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 or do the Central U.S.A administration superseded those and could prevail over the State decisions?… in fact that was the original dispute brewing for years until it exploded.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.

If I had to start again

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As with your real life -I know we all have one!- experience modifies the approach. Many people have uttered the nonsense sentence: “I wish I was twenty-something again”, it is understandable… but I must add please let me take with me all that I have learned!, and that is valid both for your real life and your miniature fictional one.

My oldest game with a grid (the original plastic Romans and Carthaginians have long dissapeared from view) here using 28mm Foundry Greeks. Now the figures used are Baccus 6mm. (Second Punic War again)

Not going to bother you much with reminiscences but let me say that if I could go back in time I would have gone Heroics&Ros in the seventies, but with big bases as POLEMOS suggests, my mistake back then was to try to base them in twos or threes… what a mess it was! If the idea of basing Regiments or Brigades in a single base had occurred to me I would have enjoyed my games much more and saved a lot of cash!. Many projects I had in mind could have been done easily and simultaneously… All of this is of course an anachronism and wishful thinking. On those days, not so much today, I was obsessed to conform to the rules, and THE RULES (popular at the time!), how to play with them model soldiers without a decent set of Rules!. An Orthodox view was a necessity to me in those days…

Well, if you have read some of this Posts or my previous adventures in the Baccus Forum, you know I collect Toy Soldiers in 54mm, I buy, I sell (not much nowadays), I found new interests, I change direction, whatever, but this is a cabinet display affair… “decoration” perish the thought!… they are decorative but the collection in itself is a way of gaming too… a Post someday will be done. But my main interest since a child was playing at war -aka wargames- and if a bit chivalrous the better, I loved gaudy uniforms and commanders leading from the front. I firmly put the stop or limit at 1900 for obvious reasons to me (Boer women and children concentration camps is a no go zone for me… and I know the Spaniards did it in Cuba before too!). My brother is a WWII nerd and I can accept that without problem but no thank you the XXth or XXIth century are not for me. But let’s go to the point, what did I learn in all those years?… not much I can hear you say… but one or two things are probably useful. See if it helps:

  1. Plan ahead. In a way I tried hard to do it but mistakes did occur nevertheless. You will have to choose a period (or several); Scale (or several even if that means multiplying gear&scenery), I am a firm believer in sticking to a scale no matter what.
  2. Choosing a period is a matter of taste and affinity, it helps a lot that a good or several ranges of minis do exist to begin with. At that point the Napoleonic trap is already looming on the horizon. If ever a mini is overproduced and available readily is a grognard of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard… Manufacturers know it and it is their bread&butter… anybody in the hobby, those who remain in it -and those who have tried and gone to do other things- have bought an Imperial Guardsman with Bonnet a Poil. Enough of that… of course I did it too! Go for a period (or several).
  3. Sticking to a Scale has the immense BONUS of not duplicating scenery, terrain, and equipment!… how many wagons, pontoon trains, tents, buildings, tress and what not are you going to get if you go for several scales? Specially if you are a solo wargamer -in the back of beyond as me- for those with Club facilities the matter is quite different.
  4. With the same stands you can play Free Kriegspiel or in a grid. Do what you like. I particularly hate metric rulers and the notion of measuring things on the tabletop… -probably a consequence of my profession in real life- and “counting stores” every half hour. Removing casualties is another thing to avoid in my experience.
  5. If megalomaniac, meaning you go for it BIG in scope even in the smaller scales, consider the multipurpose units, a simple exchange of the Command&Colours stand and you have a double or triple unit, but that is a useful concept only if you have planned that ahead. In the Napoleonic period it was useful, but I am talking 25mm here.

I will have to edit heavily this Post once I remember other useful things, but for the sake of it I have given you food for thought.

