Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What I do when I'm not blogging...

Believe it or not, I do have a life. Silly I know, but I do things besides blogging. I have a job which challenges me (It's called  a "ministry" actually) working with some really interesting people. I have a wonderful family. I do reenacting and educating about history, especially the War of 1812 and World War I. I play bass trombone in a local town band. I paint... and that is the subject of the blog today.

Here are some recent examples of what I've been painting. My tastes are eclectic to say the least and I seem to have ADD when it comes to painting projects; too long in one period leads me to sloppy work. I'm proud of my painting, but it is not "museum quality" by any means.

The Swedish High Command around 1814, including the Crown Prince Karl XIV Johann (General Bernadotte) with two general types and an aide from the LivGarde. I can't remember the manufacturer and the figures can be 'scruffy' but I have them and they're paid for. Bernadotte's purple uniform is just... FABULOUS!

Napoleonic Russian Hussars - Regiment Soum. I liked the grey colouration. The figs are from an old Minifig line and started out life as another regiment. In switching rules, I had a surplus of Hussars, so repainting was in order to set them up for Shako.
From Battle Honours, third battalion, Prussian Reserve Regiment #9  in British supplied uniforms of the Rifle Regiment variety. I think the manufacturer uses British and Portuguese figures for these Reservists, which makes sense.
Based for Shako

79th Highlanders based for Shako. The rankers are ancient Ral Partha Napoleonics while the officer, ensign, and piper might be Essex, I don't remember. Much to my shame, when I looked at the photo, I realized that I had mounted the colour onto the pole sideways. Now... do I tear the flag off the pole or repaint on the staff? Tune in again.

Minifig Napoleonic Poles... who have no officer, colour, or drummer. Sometimes those things are hard to come by. But so are the magenta facings. Woops, sorry! "Polish Crimson" I know the colour isn't quite right but it's the closest I can come to it.

More ancient Ral Parth figures - this time Austrian artillerists, based for General de Brigade and painted up as generic War of 1812 militia gunners. I often paint stuff up as militia to empty the tiny bags of odd figs I find in boxes. Luckily, you can make 1812 militia of either side out of almost anything!
Minifigs Royal Artillery light foot gun battery for Shako. In Shako, the 'weight' of an artillery battery is reflected in the number of crew on the base. 2 for horse, 3 for medium/foot, 4 for heavy (12# or more.) The British are allowed "light foot" batteries with two crew which fire as horse guns but move as foot. I had extra figures and a left-over light gun, so here they are.

I'm sure you all recognize the Polish Lancers of Napoleon's Imperial Guard. The blue of the uniform photographs a little light but appears darker to the eye when the figs are on the table. Minifigs again.

French Napoleonic Cuirassiers by Battle Honours in 15mm. Nicely proportioned figures that are good to paint up... and I HATE painting cavalry! I have to put a flag on the standard bearer's pole but the Eagle will serve. I remember the old Airfix plastic Cuirassiers... and the pot-roast-on-a-stick that served as the standard.

French 7-Year's War artillery by Minifigs based for KoenigKrieg. This would be a 5 gun battery, each gunner signifying one cannon. I think the guns are Old Glory.

Militia 4-gun battery for KoenigKrieg. I've been doing militia units for this set of 7-Year's War rules with an eye to a possible "Imigi-nations" campaign. We probably won't use 15mm but I'll have the troops anyway. Again, ancient Ral Partha Austrian Napoleonic gunners and cannons by Minifigs and Old Glory... I think.
His Majesty's Native Allies! Native American/First Nations warriors by Frontier based for KoenigKrieg as skirmishers.

Hussars of Prussian Freikorps von Schorny for KoenigKrieg using Minifigs from their French Revolution range. (They're what I could get at the time.) The Freikorps were mercenary auxiliary regiments recruited by Frederick to serve as light infantry and do much of the dirty work the regulars refused to do (like burn and loot stuff.) They were scum, but the uniforms are interesting. This crowd is actually wearing the pelisse as a jacket rather than throwing it over the one shoulder as most Hussars did.

