Thursday, November 29, 2018

Egyptian Spearmen from BTD

A second stand of BTD Egyptian spearmen marches off the painting desk.  As mentioned in the post where the first dozen of these figures made an appearance earlier this month (see Egyptian Spearmen), the BTD Egyptians are really quite good.  One benefit of fielding a white-clad Egyptian force is that they paint quickly given their simple garb.  I may not have many Egyptians in the collection but, perhaps, just enough to augment Jake's Egyptian/Kushite Army when these collections take to field of battle.
More works for this project are forthcoming in the following weeks but next off the painting desk will be the final unit needed for a planned Rivoli game.  That unit is the 22nd Chasseurs a Cheval.  Also under consideration is a re-org of the cavalry in the 28mm Peninsular War project whereby each cavalry BMU is increased from eight figures to nine.  I blame Mark at 1866 And All That for leading me down this path to considering a cavalry re-org.  Browse through Mark's collection of nine figure Napoleonic cavalry units.  They look grand!  More on those thoughts later. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Assyrian Spearmen from Black Tree Design

Another round of units for the Assyrian Wars project makes its way across the painting desk.  Having returned to this project after nine months of focusing on 15mm output, I find myself looking into The Lead Pile with thoughts of pushing more Biblical lead into the painting queue.  At present, five units are in various stages of completion including an Egyptian chariot.  
Off the workbench today is a dozen Assyrians.  Spearmen are BTD Assyrian Elite Guardsmen as described on the BTD website.  While there are no photos of the Assyrian infantry on the BTD website, the sculpts are excellent and paint up rather well.  Command are Foundry.  Today's recruits are the second such unit fielded thus far in the project.  Rather than use the shields that come standard with the BTD figures, I opted to use Newline Designs' Assyrian shields.  I just like the Newline Designs shields better.  Luckily, Newline Designs sells the shields separately and accompanied a recent order.  
In addition to the large number of finished and yet-to-paint Assyrians, a few Egyptians, Hebrews, and Judeans await in The Lead Pile.  A steady parade of unpainted Hittites have been arriving into The Lead Pile too.  At some point, I plan to begin a collection of Hittites to face off against either the Assyrians or Jake's Egyptians.  That point, may still be a long way off. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Zorndorf: Once More Into the Breach

Prussian Left Advancing on Russian Positions
With Jake's collection of Russians still on loan, the Zorndorf battlefield still stretching across the twelve feet of table, and a little extra time off work for the holiday, I figured an opportunity was at hand to fight the battle one more time solo.  Since the positioning of the long lines of the Russian army under Fermor lends itself to a static defense, I opted to place myself in Frederick's boots.  Fermor's Russians would be handled in the best possible manner to thwart Prussian attempts to disrupt and dislodge the enemy army. 
Prussian Initial Deployment
Having fought the battle three times at this point, my grasp of the tactical situation and the possibilities available has improved.  With each combatant taking victory honors in the two, full battle refights, this contest would represent the best two-out-of-three in series of Zorndorf recreations. 

To revisit the scenario and previous games, please see,
Zorndorf: The Scenario
Zorndorf: A Tale of Two Battles
Zorndorf: Russian Right Attacked!
Zorndorf: The Thin Red Lines

Prussian Left and Center
The Stein Busch in the center of the Russian line effectively splits the battle into two halves.  Each half is not easily supported by the other.  As witnessed in previous battles, Dohna's large, unwieldy infantry command tends to bog down in the Stein Busch when attacking through the dense woods.  To provide some flexibility, Dohna's command is split into two separate commands.  In this clash, Dohna would command the Center's First Line while de Biaix would command the Second Line of fusiliers.  That bifurcation of command may provide the center with enough flexibility to choose to bypass the bothersome Stein Busch or attack into it as judgment dicates.  The Prussian battle plan will be to attack the Russian right with Dohna in support while de Biaix and Schorlemmer's cavalry pin the Russian left.

