Sunday, October 30, 2016

Mounted Crossbowmen - Great Italian Wars

Work continues on pushing out BMUs for the Great Italian War.  Today's work shows the completion of one stand of three mounted crossbowmen for the project.  With four large pike blocks ready for service, the recent Casting Room Miniatures' order was used to augment the project with a few odds and ends.  All that remains to hit the painting desk from that CRM order is a second triplet of mounted crossbowmen. 
While the anatomy seemed awkward on a few of CRM's command figures shown in earlier posts, I like these mounted crossbowmen a lot.  Crossbowman anatomy looks good to me and the horses are first rate.  The horsemen are not sculpted in the angular style of, say, Artizan, but more in a rounded, Renaissance-like style.  Rounded features remind me of Renaissance paintings.  
Also in the order were mounted knights for the Reconquista and Trojan War chariots.  The knights are sculpted in a charging pose and look fantastic.  I only ordered one pack of those so another order will be needed to complete a unit.  As for the Trojan War chariots, one day I will tackle this project in earnest.  Not for now, though.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Action at Brawner's Farm v2.0

Doubleday's BDE Approaches Brawner's Farm
After having fought the Action at Brawner's Farm in an earlier outing, the table was reset and a second game was readied.  Prior to the replay, slight adjustments were made to the OB and arrival time table.  To read these earlier battle accounts, see:
As a refresher, the initial deployments find Gibbon and Doubleday's brigades strung out along the Warrenton Turnpike with the head of the Union column nearing Dogan's House.  Jackson, holding the high ground, lays in wait to spring the surprise.  With only a few hours of fading daylight, Jackson must act quickly to bring this action to a successful conclusion.
Positions at Start
The first sign of concern for the Federals appears when Gibbon spots several Rebel guns deploying on the high ground around Brawner's Farm.  The situation begins to sink home as Confederate artillery rounds whiz towards the long Federal columns.  Doubleday's brigade in the rear is the first to take effective fire from Danville's guns.  Before Doubleday can even get his troops off the road and deployed to challenge the guns, he is dropped dead from the saddle as artillery falls among the 56 PA.
Doubleday deploys on the left
With their brigadier on the ground dead and taking casualties, Doubleday's brigade smartly deploys into line and begins an advance upon the Rebel gun positions.  The Virginians under Baylor quickly advance from their hiding place in the treeline to take up a position at Brawner's Farm.  Who are these Virginians?  They are part of the famed Stonewall Brigade.
Doubleday deploys and advances
Realizing the difficulty in which his lead brigade has found itself, Gibbon, having reached Dogan's House, orders his brigade to deploy from the turnpike.  As the Iron Brigade deploys and begins its passage of Brawner's Woods, Federal artillery has dialed into the Rebel gun positions around Stony Ridge.  
Gun duel on the Federal right
Federal artillery fire from the 4th US - B battery is so precise that two Confederate gun sections are knocked out of action almost immediately.  Having won the artillery duel on the Federal right, Gibbon pushes his boys up to the edge of the woods in an attempt to recontact Doubleday's right.
Gibbon advances through the woods
With the Federals deployed and advancing upon seemingly, insignificant Rebel forces, the long blue line makes a spectacular sight as if on the parade ground.  What fate awaits?  They know not.
Doubleday's thin blue line
Having only moments before taken over command from the fallen Doubleday, Doubleday's replacement falls to artillery fire.  Not even thirty minutes into the engagement and two Federal generals are dead on the field.  These will not be the last officers to fall this evening.
A second Union Brigadier falls to Confederate fire
The six Confederate guns (each stand is a two-gun section) are causing quite a bit of mischief in the Federal line.  The downside of dealing such chaos is that Danville's battery spends much of the early throes of the contest low on ammo.  With the Federals advancing within small arms range of Baylor's position at Brawner's Farm, the Virginians occupying this objective are beginning to feel the pressure.  As casualties rise, cohesion within the Virginians wanes.  
Danville Battery in action
As the Rebels opposing ex-Doubleday's brigade (should that be ex-ex-Doubleday?) slow Federal progress upon Brawner's Farm, Gibbon's brigade successfully navigates the woods and broomstraw field to threaten the Confederate left.  Having destroyed most of the Confederate artillery opposing him, Gibbon makes excellent progress taking the fight to Jackson.  Still, where are Jackson's gray-clad troops? 
Federals tighten the noose on Baylor
Having sent one more Confederate gun section scampering to the rear, Gibbon's command presses on.  With his Confederate left unsecured, Baylor and his Virginians holding the farm are forced to retire.  Doubleday gains the farm without much contest.  With a Key Objective lost, Jackson must fight hard to win back the farm.  With the area thick with Union blue, this will be a difficult task.  Jackson, finally frustrated by his subordinates' inability to join the fight, commandeers two of Lawton's regiments (26 GA, 38 GA) and strikes back in an effort to stem the Federal advance.  
Jackson strikes back
Gibbon finally finds a Rebel regiment lurking in the copse of trees as his 6 WIS crashes into the other half of the Stonewall brigade.  Surprised by the sudden appearance of anything resembling enemy opposition on the Federal right, the 6 WIS is repulsed by Baylor's Alabamans.
Alabama vs Wisconsin
With the repulse of the 6th at the copse of trees and the timely arrival of Jackson leading the Georgians and two additional gun sections, the ragged Confederate line begins to congeal.  In close range musketry duels, casualties mount on both sides.  Can the Federals be stopped from sweeping the field of Rebels?  My Confederate opponent thinks not and tension mounts as the fight continues without hope.  "Where are my reinforcements!" Jackson exclaims.
Jackson's line stabilizes

