My Napoleonic French artillery on parade

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Continuing my series of postings in which I’m undertaking an inspection parade of all the wargames figures I’ve collected and painted over the years, we now come to the Napoleonic French artillery to support the infantry and cavalry. These were mainly painted between 2002 and 2008.

The artillery contingent of my Napoleonic French army consists of three batteries, each with two artillery pieces.

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These Front Rank figures are painted in the blue uniforms of the Foot Artillery, though I have given a couple of the gunners different coloured trousers to indicate campaign conditions.

I found the best way of representing the bronze gun barrels was to leave them unpainted metal, but rub on and immediately wipe off several coats of brown ink. This eventually stains the metal a bronze colour, as well as picking out the cast-on detailing.

The gun carriages are painted dark green, with the metal work done in black and then dry-brushed with gun-metal silver. I had a few spare rammers and other tools, so I’ve glued them lying on the base underneath the guns.

One of my only criticisms of the superb  Front Rank gunners is that they are hard to arrange on their bases performing the same part of the loading and firing sequence. Thus you have the gun being loaded, but meanwhile one gunner is just about to touch the linstock to the vent!

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When I later added a Perry Miniatures Foot Artillery 6-pounder battery to my army, I was pleased to find that they sculpt sets of gun crew all performing a particular part of the sequence. The result is a lively action-packed base where you can tell exactly what’s happening at that frozen moment in time.

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Front Rank make this wonderful set of Horse Artillery of the Line, with the gunners in full dress, complete with huge red plumes and lots of braid. These lavish uniforms are fun to paint, and certainly look dramatic on the table.

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My artillery only has one limber model, mainly due to the expense of such intricate models that are ultimately not much use for wargaming purposes.

This is an old Hinchcliffe limber that I bought second-hand many years ago, but which then sat unloved and unpainted because I felt the figures didn’t match the look of my armies. But in 2014 I decided to paint it just to see how it would turn out, and was pleasantly surprised.

I kept my painting fairly simple, as the figures don’t really have much detail. The figures are also smaller and slighter than my Perry and Front Rank armies – but by adding a higher base than my normal style, this isn’t too obvious from a distance.

The horses also had rather odd anatomies, with very slender and high-slung bellies But once painted, this didn’t seem too noticeable either. On the other hand, the horse harness is simply superb. And the easy method of attaching the traces is something modern companies could emulate.

Previous ‘On Parade’ postings:

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Napoleonic French cavalry on parade

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Following on from the inspection parade of my Napoleonic French infantry, it’s the cavalry’s turn to be reviewed.

I painted most of these figures back in the early 2000s. You’ll see that some of them are painted in a simple block colours, because at that time I hadn’t yet learned how to use highlighting and shading!

As usual in my postings, you can click on the images to enlarge them.

12e Régiment de Dragons

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We the undersigned, administrative council of the 12th Dragoons, grant this certificate of “Congé Absolu” to Pierre van Dooren, trumpeter of the 1st Company of the 2nd Battalion, born 13 February 1787 in Weert, Department of the Meuse Inferieur. Height 170cms, brown hair, blue eyes, round forehead, broad nose, large mouth, no beard, round face, passbook number 1447.

Colonel-President Binach, Chef de Brigade Delacpeine, Captain Ribet

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When I found the above transcript of the discharge papers of my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Pierre van Dooren, I knew that I just had to have the 12th Dragoons in my miniature army. And one of the figures had to be a trumpeter to represent my ancestor.

Pierre entered the 12th Regiment of Dragoons on March 3, 1807, having left his hometown of Weert on February 12, 1807. With his regiment he was in Germany (1807- 1809) and Spain (1810-1813) before entering the final battle area in the northeastern part of France (1814). He was wounded in March 1814 and was recovering in hospital at Angers when Napoleon abdicated.