A Prussiand 7YW grenadier battalion, Battalion 3/6 "Kleist" to be exact. The two grenadier companies from each regiment were brigaded with the companies from another regiment to create battalion of grenadiers to take care of the toughest assignments in the battle. You can see that the breeches, waistcoats and mitre cap backs are different. Officers wore tricorns rather than the mitres. [Freikorps 15's figures -  very nice range]

1st Battalion, Regiment #17 "Mannteufel" of the Prussian army, Seven Year's War. Tough SOB's to a man. I have a Russian and Swedish 7YW armies and my wife has a Bavarian army. I'm working on Austrians, British and Prussians. On the side, I have some French, some Saxons, and one of the Reicharmee Kreis brigades.
(Talk about squirrels having a slap fight!) [more Freikorp 15's]

Britsh 7YW figures for North America - The Buffs! I realize it is a matter of taste, but I prefer figures in the Horse-and-Musket period to be in the 'march attack' positon. The castings nest nicely and look sharp! [Freikorps 15's again]

British line infantry from Freikorp 15's but in hunting shirt! An as yet unnamed green faced regiment. The hunting shirts are an off-white colour washed with brown ink.
More British - this time the 9th Regiment of Foot. Brown gaiters or leggings were worn in North America while grey ones were worn in Europe. Note the hatchets in the troopers' belts - another North American adaptation.

More troops in hunting shirts - militia this time. The unit is smaller and the boyos have coloured sashes in place of belts.

From Old Glory 15's, Austrian Imperial German regiment #13 "Moltke" based for KoenigKrieg which allow Austrian "German"regiments to be 4 stands large. Regiment Moltke was believed to have been the oldest regiment in the army, recruited in 1683 in the alpine counties. I found a colour called "Oyster White" for the coats which allows some contrast to the pure white of the belts. I have real soft spot for the Austrian Army. I've discovered that the modern Austrian army's units continue the traditions of the old Imperial army, even carrying the Double Eagle flag. The Vienna garrison continues to be the unit that traces it's linage to the old Hoch und Deutschmeister regiment.

More "Imagi-nation" stuff - Musket Minatures painted as an AWI unit (Congress's Own Canadian Regiment maybe? Or some Pennsylvania unit is Quaker brown) serving some country as militia, carrying the "Bonny Blue Flag" of Texas. Musket Minis look crude in the box but they paint up rather nicely.

Old Glory 15's Continental troops in light infantry caps painted as "Imagi-nation" militia or regulars of some obscure duchy like Hesse-Squeegie-Flusspferde. The "M" on the colour is for Margrave Manfred of Hesse-Squeegie-Flusspferde... or maybe it's for militia or for manicotti, the unit's regimental meal. You can guess too!
All this painting has taken quite a while. Some of this stuff has been sitting around un-photographed since early summer. Don't think I knock this stuff out in an evening! Even mediocre painting takes time. But as one spiritual director told me: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

Monday, 24 September 2012

War of All Against All

Date:       22 September, 2012
Place:      Crouch Library, Hamilton Road, London, ON
Rules:      Disposable Heroes / Coffin for Seven Brothers
               (World War II small unit skirmish)
Sides:      Free-for-all!
Players:   Andy, Martin, Rob, and myself

Andy came up with a scenario of each player preparing a roughly 1000pt. army list of infantry, infantry support weapons, and one AFV. Each player would set up and fight ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS, no matter what nation. The objective was to be the last man standing. Oy vey! So Martin took his Sikhs with a Chuchill, a 6# AT gun with Bren to tow it, AND a 17# AT gun with a Bren as prime mover. Robby took British paras with a Cromwell. Andy had Russians, a KV-1 and a 76mm AT gun. I took my SS reinforced platoon (HQ section with a Panzerschreck attached, 3 2-section squads, an MG-42 HMG team, and an 8cm mortar team) with a Tiger I.

