Saturday 27 November 2021

A Scandinavian Adventure

Back in the early 1970’s  Michael Palin wrote these lines for a Monty Python song:

Finland , Finland , Finland
The country where I want to be
Pony trekking or camping or just watching T.V
Finland , Finland , Finland
It's the country for me

You're so near to Russia
So far away from Japan
Quite a long way from Cairo
Lots of miles from Vietnam

Finland , Finland , Finland
The country where I want to be
Eating breakfast or dinner
Or snack lunch in the hall
Finland , Finland , Finland
Finland has it all

In February 1808 someone in the Russian Empire also thought that Finland had it all and decided they wanted to take it for themselves, starting a war with Sweden that ended eighteen months later with a Russian victory and forcing Sweden to cede Finland to them. This conflict has held some interest for me for quite some time although I freely admit that it is the terrain that has attracted me the most…amphibious operations in the Finnish archipelago, dense forests and narrow valleys, winter operations, log cabins…and many more delicious thoughts.

One of those other delicious thoughts was the fact that at the same time as the Swedes defended in Finland, they fought against the Danes in Norway and as a part of their alliance with Britain, Sir John Moore was sent to Malmo with a sizeable British force. Moore’s troops were never engaged and were soon redeployed to the Iberian Peninsula, but what a idea for a scenario Danes and Russians fighting British and Swedish.

When the Perrys released their Swedes a couple of years ago the opportunity to collect armies for the conflict was hard for me to resist. Yet resist I did, never finding space in my orders to start the collection. Then a few weeks ago a friend of mine, who had started a collection, decided he did not want to proceed and gave me enough to create four line battalions, two jäger battalions, four gun sets and two cavalry regiments - a significant and generous start.

This week the first two units of Swedes have been completed, a battalion from the Nylands Regiment and another rather nice Perry gun set. I have decided to focus on the Finnish army, the infantry of which wore uniforms that differed from those of the Swedish home provinces.

The plan is to expand the Swedes to perhaps twelve to fifteen battalions. No more artillery or cavalry will be needed. The opposition, however, requires some thought. The Danes are easy enough because the Perrys make a full range, but the Russians are a bit more difficult because the 1808 Russians have a different uniform to my 1812 figures. While Brigade Games make a very nice range, their pricing (particularly postage to NZ) makes an army of 300 plus figures becomes an expensive exercise. But those are thing to think on in the future. For now, to finish off, here is the silliness that is Monty Python’s Finland song.

Thursday 25 November 2021

Hessian Gunners

To support the four battalions of AWI Hessians (and two small units of Jägers) I have added a Hessian gun and ammunition cart.

This is a really nice little set of a gun crew loading a Swedish 4lb gun. The figures are beautifully animated.

The ammunition cart is really designed for the British sets, but by changing the hats on the figures they seem a bit more Germanic.

And then two two pieces together.

So where will the butterfly flit to next…well far to the east from North America to cooler Scandinavian climes for a foray into Finland in 1807.

Tuesday 23 November 2021

A Return to the Terrain Tiles

A couple of weeks ago I received my hot wire foam cutter so I can commence production of tiles without making a mess with polystyrene off cuts - eliminating comments from domestic control. I bought this from China through WISH and it is a really nice piece of kit consisting of a bow cutter and two wands with a mains power supply, 10m of spare wire, and they threw in an adaptor plug to convert the Euro plug to a New Zealand socket,  all for the cost $47 (including postage). I had looked at local suppliers and while some cheap battery operated bow devices were available, devices of similar quality to the one I have bought came in at around $100 for just a bow cutter and another $100 for a single wand, with combined bow and wand set (that matches my Chinese set) upwards of $150, so I am very happy with my purchase.

A week before this I took delivery of another batch of  frames and my first goal has been to finish off the river sections which entailed making four straight pieces…

…two bends (one with a wide bend), both of which have marshy spots at the bend. In the wide bend section the dead tree is made from twisted wire for a project some 15 years ago and later damaged when the box they were in was accidentally crushed (a few more of these damaged pieces will be similarly repurposed in future tiles)…

and one straight section into which my previously shown bridges fit…the stone bridge…

…and the wooden bridge.

While most of the river tiles have been made with relatively deep banks, two of the strait sections and one of the bends have shallower, gentler banks, but they still represent a difficult obstacle to cross.

There are thirteen river sections completed now with only one more to make, one that is the confluence of a stream and the river. That piece will wait until the next order of frames, but still to complete from the current batch are 22 plain and plain with road tiles, although I only have enough 20mm polystyrene to make five at present, so there will be a bit of a delay on these.

Also finished are the first of the scatter terrain pieces. I want these to be able to be used to line the banks of the rivers and streams, but also to help conceal the boundaries of the tiles. These are not designed as pieces of cover, but rather just areas of vegetation that break up lines of sight and disrupt tidy formations.