Since Seydlitz experienced great difficulty in bringing his heavy cavalry on the Prussian left into action against the Russian right in the prior contests, Seydlitz will attempt to make his historic ride from the Prussian left flank to the right flank.  The distance to traverse the battlefield is great and the cavalry are slow unless a few Admirable Command Performances are granted.  Since attacks against the Russian right have proved futile, time to try a different approach.  If Seydlitz's grand maneuver made sense during the battle, perhaps that is reason enough to try today.  Paraphrasing a past professor, it doesn't hurt to have history on your side.  With a redeployment to the right, Seydlitz may make a difference in countering the Russian large cavalry wing cavalry and perhaps turning a flank.  With the preliminaries out of the way, time to begin.

Turn 1:
The battle begins with an opening salvo from artillery the length of the battle lines.  At long range, the Prussian massed batteries succeed in scoring two hits on Russian artillery on the Russian left and two counter battery hits on the Russian right.   The Russian guns score one hit on a battery and a hit on Schorlemmer's cavalry.

Turn 2:
Demiku's Russian cavalry and Schorlemmer's Prussian cavalry advance to close the distance on the Prussian right.  Seydlitz begins his long march toward the opposite flank of the Prussian army.  Russian artillery scores four hits against Prussian guns.
Cavalry on the Prussian right close
Turn 3:
Before the Prussian massed batteries can drive off the Russian guns on the Russian right, Manteuffel strikes off toward the Russian lines with a double move.  Doing so, causes the Prussian artillery to fall silent while the infantry pass through the gun line.  Seeing Manteuffel step off on his left,  Dohna begins his long advance toward the Russian lines.  The artillery duels continue but replies from the Prussian guns have decreased as both Manteuffel and Dohna pass through their guns.
Manteuffel Advances
Dohna Advances
Turn 4:
Demiku's cavalry, out on the Russian left, throws a double move and pitches into the lead elements of Schorlemmer's cavalry wing.  With hussars on the east bank of the grund and heavies on the left bank, the Prussians counter charge.  The two opposing forces collide.
Cavalry go All In on the Prussian right
On the east bank of the grund, the Prussian hussars drive off one of the two Russian hussars regiments but suffer heavy casualties for their sacrificial effort.  Blown from the clash, the hussars manage to avoid launching into a likely disastrous pursuit.
Hussars clash on the far end of the battle line
On the west bank of the grund, with four regiments against four, two heavy horse clashes develop.  In the first clash, the hard charging Russian 3rd Cuirassier Regiment with the Kazan Cuirassiers in support crash into the equally hard charging Leib Cuirassiers with the Preussen Cuirassiers in support.  The Prussians gain the upper hand with the 3rd Cuirassiers forced to retreat back through their support.  Battered in the initial clash, the Leib Cuirassiers will not yield and elect to pursue against their commander's desires.  The Leib Cuirassiers crash into the supporting Russian regiment and both recoil from the clash.  Both Russian regiments retreat back across the grund in search of safety and a chance to regroup.    
Eight heavy cavalry regiments clash on the right
Battered, the Preussen Cuirassiers hold their ground
while the other participants recoil.
In the second clash of heavies, the Archangel Dragoons with support from Fedorovitch Cuirassiers contact the Normann Dragoons with Brandenburg Cuirassiers in support.  In the impact, both dragoon regiments suffer heavy casualties and retreat.  As the Normann Dragoons retreat back through their support, the supporting cuirassiers suffer from disorder.  Supporting the Russian dragoons from flank, the Russian cuirassiers suffer some loss of cohesion too.  With both primary participants in retreat, no pursuit is possible.  Artillery from both sides continues harassing bombardments.
Dragoons collide!
Aftermath of first cavalry clash on the right
Turn 5:
After Dohna's command set off towards the Stein Busch, it becomes apparent that the woods are not its objective.  Veering to the right, Dohna is maneuvering to bypass the woods on the east edge.  De Biaix marches his command of fusiliers to bypass the woods on the western border. 
Dohna heads east while de Biaix heads west
Situation: Center and right
In an attempt to throw the last Russian heavy cavalry back to the grund, Schorlemmer orders the two Prussian curiassiers regiments to charge the sole Russian Cuirassier regiment in range; the Fedorovich Cuirassiers.  The Prussian get the worse of the exchange and the Pruessen Cuirassiers retreat.  The Russians do not pursue.  
Two against one
Close up: Clash of heavies
Turn 6:
While the cavalry melees on the right continue in a series of charges, counter charges, and regroupings, the Prussian left continues plodding toward the Russian First Line of Saltykov.  Dohna continues skirting the east side of the Stein Busch.
Prussian left marches on Saltykov
Having regrouped the cavalry on the right, another series of charges and counter charges is witnessed on the extreme right of the Prussian line.  Brandenburg Cuirassiers with two supporting regiments charge towards the Russian horse.  The Russian cuirassiers are supported by one regiment and the cuirassiers collide.  In the clash both the Brandenburg Cuirassiers and the Fedorovich Cuirassiers are scattered. 
Cavalry clash in the distance
while Prussians advance on the Russian right 
Brandenburg vs Fedorovich clash...
and are destroyed.
With the cavalry clashes on the right petering out as both sides find themselves spent, a good stopping point in the action has been reached.

