game.

The red skins knew that the Army had to get the wood, and they waited till the white men were very close to or in the woods to unleash their main effort. Poor morale caused sevral of the war bands to not close and they retired after receiving volley fire at close range.

Still numbers told and the Redskins swarmed over the reduced numbers of the white men in the end. They reached the wagon and tomahawked the teamster. Then they led the wagon home loaded with fine weapons, uniform parts and good boots. As one indian said, "This wagon and this team will pull much more than my squaws can."

And in the LONG run?

Now a fine Indian casino stands on the battlefield, and the Indian-owned golf course surrounds it. The road shown in some of the photos is now the Highway I-197 and tens of thosands of white men and women take the Indian Casino exit each year, leaving much wampum in Indian hands.

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