Wednesday 28 December 2022

19th (Oldenburg) Dragoon Regiment

Absorbed into the Prussian army in 1866 after the Austro-Prussian War, the Oldenburg Dragoons, along with the Westphalian Cuirassiers, No 4 and the 1st Hanoverian Uhlans, No 13, formed Major General Adalbert Roderich Levin von Barby’s 11th Cavalry Brigade, 5th Cavalry Division on mobilisation in 1870.

The regiment was involved in action almost from mobilisation as the 5th and 6th Divisions were thrown out across full breadth of the western frontier from Luxembourg as far as Kaiserslautern to cover from front of First and Second Armies. On 6 August they led the reconnaissance around the left of the French 2nd Corps and their colonel, along with other forward patrols, falsely reported that the French were in retreat leading to the Prussians blundering head on into the Battle of Spicheren. Ten days later, at Mars-la-Tour, the regiment was heavily engaged at the last great all cavalry battle on the planet in the open fields near Ville-sur-Yron where they suffered 125 casualties. The rest of the war was relatively uneventful for them, with only a few skirmish engagements.

In 1914 the regiment served with the II Cavalry Corps on the Western Front, transferring to the Russian Front in November of the same year. Dismounted in 1916, it was disbanded in March 1928.

I have to say, as I did when I completed the dragoons for von Bredow’s Brigade,  that I was disappointed with these figures. They aren’t up to the usual quality expected from the Perrys and they look as though their design was rushed. The poses are a little odd and lack the animation that I think has always been the signature of Perry figures. Worst still is that the sabres are very  thin and we’re so badly twisted that it was difficult to straighten them, indeed some were impossible to straighten. I don’t know how well the sabres will stand up to the rigours of the table…I can see a number of these being replaced by flattened steel pins at some point in the future.

Monday 26 December 2022

Franco-Prussian Artillery

The week prior to Christmas saw the completion of four Prussian batteries: two light field and two horse batteries.

While the field batteries were pretty straightforward the horse batteries required quite a bit of conversion work and still aren’t strictly correct. For the horse gunners I had to convert the Brandenburg cuffs into Swedish cuffs, add riding trousers over the boots, carve away the bread bag and the facine knife and finally add the sabre and slings that I had spare from the Napoleonic Allied cavalry sets just completed.

The reason that they are still not strictly correct is because horse gunners did not wear the rolled greatcoat (it was carried on the gunner’s horse). They also wore a shoulder belt with a cartridge box attached. This would have been too much of a task to cut away and recreate so I decided I can live with the rolled greatcoat. Thanks to John Boadle for details of the horse gunner uniform.

The field batteries are below.

This completes the light batteries for the corps. Six batteries of heavy guns remain to be done, but the Perrys seem to gave gone off the boil with this project.

Saturday 24 December 2022

It's the most wonderful time of the year

So the opening line of the Andy Williams song from 1963 reads, although midway through Friday I was not in agreement with Andy. 

I had finished work for the year on Thursday, because I have learned from years of bad experience that the last working day before Christmas is chaotic around Auckland. I had a relatively quiet day planned, with just a few simple tasks on what turned out to be a glorious summer’s day.

Having despatched her indoors off the work (with cries of “you are so lucky” - not luck at all…I had just stored my annual leave up and had enough to take the extra day off), I started the day basing up some Franco-Prussian artillery, knowing that in the heat of the day the basing compound would dry quickly and I could finish these units off. 

Next I was charged with doing a supermarket run for a few essentials (and a few treats too). I was dreading this having been caught in chaotic pre-Christmas supermarket runs before, but to my surprise the traffic was not too severe. The whole process was done and dusted within an hour and was quite pleasant (apart from the evident price gouging on popular Christmas produce like strawberries, raspberries and cherries).

For rest of the morning I was engaged in cleaning up around the outdoor dining area, nothing too heavy just sweeping the loose sand off the paving then washing off the bird mess and cleaning the BBQ. By the time that was done it was time for lunch. I had a nice fresh bread roll and planned to fill it with a bit of Brie, some bacon cooked on my clean BBQ, some pickled onions and lashing of ketchup…yum.

