Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from Der Alte Fritz

Since we have been on a Minden roll of late, here is a picture of IR34 Prinz Ferdinand that I painted back in March 2008.

Well 2008 is drawing to a close here in Hesse Seewald and it has been a very good year for wargaming, conventions, fellowship, painting and building up my SYW Prussian army. I will provide a more detailed "year in review" over the next couple of days, but I wanted to get this short post, which is a milestone of sorts, on the blog. This is the 100th entry of the year, so I'm going to pat myself on the back for a job well done and toast the New Year with a Diet Lime Coke and wish everyone a Happy New Year.

I have to say that I have been sort of surprised by the overwhelming interest in the Minden Miniatures and Hesse Seewald imagination uniforms that I have posted over the past couple of days. We have had over 400 site visits, just this day, and the number of comments on this topic is one of the highest ever (ranking up there with Teddy Bear Wars and the Jacobite Rebellion).

I painted an extra fusilier figure this afternoon in green coat, straw small clothes and red facings, brass mitre plate with straw bag and red border. This is experimental for a future unit. More on that tomorrow.

Update Posting - Full Year Report on Painting Production
I spent some time this evening toting up the statistics for the number of Olley Painting Points in 2008 and I came up with a grand total of 1,070 points. This translates into 798 total figures and equipment pieces that I painted during the year. Actually, I now recall that I painted the two Sharpe and Harper figures as well, which puts the total figure production up to 800 figures. The break down in terms of figures for 2008 was 510 foot, 272 mounted, and 18 artillery and equipment pieces.

In comparison, the 2007 numbers were notably higher with 1,015 total figures painted and 1,137 Olley Painting Points recorded. That amounts to 215 fewer figures painted in 2008 versus 2007. Nevertheless, this year's production was still substantial and probably was higher than I would have liked, in terms of family considerations and life balance.

The production was spread over the year fairly evenly, what with 528 points painted during the first half of the year (January through June) and 508 points during the second half of the year (July through December). That averages out to about 89 painting points per month, or slightly higher than my stated goal of 60 to 72 points per month. You may recall that an infantry figure or a cannon/limber/wagon count for one point and a mounted cavalryman or general counts for two points.

The last figure that I painted in 2008 was a Minden Miniatures Prussian fusilier that I painted in the green Hesse Seewald livery.

Battles Fought In 2008
Our little group of SYW enthusiasts in the Midwest were very active during 2008. By my count, we had 9 "club games" and 7 "convention games" for a total of 16 miniatures game for the entire year. After deducting the games played at the SYW Association convention (2), Little Wars (1), and Historicon (3) for which I can't recall the outcomes, and hence they don't count in the standings, that leaves us with 10 games. Two of these were Jacobite Rebellion games that do not directly affect our campaign. Of the remaining 8 games then, the French won 5 and the Prussians won 3 games. So my congratulations to the French/Gallians for a fine military performance in 2008.

But let us analyze the results further: three of the French victories were smaller skirmish games. So there seems to be a definite French edge in the Kleine Krieg wargames. In larger games, the French won the battles of Taberberg on October 24th at Rockcon and Steinkreisdorf on November 15th (Der Alte Fritz was absent that day).

The Prussians fared much better in the really large wargames in 2008. Prussian victories were recorded at Ritterbrucke on March 8th, Oberon on June 7th, and at the Big Battalion Old School Game (Freiberg) on October 11th. All three Prussian victories were lopsided wins as their cavalry was finally able to hold their own against the previously superior French horse and contribute to break through wins. Perhaps it helped that Der Alte Fritz was busy recruiting cuirassiers like a mad man during the year. Or perhaps, the Prussian cavalry commanders were well schooled by Monsieur Chevert (Protz) in the use and deployment of cavalry during the previous campaign year of 2007. As Patton said, "Rommel, you son of a *** (gun), I read your book!". I learned a lot about the use of cavalry by getting thumped by Monsieur Chevert on a regular basis. The lessons were well learned.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Minden Samples Painted Tonight

Front Row (left to right): Holstein officer, Glasenapp musketeer, Charlottenburg musketeer, and Charlottenburg officer. Back row (l-r) Holstein and Charlottenburg musketeers

Here are the first samples of Minden Miniatures SYW Prussians that I have painted as regiments in the Hesse Seewald Army. I painted a pair of regiment Holstein in the red facings and white small clothes; one Glasenapp musketeer in straw clothes and facings (I rather like him), and three Charlottenburg regiment figures in rose facings and white small clothes.

The Minden figures are a joy to paint and I was able to finish six figures within a couple of hours this evening. You can see that I glued the figure onto a penny coin and in turn, glued the coin onto the galvanized metal base that is one inch square, for BAR rules movement trays. When I prime the figures, the metal bases are already attached to the figure. I do this because it gives the base a coating of primer that hides the bare metal of the base. This saves me much time later when I terrain the base. I don't have to paint the metal base before adding the spackle mix. There's nothing worse than a fine base with bits of bright metal showing through.

The Charlottenburg Regiment uniforms.

(left to right) Holstein officer, Holstein musketeer, and Glasenapp musketeer.

(l-r) Holstein, Holstein, Glasenapp, & Charlottenburg uniforms.

Comparison of Minden (left) and Foundry (right) Prussians both painted as the Charlottenburg Musketeer Regiment. Need I say more about which figure looks better?

The above photo compares the Minden and Foundry samples that I painted in the same regimental uniform of the Charlottenburg Musketeers. The more that I look at this picture, the more convinced I am that I made the correct choice of figures to use in my new Hesse Seewald army. The Mindens look so much better because they actually look like real people, only in 1/56 scale.

I have placed an order for two 50-figure regiments, plus mounted officers and some Austrian and Prussian artillery crews, for later use. After seeing these samples painted, I look forward to tackling the entire regiment and finishing it off. In the meantime, I have a 60 figure Minden Austrian fusilier battalion to work on, so that will keep me very happy.

Minden Samples on the Painting Table

Last night I primed six Minden Prussian figures that I had left over from my last order and I thought that I would paint some more Hesse Seewald samples this evening. If all goes well, I will post updated pictures later tonight or tomorrow.

There are so many butterflies flitting about, trying to capture my attention these days. I seem to go back and forth between Austrian cavalry and infantry, a few Prussians here and there, Hesse Seewald imaginary uniforms, 1806 French, some Seaforth Highlanders for India and a few other projects. I am trying to maintain the discipline to stick with the Austrians through the rest of December and January, but it can be hard with so many tempting figures to paint.

Monday, December 29, 2008

And the Winner is: Minden Miniatures!

Minden Miniatures SYW Prussian Mounted Colonel - painted by Ioannis. Picture courtesy of Ioannis and Frank Hammond's Minden Miniatures web site.

The Herzog George Ludwig I has reviewed a number of candidates to fulfill the role of Chief Tailor to the Court of Hesse Seewald. There were many qualified applicants, including Crusader, Stadden, Suren , my own Potsdam Miniatures and Perry, among others. Georg Ludwig has made his decision and has decided that Minden Miniatures will receive the Special Appointment of the Court to outfit his army.

