Friday, 30 November 2012

French Line in overcoats

My latest painting are these Perry plastics.  I finding it amusing that in doing Napoleonics I choose the overcoat types over the regulation dress (the boys in the bright plumes and such).  In fact all the Perry 'Bardin' poses are still on the sprues!

Contrary to the brightly attired attraction of the Napoleonics in full dress uniforms I seem to be drawn to the covered-in-mud campaigns of 1814 France and the Hundred Days -  conducted in the rain for the most part.

Perhaps as we get older the attraction of fashionable but perhaps uncomfortable, or at least showy duds, leads to more practical clothing. Nothing more practical in the Napoleonic age than a greatcoat and waterproofed shako or forage cap. So much of my early units are thus...making the painting much easier by the way!

However one crack in this theory came as I had completed the painting and had terrained the units and viewing them on the table.  "What a dull lot" I thought.  Then I observed that I had forgotten to paint the pompoms on the shakos!  Hmm, well the orange, purple and bright blues should add a bit, what. 
Certainly did.  With that splash of color I am back on the true Napoleonics train.....

Perry metal General with accompanying Victrix infantryman

Monday, 26 November 2012

French Naval Artillery Regiments

This unique Napoleonic unit(s) fought during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns when after destroying his Grande Armee in Russia, Napoleon looked to various sources of manpower.  The naval ships, blockaded in harbors, proved to be a surprisingly good source of quality troops in this regard. While often incorrectly titled as 'Marines',  these Naval Artillery units could be considered elite, or at least, very reliable and conducted themselves well in an infantry role.

While there is some debate about the uniform and color of the belts, I went with the "classic" dark blue artillery overcoat, white belts and red shoulder fringes.  The distinctive carrot-shaped pompon of these units, I made, adding a bit of 'green stuff' to the existing round pompon on the shako.  I got them sort of the same size and my heavy coats of paint hides many imperfections.

The small d6 die is placed within a divot in the terrain and used to indicate any change in the unit's morale/hits.  The blank space in the rear will be used to easily attach the unit's commander's name for game purposes.

I'll add a photo of my Imperial Guard.  One can understand the Prussian reports from the fight for Mockern during the Battle of Leipzig (1813) mistakingly having fought with elements of the French Guard rather than these fine units.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Lacoste AND Runchney's Colored Units

Having picked up Old Glory's pack of "Men of Color" (Why? Umm. Let's not get into the psychology of that at this time...) I obviously needed to create one of the few units of all coloreds from this war.  Lacoste's battalion fought in the New Orleans campaign (see my previous post ).  For this I used the 'better-dressed' poses from the Old Glory pack   [the others with smocks, I will use as Daquin's smaller unit of the same campaign.

Here is my finished version:

However, a lesser known unit which fought against the American invasion of Upper Canada in 1812 was 'Rauchney's Colored Corps' which contested Queenston Heights.   History: ( link)

Here is my finish version:

The astute viewer will note of course that it is indeed the same unit with a different officer which I can substitute either with the blue coated officer and placing of an American flag or a red coated officer and the Union Jack.

The officers are placed on pennies with a sabot set up:

The placing on the pennies turned out to be more elaborate than I had anticipated as the Old Glory based were so thick and when placed on the pennies put them as giants with the rank and file.  Thus I removed the bases and placed them in 'green stuff' to create the ground work.  However much faster than painting up another unit, eh.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

an SYW "Battle of Bunker Hill"

Another Monday Night game at Francis'.   He wanted another Shako game so I said I would come up with the scenario.  The usual for those boys is 15mm Napoleonics but I wanted to see if Shako would handle my SYW basing and a tough scenario of Bunker Hill!
This battle of the American War of Independence/ Revolutionary War (take your choice), has been on my 'bucket list' of scenarios to play.  SYW troops?  Yeah, close enough.....

The Brunswickers (i.e. the Americans)  were given 10 units in total, 4 as a division in the redoubt on the hill along with a stationary artillery piece (facing the wrong way it turned out), three units forming a division along the fence with one of its units in reserve off table. The reserve was to only come on if a double is thrown with 2d6.  This was to portray the reluctance of many of the militia men to join the defenders through the artillery rounds tossed by the British ships in the harbor.  Of course, Francis "Mr. Dice King" (that is the polite version - he was called other rather more impolite names at the table) rolled the necessary double on his first try and on they came.

