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

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Officer on Parade

This seemed like a good time to finish a proper commander for the Fort Henry Guard.
(Note to self: You really do need to harmonize the basing size, style and colour for this collection.)

This figure began life as a Trooper in the Life Guards. Somewhere around 1971, a youthful me converted him into a 1900 Canadian infantry officer in dress white spiked helmet based on an illustration in a book. More recently he has served on the tabletop as Colonel Marten but the helmet style just didn't fit so I decided that it should be replaced. I wanted to keep as much of his nearly 50 yr old repaint as possible so just swapped his plastic Eyes Right helmet for a homecast FHG Shako and repainted his lace silver instead of gold.

A new head warrants a new name and so henceforth he shall be known as Colonel Ross.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Also Standing on Guard

This unit is in honour of the thousands of Black Canadians who have volunteered and served over 3 centuries. I have previously mentioned P.O. William Hall VC who was born and buried across the Avon River from where I live but there have been many more.

Pioneers stand by as the new Officer of Engineers ponders what to do.

During the first half of the 19th C Black volunteers were particularly useful for border guards as British troops tended to contain too high a perecentage of men who were attracted by the prospect of life in the US. This was much less attractive to men who ancestors had arrived in Canada as Loyalists and/or escaped slaves.

The Black volunteers also tended to be used to hard labour and performed as well with axe and shovel as they did with rifle and musket.

This unit was inspired by the Black Pioneer Company raised in York County in New Brunswick at the time of the Aroostook ''War". Black Pioneer units remained a feature of the Canadian Army right up to the end of WWI. By WWII all units were integrated.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The heat of the Winter sun brings War to Oerberg!

The Railway Battalion closes on the enemy.

We have received the following dispatch from Oerberg where Her Majesty's forces have clashed with those of the Republic of Oerberg.
The sudden incursion of  foreign troops onto the hot dusty Oerberg plain came as a complete surprise to all, however, the advanced state of the National Railway allowed a force to be quickly thrown forward to stop the enemy from crossing the Little Phoam River at Blasthof.
The situation at dawn.
Oerberg forces under Soubise to the right or South,
 Faraway or Allied troops under Cornberg to the left.
This force, consisting of the Railway Battalion, 3 battalions of Foreign Volunteers and a squadron of the Frontier Constabulary backed by Long Li, was under the command of Field Commandant Willie Soubise, the spitting image of his uncle, Old Cords himself.

The foreign invaders appeared to be a coalition force of Faraway and Hougal troops under the command  of Major-General Cornberg wearing the Queen's uniform. The usual suspects were present, a Naval Landing party with a 4.7", a squadron of Larsen's Lancers and a battalion of Ross's Rifles but they were backed by a Battalion of Victoria Rifles, a battalion of Hougal's Foreign Legion and a squadron of their Chasseurs.

Allied cavalry seizes the bridge, then keeps going. (Dismount? Never!)

General Cornberg seemed to be driving them hard in an attempt to secure the bridge and they did not slow down at the appearance of the Oerberg forces. Soubise on the other hand appeared to have frozen at the sight of the enemy although he later explained that the halt as part of his clever plan to deceive the enemy and draw them forward into a trap.   

The silence, broken only by the thunder of hooves and blaring of bugles, was uncanny. However, as the Chasseurs thundered over the bridge, Soubise nodded and the Oerberg gunners sprang into actions. At the second salvo from Long Li, the Chasseurs scattered and fled towards the Lancers leaving dead and wounded men and horses behind.

It was like something I'd read long ago, at any rate the bugles sounded Charge! and my eye was drawn back to the battle.

Soubise now sent his infantry fording the shallow river to hold the Northern edge of the bridge while the gun and constabulary held the Southern edge, from a safe distance.  Another lull ensued with the 4.7" apparently stuck in the mud with the sailors heartedly wishing that they had been allowed to confiscate some ox teams while the the infantry of both sides trudged slowly forward and the allied cavalry rallied and formed up for a brigade charge on the Constabulary who had occupied a low hill overlooking the bridge.

Soon enough the infantry on both sides were deployed and the rattle of rifle fire dominated the field, punctuated by an occasional BOOM from the guns. It was rather curious that though both sides had a strong interest in holding the bridge, neither appeared to send any troops to seize it. While Cornberg seemed  too eager to close with the enemy to worry about objectives beyond destroying the ememy, Soubise just appeared happy to survive and hope the enemy went away. 

