Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prussian Kettle Drummer for CR1 Krockow

Minden Miniature Prussian Kettle Drummer for Cuirassier Regiment CR1  Krockow

I am currently working on a new cuirassier regiment to add to my SYW Prussian army and spent the evening painting the kettle drummer that goes with the regiment. Cuirassier regiments had their prized kettle drums with them, whereas dragoon regiments merely had regular drummers. The kettle drummer looks decidedly more impressive and elegant, so I was eager to add him to the regiment.

The regiment will see its first action at this year's Seven Years War Association convention in South Bend, Indiana from March 28 to March 30, 2014. I will be running a Lobositz-1756 game on Saturday morning. If there is sufficient interest, I might host a Domstadtl Raid of 1758 game on Friday evening, although it is not scheduled at this time.

I have 14 of the cuirassiers painted, out of a 24 figure regiment, so I should have the regiment completed by this weekend, at which time I will post pictures of the finished product.

Kettle Drummer -- CR1 Krockow

Rear view showing the false sleeves on the musician's coat.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My New Favorite Web Site for 18th Century Wargaming

Russian infantry figures from the collection of John Ray (copywrite by John Ray and published here with his kind permission)

In September 2013, John Ray released his book, titled "A Military Gentleman in the 18th Century", the story of a soldier of fortune named Nicholas Walsh. Walsh was an American Loyalist who fought for the Czarina of Russia,  Frederick the Great of Prussia and George III of Britain. His fascinating story finds him fighting the Ottoman Turks on the steppes of Russia, the Wurttemburgers and French in Europe in the little know Fulda War, and enlisting in the Prussian army to fight against the Austrians during the War of Bavarian Succession. And that is just for starters: the intrepid Walsh returns to his native America to fight for the Loyalist cause and runs into Americans and Spanish antagonists in the New World.

Major Walsh's story is supplemented by a lavish full-colour portfolio of photographs of the fabulous collection of John Ray. John creates and sculpts his own figures in a style that is reminiscent of the old RSM (Pax Britannia) range of figures designed by the late Steve Hezzlewood. As a matter of fact, John learned his sculpting trade under the tutelage of Hezzlewood, whose graceful and realistically proportioned figures look as up to date now as they did back in the 1980s when they were first introduced.

John Ray decided to publish the story of Major Walsh and use it as a vehicle to tell the story via his own collection of figures representing the armies of Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Wurttemburg, Hesse Kassel and France; Prussia, Spain and both sides of the American Revolution. More recently, John opened a new web site devoted to his book, see the link below:

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book, then click on the link below:

Now I freely admit that I am an unabashed fan of John Ray's work and when I first heard that I could purchase a book full of pictures of his military creations, I did not hesitate to jump at the chance. The print run is limited to 500 copies and after that, you will not be able to purchase one new ever again. This is a book that you will want to keep and refer to often if you are keen on 18th Century military history. I would imagine that I pick up my copy several times each week to browse through the pages and read parts of the story or ogle the eye candy of miniatures.

But there is even more coming: John is currently conducting an 18th Century campaign with a number of players in the UK and he promises to post campaign reports, battle summaries and best of all, PICTURES! All of these new items will be posted on the new website and updated as the campaign progresses. John indicates that he will eventually offer a truncated version of the book as a PDF, which is an interesting idea. And finally, for those of you who purchase a copy of the book, you will become eligible to participate in a growing on-line forum devoted to wargaming and topics related to the book.  It has been a lively group so far, full of hobby names that most of you will recognize but you will have to join the forum to find out who they are. The forum promises to be a polite and civilized place to just hang out and talk about wargaming, without all of the strife, rancor and rudeness that is the trademark of That Other Place.

As the title of this thread suggests, the AMG forum is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places to visit on a daily basis. So why not click on the above link, check it out, and see what is going on. I give both the book and the new forum my highest recommendation and I don't think that either will disappoint you. I hope to see some of my readers there soon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Battle of Pirna

Bayreuth Dragoons and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Prussian Leib Guard. Minden Miniatures. (click pix to enlarge)

The Opening Set Up

The game scenario revolved around the idea that during the Prussian invasion of Saxony in 1756, the Saxons elected to break out of their fortified encampment at Pirna (rather than starve themselves into submission) and link up with von Browne's Austrians, who had marched in from neighboring Bohemia to rescue them.

