Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Battle of Freeman's Farm BatRep

Scott and I joined Kevin for a refight of the Freeman's Farm scenario from British Grenadier.  This game represents the maiden outing for our AWI collections only a few years behind schedule...

Scott commanded the Americans while I commanded Hamilton and Kevin took Fraser.  Unfortunately for Kevin, Fraser's elite command was bottled up in the fort with little willingness to participate in the battle.  Dylan arrived just in time to command Riedesel and the Brunswickers.

Kevin's setup shows Freeman's farm dominating the central battlefield while the British entrenchments protect the British right flank.  Hamilton's command is shown deployed on the stream bank with skirmishers thrown across the stream at the farm opposing Morgan's Rifles.  Arnold's forces can be seen arriving on board in the distance.

Looking down the British line, Hamilton's two guns are seen protecting the British left flank.

Needing a '12' on 2D6 to sally out of the entrenchments, below illustrates Fraser's position for the entire game.  The guns did manage to inflict a little damage on militia but that was the extent of Fraser's participation in the battle.
In the opening moments of the battle, British guns on the left fired into Morgan's rifles wounding Morgan and forcing the Rifles to scamper back to the bridge.  Dearborn's light infantry advance to oppose British skirmishers.  For ease of play, Freeman's farm was lifted from the game table. 
Arnold quickly brings Poor's command up to meet the British and Morgan reforms on the right of the American line after dressing his wound.  The grasshopper gun moves up to the stream and fires upon the British line.  
As volleys are exchanged and smoke fills the air, the grasshopper gun is forced to retire back behind the American line to recover.  American light infantry continue their harassing fire upon the British regulars until British march across the stream and drive Dearborn's light infantry back.  Arnold hustles reinforcements up into the line to plug the gap.  

A closeup of the photo above shows the Fife and Drum British skirmishers alongside their more husky, Perry brethren.
Casualties mount for the British foot on the American side of the stream as Arnold unifies the line.  The grasshopper gun and skirmishers continue to pester the British.
Americans advance to the stream as the British relinquish their forward position.
With sounds of Germans arriving on the American right, Arnold orders Learned's command to march across the battlefield towards the bridge crossing the stream.
In an attempt to silence the grasshopper gun, British advance back across the stream only to be counterattacked.  Already weakened by DPs and casualties, the British retreat from the melee.
Two additional British regiments advance into the stream with only one gaining the opposite bank while the other is struck mid-stream.  Fortunately for Hamilton, the Americans are driven back in disorder allowing two British regiments to fight one American regiment.

On the British left, Riedesel finally arrives at the party and deploys to thwart the Learned's counter march.  By this time the die has been cast.  Mounting casualties on the American left prompts Arnold to call off the attack and withdraw from the battlefield.

Fraser remained content to stay within the safety of the fort and contributed no infantry into the conflict.  All dressed up with nowhere to go!  

Thus the Battle of Freeman's Farm ends in a British victory.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

28mm AWI Project: Natives and British 23rd

For Sunday's Freeman Farm scenario, the group needed one unit of native skirmishers.  I considered pulling six natives from my FIW collection and rebasing them to conform to British Grenadier in order to meet the Sunday time constraint.  I had only three surplus natives in the FIW collection that were not already part of a formed war band (each war band consists of three, three figure stands).  Not wanting to break up an existing war band for this game, I turned to the unpainted lead pile.  In the AWI lead box were six unpainted Perry natives.  I pulled them from the box and finished the six figures in time for the game.  The Perry natives are really quite nice and a Minwax "Dip" brings out the detail in the figures.

Also force marching off the painting table this weekend was the British 23rd Regiment of Foot.  For the 23rd's flag, I selected Victrix's Napoleonic flag but painted out the "Egypt" battle honor and Sphinx emblem on both standards.  With those changes, the flag matches the AWI version. 
I bought a number of the Victrix Napoleonic flag set transfers and am quite pleased with the vivid colors and the ease at which they can be created.  The previously completed regiments of the 4th ,5th, and 59th carry these Victrix flags.  I tried selecting British Napoleonic regimental flags that had little or no difference from their earlier AWI standard.  One benefit of the Victrix flags is that each flag comes with its own metal finial and cords.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

28mm AWI Project - British 4th Regiment

Just mustered off the painting table is the British 4th Regiment of Foot.  The regiment consists of 20 Perry figures wearing the cut down coat and slouch hat.

