Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Life and Times of Brigadier Zinn

I know, they are just little metal or plastic figurines but some wargame figures just do seem to take on a character of their own. It may start with us embellishing stories,  attributing to them decisions made by us on their behalf or remarking on the way the dice seem to smile or frown upon certain characters or units but in the end does it matter how it started? Some little guys just seem to end up with a tale of their own.

Brigadier Zinn is one of those.

(For the curious, this famous officer is represented on my table top by a 40mm Zinnbrigade casting of a 1900 Prussian officer, suitably converted in 2007 and again this morning. His brigade was recruited principally from Historifig (Scruby) ACW figures now being restored) 

Brigadier Zinn in 1875  with a detachment of the Oberhilse 2nd Infantry.
Note that his hair and mustache have gone grey and he is wearing the new Republican uniform inspired by the dark blue of the old Republican Guard as well as one of the new small caps copied from Hougal volunteers.
There is no record of Brigadier Zinn's early career in the army but in "The Rattle of Dice: Memoirs of a Frontier Soldier" by General M. Ross Ret'd  (click here) he is mentioned as being the Major in charge of the Oberhilse Field Force artillery at the Battle of Blast Off Ridge in 1838. This was the opening battle of the Origawn War which lasted until 1845. There was a rapid expansion of the army and the  contribution of the artillery under his command during that battle must have been noted. In the days of the old Oligarchy, the notice of the Council was all that was needed and with a few months there is photographic evidence of him leading the Oberhilse Field Force's First Brigade at the Battle of Wye.  Soon the name of Brigadier Zinn appears in battle report after battle report, often credited with saving the day and even more famous for the number of wounds he has suffered at the head of his men.
Brigadier Zinn wearing the old uniform at the head of the OFF 1st Infantry in 1843.
Between the end of the Origawn War and the outbreak in 1875 of the Intervention, the first of a series of wars now known collectively as the Twenty Year's War, Oberhilse  went through a tumultuous time which included the over throw of  the Oligarchy and the Declaration of the Republic of Oberhilse. Brigadier Zinn was one of those military officers who did their duty and stayed out of politics. The result was that he maintained his position but lost favour with the new government and with favour, all chance of promotion. 

Thus it was that at the outbreak of War, mere months before his 50th birthday, he found himself  once again marching to battle at the head of the Oberhilse First Infantry Brigade.  "Hooray for Papa Zinn!" was the cry in the streets and in the papers.

PS. It has come to my attention that Brigadier Zinn had a son George who followed in his foot steps in the Oberhilse Artillery as can be seen here

"Hallo young George, come up for the races have you? Well, I suppose I should be calling you Lieutenant Zinn now shouldn't I? congratulations on graduating young man. and smartly turned out too. What's this nonsense in the papers about this so called service dress? Why, when your daddy and I campaigned in the Origawn Territory, we did so with boots properly blacked and brass shining. No batman worth his salt would have let it be otherwise."


  1. Replies
    1. Yes and I'm glad I figured out how to keep him in the game.

  2. It's cool to have a history (for certain personages, as well as for units and nations).

  3. I totally agree about the unique character of Brigadier Zinn and I am glad to see his tabletop military career recognised.
    I was fortunate enough to have him under my command during the Oberhilse Peninsula Campaign in which he served with distinction. In fact, I am convinced that the great casualties inflicted on the enemy cavalry in the early encounters, by the brigade under his command, sealed the fate of the whole campaign.
    A great soldier who earned a place in the Old School Wargaming History.

    1. He did well but I tend to give much of the credit to his commander in those battles.

      Who knows? His best days may still be ahead.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I see you have removed your comment but thanks, I named him off the cuff based on the name of the company who made the mold but it's good to know there were real ones in blue and it seems that they were of similar quality.

  5. It's always a nice touch to track the "personal" history of some figures in your wargame collection. In my collection, there's a whole family bearing the same name and whose lineage goes from the middle-ages all the way to commanding starships. Some generations ended up on "the wrong side" of history, which gives the figures much more character.

    1. Great idea. I had forgotten that I threw in a picture of Brigadier Zinn's son in a post a few years back. I should build on that. Thank you!