The figures evoke the style of two of my favorite 18th Century miniatures ranges: RSM and Stadden. The Minden range will be more comprehensive in terms of the availability of officers, NCOs, musicians, flag bearers, etc. Furthermore, it will cover all arms completely, from infantry to cavalry to artillery. In addition, I believe that sculptor Richard Ansell has really done a remarkable job in capturing the Stadden look, only updating the style with the level of detail that we all have come to expect with today's miniatures. These figures represent the best of both worlds.

But the bottom line is that I simply think that these are the best Seven Years War range of figures on the market, and so I am happy to support Frank and the fine work done by sculptor Richard Ansell. For more information about this wonderful range of figures, click on the following link:

With that in mind, I placed an order for the first two battalions of the new Hesse Seewald army this afternoon. The infantry battalions will feature 48 figures plus two standard bearers and a mounted officer. Every battalion is going to have its own regimental 3-pounder or 7-pound haubitz. For artillery pieces, I will probably use the Berlin Zinnfiguren range which are sized to fit the remarkable Minden figures.

Some Minden Austrians painted as the De Ligne Regiment, from Frank Hammond's collection. Photo courtesy of Frank.

I have a little bit of catching up to do first. Since I have the Minden Bug, I hauled out the 60 figure battalion of Minden Austrians that I ordered earlier in the year. I am preparing them for priming by giving them a rinse in rubbing alcohol, then filing the underside of the base with a quick swipe of a file. Then I will glue them onto American penny coins so that they gain a couple more centimeters in height (this visually tricks the eye into thinking that they are the same height as some of my other chunkier figures in my SYW armies).

I am looking forward to getting the first batch of 30 Minden Austrians primed and ready to paint. What a great way to start off the new year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hesse Seewald Army Uniforms

Uniforms of regiments (L-R) Holstein, Charlottenburg, Glasenap, and The Royal Foresters. (click all pix to enlarge the views)

I spent some time over the weekend experimenting with possible uniform combinations for the Hesse Seewald army. I had a couple of extra Foundry SYW Prussian figures laying around, already primed, so they were drafted by the Elector's tailors to model some of the new uniforms. I have not decided which figures to use for the Hesse Seewald army, but I am leaning towards the Minden Miniatures range, since this is rather comprehensive and will eventually provide all three of the major combat arms: infantry, cavalry and artillery. Crusader is another possibility, although these are chunkier than I generally prefer, their height fits in well with my existing figures. I plan to prime a few Minden samples this week and see how they look in green uniforms. My guess is that they will look fine and dandy.

Hesse Seewald regiments will have 48 rank and file and maybe 3 or 4 extra officers positioned behind the battalion as file closers. Hmm, this sounds like the Charles Grant model, doesn't it? Recall that Grant's The Wargame Companion is the inspiration for this project. Of course, this is subject to change, if for example, they get mowed down by the larger 60 man French battalions of Monsieur Chevert. That may cause me to strengthen the battalion to 60, but for now, that is my plan. I may also attach a regiment 3 or 4 pounder to EACH battalion to act as a bit of an equalizer.

A note about the pictures here: they were photographed on my Macro setting for closeup pictures, so when you click on the picture to enlarge the view, the figures will be somewhat distorted as you are enlarging them to three or four times their actual size. Remember that they are really only 28mm high. They actually look pretty good in the flesh.

Another view of Holstein (red facings), Charlottenburg (pink), Glasenap (straw) and the Royal Foresters (red facings with buff small clothes). All figures are from the Foundry SYW range of Prussians, painted by Der Alte Fritz.

I have included another photo of the figures at a slight angle. The uniform coat is Reaper Elven Green and the facings are an assortment of various Reaper colors on the facings and small clothes. From left to right (above) we have IR4 Holstein Musketeer Regt. in red facings and white small clothes; IR3 the Charlottenburg Musketeer Regt. in pink facings and white small clothes; IR3 the Glasenap Musketeer Regiment in straw facings and small clothes; and finally, the Royal Foresters Regiment with red facings and straw or buff small clothes. Regiments that have white small clothes will have silver buttons on the uniform coat and silver cartouche plate on the cartridge box. Regiments in straw or buff will have gold buttons and a gold cartouche plate. All regiments will have brass gaitor buttons.

Colonel von Kleist, himself, from the Foundry range of Prussian freikorps officers.

Von Kleist freikorps officer's uniform provides a hint of what the official Hesse Seewald officers' uniforms will look like.

The two officers shown above will provide a glimpse at what the Hesse Seewald officers will look like. They sport green coats, wear regimental facings and small clothes (they are inhabers of one of the five regiments in the H-S army), and wear silver waist sashes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Clothes For Old Veterans

Hinchcliffe SYW Austrian cuirassiers in rather sorry condition. Eeepppp!!!!

I acquired twenty of the old Hinchcliffe Austrian SYW cuirassiers at a flea market (that's a Bring and Buy for those of you in the UK) about five or six years ago, with the intention of touching them up with paint and improving their appearance. As you can see in the picture above, the paint job is not up to standard and the figures needed a lot of work. When I bought them, I thought that maybe I could repaint the faces and leave them at that.

But you know how that usually turns out, right? First I touched up the faces, then the black equipment, then the shabraques, and so on and so forth. Before I knew it, I had repainted everything except the horse color on the figure. A side by side comparison of the "before" and "after" figures is shown below.

Side by side comparison of my repaint (left) and the original (right)

I tried to keep the original horse painting intact, although in the figure above, I repainted the white blaze on the horse's nose and painted all the tack equipment black. This brought the horse up to an average "wargaming standard". The trooper and shabraque has been completely repainted in this example.

After examing the rest of the regiment, I decided that the horses were so bad that I had do a total repaint. And so what started out as merely "touching up the figure" turned into a total repaint of the horse and figure. So basically, the figures amounted to nothing more than a "primed" figure. I had to completely cover the horse and rider with black acrylic paint and start all over. I worked on these over the weekend and have the troopers done, but the horses need to be painted. I will post a picture of the first dozen riders within the next couple of days.

I like the Hinchcliffe cavalry figures, the riders more so than the horses, but they look nice in an Old School sort of way. Besides, I was getting tired of painting the nicer Crusader Austrians after recently bringing the regiment up to 60 figures. So going forward, I will have one 60-figure cuirassier regiment of Crusader figures, and one 36-figure Hinchcliffe regiment in my army. Eventually I plan to add another Crusader Austrian cuirassier regiment. But for now, I sort of like the variety and the challenge of painting different figures.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Hesse Seewald

The Elector's Ursine Guard (Eureka Teddy Bears)

The Herzog Georg Ludwig of Hesse Seewald and his family wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009.

For 2009, we may see the beginnings of an official Hesse Seewald army that would be apart from the traditional Prussians that I use as stand-ins. I'm not going to promise that I will get it done, but after reading Charles S. Grant's The Wargame Companion , the idea of at least a brigade of imaginery forces holds some appeal with me.

Baron von Doppelganger (left) is a Foundry freikorps officer wearing the uniform of the Royal Foresters Regiment in the Hesse Seewald Army. The Austrian chap on the right is a Foundry Russian officer painted in Austrian mufti.

I am contemplating four or five battalions of infantry, a company of foot artillery, and eight squadrons of cavalry (Garde du Corps, line cuirassiers, dragoons and hussars).