Latest bulletin from the front is that the group with gather for an AWI game on Sunday.  That is welcome news for my British and Germans patiently waiting for their chance in battle.

Preliminary scenario looks to be Freeman's Farm.  An excellent choice since it allows me to field both British and Germans.  From my collection, I can field any of the following:
  • 7 British foot regiments (3x20, 4x16)
  • 1 British combined Grenadier BN (1x16)
  • 1 British combined Light Infantry BN (1x16)
  • 6 British guns
  • 3 German musketeer regiments (3x24)
  • 1 German grenadier BN (1x24)
  • 2 German fusilier regiments (2x24)
  • 2 German guns
  • 18 German jaegers mounted in pairs
Also in the collection are a handful of unbased British skirmishers.  I was planning to wait to pick up a few Litko bases from Scott on which to mount them but if needed for the game, these skirmishers could be stuck onto cut balsa bases.  

We'll see soon which regiments can cover themselves in glory while putting an end to this ridiculous revolt. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shenandoah 1862 and the Valley Campaign

Finally!  Yes, I finally finished Cozzens' Shenandoah 1862.  I swear, I've been trying to get through this tome forever.  The difficulty I had was not with the writing, itself, but with my reading habits.  I rarely get a block of time to devote to tackling such works and my most productive reading time is when I am either confined to a long airplane trip, on vacation, or stuck in a waiting room.  Without these forced reading opportunities, I mainly rely on reading at bedtime.  Unfortunately, after a few pages, I'm usually fast asleep.  

Cozzens' book, like his other books I've read, is very well written, flows easily, and quite informative.  I now hold a much better grasp of the campaign, battles and leaders.  Gained is a much better understanding of Banks' mindset, motivations, and constraints as well a more balanced study on Jackson.  Jackson's idiosyncrasies are highlighted with emphasis on his strategic/operational strengths and tactical weaknesses.  There were times in the campaign where Jackson was, indeed, a lucky commander.

Cozzens' provides ample scene-setting background material for creating Valley scenarios.  Battles covered include Kernstown, Port Republic, Cross Keys, Winchester, McDowell, and the action at Front Royal.  While the book contains an order of battle for the campaign and select battles, the wargamer would be better served by having actual troop strengths included.

On a Portland visit last fall, I picked up another book covering the Valley campaign at the bookstore mecca, Powell's.  That book was Tanner's Stonewall in the Valley.  While originally published nearly 40 years ago (my edition is the revised 1996 edition), an interesting exercise might include following up my Cozzens read with Tanner.  I wonder if perceptions and conclusions have changed in the years separating these books? 

Reading Cozzens' account of the Valley Campaign tempts me to pull Clash of Arms' Campaigns of R.E. Lee off the shelf.  The strategic aspect of the campaign could be conducted with the boardgame with the engagements transferred to the table top for resolution.  That would be interesting and provide more depth to the experience, don't you agree? 

Although I do not have TAHGC/MMP's Stonewall In The Valley, it may be an even better boardgame solution to handle the campaign at an operational level.
If any have used boardgames to generate tactical encounters to be resolved on the miniature wargaming table, I would be interested in hearing about them.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

18mm SYW Project - Austrian Cuirassiers

With many projects ongoing, it may not be surprising that large time intervals can accrue between revisiting the same figure and the same project.  Such is the case with my SYW project and to set the stage (and, perhaps, aid my defense), my painting log shows I last painted Austrian cuirassiers in August 2011.

Fresh off the painting table are two squadrons of Austrian Cuirassier Regiment #12, Serbelloni.  

A funny thing happened while painting these two squadrons of Eureka Austrian cuirassiers.  When I grabbed these twelve figures from the lead pile, I figured they were Prussian cuirassiers since they had no pom-pom and oak leave field sign. Without closer inspection, two Prussian squadrons were identified as candidates for the painting table.  Horses were painted, and most uniform accoutrements were finished when I noticed that these cuirassiers did not have the sabretache typical of the Prussian cuirassier.  Well, that's odd, I thought.  I pulled painted Prussian cuirassiers off the shelf and found that these figures did not match the ones I was painting.  I then pulled Austrian cuirassiers out of their box and found to my surprise that they matched the figures on the painting table!  Only then did I recall clipping off the pom-poms and field signs from some Austrian cuirassiers.  Rats.

