Monday, August 25, 2014

Soldiers' Inventories

Coldstream Guardsman's equipment as carried at Waterloo, 1815 (

I found this via Slate Magazine. It's a series of photographs by the photographer Thom Atkinson of soldiers' equipent from 1066 to 2014. His website is and the pictures can be seen by clicking the last link in the right hand column.

The website is very sparse on commentary beyond the photo labels. There's more comment from this slideshow from the Telegraph, including annotation of every item in the pictures.

Fascinating stuff!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lieutenant "Leaping" Larry Lightfoot

Here's the figure I'll be using as my second officer for my ship's crew. He'll lead the boarding/landing party or "away team" in Star Trek parlance (does that mean that the marines are the ones to die as they're always wearing the red shirts?). He's keen to get stuck in, leading from the front, waving his sword and brandishing his pistol. His men appreciate his sharing the dangers of close order combat and know he'll be one of the first over the side, hence his nickname!

He started life as an Esci 1805 Prussian officer. While the uniform isn't really the same as that of a RN Lieutenant, I'll do a little paint conversion as per the plates below. The double breasted coat works, and I'll suggest the cut of the coat with white piping. 

I decapitated the original head and replaced it with a head from the HaT Peninsula British Command set (minus the plume) and replaced his left hand with one holding a pistol from the HaT British Marines and Sailors set. The hand is just glued on while the head is pinned and glued. Hopefully the hand stays glued, as the figure's wrist is too slim to attempt drilling and pinning. I'm hoping the glue plus a couple of layers of paint will suffice in keeping the hand attached for the time being, or at least until the end of September!

My conversion
Original figure
(Image courtesy of PSR

Royal Navy uniforms and pennants
(Image from The Lordz Forum Original source not credited.)
Image from Osprey Elite series no.48 Nelson's Navy (Haythornthwaite & Younghusband) via Toy Soldier Forums

Thursday, August 21, 2014

To Glory We Steer!

HMS Frolic now has masts!

After Fly challenged me last weekend to have my ship finished in time for NWA's Pirates in September events, I was spurred into action to at least get the masts ready for action. Progress up til now stalled as I was a bit stuck on whether or not to go the whole hog with the rigging, and if so, how? I'm a stickler for detail, usually, but in this case I want a compromise between detail and being able to be safely transported without turning into a tangled mess of spars and rigging!

I'm thinking of using fine metal wire to recreate rigging like the ratlines and some of the more prominent sheets etc., especially the one from the gaff to the spanker boom so I can have a nice big white ensign flying proudly to let those scurvy pirates know who they're dealing with!

Ultimately, I want to develop a scenario where the ship lands a party on an island to take out a Chappe Semaphore telegraph tower, defended by a couple of gun emplacements and a small detachment of French infantry. Still not sure what set of rules I'd use, but I'll keep my eyes open. Capitan is an early candidate, as there is also a set of rules for naval skirmishes, called Gunboat, by the same publisher. I may even come up with my own rules to suit the scenario.

Pirates in September uses a modified version of Legends of the High Seas, which I haven't played, so I can't say how they work, except to say that each ship has a crew of 12 crew; 1 captain, 2 officers, 3 musket armed crew (Royal Marines, in my case) and 6 pistol/cutlass armed crew. To that end, I have been scouring my collection for appropriate figures. The HaT British Marines and Sailors set has some useful figures for, well..., sailors and marines, but no officers. I've used a Kennington metal British infantry officer with a paint conversion as the captain, but he has no pistol, only a sword. I've also converted a Russian staff officer into a midshipman or master's mate by carving off his epaulets and sash, replacing his head and attaching a pared down sabre to resemble a dirk. While he'll make a serviceable junior officer figure, I'm still not convinced with his boots, but I couldn't be arsed trying to convert him any further. I'm currently converting another figure, who'll be the dashing lieutenant, leading the boarding party!

HMS Frolic, still laid up in the dockyard, but with masts installed

Captain and midshipman at the binnacle

Capt. Bertie Bugler on the quarterdeck

Royal Marine in the fighting top

Strelets Russian staff officer...

...and his alter ego as Royal Navy midshipman after conversion

Yaaaarrrrr, matey!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hold the Town! - Peninsular Scenario

"¡Vamos, muchachos!"
Tim and I had a highly entertaining battle at the Croydon venue this Saturday past. I came up with a scenario where my Spanish brigade (including my new Zaragossa Regiment. ¡Viva!) held the village and a vital road junction. The French were determined to take it and the vanguard brigade wasn't going to dilly-dally; its brigadier held visions of decorations and promotion if he could take it before the rest of the division arrived. Meanwhile the Spanish had sent out desperate requsets for reinforcements to the nearest Allied units, while preparing to make them pay heavily for every square yard of territory they could take!