My miniature Pierre wears reversed colours from the other troopers (a crimson coat with green facings) in order to make him readily identifiable to his officers in this period when trumpeters might have to issue urgent orders in the midst of the smoke and turmoil of battle. He also has a white horsehair mane on his helmet rather than black, and rides a grey horse.

Of the twelve figures in my unit, two wear the bearskin hats and red epaulettes that denote the elite company, the equivalent of an infantry battalion’s grenadiers. The others have imposing copper helmets with black horsehair manes streaming out behind. The officer has a leopard skin turban round his helmet, whilst the troopers have brown fur turbans.

Because this unit is portrayed on galloping horses, I didn’t line them up straight on their bases. I have some horses racing slightly in front, while others lag behind. This gives a much more natural look to the speeding formation.

5e Régiment de Hussards

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For as long as I can remember, whenever I think of Napoleonic uniforms, the flamboyant hussars come to mind first. So I felt it was important to include a hussar unit in my miniature Napoleonic army. I bought these Front Rank hussars second-hand, and was initially disappointed that they were depicted in campaign uniform rather than in their exotic parade dress. But the end effect is still colourful and evocative of the era.

I decided to paint my unit as the 5th Hussars, based purely on the colours of their uniforms (especially the white pelisse and the red shako). Like my other cavalry units, the horses are painted in oils rather than acrylics, which gives a much more natural look.

As these figures are wearing the post-1812 uniform with the tall round shako, I had to look for an 1812-pattern flag for the eagle-bearer. I couldn’t find such a flag online, so in the end I made my own by converting a Warflag image. Strictly speaking, hussars at this time did not take their eagles on campaign, so my unit is incorrect in having an eagle-bearer.

Régiment de Lanciers de la Vistule

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These blue-coated lancers in Polish-inspired uniforms were part of the Vistula Legion which transferred to French service in 1808. In 1811 they became the 7th and 8th Chevau-Léger-Lanciers. Their most famous action was at Albuera where they charged Colborne’s infantry.

My 28mm Front Rank figures are wearing blue ‘kurtka’ jackets, except the trumpeter in reversed colours with a yellow kurtka. The square-topped hat, called a ‘czapska’, was typical of Polish units, both foot and mounted.

The miniature lances are from a New Zealand company – whose name presently escapes me. They are designed for ancient figures, so the lance-heads are not strictly accurate. However, they are strong – and very sharp!

The lance pennons are by GMB Design. The unusual flag is a home-made scan from a book by Terry Wise.

4e Régiment de Cuirassiers

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These are the only plastic cavalry in my army. The figures are beautiful, as you would expect from Perry Miniatures.

Plastic allows finer detail than metal (the plastic scabbards, for instance, are very intricate indeed). On the other hand, the casting method used with plastic means some things can’t be done as well as in metal, the most obvious example on these figures being the in-fill between the reins. But overall the effect of the plastic is a much ‘finer’ look than metal, I feel.

Two different sets of arms allow you to have the figures either waving their swords in the air, or shouldering them – I chose the latter, except for my officer.

I used my normal black undercoat method. The horses were all done with rubbed oils. And the figures were painted with the Foundry three-colour system.

I chose to paint this unit as the 4th Cuirassiers in aurora facings. The Perry kit also included flags, which are very nicely done in an almost GMB-like style.

1e Régiment des Carabiniers

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Usually I would not have an elite regiment like the 1st Carabiniers in such a small army. However, I could not resist these miniatures when they were offered to me at a very reasonable price as part of a second-hand deal. My initial plan was to paint them and then sell them, and with the proceeds buy a more appropriate cavalry unit. But with the time and effort I have lavished on painting my Carabiniers, in the end I couldn’t bear to part with them!

The two units of Carabiniers in the French army (so-called because they were armed with carbines when they were initially raised by Louis XIV) were considered the elite of the heavy cavalry. Until 1811 they wore blue uniforms with large bearskins. My models depict the later white uniform, complete with copper-plated cuirasses and elegant Grecian-style helmets.