A paradigmatic multipurpose unit, I had 4 different command stands, one British as you can see, one ACW Union, one ACW Rebel, one French… and what not… it was useful to balance particular games changing sides as it was necessary. In fact all the figures are conversions with new heads.
In Napoleonic period the Swiss and the Danes are particularly able to be used changing command stands. And not the only nationalities you can tamper with.
I guess you dig the thing. In 6mm it would mean breaking in three parts that beautiful concept of Brigade stand… but only for a few units… and you avoid the repetitive process and cash inversion.
Playmobil 75mm paranoia… ok… it was just a different thing for fun!… I am over it now!
A “thing” you can do with Playmobils that you can not do in lead… specially useful in skirmish games. It was fun for a decade or so. I am cured now (LOL)

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)

ZINDERNEUF

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Fort Zinderneuf, a lonely outpost in the Saharian South manned by the FFL, if you have read P.C.Wren or seen the films not much explanations required. 54mm Dorset Figures.

Not all of the restrictions of the pandemic are a boring thing, in fact it has given me time to do things I have done on my mind for several years and never materialized because of lack of time and sheer laziness. The normal live I live keep postponing those things ad infinitum.

To begin at the beginning, I have always had a set of building bricks called EXIN CASTILLOS, it was a wonderful Spanish toy of the sixties, I played with them and build castles, so did my children when young because I purchased sets for them (nowadays have done so with my grandchildren too), one day of “cleaning up” at home I rescued the discarded sets of mine&my children from the list of things to throw away, put them in a box and stored them in my (then) office waiting for better days.

Detail of ramparts and interior.

In the meantime my collection of Dorset Soldiers (thanks again to Giles Brown) was slowly growing up and the French Foreign Legion in action poses (mainly) occupied three shelves of one of the cabinets in Pal. So, one day I took the box from my office, cleaned the plastic pieces with soap&water and produced a mini ZINDERNEUF in 54mm to play with my Dorset Soldiers set. On another trip I had brought to Pal my camera/tripod etc.

Here you have the full set of pieces, I did not use the circular one’s neither the too Dark Ages bits for ZINDERNEUF, but I always sort them out before “building”

This is the result: a solo game I play against “time”, will the arabs kill all the defenders of the fort before help from Tokotu arrives? Will “Beau” and “John” survive as long as in the novel?.

Quickly built… nearly exhausting the supply of rectangular pieces.

By the way, if you considere the BEAU GESTE trilogy (in fact five books and some extra short stories!) too old fashioned for you, you simply pass…

View from the back.
Lateral view.

Now, that was fun!, it has been years since I did a model with those blocks!, it’s like riding a bycicle… you never forget those tricks with the bricks.

I have done it in 6mm (still in my Baccus collection), 28mm (To The Redoubt… sold), 54mm (Dorset Soldiers) and in 75mm with Playmobils (now in the collections of my grandchildren).

Leven Fort, Baccus proxies all done by REVEILLE.
When I did it in 28mm.TO THE REDOUBT minis…
Major de Beaujolais column arrives from Tokotu…
John and Digby desert after jumping the wall… End Game.

FFL Interlude

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With Cavalry and Mounted Companies support. Some Dorset some REPLICA.
Dorset Soldiers 54mm Toy Soldier Collection displayed in Cabinets in Pal.

Yesterday, and the day before, I included some pics of the French Foreign Legion in my post, well, let’s go through with it, I am a fan of this elite corps since I read the novel –Beau Geste– when a child, in fact I read the whole trilogy -which is not a trilogy- Beau GesteBeau SabreurBeau Ideal (connoisseurs know there are two more books about the Geste brothers Good Gestes and Spanish Maine*). Ever since I have not resisted the impulse to buy minis related to it and that’s that. Whatever my main wargame interest or collector fancy, there are always FFL soldiers in it. *The Desert Heritage in the USA.

So to make a clean sweep of this particular topic I will give you today the pics that shows my love for it -Legio Patria Nostra- a very particular elite mercenary unit which incidentally serves under the French Flag of Madame la Republique.

I have had Rubber India 54mm soldiers, 25mm Minifigs proxies, 28mm To The Redoubt, 54mm Dorset Soldiers, never got the Airfix box because I did not found it in the shops when visiting England, 54mm Military Modelling stuff from Andrea Miniatures, and I had to build them in GodsOwnScale (6mm) using proxies (see other posts), and of course customized Playmobils!

Some Conversions… Havelock heads from To The Redoubt ACW range…
That was more complicated… but the FFL is always “capable de se debrouiller”.