To portray the snipers in Charles Town, I gave the Brunswickers/Americans a skirmish unit within the town.  The British historically fired upon the town, starting blazes which forced them out.  I gave the Hessians and Hanoverians which comprised the historical British forces 6 rounds of off-board artillery which was used could have used thus, or to damage the Brunswick/American off-table reserves, but they choose to cannonade the redoubt and roll a darn 6 EACH time for three consecutive turns!  Lost a unit with that.
The Brunswicker officers happy with the troops deployment the moments before the cannonballs start raining down on them.

Kev's Hessians, which made up the first wave of the "British" landings with half of the 12 regular and elite units , massed to move around the backside of the hill/redoubt.  His lone skirmish unit fired upon Francis' skirmish unit and rolled a 6 destroying its target. At the same time Francis (pulling another 6 out of his arse) did likewise!
  Well, we don't have to go through that phase of the turn chart anymore.

Francis moved his units from the fence line, got a few turns moves toward Dave's side of the board when Dave finally rolled the required double and 'landed', moving his 6 units of red-coated Hanoverians (also playing as British) in a great line.  Francis stated: "I wouldn't have moved up if I thought he would have THAT much".  Personally, I was happy as a scenario designer.  Players shouldn't know all.  I didn't tell him what would oppose us (and he actually didn't ask either).

Well, as Kev moved around the hill and my musket fire into his units as they filed past proved totally ineffective  ( lots of sixes were being rolled by every one...except me of course!) Dave directly assaulted the redoubt. One of my militia quality units gainly threw back a couple of assaults but could not hold forever and with divisional morale now demoralized, no reserves, and Kev directly in the rear, the units were lost (surrendered). 

My Brunswick troops happy to be in the redoubt
a look at my Brunswickers under Francis' control (standing in as Stark's command in the actual Bunker Hill battle)
The Hessians advance

Dave's Red-coats (Hanoverians) in the great line. One of Francis' Brunswick units already moving back!
German artillery.  'Beer. Never fire without it.' (yes, yes, the model is not correct for the era)
The assault up the hill. The redoubt was taken after a few more turns.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

a Monday Night Game - 'Shako' 15mm

Went to Francis' Monday Night gaming session for a 'Shako' affair as he readies himself with practice on the rules.  The White Rock boys are having the big Borodino game in a week or so and they think he is a dice god (he does seem to roll extremely well at times!) so he has a lot of pressure to do well.  It would seem he is tasked with commanding the Grand Armee heavy cavalry - the ones who historically assaulted and took the redoubts - and so is expected to recreate this feat.
Personally I think it is good tactics and knowing how the rules work and his intelligence that is the true key to his tabletop success.  But perhaps when he can actually verbally dictate which dice numbers he or his opponent should get (!) or his ability to get 6s at the best times earns him comments like "Francis, you are a f***ing c**t!"  ,that he is best known.

I haven't played 'Shako' for quite some time, but I seemed to remember most of the key points during the game.  While Francis would play GM and set up the simple scenario;   "Doug, see this chit? Yes, this one on the far side of the table and behind all this large Russian army?  That is your objective and victory condition."
  I commanded my Polish army while Dave set up the Russians; the almost as large as my army, Russians. Well, who said war was fair.  Dave as defender set up first and with very good scouting (apparently!) I knew his exact deployment (other than where his Cossacks would appear and when).  He stretched out his army thinly along the whole line of the table so I ignored one flank, used one command to go up the middle and the other infantry force with my light horse lancers to overwhelm his left flank and so hoping to collapse his line.  It would have worked but time ran out and with one less unit eliminated and still holding the 'chit', Dave claimed victory.

my 15mm Poles advance
the middle units are in white uniforms as the Polish 13th Infantry Regt.  Ex- Austrian attire apparently.
"The General's eye view"

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Battle of Sans Ile (fictional solo game) War of 1812

