My Napoleonic British army on parade

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I’ve been wargaming since the 1990s, and during that time have amassed many miniatures across a range of periods. However, I’ve never really catalogued them all, and some of them haven’t seen the light of day for many a year. So I’ve decided that over the next few weeks I’m going to parade each army for inspection, and take stock of what I’ve got.

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From 2003 to about 2009 I collected a British army of the Napoleonic period. It hasn’t seen very much wargaming action since then, so I thought this might be a good army to start my inspection tour.

The commanders

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Of course, every army has to have a commander. And if you’re playing British, why not go to the very top – the Duke of Wellington himself. This is a lovely set produced by Wargames Foundry.

Circling clockwise from the instantly recognisable Duke himself, you can also see Captain von Streerwitz (2nd King’s German Legion Hussars, and aide-de-camp to Uxbridge);  Lt-General Sir Thomas Picton (wearing civilian clothing as he did at Waterloo); Lt-General Sir Rowland Hill; an ADC on foot; and in the foreground, Lt-General the Earl of Uxbridge, who lost his leg at Waterloo.

I obviously didn’t know much about painting horses’ eyes back then! In fact, the way I used to paint eyes on human figures at that time ended up with them looking like Thunderbirds puppets. Nowadays I just hint at eyes with some dark ink.

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Also in the Wargames Foundry set are these four figures depicting a helmeted Dragoon Guards officer; Major-General Sir James Kempt; Major-General Sir Denis Pack; and Adjutant-General Sir Edward Barnes.

I painted this set in April 2003, using a simple block painting technique with very little attempt at shading or highlighting. I think this clean style actually stands the test of time surprisingly well (apart from those googly eyes!).

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Here are some more command figures from my army – General Robert Crauford and a mounted officer of the 42nd Black Watch. These are produced by Front Rank Miniatures, whose figures are a painter’s dream, with clean surfaces and crisp detailing.

I always did wonder a bit about that pose of using a telescope one-handed. I would’ve thought that would make the view very shakey!

The infantry

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One of the pleasures of collecting a British army are those resplendent red coats worn by most of the infantry.

This picture also shows how I break each infantry unit into six bases. Regular infantry have about four figures per base, whilst light troops are represented by only two figures per base.

In many rules the number of model figures per base doesn’t actually matter, as casualties are recorded by a set number of hits required to remove a base, rather than counting and removing actual figures.

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The other pleasure of a British army are the huge and stately colours (flags) carried by each battalion. GMB Designs produce exquisite paper flags that really set off this army.

Note that I make my flags wave by curling them diagonally, rather than vertically like many other wargamers do. The diagonal fold gives them a more realistic draping effect.

The smaller Union flag held by the chap in the middle of the photo is actually cast onto this metal Warlord Games figure, and had to be painted by hand.

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When I started my British army, I had a vague idea that instead of following any real-life order-of-battle, my force would represent the series of fictional ‘Sharpe’ novels by Bernard Cornwell. So these Front Rank 95th Rifles are led by Richard Sharpe himself (left), accompanied by his faithful Sergeant Patrick Harper (centre). Both figures were made by Chiltern Miniatures (now defunct, but possibly available from SHQ Miniatures).

The prone figure on the right isn’t a casualty, but a rifleman aiming his Baker rifle whilst lying on his back.

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The 44th East Essex was the very first British unit I painted. Again, I had in mind the Sharpe novels and was planning on giving this yellow-faced unit an alternative flag for the fictional South Essex Regiment from the books – though I never got round to doing this in the end.

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This is one of my favourite units, the 42nd Black Watch. These are once again Front Rank figures.

The individually based officer is a later addition to the unit. He’s a so-called ‘big man’ required for driving the action in the Sharp Practice rules for small-scale engagements. You’ll see that several of my units have had such single figures added.

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The challenge with painting Scots, of course, are those fiddly kilts. I’m really pleased how these came out, giving a nice impression of the Government tartan worn by the Black Watch.

Since painting this unit many years ago, I’ve tried painting other figures wearing kilts, but have never again succeeded  as well as I did with this unit. It’s odd how sometimes one’s painting skills seem to decrease with experience, rather than the other way round!

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And here’s yet another photo of my favourite unit, with the bagpiper leading the way. Note that the piper’s tartan is a different colour from the soldiers – this was actually the case in the 42nd.

Those criss-cross stripey stockings were also a challenge to paint!

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Besides my five line infantry battalions, I’ve got a couple of units of light infantry, which (as mentioned above) only have two figures per base to represent skirmish order.

My light infantry don’t carry colours, and the figures are posed much more haphazardly in various stages of loading and firing.

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Here’s a close-up where you can see a couple of my light infantry ‘big men’ for Sharp Practice, in this case a bugler in a yellow jacket, and an officer with the typical metallic epaulettes of the light infantry.

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A sergeant with his private pack-donkey, no doubt carting some illicit loot away from the battle. Yeah, I know, my donkey looks more like a large dog giving his master a baleful sideways look!

The cavalry

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The most flamboyant figures in any Napoleonic army were the hussars, and the British were no exception.

