Monday, October 31, 2011

Генеральный садовый гном армию (look it up on Google Translate!)

It won't make any sense to anyone who doesn't know Jim, but those who do will understand, including General Jimski himself!

I'm finally basing them, individually on 1.5cm square bases. They are the Rosbif standard bases; figure glued to cardboard glued to fridge magnet, with a liberal squirt of Reeves coarse texture gel around the base. They'll get a dusting of flock and maybe some thicker foliage too. They're still a bit shiny, but another quick squirt with the matt spray should do it. The heavy weapons and command bases will be bigger, of course.

I won't be at the club for at least a fortnight, so I'm planning to have them ready to hand over by then, Jim.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

1st (Royal) Dragoons

It's funny how my painting output increases when I have an assignment deadline approaching!

Below are the first two of the dragoon conversions painted last night; the officer and a trooper. The neck join of the officer figure is not the best and is a little lumpy with excess glue. On the table-top, though, I'm sure it'll be fine



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chasseurs progress & starting ANOTHER project!

I'm a butterfly with my projects; I haven't finished my Royal Marines, my British 2nd Division or Jim's Soviets and here I am starting on another! I spend too much time thinking about what to do next before I've even finished my last project.

Courtesy of John R., I've had a bunch of Italeri Scots Greys knocking around that I didn't really know what to do with. I'm more interested in the Peninsular War than Waterloo, so the Scots Greys have been languishing untouched. I had been trying to find a way of getting some British dragoons in bicornes for my collection, but the only ones I found were too big. Since I'm painting the 2nd Division circa 1813, I've decided to ditch the bicorne wearing dragoon idea and do a little head converting with the Scots Greys. Using heads from some Italeri French dragoons, I've turned the Scots Greys into ordinary dragoons, which I'll paint as the 1st (Royal) Dragoon regiment. The decapitated French dragoons will be given some bicorne heads and painted as Spanish line cavalry.

Below are 4 of the chasseurs mounted and ready for varnishing and basing. The horses are form the Italeri French Hussar set as they are much better sculpts than the horses supplied with the chasseurs. The other 4 will be mounted on their horses once I've finished painting them. (I've finally worked out how to do extreme close ups with the camera, 3 years after getting it!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book review - Wellington's Two Front War

The latest book to come off the Rosbif bedside table is Wellington's Two-Front War by Joshua Moon. It covers similar ground to Rory Muir's Britian and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1807-1815 (reviewed earlier in this blog). While I think Muir's book is the better of the two and tells the story from the home front, Moon's book is told mostly from the Peninsula. While he doesn't take Wellington's side completely, the limitations the government were labouring under aren't delved into in nearly as in-depth a way as they are in Muir's book. 

What is more clearly investigated in this book is the relationship between Wellington and the Royal Navy. While Wellington's personal relationships with Admirals Cotton, Berkeley and Popham were constructive, that was because they bent their orders from the Admiralty to the extreme. The Royal Navy were overstretched in protecting the sea lanes from American frigates and blockading French ports. The Biscay area was beset with French and American privateers preying on Wellington's supply convoys which were now being routed to Santander after northern Spain had been evacuated by the French after the battle of Vitoria in 1813. As the Channel fleet was also responsible for the northern and western coasts of Spain, they just did not have enough ships to be able to carry out their own tasks of blockading the main French ports as well as privateer-hunting and convoy escort duty, much to Wellington's fury. He felt that his army was the main game in the war against France and that the Admiralty should be bending over backwards to help him, not spread themselves thin trying to cover all their priorites.

This book also clearly illustrates the labyrinthine channels Wellington had to go through to get anything done with supply, ammunition and the appointment of senior officers all areas that were dealt with by separate departments; all outside his chain of command. How he had the time to actually fight the French is remarkable! He couldn't even choose his officers, being lumped with all kinds of incompetent, useless (and in one case mad!) time servers who hadn't had any experience in the field and owed their higher rank to buying their way to lieutenant colonel after which rank, they were guaranteed to reach the rank of general (obvious exceptions being Hill, Graham and Picton to name some of his better generals). It was the prerogative of the Horse Guards to appoint, as well as remove, officers, so Wellington was lumped with a lot of jobsworthies whose main claim was their patronage of those who made the decisions!

