Friday, 28 October 2011

Lundy Lane's Cemetery

Well, as it is nearing Halloween, and I just happened to finish this terrain piece (spending only a few minutes on it at a time, usually having only a couple of minutes between other more important activities) I thought I would put the fictional battle on hold [still on the table mind you] and present this piece.
At the Battle of Lundy's Lane in July 1814, the British held a position on a rise along said path which included an orchard, a log church, and accompanying cemetery.  The British artillery took a position in or near the graveyard and was involved in hand-to-hand fighting which lasted well after dark.  Thus for any re-creation of the battle one simply MUST have to have such a terrain piece!

I do not know the manufacturer of the tombstones but they were of metal and I do remember primering them way back in the summer!   There is very little to no information on the size or look of the cemetery; whether indeed it had wood or stone fences or indeed any at all.  An illustration in Lossing's book has it overgrown but that was half a century later so really no help there. 
However, battle histories do not indicate it was a fortress or indeed much of an impediment and so I did not want an indication of high walls or fences for players/troops to fight over.  Thus, I used some 15mm resin stone walls to give it a perimeter but no defensive capabilities.  Again having no historical basis to abide to I simply used a scrap piece of hardboard (1/8" thickness as are all my bases) which I thought might do the trick.
I show a British artillery piece within as a kinda 'got lucky' indication because it was only after all the walls were glued, the headstones positioned, and the "dirt" in place, and the grass put on, that I remembered about the artillery deploying within.  Thankfully two or three guns can be placed any point including between the headstones. Whew.
I did not put much on the way of additional ground cover as the British artillery bases will be placed within and did flat ground. However, rather a bit ghoulishly(?) I made two of the graves rather fresh by drybrushing a lighter colour on top of sightly built-up soil.  While giving the headstones a wash these two pieces came off rather lighter in shade than all the others and so did not appear so weathered and thus more recently employed? 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

2nd Smythville - the opening moves

Coming home late from work tonight (well technically this morning!) I decided to unwind with a couple of the opening moves of this fictitious battle I had set up.  Obviously most often these operations consist of skirmishers moving up and artillery firing. No change of procedure here.

The US First Rifles had a time of it against the experienced Glengarries and (mainly due to poor dice rolls on my part) were sent off.  One group not helped by the disordering effects of the British rockets. "That dang thing almost burnt a hole in my green huntingshirt!" recalled an indigent American rifleman.

A word on the rockets in my games.  They have been the source of much amusement by all who have employed them.  Because of their historical dubious accuracy record but ease of fire, I have the following rules employed.  Each turn the battery is allowed two launches each turn vs the one by artillery guns.  For each 6 inches ( the distance to the target is originally estimated by the player beforehand) a 1d6 is rolled. Basically the player can 'cut the fuse' himself when the rocket will exhaust itself. On a 2 to 5 the rocket flies directly to its intended target but on a 1 the rocket veers 45 degrees to the left and on a 6, 45 degrees to the right.  Obviously the more distant the target, the more chance the rocket may veer off course.  However, should the rocket fly over any unit, that unit will be disordered, or in the rules I currently employ, it gains one more disorder point. The rockets are scary stuff to be sure.   Should the rocket be fortunate to land directly upon a unit, that unit will take a casualty/stand loss.
my hex shaped rocket directional marker

Well, the opening rocket salvos were entertaining (as they tend to be!) The first was effective landing directly upon the company of US rifles and furthering their hasty withdrawal. The second firing however veered right and disordered the 49th Foot and almost took off the head of the aide of the British General who, upon looking at the shocked and indigent look of the poor aide, allowed him to race up to the offending rocket battery to order it too cease its firing.

However that would be not until the turn after, and the rocket battery commander ordered a second volley of rocket to be directed to the distant American advance.  This volley was even more comical than the first. The first rocket adroitly missed all the staggered deployed American units, while the second went immediately left and then straight as an arrow into the distance! 

We shall leave the battle at this point with the battle lines coming together as the US rifles did not do much damage to the British lines and the Glengarries, happy with their efforts, retired to the rear to allow the 49th and the deMeuron Regiments to crest their respective hills to pore fire upon the advancing American units.
the British 49th Foot reading for a volley

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lyon's Mill or 2nd Smythville - fictious game

Unsuccessful in their attack on Smythville using the "Kentucky Brigade" which mainly consisted of inexperienced militia, the Americans will make a second attack using better trained regulars and led by veteran U.S. Riflemen. I was too lazy to alter the terrain! :-)
Once again however, the British 19th Light Dragoons discovered the advance and gave warning which was confirmed by captured deserters.
The American plan was similar to the previous battle and had the US 1st Infantry Regiment and the US 44th attack the large hill defended by the Voltigeurs and the deMeuron Regiment
the US 44th Infantry Regiment
while the US 21st and 23rd Infantry Regiments are attacking the smaller hill occupied by the 49thFoot with the deWatteville Regiment in support.  Again the Voltigeurs were called up to give support to the defence in their skirmisher role.
the Canadien Voltigeurs skirmishing in front of the deMeuron Regt.

The British are well supported by a battery of rockets and howitzer.