IR1 The Riesengarde
IR2 The Royal Foresters
IR3 von Glasenap Musketeers
IR4 The Charlottenburg Musketeers
IR5 von Holstein Musketeers or Grenadiers

FA1 Foot artillery company comprising 2 x 12-pdrs and 2 x 4-pdrs

CR1 Garde du Corps (1 x 12)
CR2 Gotha Cuirassiers (2 x 12)
DR1 Munchausen Dragoons (3 x 12)
HR1 von Luckner's Hussars (2 x 12)

I will be working on some sample uniforms over the next several weeks, but I think that the uniforms will be Prussian in style, only with green coats, straw small-clothes and facing colors or red, straw, pink and white (sort of like French Napoleonic dragoons). The artillery will wear green coats/straw clothes/red facing similar to the Saxon artillery. The Garde du Corp will wear red coats and blue facing. the line cuirassiers will have buff coats and the dragoons will be either red or blue. The hussars will be the actual Luckner's Hussars.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Von Kleist Frei-husaren

Von Kleist freikorps Hussars, Foundry figures painted by Der Alte Fritz. (click to enlarge)

Another view of the hussars. They had a plume in their fur busbies, but in my army, they have packed them away for the vigorous campaigning that they are engaged in.

This past summer at Historicon 2008, the triumvirate of Graf Frey von Freyberg, Monsieur le general de Chevert, and Der Alte Fritz decided that it would be fun to have a game that featured nothing but light infantry and cavalry of a decidedly shabby nature, i.e. freikorps and similar such troops. We set a goal of having our new troops ready and painted by early December. With that in mind, I procrastinated and kept painting Gensdarmes cuirassiers for the Big OSW Game in October. However, once that event had come and gone, I was free to paint lousy freikorps troops.

I decided to build a portion of the all-arms von Kleist freikorps because, well, it had some of everything: light infantry (Grun Kroaten), artillery (some 6 pounders and 3 pounders), light dragoons (horse grenadiers), uhlans (10 squadrons in fact) and hussars. Not only were they a diverse lot, they were also very colorful. They were designated as Freikorps No. 12 in the Prussian military establishment, although I believe that the numbering system was applied well after the Seven Years War had concluded.

By the time December rolled around, I had completed three squadrons (36 figures) of the horse grenadiers, one squadron of the hussars (12 figures), a battalion of Kroats (60 infantry), a company of jagers (12 figures) and two sections of 6-pounders. Time prevented me from painted dismounted cavalry and horse holders for each cavalryman, but that is a goal for the future. Messers Frey and Chevert have elected to paint the Fischer freikorps in French service and they have all of their mounts and dismounted figures completed. I have a bit of catching up to do, to say the least.

Historical Overview
According to George Nafziger:

"The freikorps consisted of the Volontair-Regiment Husaren formed in 1759, the Freidragoner Regiment formed in 1760, the Croaten , formed in 1761, and the jager formed in 1761. It was the largest and most effective of the freitruppen. The hussars executed raids into Franconia and fought at Kunersdorf. Both the hussars and dragoons were at Torgau, while the hussars, Croats and Jager were at Freiberg." (The Prussian Army of Frederick the Great, Vol 2)

One of the unique distinctions of the von Kleist Freikorps is that they are the only unit of that type that carried colours or flags. None of the other frei regiments had flags. You can find very nice examples in the Hans Bleckwenn booklet.

Christopher Duffy is of the opinion that the von Kleist was incomparably the best of the frei troops in Prussian service. They were organized by Colonel Friedrich Wilhelm von Kleist (Green Kleist) in 1759 with the formation of a single squadron of hussars and eventually grew into a combined arms force of 6,000 men by the end of the SYW. It fought as a whole formation at Freiberg in 1762, but more often was employed on raids into Bohemia against the Austrians or into Franconia against the Reichs-armee.

Von Kleist was noted for his discipline, as Duffy indicates:

"After a successful action it was his habit to gather the officers of the corps together, and point out the various mistakes which had been made by the two parties, with the associated causes and results, and the lessons as to how the blunders could be avoided in the future. " ( Army of Frederick the Great, page 137).

End Note
I used the Foundry figures to create my version of the von Kleist freikorps, because Foundry has all of the necessary elements, including the rarely-made uhlans and uhlan bandsmen in their Turkish style uniforms. Hinchcliffe also makes very nice Grun Kroaten infantry and the horse grenadiers (dragoons) and I strongly considered using these figures as well. RSM makes the horse grenadier figure.

Eventually I hope to have time to paint a couple more squadrons of von Kleist hussars, for these are rather spectacular looking uniforms, with the red dolman and breeches, and green pelise, and green and red shabraque with van dyking. I also intend to add maybe three squadrons (36 figures) of the uhlans and dismounted dragoons and hussars. In our Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or "BAR") rules, I rate all of these sub units as Trained. I think that it was quite gentlemanly of me to paint low quality troops when my brushes could have been spinning out more cuirassiers or something spectacular such as ten squadrons of Bayreuth Dragoons.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Austrian Update II

Charles of Lorraine, noted for his string of losses included Chotusitz, Hohenfriedberg, Rocoux, Prague and Leuthen. He was retired after Leuthen and replaced by Leopold Daun as the principal commander of Maria Theresa's Austrian armies. A handsome, if unlucky, fellow.

There is much work going on in the Habsburg hinterlands as Marshal Leopold von Daun prepares his army for the upcoming campaign of 1759. The recruits are coming in by droves from Crusader, Front Rank, Foundry and Minden Miniatures. Now it just becomes a matter of whether or not the royal tailors can complete so many uniforms before the winter snows melt and spring abounds in Bohemia and Silesia.

I hope to have the 5th squadron of cuirassier regiment Birkenfeld completed by this evening. I just have to finish the horses and then they are done. I have also started work on two squadrons of the Paul Anton Esterhazy ("Damn Their Eyes") Hussars and the first couple of painted samples show some promise. That should get me through the end of the month, at which time I will have 14 squadrons of Austrian cavalry. That sounds like a lot, but it pales in comparison with the 32 squadrons of Prussian cavalry that I already have. As you can see, there is much work to be done.

I may have mentioned before that I can painted approximately a squadron of 12 figures per week or a half battalion of 30 figures in a week, on average. So if I was really cranking out the production, that would work out to two battalions (120 figures) or one regiment (48 figures) per month. One gets tired of painting nothing but horses, so I will probably switch back and forth between infantry and cavalry. I'm kind of on a cavalry binge right now, so after the hussars are completed, I think that I will add another infantry battalion for a change of pace. That would bring the infantry up to 10 battalions (versus 18 btns of Prussians).

Thankfully, Marshal von Daun has Saxon allies (2 regiments of 48 dragoons) and a small force of Austrians led by Graf Frey of Freyberg (3 battalions and 2 sqds of cuirassiers and 2 sqds of hussars). Otherwise he would need to hunker down in one of those Vauban fortresses that I mentioned the other day.

Daun would like to increase his army to a size sufficient to warrant an invasion of Silesia in 1759, or perhaps recapture Dresden from the Prussians.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vauban 28mm Fortress

A splendid looking 25/28mm Vauban Fortress from Paper Terrain (photo from their web site). Click on the picture to see the full picture (part of it is clipped off on this page, but a click enlarges it so that the rest of the photo can be viewed)

The other day on The Miniatures Page ("TMP"), a company called Paper Terrain announced that it was now offering paper Vauban Fortress models in 6mm, 10/12mm, 15mm and 25/28mm scales. Some of you may already be familiar with this company as they offer a wide range of paper/cardstock terrain items and buildings. But I have to say that I am truly stunned at how good looking this model is, priced at $70.00 for the 25/28mm version. In addition to its good looks and attractive price, the model has a relatively small "footprint" at 30" square, so it will not engulf the 6ft by 24ft table that we play on at Brown Deer, WI at Chez Protz.

