American Civil War (I)

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Baccus 6mm Rebels deployed. Painted by Turbil Miniatures.

ACW was my first love, it still is, and thats that. The main reason of wargaming again the ACW (must be my sixth try), this time in 6mm, is because it is well balanced and a “compact period” 1861-1865.It all started with John Ford and the movie “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” which I saw so many times when a child that it left an everlasting impression, and I did not dig all the nuances until I was older, for me it is a masterpiece of condensation, nearly everything on the ACW is there. If you add to that my old 54mm soldiers, AIRFIX 20mm period, MINIFIGS, FOUNDRY. DIXON, TO THE REDOUBT, PLAYMOBILS and finally BACCUS… Well… Recurrent is the word you are looking for…

Of course it was not only the movies… I enjoyed reading SHELBY FOOTE three Volumes, a real tour de force! So packed with information that I had to read slowly to digest it -meaning I read a lot of other books at the same time- even about the ACW too!

Of course refighting historical battles as they do in LITTLE WARS TV is Ok, but I always enjoyed “doing my own”… it is very hard to simulate in the Tabletop the disinformation of the real Generals (The overestimation of The Southern Armies numbers by the Union Generals -aka little Mac- is a well know fact!). Still even so Bull Run (1st Manassas) is a favorite up to a point… But to be honest I mainly I build a scenario with a bit of fog of war, try to enlist some generals from my brother downwards and that’s it. Fictional battles are for me so much more fun after-all, in real war you can not pitch Stonewall Jackson against U.S.Grant for example… in real life they never fought each other.

But, apart from other lines of entertainment with Baccus figures, at the moment it is the ACW who wins all bets. I have the Armies, the scenery and the will, but must write some easy to understand home rules for my grandchildren, always have loved simple rules but with a twist some place.

Confederates deployed for action.

So, to sum up my progression: I started wargaming when a kid in a rudimentary form on the floor with 54mm “rubber” soldiers (1). I then -in my early twenties-discovered the plastic AIRFIX whole range in 20mm -in fact 4 different boxes; Union Infantry (blue), Confederate Infantry (grey); Artillery (medium brown) to be used for both sides; and finally US Cavalry (Blue) that you had to paint for the Rebs- and went for them boxes like the quest of the Grail! (2).

In due time I discovered MINIFIGS 25mm, then based at Southampton, so I graduated to “metal” and their Catalogue (which I still have) was my companion for years! (3). I still recall the sorrow when a Zouaves unit got “lead rot” and become unusable… of course I dutifully bought them again and painted them even better… those were my painting years. Afflicted by a bout of Napoleonic megalomania I swapped my 25mm Union Army for my brother’s Napoleonics (same trade mark) to do not have to transport them up and down because we lived 200 Km away from each other. It was a satisfactory solution, and I went to complete all Napoleonics nations as a result.

Then FOUNDRY started an ACW range and I could not resist buying ACW UNION Cavalry under “THE HORSE SOLDIERS” influence, by then I was mixing riders and horses (Dixon) and making conversions -nearly military modeling- one thing lead to another and I got some Artillery… and then why not? some Infantry -you need some at Brandy Station I reasoned- of course I bought the Confederates too… That was my fourth effort! (4). Finally, crisis struck again and my faith in 25/28mm was shattered… regretfully I sold them all. Some of them -those Union painted by me- became property of my brother who had the Rebs and no crisis of confidence with that scale. We even exchanged some Napoleonic’s for them… I kept the 25mm Napoleonic’s longer than the rest… but they were sold too in the end!

With the funds obtained I started building Playmobil Armies for my (then) first two grandsons… once organized I thought it was a way to confront brother against brother in a too realistic way and scratched out the project… Sold them all again. (5) And went “tricorne era” fictional Playmobil Armies much more clean in spirit, and much more toy soldier like, a la Charles Grant Jr.

And where was I?… Reading Practical Wargamer… and there I found Baccus ACW Cavalry on the cover of one number!… nothing less than East Cavalry Field (again)… months of musing about it… I bought POLEMOS ACW rules from Baccus… and fell in l love with the color pics (eye candy) -Rules as it is I prefer my own as always- And then to make a long story short I went Baccus ACW 6mm for both sides (6).

Do not pity me!… I had tons of FUN in the whole process that lasted years and years… and I am certified as SANE.

So there you have it, I have build six times the period and have read a long list of books about it, by the way Paddy Griffith is very good at it!. There are two very good books to own by him: BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-1865 with stunning artwork. And then BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR. As per uniforms information the best to my knowledge apart from the Osprey’s, old Blanford, and Troiani’s and Kuntsler’s and Rocco’s paintings the best single volume is: La GUERRE de SECESSION Les armées de l’Union et de la Confederation- by HEIMDAL in France.