I did the cuirasses and helmets using the same technique I use on gun barrels. I left the metal bare, which of course meant I couldn’t use spray undercoat as I usually do with my figures. I then brushed on and rubbed off GW Flesh Ink. Finally I highlighted the cuirasses by dry brushing them with metallic gold paint.

Visit my previous ‘On Parade’ postings:

My Napoleonic French on parade

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Continuing this series of postings in which I inspect all the wargaming figures I’ve painted over the years, we come to the largest army in my collection – the Napoleonic French.

‘Valeur et Discipline’ – valour and discipline. These words proudly emblazoned on their flags, the soldiers of Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched and fought their way right across Europe in a series of bloody wars during the first decades of the nineteenth century.

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In the early 2000s I began painting my own miniature Grande Armée for playing wargames. When I put lined them all up this week to photograph them for this posting – the first time I’ve ever had the whole army out at once – I was astonished at just how many I had actually painted!

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In this posting we’ll take a look at the most basic component of any army, namely the infantry. The cavalry, artillery and guard will be covered in later postings. Remember that you can click on the pictures to enlarge them to their full glory!

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There’s a very eclectic mixture of units and time periods in my army. Unlike many wargamers, I do not follow a historical order of battle when selecting units for my miniature armies. Instead, I go for the units that will look the best in my display cabinet and on the wargames table, by choosing those with the most interesting or colourful uniforms and flags.

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The above picture must be reminiscent of the enemy’s view of a French column bearing down on their lines, preceded by swarms of skirmishing voltiguers.

Following is just a small selection of the infantry regiments in my French army.

9e Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne

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As French infantry regiments of the Napoleonic period tended to wear very similar uniforms and carried flags that differed only in the wording, my selection was often based on the more colourful uniforms worn by the “têtes de colonne” (heads of column) – the drum-major, drummers, musicians and sappers who marched at the head of the column (as in the 9e Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne using Front Rank miniatures shown above).

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I decided to go the campaign dress way, as I thought they would look less rigid than all in full-dress. But I also threw in a few men in full-dress to add even more variety. So you’ll see some of my soldiers wearing patched multi-coloured trousers (one even has pink and blue stripes), and others with breeches and gaiters. They wear all sorts of headgear – shakos (a few with cords, others with cloth covers), bicornes, bearskins (with and without plumes), bonnets de police, and even a couple with no hats at all.

85ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne

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The Perry regiment above has an even greater campaign look. Each soldier is an individual, some in soft pokalem hats, others in shakos, some dressed in great-coats, and others in habit-vestes. I added even more variety by painting the greatcoats in different shades of grey, beige and brown. I had even more fun adding a patch or two, and even some ripped knees on the trousers.

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Actually, there’s a story to the above regiment. Back in 2005 my son and I were fortunate enough to take part with the recreated 85ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne in a reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo. So it was only natural that I chose to portray this regiment.

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The overall look I wanted was for a couple of tightly-packed ranks, followed by a supernumary rank of officers, NCOs, drummers and even a wounded straggler. I think this looks more realistic than putting those kinds of figures in the main ranks, which is what I’d done up till then with all my other units. It might mean a few more figures to paint per battalion, but not too many, especially with judicious use of lying wounded figures, which can take the space of one complete file.

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Perry Miniatures produce a set of casualty figures, which I have incorporated into my regiment. An officer caught swinging round as he is hit is one of the nicest figures I’ve ever seen, despite the morbid subject matter.

Infantry in waistcoat order

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As they were the main player in the Napoleonic Wars, any company that produces a range from that conflict has to include the ubiquitous French infantryman. But there is sometimes a certain sameness about many companies’ offerings – full dress uniforms, or campaign uniforms that are only barely different.

So when I saw an advertisement for a new range of 28mm French infantry who were not only in campaign uniform, but also wearing waistcoats rather than the more normal jackets, my interest was piqued. So off went my order to Companion Miniatures.