The initial set-up -- Andy called the scenario "Berlingrad" and he is seen taking photos of the set-up. I'm sitting by my deployment area. Andy is standing by Martin's deployment space. Andy set up in the corner, left foreground and Rob was set up in the right foreground. The objective: "Get 'em!"
Andy's Soviets. I think he had three mortars, maybe four. Of course, I demanded he use the flag! The playing card was a way to randomise deployment. Cards were set on the table and cards from a second deck were drawn by the players. You set up where your card matched. Originally we were set for 6 players, but two of the fellows couldn't make it at the last minute.
My SS abteilung - the Tiger I is out of the photo on the far right. You can just see the fender. At the far left, carrying their own wheat sheaves, is my sniper team... who actually survived the game! That's a knocked out Pz. 38t in the woods beyond the grain field. It made a good place to hide an LMG team.
Martin's Sikhs - he paints the turbans of each squad in a different colour, which makes sense game-wise and really detracts nothing from the look of those very business-like troops. 2-inch and 3-inch mortar teams skulk in the rear of his deployment.
Rob's Paras with their Cromwell. The troops reached the church as curfew fell. The Cromwell used it's speed to pop in and out of cover, keeping it out of the Tiger's sights... for which referred to my son as a "sneaky weasel." He continues in the great tradition of the games at the Ritz BBQ in Allentown, PA - one player shall always be the "Mentula Mustellae." (Latin - in polite English, "the genitals of the weasel." Impolitely, "weasel d**k") 
 The initiative changed every full turn and I was almost always last. ("Such is life.") Andy cautiously rounded the corner to face my Tiger with his KV-1 while his infantry made a dash for the houses on the street that separated our forces. I also ran for the housed and got into one on his side of the road. I held it for a while but was wiped out a short while later.
One of my squads when left to face the Sikhs, who hammered the squad's LMG team. Martin slowly worked his way around my left flank, through the woods. His 6-pounder and my sniper and LMG team exchanged fire for most of the game.
Rob dashed toward Martin to take some of the Socialist Realism Housing Development (cinder block semi-cubes) to face off Martin. They were heading toward each other but were separated for most of the game. Andy and I were closest due to the luck of the cards.

The centre of the table - I have a section in the big building, the HQ section and another rifle section are poised to make a run for the houses to the left of the big building. The Tiger is gingerly advancing. The Kubelwagen the the halftrack in the photo are usable, the pz. 38t and the Pzkwgn. IV are knocked out and serve as terrain. You can also see Soviet infantry advancing toward the housed in the bottom of the photo.

Not much later - the KV-1 and the 76mm AT gun are advancing. Andy's line of mortars is setting up to throw smoke to help Rob, who had made a temporary alliance with Andy and who had no mortars. There were lots and lots of Russians. One might say "Oodles" of Russians.
Andy's aerial view of the battle - Martin's Sikhs are advancing toward Rob's positions. They're also starting to creep around my left. By this time, my Tiger had taken a "penetrating hit" but no serious damage. Each penetrating hit adds to the seriousness and the danger of each hit that follows. I couldn't "acquire" (that is, see, find, and target) the KV-1 and Andy had trouble hitting me although he acquired my tank easily. (AFV's must acquire their targets before they can shoot at them. Something to do with trying to sight through a narrow vison block.)
As it ended up, we couldn't complete the game since the library closes at 5 and Rob and I had a hot supper waiting at home. (My wife was working on Saturday, so Katie cooked a simple and good meal for a chill Fall afternoon.) Martin had the most casualties, I was second (SS troops die like anyone else, just mine seem to "die" more often.), followed by Andy and Rob. None of us cared who won. We all did since we had fun!