Battle of Sans Ile  (fictional solo game) War of 1812.  November 7, 1812

"God-d*mnit General, I want a diversion for the main landing across the St. Lawrence and I want it here!!", screamed the  Commander, his finger pointing at a small dot named "Landing de Merde" . 
"But sir..." , the General managed to get out before the Commander cut him off.
"But nothing, General!" , the commander's red face from anger and drink irrupted.
"Yes, sir" the General stated while saluting and then walked out into the miserable weather.  Too few boats, he thought and pilots and experienced crews.  I could never hope to get enough regiments across before the British hit us. Perhaps they will be caught off guard. But not likely. Lots of bluster and dreams but little preparation by this commander. 

Thus, the scenario has the Americans coming piecemeal on a small landing on the north bank of the St. Lawrence.  I began the battle with the advance guard of US Riflemen already landed.
The US Rifles and my dismounted General telling them not to go "that way!" The General is a conversion I made.  See: post

 Each subsequent regiment would land on the turn when 2d6 turned up doubles. (this was the case for the British reinforcements also).  Originally facing the Americans were pickets of the Voltigeurs, a French-Canadien light infantry unit,  guarding the east road and two small units of Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia coming across the west bridge.
my Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia, by employing French and Indian War Quebec militia in capots.  Very similar.  I placed in British officers to make them more "1812-ish"
The officers of these units, unused to command in the field, fretted about.
(I rolled a 1 for 'Orders' and for disruption. If a 1 was rolled for the random movement, this added to the disruption. Going THAT slow must be for SOME disrupting reason!  This poor rolling was to affect many units in this battle. Veteran units will be less affected, poor units more unlikely to recover.)

The American Rifles continued their probe up the west road when finally arriving at the fence line to face the militia while under ineffective artillery battery deployed in a rare opening through the heavy vegetation of the slough.  The militiamen's will then collapsed, in part it was said because one of the officers were leading them to the cemetery(!) (and my dice rolls!) and both routed back across the bridge.  But as they crossed the first of the British regiments, the 89th Foot, arrived pushing the militia out of the way. Right behind, was the de Meuron Foot (a 'Swiss' unit of the British army) coming with veteran efficiency and they quickly formed to right and left of the bridge putting the Rifles in crossfire.
The British 'de Meuron' Regiment of Foot on the bridge. Did the unit just for the colorful flag! This formation was involved in the 1814 Plattsburg campaign.

The US 16th Infantry.  It wore black tunics for much of the war.  I wanted to paint it in lieu of doing Napoleonic era Brunswickers!
Meanwhile the 16th US managed to land and move tentatively up the road to support the Rifles.   The regimental records have the colonel ordering the advance. However the officers and sergeants with proper intent to redress instead, caused some confusion and the unit retired slightly to the rear.  [ I 'ordered' the unit to advance but then noticed the forgotten 2 disorder points  which had the effect, with a poor roll {again!}, to have the unit back up according to my "Order Chart".  It would have been better in the circumstances to have the unit redress the ranks and eliminate some of the disorder points. While this 'history' is contrived, it does give the solo game fun to justify the dice!]

British artillery

By this time, the US 28th Regiment had landed but was quite disorganized by its move toward the action and taking hits from effective long range artillery fire and thus finally routing back to the landing. 

While the US 16th together with the Rifles were making a valiant stand, more British reinforcements made their way to the battlefield, as the 104th Foot arrived (this veteran unit never made a shot in anger as it continued to try to force the American flank, advancing all the while in march column without the opportunity to come to grips!) 