These figures aren’t just in their scruffy white waistcoats, but they also feature lots of different types of headgear, including covered shakos (some with neck-cloths), head-scarves and fatigue caps, civilian bicornes and straw hats.

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The command figures included an officer, NCO (who is wearing clogs!), standard bearer, second eagle bearer, sapper and drummer.  They are not in waistcoat order like their men, but I think this is probably quite realistic. The colonel is mounted on a donkey, which is a decidedly different touch.

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I noticed an odd thing while I was painting the Companion figures – some of the faces came out looking like famous people! Can you see former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, “Young Ones” star Nigel Planer, and actor John Thaw from “Inspector Morse” and “The Sweeney”?

Sadly, the bad news is that the company Companion Miniatures, to my knowledge, no longer exists. A real shame, as their figures were beautiful.

The Kapiti Fusiliers

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The two battalions above also have a story behind them. They’re the Kapiti Fusiliers Regiment. Never heard of the Kapiti Fusiliers Regiment? Well, that’s not surprising really, as it only exists in miniature. Read on, dear reader, and learn more …

It was ‘Fusilier’ Mike MacGillivray (an American member of the now-defunct Friday Night Fusiliers YahooGroup) who started it all, when in 2004 he posted:

“What if we collectively selected a line(s) of miniatures, each painted representations of ourselves … and forwarded them to New Zealand HQ, so that a ‘miniature battalion’ could be put created and based … to be used in Napoleonic wargames, and designated as ‘The Kapiti Fusiliers’.”

This proposal met with an enthusiastic response amongst the Fusiliers. Before long, we had enough companies to form not one, but two battalions of the Kapiti Fusiliers. They were painted by Fusiliers Michael MacGillivray, Mark Case and Phil Roberts (USA), Mark Temple and Chris Kendrick (Australia), Eric Veitl (France), and Peter Haldezos, Scott Bowman and Roly Hermans (New Zealand). A truly international regiment!

The Kapiti Fusiliers Regiment first ‘saw the elephant’ on 16 June 2007 in the Battle of Segensburg, the first in a short series of battles in a mini-campaign. The various recruiting sergeants from far and wide across the world were pleased to hear they behaved very bravely. The second battalion was so well-painted that a Russian regiment was so overcome at their finery that they took to their heels before contact was even gained – or at least that’s what we’ll believe was the cause of the rout!

Although the Kapiti Fusiliers Regiment is barracked in my display case, they don’t really belong to me, but to all the Friday Night Fusiliers who contributed.

15ème Régiment d’Infanterie Légère

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French light infantry considered themselves a cut above their brothers in the line infantry. Their uniforms, with blue trousers, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks, were were often further embellished with fancy epaulettes and tasselled gaiters. I loosely modelled the above light battalion on the 15ème Régiment d’Infanterie Légère, using Front Rank miniatures.

The musicians of the ‘tête de colonne’ are dressed in very colourful uniforms.  There’s also a black musician is wearing an exotic oriental costume and carrying an instrument called a ‘jingling johnny’.

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I’ve got another battalion of the 15ème Légère in my army, but wearing campaign-style uniforms rather than full-dress.

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The second battalion’s large green and red plumes and short hussar-style boots are packed away. These are again long-gone Companion Miniatures, so sadly you won’t see their like again.

Rest and relaxation

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As someone famous once said, an army marches on its stomach. And here to provide some of the sustenance (though the French generally had to live off the land) are a couple of cantinieres of the 15ème Légère.

The donkey cart is a New Zealand-made product from an old company called Wildly Inspired, though I have changed the medieval wheels for Hinchcliffe limber wheels. In the background is a wonderful supply wagon made by Perry Miniatures.

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Finally, it’s not always battle – there’s also time for my miniatures to relax and chat, as these Perry figures demonstrate!

Next posting we’ll look at my Napoleonic French cavalry.  We’ve also got artillery, generals and the Guard still to come as well …

See my previous ‘On Parade’ postings:

 

Colourful Napoleonic Spanish army on parade

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I’ve started a long-overdue inspection of all my wargames figures. After the Napoleonic-era British in my last posting, it’s now the turn of the Spanish. These were mostly painted from about 2003 to 2008.