Now, I had to go back to the guide book and find two already-fielded Austrian cuirassier regiments to which I could add these two squadrons.  In the end, I decided to field two squadrons of Serbelloni.  This change from Prussian to Austrian required repainting the horse furniture, cloak, breeches, and the facings.  Not much to redo but still, who enjoys rework? 

Another project I someday need to tackle is "flagging" all of my SYW horse regiments.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

28mm AWI Project - More British Reinforcements

Four more British foot units roll off the painting table.  With these latest additions, eight British foot battalions ("regiments" in proper British terminology) can be deployed for battle.  All figures are Perry.  The new recruits are:

5th Regiment of Foot
59th Regiment of Foot
Combined Light Infantry Battalion  
Combined Grenadier Battalion
Each of the combined elite battalions utilized twelve refurbished figures.  Elites drawn from the newly raised 5th Line bring each battalion up to sixteen figures.  On the painting table is one more British line regiment of twenty figures to be raised as the 4th Line.

Since mid-January, painting time has been almost fully consumed by the 28mm AWI Project and seven new regiments have been fielded.  Enough figures are in transit to field four more British regiments.  Along with the figures on the painting table and one more unit primed in the holding box, my total British foot units will be fourteen.  Left to work are Austin's six guns and skirmishers.

After I finish work on the 4th Line, I may take a breather from the AWI project and switch attention towards another project that doesn't require painting red coats.   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

18mm SYW Project - Flags

Having exhausted both my supply of Eureka Prussians and homemade flags, it is time address both of these outages.  To overcome the figure shortage, an order was placed with Old Glory for several bags of the excellent Blue Moon AWI Hessians.  As I've noted before, the figures are nicely sculpted and fit well with Eureka's SYW line.  As for cost, the Old Glory Army Card brings the cost per figure to less than one half the cost of a similar Eureka figure.  With discount, that equates to $0.30 per figure.  That is a bargain!

The mustering of the last Prussian regiment coincided with the usage of the last flag from the Prussian flag sheet.  All flags for this collection have been pulled from the internet and manipulated in a graphics program and then printed on glossy photo paper.  Manipulation is quite easy and requires only a few steps.  These steps consist of,

  • Capture the image
  • Import into graphics program
  • Resize
  • Copy the image and mirror it
  • Bring the obverse and reverse together
  • Repeat
The resulting image is quite good for 15mm and rivals the quality of many commercially available flags.  In fact, the quality is better than some of the commercial flag sets.

For the latest effort, the flags created are for the following Prussian regiments: 10, 30, 24, 34, 35, 39.  In addition to the Prussians, I also created a flag for the Diesbach Swiss Regiment, two Bavarian Regiments, and one Wurttemberg flag.  A sample of the flagsheet is below:
With other projects taking priority, it may be awhile before I return to painting SYW Prussians.  Having both the figures and flags at hand makes it easy to bring them out of the queue on short notice.     

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Out With the Old (Glory)...

Sometimes, we are faced with our own version of The Amazing Race.  As in the television show, project activities present a Roadblock.  In my situation, the roadblock addresses how to contend with the unpainted lead pile.  The choices are:
  • Paint It
  • Sell It
In Paint It, you work diligently to conquer the lead pile by methodically painting down your inventory of unpainted figures.

In Sell It, realizing you may never paint your way out of the corner in which your spending has placed you, you attempt to cut your losses.  That is, sell off some of your unpainted lead.  To offload these figures at a profit or loss really does not matter since these sunk costs are irrelevant (for the most part).

With luck, a solution may present itself before you are really ready to face this problem.  Such was the case for me last week.  An opportunity arose in which a potential buyer surfaced for some of my long, unpainted 18mm Old Glory Napoleonic lead.  Now, I had not considered my 18mm Napoleonic project complete and planned on continuing to add more units.  I do, however, have a rather large painted contingent hovering around 6,000 figures.  Enough figures to field combatants for most battles at a scale of 100:1.  I'll hardly miss the pile of unpainted lead and, besides, I didn't actively work on this project much in 2012.

Anyway, I sold about 20 pounds of lead and virtually extinguished my unpainted lead pile for this project.  A great weight (literally) has been lifted.  I did retain a few odds and ends but for the most part, this project is complete.