My Spaniards and Tim's vanguard took the field in the first turn, but from then on reinforcements would appear at randomised periods and from randomised directions determined by rolls of the dice, with the odds increasing as time went on (though my rolling for reinforcements was stubbornly unimpressive!). So the scene was set for a very entertaining game!

As Tim was the attacker he got to move first and decided that the best policy was to get stuck in straight away before the Spanish could be reinforced. By all rights, he should have been able to easily expel my lowly Landwehr-rated Spanish line troops from the built-up areas, but had cursed dice where attacking the buildings was concerned. I wan't going to complain about that, though! Still, he did manage to take one of the built up areas, expelling the Toledo Regiment from the upper left BUA. My reserve of the Walloon Guards, Barbastro Light Infantry Regiment and a battalion of converged Grenadiers and a battery of 9lber guns held off and then repulsed the French on the right of the town. My Spanish cavalry flitted around, not getting too close to the enemy, but forcing the infantry to keep a wary eye on them.

The village and its gallant garrison

At the top of the picture, the church is garrisoned by the light infantry, while in the centre, the artillery battery is ready to deploy, supported by the grenadiers and guard infantry. The cavalry waits further behind to the right.

Zaragossa on debut!

The church and graveyard

The gallant dragoons!

Guards and grenadiers with the general in attendance

All set! Now where's the enemy?

Here they come!

Tim sent a skirmish screen down the center, while his guns and supports came around on to the hill to the left of the town.

I thought my cavalry could go on a flanking expedition to keep the artillery and their supports nervous.

The artillery deployed beside the village, while the grenadiers deployed in line between the village and church in support.

¡Viva España!

The French skirmishers advance

The first exchanges of fire prove inconclusive

The view down Main Street

The cavalry deploy in line on the flank of the artillery. Tim's infantry support turn to face the threat.

Tim's skirmish line has put a disorder on the Toledo regiment, but the Spanish responded in kind causing a skirmisher casualty. Huzzah! First blood!
Meanwhile the columns advance steadily onwards. 

The grenadiers wait patiently behind the guns

A column approaches the gap between village and church, but the artillery misses!

Time for the Walloon Guard to step in. The grenadiers make way and the guard deploys, masking the guns.

The columns mass, ready to charge.
Tim's brigadier is already calculating on his Legion d'Honneur and its associated pension!

The French charge, the Spanish fire!

The charge fails! The Spanish cheers echo through the streets! ¡Hurra!

On the other flank, the light infantry exit the church and deploy in line to protect the artillery's flank.

In the centre, two French columns assualt the Guards' line. The Walloons stand and meet them with a volley!

The resulting melee is a draw, with both sides pushed back with minor losses and disorders. Conveniently, my guns are now un-masked!

My light infantry advance to engage the column in a firefight. My plan was to try and pin them there while the grenadier column moved into position on the French infantry's flank.

The cavalry decide their presence is needed elsewhere and dash back towards the village.

Not discouraged by their previous failure, Tim's infantry columns again assault the block held by the Toldeo regiment.

This time they're successful, pushing them into the next block held by the Zaragossa regt. , with losses and disorders!

The French paid a price, though; They also sustained disorders to add to those incurred by their earlier failed charge

The French attack the guns, whose crews fire and then retire into the building on the left. Sadly, their aim was off and they missed.

The columns again hit the line again and another inconclusive melee was fought.

Then the complexion of the game changed when Tim successfully rolled for his main body to appear on the board from the left of the table, from my perspective. Lots of infantry, artillery and light cavalry!

As I had secured the right flank and to the front of the town, I transferred the artillery and the Walloons to the southern flank of the town, leaving the lights and grenadiers to keep an eye on the north. My Spanish cavalry covered the redeployment, suffering some casualties from artillery fire in the process

Here come the French! Gulp!

To hurry things along, the Walloons engaged the French in a firefight.

In the resulting morale test one column retired, while the other retreated! However, the guards were paying the price, their numbers sadly whittled down.

Infected by their comrades' defeats, a volley puts the other column to flight even before the grenadiers can manouvre into a flank position. The first unit to break and it wasn't Spanish!

Tim's reinforcements sweep around the left flank

The Spanish cavalry retire in the face of overwhelming odds to cover the gap south of the village...