Proprietor Scott Washburn presented the following press release with information about this exciting new product:

PaperTerrain is pleased to announce the release of its Vauban Fortress Kit. The Vauban-style fortresses were built all over Europe and the world and saw action in many wars, even as late as World War II. The kit allows you to build a 4-sided fort. Included are 4 bastions, connecting walls and a gatehouse. The 10/12mm kit is approximately 14" x 14", the 15mm kit is 19" x 19", the 20mm kit is 24" x 24" and the 25/28mm kit is 30" x 30". A 6mm kit will be available VERY soon (really!). Check it out at

The link to the company's web site is

I am really excited about this product and I can foresee a lot of applications to the informal wargame campaign between Hesse Seewald and Gallia. We recently saw the Hesse Seewald army win a battle near Frankfurt and then move into seige position to take the town. Alas, we had no fort to battle over so we decided that the Erbprinz would probably withdraw his army back towards his base for the winter.

I plan to buy one of these beauties soon and hopefully assemble it and embellish it a little bit with a fixed base and a glacis or revelin or two. For rules, I would recommend the ones that Michael Lowry used in his game at the Seven Years War Association. These might be available through The London War Room store.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How High Are Artillery Wheels?

Prussian Horse Artillery 6-pound cannon stands around shoulder height on this crew man.

ACW Napoleon at Gettysburg indicates that the wheels are about shoulder height on Der Alte Fritz.

The other day on TMP, some one was asking how high the wheels of artillery pieces should be in relation with the crew figures. I thought that some pictoral evidence of the real deal would be sufficient to answer the question. As you can see in the Knotel drawing of Prussian gunners and in the picture of Der Alte Fritz, standing next to a gen-u-ine ACW Napoleon cannon at Gettysburg, I would have to say that shoulder height is the correct height.

The two battalions of the Hesse Seewald Garde turned out to celebrate the birthday of the Erbprinz.

Yesterday (December 18th) was my birthday, so Der Alte Fritz was a little bit "alter" this morning (I'm typing this at 11 Pm on thursday evening, but posting it on the 19th). We had a quiet celebration at Schloss Seewald with the princess Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe and the Duchess Anne giving me some presents and a celebratory dinner at Del Rios' Italian restaurant nearby.

It was quite a treat as the restaurant had hired a group of opera singers to perform for their annual Christmas dinner. They warmed up with a selection of show tunes from Rogers and Hammerstein and then followed up with a few Mozart operettas, and then closed with some traditional Christmas songs. When we returned home, I walked the royal hounds, Dave and Katie, for a couple of miles in the cold night air. There is a huge snow storm headed our way so it may be awhile before we can go walking again. All in all, a nice birthday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Painting Austrian Coats

Austrian Musketeer Regiment de Ligne using Crusader figures and GMB Designs flags. The mounted officer is an Old Glory figure drafted from my "conventional" Austrian army (4 to 6 figures per base and 24 figures per battalion). Click the picture to enlarge the view.

Some one asked me how I painted my Austrians and got the effect that you see in the de Ligne Regiment above. So I thought that I would provide a quick "how to" for painting Austrians.

I start by priming with black primer and then covering that with a coating of acrylic black paint. I find that the primer has a fine, but slightly rough surface, whereas the coating of black acrylic provides a good painting foundation. It also acts as the main color for such equipment pieces as the tricorn hat, gaitors and also creates a black lining effect when I am done. It also provides the foundation for muskets and equipment bags, which will later get covered with brown paint.

After the black acrylic is applied, I layer on a coating of light gray paint, using IWM (Iron Wind Metals) Gray #77-707. This almost appears to be white in color, but once you add in the main white color, the gray will be noticeable and act as your shading color. IWM is the successor company to the old Ral Partha company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I then cover the skin areas with a red brown color that acts as my base color. Then a ruddy flesh covers the red brown completely as my base flesh color. Highlights are added on the tip of the nose, the chin and maybe the cheek bones on the face. For hands, I allow the red brown to show through between the fingers for contrast when I apply the ruddy flesh color. Then I add regular flesh color as the highlight to the back of the hand and/or some of the fingers. I don't paint the individual knuckles, a la the Kevin Dallimore method.

Next comes the fur pack. It has the black undercoat and I dab on some dark brown to the pack, the hair on the head, and the musket stock -- all the same dark brown color. Then I use another IWM color called Dunkel Brown as a highlight on the brown areas: I paint wood grain on the musket stocks, hair highlights and drybrush over the fur pack with the Dunkel Brown.

Now I break out the IWM White #77-706 and paint over the coat, taking care to leave some gray unpainted under the arm pits, the crease of the elbow, and any other natural fold in the cloth that the sculptor has provided for the figure. I also use the same white color to paint a stripe of white down all of the cross belts and haversack belting etc. Remember, these parts were already painted black, so a single "skunk stripe" down the middle of the belting is all that one needs. It then looks like you black lined all of your belting. Easy peasy, as they say.

Then comes the eyes. I paint the eye socket black, and then carefully jab two white dots on each side of the eye socket, leaving the center portion black. It looks like I had painted the eyeball white and then dotted the iris with black, but as you can see, I actually did the reverse. Again, this is an economical way of painting eyes. It is the same principal as painting a button: for buttons, one paints the button black and then dots the button with the metalic brass or silver color. Eyes are done the same way.

Lastly, I now do all of the metalic bits such as pewter color for the musket barrel or some buttons; brass for the butt plate of the musket and any buckles that the figure is wearing, or maybe some silver lace accents for officers or officers' sashes.

In recent years, I have started "highlighting" the black areas such as the tricorn and the gaitors and the cartridge box. My highlight is my own mix of black paint with a little bit of flesh mixed in . Add a little bit of flesh at a time until you get the right color. Too much flesh or white added in will give you a dark grey, and you don't want that for highlighting black. The color should still appear to be black.

That's it in a nutshell. You can see from my description that I try to use the same color for multiple parts of the figure. It is an economy of motion that saves time and results in faster painting of the figure.

Well, tonight (wednesday evening) I did not do any painting, but instead, I cleaned up two squadrons of Austrian hussars (cleaning, washing in rubbing alcohol, then gluing to metal bases in preparation for black priming). It took me two hours to get 24 figures ready. I hate doing this kind of prep work, but with a bunch of vacation days coming up over the next couple of weeks, I want to have an inventory of primed figures ready for the paint brush.

By the way, I have been very surprised by the outpouring of interest in the Austrians. Two days ago, I had nearly 500 hits on the blog that featured the Austrian HQ camp. That ranks up there with Teddy Bear Wars and Jacobites. His Royal Nibs, King Frederick, is very jealous of all the attention that the Austrians are getting.

"If the Austrians want some attention, I will be just the person to give them what they want," said the King.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Return of the Black Legion

Black Scorpion "Marines" from the Pirate Range painted as the personal bodyguard of Milday de Winter. Colonel Bauer (left foreground) is from the Foundry Highwaymen pack, the black coach is from Redoubt's ECW range, and Herself is a Suren figure.

