EXERT 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

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Garden Wars

I wish this post was about playing in the Garden with Toy Soldiers but really its just to fill a void. Spring is always short in this corner of the continent but this year we seem to have gone from Winter straight to Summer with just room for Huzzah in between. So I've been mowing and sowing with some tilling and other associated yard and garden chores and precious little time and energy left over for wargames. Gotta be a rainy day soon!

Desert Warriors spy on a Red coat patrol investigating a report of a massive Dandelion encroachment.


Meanwhile, I have had moments to pick up reading  Camps, Quarters and Casual Places, a series of essays by 1870's war correspondent Archibald Forbes (free eBook from Amazon but well worth $20 or more) .  Most of the essays are interesting rather than directly useful to the wargamer, Christmas in an English Dragoon barrack, behind the lines during the Franco Prussian War, fishing in Scotland, a walk through Lucknow 20 years after, Bismarck, etc but one struck me today as worth the rest at this particular moment, an essay comparing warfare in the musket age vs the rifle age and a forecast of what it would be like as armies adopted magazine rifles, MGs and rapid fire artillery.

Suffice it to say that in the late 1870's he forecasts the tactics of 2nd Boer War and early WW1 very closely as well as predicting the strategic stalemate of the trench warfare 40 years in advance. But then he was a civilian, an observer and historian of wars and armies, not a soldier.

More than that, his much deeper and personal study of experience of current wars vs earlier ones confirm my much more casual conclusion that battles during the breech loading rifle age when weapons were more deadly, were less decisive, more drawn out and with fewer casualties  (ironically given the amount of lead flying about and occasional high local casualties when someone tried to ignore current realities). He backs this up with comparisons of similar events from sieges and battles as well as statistics but my point is I've been floundering over wargaming the period because of the same things that he describes.

The uniforms may be those of HG Wells and it may sound ideal but to be realistic a tactical game of the era will often include long stretches where lines of infantry lie down or entrench and shoot at each other, periodically interrupted as attempts to rush the defenders are shot apart. Hence the attraction of small wars, especially against "savage" enemies or battles as soldiers and correspondents told them or of listening to Lawford and Young and using rules for an earlier era regardless of how the soldiers are dressed.

15 comments:

  1. How fantastic to combine toy soldiers with gardening. If I tried that here I fear that 'her indoors' would have a fit - respect to you!

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  2. I am presuming that the Camels and the Redcoats are vastly different scale figures . . . and they give an absolutely wonderful feeling of distance. Very well done, Ross.

    Interesting observations as well.


    -- Jeff

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    1. Thanks Jeff, 54mm Britain's Arabs, 40mm Scruby Brits.

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  3. What sort of veg do you grow?
    I am fan of gardening and gaming- a combination which exists quite a bit in the hobby I feel.
    Although it was really chilly this week the seeds are sprouting and I am eyeing up the slabbed area between house and shed/summerhouse /yurt for some gaming.
    Alan

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    1. We're not into canning and cold rooms so mostly a mix of salad stuff that we can nibble on for months, lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cukes and some squash and pumpkins that will easily keep in the shell till mid winter and is easily cooked and frozen for baking. But usually a smatter of beans, corn, beets etc. and often some experiments. Plus fruits and berries.

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  4. Your last line there - "or of listening to Lawford and Young and using rules for an earlier era regardless of how the soldiers are dressed" - did strike a chord with me. It is tempting to have toy soldiers in H G Wells era uniforms lined up as if they were using rifled muskets, with no sign of machine guns, barbed wire etc.

    There is a kind of Red v Blue purity about it perhaps, well there is somewhere in my imagination anyway, or so I fancy :-)

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    1. I think so. Hard to get too picky about wars never actually fought. Or should be.

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  5. Nice post - I was thinking of phoning the Dandelion Helpline for counselling after seeing your picture, but then I reasoned that it is only right that the dandelions, like all successful life forms, deserve to be in their rightful place - which, as far as I am concerned, is thousands of miles from here...

    Thanks for the tip on the ebook - I shall check that out.

    Cheers - Tony

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    1. I think my tolerance for dandelions stems from hours of slave labor when I was young and assigned to assist in manual dandelionocide exercises. I've tried eating the greens without much success but I've heard the dried roots make a healthful tea. Its my best crop so I really ought to try.

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  6. That's a very clever photograph, thanks for the idea.
    Chris
    http://notjustoldschool.blogspot.co.uk/

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  7. Sounds like a most interesting book - I will pick up a copy, especially if free. Thanks for the tip
    Simon

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    1. Yes, I confess that there were one or 2 stories where I thought of you.

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  8. A really fantastic trompe d´oeil you present here - wonderful light, beautiful figures - I feel the heat of a desert skirmish. Bravo!
    Peter

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