It was while clearing the table after the last game that I found myself contemplating HG Well's Red and Blue armies and looking at the mix of uniforms on my table. To the uninitiated, one might well expect the red coated cavalry to be on the same side as the red infantry and the artillery in dark blue jackets and light blue pants to be on the same side as the cavalry and infantry in dark blue jackets and light blue pants. Well enough for historical games or even fictional games where one has selected a particular historical army as a model and such diversity is found in the historical prototype. It can also be useful, even in a fictional setting, to have a unit or 2 that one can trot out on occasion, especially where one wants to introduce the possibility of mistaken identity. For fictional toy soldier armies, however, there is a lot to be said for a strong national identity so that anyone looking at the game can easily tell which side is which. For this the 19thC French, Prussian, Russian or Federal American armies provide a better model than the British Army, especially if the various Volunteer and Yeoman units are considered. In HG Well's case, its hard to be sure by looking at somewhat blurry B&W pictures, but he seems to have pitted Household Cavalry, Heavy Dragoons, Guards, Fusiliers, Highlanders and Line infantry in serge vs Horse Guards, Lancers, Hussars, khaki clad infantry, marines and all manner of foreigners to form 2 distinct Red and Blue (or Not Red to be more accurate) Armies..
A scene from last winter's Portable Wargame refight of Hook's Farm
It seems to me that if I were to break up the historical national armies, add more non-British and non-American uniforms and even some made up ones, then it might be easier for the armies to begin to develop their own identities. In the unlikely case that I introduce a non-historical or at least non-horse and musket wargamer to my game, it will also be easier for them to grasp the two armies. With the decision to stay with individual figures, it will also be easy enough to provide alternate colour parties with either fictional or historical flags so that units could be borrowed for a public historical game if needs be. There are a few units, such as the Director General's Body Guard, which have developed a history over the last 4 years and thus will have to be retained as is or else be subjected to that common historical ritual, the issue of new pattern uniforms but by and large its mostly about going forward. I think I will also indulge myself and use this major shake up and expansion to jump forward to October 1851. This is around the era that I was originally planning to set the campaign (based then on the 3 Years or Schlieswig Holstein War). This will allow me to choose to introduce more rifles if desired as well as make increased use of technology, such as steam engines, more plausible.
Mark I Prototype Oberhilse Army
Oberhilse .is as it always has been, the Blue army with Infantry, cavalry and artillery all in Dark Blue coatees and shakos for Full Dress, bearskins for the Grenadier Guards, but with light blue or grey shell jackets and caps in the field when appropriate. Tunics and spiked hats have been introduced into the guard and may spread. The Red Coated Peipur "Tiger" Dragoons will probably be retired to the War of 1812 where they came from but kept as an optional Volunteer Unit if a surprise/confusion unit is needed. Oberhilse is most likely to include contingents of non-uniformed "European" volunteers.
A 2008 shot of Red Army artillery and cavalry. The only thing Red about them is the General's coatee , the lancers penents and the Horse Artillery plumes and facings!
Faraway of course, is the Red Army. The infantry will remain Red with rifle units in dark green, coatees and shakos for full dress, shell jackets and caps sometimes worn in the field. The artillery however, is about to abandon dark blue and adopt red or possibly green jackets. except for the FTC Horse Artillery Rocket Battery. This unit's historical uniforms are so unlikely that I think they would loose all credibility if repainted red or green so their red plumes will have to proclaim their allegiance. At least they are unlikely to be confused with any enemy unit. Depending on how painting goes over the future, the full dress Horse Artillery uniforms may be saved for special occasions and a more modern service dress adopted in the field. For some years now, I have been planning to add red coated, helmeted dragoons and they are next on my list. For now the DGBG will keep their dark blue uniforms but they may be issued red jackets at some point in thr future. More light cavalry in green are also planned, maintaining the "light troops in green" motif set by the Rifles and Larsen's Lancers. Non-uniformed units in the Faraway army are most likely to be native allies. .
2008 Mark II Oberhilse Army.