As the basis for these I bought 25 trees for $15 from China (above). The trees as they arrived had a weird plastic flock foliage that needed to be softened with some foam flock. When mixed with other clump foliage and some old trees repurposed these should make around 2.5 linear metres of  scatter material. Here is the first 600mm.

Sunday 21 November 2021

Battalion Florida and Some Uruguayan Generals

This post marks the conclusion of work on the Great Paraguayan War collection for this year. There are still a few more units to complete, such as the Brazilian Zouaves, a couple more Brazilian and Argentine guns sets, some Paraguayan fortress guns and the Paraguayan generals. But most of these have not been released yet, so I will wait to complete them in one hit.

This week’s offering, Battalion Florida, was founded in 1825 as the Libertados Orientales from freed slaves in the town of Florida during a rebellion against Brazil. A year later the unit was incorporated into the army of the United Provinces (Argentina) as the 3rd Cazadores and a further fours years later the unit transferred back to Uruguayan service as the 1st Cazadores where it continued to fight in the various Platine conflicts of the first half of the century. Renamed the Batallión de Infanteria de Linea in 1831 and fought at the Battle of Arroyo in the First Uruguayan Civil War in 1842. A year later some troops were selected to form the 2nd Batallión de Infanteria de Linea. The battalion continued to fight in the ongoing civil conflicts that plagued Uruguay throughout the 1840s, 50s and 60s. It was renamed Florida in 1865 by President Flores in recognition of the support during his rise to power, although by this time recruitment was broader than just Florida region and the battalion was made up of gauchos and men of mixed race from across the country. Throughout its extensive service the unit had established a formidable fighting reputation, which it further enhanced during the Paraguayan War.

Commanding the battalion in 1865 was Colonel Leon Palleja, an experienced Spanish military officer who had fought with distinction during the First Carlist War of 1833–40. After the Carlist defeat, Palleja emigrated to Uruguay and fought in the Great Siege of Montevideo. In 1852, he took part in the Battle of Caseros, commanding one of the Uruguayan infantry battalions. He developed a personal friendship with Flores, becoming his most trusted military commander. After playing a key role in the Cruzada Libertadora that established Uruguay as a nation, he took the battalion to the Paraguayan War. Palleja was killed at the Battle of Boquerón del Sauce, on July 18, 1866. 

Florida is the third and final Uruguayan battalion I will do for this collection. I have done the battalion in it’s full dress uniform with Colonel Palleja (below) front and centre urging it forward.

A fourth battalion, Independencia, also served in the war along with three small units of cavalry and a battery to form the Uruguayan Division, but I have not been able to find any information the uniforms of these units so for now they are off the cards. 

To command the division are three mounted Uruguayan officers.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Grenadier Bataillon von Minnigerode

This week I have added the next unit of my AWI Hessian force, the Grenadier Bataillon von Minnigerode.

Formed in January 1776 from the grenadier companies of the Erbprinz, von Ditfourth, von Lossberg, and von Knyphausen fusilier regiments and commanded by Friedrich Ludwig von Minnigerode the battalion fought at Long Island, White Plains, Fort Mercer and Monmouth Court House. Renamed von Löwenstein  in 1780 after its new commander, Obristlieutenant Wilhelm von Löwenstein, it went on to participate in the Siege of Charleston.

Each stand on this unit represents a separate company:

Von Ditforth, with yellow facings
Von Lossberg, with orange facings

Von Knyphausen, with black facings.

Erbprinz with crimson facings

And then with all four companies formed in a line.

I have also completed three mounted generals that will command my little Hessian force.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Battalion 24 de Abril

Today’s post sees us back in South America, Uruguay to be precise - the butterfly is certainly getting around at the moment. 

This is the second of three Uruguayan units, the Battalion 24 de Abril. I can’t find the significance of the name, although there is a locality in Montevideo by that name. Maybe it relates to one of the many dates of liberation in Uruguayan history.

I have done the unit in the white summer uniform. 

As much as I like the correctness of the white summer uniform, I thing I will do the next unit in it’s more colourful full dress.

Friday 5 November 2021

Of Generals and Guns

 My British AWI collection is completed by this batch of figures.

First are three mounted officers: one brigadier stand (the single figures) and one higher command stand (the pair of figures).

Then there are the guns - two of them. One being run forward…

And one firing.

I could have done a limber for each gun, but instead chose one limber and an ammunition wagon

What started out as a small force of seven battalions and a guns to supplement the collections of other players, has grown into a significant force of fifteen battalions and three guns. To further support this force there will be four battalions of Hessians and a gun (plus the Jägers and amusettes of course).

Next on the painting table…another Uruguayan battalion.