Very good textbook.
Excellent Illustrations. A must have book.

Now, as I have in my modest collection enough troops to have fun -megalomania is a pest to avoid- and all the references of the Baccus Catalogue! I am satisfied. I must confess the range is splendid and one of the best in Peter’s production.

I use the ACW limbers and caissons also in colonial affairs mind, and also the horses for dismounted Cavalry. I even have some Rapier Union Infantry to add a bit of variety to the collection and also Rapier Cavalry on both sides. I even mixed minis from other periods getting French with kepi from the Franco-Prussian Baccus range too… anything to add variety. Im my opinion one of the best Baccus packs is ACW7 because it has hat and kepi figures and some with rolled blankets across the chest -always a favorite of mine- so, if I started anew building Baccus ACW Armies I would surely get all the packs but ACW7 would have the lion’s share of the purchase (the only drawback is ACW7 has only one standard-bearer!).

If you are new to the period I can recommend:

ACW Filmography: GONE WITH THE WIND, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, GODS AND GENERALS, GETTYSBURG, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, GLORY, MAJOR DUNDEE, SHENANDOAH, THE FIELD OF LOST SHOES, CLASS OF 61, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY… to name about a dozen… real fans should also see THE BIRTH OF A NATION and THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton) both silent movies.

ACW Bibliography: THE CIVIL WAR (Shelby Foote), THE CIVIL WAR (Bruce CATTON’S trilogy), CLASHES OF CAVALRY (Thom Hatch), BATTLE TACTICS OF THE CIVIL WAR (Paddy Griffith), BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR: GENERALSHIP AND TACTICS IN AMERICA 1861-65 (Paddy Griffith), DON TROIANI’S CIVIL WAR, BATTLEFIELD ATLAS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (Symonds), All Ospreys on the subject MAA and Campaign, “THE” Blandford book about Uniforms: UNIFORMS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR 1861-65 -the first one I ever bought myself!- LA GUERRE DE SECESSION (HEIMDAL Jouineau-Mongin), THE QUEST FOR ANNIHILATION (Cristopher Perello), GETTYSBURG (Stephen W, Sears), GETTYSBURG: THE STORY OF THE BATTLE WITH MAPS (David Reisch and David M. Detweiler), THE CIVIL WAR: THE STORY OF THE WAR WITH MAPS (same), and of course hundreds more…

And as an afterthought on ACW Historical Fiction: THE KILLER ANGELS, SHILOH, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, CONFEDERATES, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, THE MARCH, STONEWALL’S GOLD, UNTO THIS HOUR, THE NORTHERN WOLF SERIES (5 books I guess) RUTLAND’S BLUES AND GREYS, CIVIL WAR STORIES (A.Bierce)… Frank Yerby, John Jakes, even the great Bernard Cornwell did 4 novels (probably not his best novels though) about it!

ACW (III)

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Scenery in the period is really easy to find, In fact in 6mm a lot of items can be used in different periods like Trees, Bridges, Fences, Fields (ploughed or not), trenches, tents etc.

I wanted to explain -yet again- why I find so interesting the ACW. A quite modern Republic, with a great Constitution and not even a Century of existence torn apart by a political argument (and two very different ways of life). Was a State paramount in legislation inside his border limits? or do the Central U.S.A administration superseded those and could prevail over the State decisions?… in fact that was the original dispute brewing for years until it exploded. Of course the matter of slavery was a very important issue but it was “used politically later on” because the Constitution allowed it! Of course it was also the time of abolition everywhere around the world and the Confederacy “way of living” or economy if you prefer was doomed as it was.

Stonewall Jackson Foundry 28mm.

You have a war to wargame that starts at Bull Run / First Manassas with similarly clad (some Union Regiments wore grey and some Confederacy wore Blue) amateur Armies. And from then on until Appomattox you have practically all, Attacks, Defenses, Infantry entrenching, Sieges, Cavalry Raids, Cavalry Battles, Mini-Campaigns as Jackson’s Valley one!, Outflanking moves by whole Armies… the change from Napoleonic Warfare to nearly WWI tactics and above all a list of colorful characters, General Lee, who was offered command -and refused loyal to Virginia- of the Union Armies at the beginning of the crisis -tell me which other war has that characteristic- General Grant who understood modern war and was all business, Sherman (a total war believer), Sheridan, Longstreet, Beauregard, JEB Stuart, Custer, Kilpatrick, Gregg, Buford, Meade, Picket, Hood, Johnston… I could go on and on. Even fanatics of naval warfare can have their day. Railways, Telegraph, Balloons, Ironclads, it is really a fascinating period…

U.S.Grant, same as above.

