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 Douglas 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, Douglas 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 Lannigan 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 Douglas 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!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Battle of Windy Corner


Before I start, I thought it best to reiterate the main principle for my collection of figures, and admit to two personal quirks that I have accepted despite the added difficulties they raise.

The principle is simple: every portion of my wargaming collection should provide a different wargaming experience rather than being "the same thing with different hats".

The main quirk is that while having different styles of rules for each period, I am strongly drawn to using variations of the same basic rules, partly because they are easier to remember when I start flitting from period to period, and partly because if properly done, it can reflect the differences and similarities between periods while reminding one of the evolutionary nature of warfare.

The other quirk has no rationale. Since high school days if not earlier, I hate being trendy or worse, appearing to be so!
Somewhere far from the main armies, General Smith's blue regiments, advancing on a 3 road frontage towards the Stone Bridge at Littelton, bump into General Kinch's grey columns moving down 2 roads.  
So, I decided that it was time to put the 54's away for a few days to give someone else some exercise and the choice fell on the ACW lads.  The last ACW game (click) I had played was yet another attempt to go from regiments to brigades as basic units. I've played my share  of the original Fire & Fury as well as Volley & Bayonet, and have a copy of On To Richmond but, well, writing my own has been part of wargaming since the beginning.

The game laid out with 8 stand brigades using variable length moves and ignoring the grid.

The rules I wrote up in July were non-gridded with Brigade sized units so I set the game up ignoring the grid consciously but subconsciously making the terrain conform. The game started well but after about the 10th time I had to circumnavigate the table to search for the tape measure I had put down...somewhere......, I decided that the grid wasn't so bad and could be used to measure distances in 6" increments, measuring by the stand and not worrying about forcing units to conform to the grid.

That actually worked quite well for a couple of turns but did it really feel like these units were brigades and I was a division or corps commander?  Do I really know enough to know if the feel was right? What I did know was that some of the colour and period, not to mention "toy soldier feel" is lost when a famous regiment becomes just one or two of the stands in a unit. 

So I took a few more minutes to reorder the brigades into regiments then grouping them into 3 regiment brigades for the Federal army and 4 regiment brigades for the Confederates, borrowed the movement rules came from the Square Brigadier and the combat system from Hearts of Tin. I added a simple morale check as a nod to Don Featherstone's early influence and was ready to go.

OK, at last, on to the battle!
(with apologies for the fuzzy pictures, a technical issue which is under investigation)

The Union army was cursed with a wood, a hill and a farm right in their path in a way that made it hard to deploy but they were blessed with a wood and a hill for their advance guard to hold while General Smith decided where to commit the rear brigade. 

General Kinch's force came on in a fairly concentrated formation in open ground with hills at the back for his artillery. He lost no time in throwing his brigades forward in a massed attack hoping to crunch the Union line before their whole army could deploy. As the troops advanced, the word came down to reorganize the Division from 8 stand brigade units into 4 stand regiments which was swiftly done without confusion and the battle went on.

The Rebel attack hit the Union line hard but the close range fire of the Union guns and the good defensive terrain helped the Blue line to hold. A lengthy close range firefight ensued but as reinforcements arrived to plug gaps and extend the line, threatening the Rebel flanks, the attack faltered and suddenly the Grey line gave way.

It took a little time for Smith to get his division reformed and ready for a counter attack but eventually the Blue lines moved forward.

.That time was enough for the Confederate lines to reform and the Union troops were reluctant to risk a charge. A prolonged firefight ensued but the  Rebels had suffered heavy losses in their earlier charge  and in the end Kinch was forced to order a retreat while he still had a viable Division. (i.e. He hit his army morale loss point.)

The game from there moved quickly and eventually reached a clear but never inevitable conclusion in what seemed like half an hour but which appears to have actually been more than three hours by the clock.

I fielded about 600 figures without crowding the table so there is room for some of the unused units as well as some additions.

Using a "regiment as unit" set of rules, I'll never be able to fit any of the larger historical battles on my  table without extreme bathtubbing but that wasn't one of my serious ambitions anyway.

This setup finally ticks all my boxes so the plan for the fall/winter is to turn the loose collection of stands into permanent, 4 stand, identifiable, named and marked regiments, each with their own good flag, as planned in 2010. Then I have to make sure I have enough brigadiers and that they all have names to help with developing narratives and possibly a campaign at some future time. Once that is done I can turn my attention to organizing the mess of painted cavalry and then, finally,  paint up some more of the figures who have been idling in the cupboard for much of the last decade.

Oh, and I have to turn my quickly scribbled notes into a proper, comprehensive set of rules along the way.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

2nd Teaser

No time for a full battle report tonight but here's a sneak peek as the Confederate attack goes in before the Union finishes its deployment.

Picture taken about turn 4, just before I paused the game to reorganize from 6-8 stand Brigade units back to 4 stand Regiments, swapped rules, and then continued happily for 3 hours ! 

More tomorrow! 

(Hopefully, got a full day of commitments.)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rainy Day Game

Its a rainy weekend and I have no outside commitments on Saturday and no big household projects ready to go. Sounded like a game day to me but what to play?

For various reasons I found myself thinking back to my first wargame with the Montreal wargamers, an ACW game using Airfix figures. Well, why not?

I had a look at the new Plastic Army of the Potomac that I wrote up and tried in July and decided to replace the Rally rule with a basic morale throw  based on one in Battles With Model Soldiers.
Impromptu terrain for a basic meeting engagement.