(click the pictures, if you dare, to enlarge the view)

I first introduced the dreaded Black Legion of Milady de Winter in my post dated October 23, 2008 and I invite everyone to check the archives for the background to this unit. I was at scrolling through the net when I happened upon these figures from Black Scorpion, which are supposed to be British Marines in red coats and thought that they would be perfect to play the role of Milady de Winter's personal guard. Their uniforms are loosely based on those of the Favrat Freikorps in Prussian service (black coats, straw small clothes, red facings).

Herself takes no chances when she is bounding around Europe, which can be a very dangerous place for a lady in the mid 18th Century, so where ever she goes, she is escorted by three companies of her black clad bodyguards.

The Black Legion form a firing line in convention three ranks.

The Black Legion recruits are soldiers of fortune and other naer-do-wells who would gladly sell their services to the highest bidder. Most of them have prior military experience in the various armies of mid-18th Century Europe, so they know what they are doing and they are very loyal to their employer. Nobody really knows of the existence of Milady de Winter, so she employs the evil Colonel Bauer as the commander of her guard. Bauer is, in effect, the front person that the rest of the world sees. When the Black Legion strikes, perhaps to raid a village, kidnap an unfortunate victim, blow up ships in certain harbors, then it is the foreboding Colonel Bauer that the public sees.

Occaisionally, it suits Milady's purposes to conduct affairs of intrigue and espionage without attribution. For this purpose, she employs a hired band of irregular cut throats, also decked out in black, known as The Regulators.

Colonel Bauer (mounted) and his Regulators (Black Scorpion "Privateers").

Do you need to have someone "disappear" permanently, some information to be "coerced" from an unwilling informant, or other dark deeds of that ilk? Then the Regulators are at your service. I have heard that there is no deed too dastardly for them to do.

Here is a close-up of Colonel Bauer (right) and Herself (left)

Some would say that Milady de Winter is in the employ of the King of Prussia. That may or may not be true. It is my understanding that Milady has her own agenda to follow, and it just happens to coincide with that of King Friedrich, for the time being. However, evil can not be neatly classified and contained and I have no doubt that we shall see this dark woman again and again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Austrian Headquarters

Marshal Leopold von Daun's headquarters. The Marshal is a Front Rank figure, the two mounted and dismounted officers are Crusader figures, as are the de Ligne drummers (pink) and the battalion in the rear. Tents by HG Walls. The Marshal and his staff are deciding how many more figures they need to order from Crusader and Front Rank to increase the army.

(Click on all pictures to enlarge the view)

I set up my SYW Austrian army on the wargame table last evening so that I could see it "en masse". This gives one a better idea of what one has when all of the figures are displayed at once. It also allows me to figure out what I need in order to make this a viable army. By "viable", I mean strong enough to fight my massive Prussian army without French allies. In other words, I want to eventually have all-Prussian versus all-Austrian wargames.

The roster so far includes 7 musketeer battalions, 1 grenadier battalion and 3 small (24 figures each) bands of RSM Croats which I consider to be one 72-figure unit of light infantry. The cavalry is understrength at 4 squadrons of cuirassiers, 3 squadrons of horse grenadiers and 4 squadrons of dragoons. This is why I am painting cuirassiers right now. After the 5th squadron of cuirassiers is done, then I will add some more dragoons. Looking at this lot made me realize that I want to increase the horse grenadiers to 48 figures (4 different squadrons in 4 different uniform colors).

A not so great picture of my Austrian cavalry - all Crusader figures. 10 squadrons shown in the picture. I will try to take some pictures of the cavalry in better light.

The artillery park looks OK in relation to the 9 battalions that I have. The park consists of one 12-pounder and four 6-pounders plus the limbers and crew. I use 6 crew for a heavy gun, 5 crew for a medium gun, and 4 crew for battalion guns. All field artillery have limbers, except for the battalion guns, which are man-handled.

Austrian artillery park. The three guns on the left are Elite Miniatures Napoleonic 12-pd and two 6-pd guns. The other two guns are Front Rank medium guns posing as 6-pounders. The limber teams are from RSM. The gun crews are an assortment of Crusader and Front Rank figures.

I did a little inventory this evening and much to my great surprise, I found another unpainted battalion of Front Rank figures that I can add to my army. There were 54 figures in a firing line of three ranks (kneeling at the ready, standing firing, and assorted officers, drummers and file closers forming the third rank). Other unpainted battalions include two 60 figure Minden Miniatures units that I'm dying to paint, and those perfidious Nick Esterhazy fellows.

Later in the week, I will post some pictures of my von Kliest Hussars and Milady de Winter's Black Legion of bodyguards and a company of irregular cut throats in her employ. Wait until you see what figure I used for Colonel Bauer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Austrian Update

RSM figures comprising the Salm Regt command stand (for a different set of rules other than BAR).

I don't have any current pictures of the Austrian cuirassiers in my digital library, so I posted these RSM figures that I painted for a friend last Christmas. I will try to take some new pictures, including the Austrian camp scene that I have, and post them this week. My goal for the rest of the month is to post at least one entry each day so as to hit 100 posts for the year.

Austrian Cuirassiers
I made good progress on my Birkenfeld Cuirassiers over the weekend, having completed a squadron of 12 figures and blocking in the basic white, red and flesh colors on the next squadron. Once the second batch of cavalrymen are completed, probably later this week, that will bring the Birkenfeld regiment up to its full complement of 60 figures.

The Austrians will need a second cuirassier regiment in the near future, so my choice will be the Alt-Modena regiment. This has the distinction of being the only Austrian cuirassier regiment that has blue cuffs (i.e. it is the only regiment that does not have red cuffs). That ought to make it easier to identify the two regiments on the table top. My choice of figures will be the Crusader SYW Austrian cuirassiers. I do have about 20 old Hinchcliffe Austrians that I bought in a flea market. It has been my intention to repaint these figures as the paint job is not quite up to my standards.

Austrian Dragoons
I currently have one regiment of 48 de Ligne Dragoons in my Austrian army and 12 more unpainted castings in the Closet O' Lead waiting their turn to be painted. This will be the next unit to hit the painting table after the Birkenfeld Cuirassiers are completed. Somewhere down the road, I would like to add a regiment of red coated dragoons to represent the Saxe-Gotha dragoons in Austrian service. I have already painted the horse grenadier squadron for this regiment (see picture from a couple of days ago on this blog).

The Infantry
I set up all of my figures on the wargame table this evening and counted 8 line battalions and a converged group of 72 Croats comprising the nineth battalion. This is enough to do the Charles Grant Lobositz scenario if I split the Croats into two battalions of 36 figures. After I build up the cavalry, I have a battalion of Hungarians - Nikolas Esterhazy Regiment (there are those nasty Esterhazys again) ready for painting. This lads have done quite a bit of traveling over the past year. I primed them and started on them about a year ago. Then I mailed them to Lexington, KY so that someone else could paint the figures. Then they were sent back to me when my painter burned out, and now they are back on my painting table. We will have to see if the perfidious Esterhazys ever get painted.

I think that I will upsize all of my Austrian battalions from 54 to 60 figures. Some of them are already at the new strength, so I am only looking to upgrade maybe 4 of my 8 line battalions. Multiples of 20 figures seem to work better in the BAR rules.