Eager as always to be at the enemy, Cornberg managed to push his battalions forward  one at a time, later claiming that the terrain was less open than it looked and that there were communication problems due to the lack of translators. This later was curious as the Foreign Legion is well known for its ability to find someone in its ranks to speak any language known in Atlantica.
The Foreign Legion advances to the rear through Ross's Rifles.

At last Cornberg could stand it no longer and ordered his cavalry to drive the enemy off the ridge forthwith. The Chasseurs, hit by intense  artillery fire as they formed for the charge, could take no more and the last man was seen scampering from the field but the Lancers spurred uphill and fought the enemy to a draw. Falling back to reform for another charge, they also were caught by Long Li, which the gunners were slowly dragging forward, and reduced to a mere handful.

The repulse of the Allied cavalry.
The thunder of the hooves and the explosions of the shells appear to have driven the river from its course) 
The result was inevitable with battalion after battalion falling back in disorder before rallying while the Oerberg line slowly followed up maintaining a tight formation.

The Allied tide ebbs.
When Ross's Rifles crumbled, Cornberg acknowledged the growing hopelessness of the situation and signalled for a general retreat.  Even the passive Soubise could not fail to secure the bridge without opposition.


We have been endeavouring to find out more but apparently our correspondent has decided to take a short sea voyage for his health. 

What we have ascertained is that there were no fatalities amongst the casualties who are all being well looked after, it seems it was indeed a Gentleman's War.


  Coming soon to a book seller near you:
A Gentleman's War
A treatise on how small wars should be fought by well known adventurer Howard Whitehouse. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Gentlemanly Diversion.

The plan for this afternoon was to finish assembling my Canadian/Faraway 54mm pioneers  but.....
First blood! 
(I need to move my lamp back upstairs so I can dispel the gloom and get sharper pictures again.)

Its been two years now since I played Howard Whitehouse's "A Gentleman's War" at Fall In!. Since then I've had the pleasure of expressing opinions etc on line but despite good intentions had not actually gotten around to playing a test game at home. I'll skip the long list of excuses and just say that I finally realized that I had figures I could use by a quick melding of small units and set to.

I wanted a small, trusted, scenario, Blasthof Bridge came immediately to mind. For reasons that have nothing to do with the rules, I decided to try laying with 1/2 ranges on a 3ft x 3ft playing area.

The layout: Faraway with some Hougal auxiliaries as the Imperial forces on the near side of the river, Oerberg with some Foreign "Volunteers" from Oberhilse as the Elector's army on the Farside of the river.
The basic rules are fairly traditional, I won't use the term Old School as I no longer know what that means. They are not strict on organization but typical units are battalions of 12 infantry, regiments of 6 cavalry and one gun batteries. I did my best translation of the original forces to this format and followed Soubise and Kornberg's plans and have been trying to role play their personalities. 

Faraway (Imperial) forces deployed.
(3 x12 infantry, 2x6 cavalry, 1 gun)

The sequence of play is card driven with variable length moves based on rolling a number of dice like TS&TF and MacDuff to the Frontier etc however the card activation has a number of twists that introduce a second level to the game. Certain cards have special abilities, group moves etc while a hand of "Hold" cards can be used to allow reactions or extra moves and so on. Above all, Jokers trigger various special events and their appearance is the closest thing to "a  turn".

Oerberg (Electoral Army).
4 x 12 infantry, 1 battery, 1 x 6 cavalry

Combat is by rolling 1 die per X figures needing N to hit depending on range and other modifiers followed by saving throws and sometimes a morale check. Special unit characteristics add all sorts of tweaks which I'm skipping for now for simplicity.

Where the game paused for the night. 
(The red and blue markers indicate units that have acted so far this ... round..for that side)
After about an hour of playing and looking things up, I had to stop for the night. The Queen's cavalry have just crossed the bridge and, as in the original game, have been hard hit by the enemy artillery. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Meanwhile, for your 19thC Central/Eastern European Wars viewing pleasure

A link on FB to a youtube video led me to another video.... I don't speak Hungarian or Romanian but I do speak movie clips about mid-19thC battles. 

Lets start with 1877:

I love the bugler, movie character or historical heroine?

and for those who are Hungary for more, we go back to 1848:

Next best thing to painting figures and playing a game.....

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hurry up and Wait

If anyone is wondering if the shortage of posts recently is a sign that I'm still having trouble finding quality hobby time....
Pioneers in waiting.
...yes, yes it does.

But not for long!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

McAlpine's Fusiliers

Here is the latest Irish unit to join the Rebel camp, a unit of Pioneers/Sappers calling themselves "McAlpine's Fusiliers".

Major McAlpine and his company of Sappers.