Now we live in a relatively quite neighbourhood, but there is this one family… Just as I started to cook the bacon the noise started - the mother yelled at one of the kids, the kid answered back, the mother yelled louder, the kid answered back again and the mother screams at him, the baby starts wailing, the shouting goes on…that’s when I thought of the Andy Williams song, especially the first line of the second  verse “It’s the hap-happiest season of all”. For a few moments I thought of finding that song on YouTube and playing it at volume. But I thought no, I just shut the back door, enjoyed my lunch and let the fracas die down.

Work has finished for the year for me thankfully (it has been a very trying year) and I am not back until 4 January, although I have left myself on call since all of my staff have taken leave across the period. The plan is to do very little other than tidy a few things up around the property.  Christmas Day for us will be quiet.  We have the in-laws coming for lunch but the rest of the day will be ours.

So with no more ado, SEASONS GREETINGS to you all. Stay safe and warm (no problem with the latter here).

Friday 23 December 2022

2nd Connecticut Infantry Regiment

This regiment is the last of the American units for my AWI American force.

Organised at Danbury in early 1777 it was formed of companies from Hartford, and Windham Counties. Brigaded with other Connecticut regiments it fought in Connecticut and New York in 1777 and in Philadelphia-Monmouth. Consolidated in January 1781 with the 9th Connecticut Regiment and re-designated as the 3d Connecticut Regiment.  Furloughed in June 1783 at West Point it was disbanded in November the same year. 

And so for the grand parade of the American contingent:

  • 12 battalions
  • 3 guns, with limbers
  • 6  generals 

Sunday 18 December 2022

Last Game of the Year

I have always liked the idea of a really big cavalry action. We have played some games with pretty big cavalry components - in October 2015 we did a War of Spanish Succession game that counted 30 regiments and a big Napoleonic game in December 2019 that saw 29 regiments on the table - but in both those cases there was an even bigger infantry component present. When I was about half way through the Allied cavalry expansion I started thinking about a cavalry only fight (with horse artillery) to round out the year.

When I added up what we could mass amongst the group’s Napoleonic collections I found we could mass around 70 units and some 14 horse batteries. What was even better we had a full house and could mass five players a side.

I kept the table simple and relatively bare, with a few low hills scattered around and a few small groups of trees just to provide some obstructions.

On the Allied side there were three Russian divisions (one each of Cuirassiers, dragoons and light cavalry), plus one large Prussian and an equally large Austrian division. The French could count four cuirassier divisions, a dragoon division, two light cavalry divisions and a combined force of German cavalry. I think the figure count was around 800.

Deployment was simple. Each side could deploy whatever divisions they wished 200mm in from the edge, but starting no nearer than 1200mm from the table ends, and could keep as many divisions as they wished off table at the start of the game. Off table troops could attempt to come on at any the beginning of any turn on the roll if a 3+ at any point on their home table edge, but clear of the table ends by 1200mm. If they failed to come on for two turns they would arrive automatically on the third.

I won’t try to describe the action blow by blow, but in the final count the French lost a total of 23 units and the Allies 17 - not a big enough difference to be decisive. The images below are in no particular order.

So our big cavalry bash brought and end to our wargaming year.

Thursday 15 December 2022

Russian Horse Artillery

These two horse batteries complete the great Allied cavalry expansion.

These two, along with all the other recent Allied cavalry acquisitions, will appear in Sunday’s game.

Where to next? Well it’s back to North America to finish off the last remaining unit of the American AWI collection.

Monday 12 December 2022

Tiraspol Mounted Jäger Regiment

With this unit of mounted jägers the great Allied cavalry expansion is almost completed…for now (there may yet be some Prussian landwehr cavalry and another regiment of cuirassiers). At the same time I do not see the need to expand the Russian cavalry since there are now two cuirassier, five dragoon, two mounted jäger, one hussar, one uhlan and four Cossack regiments in the collection - I figure that gives me enough variety for scenarios.

Also completed are three command bases, two brigadiers…

…and a higher command base…although the senior officer here is still waiting for a horse.

Here is the whole Mounted Jäger brigade

All of this horse flesh, plastic and metal, is ready to hit the gaming table in a large all cavalry fight this weekend.