Federals in firm control of Brawner's Farm
Firefights rage across the hillside, as men drop in scores.  For now, Confederate marksmanship dominates and Federal casualties increase disproportionately.  While the Federals still cling to the key objective of Brawner's Farm in the center, Doubleday's brigade is beginning to melt away on the Federal left.  How long can Doubleday remain under this hot fire?
Doubleday takes a pounding
Not long!  First one regiment breaks and withdraws back down the hill followed by a second regiment.  The Federal position at the farm has been uncovered. 
Federals losing control of Brawner's Farm
Unable to maintain the Brawner's Farm position, Doubleday's command falls back to regroup.  Can Jackson capitalize on this turn of events?  Before the action in the center can be resolved, Ewell's guns come up and prepare to engage Gibbon's over-extended brigade.  Gibbon's command suffers great losses from artillery fire and Gibbon goes down.  Dead on the field.  Third Union general dead on the field this evening.
The tide has turned
Not only is Gibbon's brigade staggered from both artillery fire and the loss of its commanding officer but Trimble's brigade and the remainder of Lawton's brigade charge out of the railroad cut.  The Federal right has been knocked back onto its heals.  Casualties mount at an alarming rate as Confederate musketry ravages the Federal line as the number of muskets under arms favor the Rebels. 
Trimble and Lawton snap into action
As Gibbon forms up a gun line to lend support to his wavering brigade, Trimble presses his advantage.  Threatened by being outflanked on Stony Ridge Gibbon must consider withdrawal.
Ewell attacks!
In the quickly fading light, Gibbon is forced to fall back onto his guns.  The last half hour has witnessed a significant turn of fortune.  Federals have suffered tremendous casualties at the hands of Jackson and are now at heavy casualties.  Having suffered more casualties in total than their adversary, the Federals call a halt to the fighting. 
Gibbon falls back on his guns
In the end, each hold one key objective.  Those objectives cancel in victory determination.  On the casualty front, much of the Confederate artillery was destroyed early in the engagement.  For infantry losses, Federals lost about twice as many men as did Jackson.  Having reached the Heavy Casualty threshold and having lost more men than the Confederates, Jackson gains victory points for casualties inflicted.