Rules aplenty exist -I work my own as usual- but some commercial one’s are very good, I used Fire&Fury with great satisfaction. You will pay your money and get your choice. I am quite liberally minded and do not preach or ask for proselytes -perish the thought- One of the FUN of the period is the sheer incompetence of generalship -not exclusively in the Union side- political appointed Generals who could not command a corporal’s guard. I love chance cards in my games, you know what I mean, you throw a six and have to turn a card… lol… The First division has lost its way and would not come at all; The ADC with the orders has been shot and you know nothing of the change of plans; A fall from a horse has injured and incapacitated the leader of your Cavalry; and so on… but all this is not “original”.

Been solo has its rewards too. But a multiplayer game is real fun.

I fondly remember a Napoleonic game (Yes I was a Napoleonic geek for thirty years) I staged for several people -my brother and his friends from Barcelona- a long time ago… Aspern-Essling it was (but the players did not knew)… As the umpire I decided (or ruled) that commander and sub-commanders could only speak to each other when in base contact… all other communications where via couriers galloping with written messages!… I nearly died laughing seen the expressions on the faces of the Generals when reading messages!… puzzled does not even begin to describe it! long time friends did not understood the written instructions!… we had FUN!… lots of FUN and that is what is all about.

ACW (IV) Special Stands

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Pontoon Bridge (Baccus) and Cavalry wading special stand. painted by Mersey Wargames.

As a corollary, when at the end of building Brigade stands I stopped to think a bit, I decided to put variety and glue the minis differently on them stands, after all the 60×30 stand was already paramount in my Armies and had a lot of two lines of 12 + 4 skirmishers in front so… those questions come to my mind:

1) How do you represent the feat of the First Minnesota at Gettysburg?, it was a single Regiment NOT a Brigade who charged by orders ALONE! into a Confederate Brigade who was superior in numbers and also outflanked them on both sides… HOW DO YOU DO IT?… Don Troiani’s paintings as an inspiration… but not exclusively that. I am not shouting excuse the emphasis.

2) At the end of the ACW there were Rebel Brigades reduced so much that in fact had the strength of a Regiment…

Well, all of that put me in gear to do some special stands, the theory was completed: I did build new stands in the following manner:

  1. Using the standard 60x30mm Baccus stand I represented units understrength, meaning NOT the usual two ranks of 12 minis and 4 skirmishers in front.
  2. I represented isolated units with flanks unprotected -aka 1st Minnesota at Gettysburg- Using fewer minis in the center of the stand with no skirmishers and still two ranks.
  3. In the same stand I will put side by side two units with their colours but much reduced -Confederates- to represent late war status.
  4. Last but not least that induced other supporting ideas… why not push forward both lines and eliminate skirmishers from the picture making some minis in the rear rank a bit not aligned -that represents stragglers or tired soldiers trying to catch up- a new stand to give variety to the tabletop- and what about mounted officers of the Brigade?… THE MEN MUST SEE US TODAY!… just another variation… and so on… (still not shouting).
  5. And in my final order I included Brigades with flank refused, as in Little Round Top extreme of the line.

I did the drawings and schemes and post them to Greg at MERSEY WARGAMES PAINTING SERVICE, those “new stands” will gave my own rules more scope for variety.

I am probably not the first to realize the flexibility of the system that enables a more liberal composition of the minis glued to the base -I am not claiming originality at all- but I guessed it would be a good idea to post my thoughts about them.

Hereby find the instructions and diagrams -scanners attached- for the painting of the ACW Infantry and Cavalry.

1.- Union troops are absolutely REGULAR in dress, blankets Black tarpaulin (Impermeable gear). Only one Regiment of coloured troops (NEGROES) with white officers. Hats always black.

2.- Confederates mainly butternut and dark brown blankets. I appreciate if bits of grey showing be that kepis, jackets or pants in 50% of the  minis.

NOTE: These typed instructions have pre-eminence over the diagrams, in case of conflict between the two follow the present text. Of course, clarifications can be provided.

As you know these stands have NO skirmishers, have the standard double line (pushed forward because NO skirmishers) always central command strip with flags in the centre in the first rank -officer to one side, drummer at the other- with independence of the gluing of the minis on the stand which is the purpose of this present order: ADD VARIETY TO THE ASPECT OF THE STANDS. All minis are facing forwards, even when refused flanks or catching up… no minis running away. Remember NO NEED TO GLUE FLAGS ON THEM, just paint the guidons on the cavalry.