An illuminating book, interesting to read after the previous one illustrating the lot of the common soldier. It seems that the average private was lucky to get any army-issued food at all! On the political side of the story, Muir's book, however, is the superior in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wellington and Beethoven

I'm not very up on classical music, but I can recognise the melodies of the major works, even though I can't say for sure what they're called or who composed them. I know enough to be able to place at least 2 major works that were composed during or dedicated to events during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; namely the Eroica Symphony, or Symphony no.3, Op.55 (originally dedicated to Napoleon, but Beethoven later furiously scratched out his name after Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in 1804); and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, dedicated to the heroic resistance to and defeat of the French invasion of Russia.

What I didn't know until recently was that Beethoven knocked out a tribute to Wellington after his victory over King Joseph and Marshal Jourdan at Vitoria in 1813. Apparently not considered one of his greatest works (I suppose that's why it's not so well known), Beethoven reportedly said in his defense against criticism "What I shit is better than anything you could ever think up!"

Interestingly Beethoven was first given the idea to write the piece as a score for a mechanical orchestra, or panharmonium, invented by a friend of his, but later expanded it to a conventional orchestra piece. Read more about it here

So, enjoy some of Beethoven's shit!

(Found a new version of the whole piece from start to finish. Be patient: it doesn't start until about the 1:45 mark)

Wellington's Victory or the Battle Symphony, Op.91

Monday, October 24, 2011

Portugal 1810 & more pink Chasseurs

I couldn't find the %$*! camera in time before leaving for the club last Friday night, so I've got no pictures of the scenario I organised for fellow members using all my terrain and figures! It was great to see a large percentage of my French and British forces going head to head used by people who know how to play the game properly, but unfortunately there's no pictures to illustrate the game. You'll just have to put up with my poor attempt at describing the events, instead!

As my sea-landing scenario is taking a long time to come to fruition, I'd come up with a another in the interim involving some cliff pieces I'd made for the sea landing. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if a naturally strong defensive position could be taken by an attacking force of roughly equal strength to the defensive force. In my scenario, the British rearguard, retreating to Busaco, had been tasked by Wellington to delay the French vanguard by fighting a rearguard action at a pass between two low cliffs, or escarpments. The French Light Cavalry Brigade that had been shadowing the retreating British called up the accompanying infantry division to clear the pass to allow the cavalry through to continue their scouting of the British army. As the British had deployed out of sight behind the ridge, the French were not sure exactly where the enemy infantry were located. They had to attack blind, while the British knew exactly where the French were.

Robin and Garry took the British and Portuguese, while Tim and John R. took the part of the French. It was an enthralling game which I thought I'd weighed too heavily against the French, but Tim managed to get a brigade onto the cliff after the Legere brigade had skirmished their way forward and racked up the disorders on Robin's British. John had less luck on the other flank, with Garry operating a stubborn defense, (although he had the 92nd Highlanders and the 71st GHLI, both rated elite in our rules). Tim and Robin both put in do or die charges that were defeated on the roll of the dice, but the fact that the British remained in possession of the pass, preventing the French cavalry to continue their scouting gave the game to the British.

To try and make up for the lack of pictures from the last game, here are the latest figures from my Chasseur project.


Another view of NCO


Elite company

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Close, but no cigar!

I played my first game in a while last Saturday, and it showed! I was up against Darren and his superbly painted Republican French army which has been steadily growing and now includes a Chasseur a Cheval regiment in tarletons. Even though Darren is a relative newcomer to the rules, he is a shrewd tactician and exploited my mistakes ruthlessly! I was partnered by Pete E. and his Austrians, while he faced Tony using my French army.

Until I had a rush of blood to the head towards the end that spelled my doom, I made one mistake in the middle of the game that resulted in his chasseurs carving a swathe through my centre from which I recovered. I sent the 9th LD against Darren's converged grenadier closed column, which I thought was getting ready to advance. The cavalry was repulsed and forced back behind the hill where it was no use as an early warning system. As a result, my infantry didn't spot the charging wall of horseflesh until the chasseurs breasted the hill crest right in front of them and missed their opportunity to form square. The 9th LD also missed the chance to launch an opportunity charge. The French chasseurs cleaned up the first battalion in line and the two behind them, but halted in the midst of my army, ready to be whacked in revenge!