I was torn between sticking with the plan of simple Britain's style toy soldiers in neat and tidy uniforms or a more realistic Ragged Reb look with battered slouch hats and blanket rolls using my "looks like Imrie Risley copies to me" moulds and no two figures dressed the same but in the end I decided to stay on track.

I turned to the Miniature Moulds copy of a British Guards Pioneer with a head swap. One figure swapped his axe for an Airfix shovel and another was given a rifle to remind folks that  these pioneers are armed and can fight. I also included an Engineer who is marching with the men instead of reading  a map or similar.

Originally I intended to base them on two bases each with two figures like I have done with Irregular sharpshooters but since the Sappers fight like infantry when not undertaking specialist chores like building or blowing up bridges, I decided to base the three sappers like infantry with the engineering officer mounted separately as a character.

The original McAlpine's Fusiliers were, of course, not a military unit but merely a sarcastic nickname for Irish navies working for Sir Robert McAlpine's company on various construction projects in England. Hard work, poor pay and living conditions but better than nothing. Mine will live a life of luxury in comparison, especially since I roll dice instead of shooting at my toy soldiers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Where do you want him Doc?

This lot has been improperly stored for most of the century and  it seemed like time to resurrect them.
The Medical Officer is a Miniature Molds homecast US Zouave officer paint conversion, the rest are recast Britain's from SoldierPac.

They've been rebased a la mode du jour and Nurse Little who had had surgery to help her fit  better with 40mm troops has again had surgery to restore her to her original 54mm status.

Next up, some brand new figures: a company of McAlpine's Fusiliers followed by a Rebel Aid Station and the  Pioneer Company of New Brunswick's York Regiment  which was largely recruited from African-Canadians.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fierce Fighting across the Duck River

General Midtown Strikes !

Local Irregulars gather to oppose the Queen's men.

After the repulse of their latest probe, the Rebels had fallen back to the Duck River to regroup. There is only one bridge over the Duck and the marshy banks are not feasible for an attacking army. It appeared to be a strong position so a flank march was called for.

The Grey Zouaves  throw themselves onto the enemy but at heavy cost.
Hopes that the enemy might be caught napping proved false. As the flanking column emerged from the woods and began to form for the attack, they came under fire from local rebel Sharpshooters and columns of Rebel infantry could be seen pouring onto the battlefield.

The Rebels counterattack !

The Rebel forces quickly began a series of disjointed counter attacks and sent a company over the bridge to clear off the Glooscap Rifles.  The Fusiliers were nowhere in sight and so, under heavy pressure from enemy sharpshooters and artillery, Midtown was forced to pull back his left and start  sidling towards the bridge.

The Fusiliers have arrived!
At last the Fusiliers arrived and retook the bridge with their bayonets. Rebel reinforcements continued to arrive and General Lanigan sent them forward through the woods on his left to unleash a hot fire on our men. 
Fierce firefight on the banks of the Duck.
At last 'A' Battery was in position and their hot fire held back the enemy sharpshooters while the Fusiliers pushed over the bridge leaving the two companies of sharpshooters firing in support at any Rebel who showed himself in the woods.
"Forward men!" Reinforcement rush to join the fight.
As the line reformed along the river, a stream of Blue riders burst through the clouds of smoke and threw themselves onto the remains of 'A' Company of the Highlanders. These steady veterans of many a fight, with MacDuff and Cu Mor at their head, held firm and unleashed a deadly last minute fire which sent the Blue riders reeling.
The repulse of the Rebel cavalry. 

There is no doubting the courage of the Rebels though and the Horsemen rallied while the Grey Gunners redoubled their efforts and then, like an avalanche, they flung back the highlanders and were checked only by the arrival of the Governor General's own Horse Guards. As dusk closed in, the Rebels launch one last desperate charge up the road in an attempt to take back the bridge but the Fusiliers held firm.

The final Rebel assault.
Gradually the firing died away as the Rebels fell back on the town.  A truce was declared until morning while the wounded of both sides were collected for treatment and the dead laid to rest. The cries of the wounded were terrible. Ambulances and field hospitals are needed and if Her Majesty's government has no money then her subjects must raise the funds themselves. 

News of this great victory was swiftly sent back to the capital but it seems to me that we lost more heavily than the enemy and, despite our small bridgehead, we are in no shape to continue the advance until strong reinforcements are received. The enemy does not show any intention of retreating and if he entrenches or brings up reinforcements, well, it looks to this reporter like we might be better off back on the other side of the river behind our own entrenchments.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Winter Offensive has begun!

General Midtown Strikes Again!
Our Brave Volunteers assaulting  a nest of Rebels!