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As with all my Napoleonic armies, I haven’t stuck to one particular order-of-battle, nor indeed to one particular year. So you’ll see my army contains units that never fought together at the same place or time.

My only criteria for a unit to join my army is that it looks good – and the Spanish certainly provide lots of scope for that. For example, just wait till you see the cavalry near the bottom of this posting!

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I painted these Front Rank figures as the La Princessa Regiment, wearing their pre-1808 uniform, as they would have appeared in General Romana’s expedition to Denmark to support the French. They can therefore fight on either side, as they mutinied in Denmark, were rescued by the British, and fought in the Peninsular War.

As they marched through Hamburg on their way to Denmark, they were illustrated by the Suhr brothers, and it is quite clear from their drawings that they wore a mixture of the older blue and current white uniforms. Therefore I painted some of the officers and the sapper in blue uniforms.

One particular feature of Spanish grenadiers were the ornately-decorated bags hanging from the backs of their bearskins. These were devilishly tricky to paint!

The brothers Suhr also showed the blue-checked trousers some men sported whilst passing through Hamburg – I dressed two of my soldiers in these. Plus I painted a few variations of breech and gaiter colours to give a campaign look to the regiment.

A shame, though, that Front Rank don’t model their Spaniards with cigarettes in their mouths, as this seems to have been almost a uniform item for Romana’s expedition!

Note the boy fifer. He is also modelled after Suhr, though Front Rank have increased his height – in the original Suhr drawing he appears no more than about one metre tall!

The flags are by GMB Designs, as usual for me. Unfortunately they did not produce the actual flags for La Princessa, but as the designs of all Spanish flags were fairly similar except for the small crests in the corner, I thought this would be close enough.

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These Front Rank Spanish are wearing the uniforms that were supplied by the British from about 1812 onwards. This can be seen in details such as the style of the shakos (though the coloured ribbons tied round them are a unique Spanish characteristic).

There is some conjecture as to whether Spanish infantry wore dark blue or light blue trousers – I opted for the latter as I thought they looked more colourful.

Spanish soldiers such as these formed the back-bone of Morillo’s division, which fought well in the latter parts of the Peninsular War.

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Cazadores were the Spanish light infantry. I’ve painted this unit in their post-1812 light blue uniform. As with most light troops in my miniature armies, I attached fewer figures on each base than for line infantry battalions, and mixed up the poses to give the effect of skirmishing.

The individually-based figure in the brown and yellow uniform is a Spanish officer figure from Brigade Games. I love his portly stature and casual stance. The sculpt appears to have been based on the Dennis Dighton portrait of Don Juan de Gonzalos, colonel of the Regimiento Imperiales de Toledo, right down to his bushy sideburns and his pose of smoking a cigarette (Spanish soldiers of the period were notorious smokers).

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In the Osprey book Spanish Army of The Napoleonic Wars (2) 1808-1812 there is an illustration of a soldier wearing a simple grey uniform that was supplied by the British in 1810. I thought this rather nondescript uniform might make a change from the more ornate Napoleonic uniforms I had hitherto painted.

I also got a bit brave with this battalion of Front Rank figures, having a go for the first time at swapping heads. If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see some of the soldiers are wearing civilian headgear which I chopped off some spare Front Rank guerillas. Even more daringly, I changed some feet so that a couple of the soldiers are now wearing espradilles (sandals), which also came from the guerilla figures.

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I’d always fancied a unit of Front Rank’s Spanish guerillas – they looked so enticing in their catalogue. So I finally treated myself, and, boy, was I pleased with them! These would have to be some of the nicest figures Front Rank have produced.

The detail is very well done – even the hairnets worn in some parts of Spain are faithfully reproduced.