It was a good contest that maintained a definite ebb and flow.  There were points in the game where each player thought all was lost.  Die rolling was hot and cold as we both played the extremes of the D10 distribution.  Early on, the Federals had great success against the Confederate artillery and gained ground quickly.  In the end, the tide turned and Confederate numbers overwhelmed the already battered Union brigades.  This may have been the Iron Brigades' baptism of fire but it may be a long time before this brigade is fit for duty.  My thanks to Jake for a well played Jackson.
Next game on the schedule will see the debut of my Russian Great Game collection in their first battle.  That game takes place on November 5.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Heavy Horse for the Reconquista

In anticipation of a restocking of BTD cavalry for the Reconquista project, this fivesome of heavy cavalry canter out from the painting desk.  Being nondescript, I plan for these horsemen to see action on either side of the conflict.
One of the features I really enjoy of the BTD cavalry is the size of the mounts.  These are massive beasts!  Five of them make good progress towards filling the 120mm frontage of an Impetvs base.  Great figures and a real bargain when purchased during one of BTD's sales.  At sale prices, each horse and rider pair sums to less than $4.  Now, that is a bargain!
Having not had the project out on the table in a very long time, I have lost track of the exact the scope of the project.  The only visual clue I get is when I need to buy another storage box as the collection expands.  I ought to get the collection out on the table for a parade review.

Back to the most recent BTD sale.  After a lengthy wait, I received the first portion of the order this week after about a six week lag.  Being in no hurry, a six week lead time is no problem. Still, my order arrived with six heavy horses on back order.  Yikes!  Well, John, the proprietor, says the laggards will be showing up ASAP.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Russian Cossacks for Suvorov and the 1799 Project

Having been away for the work week, I return home to settle into the painting chair.  The portable painting kit did not accompany me this week since I had plenty to hold my attention in the evenings.  That, and I am awaiting a new portable painting light to arrive from USA-based Joann craft store.  The light I selected was on deep discount with a 20% discount coupon thrown in for good measure.  The light was practically free.  A review will follow once I receive the lamp.

After having made no progress on the 1799 project since midsummer, a small addition to the Russian contingent musters off the painting desk.  These six Russian Cossacks are from Eureka Miniatures' SYW range of figures.  Excellent figures that are well proportioned.  Eureka's Russian Cossacks and hussars are much better sculpted (in my opinion) than the other figures in the Russian range.  These six will join another matching half-dozen painted earlier to form a Cossack pulk of four squadrons.  
With one of my 2016 objectives to get the 1799 project onto the gaming table before year end, attention needs to be drawn back to that goal.  What is needed before I can get a game on the table?  From memory, more artillery for all combatants could be pressed into useful service.  For foot, enough are present for service in a small to moderately sized battle.  My small cavalry forces should, at present, be sufficient to field horse in the numbers needed for many of the battles in either Switzerland or Northern Italy.   
Looking through histories of the two campaigns, Montebello 1800 strikes me as a worthy candidate for the initial trial.  To sweeten the pot for Montebello, my thought is to set up the battlefield of Montebello once and to tackle the two battles in 1800 and 1859 over the same ground.  That way I get both the 1799 and 1859 projects onto the gaming table with reduced fuss. I suppose, economies of scale.  Stay tuned as I work through the details.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

L'Esercito Piemontese Cavalry 1849-1859

I recently picked up a copy of Melani and Riccardi's second volume of Sardinian uniforms from the Risorgimento 1849-1859 published by Soldiershop (see Soldiershop website).  While Volume 1 focused on the infantry, Volume 2 tackles Sardinian cavalry during the Italian Wars of Independence and the Crimean War.

The cavalry book is much thinner than its sister book on the infantry but still a useful addition to the library.  While the book is written in Italian, the dozen color plates have translations in the back of the book.  In addition, all of the black and white photos, illustrations, and line drawings have captions in both Italian and English.  The color plates are handsomely rendered.  Colors are vibrant and the plates are first rate.  Besides cavalry uniforms, color plates are also included illustrating the weaponry (firearms and sabers), webbing, and horse furniture of the Sardinian horsemen.  Very good to see detail of the saddlery and firearms utilized by the trooper.  Since the plates below are presented on the Soldiershop's website, I provide the samples below to illustrate the quality of the artworks:    

Melani and Ricciardi provide a listing of the cavalry regiments present for each of the campaigns in 1849, Crimean War, and 1859.  At 79 pages, it is slightly more lengthy than an Osprey MAA and the artwork is as good as artwork found in most MAA's booklets.  At Euro 16.00, it offers good value for a glimpse of Sardinian cavalry uniforms from the mid-19th Century. 

