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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

We've Got Too Many Men!

There's a cry you don't often hear from a General, especially not a Tabletop one. The more old toy soldiers I paint, the more I want to but I'm running low on space on table to deploy them!

Now, all the first hand accounts that I've read, as well as the training manuals, lead me to want to see a battle field that looks something like this:
“Battle of Limestone Ridge,” Fort Erie Local History, http://www.fepl.ca/localhistory/items/show/4774.
But, if I could convince myself to use massed ranks of toy soldiers as in the following, better known but less realistic, illustration of Ridgeway, I could field at least double the numbers.
The Sage, Sons & Co. Lithographer - Library and Archives Canada

That was the plan first time around as we see here:

Ft Henry Guard in 1997/98, based for a low level ACW Volley & Bayonet variant.
It would make soooo much sense for a fictional game, twice the soldiers in the same space, massed battalions marching up and down the table......but its just not the right look and feel for this campaign and anyway, I have my 20mm ACW for that.

So, I turned my thoughts to With MacDuff to the Frontier, and to Featherstone and even to Howard Whitehouse's nearly published Gentleman's War but I like my grid and I like painting small units. So, I went back to the Square Brigadier which was originally aimed at the mid-19thC. Once I turned away from the War of 1812 and early 20thC variants I realized that I really only needed a few tweaks. The main one is that there shouldn't be any prolonged close range firefights, charges need to be resolved immediately.

The Square Brigadier: The Defended Frontier.

Once I fill the order of battle for both sides, I'm sure I'll find inspiration to start a new collection. While I was cutting away the kilt on a charging Highlander to make a Zouave, I couldn't help but notice that it looked a lot like I was starting to make a soldier wearing  a dhoti. Now THERE was a dangerous thought!

However, as long as I am willing to indulge in some fanciful proposals it is possible if not plausible to come up with an 1850's/60's scenario where the as yet unresolved "Pig War" over the San Juan Islands explodes as Russia decides that the time is ripe to reassert her claim that Vancouver Island is part of Alaska.

That could at least give Ivan a job and excuse a few Cossacks and sailors.
Ivan. My 1st original sculpt and still
without brothers nearly 20 years later.
To be honest though, I'm starting to remember why I originally 'discovered' the fictional land now called Atlantica for my 54mm British and Fenian armies to inhabit back at the start of the century. It was certainly easier than being at constant risk of being mistaken for some fool with a poor grasp of history or having to wrestle with my conscience about how far to twist the truth and bears some thinking about.
2001 Rebel Island game with Faraway (historical British and Canadians) vs the Fenians backed by Oberhilse (historical USA, CSA and Fenians).
Ft. Henry Guard with regimental colour in centre field.


  1. But Atlantica develops its own truth and reality :-)

    A really interesting comparison of 'the look of battle' in the first two photographs, that should give a starting point and some direction to rule / scenario writers.

    1. True, but, the Atlantican reality s one I designed for this particular problem nearly 20 years ago and it rarely throws up major thought obstacles.

  2. The comparison of pictures is quite thought provoking. The second colour picture is certainly more akin to the look of a tabletop.

    1. It is but then periods with massed ranks are more popular apart from low level skirmishes.

    2. At least up til recently. With the publication of the Osprey Lion and DragonRampant rules, and the Pikeman’s Lament, Men Who Would be Kings, the Lardies’ Sharpe Practice, etc, the lower miniature count games are having a bit of a resurgence.

    3. hmmm, Yes BUT they fall into the low level skirmish games and of these only TMWWBK covers the black powder rifle era (at least I presume it does). Its not about small units, its about tactical formations. .

  3. It is time to discover Pacifica, an island in the Puget Sound, inhabited by British/Canadians and Americans. It is fairly close to Russia, and rife with disputatious porcine rivalries. If you don’t discover it, I may have to.

    1. No need to invent it when history has opposing British and American forts facing each other for a decade like Bugs and Sam waiting for the diplomats to either solve it or turn them loose.

  4. I like your photo of the 2001 Game - featuring Sailors and a Ship- this all looks very interesting with the Fort Henry Guard.

  5. Historical vs. historicist? Nothing wrong with imaginations of any stripe, and there's plenty of precedent out there for ahistorical "lifting" of scenarios.

    1. I was fine with a bit of knowing fudging of geography and history for the occasional wargame with a sideshow collection but it gets harder to sustain as the armies grow and the games get more frequent unless your setting is a major war or a fictional land.