Friday, 12 July 2019

War of 1812 Generals, and more.

In eleven day’s time I have a War of 1812 game planned. It has been more than two years in the planning and all the troops have been collected and painted by myself and Keith (at Bydand blog), but I had failed to ensure that I had the required number of American generals. Hurriedly I ordered some from Wargames Foundry. Then I had the horrible thought that they might not arrive in time to be painted for the game.

Fortunately my friend Julian had a pack of Old Glory War of 1812 US command and I offered to paint them so that we would them for the game. Here are four of the six figures in the pack (the remaining two are painted but not yet based).

Also completed and based is the second unit of refurbished American Civil War troops and a command stand for the same.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Late WWI Game

Today’s regular Sunday game was a WWI battle set in 1918.

The scenario was set in northern France with a French brigade, supported by an American Regiment, in pursuit of the retreating Germans. While the French troops paused for morning coffee and croissants in a ruined village, the Germans turned back with two infantry regiments and a company of storm troopers to slow the pursuit.

The German plan was to go hard on the right with the storm troopers and the weaker of the infantry regiments, while the stronger Westphalian regiment supported by an A7 tank would hold the French right until the stormtroopers made some headway, then turn that holding action into an assault if there were prospects for success.

Things started well for the Germans with their artillery having good effect, but the stormtroopers failed to break the French and retired in disorder.

On the German left the French managed to drive one, then a second company of Westphalians and their  FT17 tanks became entangled in a slugging match with the A7, which the A7 eventually won.

Meanwhile on the other flank the German artillery and machine guns took their toll on the French and one regiment quit the field while the second regiment retired. This left the Americans to carry the fight on their own on this flank and they too began to suffer from the German gunfire and ground to a halt.

Here the game fight ended. The Germans, despite taking heavy losses had stalled the Allied pursuit.

I didn’t take a lot of photos, being too heavily engaged in the game, but lots of fun as had busy all.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Refurbishing an Army

According to his biographers, Grady McWhinney and Judith Hallock, Confederate General Braxton Bragg was a “naturally disputatious” individual throughout his entire life. His career, both before and during the Civil War, was a string of conflicts with superiors, subordinates, peers and the government.

I think that nothing sums up his awkward personality better than the story told by U.S. Grant in his memoirs about Bragg when at a pre-war posting the held the dual roles of company commander and post quartermaster. As company commander he made a formal request in writing for an item which as quartermaster he rejected, noting the reason for the refusal on the reverse of the request. Still feeling the need for the items for his company he felt obligated to contest the rejection which as quartermaster he felt equally obligated to reject again. Unable to resolve the dilemma he went to the post commander who responded: “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself.”

For anyone interested in Civil War biographies “Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat” (volume 1 by McWhinney and volume 2 by Hallock) is an excellent critical review of a pivotal Confederate general and is highly recommended.

But why am I discussing the eccentricity of Braxton Bragg? Two reasons really. The first is that the story of his dilemma came to my consciousness on Thursday when dealing with some frustratingly difficult individuals, and second it creates a nice segway to the main point of this post which that while my lead pile is at this point flattened, my options of things to paint are not exhausted. This is because a few months ago a long time member of our group found himself struggling to get to games. He had moved to a more remote area out of of the city and advancing years combined with family health issues drove him to the decision to down-size. While he has kept his huge collection of Napoleonic ships, he very generously donated a number of his collections to the group.

One of those collections is his  American Civil War Union army. Made entirely of figures from Dixon Miniatures range the army is in poor repair and in need of some care. I have undertaken its refurbishment.

The first unit is the only zouave unit in the collection. Originally painted as an all dark blue uniform I opted to redress the unit as Duryee’s Zouaves, 5th New York Volunteers with red trousers and blue jackets. The repainting was not a huge task - the sharpening of some of the colours and applying some washes - although I did find the Dixon figures a little awkward to work with, and they were rebased in my usual manner.

This task will proceed with some pace and will act as a useful filler between now and my return to figure purchases in August.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Peninsular British Finished…almost

This week has seen the completion of the final two battalions I am doing for the Peninsular War.

One battalion has red facings, the other blue, neither representing any particular regiment.

The second battalion is smaller, comprising of three stands instead of four, just because it is the way the packets of plastic figures worked out.

Also completed are two spare light dragoon figures for use as couriers. One has been done in the Tarleton helmet for the Peninsular and one in shako for the War of 1812.

The reference in the title to “almost” is made because the command for the 60th Rifles is yet to arrive (and won’t be ordered until late this month). In addition to that I do need a few command figures and I am quite keen on the rather nice Peninsular artillery sets that the Perrys have made - I do have six of the Victrix guns, but they are all of the later solid trail guns that are more suitable for the War of 1812, later Peninsular and the Hundred Days. Then there are the new limber and caission sets…(sigh)…

…but for now the lead/plastic pile is flattened.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Half Yearly Review

As June staggered to its end I did a quick refresh of year to date painting progress. The first six monrths was busier than I anticipated with eight projects worked on (one yet to be started).