Too many pics probably… but this takes out of the way a personal passion (mania) which would have appeared recurrently on the blog. This is it and we forget about the FFL. Curiously enough I did my own compulsory military service in Spain in the (then) Spanish Sahara… so I know a bit about the desert myself. Always have tried that my sons and grandsons did not get the chance to repeat such a silly ordeal… and I still like P.C.Wren.

Lets depart from the theme with a pic showing the separation of the brothers Geste… Digby is going to Tokotu with the their Americans friends Hank and Buddy to train on the Mule Mounted Companies. Playmobil 75mm customized.
And finally 6mm Baccus -proxies-
Captain Danjou FFL Companie on the road to Camerone*, for once 1/1 scale (all are there represented by a mini) . Foundry 28mm. It includes some “conversions”.
*Hacienda de Camaron.

NAPOLEONIC MINIFIGS (and Waterloo in 25mm)

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Napoleon and Staff.

200 years… and still present in our collective memory for what it was… a genius (with faults and virtues) and I personally think quite ahead of its time. Nobody seriously studies Napoleon without noticing that it was not exclusively Napoleon fighting offensive wars (mainly) but defending France against old monarchies coalitions because of the ideas (seen as dangerous) of the French Revolution (which has also controversy attached). Of course having a military background (after all he was an Artillery Officer) and following the European tradition that Clausewitz will formulate a posteriori he went to war frequently enough (understatement) as it was the custom in Europe, nowadays he is still remembered for his Civil Code (nearly 200 years of life) and abolishing feudal privileges. He also reinstated slavery in the Caribbean Sea (to his shame). He was not perfect but had a great brain and “je ne sais quoi”.

This post has really a lot of pics!

Napoleonic wargaming was my passion for almost thirty years, in 25mm because I was stupid enough to do not choose 15mm in the first place (minis in the late seventies had no such vast offer and traders… even if MINIFIGS did 15mm too!) so MINIFIGS 25mm (after all I was coming down from 54mm) I went I and no regrets, was quite happy with my collection who also extended to other periods and wars (I though it would be very difficult to paint such small figures in 15mm because of the lavish uniforms of the napoleonic wars!).

Was interested for many years (obsessed is a better description) with the battle of Waterloo, could the Emperor have won? In context and after years of reading about it, I arrived at the conclusion that it was a NO WIN – NO WIN situation, it would have been 1813 all over again… with Austrians and Russians and what not invading France which was exhausted… and that’s that.

Have some pics of my years indulging in that particular wargamers fetish.

Battling with my little brother… many years from now… yours truly on the left.
Waterloo set on my “wargames room” in fact part of my office!… weekend well employed.
Prussians arriving on the French right flank… 1815. The dark green area was a removable extension of the biggest table at my office.
French Grand battery close up.
Waterloo 1815 (Solo wargame).
Another view.
Waterloo lateral view.
Waterloo view from the French side.
The British Heavy Cavalry charge. Waterloo 1815.
British “heavy” (in fact medium) Cavalry close up.
Waterloo Allied Cavalry close up.
Wellington under his tree…
British and Hanoverian Infantry 1815.
French Heavy Cavalry of the Imperial Guard + Cuirassiers on their left.
French Light Cavalry of the Imperial Guard.
French Grand battery (background out of focus)
The fictional South Essex of Cornwell’s Sharpe (see right of pic).
Ditto.
Denmark Infantry. With a change of Command stand they become Swiss…
The Prussians arrival!
Austrian Grenadiers, Swedish Infantry and Russian Grenadiers.
Portuguese Line and Light Infantry (Caçadores).
The 9th Leger “L’Incomparable”
Napoleonic units: early Spanish 1808 , Duchy of Warsaw and Wurtemberg Infantry.
French Artillery.
Different Napoleonic units: Kingdom of Naples, Saxons and Bavarians.
Aspern-Essling 1809

After a deep crisis with 25mm wargaming I sold them all. After some years toying with Playmobil (75mm) conversions and quite classical 54mm toy soldier collecting I went back to wargaming but in 6mm this time! (see the other Posts). Cheers