Friday, November 30, 2012

Big SYW Game Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning I must get up bright and early and drive north to Brown Deer, Wisconsin, where our group will assemble at Chez Protz for the annual  Winter Warfare game. Usually we play a grand skirmish game with nothing but light infantry, but this year we will play a set piece Russians vs. Prussians bash in Silesia. Since it is unseasonably warm in the Midwest US right now, we are forgoing the winter terrain and playing on the regular light green game mat.

"Russians! Oooh, I really hate those guys," as Indiana Jones might say.

I really do not enjoy our encounters with the Russians in our SYW games. They tend to be slug fests with lots of artillery and minimal cavalry. Thus there is not a lot of back and forth, to and fro in these games. And their artillery! They have a lot of heavy ordnance. I like fighting the French and the Austrians, but something about the Russians leaves me cold (no pun intended).

We have 11 or 12 gamers descending on Brown Deer on Saturday, one coming as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota, so the social part of the gathering will be lots of fun. Three of the Russian players have collectively assembled 21 battalions of green coats -- yikes! I had not realized that we had so many Russians. My own Prussian team can only amass 12 to 15 battalions and fortunately we are not going to put every single figure on the table, so the Russians will have to cull down their forces a little bit to maybe something more managable like, say, a dozen battalions.

I stopped in at the local gourmet bakery and picked up three boxes of delicious cookies to help feed the mob tomorrow. A little bit of sugar always helps, although I am back on the wagon again, cutting out sweets from my diet. I had been off sugar from early September up through Halloween. The Trick or Treat candy did me in, I'm sorry to report. Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie did not help my no-sugar cause either, but with tomorrow being a new month, I'm giving it up again.

I will post a bunch of pictures tomorrow evening after the game. I have no doubt that it will be fun, despite my whining about the gobs of green coated warriors.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Continentals in Hunting Shirts

Continental Firing Line in Hunting Shirts

Continental Mounted Officer in hunting shirt and officer on foot

Command figures

Continentals Marching

Royal Artillery Amusette with mantle and 2 crew in the set

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pix From The Past

Lady Emma at age 3

Here is a picture of my daughter and I at her third birthday party. We had a "Groovy Girl" theme for the party and everyone attending wore 1970s era clothing such as bell bottom pants and tie-dyed shirts and, well, you get the point.

A family friend took this picture of Lady Emma and I and we had long since lost the e-photo so I couldn't replicate it in any fashion. Then about a week ago, I discovered that my Mother had a paper copy of the photo pinned to her bulletin board. So I was able to scan the photo and preserve it forever for posterity. It is my second favorite photo of my daughter and I. My favorite is when she was a baby and she has fallen asleep on my shoulder. I found it:
Dad and Lady Emma - age 4 months

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Battle on the Coa Bridge - Part Deux

Captain Hew Grant's Royal Horse Artillery Battery at the Coa. Elite Miniatures cannon, limbers and crew - 6 gun battery. Click to enlarge.

On November 10th we staged another refight of the Battle of the Coa Bridge. Click on the link below to read what happened.

Campaigns in Iberia

One of the interesting things that happened is that the British side forgot to make any strategic plans for the battle. So I guess that you could say that we had some significant "fog of war" from the onset of the battle and it was all accomplished without having any complicated FoW rules or artificial command radii rules. This underscores my belief that the human element of wargaming provides for more Fog of War ("FoW") than any one rule could possibly provide.

Also, during the course of the game, we realized that our cavalry breakthrough rules (cavalry and infantry do not have a mechanical melee rule in the game, the cavalry simply tests to see whether or not it breaks through the infantry formation) did not include the situation wherein cavalry charges into the flank or rear of an infantry unit. Imagine that! It was simple enough to fix: we just gave the cavalry an uncontested break through of the enemy infantry formation.

The picture above depicts Captain Hew Grant's Royal Horse Artillery battery deployed and firing on the advancing French. Six gun models and all of that smoke make for a wonderful picture.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Minden Prussians - IR18

Prussian Regiment IR18 "Prinz von Preussen". Minden Miniatures painted Der Alte Fritz. (click to enlarge)

I've been busy working on some painting commissions and I must say that this latest job was a joy to work on. The project was a "Charge" style unit of Prussian musketeers using Minden Miniatures. The client happened to select one of the most colorful regiments in Frederick the Great's army, that of IR18, whose inhaber was usually one of the hereditary princes of the House of Brandenburg. Frederick's brother, August Wilhelm served as inhaber from 1742 to 1758, having died from natural causes. Thereafter, the inhabership fell onto King Frederick's nephew (and son of August Wilhelm), Friedrich Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Prussia (hence the name Prinz von Preussen) and later to be King Friedrich Wilhelm III.

The regiment has color rose or pink facings (lapels, collars and cuffs) and has an unusual distinction of not having red turnbacks - they were rose colored turnbacks to match the facing color.

IR18 was usually a part of the King's army when he was on campaign and was deemed by Frederick to  be one of his best and most dependable regiments.