The Artillery
I currently have one 12-pounder and four 6-pounders plus the full complement of crew and limbers. Guns don't get on the table unless they have limbers. The exception goes to regimental guns which are light enough to be man handled. I can see adding another 12-pounder and crew to the mix for the time being and maybe some regimental guns. I noticed that I have about 8 of the Berlin Zinnfiguren store Austrian artillery with limbers. These are too nice not to get painted, so they will get into the que at some point in time.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Old Dessauer

Anna Louise (left) and Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau (images from Wikipedia)

There is a new blog that you can find on the list of "imaginations" over at the Emperor versus Elector web site. It is titled, "At The Old Dessauer's Table". That got me to thinking that I did not know very much about the Old Dessauer, so I copied some information from the Encyclopedia Britannica, courtesy of Wikipedia, that provides the full run down.

For those who are interested, the Old Glory SYW Prussian Generals pack of 25mm figures has the Old Dessauer in his famous pose wherein he is praying in front of his troops at the outset of the Battle of Kesselsdorf, against the Saxons in 1745. I tried to find a copy of the famous Rochling print of this event, but was not successful.

ANHALT-DESSAU, LEOPOLD I., PRINCE OF (1676-1747), called the "Old Dessauer" (Alter Dessauer), general field marshal in the Prussian army, was the only surviving son of John George II., prince of Anhalt-Dessau, and was born on the 3rd of July 1676 at Dessau. From his earliest youth he was devoted to the profession of arms, for which he educated himself physically and mentally. He became colonel of a Prussian regiment in 1693, and in the same year his father's death placed him at the head of his own principality; thereafter, during the whole of his long life, he performed the duties of a sovereign prince and a Prussian officer.
His first campaign was that of 1695 in the Netherlands, in which he was present at the siege of Namur. He remained in the field to the end of the war of 1697, the affairs of the principality being managed chiefly by his mother, Princess Henriette Catherine of Orange. In 1698 he married Anna Luise Föse, an apothecary's daughter of Dessau, in spite of his mother's long and earnest opposition, and subsequently he procured for her the rank of a princess from the emperor (1701). Their married life was long and happy, and the princess acquired an influence over the stern nature of her husband which she never ceased to exert on behalf of his subjects, and after the death of Leopold's mother she performed the duties of regent when he was absent on campaign. Often, too, she accompanied him into the field.
Leopold's career as a soldier in important commands begins with the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession. He had made many improvements in the Prussian army, notably the introduction of the iron ramrod about 1700, and he now took the field at the head of a Prussian corps on the Rhine, serving at the sieges of Kaiserswerth and Venlo. In the following year (1703), having obtained the rank of lieutenant-general, Leopold took part in the siege of Bonn and distinguished himself very greatly in the battle of Höchstädt, in which the Austrians and their allies were defeated by the French under Marshal Villars (September 20, 1703). In the campaign of 1704 the Prussian contingent served under Prince Louis of Baden and subsequently under Eugene, and Leopold himself won great glory by his conduct at Blenheim. In 1705 he was sent with a Prussian corps to join Prince Eugene in Italy, and on the 16th of August he displayed his bravery at the hard-fought battle of Cassano. In the following year he added to his reputation in the battle of Turin, where he was the first to enter the hostile entrenchments (September 7, 1706). He served in one more campaign in Italy, and then went with Eugene to join Marlborough in the Netherlands, being present in 1709 at the siege of Tournay and the battle of Malplaquet. In 1710 he succeeded to the command of the whole Prussian contingent at the front, and in 1712, at the particular desire of the crown prince, Frederick William, who had served with him as a volunteer, he was made a general field marshal. Shortly before this he had executed a coup de main on the castle of Mörs, which was held by the Dutch in defiance of the claims of the king of Prussia to the possession. The operation was effected with absolute precision and the castle was seized without a shot being fired.
In the earlier part of the reign of Frederick William I., the prince of Dessau was one of the most influential members of the Prussian governing circle. In the war with Sweden (1715) he accompanied the king to the front, commanded an army of 40,000 men, and met and defeated Charles XII. in a severe battle on the island of Rügen (November 16). His conduct of the siege of Stralsund which followed was equally skilful, and the great results of the war to Prussia were largely to be attributed to his leadership in the campaign. In the years of peace, and especially after a court quarrel (1725) and duel with General von Grumbkow, he devoted himself to the training of the Prussian army. The reputation it had gained in the wars of 1675 to 1715, though good, gave no hint of its coming glory, and it was even in 1740 accounted one of the minor armies of Europe. That it proved, when put to the test, to be by far the best military force existing, may be taken as the summary result of Leopold's work.
The "Old Dessauer" was one of the sternest disciplinarians in an age of stern discipline, and the technical training of the infantry, under his hand, made them superior to all others in the proportion of five to three (see AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION, WAR OF THE). He was essentially an infantry soldier; in his time artillery did not decide battles, but he suffered the cavalry service, in which he felt little interest, to be comparatively neglected, with results which appeared at Mollwitz. Frederick the Great formed the cavalry of Hohenfriedberg and Leuthen himself, but had it not been for the incomparable infantry trained by the "Old Dessauer" he would never have had the opportunity of doing so. Thus Leopold, heartily supported by Frederick William, who was himself called the great drill-master of Europe, turned to good account the twenty years following the peace with Sweden.
During this time two incidents in his career call for special mention: first, his intervention in the case of the crown prince Frederick, who was condemned to death for desertion, and his continued and finally successful efforts to [v.02 p.0047] secure Frederick's reinstatement in the Prussian army; and secondly, his part in the War of the Polish Succession on the Rhine, where he served under his old chief Eugene and held the office of field marshal of the Empire.
With the death of Frederick William in 1740, Frederick succeeded to the Prussian throne, and a few months later took place the invasion and conquest of Silesia, the first act in the long Silesian wars and the test of the work of the "Old Dessauer's" lifetime. The prince himself was not often employed in the king's own army, though his sons held high commands under Frederick. The king, indeed, found Leopold, who was reputed, since the death of Eugene, the greatest of living soldiers, somewhat difficult to manage, and the prince spent most of the campaigning years up to 1745 in command of an army of observation on the Saxon frontier.
Early in that year his wife died. He was now over seventy, but his last campaign was destined to be the most brilliant of his long career. A combined effort of the Austrians and Saxons to retrieve the disasters of the summer by a winter campaign towards Berlin itself led to a hurried concentration of the Prussians. Frederick from Silesia checked the Austrian main army and hastened towards Dresden. But before he had arrived, Leopold, no longer in observation, had decided the war by his overwhelming victory of Kesselsdorf (December 14, 1745).
It was his habit to pray before battle, for he was a devout Lutheran. On this last field his words were, "O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days. Or if Thou wilt not help me, do not help these scoundrels, but leave us to try it ourselves." With this great victory Leopold's career ended. He retired from active service, and the short remainder of his life was spent at Dessau, where he died on the 7th of April 1747.
He was succeeded by his son, LEOPOLD II., MAXIMILIAN, PRINCE OF ANHALT-DESSAU (1700-1751), who was one of the best of Frederick's subordinate generals, and especially distinguished himself by the capture of Glogau in 1741, and his generalship at Mollwitz, Chotusitz (where he was made general field marshal on the field of battle), Hohenfriedberg and Soor.
Another son, PRINCE DIETRICH OF ANHALT-DESSAU (d. 1769), was also a distinguished Prussian general.
But the most famous of the sons was PRINCE MORITZ OF ANHALT-DESSAU (1712-1760), who entered the Prussian army in 1725, saw his first service as a volunteer in the War of the Polish Succession (1734-35), and in the latter years of the reign of Frederick William held important commands. In the Silesian wars of Frederick II., Moritz, the ablest of the old Leopold's sons, greatly distinguished himself, especially at the battle of Hohenfriedberg (Striegau), 1745. At Kesselsdorf it was the wing led by the young Prince Moritz that carried the Austrian lines and won the "Old Dessauer's" last fight.
In the years of peace preceding the Seven Years' War, Moritz was employed by Frederick the Great in the colonizing of the waste lands of Pomerania and the Oder Valley. When the king took the field again in 1756, Moritz was in command of one of the columns which hemmed in the Saxon army in the lines of Pirna, and he received the surrender of Rutowski's force after the failure of the Austrian attempts at relief.
Next year Moritz underwent changes of fortune. At the battle of Kolin he led the left wing, which, through a misunderstanding with the king, was prematurely drawn into action and failed hopelessly. In the disastrous days which followed, Moritz was under the cloud of Frederick's displeasure. But the glorious victory of Leuthen (December 5, 1757) put an end to this. At the close of that day, Frederick rode down the lines and called out to General Prince Moritz, "I congratulate you, Herr Feldmarschall!" At Zorndorf he again distinguished himself, but at the surprise of Hochkirch fell wounded into the hands of the Austrians. Two years later, soon after his release, his wound proved mortal.
AUTHORITIES.—Varnhagen von Ense, Preuss. biographische Denkmale, vol. ii. (3rd ed., 1872); Militar Konversations-Lexikon, vol. ii. (Leipzig, 1833); Anon., Fürst Leopold I. von Anhalt und seine Sohne (Dessau, 1852); G. Pauli, Leben grosser Helden, vol. vi.; von Orlich, Prinz Moritz von Anhalt-Dessau (Berlin, 1842); Crousatz, Militarische Denkwurdigkeiten des Fürsten Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau (1875); supplements to Militär Wochenblatt (1878 and 1889); Siebigk, Selbstbiographie des Fürsten Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau (Dessau, 1860 and 1876); Hosäus, Zur Biographie des Fürsten Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau (Dessau, 1876); Würdig, Des Alten Dessauers Leben und Taten (3rd ed., Dessau, 1903); Briefe Konig Friedrich Wilhelms I. an den Fürsten L. (Berlin, 1905).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time For Austrians

