Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
As it is such a featureless flood plain, the table tops are ideal for recycling. Tim has purpose built terrained boards for both Waterloo and Ligny/Quatre Bras, which can't be used for anything else, so his plan for future battles is to just build the terrain and use the Aspern tables as the base; hence the removable villages.
The best thing about these trips, besides the banter, is the full-on spread provided for hungry workers (and offspring) by Tim and his wife Jill. Jill's cooking is always a treat, and usually the highlight of the day. Unfortunately, if there is work to be done after lunch, it's very hard to get motivated again after such a scrumptious repast. So it's always a good idea to get as much done before lunch is served!
The area where Tim lives was pretty hard hit by the bushfires a couple of years ago, and in fact with a lot of planning, good luck and bravely staying to fight the fires, Tim and his family managed to save their property, losing only fencing but no buildings. Today, besides the trees putting on their fuzzy, post fire regrowth, you'd hardly know that this area was devasted in one of the worst fire disasters since European settlement. This winter and spring have been so damp and the regrowth so phenominal, that you'd hardly know that we've been suffering drought for ages.
Anyway, hats off to Tim and Jill and family for saving their house and for being such wonderful hosts!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I'm still waiting on the Napoleonic Wars Experience and the Osprey book on the Portuguese army, but am assured it will come shortly. The Napoleonic Wars Experience looks like a nice big coffee table book with lots of shiny, shiny pictures, but I doubt if it'll have anything new in it. It is by one of my favourite authors, though,
Richard Holmes, who wrote Redcoat, Sahib and Tommy covering
the golden age of British infantry. He is brilliant in describing the everyday life of soldiers on campaign, putting their recollections in the context of the politics, campaigns and society of the day
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The initial Austrian dispositions on the right flanks
The field of battle, Austrians on the left, French to the right.
Tim's Front Rank French seen from his right flank
Jim's command seen from his left flank
My troops ascend the ridge, covered by the Jaegers in front and the cavalry on the flank
My cavalry hordes
Jim occupies the enclosure and deploys on the ridge and in front of the village
Tim's French advance
Again, from the front
Tim takes the village, behind, while advancing to the ridge
The result of my unlucky charge. Come back! The enemy are the other way!
The infantry redeemed the situation by capturing the French guns (indicated by an Austrian gun, as Garry's guns are attached to the base.)
Jim's forces about to receive Tim's charge!
My division seen from behind. Apart from taking out a couple of skirmishers, my artillery didn't play a big part in the attack.
Garry's brigade charge, met by my 2 battalions in the centre
Garry's charge left high and dry after the Fog of War incident.
My response: column in flank protected by line in front. Grenzers deployed in line in front of French column.
French flee after suffering frontal and flank fire..
..however, the 2nd French column goes battle mad, smashing both units in front and ending up blocking my cavalry's lovely flank charge!
My lovely flank position which I couldn't exploit before the game was called off.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
To celebrate, I've posted a YouTube clip from the French film Le Colonel Chabert of the cuirassier charge at Eylau 1807. Epic stuff, even if not accurate; charging full pelt from the start leaves them completely unformed by the time they reach the Russian infantry. I also wish the poster had left the original soundtrack, not covered it with his music, even if it is very stirring.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Yes, Sunday was Fathers' Day here in Australia and I had a nice relaxing day courtesy of my kids serving me breakfast in bed and giving me the artwork they'd been busy working on all week, and my wife who gave me the day off from the usual weekend chores. I managed to put the finishing touches on my terrain boards and started painting up the Italeri stone wall set I bought last week (below, from Italeri website).
Since this picture, I've reflocked the edges, joins and some mangy patches in the centre that may not be so noticeable in this photo.
This Friday I'll be using Tim's Austrians to get some game practice for our big New Year Battle which in 2011 will be the 201st anniversary refight of Aspern-Essling. Hardly ever having played Austrians before this'll be a learning expeience for me. I also hope to give the terrain tiles their first outing, too.
Another bit of news that I haven't passed on was that our campaign came to a close and my team was the most successful in conquering territory and raising armies, so as a consequence, we were declared the winners! Huzzah!
Friday, September 3, 2010
Anyway, I've finally flocked both sets of interlocking rubber floor mats and after shelling out a bit more than I expected in flocking and spray-on glue I've spent around AUD $150 (is there any way to make this unreadable to the female of the species? I think my wife won't be too impressed when she reads this!) Still, it's about $100 cheaper than the custom made one from The Terrain Guy. It still could do with a bit more flocking around the edges and along a couple of the joins, which I'll add to later, but I'll give it a run on the next Friday meeting to see how it goes in action.
I've also found some 20mm British heavy dragoons in bicornes made by Irregular Miniatures (sounds like they should eat more fibre) of which I've put an order in for 16 (see far left figure, from their website). My previous plan was to stick French infantry bicornes on the bodies of the Scots Grey plastic figures, of which I've inherited a squillion. They seemed a little small, wielding butterknives, alongside the Light Dragoons I've painted. I just hope that the heavies I've ordered are better looking than my original conversion option.