British rocket battery using ground level troughs (my version) and yes, apparently the stabilizing sticks were painted red.  The rockets are scratch built using an old pen ink tube and a small ball bearings. The figures are regular Old Glory artillerymen.  Note the Royal Marine rocketeers employed on land apparently also wore the same uniform while the officers wore their traditional scarlet coats and tophats. (per Company of Military Historians)

The howitzer battery figures are Victrix covered in greenstuff to create overcoats.  Basically this was a practice trial using this modelling putty.  I don't think the attempt will threatened the livelihoods of any of the current modellers however!

One note on the uniforms.  You might have noted that the US 44th has French style backpacks.  Apparently these were not uncommon issue throughout the war and the 44th were noted specifically to be issued these [per Chartrand].  I like to make each regiment distinctive and with this in mind I removed many of the "Lherbette" knapsacks (canvas waterproofed painted a mid/light blue) on the Old Glory figures and replaced with available Victrix French plastic 'hairy' versions.

It might be further noted that the Americans used black leather straps for all their knapsacks regardless of type or if the regiment were supplied with buff (whitened) or black leather crossbelts.

Anyway, part two of the battle will be reported once played out - hopefully in the near future.

Friday, 14 October 2011

War of 1812 - a rant

Obviously I enjoy wargaming the War of 1812.  I like the period and the novelty of it.  I did not, repeat not, start this blog as a response to the anniversary of this conflict.  I was trying, one night and with perhaps too stiff a drink, to communicate with a friend through a blog comment (long story) but was frustrated by my un-registration.  So while trying to sign-up it said "want to blog? it's easy" or some such.  Having done a lot of my wargaming vicariously through other's blogs I decided to start my own.  Of course without any such plan or concept of what to say or convey.  I had an 1812 set up on the table top so started with that.

So really it was just a coincidence. 

But what really has me going is the news story that the Canadian government is going to spend 28 million dollars (currently the Cdn$ is near par with the US$) Yes 28 million! for "cultural activities" surrounding the 200 anniversary of the war.
#$*$@!! What the heck will all that money get us??  A couple of demos by a half-dozen fat reenactors looking confused on a field, randomly firing off a musket into the air and calling it a battle?!  Perhaps a small pamphlet , printed in the millions for the mere hundreds who might actually care to have one, the rest into land-fills at the cost of hundreds of thousands?  Flashy huge posters for the politicians to stand in front and give speeches of how it is to be Canadian, blah blah, and reading from a script written by the assistant who copied it from Wikipedia...
It will not give us value for money of course, and only if the government would just hand out copies of Pierre Burton's two-part set who wrote some very well writtenchapters on the very topic to those who care, we could save a ton of tax payers money.  Of course the government might turn around and spend the savings on the overblown celebrations of the importance of the beaver for our nationhood (no, I will not even contemplate what nonsense the assistant of the assistant deputy minister's sub-committee could come up with for that!) (they probably will google it and come up with porn...but I digress as usual)

For me I will wargame it a little, read some of the efforts of the few to defend their homes, give them a quiet thanks, and enjoy the hobby.  See, that did not cost the taxpayers a dime.

rant over
sorry for the inconvenience

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

de Salaberry

While it may be true that without British regulars Canada would no doubt have had much more difficulties defending itself, one battle in 1813, at Chateauguay, it was only Canadians, and mostly Quebecois (those from Lower-Canada) without help from the British, stood their ground against the American invasion force some five times their number.  The American commander Hampton, thinking the odds with him, had a French speaking officer ask, no doubt in the flowery speak of the day, to surrender. DeSalaberry, it was said, picked up a musket himself and shot the officer dead!
After a flank march across the river failed to dislodge the Canadians who had a position behind a small ravine and abattis (basically branches of trees piled up) and fearful of the Indians - actually only 22(!) but they came in and out of the forest so appeared to be hundreds - to fightened eyes-  and made a fearful whoop; that Hampton caved in and departed for winter quarters.

Most portraits of deSalaberry at the battle show him on a tree stump which I tried to replicate.  His uniform was that of a rifleman in green (although his unit -  The Voltigeurs, carried muskets only).  The rank and fife however wore a light gray rifles uniform with black trim and a fur covered pointed headdress.

This link provides info on this unit:

Here is DeSalaberry exhorting the troops:

Old Glory 28mm
 and kinda fuzzy.  Ebay fuzzy? ;-)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Laura Secord

In Canada, Laura Secord chocolate was a well-known brand name and gained it's name from the War of 1812 heroine who traveled through American lines, using the excuse of leading her cow to water, to inform the British of the imminent attack.  Or so the legend is told.
A premier Canadian historian, Pierre Burton, in one of the 'must-have' reference books on the War of 1812, "Flames Across The Border - 1813-1814" page 83 , goes into the details and some debunking of the myth.  However I had the milking-maid figure and acquired a very nice [if a very 'ripped'] cow miniature (unfortunately manufacturer unknown).  Well, what the heck, it makes for nice tabletop decoration.

