Since seeing “The Four Feathers” (1939 version if you please!) film as a child the idea of a British “square” formation has been ingrained in my brain (not that it appears in the film at all but vaguely the idea is there when the Fuzzy-Wuzzies attack at dawn the lone company of Captain Durrance -already blinded by the Sun- and Burrows and Willoughby of course!
The reading many years later of SMALL WARS revealed to me nothing “new” but it is a book I recommend because it is a compendium of “obvious things to do” (but easily forgotten)… it took me a long time to read and digest (meaning that since begun I read and finished a lot of other books) because it was interesting and meticulous. It has been a long time since I recommended a book!
So today I chosed some old pics from my personal Vault to illustrate the point. Maybe when I get the remaining 16 figures from DORSET (sorry IMPERIAL MINIATURES nowadays) I will indulge in a new series with Khaki clad warriors.
My efforts to wargame cavalry actions of the ACW needed a lot of reading before implementing… if you ask me they were quite confused affairs and a lot of advancing and retreating. But I just love Cavalry (blame John Ford!) and the need of a lesser scale of trying to emulate with, even in 6MM because you need regiments not brigades. Hope you understand what I mean (In popular 6MM wargames rules POLEMOS – ALTAR OF FREEDOM and the like a Brigade of Cavalry is a stand with 9 figures!… too small to properly do it…).
Those two first books (even if a lot Southern biased… or it seems so because the North wrote the History embellished like everybody else… Winners usually get this chance… losers do not care too much at least when the thing is over because they have to learn to cope with it…) are a must read to understand a bit the real thing… no way (or very difficult) to simulate a raid though… dust, blown horses, Union killing unfit horses to do not let them to the CSA) thirst, hunger, constant skirmishing, lack of sleep, bad comms, mistakes… etc.
A fascinating period to study but not to fight in the XIXth! (seriously it was brutal enough).
In fact it is the only way to travel in time (backwards of course)… fans of sci-fi will say that even to a distant future (quite out of the mark predictions though)
Quite a simple counsel is it not? Be that because a period of History interest you, or a campaign. or a battle, or an skirmish… whatever. You always start by reading about it (even after seeing or watching a Hollywood film)… books are the thing.
Mind you it is not my problem if you prefer Poetry! (Even in Poetry there are epic subjects… but I digress)
Have found in my life (71 actually) that books are the best friends and companions ans a library a little treasure (the public library is a good option I am not talking about “cumulating possessions” here… but if you can afford it it is really practical! just because they are at hand…
The recent passing of a friend (yes at my age this happens frequently) or some months earlier the demise of Frederick Wagner III which I corresponded with and respected as an author (learned). Has dawned on me of the need of a Post like this.
Even before starting to buy a single Toy Soldier… or a wargames mini (if you please) document yourself.
Here find the pics of the three shelves of my modest Little Big Horn collection of books… they are not all there (some are of a format that does not fit into the shelves) other are magazines stored in other places (but at hand).
You can download for free on the top right column clicking on the cover… it would take a minimum of time (about 3 minutes) because of the original colour pics (BTW the captions of them are silly printed at the end of the book… I do not know why but in 2016 it seemed a good idea!).
To cut a long story short one day I read you could edit and publish a book quite easily! (autoedit a book using createspace)… just on the point of ending my professional life as an architect I decided to write a book about my experiences with Toy Soldiers (my daughter counseled that better than writing about urban planning&landscape because I would hurt less people).
So I did, for a while I sold copies through amazon.com and amazon.co.uk (and even a Spanish version in amazon.es)… guess that I sold around two or three hundred copies including the kindle version. So far so good.
Then the IRS started pestering me about my supposed benefits… the correction of the English version costed far more that the pitance I got from the book returns… and I simply retired the copies from createspace. No vanity after all… it was fun for a while.
Then one day I asked my eldest son (a computer engineer with a doctorate and several masters I do not know how to explain myself…) if it would be possible to hang in this present webpage a downloadable free copy… and he said yes no problem!
So, there you have it!… the first drafts date back to 2006 or 2008… it was first written in Spanish (my maternal language)… and I assure you nobody was interested in Spain at all!… LOL… So I translated it myself to English (where the hobby still exists… I thought!) with awful results (the black cover first edition) and then once the critics in amazon said it was good intentioned but ilegible… I decided to put a remedy and then I paid for the services of a profesional corrector (something the IRS does not take account for). and there you have it.
BTW I pay my taxes in Andorra dutifully!
What happened after 2016 is in the Facebook Group under the title (obviously) MY TOY SOLDIERS AND ME…and this webpage/blog.
Many days without talking about books, without them the hobby would not exist… it is as simple as that. Get a view of what I have just finished or I am reading today… Nowadays you buy books either for cover&description or to get something you already know (meaning sometimes you read as you have written the thing yourself!), a well trodden path they say… I simply will not discuss Little Big Horn books (Custer at the end dies with all his battalion… not the complete 7th… sorry for the spoiler!)… I was fortunate enough to get Bill Rini’s article about Keogh’s fight from the author himself (excellent what if!)… all tales about Custer are WHAT IFS…
OK, nor more digressing… I am now reading HURRAH FOR THE LIFE OF A SAILOR! if I still could review in amazon (not that I am banned at all) I would gave it something like four stars… Interesting to a point… but I expected much more and less “chaff”. STILL RECOMMENDED MIND! (In fact it gets better once past the first chapters…)
On the table also a 5 stars book which is an oldie THE OXFORD HISTORY OF THE BRITISH ARMY… dense, full of data, hard to read quickly, you have to digest a lot of things specially from 1910 onwards. RECOMMENDED.
