Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Sights of Montreal

Nancy with front row seats
The city of Montreal has much to offer the traveler.  A few of the highlights from our recent trip to this island city in the middle of the St. Lawrence River includes:

Old Town Montreal:
Notre Dame Cathedral
Nelson's Column
Walking the narrow streets of Old Montreal
So many great restaurants including Reuben's Deli and Steakhouse.  Included on menus everywhere is, perhaps, the Canadian national dish, poutine.  Places serving smoked meats were plentiful as well. Some, like Reuben's, combined poutine and smoked meat.
Poutine with chopped smoked meat
Montreal offers a number of museums.  We visited several but my favorite, by far, was the Montreal Archaeology and History Museum on the waterfront in Old Montreal.  This museum was built over the site of the original fort.  The foundation from buildings past is incorporated into and accessible from the museum.     
Fort Ville-Marie, 1642
Fort Ville-Marie, 1642
The old sewer in neon purple
A handsome collection of sailing ships from years gone by garrisons the perimeter of the second floor. 

A special treat to see a small display of sixteenth century Japanese armor.  These examples will be useful next time Feudal Japanese figures hit the painting desk. 
Montreal from the river:

Montreal from above:
Mont Real as seen from Olympic Tower

 Ile Notre-Dame:
On Ile Notre-Dame stands the Casino appearing to be straight from the Jetson's.  Encircling the casino is the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve which is the course for the F1 Grand Prix du Canada.  When not in use as a racetrack, the circuit can be used for cycling, rollerblading, and autos.  I would enjoy returning to Montreal to see the F1 race and take the bike out onto the track.  With stringent F1 regulations on surface conditions, this track was well maintained and quite smooth.     
The Casino
The Casino
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Michael Buble Concert
The primary reason for a visit to Montreal?  Not history, not food, a Michael Buble concert.  For Nancy, this was the highlight of the trip.  With front row seats to the secondary stage, we had an up close view of Michael when he performed at this end of the Bell Centre Arena.  To see exactly how up close and personal, please watch this short clip I captured as designated videographer.  Be sure to watch until the end of this 50 second clip.
Yes, Nancy is the blond to whom Buble made a hand grab.  She was so excited!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Gun for the Italian Wars

While I have more than enough guns and crew for most Italian Wars' battles, one more gun was uncovered in The Lead Pile.  Similarly, four crewmen were found which could be pressed into service to operate the gun.  Mustering one gun and crew would be quick work so why not get the lead out (of The Lead Pile)?  The last of the Renaissance guns and crew depart the painting desk, I think.      
Guns and crew from Old Glory.  Figures, as expected from Old Glory, are animated and energetic.  They should be perfect for bringing this weapon to its best use.
A real mix of units is working its way through the painting queue.  Glancing at the next six or seven units to make their way through the painting queue shows figures for six or seven different projects.  A fine example of diversity and inclusion at the painting desk.  

Finally, I enjoyed three games of Assaye using Kevin's custom Commands & Colors: Napoleonics set up over the weekend.  The Assaye scenario has been expanded to play on a board about double the regular size with a corresponding increase in the number of units.  The English and Natives, under the command of Wellesley, took all three victories.  Kevin won the first game handily. I won the second game decisively.  The third game was quite close at the end but I managed to claim victory scoring 8 banners to 6.  I failed to take any game photos of the battle set up but the game presents an impressive sight with troops deployed all across the board in two, seemingly, unending lines.  Next time, I will snap a photo or two.  Fun afternoon!

To read about my first attempts at gaming Assaye with Kevin's game, see CCN: Assaye 1803.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Prussian Commanders from Freikorps 15s

Another small group of Freikorps 15s' command figures dredged up from the bottom of The Lead Pile.  This time, a three-figure pack of Prussian mounted officers hit the painting desk.  Perhaps not as crisply sculpted and molded as Eureka's fine range of SYW figures but satisfactory, for sure, and with their own bit of charm.
In the Painting Ledger, August is shaping up to be a disappointment on the figure count front.  With travel, increased cycling, and other demands on my time, activity at the painting desk has slipped off.  I can go days without making it down to the painting desk for even the quickest of painting sessions.  One of the demands experiencing a modest bump is gaming.  I recently managed to pull off two gaming sessions on two consecutive weekends.

The first session saw the finale of the San Martino battle.  Often spending time looking over the situation since the conclusion of the first part of the battle, I have been trying to figure out a solution to pushing the Austrians back from their initial land grab.  Were the Sardinians successful?  Stay tuned for the second part of the battle recap.  

The second session featured my 30mm ECW collection in three, decisive refights of the Battle of Southam.  The victor was the same in all three playings despite switching sides more than once.  With the figures reset, I may work through a few solo battles to see if the tables can be turned.  