I chose to paint these Front Rank figures as the 10th (Prince of Wale’s Own) Hussars. The reason for choosing this particular regiment was simply because I recalled as a teenager assembling and painting a 54mm Airfix 10th Hussar plastic kitset!

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Hussars are rather difficult to paint, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the panache they bring to the table!

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Much more sombre light cavalry than the hussars are these light dragoons.  They’re wearing an early uniform with the Tarleton helmet – in the latter parts of the Napoleonic Wars they wore shakos.

On the right is another of my command bases, showing a mounted messenger handing orders to a light dragoon officer in the later uniform.

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Now for the heavies! These dragoons are once again wearing an earlier uniform, rather than the later uniform with the classical-style helmets.

My horses, by the way, are all painted with oil paints. I paint the entire horse with a light highlight colour, wait for it to dry, then paint it with a darker colour and immediately wipe it off with a clean cloth so the highlight colour shows through.

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This photo is somewhat reminiscent of the famous painting ‘Scotland Forever!’ by Lady Butler, depicting the charge of the Royal North British Dragoons (or Scots Greys) at Waterloo. In reality the Scots Greys didn’t charge at the gallop due to the broken ground, and instead advanced at a quick walk – though nevertheless they did capture the eagle of the 45e Régiment de Ligne.

By the way, the Scots Greys didn’t get their nickname from their grey horses, but from an earlier grey uniform they wore in the 17th century.

The artillery

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The artillery gives some heavy firepower to my British army.  Unlike the redcoat infantry, the Royal Artillery wore blue uniforms.  These figures and guns are once again from the ubiquitous Front Rank.

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The Royal Horse Artillery wore a snazzier uniform than their foot artillery compatriots. The Tarleton helmet looks impressive, but I wonder how practical it was to keep on in the heat of loading and firing the guns.

Again I’ve got a ‘big man’ for this unit, whose flamboyant uniform is very hussar-like with its golden frogging and fur-lined pelisse.

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I only have one limber for my artillery. I’d love to have one for each gun, but with all the equipment and horses, limber models are just so expensive, not to mention time-consuming to paint and put together!

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Part of the fun of wargaming with a British army is the ability to deploy rockets, as shown here with the 2nd Rocket Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery. These models I think were from Old Glory Miniatures.

The Congreve rocket was a fearsome albeit unpredictable weapon. Different wargames rules replicate their sporadic accuracy in various ways, that can even include an out-of-control rocket endangering its own side!

The navy

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Along with Sharpe, another popular fictional character from this period is Horatio Hornblower. So adding a naval landing party to my British forces was a must!

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The sailors are from Wargames Foundry. They’re wearing a variety of clothing, and armed with a motley range of weapons.

The two individually-based ‘big men’ are by Brigade Games Miniatures. The naval officer at the left represents Hornblower himself.

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The sailors are accompanied by a party of Royal Marines. These figures are (I think) by Britannia Miniatures.

The ‘big man’ is a Wargames Foundry figure, and is one of my favourite figures in the whole army – I really like his pose and natty uniform.

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Of course, a naval landing party has to have a boat to row them ashore. This impressive model is by Britannia Miniatures.

Like the artillery limbers, it is an expensive luxury, as boats most likely won’t play an active part in a game. But as a model it is irresistible!

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So that’s it – my entire British army, mostly painted between 2003 and about 2009. Keep watching for my next inspection parade of another army from my collection.

  • See the next inspection parade: Spanish

 

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Fabulous cutting-out expedition diorama

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When I was making my Britannia ship’s boat model some years ago (see pic below), I used a small picture of a diorama in a book as my painting reference.  

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So during my holiday in the UK, I was delighted to stumble across the actual diorama itself at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. Note you may have to wait for the diorama pics to download, as they’re quite big.

The diorama depicts a fictional cutting-out expedition by British sailors and marines somewhere in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.

This has to be one of the nicest dioramas I’ve ever seen, especially for the water effect and the captured movement of the figures and boats.

Though I must say the diorama does outshine my own modelling and painting skills!

There were also a couple of other similarly excellent dioramas there, but I’ll save them for future postings.

Sorry about the big size of the photos, but on my travels I’m away from my photo editing software. But I’m sure you’ll actually enjoy examining the big pics, because there are so many details to spot in this wonderful diorama.

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Pirate raid in Kapiti

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Today I put on a pirate display at the Kapiti Wargames Club’s open day.  I say ‘display’, because it wasn’t a game as such, but just an excuse to lay out as much of my piratical terrain and figures as I could, in a static display piece.  

I guess I could’ve just as easily played a game on the terrain, but I was too lazy to do so.  Anyway, I just wanted to enjoy talking to the club members and any other spectators, and convincing people that good terrain needn’t be too complicated. 

The display was very much ‘Hollywood’ rather than ‘History’, with various anachronisms evident (eg a Napoleonic landing party in a Golden Age of Piracy game from a totally different century), and some definite confusion in architectural styles (ranging from a Spanish Main village to an American colonial boat-house and church).  

I took a pile of pictures, so here they are for your enjoyment.  They’re all quite large photos, so that you an click on them to get the full-size effect.

