EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Monday, February 28, 2011

Restarting the War of 1812

No, I'm not planning to invade the US in search of warmer weather!  Mind you as March approaches I'm getting a bad case of cabin fever. We didn't get a lot of snow this year but it snowed often.

February's last hurrah as March steals in on Lion's feet, the weather forecast was calling for rain.........
My interest in the War of 1812 goes back to the 60's when I read D. J. Goodspeeds "The Good Soldier: the Story of Isaac Brock" but it wasn't till I was casting about for a suitable 54mm project in 1996 that I first put it on the table. At Cold Wars 2008 I staged the battle of Chateauguay using With MacDuff to the Frontier, newly published in the Courier. In 2000, several of us from the Littlewars yahoo group staged a "bring your own" 54mm battle of Chippewa. It was during the preparations for this game, when I was obsessing about uniform details, that my good friend Charley enlightened me with his comment "a shako is a shako".  We opened the game to virtually any toy soldier with a muzzle loader and a shako or broad brimmed hat,  and had a great time.  
The Battle of Chippewa at Cold Wars 2,000.

By 2004 I was dabbling with "Morschauser Meets MacDuff" which worked well with the 54's but I had gotten into 54mm with the old metal Britain's toy soldiers in mind, not the new plastic figures and besides, my 6'x10' was longl gone.

 The last hurrah: Crysler's Farm in 54mm
 Voltigeurs, Mohawks and a B'ar in the woods
 A very young Billy Russel interviews John Chrysler.

In 2005 Sash & Saber released their 40mm British Napoleonic infantry and I turned 50 and bought the farm (ok an old farmhouse technically and not a farm). I decided to restart the project and do the War of 1812 in 40mm, starting with the initial skirmish at River Canard and going through to Cooke's Mill. I bought some S&S, got sculpting and casting and staged River Canard at Cold Wars '06.  

Then I finally found my perfect toy soldier/wargame compromise when Dick Larsen showed me his shiny Scruby 40's. As soon as Mike at Historifigs released Scruby's War of 1812 range, I ordered some and loved them but like the preceding, defunct Schleswig Holstein War, I found myself with 2 incompatible figure styles and ground to a halt. I didn't/don't want to paint more chunky, matte detailed figures, I want to paint slim glossy toy soldiers, but what to do with the existing figures? 
A burley S&S Sergeant tells a petite Scruby Canadian light infantryman, "where to go".  

In a pinch, I'll mix just about anything on the table, but I get more pleasure out of it if the figures are all of  a complementary style. Its not just height and bulk and a coat of glossy paint just doesn't turn a chunky figure with exaggerated detail into a Toy Soldier. There is a lot of synchronicity between the War of 1812 and the 1837 Rebellions, particularly if one keeps the "shako is a shako" maxim  in mind and I had planned to use my 1812 Americans and militia in my rebellion/Aroostock War games. Instead, I put the War of 1812 on the back burner and decided to shift west to Oregon in 1845 and pit glossy Mexican-American War US troops against glossy Sikh War British instead. 
Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia face 1812 American Volunteers
 or is that a group of 1837 Patriotes and some American "Hunters"? 

 Today's clever thought was to leave the chunky guys singly based for early war skirmishes while using Scruby and homemade toy soldiers for late war battles up to and including 1837 where they will overlap with the 1840's troops. This means I can paint larger armies than I can use for my fictional wars and indulge in some 1837 British in Bell Shakos while still building a matched pair of armies for re-creating actual battles from my country's history.  I  may eventually sell off the chunky regulars (should have sold the US guys before S&S released their own proper ones!), but in the meantime, they and the Indians and militia can sit on the shelf and provide a skirmish game option. 

40mm Scruby Canadian Select Embodied Militia with some homecast officers


  1. I love the slim shiny look, never tire of seeing the pictures.

    I've found that if I relegate or park figures to one side for "skirmishes" (which I rarely play), what it really means is that I no longer like them but I'm not quite ready to get rid. A time-wasting ritual possibly, but it seems to be a necessary stage, especially with figures I've painted myself.

  2. I love the look of the older, slimmer figures. As regards compatibility, if you can live with it - well they're your toys! Oh and I agree with Charley's comments on shakos.

  3. Steve, that about sums it up, a trial separation?
    Luckily the Indians and some of the US Militia can join my small collection of chunky AWI troops. As for the 3rd Ohio which was the 1st horse & musket unit entirely cast from my own master, well, they're just verrrry tall, I may gloss coat them. I wonder if there's a town of Potsdam in Ohio?

    Conrad, Hurrah for us! Lots of Irish there too. On both sides!

    Tim. I can live with it, it's liking it that's the problem. You scruffy lot with the big heads, defaulters at 1!

  4. Hi Ross,
    there is a Potsdam, Ohio, but it's just a speck on the map -- about 10 miles from Dayton, maybe 30 miles from where I was born.

    Why Potsdam?


  5. John, My 3rd Ohio are toy sodlieris so should fit in with the Scrubies etc but through inexperience they ended up taller than I intended when sculpting them. They stand head and shoulders taller than the rest.

    Frederick William I of Prussia had a famous regiment, "Grand Grenadiers of Potsdam" known as the Potsdam Giants as the minimum height requirement was 6' 2" tall.

    Alright then, from now on the 3rd Ohio shall be nick named the Potsdam Giants