I painted the grenadier company with powdered hair to make them stand out a little more, as if they needed any more standing out. Their grenadier mitres are certainly spectacular with silver front plates and a rose mitre bag piped in white. I painted different colored sword knots for each of the four companies that the client will use in his Charge organization. This way, he can keep track of which soldier belongs in which company after they get all scrambled up in battle. The bases were not terrained at the client's request, so I merely painted the MDF bases with a coat of Reaper Elven Green paint to give them a more finished look.

Finally, I topped the regiment off with a fine looking pair of flags from GMB Designs. The flags were trimmed and glue applied, then I pressed the halves together and curled the flags using a small dowel rod. The white Elmer's Glue dries quickly and in about 5-10 minutes, the flags had dried and were ready for photographs. I like to curl my flags on a diagonal line running away from the flag staff as this presents a more natural furl of the colors (rather than using a vertical furl, which is almost impossible to achieve in real practice).

Everything is now packed in a box and is ready to be shipped to its new inhaber tomorrow. I have to say that I like the look of this regiment so much that I will have to add an IR18 to my own Minden Prussian army in the future.

Front view showing a closer look at the colonel and the colours.

A close-up of the grenadier company.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Never Give Up

Ulysses S. Grant
'Well, Grant,' said Sherman, 'we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?' 'Yes,' Grant replied, 'lick 'em tomorrow, though.'

-- Sherman and Grant on the night of the first day at the battle of Shiloh.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate and like the cut of General Grant's jib. The man had a single-minded focus on the task at hand and never let a setback get him down. That is something to keep in mind and emulate when times are difficult or outcomes of events do not turn out the way that you expect them to.

Yep, we'll lick 'em tomorrow.

More of the account at the battle of Shiloh (found on the internet):

The Union commander, however, had no such doubts. Major General Ulysses S. Grant, although admittedly caught by surprise by the Rebels' morning attack, did not envision retreating. With his back against the winding Tennessee River, such a retreat was not an option. Nor was Grant the sort of commander who spooked easily. When one of his staff members, Colonel James B. McPherson, suggested that they consider withdrawing, Grant immediately snapped, 'No, sir, I propose to attack at daylight and whip them.' Already, reinforcements were on the way. Meanwhile, all they could do was wait. Grant tried to catch a few hours' sleep in the shelter of a large oak tree near the landing. But the incessant rain, coupled with the steady throb of pain from his ankle, which had been injured shortly before the battle when his horse fell on it, made sleep an impossibility. The Union commander then relocated to a log cabin on the bluff above the river. But Union surgeons had taken over the cabin for battlefield operations, which consisted mainly of sawing off shattered arms and legs. The screams of the wounded were too much for Grant. 'The sight was more unendurable than encountering the enemy's fire,' Grant recalled in his Personal Memoirs, 'and I returned to my tree in the rain.' It was there that his second-in-command, Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, found him later that night, chewing on an ever-present cigar. 'Well, Grant,' said Sherman, 'we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?' 'Yes,' Grant replied, 'lick 'em tomorrow, though.'

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fife & Drum and Fritz Get Published

The past month has been rather busy for Der Alte Fritz as I've been busy scribbling out articles about the American Revolution (or AWI) for the wargaming press. Coincidentally, both articles are appearing simultaneously in November.

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy issue number 63 has a theme issue about the AWI and I was asked to pen an article about the uniforms of the British and Continental armies during the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign. I learned some new things during the research phase of the writing of this article, particularly about the Uniform Lottery that was held in 1777/78. You will have to buy an issue and read for yourself as I'm not going to "spill the beans".

Battlegames issue number 32 features some pictures of Fife & Drum Miniatures on the cover as well as with the article that I wrote: this time, a "command challenge" scenario that is a real cracker-jack of a game. I won't tell you who won the game, but the three times that I play tested the scenario, one side or the other had to win it on the last turn of the game.

I hope that I can peak your curiosity enough to make you want to purchase a copy of both magazines and give them a read. I think that you will like them.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Old Abe

Old Abe - Mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Regiment in the ACW

Today I am going to teach my daughter's history class about the American Civil War. The kids are 8th graders and probably have a short attention span, so I am limiting my presentation to a few anecdotes about the war and some "show and tell" re-enactment uniforms that I have.

I will do a short piece on Old Abe, the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin.


I had a great time teaching the history class on thursday and the students appeared to enjoy it too. I brought along my Confederate colonel re-enactment uniform and let them try it on. Then I passed a few forage caps around the room: infantry grey, artillery red and cavalry grey with yellow bands. I also had a couple of old minie balls that I had acquired over the years and used that as a segue into a discussion of muskets versus rifles and how the latter changed the style of warfare.

Next, we talked about Old Abe and this seemed to be everyone's favorite part of the presentation.

Finally, I selected a few passages from Sam Watkin's diary "Company Aytch". I focused on some of the funnier passages rather than the descriptions of the battles.

Before I knew it, an hour had passed and it was time to pack everything up and head home. I will see if i can post a picture of the class that the teacher took for me. All in all, it was a fun time and I would definitely do it again.