The table was divided into three zones: a center zone where regular troops and cavalry were allowed to set up, and two flank zones on the extreme ends. Allegedly, only light troops were allowed to set up in these flank zones.  

Initial set up of forces, Austrians on the left and Prussians on the right. Good picture of two brigades of Prussian infantry in the center at the start of the game.

Prussian right flank guarded by their cuirassier brigade. Prussian commanders wonder whether or not their right flank is safe.

Apparently it is not, as the scenario allowed the Saxons to start the game on the Prussian flank, unbeknownst to the Prussian players. Fun.

An overview of the action, circa the second or third turn. The first musketry volley are about to be fired in the center.
There seems to have been some honest miscommunication between the game judge/scenario designer and the Prussian players. They were under the impression that only light troops could begin the game in the two flank zones. A brigade of Saxon infantry were allowed to deploy in the "Light Zone" at the beginning of the game and the Prussian command was told that the Saxons were to complete a march back to one of the rear tables behind the Austrian battle line. Thus it was a little bit disconcerting to watch the Saxons deploy from march column into battle line on the first turn. Faster than you could say "Bob's your uncle", the Prussian line was forced to bend at a right angle in order to seal off the threat to their right flank. Game, set and match Old Bean.

Over the course of the game, the Saxon infantry and cavalry kept working its way around the flank and rear of the Prussian right wing, causing the Prussians to divert much needed forces to face the rear to ward off this potential threat.  This proved to be critical to the outcome of the battle. Think in terms of the fighting at Plancenoit during the battle of Waterloo, and you can see the predicament that the SYW Prussians were in.

Now I have gamed enough over the years to know that once your battle line has a bend, salient or angle to it, there is something close to a 90% probability that you are not going to win the battle. Why? Because it becomes very easy for the opponent to attack the bend in your line from two sides. The defender has little chance unless he has superior forces in the vicinity or he is very lucky with his dice.

The Battle in the Center - Shock and Awe

The Prussian commander in chief was focused on events in the center, where a particularly vigorous Austrian infantry attack had the Prussians back on their heels. He ignored appeals from the Prussian commanders on the right flank to send over the cavalry reserve ; however, Frederick figured that the 5 regiments of heavy Prussian cavalry, 1 regiment of hussars, and the pending arrival of the third Prussian infantry brigade on the right side of the field would be sufficient to button things up.

The first volley of the game is about to be delivered in the center of the battlefield as Prussians and Austrians are virtually eye-to-eye in this sector.
The Austrians launched a surprisingly vigourous attack in the center with about 6 battalions of regular infantry and a battalion of Croats that occuppied the wooded area in the center of the table. From here, the Croats continually peppered the flanks of the Prussian battleline and helped to weaken the Prussian front line. In retrospect, the Prussians would have been well served to send in a battalion of infantry to neutralize the Croats.

Firefight begins in the center of the battlefield. You can see the Croats occuppying the wooded area and threatening the Prussian flank.
The Prussians drew the first firing card of the game and delivered a deadly volley into the advancing Austrians in the center. The Austrians shrugged that off and returned fire and both sides settled into a slug fest for the next several turns. Gradually, the Austrians gained the upper hand and wiped out the first Prussian line of two battalions. They then turned their attention to the second line of two battalions. At about this time, Frederick sent two battalions from the refused flank to bolster up his center. 

Austrian advance their reserves in the center of the field and they would eventually punch a hole through the Prussian center.

Croats in the woods pose a threat to the Prussian center. The Prussian infantry is some strange "open order" sort of formation that shouldn't be allowed for the SYW period.