Our correspondent in the Northwest has just forwarded this advance dispatch from the battlefield: 

"After an all day march down dusty roads followed by a dawn march through a dark gloomy forest we broke out into the bright morning sun near Hyde's Corner.  The men deployed smartly into the open fields under a hot fire from the enemy who must have been alerted to our approach. 

The surprise may not have been as complete as hoped for but the General has expressed every confidence in a victory that will lead the way to the suppression of this revolt. This dispatch will be followed by a full report when the battle is done and won."  

We hope to have an illustrated account of the battle in time for our Saturday morning edition.

Monday, November 19, 2018

All Quiet on Duck Creek

A Rebel picquet stands to at dawn as usual and watches for the enemy.

All is quiet and so the men breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to their coffee and bacon.

Meanwhile, deep in the woods...

The scenario is drawn from the 'Battle to Battlegame' article in Issue 5 of Battlegames Magazine Issue 5, Nov/Dec 2006 (06?!?). The article, written by ...Me!, shows how  the action at River Canard, the first fight of the War of 1812, could be the basis for a generic scenario. We'll see if/how it works for the Square Brigadier in the 1870's.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Last Post (ACW) (for now)

The opposing cavalry brigades may not be ready for inspection but they are ready to do battle.

Roughly 1/2 vintage Airfix, nearly 1/2 Italeri and a mere handful of others, a Jacklex Reb Cavalry General, 3 of what I believe to be Hinton Hunt troopers in the Blue ranks and an Airfix cowboy or two.  The infantry regiment of permanently dismounted Reb cavalry,  Kentuckians or toy soldiers by the look of their caps, are all Airfix.

They are all now safely tucked away in their respective boxes. I want to work on writing up some rule ideas that are bouncing around in my head before I send them into battle again.

After some thought, I don't want to disrupt my old 3 stand regiments and do want to be able to field regiments of various sizes and show more tactical detail such as skirmish lines again yet still use the grid for measuring movement and ranges though not for determining unit integrity.

Its a challenge to myself for the winter.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Done for now

OK 1 General and 18 mounted 1/72nd cavalry mounted and based  and 4 dismounted cavalry painted and a bunch of older figures sorted and ......and..well, I've had enough fiddling with 1/72nd stuff for a bit.

The Umpteenth X State Cavalry

SoandSo's Legion
If I'm stern with myself I should be able to at least paint some of the remaining pre-cut-but-thinner-than-I-would-like bases green and glue the rest of the chosen selection of old figures onto to bases before they all get jumbled up again.  I'll flock them next time I get in the  mood then I need to name all the regiments.
It took some doing but I managed to avoid having any troopers shooting the next guy in the head.
 Six weeks until the Winter Campaigning Season opens. In the meantime, back to painting some nice, big, simple, glossy toy soldiers with an occasional quick game.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

If you want to have a good time Jine the Cavalry!

Its been more than 6 years since a  reinforcement from Ireland arrived in my mailbox leading to the formation of Kinch's brigade. Included in the box were some primed Italeri Confederate cavalry which were added to "the list" along with the rest of my box of Italeri Yankee cavalry . Well, the wheels turn slowly, but they turn.
I thought these would be done by now! (I'm gettin' slow.)
After last week's game I decided that it was time to overhaul and organize my cavalry resources and make them table ready. Between my one unit and stragglers, Conrad Kinch's contribution and the combined cavalry might from the old Halifax wargamers' collection that Rob Hingley had forwarded to me  there were surely enough for my immediate needs.

If they were all at attention  or charging straight forward with sabres raised to the front,  I could have easily fit 9 or more figures in a square.  However, most of the plastic cavalry is engaged in melee, swinging sabres in all direction or firing carbines to the side, and need nearly an inch of real estate each to avoid getting in each other's way. My existing painted unit was 6 strong on 3 bases and fits nicely so I decided to just go with it.
Order slowly emerges from chaos.

By painting up 3 new units and sorting the old figures I was able to draw up 4 Regiments each with 6 mounted and 4 dismounted troopers. There are enough figures left over to add at least 2 more regiments at some future point. There are also enough dismounted Rebel cavalry with full length rifles to form one of the regiments of dismounted cavalry that one finds in some Western OB's.

I was going to paint the new units one at a time but once I had them sorted, I figured I may as well prime them all together. As the top picture shows, its probably a bit late make a choice now.

Note: for anyone wondering why I don't appear to be commenting on other blogs recently, I've just noticed a glitch with my blogger account that blocked my comments The matter has now been rectified.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Very Civil War

On Saturday I met with some of the lads at the King's County Table Top Games Assn Quarterly games day in Kentville.