Behind the US 16th, the panic stricken mass of the US 28th finally reached the landing area only to come under fire from the Voltigeurs skirmishers.   Into this, the US 17th Regiment arrived on shore, moving passed those soldiers looking for a way on board the boats.  Frightened soldiers grabbed at oars and waded into the deep strong water of the river to gain space in the returning boats. Confusion reigned and the US 17th, a newly-trained unit was much disorganized by all this.  However disorganized they gainfully charged the skirmishers who retired in haste losing half their number back to the north bridge and were done as an effective unit this day.
The US 17th advance upon the Voltigeurs in the background as the US 28th mill about in confusion.  The 'cannonballs' marker show the disorder points
The 17th did not pursue the Voltigeurs but moved west to support the main force.  But this main force was already in trouble. With three full British veteran regiments in the field, the Americans were outgunned and the line started to collapse with the US 16th and Rifles falling back under steady musket fire. (the British artillery, now masked, was slowly repositioning)

The 89th perhaps angered or wanting to be gone from the cemetery, then made a large sweep forward overwhelming the 16th in close combat and having that unit, together with the General accompanying it, surrender en mass.  Continuing the charge, the 89th Foot then collided with the line of Riflemen who had just briefly rallied but who also joined the mad rush of Americans to the dubious safety of the landing. 

The 89th Foot in the cemetery I built for the historic Lundy's Lane battle
The aggressive 89th Foot, as a veteran unit, shrugged off any disorder and continued its advance smashing into the US 17th which also fell apart.  Thus all the American units had collapsed.   And with all hope of meaningful reinforcements or a way home abandoned, the wholesale surrender began.  

Against only under 100 casualties, the Americans suffered some 200 casualties with over 1000 captured including the American General.
As the General was graciously given a horse and led away, he remembered the tirade by the commander who interrupted him off before he could say. "But sir,... .....that is an island.  If the British block the bridges, as surely they will, we will have no where to go, no way to retreat.  Our force can only come piecemeal, and only by luck cross the river, as you have all the boats.  Yes, sir, we must win to get off the island, but if the British outnumber us in strength, what then?"
But he knew, the commander would not have tolerated such talk anyway. With different luck, different throws of the disorder, the whole affair would be much affected.  That is the fog of war and the story of the wargame.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Battle of Waxhaws Project?

OK, time to look introspectively into the mind of a crazed wargamer.

Through some trades, I acquired a few Perry American War of Independence figures. Very nice mind you, but I did not like the style should they be combined with my existing Front Rank collection. So they sat in a box.

But today, I got window shopping on the Perry site looking for more Napoleonics to buy, (yes, yes, like the diabetic loitering in front of a candy shop...) when I again took notice of the AWI section.  So I ran down to the Perry box to see exactly what I had.  Not many really -- 24 Southern militia, 14 British in roundabouts, 2 artillery pieces and some limber pieces.
However, it gave me idea of the potential order of battles as I used a trip to the washroom to exam the Greg Novak order of battle book of the AWI Southern Campaigns, to see what little obscure engagement I could model this collection towards. Novak offers no battle descriptions but does have an OB for the smallest of skirmishes.

I did not want to make this project very big.  Heaven knows, I have those!  No, this was to be small 'fun' deal and has no need to expand, so I require a small numbers battle, to limit any thought of expansion. (this is the alcoholic saying to himself to only finish off the small bottle and not start on the 40 ouncer).
Well, low and behold, I find the Battle of Waxhaws.  I run to Wikipedia. Yeah, yeah, not the most accurate but gives me an idea of the type of battle and I also found a good site on AWI battles (link: AWI battles) to try to confirm the battle details and the numbers. While these do vary, I will use 360 Virginians (my militia types) and 2 6pdr cannon (I have just those!) vs. 100 Legion infantry (my roundabout types) plus 60 British 17th Dragoons and 90 British Legion dragoons.  Well I don't have the cavalry but heck, the Perrys make some nice ones and even with the 17th in 'southern dress'!  A quick calculations suggests a 1:10 ratio could work. Only 7 or 8 packs should complete both sides.  Not that much he takes another swig..... 

While the battle was very one sided and even termed a "massacre", it could well have gone differently perhaps and that is the field for the wargame. In itself, the 'campaign' is self contained and small, which is what I am looking for.  Heck, the battle has some emotional historic kick as it gave ol' Tarleton his bad boy reputation as "Ban the Butcher"

I think I may go for this.  What is yet another project, eh?  But, as with my recently completed Spartacus Roman collection [ see:my blog entry  ], the Perry sculpts and the uniform colors just scream for the wash painting technique and so I will wait until next summer to complete. 

Banastre Tarleton himself