...while the gun battery and guards redeploy to face the threat.

The light infantry and grenadiers remain to face the regrouped French infantry beyond the church.

To the left, Tim deploys artillery and advances the infantry. The Spanish cavalry hold the gap in the face of artillery fire.

Their first casualty is inflicted by long range artillery fire! ¡Oh querido!

This is where I thought my goose was cooked: Tim had a whole division forming up for assault on the village, while my reinforcements were nowhere to be seen! 

How could I hold on in the face of all this?!

That mass of infantry in the top centre of the picture looked like the hammer that was going to crack the town wide open!

The whole axis of the game had shifted now. How was I going to contain the French?

I finally managed to roll for my reinforcements to arrive! Tim graciously allowed me to have my vanguard and main body appear at the same time to allow me to have a fighting chance, as my luck with the dice hadn't allowed me to get the vanguard on any earlier. It would have allowed Tim a much bigger advantage if we'd stuck rigidly to the rules of the scenario. However, they appeared from the opposite corner to where all the action was, so there was still an opportunity for him to make mischief before the British could engage.

He may well have rued his decision, though! He was banking on being able to seize the town before my reinforcements arrived to prevent him form taking it, but his bad luck continued when his attack failed not once, but twice! Still, he managed to take another couple of built-up areas, but one of my gallant Spanish reginments continued to defy the odds and cling on to possession of one block. My gallant Spaniards began to crumble under the pressure, but had also blunted the French attack, so that by the time my British reinforcements arrived, the French were hard pressed to push them back, even when Tim's rearguard cavalry force appeared.

My rearguard of a Portuguese infantry brigade appeared to hold the flank beyond the church, while my British forces began to put pressure on the French in order to envelope the other flank. I developed a combined arms attack on that flank which reulted in the rare occurrence of not one, but two infantry squares being broken by artillery alone!

Huzzah! The Anglo-Portuguese vanguard appears: the 12th LD, a 6lb horse gun battery, the 4th Caçadores and the 71st Glasgow Highland Light Infantry.

Tim's fresh battalions charged the village...

...but again faill their pre-melee morale check and halt with disorders to the sound of Spanish jeering.
"¡Su madre lleva botas del ejército!"

However, another charge at the head of the village was successful...
...expelling the Irlanda regiment with losses and disorders.

Here come the rest of the British! The main body arrives on the table including heavy cavalry, a foot battery and 4 infantry battalions

Can they reach the village in time?

Tim forces the pace, moving up to the road south of the village. In the background, at the top of the picture, the British main body is just visible.

Tim attempts another charge, which again fails! More Spanish jeers:
"¡Mi hermanita luchar mejor que tú!"

However, on the other side of town, the battered Toledo regiment was destroyed as the successful French pushed further on. The Walloons were now in danger with the enemy on their flank! 

The British make their presence felt: the light cavalry form up on the flank of the Spanish grenadiers with the guns close behind. Tim's closest line regiment fails to respond to the danger remaining in line.

The heavy dragoons and cavalry general sweep around the approaches to the village. I was intending to get around behind the French infantry which was facing the light dragoons and Spanish grenadiers.

The infantry and foot guns follow behind the heavy cavalry.

4th Caçadores advance behind the light dragoons and horse guns.

They were followed, in turn, by the 71st GLHI

The Buffs and the Gordons march over the hills and far away...

...followed by the 39th (background, tail of column just visible) and the 1st Provisional Regt.

Back south of the village, the Frenhc gun battery fires from behinde the hedgerow at the Spanish dragoons.

They cop another casualty and are forced back.

The light dragoons charge the infantry line in the hope of going through them and into the infantry and guns behind. After adding his general and a spectacularly successful die roll, his infantry calmly form square and see off the cavalry. Curses!

To the right of the town, the Walloons have braved the flank fire to move away from the nearest town block and the Irlanda regiment has formed line between the light infantry and gurads to form horseshoe around the chuch and graveyard. The light dragoons are visible at the top of the picture.

Tim's infantry and cavalry sweep around the south. The guns fired at the advancing infantry to no effect, though. I was very worried that the French Light Cavalry would have a free hand on the right flank, bogging down the reinforcements as they formed square, preventing them from affecting the battle for the village.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side the British heavy cavalry and infantry round the corner. My plan was to pin Tim with the light dragoons and light infantry, while my heavy cavalry and line infantry would catch them in a pincer move.

The Portuguese enter the table!