Diagrams to make myself understood by a painter of minis more than a thousand miles away! -Greg is REALLY helpful-
Diagrams above underway… painting by Mersey Wargames.
The above stands finished with flags etc. Mersey Wargames Painting service and final touch by yours truly.

A.- Union Infantry stands:

A1.-    Number one on the diagrams, 20 minis glued as shown with margin at the sides, meaning as together (centred) as on a typical stand of 28 minis such POLEMOS.

There are two minis “catching up” at the rear, not much distanced, one and two base width is OK (on the diagram looks much distorted). All kepi with blanket.

A2.-    Same as above but a mix of kepi and hats. 4 minis in the rear rank “catching up”. Always same criteria as on A1.

A3.-    24 minis + Mounted Officer at the front (from the Cavalry packs), It is a standard POLEMOS stand with the addition of the Mounted officer instead of skirmishers and 3 minis catching up in the rear rank. Minis glued more forward to permit that.

A4.-    12 minis. All black hats. Centred in stand. Flanks unprotected.

A5.-    20 minis. Right flank refused. Same as above.

A6.-    Stand with two small Brigades. 24 minis + Mounted Officer. First rank of the rear Bgde.  and Second rank of forward Bgde.  can be aligned.

A7.-    Same as A5. But the other flank refused. (Left). 20 minis.

A8.-    Put as many kepis as possible in that one… at least 50%. Very similar to A1 but those are Coloured troops with white officers. Two minis “catching up”.

Had to find stands to fit the width of the BACCUS Bridge. I did also other Special stands of course see ACW II.

B.- Confederate Infantry stands:

B1.-     Number one on the diagrams, 20 minis glued as shown, meaning as together (centred) as on a typical stand of 28 minis such POLEMOS. But right flank refused as in A5. Mixed lot. Use different colours for hats.

B2.-     Same as above but left flank refused.

B3.-     12 minis + Mounted officer.. All “straw coloured” hats. Centred in stand. Flanks unprotected.

B4.-     Stand with two small Brigades. 24 minis + Mounted Officer. First rank of the rear Bgde.  and Second rank of forward Bgde.  can be aligned. Quite as A6.

B5.-     Same as B4 minus mounted officer. When aligned like this they have to match B4 and B6 position glued as to look a “LINE”. In fact it would look as an standard POLEMOS stand with two sets of colours, no skirmishers and pushed forward.

B6.-     Same as B4 but symmetrical, see diagram. 

TOTAL of 124 infantry minis and 3 mounted officers. (Include 9 command strips).

For the Infantry stands you will need 14 units of 60x30mm bases NOT INCLUDED.

ACW Cavalry Stands:

Colour of horses predominantly Dark and Red Bays, some Black. All buglers on white horses. Mix a bit.

C1.-     60x30mm stand with 9 minis (UNION) wading a river as mentioned in previous emails:

The idea is to have in a 60×30 Baccus standard base of 9 figures unit in column wading a river… IN LONGITUDINAL WAY DIRECTION FRONT OF 30mm … that means: To cut the bases of the first three (command) and the last two troopers, and the whole legs of the horses (4) in the middle of the base, glue them like that in a more or less “disordered way” but still in column… and paint the base sky blue… as WATER.

C2.-     Same as above but Confederate. (No butternut)

C3.-     A typical Cavalry Brigade of 9 minis (UNION) as per POLEMOS… but in arrow formation as seen in the Forum in Baccus webpage. Officer forward and troopers on each side a bit behind each time, so that the extremes are the more back figures. Quite straightforward.

C4.-     Same as above. Confederate. (No butternut)

Now, what to do with the remaining mounted minis?. NO officer’s left but still guidons (standard-bearers) and buglers.

Please use 30×30 stands on the rest, groups of 4 minis, 2 in front 2 behind as you have done for me repeatedly.

C5.-     4 Union stands, guidon on front rank (right side), bugler front rank (left side). Two troopers behind. Please mix hats and kepis.

C6.-     2 Confederate Stands same as above. (No butternut)

C7.-     4 Union stands with 4 troopers mixed headgear.

C8.-     2 Confederate Stands with 4 troopers as C7. (No Butternut).

Some Special Stands with customized flags (Custer at the LBH is not ACW of course) but the purpose of the pic is to show how easy is even in 6mm.

Collecting Toy Soldiers (III)

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The last Eleven of the Berkshires at Maiwand 54mm Replicametalsoldiers Andrew.

Updated December 2020.