The officer with the top hat is a particularly nice rendition of Jose de Espin, one of Don Juan Martin’s chiefs. This figure is based on a Dighton painting, right down to the deaths-head badge on his hat. The other officer is wearing a rather ornate older-style cazadore uniform.

I’ve also added a small baggage train for my guerilla band – they would make a great objective for a scenario-based game.

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The light blue facings of this dragoon regiment indicate that they are the Regimiento de Dragones de Almansa. When I started painting these, I initially thought that the yellow uniforms combined with the red plumes and blue facings would be too much of a ‘Noddy’ effect! But in fact they look splendid on the table.

The figures are 28mm Front Rank Figurines. I used Foundry’s triple paint-set of yellow shade, main and highlight, along with a coat of gryphonne sepia ink at the halfway-point.

The horses were painted using my usual oil-paint technique. This entails spray-painting the horses with rust-coloured car primer, then painting on black or burnt sienna oil paint, and immediately rubbing it off again with a tissue so the rust primer shows through – quick and dirty, but effective!

The flag is somewhat generic, being copied out of a flag book, then flipped to make the reverse side. So it doesn’t represent any real Spanish dragoon unit, but is near enough for my purposes.

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These Front Rank generals were painted years before I began experimenting with layering, so the colours are quite flat.

In the top picture, a couple of haughty Spanish general officers ride in front of the infantry. One general is wearing the full-dress red breeches.

And if red breeches weren’t colourful enough, that is nothing to the candy-coloured light green and blue uniform of the ADC! This figure is based on a Dighton print of Lt.Col. Lardizabel, aide to General Ballasteros.

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The Perry twins produce a couple of very nice sets of Spanish civilians, perfect for populating a village on the Peninsula or watching as their boys march off to battle. I particularly like the old woman in the traditional black dress.

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So there we have it – a small but varied Spanish army. It is probably too small, and lacking in artillery, to fight by itself. But it makes a good allied force with my British.

  • See the next inspection parade: Portuguese
  • See the previous inspection parade: British

Closure of massive Chunuk Bair diorama

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At 6.00 p.m. on Sunday 2 August 2018, Sir Peter Jackson’s The Great War Exhibition, including the massive Chunuk Bair diorama that I was so involved with back in 2015, closed its doors for the last time.

The Great War Exhibition was designed as a temporary exhibition, to be kept open for the duration of the First World War centenary, and to close some time after the November 11th Armistice Day ceremony in 2018.

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Featured in the exhibition was a huge diorama of the battle that took place at Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli peninsula in 2015. Around 140 wargamers from all over New Zealand worked in a team effort to paint the 5,000 specially made 54mm Perry Miniatures figures.

You can read all about this complex project in this downloadable Wargames Illustrated article.

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Fellow wargamer, and one of the project heads for the exhibition, Rhys Jones, attended the formal closing ceremony, where he spoke to the invited guests about the creation of the exhibition, including the diorama.

“The good news is that there is plenty of interest in parts of the exhibition, including the diorama, being moved to another location,” Rhys told me. “We remain positive that the diorama will again be on display in the near future.”

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Above: Rhys Jones, Sir Peter Jackson, and Alan and Michael Perry survey just a few of the thousands of 54mm figures painted by an army of volunteer wargamers during construction of the diorama in 2015.

The Great War Exhibition has been a real success, being the second-highest rated attraction in Wellington on TripAdvisor, after Te Papa. “We had also been offered to be put in Lonely Planet,” said Rhys, “but had to turn that down as we were closing.”

Mtantrum_2015_05_04_0180Above: Sir Peter Jackson makes some final adjustments before the offical opening in 2015.

Rhys was pleased that the exhibition had been such an impressive tribute to the soldiers of The Great War, and the Chunuk Bair diorama was a key part of that success.

“A (semi) final thank you to everyone who contributed to the creation of the diorama – be it painting and/or constructing the terrain. What an amazing effort to do all that in less than three months!”

There’s more information about the closure of The Great War Exhibition here and here.