I started off successfully, by establishing ascendancy over his skirmish line with a massed skirmish line of rifles, a half battalion of light troops and the light companies of the closest line battalions. after one round of inconclusive skirmishing, I sent his skirmishers packing and started firing on his line. This was when Darren launched his chasseur charge which cleaned up the skirmish line and penetrated my main infantry line. I had kept my cavalry over on the left flank to counter the advance of what turned out to be Darren's main attack, so they were not available to counter charge the chasseurs. As it was, I had whittled down their strength stopping the advance of Darren's elite battalions in closed column by launching one Light Dragoon regiment  in a sacrificial charge to protect my Portuguese infantry brigade. They'd have been chewed up and spat out if Darren had managed to advance closer. The junction with Pete's Austrian force also threatened the flanks Darren's elite advance, which diluted the attention he could devote to my line.

Darren moved his converged grenadier battalion into line to provide flank cover for his grand battery of 4lbers (pop!), in front of one of my light dragoon regiments, who couldn't resist the temptation and charged them. I

The move which settled my fate was Darren's shifting of his chasseurs to his left flank, facing my right. I put my extreme right hand battalion in square and left my 92nd Gordon Highlanders in line. If I'd been thinking properly (or thinking at all!) I would have brought up the battalion in closed column to the left closer to the Gordons' flank, anchoring the line between the square to the right and the closed column on the left. Instead, I just elected to inch the highlanders forward a bit to improve their angle if the French infantry chose to advance. This, of course, prompted Darren's infantry killing machine into action again and the chasseurs leaped to it again, destroying the Gordons and the infantry line behind. This was too much to come back from and as the day was drawing to a close, we shook hands on a well deserved French victory.

I've also included some pictures from one of the other games including one of Andrew B.'s Bashkirs whose headgear I was responsible for creating.

The British starting positon

Skirmish line in front of the 92nd

The skirmish line advances well in front of the line, supported by the cavalry on the flank.

Pete's Austrians and my cavalry

Darren's Republican French

He also opted for a skirmish line from the start

Darren's converged grenadier battalion. I thought they might be Old Guard for a while! Phew!

Darren's killer chasseurs

Tony using my French against Pete on the other side of the table

My line begins to form. I intended to stretch it between the woods on the right and the woods on the far left beyond the hill. I should have stuck to the plan!

Horse guns' view of the grenadier battalion cresting the hill. Blam!

British skirmishers' view of the oncoming wall of blue

Tony had a French phalanx preceded by skirmishing leger

His skirmish line

Darren's skirmishers preceding l'ordre mixte

British skirmish line advances

The thin red line

Skirmish combat ensues

Take that, Johnny Crapaud!

My victory for the day! The 2nd round of skirmish combat results in a British victory, chasing away the French skirmish line, allowing me to start peppering the main French line.

Disorders on the line!

The skirmish screen was protected by the Light Dragoons in the centre. Once they were removed to deal with the impending threat from the left flank, the skirmish line was exposed to the chasseurs.

Aerial view of the situation. Besides getting some British infantry over on the left flank, I think I should have left it alone and let Darren do the attacking...

...but instead I threw the 9th LD at the converged grenadiers and was repulsed.

They were now at the bottom of the hill and had no vedette deployed to warn of the impending danger...

...and here it comes! The distance from where the chasseurs became visible was too close to allow the cavalry to counter-charge, or the infantry to form square.

Crunch, crash, bash!

The resulting carnage!

The resurrected line after the battalion in reserve formed on the chasseurs' flank and fired, causing them to fail their morale check and retreat.

Darren's skirmishers now advance and add disorders to my line without my skirmishers to protect it.

Darren's brigade in l'ordre mixte charges and is met with a counter charge and an artillery volley

A Pyrrhic victory to Darren; I was only forced to retire with 10% losses. Not a bad result, considering!

1st rush of blood to the head: my battered 9th LD charge the converged grenadier line, who, with assistance from the artillery, coolly stand their ground and empty just about every saddle with a devastating volley.

2nd rush of blood to the head; The 92nd Gordons after their fateful foot shuffling precipitated the 2nd killer chasseur charge of the day (They actually should be facing the other way after suffering a retreat, but I won't tell anyone if you don't). The 3rd Foot (Buffs) stand and wait the inevitable while cursing the highlanders for their ineptitude!

Andrew's Cossacks. I love the figure wearing the captured French uniform!

One of Andrew's Bashkirs on debut, whose millinery was my handiwork
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