The breakdown of completed items is 745 foot figures, 42 mounted, 4 guns, 2 pieces of equipment and 90 scratch built items (ranging from various markers to the recent fortress model). A respectable total I think.

Using the painting points concept as a guide this works out as follows:

So what is next? Well things will slow down for a bit. The last of the British infantry are on the table now and their completion will mark the flattening of the lead/plastic pile. After that there will be very little for another month as our annual wargames holiday takes place then I have the kick-off of a major project at work that will distract me for a couple of weeks and will delay the arrival of the next order. That order, when it does come, is pretty much a gap filler, just completing items to fill holes in other projects. The Swedish Napoleonic project is suspended until the range expands a little more and I can rearrange the garage for better storage. I will do a little more work on the Revolutionary French, but the real plan for the rest of the year is to set up a gaming space and work on some terrain tiles.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

War of 1812 Indian Lodges

For the upcoming War of 1812 game at our annual weekend away there were two more pieces of terrain I needed...these two lodges/wigwams for a Great Lakes Indian village.

Attentive readers will remember that I started these a little over a year ago. When the weekend away was postponed due to illness I put these on the back burner, but with the event now less than 30 days away I needed to get on and finish them.

So here they are, three small structures to represent a Great Lakes Indian village. I made a few pieces of clutter for this village - a couple of fire places, a stack of furs and a couple of pots. I may add a few more items of clutter before the game.

Monday, 24 June 2019

War of 1812 Fortress

For an upcoming War of 1812 game (set in 1814) I need to represent Fort Erie on the table, from the land side. The fort is quite large and while it will play an important part of the game there are other important aspects to the scenario so I don’t want it to dominate the proceedings. Instead I have opted to represent it on one table edge with just one of the bastions, the gate and the ditch.

When I looked at the plans for Fort Erie the gate stood in the middle of two substantial stone barracks between two bastions. I didn’t want to go to the extent of building the barracks so I have had to employ some artistic license. My Fort Erie is going to have only a passing resemblance to reality.

This also needs to be a quick build so I opted to use foamboard as the material of choice. Luckily I have a bunch of this that I have scavenged from various redundant promotional boards created by the internal communications team at work – I am sure you all of you in corporate life know these teams...the people with no budget, but thankfully their  wasteful use of this material can be very useful to a resourceful wargamer.

Since the bastion needs to be of a height more than man-height I chose to use some 10mm board that I had on hand and decided to use four pieces laminated together. I quickly sketched the outline of an elongated pentagon on the PC and printed it out. The size was 160mm on each axis. I then taped the printout to the board and cut out two solid pieces for the base and two hollow pieces for the walls.

The various pieces were then glued together with PVA and when the glue was dry I sanded the outer sides to even out the irregularities of the cut.

I like to have a variety of textures on my models so I decided that the interior of the bastion would be braced by timber. This is probably not correct, but it will have great texture and at any rate Fort Erie was in poor repair in 1814 by all accounts so this could well represent some sort of repair. To construct this timbered effect I used my old standard – matchsticks.

Once all the glue was set I went about marking up the stonework of the outer walls. This was a relatively simple task of drawing the “stone blocks” with a ballpoint pen, pressing hard enough to make an impression between 0.5 and 1 mm deep in the foam.

In modern images of the fort, the tops of the bastion wall are grassed, so my assumption is that they were filled with rubble and earth, some of which would be grassed in 1814 and some would not. So to gain some texture on the top I glued some coarse sand. On the interior I glued some fine sand to give the base a bit of texture and cover up any cut marks on the foam board.

At the same time I made two wall pieces that will extend either side of the piece. I removed the cardboard surface from the foamboard and sketched the stonework into the surface. At the same time I made the gate from matchsticks.

The various pieces were then painted – undercoated in black first then presented in various tones of grey/brown and washed with a thin coat of Aly’s Brown Liquid. The internal area of the bastion was given a suitable dusty floor look and the tops of the walls were made earth with some grassed areas. The whole surface was then coated with a brushed on matte varnish to seal the paint and provide a bit more rigidity to the foam.

The next thing to build was the ditch and the drawbridge. This was a simply a layer of 5mm foam board under the bastion and walls and then two pieces of 5mm for the outer mound, all fixed to a base of 4.75mm MDF.

For simplicity the surface was covered with coarse sand drybrushed various tones of brown, green yellow and white over black to create the earth and grass effect.

The stone supports around the base of the drawbridge are again foamboard etched and painted and all of the timber work is matchsticks.

The final item was to build a platform on which a gun, made from barrels left over from the earlier project with the Victrix British artillery set, will sit. Once again 10mm foamboard was used for the platform.

And there it is ready for play in a few weeks time.