The end game: Austrian cuirassiers punch through the Prussian center, where there are no reserves left to counter them.
The battle of attrition in the center began to turn in the Austrians favor, and in a well timed move, the Austrian commander, von Browne, sent in his last reserve of cuirassiers (the O'Donnell Cuirassier Regiment). The O'Donnell cuirassiers punched their way clear through the center of the Prussian line, sabering artillery crew men and routing off two depleted Prussian battalions. Frederick moved his last reserves of one battalion of guards and a couple of squadrons of cuirassiers to form a last line of defense in the center. In his mind though, he knew that it was time to withdraw his army from the field and survive to fight another day.

The Grand Cavalry Melee (right-center of the Prussian line)

As is want to happen in 18th Century wargames, there is always some huge cavalry scrum taking place on the battlefield. Generally, as a commander, you just hope that you can neutralize the other side's cavalry so that it does not become a factor at the end of the game. I have no idea of the size of the Austrian-Saxon cavalry contingent, but it was probably comparable to that of the Prussians.

The Prussians had four cuirassier regiments (80 figures total), one heavy dragoon regiment (20 figures), and one regiment of hussars (20 figures). You can see the initial cavalry deployment in the picture below.

The opening deployment of the two sides' cavalry on the Prussian right-center of the field. You can see the commencement of the infantry fight in the center of the field as well as the wooded area where the Croats held sway during the battle.
Knowing what Austrian forces I brought to the game (2 x 24 cuirasseirs and 1 x 24 dragoons) and counting the Saxon figures in the picture above (I see 52 Saxons in three regiments above), there was probably an edge in numbers for the Austrians. I am guessing about 80 Prussian heavy cavalry versus 124 heavy Austrian-Saxon cavalry. Under these circumstances, I think that the Prussian cavalry commander, Kurt, did very well to hold his own against the veteran Austrian commander, von Protz. 

Both sides were getting whittled down by the continuous back and forth of the cavalry melee. The BAR rules that we used provide a realistic ebb and flow to cavalry melees, so it is important to maintain some reserves.

Prussian Left Flank - all quiet

The Prussian left flank was the "refused flank" and no, that did not mean that the Prussian refused to attack in this sector. They were held back on purpose. Three battalions were eventually sent to the center to bolster that area, as the Austrian musketry was making short work of the Prussians. On the far left, inside the Light Zone, von Zieten sent a mixed force of hussars and jagers to deal with a similar Austrian force of Croats and Hussars. On the second turn, Zieten drew off half of the Bayreuth Dragoons and a battalion of grenadiers from the reserve to see if he could force his way around the Austrian right flank.

Center-left zone of the table. Prussians forces were "refused", holding back as a reserve if needed.

Prussian left flank - the "light troops only zone". Minden Black Hussars and half of the Bayreuth Dragoons attempt to turn the Austrian right flank.

Austrian hussars decide to leave the field and let their grenadier brethern handle things from here.

Near the end of the game, the Prussian right wing decides to advance to try and relieve some of  the  pressure in the center of the field.

It was a hard fought game with plenty of ebb and flow throughout the course of the game. At various times it seemed that one side or the other was gaining the upper hand, only to see the cards and the dice gods decide otherwise a turn or two later. I think that the "surprise deployment" of the Saxon army on the Prussian right flank was successfully checked throughout the game, however, it was at the cost of drawing off valuable infantry reserves that might have made a difference in the battle's outcome.  Sometimes, you just have to make lemonade from the lemons that are handed to you and adapt to the conditions on hand.

At various times during the game, I felt like I was "channeling" Rod Steiger as Napoleon in the movie "Waterloo". I would walk over to the right flank to see what was going on and watch what seemed to be an ever-growing force of Saxon infantry and light cavalry roaming around the rear area of our lines. There seemed to be enough Prussians available to counter this annoying threat (and light cavalry and light infantry can be truly annoying if used correctly). The Prussian players kept asking me to send more cavalry to them from the reserve and I'm sure that the thought "what do you expect me to do, create more troops out of thin air" entered my mind more than once.

Ultimately, I think that the Austrian victory was due to their vigorous attack in the center coupled with the timely charge of the O'Donnel Cuirassiers.  Frederick probably overlooked the importance of occuppying the wooded area in his center, which provided a covered staging area for Austrian attacks.