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Revisiting a spectacular Battle of Saratoga game

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Some of the games I’ve played over the years really stand out in my memory. From time to time I’ll feature these old games here on my blog.  

This particular game stood out because of the amazing terrain and figures.  To my eye, this was a convention-grade game, but played in a garage! I never recorded the date this game as played, but it would be a good decade or two ago now.

This game impressed me so much at the time that I even put together a website about it, from which I’ve copied the following text and pictures.  Much to my surprise, the site still exists – thought my amateur hand-coded HTML doesn’t seem to have preserved the formatting too well.

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Before the storm.

The year is 1777 – General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne’s expedition to cut off New England from the rest of the rebellious American states has reached the clearing of Freeman’s Farm. The lines of redcoats form up around the farmstead, whilst a redoubt has been rapidly thrown up on their right. They steadfastly await the Americans advancing from out of the woods in front of them.

Myself and two other New Zealand wargamers, Paul Crouch and Steve Sands, had recently bought a copy of the British Grenadier rules, and we were determined to try them out. One Sunday afternoon the three of us finally managed to get some time off together, and this is the game that ensued.

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British lines around Freeman’s Farm.

This closer view of British redcoats from General James Inglis Hamilton’s brigade around the farmstead shows some of the amazingly detailed 28mm miniature soldiers and terrain owned by Paul.

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British redoubt.

The scenario rules for this battle state that the troops of Brigadier-General Simon Fraser’s brigade can only leave the confines of their redoubt on the British right after a throw of double sixes. “I never get double sixes,” says Steve, throwing the very first dice of the game – you guessed it, double six!

So Fraser’s light infantry and an artillery piece emerge from the redoubt in the first move of the game, throwing the American plan into disarray before they even start moving.

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Poor’s columns advance down the road towards the waiting British.

On the American side, Roly commands General Enoch Poor’s brigade of infantry and artillery. The scenario calls for them to enter by a road on the left of the American position. But instead of heading diagonally towards the British (visible in the distance in this photo), the threat of Fraser’s troops making their sortie out of the redoubt means that the Americans have to change their orders to make a right turn and form their lines more to the centre.

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The American advance in the centre.

Poor’s brigade has now been joined by that of General Ebenezer Learned, played by Paul. Meanwhile, General Benedict Arnold and his aide can be seen in this photo, directing the commencement of the assault on the British line. Unfortunately, another double six means that Arnold is lightly wounded, and so has to temporarily leave the table.

You can also see the amazingly realistic ground-cloth that Paul inherited from the late Jim Shaw. Thrown over a piece of carpet underlay, which in turn is draped over strategically placed objects, it gives a realistic rolling ground effect.

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The British line awaits the onslaught.

After moving their line back slightly to form a better defensive position around the farm, the British lines stolidly await the American attack, with some loyalists skirmishing to their front. The redcoats’ objective in this scenario is to hold the farm position.

All the figures used in this game belonged to Paul. They included castings from Front Rank, Foundry and Perry Miniatures. The exquisite flags were mainly by GMB Design.

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The lines close.

Slowly, inexorably, the American lines advance towards the British. Because of the extended maneuvering that Poor’s brigade has had to do to avoid Fraser’s light infantry and artillery, it takes quite a while to reach this stage of the game, so we “fast-forward” at this point by doubling a few moves to bring the troops into action.

Movement distances in British Grenadier are randomised, and generally must be taken the full amount. This makes coordinating an attack quite difficult, but true to the period.

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Charge!

Finally the first regiments of the assault charge forward.

The mounted officer in the background is not just for show. These rules have an innovative system where units earn ‘disruption points’ from movement, firing and melee. The more such points, the harder it is to do anything. Generals can help units shake off these points, but only one unit per move, so they have to pick and choose. Thus mounted officers realistically gallop to and fro all over the battlefield.

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The second American line in support.

American troops in hunting shirts form the second line.

