Allan McLane, the Ranger Captain

In a young nation hungry for legends, Allan McLane was primed to go down in history for his bravery and service during the American Revolution.

            Allan McLane was born on August 8, 1746 in Philadelphia, the son of a Scottish merchant who had immigrated to America in 1738. After gallivanting through Europe in his early 20s, Allan settled in Delaware to break into the trading business.

            He fought as a volunteer at Great Bridge, Virginia in December of 1775, then enlisted in Caesar Rodney’s Delaware Regiment as a lieutenant. Earlier that year, Allan officially changed the spelling of his last name from its customary “McLean” or “Maclean” to “McLane”, in order, quote, “to avoid confusion with that renegade Scot serving the Hanoverian King.” He established himself in the Continental Army during the Battle of Long Island by capturing a British patrol, and further during the battles of White Plains and Trenton. For his performance during the Battle of Princeton, he was promoted to captain by George Washington on January 3rd, 1777. He founded his own company in Delaware, returning to the field with nearly 100 soldiers whom he paid and equipped out of his own pocket.

            McLane led foraging parties during the harsh winter at Valley Forge in 1778. Clad in beaver hats, hunting shirts, and breeches made from his wife’s linen tablecloths, Allan and his men diverted supplies from British forces to feed the Continental Army, on one expedition rounding up “1500 fat hogs, 500 head of cattle, [and] 200 head of horses.”

            McLane was one of the first to question Benedict Arnold’s loyalty to the Revolution. He was about a year premature, though, and his concerns were rebuked by Washington. Still, he was greatly valued by the general. Washington once remarked of McLane, “I could not do without him in the light corps- no, not for a thousand pounds.”

In 1779, McLane was sent to serve with Major Henry “Light-Horse-Harry” Lee, under whom he fought gallantly during the Battles of Stoney Point and Paulus Hook. Though McLane is credited as showing great bravery on the front lines of Paulus Hook, official praise went to Lee, with the Continental Congress refusing to pass a resolution recognizing the contributions of Lee’s fellow officers. McLane continued to butt heads with Lee until he appealed to Washington and was transferred south to aid General Benjamin Lincoln. After Lincoln’s surrender during the siege of Charleston, McLane served under Baron Von Steuben, where he was promoted to Major.

In 1781, he was sent to the West Indies to accompany messages from Washington to convince the Comte de Grasse to bring his French fleet to the Chesapeake Bay. On his return voyage, McLane took command of the privateer Congress, which captured British sloop-of-war, the HMS Savage, while en route to New Jersey.

Once back on land, McLane wasted no time in joining Washington’s troops for the Virginia Campaign, fighting in the siege of Yorktown to close out his military career.

McLane retired from the army at the end of 1781, but his service to his country did not end there. He was a delegate at the Delaware convention of 1787, where he voted to ratify the new United States Constitution on December 7th. Allan also served as a judge for the Delaware Court of Common Pleas and as privy counselor to the governor. Furthermore, he was an avid Federalist and abolitionist. McLane was appointed by Washington as the first United States Marshal of Delaware in 1789, a position he accepted with some trepidation given his financial situation. He had spent most of his personal fortune during the Revolution, and had hoped for a more profitable position in the new government. Still, he took on the role for nearly a decade, while also serving as Speaker of the 16th Delaware General Assembly from 1791 to 1793. 

            Finally in 1797, Washington came through with a higher paying position for McLean. He was appointed the Customs Collector of the Port of Wilmington, an office he held until his death on May 22, 1829. He was 83 years old.

            Of the fourteen children Allan had with his wife Rebecca, only three lived to adulthood. His son, Louis (named for King Louis XVI of France), would carry on his father’s commitment to the American experiment by serving as a member of President Andrew Jackson’s Cabinet.

Project Update – July 2020

Project Update – July 2020

Hello and happy 4th of July, friends and fellow patriots! We at Flagbearer Games wanted to give a “State of the Game” about the core Nations & Cannons ruleset, our roadmap moving forward, and other projects in the pipeline.

I’m Pat Mooney, founder and project lead here at Flagbearer. Nations & Cannons is a passion project for us, sustained entirely by our followers and whatever resources we can scrape together when we’re not working on our day jobs. I don’t need to tell you that times are tough—like many small teams, we’ve been hit pretty hard by Covid-19 and had to suspend work for several months this spring.

With everything that’s going on today, those immortal words sung (perhaps apocryphally) by the defeated soldiers at Yorktown—“The world turn’d upside down”—feel more appropriate than ever. As a teacher, a historian, and a game designer, I’ve never thought a Civics education more important than it is right now.

Our plan’s always been to make the Core Rules of Nations & Cannons freely available for educators, librarians, and municipal programs—not to mention our fans! While there’s a lot of material available on our site, we’re still not quite finished. Enter the roadmap.


Flagbearer has been quietly working on Nations & Cannons for a year and a half, waiting to start public outreach in a big way until we had a ruleset we were proud of. After hundreds of hours of playtesting, more revisions than I can count, and enough copy edits to drive my layout team up a wall, here are the major milestones before us:

Summer, 2020

  • Exhaustively researched descriptions for all six character Roles, as well as a Timeline discussing the major beats of the American Revolution and the key moments of our signature characters
  • A final draft on game mechanics, including new Gambits, features, and an entirely reworked Firebrand class
  • Community-lead test material and final balance feedback
  • VTT integrations and character tokens for playing Nations & Cannons online*
  • Professional gamemastering services offered through hosted through Demiplane (educational planning for kids, as well as sessions just-for-fun!)

Fall, 2020

  • Downloadable form-fillable Character Sheet PDFs for Nations & Cannons characters
  • Work begins on a campaign of 24 adventure modules that span the entire Revolutionary War, including
  • The “Invasion of Canada” introductory adventure, set during Benedict Arnold’s doomed expedition in 1775*
  • Our first print run, a 90-page booklet including the Core Rules + the Enemy Roster and “Invasion of Canada” chapters*

Winter, 2020/21

  • Outreach and event coordination with select educators, around designing curriculum materials to help supplement Nations & Cannons in- and outside-of the classroom
  • Project planning and Kickstarter preparation for a full, 350-page Nations & Cannons hardcover including expanded historical material, hundreds of new enemies, and all-new items, feats, subclasses, and gambits
  • Ongoing adventure module releases, published digitally and in limited print runs every 1-3 months*

*Available as a reward at certain Patreon levels


We’ve got a lot of plans in the works here, and I can’t tell you how excited our team is to get to work. These are still uncertain times, of course, but personally all I can say is that I’m 100% committed to seeing Nations & Cannons thrive. If you’ll indulge another cliché—in the late hours of 1776, Thomas Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls.” His American Crisis spoke of a great upheaval, but also a resolute message of hope for those who would stay the course. Just days later, George Washington crossed the Delaware. And well, we all know how that turned out.

Oh, and if you’re at all interested, my game Revolutionary Choices has just entered a public testing period. Sponsored by the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati, Revolutionary Choices is a 100% free educational strategy game for web and (soon-to-be) mobile. I’ll be doing an AMA on r/Games at 2 PM EST today. Stop by if you want to ask a question!

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