Another useful reference for Sardinian uniforms is Chris Flaherty's Ottoman Uniform website (see Ottoman Uniforms).  The relevant uniform plates Chris includes are Sardinian uniforms from the Crimean War.  As in the above, these plates are handsomely executed and a terrific resource for those wishing to field Sardinians for either the Crimea or Italy.  A sample of Chris' colorful plates is below:
Chris has created a tremendous reference for Ottoman uniforms and the reader is treated with a fine collection of Sardinian uniforms too.  The desire to paint and field Turks will be hard to repress after investigating Chris' website.  Give his site a browse.

Finally,  Osprey is getting in on the Italian Unification Wars with an upcoming MAA of Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848-70 (1): Piedmont and the Two Sicilies.  This will be a two volume series.  The book is scheduled for a 2017 release and I have found two potential covers for the book.  I wonder which will see publication?

To end, two photos of Sardinian cavalry bronzes from the flag museum inside of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument in Rome.  Of course, more such photos from my recent Italian visit will be appearing to break up the painting routine.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sikh Irregular Artillery

A second Sikh Irregular gun and crew muster off the painting desk.  Figures are Wargames Foundry figures from the Sikh Wars range.  Still excellent sculpting and molding even after all of these years.  Newer figure ranges have nothing over these old Foundry sculpts.
With the addition of this gun, the Natives can field 96 infantry, 24 cavalry, and three guns and crew.  Combined with the Russian Expeditionary Force, the British may have their hands full.
Rumblings are being heard from the frontier of increased tensions with small skirmishes breaking out in outposts up and down the frontera.  Will the British and Russians come to blows soon?  Will punitive expeditions be entertained to silence these increasing skirmishes?  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Great Italian Wars Command

Another pack included in my recent Casting Room Miniatures' order is this general and two attendants.  On Casting Room Miniatures' website, he is listed as Francesco Bussone da Carmagnola.  Francesco is from a period earlier than the Great Italian Wars that I am building but he should fit in well with the collection.  And, I could always use more command stands. 
Sculpting is of a rounded style that I mentioned in an earlier, Casting Room Miniatures' post (see: Mounted Arquebusiers).  Some bits of anatomy appear a little "off" to my eye especially with respect to arms but still, solid figures nonetheless.  The style reminds me of Bob Murch's Pulp Fiction sculpting style and I do enjoy those!    
A few more packs from Casting Room Miniatures' Renaissance range are in the painting queue with a trio of mounted crossbowmen to muster off the table soon.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Jeff "Bluebear" Hudelson

As others have noted before me, I mourn the loss of Jeff "BlueBear" Hudelson having yielded in his long struggle against cancer.

We happened upon one another through our blogging efforts.  Jeff had a great interest in the English Civil War as do I.  With more projects than I can regularly get into the gaming rotation, Jeff frequently chided me into getting the collection out onto the gaming table with more frequency.  After several email exchanges discussing gaming and ECW rules, I took up this challenge and fielded my ECW figures on the battlefield for a series of games covering two battles and employing several rules.  His interest in the era motivated me to bring this project to the fore.

With Jeff's health becoming a challenge and treatments increasing, I would occasionally send a book to help pass the time while he either convalesced or took chemotherapy.  Often email discussions were kept short due to what Jeff classified as "Chemo-brain."

In late 2014, Jeff was particularly fatigued due to illness and treatments.  To help him pass the time, I sent along Hyde's Wargame Compendium.  Jeff was thrilled to receive the massive tome.  Later when Jeff read here that I had opened a Secret Santa gift prematurely,  Jeff sent along a copy of The Colonial Wars Sourcebook with the letter and handwritten note shown above. 

Jeff, your letter and note will remain in this text as a reminder of your kindness and friendship.  Every time I catch a glance of this book on the bookshelf or pull it down for a browse, these items will always remind me of your positive spirit, generosity and determination while enduring a very difficult struggle.