IMG_lg_1941An island, somewhere in the Spanish Main.  The terrain is a bunched up felt gaming cloth arranged over a commercial sea terrain mat, with some judicious use of real rocks and sand.  Simple, but eye-catching.

IMG_lg_1964Teddy-bear fur provided some fields of wheat.  Does wheat grow in the Caribbean?  Who cares? … this is Hollywoood, remember!

IMG_lg_1963This was a great excuse to drag out my home-made Napoleonic Peninsular War village, and the Perry civilians for that period.

IMG_lg_1962My Royal Navy longboat rows past a Dutch merchantman to battle the pirate invasion.

IMG_lg_1960The Renadra dilapidated barn kitset made a perfect boat-shed, just by adding some ladders and broken fences as ramps.

IMG_lg_1959To any small kids who viewed the table (and there were quite a few), I gave the mission of finding the pirate treasure.  Looking carefully, they would soon spot this cave …

IMG_lg_1958Outside the town the local garrison are on parade in front of the town worthies … little knowing that a pirate raid is eventuating beneath their very noses.

IMG_lg_1957The Dutch merchantman has now been overtaken by the navy boat as it heads round the point to engage the pirates.

IMG_lg_1955And whilst the pirates attack one side of the island, smugglers are busy on the other coast, moving their contraband inland on a convoy of wagons.

IMG_lg_1953The peaceful churchyard – one of two religious institutions on the island.

IMG_lg_1952And meanwhile the garrison continues its preening and parading in front of the ladies …

IMG_lg_1951… and the ladies continue their preening in front of the handsome officers.

IMG_lg_1950But some soldiers are hard at work at the fort on the point, firing the first shots at the pirate fleet.  The fort is a simple plastic toy I bought at a bring-and-buy.

IMG_lg_1949Some of the pirates have landed, disturbing a trio of young ladies who have been picnicking on the beach under the twirling sails of the (Grand Manner) windmill.

IMG_lg_1948The pirate fleet – including a scratch-built brig by my friend Scott, and my own converted Disney ‘Black Pearl’.

IMG_lg_1945If you look carefully, you’ll see a man praying at his father’s grave in the country churchyard.

IMG_lg_1944Another look at that fat Dutch merchantman – the fat ship, not the fat merchant!  This ship was originally a plastic toy in a boxed game, though it has been given a heavy makeover.

IMG_lg_1943Meanwhile the smugglers are making their way over the bridge and up to the village to dispose of their contraband.  The river, road and bridge are by Australian company Miniature World Makers.

IMG_lg_1940Here’s another look at those pirates landing on the beach, almost under the guns of the fort.

IMG_lg_1939The pirates’ flagship waits off-shore, ignoring the puny gun in the small fort on the point.

IMG_lg_1938One of the the lookouts in the fort tower is blowing the alarum trumpet.

IMG_lg_1937It’s a good thing this is Hollywood rather than History, otherwise that skeleton pirate would be right out of place.

IMG_lg_1936The table attracted a lot of interest right through the day, despite it being a static display.  The longboat is a terrific model by Britannia Miniatures.

IMG_lg_1935Here’s that boat-shed again.  You can also see how a sprinkling of real sand makes an effective touch.

IMG_lg_1934Life goes on in the the higgledy-piggledy village on the hill.

IMG_lg_1933Oh dear, they’re STILL parading.  Haven’t they heard the alarum yet?

IMG_lg_1932Nope, I guess not.

IMG_lg_1947Here’s a couple of the other games we put on … Scott and Paul did a great Flames of War game, with plenty of action.  They even had the screaming sound effect whenever the Stuka made an appearance.

IMG_lg_1946Stephen and Steve put on a lovely 15mm Seven Years War game.

Napoleonic naval landing party of sailors and marines

Lt Oratorio Porngrower RN (left) leads ashore a party of sailors and marines.   Keeping up with my return to painting ‘Big Men’ to lead my troops in skirmish games using the Too Fat Lardies’ Sharp Practice rules, I’ve just completed this 28mm naval officer by Brigade Games.  Though I’ve just realised I haven’t finished his basing!

Beside Porngrower is Lt Ffothering-Ffanshaw from the ship’s marine detachment.  He is a Foundry figure that I painted several years ago, but who has yet to see a fight on the tabletop.  This figure has to be one of my favourite ever Napoleonic figures – there is  something about his demeanour and posing that I love, and the marine uniform worn with blue trousers just looks so cool.

Here’s the whole party of sailors and marines wading ashore, all Foundry figures.  Click on the picture to see more detail. As with all my figures, the basing is not designed with any specific set of rules in mind.  But it should work fine for Sharp Practice, especially now I have some Big Men on their own separate bases.

A naval detachment obviously will need some waterborne transport, which is supplied by this Britannia Miniatures longboat and crew, also painted some years ago (again, click on the picture to get a lovely big view).   This model has also never seen the tabletop in anger, so will have to be somehow incorporated into my next Sharp Practice scenario game.

By the way, the background in the above photos is my actual back yard, and the water is clingfilm over a sheet of glass.

Next Big Man … er, Big Woman … to be painted will be the Warlord Games French cantiniere.