Allan Mallinson is best know for his works of fiction… but he wrote a cracking History book THE MAKING OF THE BRITISH ARMY… with some little holes in it. A solid 4 stars. How he can “pass” from INKERMAN is a puzzle… and his colonial African pages are not the best of the book… but a very good read. Also RECOMMENDED but if you have to choose get the anterior.
I am not a great reader of “Biographies” mainly because of the embellishments and down right lies on them or even search of sensationalism… but Churchill is a subject that has always fascinated me… THE LAST VICTORIAN AND THE FIRST LILIBETHIAN… I guess I found his early years much more interesting than most. If you like the man get it.
On a more dedicated (and to the point of this Blog) subject… an homage to Donald Featherstone his book BATTLES WIT MODEL SOLDIERS (5 stars and reedited) would have avoided me the trouble to write one myself if I had read it beforehand!… simply unavoidable for wargamers (specially NOSTALGIC!).
There, you can not expect much more on a Sunday morning!
PS: I just bought THE GUARDS BRIGADE IN THE CRIMEA in amazon.es
Sometimes, but not always, I ponder about the futility of it all… I mean what’s the real (or imaginary) purpose of this web page?… to keep you entertained? (I mean people I do not know but surely have the same interests as me)… so, you have your daily ration of Toy Soldiers from me?… surely not… Is it me?… meaning do I have such a boring old life nowadays that I feel the need to communicate with the rest of the world to “justify” my last days giving away my experiences?… LOL (It has been a hot night damn it!). Summer is prone to those divagations… so I better end in a positive note… gonna try to finish reading the OSPREY: THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG 1863 (1) (they have promised two more volumes)… and for once they have nailed the text , the info, and AT LAST! the illustrations (and I mean the new art in colour) the old photographs we know by heart!… A book I can recommend without reservation.
25th of June… LBH day… so many different approaches to it in a long lifetime… at seven years of age I would have followed Errol Flynn anywhere (Custer or the real Custer was not important at all). As so many others I was hooked on THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON… great Hollywood historical fiction… that Anthony Quinn (Crazy Horse) would end as a Catholic Pope on the flick THE FISHERMAN’S SHOES is not here not there… But I digress…
The Little Big Horn has a pathos of their own… we in Europe have Leonidas and the Thermopylae… Americans have Custer… If you read about a hundred of books on the matter (as I did) you will discover that Custer will die no matter what… and that he put himself and his battalion in a NO WIN-NO WIN situation.
The best books in my collection are those by Frederick Wagner III… you do not need to read much further than those. But there are other more general that are a good read too.
Of course at Seventy I would not have enlisted in the Seventh Cavalry in the first place… that is how time changes your perspective!
Honour the death (on both sides) of what will become the native american’s swan song…
Incidentally over the years I have build the 7th Cavalry in 15mm (MINIFIGS), 28mm (FOUNDRY), 75mm (PLAYMOBIL) and finally in 6mm (BACCUS proxies). A long life wargaming obsession…
Sadly I di not take pics of the impressive 15mm lot… a pity perhaps… sold them long time ago… if 15mm is your thing there are no better “Injuns” in the market than MINIFIGS… the 28mm FOUNDRY are the most “historically accurate”.
and last but not least the man himself (quite idealized I agree)
I will not resist the temptation and I adjoint my Playmobils too!
It finally has evolved in a long post today… but probably something in it would interest you (if you have read so far!).
A book that is “different” in such a way… that the “lessons” you learn are not the same at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 years of age. I know because I have read it at those ages and the perspective changes a lot. A critic would accuse Wren of racism, xenofobia, antisemitism, prejudices, mysoginia, white (anglo-saxon) supremacy, his phobia about “mixing races” etc etc etc… but he penned a masterpiece about “the decent thing to do”. It’s a fictional novel but with “morals”, it is a novel of adventure (boy’s own) but only in the surface… it is a Police Mystery novel (a “polar” the French say) but not quite… is it a “love story” (only in a way)… it is a Military novel and the abuse of power… (not at all but it served me right when I did my compulsory military service in the Spanish Army when the Sahara was still in Spanish hands… 13 months of boredom… so I know what “le cafard” is first hand)… I recently gave copies of the book to my grandchildren… would they ever read it?… I do not know at all… but I have passed it away anyhow…
Hope they do a lavish edition for the Centenary of its first publication.
Somewhere else in this collection of posts I have already mentioned his great contribution to Toy Soldier literature (specially Britain’s), and still consider his book COLLECTING TOY SOLDIERS “the” reference book. Of course he advises Auctions and has a job connected with buying and selling items… but this is not here not there. He has (still) a fantastic collection (much revised and streamlined if you know what I mean). So he deserves a Post of his own. Enjoy.
Quite by chance yesterday I finished reading the Bruce Catton’s book on the ACW on the anniversary of Lee’s surrender -and the subsequent end of the ACW war to all purposes- I could quote from this concise (and to the point) resume the courage and bravery of the soldiers on both sides but as it is a well known fact there is not need. It is probably the best single book about the ACW I have ever read (do not search in it “Ride on you Wolverines” details…) it clearly puts on writing that it was a NO WIN NO WIN situation for the South from beginning to end… but it showed spirit and incredible feats (both faces: brilliancy and incompetence)… I have read Shelby Foote Trilogy and even him acknowledge the fact that the Union would have prevailed in the end no matter what. It is a recommended read that would leave you wanting for more… Enjoy
Incidentally yesterday was also the Shiloh anniversary.