All along the battle lines, casualties are beginning to mount from artillery fire although many units are able to recover from casualties at a rate equaling damaged sustained.  As infantry close to within long range, casualty recovery will not be so easy.  Casualties received will be kept.  No batteries have been lost thus far but many guns are damaged and showing the stress of battle.

Still the unflinching Russian lines await as the Prussians continue their march upon Russian positions.
Saltykov awaits...
as the Prussians converge
The first six turns of the battle focused on massive cavalry clashes on the Prussian right.  Only one regiment each has been lost at this point in the battle.  As the Prussian infantry approaches within musketry and canister range, casualties will likely mount quickly.  Manteuffel launched his advance before the weight of the Prussian guns could yield results.  Will Manteuffel's impetuosity haunt the success of the Prussian battle plan? 

Seydlitz is still marching on the Prussian right to support Schorlemmer.  Will Seydlitz arrive in time to tip the balance to the Prussians on the right and allow an opportunity for a sweeping flank attack?

Is Frederick's battle plan sound?  If in Frederick's boots, what approach would YOU have ordered to breach the Russian line and seal a Prussian victory?

Stay tuned to discover what is next in Part 2 of the Zorndorf battle.  Until then, back to the painting desk where units are lining up at the photo box. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Russian Cossacks for the 1799 Project

Russian Cossacks.  When an 18th and 19th century Russian Army was on the march, Cossacks seemed to be present and often in large numbers.  That generalization was no different for Suvorov's campaigns in Switzerland and Italy.  Many of the OBs list Cossacks as the most numerous cavalry component.  Perhaps, Cossacks required less logistical support and maintenance when on the march?  Given the Russian propensity to include Cossacks in its foreign campaigning, a dozen Cossacks muster from the painting table.  
With the ever-presence of Cossacks on the battlefield, these troops are quite handy when Mother Russia takes to the field of battle.  While these figures can see service from the Severn Years War through the Napoleonic Wars, their presence can be seen outside of these periods.  Dress and weaponry changed slowly.  That is good for the gamer since these troopers will see service throughout these periods on my table.
Today's Cossack addition are from Eureka Miniatures' SYW range of figures.  The sculpts show good animation.  The long coats and baggy trousers, having few embellishments, make for a quick pass through the production line.  The one criticism I offer is a dislike for the cast on lances.  As seen, the lances can become misshapen whereas a brass or steel rod would eliminate the bends.

Still, great figures and a welcome addition to the 1799 project. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

French Legere in 1800

With the Battle of Rivoli formulating for a winter game, the French needed a few more light troops.  To satisfy that goal, off the painting desk march two battalions of legere for this upcoming conflict.
These 26 figures are AB Miniatures from the French early period with legere wearing the early shako with side plume.  Nice figures as expected from AB.  The addition of these two BMUs completes the infantry portion of the French OB at Rivoli.  Remaining to field are four squadrons from 22nd Chasseurs a Cheval.  Those horsemen are working their way through the production line. 
While the Montebello 1800 game featured BMUs at the battalion and squadron level, I may zoom out the scale a little for Rivoli and assign each BMU as two battalions or two squadrons.  Of course, after I set out the forces for initial deployment, it might make sense to zoom back in to the battalion/squadron level.  For solo play, the former may be more manageable.  We will see.  As they say, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prussian Grenadier Companies 9 and 46

The Zorndorf battlefield, having taken up residence on the gaming table for the past three months, provided motivation to set to work on a unit for the SYW collection.  It may not be surprising that the long lines of Prussian troops, with their backs turned towards the painting desk, have compelled a mustering of one more Prussian battalion. That is, indeed, the situation. 

