Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Colours Blazing Like the Sun

A troll through the spares cupboard turned up 2 each of Scruby's 40mm 1814 US Infantry advancing (lt looks like an all out, "I'll try sir"  bayonet charge to me but that's ok) and a figure wearing 1814 British uniform but listed as US Infantry on guard. Breaking out the paints I decided that samplers were in order.

Choosing a regiment that fought on the Lake Champlain front as well as Niagara, I went for the 9th US.

Scruby 40mm painted as 9th US.  Did I mention the great HE did some sculpting for Jack Scruby?

Turning to the Brits, I had to push down the urge to do the Royal Scots (I will be doing them in 1837 
uniform and don't want to duplicate any regiments) and selected the 8th or King's Regiment which saw much service.
Scruby 40's painted as 8th or King's Regiment in 1814

This particular figure, for some unknown reason, is one of my favorite wargame/toy soldier figures , any scale, any period. Odd really, its not my favorite uniform although I like the shako cords on the Belgic shako. When I was in my late teens I HATED the grey flannels that went with the blue blazer and would rather have worn my No 4 blues when off duty and I think some of that has carried over, not to mention the fiddliness of 1812 British lace.  But a slightly darker grey looks not bad  (and the latest research indicates the grey may have been much darker than once thought, the pale watercoulours that abound do not match the swathes of dark grey cloth that have come to light) and on these smooth figures, and in toy soldier mode, the lace was a snap (no trying to figure out what colour to paint the SIDE of a piece of heavily sculpted lace as thick at 1/43rd as the original at 1:1.).
1837 1st Foot on left, converted from a Zinnbrigade homecast French Napoleonic figure, one of my other al time favorites. Scruby 1814 8th Foot on the right

Anyway, the deed was quickly done and the result is a treat. I am mightly chuffed and glad that I've decided not to allow the chunky fellows to stop me from proceding. Its a pity I'm just not on with the single figure, big battalion game as a main course. These guys just call out for it but they'll look and feel just fine in their 18 man battalions whipping through 2 and 3 hour games.
Scruby, Perry, Sash & Saber, You pays your money and takes your pick.

Not using those big battalions does raise some issues though. One of the stickiest for me has long been the stand of colours issued to every battalion or to put in another way, there should be a flag for roughly every 200 to 300 men.

If you are using 48 man battalions, its simple  paint up a pair for each unit and it looks right. With 20 man units, a pair with each battalion means 1 man in 10 is  carrying a flag. Add in sergeants, drummers, officers and soon there are hardly any privates left and the army becomes a mere parade of colour guards. On the other hand, if you go with a realistic proportion of flags to men, your only army might only get one stand of colours.

In my 15mm, 12 man battalion days, I originally gave 1 flag to each battalion but then tried giving 1 battalion in each brigade its full stand of 2 colours and left the rest out. I'm still up in the air on this. My current 1812 units were designed as 36 man units including a pair of colours. The chunky 41st are being retired and the Fencibles have lost a  colour, well not lost, but the staff is broken and the King's Colour has been laid up. The much reduced battalion now marches under 1 flag but these are unruly Canadian volunteers anyway and shouldn't be regarded as a precedent.  I should confess that while I like flags well enough once they are done, I hate making 'em whether painting them, printing them or mounting ones that I wasted scant resources to buy. Maybe if.I liked making them, I'd be more inclined to turning my army into colour guards.

One option I am considering is mounting ensigns and drummer as single figures  and using them as either window dressing or some kind of markers. I seem to recall Bluebear Jeff using ensigns to mark the morale status of units for example.

Hmm, perhaps its time for a flag poll ?

A Loch Sloy original, the 3rd Ohio "Potsdam Giant" Volunteers amidst 2 Scrubies.


  1. Hi Ross,
    If you gave each bn. one national flag, would that increase your flexibility as far as re-designating a given unit to stand-in for another unit?


  2. Yes, Ross, I do use separate colour stands to indicate the unit's current morale.

    Depending upon how many different morale states your rules have, the colour stand can be in front of the unit, behind the unit, attached or separated from the unit, facing forward or to the rear (or even sideways) or any combination of the above.

    Pick what you think looks best for each morale state you have and use the stand as a "current status" indicator (not as figures "in" the unit).

    This works well and still looks good on the table top . . . certainly much better than those various colored markers I see in some photos.

    -- Jeff

  3. John, Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn't thought about that angle ( but then I like to call my units by "their proper name" even when they are subbing). Having now thought about it, for the US, there is so little hard detail known about the flags carried that they'll be made up anyway, for the Brits, the colours follow a pattern with the facing colour being the field of the regimental flag so it wouldn't matter which one I picked, the difference would be those regiments with unique badges instead of a wreath, and of course the numerals but my hand painted flags tend to be illegible anyway :) If I go with one flag, I'll probably alternate.

  4. Jeff, what do you do for units with no flag? If I go this route, I'm thinking about forming colour parties with a drummer and flag for line infantry and heavy cavalry. Light infantry and cavalry will have just a bugler or trumpeter.

    Anyway, a good idea so thanks.

  5. Your reluctance to give flags to units of twenty men is entirely understandable. I issue a pair of flags (or one eagle) per Charge! unit of my napoleonics. I haven't used flags when they are deployed as actual companies.

  6. Ross,

    I try to give my "line" units two flags on the "colour stand" (i.e., the morale indicator) . . . the regimental flag and the national flag.

    For my "converged grenadiers" I give them only one flag . . . the national one.

    For my artillery units, I use an "officer" and position him as necessary.

    Using a musician would work just as well.

    -- Jeff