Crusader SYW Austrian Horse Grenadiers from the regiment Saxe-Gotha, painted by Der Alte Fritz. (click pix to enlarge)

His Royal Nibs will not be pleased to hear that I have decided to mobilize the SYW Austrian army. The recent painting binge of Prussian light troops has no brought my infantry establishment up to 19 battalions of 60 figures and 32 squadrons of 12 figures. I lost count of the artillery, but there must be at least a dozen guns and crew.

The Austrians, on the otherhand, have a mere 9 battalions of infantry, 10 squadrons of cavalry and 5 cannon and crew. Clearly then, it is time to augment the Austrian forces. I should mention that my Austrians can count on its allies from the Duchy of Freyberg (3 btns and 4 squadrons of Austrians) and the Saxon cavalry (8 squadrons) in the employ of Monsieur Chevert (Mr. Protz) to fill out the battle line. So all is not as hopeless on the battle line as it would seem at first glance.

There are two other drivers of the urge to paint hoards of men in white coats. Those being (1) a reading of the Charles Grant scenario for the Battle of Lobositz, as described in Charles S. Grant's new book, The Wargame Companion, and (2) a nightly reading of extracts from Christopher Duffy's new book on the Austrian army, titled By Force of Arms. Both provide considerable inspiration to create smaller battles on the tabletop. However, I simply need more Austrians in order to fight balanced wargames.

The Grant scenario for Lobositz requires 10 battalions and 4 regiments of heavy cavalry for both sides. All this on a 9 foot by 7 foot table. Since my home table is 6 feet by 12 feet, I ought to be able to accomodate Grant's Lobositz game on it.

I almost have enough infantry, what with my collection of 9 battalions, but I need more cavalry. The current Austrian mounted arm has 3 squadrons of cuirassiers, 4 squadrons of de Ligne Dragoons in green coats/red facings, and 3 squadrons of converged horse grenadiers. You can see one of the horse grenadier squadrons in the picture at the top of this page.

There are two squadrons of Crusader Austrian cuirassiers primed and ready to go on my painting table. With a considerable number of vacation days remaining in the month, I ought to be able to polish these off by the end of this year (that sounds like a long time when one puts it like that - we are talking a mere three weeks here). This augmentation will increase the Birkenfeld Cuirassiers up to their full strength of 5 squadrons of 12 figures, or 60 figures total.

After that, I have another dozen de Ligne Dragoons to paint - which will bring the regiment up to 60 figures as well. Thus, two full cavalry regiments ought to be able to hold their own against similar numbers of Prussian cavalry. After that, I am tempted to tackle my 36 figure regiment of Esterhazy Hussars (light blue pelise and dolman with red breeches, yellow cuffs and yellow boots). The Esterhazys are destined to become the sworn enemies of Friedrich and Hesse Seewald. The King holds a long grudge against the Esterhazy family for their closing of the SYW uniform/trophy collection that they have in Forschstenstein Castle (in Austria). Der Alte Fritz was visiting their schloss in 2005 and he was not able to see this fabulous uniform and flag collection (many of the Prussian SYW artifacts were captured at Maxen). My only recourse is to paint the Esterhazy infantry regiment and the Esterhazy Hussars, and then defeat them on the table top. Yes, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Be that as it may (and it is all in fun my friends), it is time to forge ahead with the Austrians. I am shooting for a deadline of early February 2009 so that I can have them ready for a game that I will run at the Little Wars Convention in that month. February is sooner than we all think.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Battle of Bettendorf

Suren Uhlans de Saxe escort the troublesome Lady Pettygree across Germany, from Frankfurt to Dresden. (figures from the collection of Bill Protz). click all pictures to enlarge.

That troublesome Englishwoman, Lady Diana Pettygree and her coterie of giggling friends, were once again, the cause of considerable trouble in the cold winter snows of Central Germany this past weekend. Ostensibly, a French expedition of light infantry and cavalry used the ruse of escorting this important personage, to try and extend their forward cavalry screen and keep the Prussians away from the environs of Frankfurt. As often happens when this particular troublemaker is involved, a little country joy ride developed into a battle between the French and the Prussian light forces near the town of Bettendorf.

RSM Croats and Austrian hussars lead the vanguard of the Austrian and French forces across the Apfelwasser bridge. Terrain built by Herb Gundt.

So to make a long story short, a bunch of French soldiers and a similar bunch of Prussians ran into one another around the little hamlet of Bettendorf. The town lay on the western edge of the table and a single road traversed the horizontal length of the table. Halfway across, we found the small, frozen Apfelwasser. One of the French objectives was to push their light screen to this river edge. Further down the road, moving from left to right, was the larger Hartz-wasser. If the French were to push their screen to this terrain feature, it would be considered a significant victory. Finally, at the far righthand or eastern edge of the table, was an important crossroads. Possession of the cross roads would indicate a major French victory.