This was another 25mm ECW game, this one was based on Marston Moor using a rough ratio of 1:100 for over all numbers but using standard units in OSW mode. The players were not confined to historical deployments. Jeff as Prince Rupert deployed first with the Allied army under Paul and Martin deploying second.

Paul's vintage Minifigs provided the Scots Covenanters/Parliamentry Army while Jeff's (see  Armchair Commander blog) contemporary figure provided the Royalist army.

Scots and Parliament

This was the third outing for my one page, Quick Play, low detail ECW rules. Over all the rules again worked ok thanks to players with the right spirit but there were a few new glitches and "not covered" bits. In addition my suspicion during the last game that I shouldn't have removed the melee resolution rule was confirmed. I also got some useful feed back on a few bits. We're only talking a few lines of text but that'll take me onto  the other side of the page so I may as well fill up the remaining space by adding more explanation and making some of the writing down some of the unwritten rules.

The first clash.

Same moment zoomed in.
The allies attacked slowly forward all along the line but Jeff did a Rupert and launched a strong cavalry counter attack on his right. This swept away the allied cavalry and then sacrificed itself knocking a whole in the flanking infantry. It was close though, they almost crushed the whole flank without being destroyed.

On the other flank, Martin found his cavalry hampered by a village and close and the resulting cavalry fight lasted the rest of the game without decisive result.

In the centre, the largely Scottish infantry mass attacked about as slowly as is possible rolling 2 d6 a turn for distance! This gave the Royalist guns time to do enough damage to make a difference in the following melee.

However, by this time, the Allied army had managed to lose all of but one of their commanders which was made coordination nearly impossible. Both armies had taken heavy losses but there seemed little hope of Parliament breaking the Royalist line and in case of a draw, the strategic advantage lay with the Royalists. They certainly did better than they did in history.

Thanks to Jeff, Paul, and Martin for an enjoyable game.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Lest We Forget

This November 11th is the 100th Anniversary of the guns falling silent in France at the end  of the "Great War".

From the Canadian Encyclopedia:

"Canada is traditionally assigned the tragic distinction of losing the last casualty among British Commonwealth forces during the First World War. Private George Price was hit in the chest from a sniper shot in the town of Ville-sur-Haine, near Mons. He died at 10:58 a.m., two minutes before the armistice went into effect, officially ending the ​First World War ."

National War Memorial, Ottawa - Confederation Square 
(courtesy Parks Canada/photo by B. Morin).

(I have twice had the privilege  of  going on parade at the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa. This year Kathy and I will be attending the local ceremony in Windsor.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Boogie Woogie Bugle Zouave Boy (restored)

*** Prologue: Don't I hate it when this happens, although its only the second time (I think) that it has happened. Yesterday evening I wrote and published a brief blog post and at some point since, I apparently  overwrote it with an earlier  word-free draft while using my stupidphone as a flash light. (Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the useless piece of C^&% Samsung phone that I was talked into as a replacement for my wonderful but aging Motorolla?)  Anyway, its camera is the one redeeming feature and I had used it to upload the pictures directly to an empty post to see if that helped with the picture quality then I closed Blogger, BUT you have to close everything twice on this phone and the draft hung there, waiting to ambush and overwrite the published post at 4 am when a sleepy victim  would pick up the phone  and randomly squeeze buttons trying to wake it up while trying to see what time it is...... yup it cleverly reopened the wordless draft and published it over top of the published one without so much as a howdiyahdo!

So what follows is a new blog post because I don't remember exactly what I said the first time around.     
Its been over a month(!?!) since I last set brush to figure (which has to do with the demise of the halogen floor lamp that used to help illuminate my wargame table as much as anything else but its a boring story).  My decision to reorganize my ACW regiments into 4 stand units instead of 3 is fairly easy to manage for an army of motly Airfix ACW figures except for a few special units like Cesar's Zouaves (click here for their story).

Luckily I haven't painted them all yet and I bought a Zouave command pack from Musket Miniatures last year. These latter are HO/20mm and are therefore slightly smaller, accentuated here by the drummer and bugler being apparently portrayed as boys and the Zouaves being big fellows. I grabbed the bugler and 3 Zouaves and saved the rest for the 2nd regiment.

It was only after I had finished painting and started to base them that I remembered that I'm doing 6 to a stand, not 4.  hmmm  paint two more or...??   A quick head count showed that one unit or other was going to be short a figure or two so might as well be the Veterans. I just left 2 blank files.

What next? Well, next free day is next week sometime and there is a group ECW game on Saturday so we'll see when we get there!