Still, a lot of figures are slowly working their way through the painting queue.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Highlanders for the Peninsula

Off the painting desk today are a baker's dozen Highlanders in 15mm from Campaign Game Miniatures (CGM).  While CGM French in bicorne have seen service in the 1799 project, these highlanders are the first infantry painted for my older, 15mm Napoleonic project covering the Empire period.  With so many other projects in work and a relatively stable Napoleonic Empire period project (i.e. I have more figures than I can use), more than three years have passed since I last added to this collection. 
I like the sculpting of the CGM figures very much.  Perhaps the quality is only slightly below that of AB.  Anatomy is a little odd in a few poses but overall superb figures.  I especially like the cavalry.  Some of the cavalry I prefer over AB.

This Regiment musters out as the 93rd.  The dip tended to dampen the color contrast on the kilts but the result is still pleasing.  From a distance the tartan pattern would meld together, anyway.  Nice figures!

Friday, August 16, 2019

1859 Sardinian Commanders

Rummaging through The Lead Pile, I came upon several packs of Sardinian commanders for the 15mm 1859 project.  The packages were Freikorps 15s and must have been buried for years.  The only Freikorps figures purchased in the last five years have been limbers and teams for this period.  These figures, therefore, must have been from the early days of the project in 2008.  Note, several limbers and teams were also "rediscovered" in this dig into the bins.  Hooray!  Oh, wait.  I don't enjoy painting limbers. 
While not as nice as the Mirliton mounted commander offerings for the Sardinians and limited to only two poses, these four stands will add some needed leadership to my Sardinian army. 

Also resurfacing during my wander though The Lead Pile, I discovered a few more odds and ends from Freikorps 15s.  One is a Prussian command pack from the SYW range and a couple of packs of AWI generals.  The AWI generals' packs must be at least a dozen years old.  I think I will push the Prussian general pack into the painting queue.   

Monday, August 12, 2019

1859 Sardinian Artillery

When the current San Martino battle was expanded to include the western approaches, Durando's Sardinian Division was forced to press two French batteries into service.  Following the first battle session, three Sardinian batteries hit the painting desk to alleviate the situation.  The plan was to paint and field these guns before the second gaming session to replace the French guns.  With the second session still on hold until schedules align, the Sardinian guns roll off the painting desk in time to see service.     
Off the painting desk today are three Sardinian guns and crew from Mirliton Miniatures.  For artillery for the 1859 project, Mirliton guns and crew are my favorites.  While Mirliton make artillery for the Sardinian and Austrian armies, no such artillery is provided for the French. In fact, no French are present in Mirliton's 15mm line up for this range.  Perhaps one day, Mirliton will add French to their excellent 15mm Italian War of Independence range?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Montreal Fire Drill

No, not that kind of fire drill but an 18th Century musket firing drill performed by re-enactors in uniform and equipment of the French & Indian War.

This firing drill demonstration was conducted on a plaza across the street from Pointe-a-Calliere Archaeology and History Museum in Montreal, Quebec.  Nancy and I were visiting Montreal last week and as we climbed out onto the observation tower at the museum in Old Montreal, we were greeted by the sight of a firing drill below the tower.  A pleasant surprise and we had a perfect viewing platform from which to watch the proceedings. 

Nancy shot the following two videos from our observation post while I looked on and snapped off a few stills.  Watch for the NCO's equipment malfunction during the drill. 

After the demonstration, we scurried down the stairs and across the street to the plaza to catch the re-enactors before they dispersed.  The re-enactors were kind enough to pose for a quick photo.  Yes, I am small but these fellas are big!  Notice the distinct contrast between the gris-blanc of the justacorps and the white gaiters.  These coats are definitely grey.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Battle of Edgcote 1469

Finally found several, uninterrupted hours on a flight back from Montreal this past weekend to tackle Graham Evans' (of Wargaming for Grown-ups blog) recent book, The Battle of Edgcote 1469 Re-evaluating the Evidence.  More on the trip to Montreal in another post but, for now, on to Graham's 1469.

First, my knowledge of the War of the Roses and this period in British history would likely take up little space on a hard drive.  In fact, my background in this conflict is nearly non-existent.  Given that preamble, I undertake this reading with no historical bias or agenda.  My goals are to gain an understanding of the conflict, in general, Edgcote in particular, and to support a fellow blogger.  Perhaps, this book will spark interest in a new period of study for me?

First off, Graham shatters my weak knowledge of the WotR by stating upfront that Edgcote may not even fit into the classification of the broader conflict.  If the larger WotR pitted the Yorkists against the Lancastrians, where were the Lancastrians at Edgcote?  Perhaps better to classify Edgcote as part of the Yorkist Civil War or the Warwick Rebellion.  Already I am confused!  