Off the painted desk today are the grenadier complements from Prussian Musketeer Regiments #9 and #46.  Historically, the grenadier companies from 9 and 46 served with other grenadier companies but today these two stands of grenadiers march off the painting desk in unison.  Figures are from Eureka Miniatures.
What might be next for the SYW project?  Well, with no SYW figures currently in the painting  queue, it might be awhile before that answer is known.  In the last resupply from Eureka, a couple of howitzers and crew for both Prussia and Austria were included so those are possibilities to work their way into the workbench.  So too are the dozens of Prussian cuirassiers waiting in The Lead Pile.  For something different, a Battle Pack of Lancashire Games' Austrian musketeers awaits attention.  With their slightly oversized tricornes, my thought is to field these as Bavarians.  The oversized tricorne and the distinctive Lancashire Games' sculpting would make a visual change from the sea of white-coated Eureka Austrian figures.  Having not painted this figure before, I am anxious to see how they look with a coat of paint.  Still many other figures ahead in the painting queue before a return to SYW is considered.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Rivoli: A Progress Report

Initial Deployments
Having declared back in January that staging an early Napoleonic battle would be one of my objectives for 2018, I wrestled with which battle to stage for a long time.  Thoughts of finally getting Suvorov's army into the fray was one direction but motivations kept pushing me towards Northern Italy with either a refight of Marengo or Rivoli.  Refighting either Marengo or Rivoli would provide a chance to revisit two interesting tactical situations with new troops and, perhaps, even new rules.  Both Marengo and Rivoli have seen action on the gaming table in the past but not with the forces raised in the 1799 project.  
Battle deployments from Napoleon Museum in Rivoli
The final decision was to tackle Rivoli with troops in earlier uniforms.  The forces in the 1799 project have French in bicorne and Austrians predominantly in casquet.  These early uniforms would be more appropriate in the fields of either Marengo or Rivoli than would the 1809 uniforms mustered for these earlier games.
Rivoli 2004 with Rivoli in background
When my notes for the Rivoli battle were dug up and reviewed, I was surprised that the game last saw action on the table in 2004.  Fourteen years ago!  I have said this before and I say it again.  Time flies.  While the battle sketch map shows a 2008 date, this must have been a revision from my earlier map used as a guide in the 2004 game.  A couple of the photos from that 2004 battle are included
Rivoli 2004 seen from Mt Baldo
For troop deployments, an accounting shows that the only remaining formation to yet field is the 22 Chasseurs a Cheval regiment.  While this unit could be fielded in the later uniform more appropriate for 1809 campaigning, Chasseurs wearing the earlier uniform are in the painting queue.  A dozen of them will be needed.  The full OB is shown below.
OB only missing 22nd Chasseurs a Cheval
I have some painting work to finish before the OB is complete but not much.  It will be fun to revisit an old battle in, perhaps, a new light. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Babylonian Infantry

Newline Designs' Babylonian spearmen.  Two such units are already mustered for the Assyrian Wars project.  These Babylonians with their large shields may just be my favorite figures from Newline Designs.  I love them!  Sculpting is great and having the attached, grounded spear integral to the figure is a big plus.  The figure is uncomplicated, making painting a snap.  The shield is a fine piece of sculpting too.  
Returning to the Assyrian Wars project has been very enjoyable and absent from the painting desk for too long.  Expect to see a few more units for this project appearing in the painting queue.  In the last Newline Designs' sale, I picked up these figures and a few other packs to field a second unit of Hebrews and an Assyrian chariot.  It will be interesting to compare the Foundry chariots which comprise the entire Assyrian chariot force to a Newline Design chariot.  Upon first glance, the Newline Design cart looks smaller.  The horses are smaller too.  Hopefully, not significantly smaller.  The Newline Design infantry fit very well with the Foundry infantry.  Next sale, another unit of Babylonian infantry will likely find its way into my shopping cart.  Great figures!