It required time, but they are in the cabinet at last. I did found Andrew Stevens line of Traditional Toy Soldiers in FaceBook, his trade mark is REPLICAMETALSOLDIERS. They are quite Britain’s style but brand new, meaning no Antiquarian prices (or “oldies” look). I can recommend his products because I am really satisfied. I always wanted a range like that and he really adapts himself to your need (in fact so well that another order is on the way I fear!).

At arrival and unboxing, boxes are a delight on its own.
The whole order sorted out together.
The “hole”. You get a “hole” by cramming up the rest…
Fixing a hole.
Actually I needed two shelves which will be completed with the current order. Finally the RCMP emigrated to the Household Division Cabinet to make place. All Colonials now here.
The Colonel.

It was a long wait but worth the time, as usual I could not stop there and passed another order for some odds and ends and some Corps of Guides units (after a while I added Gurkhas and Highlanders too!). THAT would hopefully stop my collecting in 54mm for a while… if you do not count 5 SPAHIS I am asking for at Dorset Soldiers on the 1st of September.

It must be puzzling for some of the readers that I collect in 54mm and wargame mainly (when I do) in 6mm… but that is that.

After years waiting for them the officer of Spahis will get troops to command!, the parcel with 5 SPAHIS is on the post. I was very late on deciding to add them to my collection (after all at some point of their history they rebelled and killed their French Officer’s… similar to the Indian Mutiny but other times and reasons…)… a colourful outfit no doubt about it… but mainly because Henri de Beaujolais was an officer of Spahis… you must be careful with what you read when very young… Dorset Soldiers under a new management after Giles Brown retired.

Original paint from DORSET.

Well, BTW excellent packaging, boxes, DHL, terms and time elapsed from command until arrival… everything went without a hitch. Customer satisfied. Will buy again from Dorset Soldiers.

Officer Royal Corps of Guides 54mm REPLICA METAL MODEL SOLDIERS
Raj Indian battery.
Simply great!
This one is dedicated to Nigel Price.(Because he is a retired officer of Gurkhas)
Queen’s Own Royal Corps of Guides 54mm.
Last but not least the Gordons in Afghanistan (Kandahar).

The two pics above are from a megaset titled NAVAL BRIGADE, for once it is not mine at all (sadly… lol)… but could not resist posting the pics on the blog. That shows that collecting 54mm toy soldiers is alive and kicking. Andrew REPLICA Metal Model Soldiers. Someone must be very happy with this set!

Small Conversions, as part of collecting.

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Now, this could possibly go under “Collecting Toy Soldiers” or even “Conversions” alone… a post I deleted once… and going to use in part to show what I mean for conversions.

Life is not perfect sometimes (we all learn to live with that), and mistakes or omissions appear in your collecting hobby. For example on my last order to Andrew (REPLICA METAL SOLDIERS&MODELS 54mm) I did not specify that I wanted my 92nd Highlanders pipers 1878 with pith helmet (Khaki)… to my surprise they come with a different headgear… a bit out of place when campaigning in Afghanistan… but not historically imposible… anyway after much thinking about it I have decided to change those heads. Andrew did loyally commented that they were (and are) one-piece castings, so the process would be “cutting off” and drilling a new hole on the neck to acomodate the new head (painted and supplied by Andrew) which of course implies the use of special tools I did buy long time ago for doing the same thing in 25/28 mm scale. Finally I did NOT convert those I love them as they are!

Here are some of my OLD conversions of Foundry 28mm figures for the Crimean War, I still have in my possesion a Nolan figure (left of pic) for sentimental reasons. Do not ask for them and pester FOUNDRY, they are not in the catalogue, I wanted a mounted Highlander officer, a mounted colonel of Rifles, a general based on Raglan (the one wawing sword and some other assorted pieces. I used horses from their range and some heads from REDOUBT (those with havelock).
My most “convoluted conversions” Tim Tyler’s Ivory Patrol minis in 28mm. Maybe too long to explain how I did them because the use of parts was really complicated.
A very simple swap of headgear and another general (it was a Turk originally) added to my collection (now sold out). FOUNDRY 28mm.
I was really obssesed with doing “conversions” at that stage of my wargaming life.
And for RolePlay and skirmish games I did make a lot of versions of mounted and dismounted pairs of characters in 28mm.
See what I mean?… the sky is the limit…
Another example… the RED CAVALIER…
Another mixed lot… in 28mm. It shows on the right the Swedish mounted chap that started the obsession originally…
A sample of the scales I messed up with in my wargaming life… and a couple of my childhood toy soldiers… the one in the bike and the mounted RCMP. Both from Spanish manufacture in some kind of cautxuc or rubber composition. (REAMSA and JECSAN)