"Laura Secord" guiding the troops

Friday, 7 October 2011

De Watteville Regt. : Further flag info

One of my readers, Ray, has asked for further references on this unit's colours:

There is a black and white illustration of the flag 'probably' carried by the de Watteville on page11 of the Osprey MAA 78 "Flags of the Napoleonic Wars vol.2
However no further information.

Lawson's "A history of the British Army" v.5 lists the colours of the Roverea flag.
  'White cross with black and red waves in the cantons. One side- within a green laural wreath a red medallion with the arms of Berne - a black bear on a gold 'Bend'.  Frederick-de Steiger, pere de la patrie - il en est le sauveur- - 'Honneur a la Vertu- Honte a la faiblaisse'.  On the reverse, canton colors reversed, wreath with ' Reunion des Suisse Fideles' inside and 'Dieu si la Patrie' surrounding.  On the cross ' Francis II - Paul I '- Amour de la Patrie' - ' A ses Librerateurs' - 'Teurreur au Crime' - pardon au Repentir'

He mentions the formation of the Watteville Regiment from the four Swiss regiments and say that Roverea's motto was adopted by de Watteville.  No mention of a new flag, so the old one may have been carried.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Flags of the British "Swiss" regiment of the War of 1812

I thought I would show you my versions of the flag from the two 'Swiss' regiments of British Foot which fought in North America (I was going to state "in Canada" but the de Meuron Regiment did join the advance to Plattsburgh in 1814, losing only 14 in that tepid campaign).  They differ from the usual British colours.

So here is the de Meuron colours, showing the typical Swiss 'flames' in the odd lime- green, black and yellow combination in the regimental flag. The King's Color has the Union Jack with the motto on the St James cross. Note hidden from view canton on the regimental flag has the Union Jack - which when seen makes for quite the hideous display! Osprey MAA335 has a good color illustration of it.

and here are the De Watteville colours (ah, flags) for the unit which had quite the bad luck at the siege of Ft Erie in 1814, having substantial casualties in a magazine explosion during a British attack.
The flags were, obviously, hand painted and photographed during games.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

War of 1812 - the *informative* video

Ooh, two entries in one day? 
Hmm, well it will cover me for past or future non-blogging times, I guess...

Anyway, this YouTube entry was noted by 'Ralphio' on the TMP and sums up well the normal knowledge most have on this war.


The Canadian Volunteers

The War of 1812 has a wealth of sartorial pleasures but also problematic gaps of information which, and only for the most obsessive of collectors/wargamers, can be frustrating. I have file boxes and library shelves full of uniform information. A hobby within a hobby. Please feel free to contact me should you need any particulars from virtually any conflict - I probably have something!  I have large files on, say the Crimea War yet have not one miniature from that conflict.  I may in future perhaps, but I like the collecting and knowing the uniforms.  Like I say, a hobby within a hobby.  While stating all that, I am not all that concerned if another wargamer uses Portuguese as Americans or whatever. I am not a button counter. I just enjoy exploring the differences in military dress.

This war was kinda small - not in terms of area - hundreds of miles were covered but the numbers were small.  But in this, is a wealth of wargaming entertainment as small groups can be put together for small skirmish-style affairs.  While I tend to go for the larger, battalion vs battalion actions; if low ratio of real strength to figures is your cup of tea, then this unit may be of interest.

On a war of 1812 newsgroup recently a fellow asked for help on the named unit. So I thought to share what I know.

The Canadian Volunteers fought on the American side.  They would led by Joseph Willcocks, a "disgruntled" newspaper editor and member of the House of Assembly and colleague, Benajah Mallory.(1)  They formed the "Canadian Volunteers" a small mounted unit , only some 50, was an irregular style group more bent on destruction and spying than fighting and did not enter U.S. service as a volunteer corps until April 1814. Before that time they wore civilian dress - probably more 'town-wear' than buckskins - with white cockades and green ribbons around their hats. After 1814 clothed in U.S. infantry uniform (recorded in September of that year)(2)

1- Pierre Burton, Flames Across the Border, p.81
2- Rene Chartrand, Uniforms and Equipment of the United States Forces in the War of 1812, pg. 54

Sunday, 2 October 2011

War of 1812 - a wargamers nightmare

OK, the War of 1812: note NOT the Campaign of 1812-- which Napoleon conducted in Russia in the same year; is a difficult one for the wargamer.  Why? Well, in most, if not all cases, each and every battle has different, and I mean different uniformed units in each battle.  Thus, as can be surmised, the wargamer must have a vast collection of units should he have the want to game the whole war.
I did not want, of course, to do this, but as fate would have.....

Some comment here: if one is collecting a French Napoleonic army say, a one regiment is no different than another (save the lettering on the flag of course). But the War of 1812 is different. Each battle has units which do not show in any other battle in the whole war.  Thus one must collect/paint units for one particular battle and that is it !  Unless one is as crazy as myself and decide to make the War of 1812 a primary task in my hobby.

Some additional comment is perhaps necessary. I HAD a War of 1812 collection that WAS reasonable.  BUT with some trades (long story there- perhaps another day) when the traders suggested what they had, I kept getting more and more 1812 types. Thus the collection expanded.

The War of 1812 is quirky and not well known thus has its own interest.

This war will not be the only one collection I will comment on but ...

take care,