Both armies had approximately four brigades of 120 figures, mixed with infantry, light cavalry and artillery no larger than 6-pound cannon. The troop quality was "Trained", according to the Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules that we used. My compatriots, Bill Protz, Randy Frye and I used this game as an excuse, or incentive, if you will, to paint lots and lots of light infantry and cavalry. We had long recognized that this branch of the army was woefully under-represented in our respective armies. So Bill and Randy endeavored to paint Fischer's Legion of foot chasseurs and mounted chasseurs, while I chose the multi-armed Von Kliest Freikorps for my army. Our hope was to also paint dismounted cavalry to use in the game, but time conspired against us and so minimal dismounts were available for this game. Oh well, something to shoot for for next year.

French regular infantry and cavalry march through Bettendorf on the way to the Apfelwasser. We played them as freikorps and light cavalry for this game, since we didn't have enough light forces painted. I think that the Auvergne regiment with the purple flag was designated as a converged grenadier unit. So there was some quality amid all of the lower rated troops.

The Croats have now crossed the Apfelwasser and are about to be introduced to their antagonists.

A regiment of Prussian jagers popped out of the woods and delivered a devastating volley that thinned the ranks of the Croats.

While the Croats were drawing all of the Prussian fire and artillery attention, a battalion of French grenadiers attempted to cross a ford (note the rocky area in the stream) and gain the other bank of the Apfelwasser. A company of Prussian jagers defends this section of the stream.

This section of the battlefield featured some interesting developments of note. The French grenadiers succeeded in crossing the Apfelwasser at the ford. Things were looking good since there was nothing more than a company or two of Prussian jagers and some artillery to defend the center. The Prussian commander accordingly called for his dragoons to charge the grenadiers. In essence, the Prussians defended their center with a series of vicious cavalry attacks on the French infantry. The tactic worked as the French grenadiers routed back to their own side of the water, albeit at the cost of most of the Prussian dragoons. Later in the battle, a battalion of Prussian grenadiers emerged from their hiding place behind a reverse slope and the mere sight of tall men in mitre caps was enough for the French to give up the attack.

A regiment of French light dragoons charged across the bridge once the Croats had been cleared away. The Prussians counter-attacked with their own frei-dragoons. The intense hand to hand combat on the bridge was constricted by the narrowness of the span. The Prussian horse would drive the French light cavalry back across the bridge, disordering their supporting cavalry.

The Prussian frei-battalion Von Brittle then moved up to the Apfelwasser to drive back a battalion of French grenadiers, who tried to cross the bridge after the French light cavalry had retired.

Bill's Chasseurs de Fischer (Front Rank figures) seek cover in the woods against the pending attack of the von Kliest freikorps.

Meanwhile, on one of the smaller side tables, Bill and George Rust engaged in a desperate struggle to control the other ford over the Apfelwasser. This was played on a table that measured a mere 2.5 feet wide and fought over a length of only 4 or 6 feet. This demonstrates that BAR style battles can indeed be fought on smaller tables. George's freikorps consisted of 36 horse grenadiers, 12 hussars, 6 dismounted horse grenadiers, 60 Grun Kroaten infantry and two 6-pounders. Bill had a 60 figure battalion of foot chasseurs, 24 light dragoons, 12 hussars and a couple of 4-pounders. The two forces fought each other to a stand still, although it appeared to me that the French had more men standing at the end of the game.

Similarly, Randy and I were fighting it out on the other half table. I had 36 Black Hussars rated as elite, 20 Bosniak lancers rated as Poor, 20 von Kliest infantry rated as trained, and 24 dismounted Black Hussars rated Elite. Randy attacked with another battalion of Fischer infantry, 2 squadrons of mounted Fischer chasseurs, 3 squadrons of light dragoons and a couple of 4-pounders. I also had Milady de Winter's personal bodyguard of 48 black clad infantry, but I elected not to commit them to the battle, because their mission was to find and capture Lady Pettygree.

Some of the Foundry von Kliest Grun Kroaten that I painted for this game. I used the Frank Hammond basing method for the entire von Kliest freikorps (horse, foot and artillery) to give it a unified look.

With no infantry to speak of and no artillery, I had to resort to ambuscade and trickery. So I hid the small company of von Kliest infantry in the woods and waited for the French to pass their front. The von Kliests popped out of the woods and fired into the flank of the French cavalry, dropping four troopers. That was about it for the von Kliests. Randy then drove them off with musketry and entered the woods with his infantry, declining to attack the tempting target of Bosniak lancers, which I displayed to his front. My second little ambush involved the dismounted hussars in the woods, by Randy had this gambit figured out and he flushed them out of the woods where the remainder were mowed down by canister. I now had only the hussars and lancers to contest this part of the table, so I had no choice but to fall back to the cross roads. Advantage French in this sector.

It was a fun little game with most of the intense fighting on the center table, while a friendly affair erupted on the two parallel flanking tables. It was fun playing with troops of lower quality and one has to adjust one's tactics and expectations a little bit in the absence of better quality troops. I am looking forward to more Kleine Krieg wargames in the future, and in fact, I believe that I have a couple of nifty ideas for some fast paced scenarios. More about that within a couple of weeks after I play test the scenario at my home base.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kleine Krieg December 6, 1758

Von Kliest Grun Kroaten figures from Wargames Foundry (click the picture to enlarge)

I haven't had much in the way of free time to blog over the past several weeks, because I've been a paintin' fool feverishly trying to get my Von Kliest Freikorps finished in time for our winter kleine krieg game this past weekend, on December 6th. I will post more pictures over the next couple of days, both of our game on Saturday, and of my freikorps additions and more of Milady de Winter's Black Legion.

I was able to field a mixed force of 36 horse grenadiers, 12 hussars, 60 Grun Kroaten infantry, 12 jagers and two sections of 6-pounder von Kliest artillery and 10 crew. I also bumped the Black Legion up from 23 figures to 45 figures within the past week, as well as an assortment of mounted officers. Mrs. Fritz hinted that I should hide my paint brushes after Saturday's game, because I probably wasn't going to be doing much painting for the rest of the month. Fair enough, given that I admittedly overdid the painting blitz in order to get ready for the game.

Von Kliest artillery, using Foundry Prussian gunners and artillery pieces from Berlin Zinnfiguren.

Eventually, I will add a couple more squadrons of horse grenadiers to get the unit up to 48 or 60 figures, add another squadron of hussars to get that unit up to 24 figures, and maybe down the road, I might add some von Kliest uhlans.

Here is a preview of the kleine krieg game that we played on Saturday December 6th at Brown Deer, Wisconsin. Here we see a hoard of RSM Croats crossing the Apfelwasser spanned by an HG Walls bridge. Mr. Walls also built the road and frozen river sections, the winter trees, and the snow covered building in the background.

A view of the French army as it marches through the town of Bettendorf towards the Apfelwasser. They could only cross over the bridge or at one of the two fords over the stream. These served as choke points that were well defended by the Prussian frei battalions. Virtually all of the troops in this game were low quality trained or poor troops, albeit with a smattering of veteran grenadiers and the elite Black Hussars (whose eliteness did little to prevent them from being shot out of their saddles by the Fischer light infantry of the French).