Before the Portuguese acn influence proceedings, Tim charged the Spanish guns! I thought that the gunners should stand and fight, but after firing and missing everthing (!) they were crushed under the assault.

The French momentum carried them into the depleted Walloons...

...who couldn't stand the pressure and broke to the rear! They had done sterling work and were sorely damaged, so I couldn't really complain. 

However, things looked grim for the Spaniards now caught between the French occupied portion of the village and the victorious columns in ther rear!

It was at this stage that I thought I should try to regain a town block before everything went to pot. As the French in the blosk had maximum disorders, I thought the odds were in my favour...

The dice gods just laughed.

As they ran, the Irland regiment tried to move their flank away from danger. they were fired on and failed their morale, melting like snow in spring! The red marker indicates were they were moments before!

Run away!

The Spanish general yells "Wait for me, muchachos!"

Tim follows up his success by charging the grenadiers who stand their ground and fire at the oncomimg columns.

In the resulting melee, the grenadiers were forced to retire, which wasn't a bad result considering the two broken units which could have really affected their morale.

Tim advanced another column (centre of picture) which fired at long range into the flank of the light dragoons. With an awful die roll for the morale check, plus the negatives of the friendly units breaking, the light dragoons broke and ran, never to be seen again!

Time to set things right! The caçadores and light infantry hem in the columns, but not even a shot into their flanks can move them!

That left the light bobs in a pickle, as the column in the graveyard threatened their flanks. I was hoping that the unit in the graveyard wouldn't occupy the chuch, as they would be in a perfect position to engage the flank. In the end I moved the 1st Provisional Regt. up to cover the lights' flank.

Meanwhile, I moved 3 battalions of Portuguese line infantry in mixed order, flanked by the remaining Spanish cavalry, to block Tim's light cavalry.

Around the other side, I pushed the heavy dragoons forward and placed the 39th Foot on their right, making sure I attached the general in case they needed to form square at short notice. The guns at te top left of the picture did sterling work of the square covering the French guns; they took 2 figures and caused a morale check due to 50%+ total casualties which caused the square to break and run! The following turn the horse battery did the same thing to the other square!

Determined to be in control of the village by the end of the game, Tim had rested his troops, got rid of the disorders and tried capturing the bottom right hand block again. Again it failed!
"¡No se podía luchar para salir de una bolsa de papel mojado!"

Unfortunately no matter how many poorly translated insults were thrown at Tim's French, the next attack against the block held by the Zaragossa regiment was successful. As they had no viable path of escape they ended the battle as prisoners.
"Pour vous, señor, la guerre est finie"

The light bobs survived their flank shot from the graveyard unharmed, while next pouring their own flank fire into the column

The ca­çadores added their own fire, and the columns broke and ran! Even the French artillery firing down their flank couldn't deter the ca­çadores' ferocity.

In a last hurrah, Tim's chasseurs charged the Spanish cavalry who stood and fired and were swept aside. the cavalry crashed against the anchored line.

And this is how the situation looked at the end: Tim's French were in charge of the whole village, except for one block, while his infantry in the centre were fleeing to the rear. On the far flank, my heavy dragoons infantry and artillery were ready to sweep around the other side of the village, while on the near side, the Portuguese were to continmue blocking the French cavalry.

While Tim held possession of most of the town, my one remaining Spanish regular infantry battalion doggedly held onto the last town block while awaiting the British and Portuguese to push the increasingly spent French forces back. We left it there with the Anglo-Iberian forces poised for victory. As an academic exercise, Tim rolled for his divisional morale test, as one of divisions had at least 50% of its forces in bad morale. It would have been the icing on the cake, but he managed to roll well enough to keep them in the fray. I would have had to have cleared the village out at the point of the bayonet, but it still would have been an allied victory in all probabilities.

It was a great game with a surprisingly stubborn effort put in by my Spaniards, including my Zaragossans, who repulsed at least two attempts at ejecting them from the village before succumbing to the inevitable; a highly crediatble debut, I felt! 

Tim could rightly be disappointed in the result as there was nothing wrong with his plan, just the execution of it! If his dice had co-operated, he could well have taken the village with his vanguard and the rest of the game would have been devoted to me trying to retake it. Still, he did have some luck, as when he rolled well enough to form square against my cavalry charge, and my appalling attempt at reclaiming a BUA against a severely disordered French unit.

The result was nice, but not the highlight of the game for me. We both agreed that it was a challenging and entertaining exercise, with the result never clear until almost the last few rounds. I'm sure we could play it again and get a very different result!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Shelfari Bookshelf