The Erbprinz Friedrich of Hesse Seewald observes the action at the Battle of Pirna with his Leib Garde and the von Glasenap musketeer regiment.

A small contingent of Hesse Seewald troops made their first appearance in one of our games, however, they were not actually used in the game, being posted in the rear area for "disinformation" purposes. Had they been approached by the Austrians, I would have simply removed them from the table and told the Austrians that they were not really there. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Marching Off To Battle

Tomorrow morning I will head up north to Brown Deer, WI and give my Minden Austrian and Prussian armies their first workout for the year (and only their second battle ever). Notice the similarity between the marching pose of the Potsdam Guard to the Minden Miniatures marching figure?

Presumably the Prussians will encounter the Austrians and Saxons along the Elbe near Pirna as the Saxons decided that bolting from their encampment was far superior than being starved into submission.

I will post pictures and an AAR probably on Sunday

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My 1740 Potsdam Musket

Reproduction 1740 model Potsdam musket, from The Discriminating General in Canada

I was excited to learn that my reproduction Model 1740 Potsdam Musket had arrived today. The musket was purchased from Military Heritage through their The Discriminating General website. The Company is located in Canada. Military Heritage and Potsdam Musket

I was perusing their web site a month ago, because they often have some very nice historical reproductions that are fun to look at  and once in awhile I am tempted to make a purchase from them. I had previously purchase a British grenadier mitre for the Seven Years War era and a couple of other smaller items. The company makes complete uniforms with all of the bits and pieces of equipment and accoutrements, including side arms and fire arms. Many of their uniforms go to historical museums or are used in historical films, and given the former usage, their authenticity has to be very accurate.

So I was very surprised to see that they had added the Prussian Model 1740 Potsdam Musket to their product line. Why was I so excited, you might ask? Well, as far as I knew up until then, nobody in the world made reproduction Prussian muskets for the SYW. At one time, you could buy a Potsdam kit and attempt to make and assemble the musket yourself (not a viable option for most of us), but that was about it. I don't know how it came to pass that The Discriminating General was making the Potsdam Musket, but I knew that I had to have one to display on my wall at home.

The muskets are delivered in a non-firing state so that the Company can ship the weapon across international borders. You can then have a qualified gunsmith drill out the touch hole to put the piece into firing condition. I haven't decided yet whether I want to have my musket in firing condition, or just to use it as a display piece.

The workmanship looks very impressive to me. I have included a couple close up photographs of the fire lock (is that what you call it?). You can even see the factory marking, where the word "Potsdammagaz" is engraved onto the firing plate. There is also a nifty looking royal cypher or symbol engraved in brass and affixed to the stock of the musket.

A close up view of firing mechanism

The factory mark

I expected the Potsdam to be heavy, and it was, weighing in at 9 pounds, according to the UPS shipping invoice. I know very little about muskets, but it appears to be nicely balanced, with most of the weight in the back third of the musket. It does not come with the red leather musket sling/strap, so I will probably have to find a company that makes these and order one.

One nice little thing about having this model is that it answers the question, "what are the details on the musket and how do you paint one on a miniature?" I now have a handy reference at hand.

By the way, would someone please add himself as a "follower" to this blog? I have been stuck on the number 399 and one more follower would bring my total up to a nice, symetrical even number, like 400.

Upcoming Wargame this weekend: On Saturday February 15th I will travel to Brown Deer with my Minden Austrian and Prussian armies so that we can have a game on Bill Protz's giant 6 ft by 24ft table. Something about the invasion of Saxony, so I'm told. What can go wrong with that? I will post a report over the weekend complete with pictures and details.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

1st Continental Dragoons - Fife & Drum Miniatures

All 8 poses of the 1st Continental Dragoons, circa 1777. (Click to enlarge)

I was able to paint all 8 of the new Fife & Drum 1st Continental Dragoons as samples yesterday - that's a pretty good painting pace, finishing 8 cavalry, from start to finish, in one day. I always paint at least one of the figures complete - start to finish - because this gives me a better feel for how to paint the rest of the figures: i.e what order should I paint the various bits and pieces of equipment and cloth. Once that first figure is painted, then the others follow more quickly.