Note:  Newline Designs is offering a 25% discount NOW!  Yes, I added a bit to The Lead Pile.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Egyptian Spearmen

Having dipped my toe back into the waters of the Assyrian Wars project at the end of September, I decided to add another unit into the painting queue.  Actually, figures for two units were placed into the queue.  The first off the painting desk is this stand of a dozen Black Tree Design Egyptian spearmen.
First, the sculpting on these Egyptians is superb!  Having painted only a couple of units from BTD's Egyptian range, I am quite impressed by what I see. The sculpting is crisp and the poses are good.  Sometimes BTD poses are a bit chaotic but these Egyptians look disciplined and ready for business.  I can envision fielding a small entourage of Egyptians to fight either along or against my massive Assyrian Army.  After almost a year of painting 15s, it feels good to add in a 28mm unit from time to time.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Arbeit Macht Frei - Dachau, Germany

Arbeit Macht Frei translates as Work will set you free. 

These are the words welded into the wrought-iron gate at the Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich.  What does this phrase really mean?  Is it to be taken literally?  Some prisoners were released.  Hoess, the first commandant at the Auschwitz main camp, described in his autobiography that the phrase meant that work sets one free in the spiritual sense.  Misery is lost in toil, I suppose.   Was this phrase SS propaganda to mask the nature and purpose of the camp?  To those living outside of the camp, the words, Arbeit Macht Frei, might suggest the purpose of the camp as a labor and re-education facility.  This connotation might diminish and sanitize its true objective.  
Commandant's quarters
First established as a concentration camp for political prisoners, the camp later held captive citizens from a number of countries and ethnic groups as Nazi aggressions rose throughout the 1930s and 1940s. 
Dachau camp layout
Upon arrival to the camp, prisoners would pass though the Jourhaus building with the wrought iron gate shown above.  The Jourhaus was the main office of SS camp personnel.  This building segregated the camp from the outside world.  Each day, camp work-groups would march out through this gate to the factories and then back at the end of the work day. Each day, the prisoners would be reminded that Arbeit Macht Frei. 
Having passed through this gate, the visitor is met with a stark expanse of the camp grounds.  Where thirty-four barracks once stood, the ground is barren with the exception of two reconstructed barracks and foundation outlines remaining from the thirty-two razed barracks.  Dotting the landscape are several watch towers.  For these long gone barracks, remaining as a testament to their existence is the foundation outline circumscribing each of thirty-two cement barracks' numbers.
Camp where barracks once stood
Foundation outline with barrack number
Guard tower in background
Near the entrance to the camp is the International Memorial which reads,
May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 -1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and respect for their fellow men
International Memorial
At one end of the compound is a large, U-shaped Maintenance building that today houses the memorial exhibitions and movie theater.  The exhibitions provide details on each room's historical function.  Prisoner kitchen, laundry, baths, storerooms, and workshops are all presented.  Also on display is the Shunt room whereby newly arrived prisoners were processed for admission into the camp.  At this stage, a new arrival was stripped of everything including individuality.  On the roof of this building was once painted the phrase,
There is one path to freedom. Its milestones are: obedience, honesty, cleanliness, sobriety, diligence, orderliness, self-sacrifice, truthfulness, love of the fatherland
Prisoners would face this building during Roll Calls with this phrase as a constant reminder.
Maintenance Building with Memorial in foreground
Two of the barracks have been reconstructed for the memorial illustrating the living conditions under which the occupants lived.  Each barrack housed 140 people.

At the opposite end of the camp and segregated from the main camp is the crematorium.  The crematorium is divided into several rooms, each with a specific purpose.  At the height of operations the furnaces were working 24 hours a day.

The crematorium at Dachau has a gas chamber in an adjoining room as well but was not used for that purpose.  Exhibits in the Maintenance building suggest that while it may not have been used for its designed purpose, it was used for SS interrogations and torture.  
Gas Chamber
When we first discussed travel to Austria and Germany, Dachau was one of the sites that my wife wanted to visit if we could fit it into the schedule.  Well, Dachau is an easy half-day trip from Munich and can be reached in about 40 minutes using a combination of train and bus.

I pondered sharing this visit long and hard.  The camp was not easy to experience firsthand.  The exhibits were heartbreaking.  Reviewing these photos of our Dachau day-trip, the thoughts and sensations relived tempted me to reconsider this post more than once.  In the end, sharing this horrific piece of history seemed appropriate.  

Quite an overpowering experience.  With memorials such as Dachau, how could such brutality ever be forgotten?