I've also put in an order for Zvezda's latest brilliant offering of French cuirassiers. I still have their Polish lancers unpainted, but it's more of a Gollum scenario; I just need to possess the 'Precious' figures. After I finish with my British and Allied forces, I'll go back and add to my French and Allied armies
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I've been slowly listening to the Napoleon 101 podcast and have reached episode 24 of the 50-something episodes that Cameron Reilly and J. David Markham have produced so far. I say slowly because I find I can't listen for any extended period without shouting at them (if I'm alone) or at least gritting my teeth (if I'm on the tram, say).
I like the fact that they are two enthusiasts who love to talk about their chosen subject like a couple of blokes in the pub would with lots of banter as well as telling the story of Napoleon's career in a linear style.
What I don't like, that sets my teeth on edge and causes bursts of shouting, is their complete bias to all things Napoleon. I don't understand why they have him on such a pedestal and are blind to all his faults, or have excuses for them when they do recognise fault. It's not unreasonable to admire a historical figure, but to do so so one one-sidedly makes me hot under the collar. The fact that they refer to the Peninsula campaign as 'the bad stuff' to be dealt with in an episode or two never to be referred to again ("do we have to talk about this?") made me wince; any historian worth their salt should be willing to examine a subject from all sides with the minimum of partisanship. I like revisionist histories because they usually come up with different ways of looking at old subjects, often using primary sources not before used, or at least digging deeper using existing sources. Reilly and Markham (but Reilly, especially) use cherry picked sources without a lot of analysis or context to support their contentions.
They also don't seem to put Napoleon's and his enemies' actions into historical context, looking at history from 200 years on and from modern sensibilities. St. Napoleon has no faults and everyone else, especially the British (boo-hiss!), just want to pull him down. No mention of how Revolutionary and especially Napoleonic France had turned the old established diplomatic and military world on its head and how this threatened the ruling houses of Europe immeasurably. No mention of the threats to entrenched national interests, such as domination over the Low Countries, domination of Germany, domination over Poland which threatened respectively British; Austrian and Prussian; and Russian and Prussian interests. Not to mention the horror of upsetting ruling thrones and replacing the crowns on his relatives' heads. This tidal wave of interference in political affairs throughout Europe was way above the limit of what the arch-conservative ruling houses of Europe could put up with. The fact that he was tolerated for so long, especially in the period between 1809-1812 was mainly because Napoleon had beaten all comers and had no enemies besides Britain. That didn't necessarily mean that all was sweetness and light and that everyone now loved Boney; the major powers were hedging their bets or biding their time, or any number of cliches, but mainly they didn't want to challenge French power, at least not until their own power had been regenerated. Notice how I am not putting value judgements on my argument, just stating the obvious?
They emphasise his codification of laws and his bringing liberty and justice to the areas he ruled, but they don't mention the crippling taxes or the burdensome conscription enforced on ally or conquered foe alike. The average European, whether he be Polish, Bavarian, Westphalian, Dutch, Italian etc., etc. probably didn't care too much who ruled, but certainly did care about steadily increasing taxes and requisitions as well as the distinct possiblity that he might be stuck in a uniform and given a musket and sent to the farthest extremities of Europe to fight in Napoleon's battles and suffer extreme deprivation, disease and possibly death.
They don't even cover the negative side to Napoleon's personality; the man who had to win so badly, he cheated at cards; the man who blamed Marshal Berthier when he (Napoleon) accidentally shot Marshal Massena in the face, blinding him in one eye, during a hunt; the man who could not compromise when offered peace by the Austrians in 1813.
So far the podcast hasn't covered any of this, or if it has, it has been excused with justifications for their own biases.
One of my favourite personalities of the period is the Duke of Wellington. I admire his military acumen; his eye for terrain; his diplomatic skill; the way didn't uselessly throw his mens' lives away; the way he carefully ensured his army's logitical support.
However, that doesn't blind me to his faults. He was a product of the British establishment and as such had no interest in political reform or meritocratic promotion in the army; he was an arch-Tory; he was dismissive of anyone not from his social class; he didn't give praise easily, but was quick to damn shortcomings; he remained aloof from his troops who admired him for his victories, while using their lives sparingly. There are probably more faults that don't spring to mind right now.
I just wish that the presenters were a bit more open to admitting their hero's faults and looking at history in the context of the time, not with a would-a, could-a, should-a revisionist yearning for a time that never was.
Episode 22 introduced me to another podcast called History According to Bob by Prof. Bob Packett who has a more eclectic historical show covering everything from Ancient Greece to the Cold War and everything in between. He has quite a few episodes on Napoleonics, too. I haven't yet listened to them so I can't offer an opinion, but will once I have.