Here are the new product code numbers for each of the eight new figures:

AC-010  1st Continental Dragoon Officer, pointing
AC-011  1st Continental Dragoon Standard Bearer
AC-012  1st Continental Dragoon Trumpeter
AC-013  1st Continental Dragoon Trooper with Shouldered Sword

AC-014  1st Continental Dragoon Trooper, rested Carbine
AC-015  1st Continental Dragoon Trooper, Firing Pistol
AC-016  1st Continental Dragoon Trooper, Firing Carbine
AC-017  1st Continenal Dragoon Trooper, Reloading Carbine

1st Continental Dragoon Command (L-R): AC-013 Trooper, Shouldered Sword; AC-011 Trumpeter; AC-012 Standard Bearer; and AC-010 Officer (click pix to enlarge)

Another view of the command figures, same order left to right. Obviously the Trooper with shouldered sword is not part of the command group - it was just convenient to photograph the figures in groups of 4 figures.

The figures are sculpted such that one could create a regiment with a more formal appearance, an open order skirmish appearance, or a mix of the two. For a more formal looking regiment, use the four figures shown in the two pictures above. For example, you might select one each of the officer, standard bearer and the trumpeter plus nine of the trooper with shouldered sword to create a squadron or regiment  of 12 dragoons.

The you could add one each of the four skirmishing poses (firing pistol, firing carbine, reloading carbine or rested carbine) to bring your wargame unit up to 16 figures, which is probably a good number to have in most AWI games. The skirmishers could either augment the strength of the unit, or if you base your cavalry on the standard 2-inch square base, you could remove one stand of "formal" dragoons and replace it on the table with two individually-mounted skirmishers.

1st Continental Dragoons skirmishing (L-R) AC-0016 Firing Pistol; AC-014 Rested Carbine; AC-017 Reloading; and AC-016 Firing Carbine (click pix to enlarge)
If you want a more open, skirmish order look to your regiment, then I would recommend selecting the officer (pointing to where a target is) and perhaps the firing pistol and firing carbine and reloading figures. Then, you could have a reserve in your skirmish line consisting of the trooper with the carbine resting on his right thigh and perhaps even the standard bearer and trumpeter posted in the rear with the reserve line. I would use the standing horses for the skirmish poses.

I elected to paint the 1st Continental Dragoons in their earlier brown coat with green facings uniform, which is kind of drab when compared to the more spectacular red coats of the British 16th Light Dragoons that I painted last week. The regiment later converted to a blue coat with red facings. I used the brown  coat since that is likely what the regiment wore during the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777-78, which my AWI Continental army is modelled after.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

More Fife & Drum 16th Light Dragoons

Six of the eight new 16th Light Dragoons. Click to enlarge.
British 16th Light Dragoons in situ. Click to enlarge.
This evening I put the finishing touches on four more of the new 16th Light Dragoons figures and I do not exagerate when I say that these new figures were really fun to paint. The variety and animation, and the realistic look of the figures is hard to beat. I think that Richard Ansell really out-did himself in sculpting this batch of figures.

I have only the trumpeter and the trooper in hunting shirt/shouldered sword pose remaining in my quest to get each of the new 16th Dragoons samples painted. After that, the 1st Continental Dragoons will be painted.

Here are the new product codes for the 16th Light Dragoons:

BC-010  16th Light Dragoon Officer, pointing
BC-011  16th Light Dragoon Trumpeter
BC-012   16th Light Dragoon - Shouldered Sword, uniform coat
BC-013   16th Light Dragoon - Shouldered Sword, hunting shirt variant
BC-014   16th Light Dragoon - In reserve, rested carbine
BC-015   16th Light Dragoon - Firing Carbine
BC-016   16th Light Dragoon - Firing Pistol
BC-017   16th Light Dragoon - Loading Carbine

Each figure is priced at $5.00 each (including horse and rider). They are available for pre-order now, with estimated shipping in about 1 to 2 weeks, after I send out the Kickstarter Rewards to our backers. You will not be charged for any of these figures until I am ready to ship them, but a pre-order helps me to gauge how many I will need to keep in stock after the Kickstarter orders are mailed.