Under these rules, an attack needs to be well supported, as the disruption points can cause havoc to the first line. On the other hand, you don’t want the second line too close, as they have to move their full distance, so can actually collide with the rear of the first line, causing even more disruption!

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The British line holds.

The American regiment on the far left has defeated a British battalion and forced it back. But the British battalion on the right holds out valiantly, whilst General Burgoyne dashes up to bolster its defence. Here yet another double six is thrown, but Burgoyne survives and it is his ADC who is killed.

In the foreground are Colonel Daniel Morgan’s riflemen and light infantry, who have been in front needling the British lines all during the big American assault. Now they can pull back out of the way to let the line infantry do their job.

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The Hessians arrive.

The Americans have only succeeded in pushing back one British unit, when to their right they hear the beating of drums as Baron von Riedesel’s Hessians arrive on the battlefield, thus extinguishing any hope of the Americans forcing the British out of the Freeman’s Farm position.

So in our game the British win. This would possibly have had a major effect had this happened in the real battle. It was the British surrender at Saratoga that finally induced the French to take part in the American War of Independence. In our game, this might not have happened ….!

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Map of the battlefield.

This overview of the battle shows how the game progressed. You can see where Fraser’s men issued out of the redoubt at the very start of the game, and how they forced Poor’s brigade to make some complicated manouevres instead of directly attacking Hamilton’s position. Meanwhile, the British backstepped to form a better defensive line closer to the farm, and then the subsequent huge American assault on the centre took place. Right at the end of the battle, the Hessians arrived on the British left to cement their victory.

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The players – Paul Crouch (Generals Learned and Arnold), Roly Hermans (General Poor) and Steve Sands (British/Hessian), all members of the [then] Kapiti Fusiliers Historic Gaming Club in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.

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Paul’s son Rylan enjoyed the game too!

 

What I did on my holiday

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This blog has been quiet over the last five or six weeks because I’ve been away overseas on holiday.  For the most part, our trip to England, Scotland, the Netherlands and Italy was a non-hobby related holiday that readers will probably not be too interested in –  but there were a couple of moments of wargaming interest.

The first such moment was an overnight stop in the centre of the UK’s (if not the world’s) wargaming industry: the city of Nottingham. There we met up with Alan and Michael Perry, whom I had last worked with in New Zealand on the massive Chunuk Bair diorama project.

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We were able to visit Alan’s wargaming room, with its magnificently terrained table, overflowing display cases, gorgeous battle paintings, and antique militaria.

I even sat on the couch where much of their prolific sculpting is done!  To my readers’ probable disappointment, I was so star-struck at finding myself at the very epicentre of our hobby that I forgot to take many photographs – what you see above is all that we took!

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We were honoured with a sneak peek at the Perrys’ latest project, TravelBattle (a complete wargame in a box). They showed us the original one-off prototype of this game that they had made many years ago (sorry, once again I was too flabbergasted to take a photo!), and which they were now designing as an innovative new product in their range.

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There were a couple of sociable meals with the Perry twins – the first at their local watering hole, the very atmospheric and old ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’ pub; and the other at a French restaurant with the two Mrs Perrys.

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The other (sort of) wargaming moment was to almost meet Sander van der Ster of May ’40 Miniatures in the Netherlands. My wife and I hadn’t scheduled to visit the Netherlands on our holiday, but the sudden passing of two elderly aunts in Holland meant a quick re-jig of our plans so that I could attend the funerals. This put me within range of a possible meeting with Sander.

However, whilst I ended up only a town or two away from Sander, there were just too many family commitments for me to get sufficient time to travel the final few kilometres to have that face-to-face meeting.

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But Sander did manage to post my order of  his first release of WW2 Dutch figures to where I was staying in the Netherlands, thus saving me a lot of postage costs to get it to the other side of the world. I’ll report more on these figures in a future posting, after I have got over my jet-lag sufficiently to really examine them closely!

Finally, a curiosity (non-wargaming related) from our trip: take a look what happened to the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I photographed it!

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