Rest in Peace, my friend.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Once More Unto the Breach, My Friends

Federal guns of 1 NH LT Battery survey the battlefield
Yes, once more into the breach with a second refight of the Action at Brawner's Farm.  The second trial of the scenario is set for a playthrough Friday evening in a version of Friday Night at the Fights. I remember following EEL's Friday Night at the Fights and the exploits of that gaming group from long ago.  What fun they had!
Battlefield showing initial dispositions
Following the outcome from the first game (see: Action at Brawner's Farm BatRep), I decided to make a few modifications to the scenario.  While the game resulted in an historical outcome, the dominance of Scott's forming of a Federal grand battery on the Federal left gave some concern.  To mitigate that response, the Federals have lost one battery and the 1 NH LT guns begin the game already deployed upon the high ground at Dogan's House.  Also very slight adjustments to Confederate arrival times have been considered.  The outcome may remain as before but an aggressive Jackson might be able to make a bit more progress.

Rules: Regimental Fire and Fury
Game area: 6' x' 6'
First Player: Confederate
Game Start: 5:15pm beginning with Confederate Turn
Game End:  8:30pm
Twilight at 7:45pm
Key Positions: Brawner's Farm (held by Confederates), Dogan's House (held by Federals)

Heavy Casualties: Federal = 34; Confederate = 47
Reinforcement Schedule:
At 5:15pm, only Baylor's brigade, Alleghany, Danville, and Staunton batteries are present on table for the Confederates.  Union troops in column along Warrenton Turnpike with Gibbon's brigade in the van and Doubleday following up about half mile behind.  4-US-B battery begins along Warrenton Turnpike near Dogan's house.  1 NH LT artillery deployed at Dogan's House. Other Federal guns dispersed throughout column.

Confederate Reinforcements:
6:00pm: Jackson, 26 GA, 60 GA
6:15pm: Maryland, Courtney batteries at railroad cut near Stony Ridge, Rockbridge battery at railroad cut northwest of Brawner Farm.
6:45pm: Ewell, Trimble with brigade at railroad cut near Stony Ridge; Lawton and brigade at railroad cut near copse of trees north of Brawner's Farm.
7:45pm: W.B Taliaferro, A.G. Taliaferro and brigade at woods northwest of Brawner's Farm.

Federal Reinforcements: None
Gibbon on the march
We will see what happens in Round 2 of Brawner's Farm.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

French Hussar Rgt #8 - 1859 (or 1870?)

Having painted a dozen Lancashire Games' Chasseurs d'Afrique mistakenly labeled as hussars recently (see: French Hussar Rgt #2), I turned to fielding a regiment of proper French hussars.  
For these hussars, a pack of Old Glory hussars were called up for mobilization.  Old Glory's (now 19th Century Miniatures') FPW/FAW range has one pack of French hussars.  Figures are wearing tunic and kepi.  After doing a bit of research and fact checking, it appears that this uniform was only issued to the 1st and 8th Hussars in 1870.  That suggests hussars in this uniform did not appear on the 1859 field of battle.  Well, in case I expand to the 1870 conflict, these troopers will become the 8th Hussars in their light blue tunic.

This revelation suggests that the Lancashire Games' Chasseurs d'Afrique in shako may very well be a closer match to the uniform of the French hussar during the Franco-Austrian War.  I still need to pick up a few packs of Lancashire hussars to see differences between their Cd'A and their hussars. 
Despite the possible anachronistic mustering of the 8th Hussars in 1870 dress, four squadrons are ready for the tabletop.  While the sculpts are good overall, the one shortcoming is the thin and fragile swords.  Is the wispy sword a function of bad molding or simply bad casting?  Whatever the cause, the extended swords will likely not stand up to the rigors of gaming.  Time will tell how long the swords remain in place.

Speaking of getting the collection to the gaming table, I have been reading about the Battle of Montebello in 1859.  At first glance, Montebello appears a small affair that could easily be whipped together for an evening game.  With small numbers of troops on the table to begin and limited reinforcements, Montebello might prove a good way to get the project into an upcoming game slot.  Of course, more study is required and a map and OB must be drafted but Montebello could definitely fit the bill.

As an added bonus, Montebello was the site of two battles: one in 1859 and another in 1800.  If the map is created with care, both battles could be fought out over the same ground.  I need to verify if that statement is true!  Two battles on one table would allow the 1799 project to see action too.  That would be very handy!