In 1469, Evans presents a forensic detective puzzle in which he sifts through the evidence (much of it conflicting or sparse) to build a plausible approach to answering the questions addressed in the book.  This book is indeed a re-evaluation of the battle evidence.  As historians tend to build upon past works to compose their prose narrative of the historical event, many introduce their own historical biases and agendas while often times propagating errors of those going before.  Evans attempts to identify and cull these biases, agendas, and misinterpretations present in the historical record.  He points out that previous battle chroniclers have either overlooked (intentionally or not) or dismissed the evidence at hand.  These choices of the historian may lead to propagation of fictional battle accounts.  Evans uses conjecture too but within an evidence-based, scientific approach.

Each of the first seven chapters tackles one particular facet of this puzzle.  One after one, each question is presented, evidence laid out, and a conclusion drawn.  Well, not all questions proposed have answers.  The question of the identity of Robin of Redesdale is left ambiguous with several possibilities.  Even the day Edgcote was fought is open for scrutiny and debate.  Evans provides a fine example of deductive reasoning, comparison by analogy, common sense, application of military science and the scientific method in action.

While I found the comparison of the various battle returns used in estimating the number of combatants involved sometimes tedious and confusing, I appreciate the process employed.  A scatter plot showing the various estimates and upper/lower bounds on these disparate estimates may have provided clarity and a useful visual illustration as the iterative estimation process converged to the most likely force compositions. 

Bringing all of this analysis together, the author presents a plausible battle narrative in broad strokes based upon the evidence and conclusions drawn.  Evans' battle narrative asserts that the Welsh army broke when a Rebel force appeared upon its flank.  The sudden appearance of a reinforced enemy to fore and a new threat on flank panicked Pembroke's army and casualties soared when the routing army reached the choke point of Trafford Bridge.  There, the Welshmen were cut down trying to make good their escape over the narrow bridge. 

Is this battle narrative conclusive?  Reading the hypothesized narrative and following along closely using the accompanying battle diagrams, another alternative, battle progression came to mind.  With little in the way of battlefield archaeological evidence found and with the data provided, perhaps, an alternative narrative is equally plausible?

If interested in how the battle might appear on the wargaming table, again, visit Graham's battle reports at:
In summary, this is an enjoyable read and a thought-provoking piece of battle forensics.  A comprehensive list of sources is included in the Appendix.  Given the evidence Evans provides, put your detective hat on and draw your own conclusions.  You may learn a little Welsh too.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

An ebay Find: Pair of Fokker Triplanes

Bargains can still be found on ebay for those with patience and a bit of luck.  I recently scored two pre-built and painted 1/72 plastic Fokker DR1 triplanes from an ebay  in this fashion.  I find mid-summer is a good time to keep an eye out on ebay auctions for bargains.  Mid-summer sees fewer bidders and, perhaps, even a few more willing sellers than usual.  That was the situation for these two fine models.
Both models were advertised as fully built and painted.  Opening bid on each was a mere USD$6.50.  Bids of USD$6.50 were placed on each and I began to wait expecting more activity as the auction end date approached.  Well, no other bids materialized and I won both aircraft for under USD$20 for two pre-built models postage paid.  What a great bargain!  For about USD$10 per model two nicely built Fokker DR1's enter service with no muss and no fuss.  

Well, almost no muss and no fuss.  Although well packaged, some damage occurred during shipment.  On one model the landing gear arrived broken at the fuselage joint.  On the other, the top wing had come off.  Both were easy repairs.  Both are ready to take to the skies.  The easiest two additions to the WWI air war collection yet.  It is good to be lucky.       

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Pike Block #7 for the Italian Wars

The starting gun has fired and the painting tally for August is out of the blocks.  A block of pike, that is.  Building a block of pike is always approached with care.  For me, painting 39 28mm figures at one time is cumbersome to say the least especially when dangerous pike heads are poised to poke the careless.  I do not relish the process but I am certainly pleased when the job is finished.  That is the situation with this block. 
Off the painting desk is a three-stand pike block consisting of the last of the Old Glory pikemen remaining in The Lead Pile.  A large quantity of Foundry Landsknecht pikemen remains as well as a handful or two of Artizan Landsknecht pikemen.  Likely enough figures to field two more pike blocks.  Perhaps, even three!  No more planned for the immediate future, though.  It takes time to forget the experience before I am tempted again.
The figures are a mix of armored and unarmored Old Glory Swiss/Italian pikemen.  This block brings the total pike blocks in the project to seven.  Enough for most battles, I think.  Flags are Pete's Flags.  I need a rest...