From L to R: Officer, Firing Pistol, Musket at Rest - in reserve, and Shoulderd Sword. Click to enlarge.
Side view of the four newest dragoons off of the painting table.

Monday, February 3, 2014

16th Dragoons - Painted Samples

16th Light Dragoons (L-R): BC-016 firing carbine; and BC-017 loading carbine. (Click pix to enlarge)

Here are a couple of pictures of two of the new Fife & Drum AWI British 16th Light Dragoons that I painted this evening (Sunday night). These are just two of the eight poses that we have for the 16th Light Dragoons. I really like their "Tarleton" style leather helmet and I could even see using these in my Hesse Seewald fictional army too.

I will paint the other six poses of the 16th Light Dragoons this week and then tackle the 1st Continental Dragoons.

Below is a reverse view of the fellow firing his carbine:

16th Light Dragoons (click to enlarge)
Sadly, it is inevitable that someone will ask me, "are Fife & Drum figures Perry compatible?" I think that the real questin should be, "are Perry figures Fife & Drum compatible?" LOL.

So look below for a comparison photo of two figures, same pose, from each range and judge for yourself.  

Comparison of Perry versus Fife & Drum - similar posed figures.

I think that both ranges could easily be used on the same tabletop. You probably would not want to mix figures into one unit, but keep them in their own discrete units and the two ranges should look just fine together.

Banastre Tarleton shown with the two 16th Light Dragoons to give you a little better perspective of how the Fife & Drum range looks.

Right now I am imagining a whole regiment of about 16 of the 16th Light Dragoons and thinking how absolutely awesome that wargame regiment would look. I can't wait to paint more.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

AWI Dragoons for Fife & Drum Have Arrived!

British 16th Light Dragoons (R to L): BC-010 Officer; BC-011 Trumpeter; BC-012 Trooper shouldered sword in hunting shirt; BC-013 Trooper shouldered sword in coat. (click to enlarge).
The 1st Continental Dragoons and the British 16th Light Dragoons castings for the Kickstarter Project arrived today. For those of you who are Kickstarter Backers, I will start packing figures for these two sets of AWI dragoons and mail them within two weeks (it takes a bit of time to process everything).

For those of you who did not back the Kickstarter Project, but would like to purchase figures from the 1st Continental Dragoons, the British 16th Light Dragoons, and/or the Knyphausen, Tarleton and Marion personality figures, then you may begin to place "PRE-ORDERS" and I will ship your order as soon as the Kickstarter backers have had their figures shipped to them. So this is approximately 2-3 weeks before I can start selling AWI dragoons to the general public.

If you pre-order any dragoons, you will not be charged any money until I am ready to ship your figures. The pre-order system allows me to guage the level of interest in the new dragoons so that I can order sufficient stock from my caster, Griffin Moulds Ltd. To make it easier to order, I have assigned part numbers to each figure, which you can buy individually (horse included) for $5.25 per set.

British 16th Light Dragoons skirmishing (R to L): BC-014 rested carbine; BC-015 firing pistol; BC-016 firing carbine; and BC-017 loading carbine. (click to enlarge).
Each set of dragoons has command figures and 1-2 troopers with shouldered swords or carbines rested on their right thigh. Using these figures, you can assemble a "formal" looking regiment of figures for either the 1st Continental Dragoons or the British 16th Light Dragoons.

If you prefer skirmishing dragoons, you can also recruit a squadron or regiment of troopers firing or loading their weapons. Add in the officer figure (pointing) and you can create a nice looking vignette.

1st Continental Dragoons (L to R): AC-010 Officer; AC-011 Trumpeter; AC-012 standard bearer; and AC-0013 Trooper with shouldered sword. (click to enlarge).

1st Continental Dragoons (L to R): AC-014 Trooper firing pistol; AC-015 Trooper firing carbine; AC-016 Trooper loading carbine; and AC-017 Trooper with rested carbine. (click to enlarge).