Rob's troop are occupying the Socialist Realism Housing Development at the top left of the photo, while his squad of Partisans made their way along the church-yard wall. Soon Rob and Andy exchanged fire. Andy's troops are in one of the housed off the square... at least until the SS's HMG chased them out.
My section in the big building have been required to fall back to a more protected place in the building. Martin's Sikhs continue their flanking manoeuvre. At the top centre, Rob's Paras take more of the SRHD. The white cotton blobs are mortar-launched smoke shells.
Geez, there's a lot of clutter on the table!

Rob and his chocolate bar contemplate the game. I had suggested a game on the Italian front with lots of terrain, but Andy had this scenario in mind. There was plenty of terrain. The smaller, sloped roof house come from a lucky purchase at the dollar store. Wooden houses for $1.25 a piece! You can hardly beat that! Martin picked up a few too; his have the dark grey roofing.

Look at that! Amost dead centre on the table! The Churchill passes the Bren carrier Wasp and waddles into the battle!
I don't remember what it did, except bounce a few AT hits.
By the end of the game, I sit stunned by the carnage. Martin's Sikhs have taken it on the chin as they tried to advance toward the SRHD. The survivors can be seen in the woods in the foreground. The Cromwell is still skulking behind the buildings. (Mentula Mustellae!) Andy's standing on the chair, taking a photo.
 My thanks to Andy and Martin who took all the photographs. (I forgot my camera.) After this we discussed our next steps - a small reenacting event, the "Imagi-nations" campaign plans, and when we'll play at the club again.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Backus Mills Dust-up

The reenacting season is winding down, although a huge one is yet to come - the reenactment of the battle of Queenston Heights in October. Even though things are slowing down, there was a fun event last weekend at Backus Mills Conservation Area and Heritage Village in Ontario. We almost didn't make it because the weather report was quite threatening and it poured cats and dogs the night before. Still, Saturday morning dawned bright and cool, so Beth, Rob, and I went. (Katie stayed home to celebrate her 21st birthday with friends. Who can figure these things?)
We arrived expecting to set up our tent and found that some other tents had collapsed during the night's storm. Our friends from the 16th US and the 21st US convinced us to leave our canvas in the van and accept their hospitality under their canvas. We didn't argue because very little is better than leaving a reenactment with dry tentage! We had "bought in" for the dinner Carrie and Mark were preparing (a wonderful chicken stew and apple crisp cooked over the campfire. I know the troops didn't eat this well in 1812, but we sure eat well!)
The afternoon battle was set for 2:00pm, but at 1:00, the "Iron Man" competition was held. The participants had to pile their kit on a blanket and go back to the start. They ran down a hill, vaulted a low fence, put on their kit, ran back up the hill, jumped over the fence, fire three shots (ramming the powder as well), ran down the hill (fence again), fix bayonets and jab an appropriately uniformed dummy, back up the hill and fence, drink a mug of water and hold it over their heads at the finish line. This was all timed!

Rob heads down the hill on the first leg. His kit is laid out on the white blanket by the tree.

Kitting up.

Three rammed shots. Rob only got one off, with two misfires, which gave him a 15 second penalty.

Up the hill after bayonetting the red coated dummy.

A serious gulp! It's hard to drink and pant!

Our Rob came in third... not bad for a first timer! There were only a few seconds between him and the second place. If his musket had fired, he might have won.

The afternoon battle saw Rob skirmishing with the 16th/21st and I was detailed to be the commander's bodyguard and bugler. (Our good friend, Paul, was overall commander with the rank of major.) I'm learning the bugle calls for the US light infantry from William Duane's 1812 "Handbook for Riflemen" which contains about 60 bugle calls for the US forces. My old India Pattern bugle will serve, although there's some controversy over whether the British pattern or the more Germanic Jaegerhorn pattern was used by the US. Well, I have a paid-for bugle and 40+ years playing brass insturments... so now I AM the "Minstrel Boy"!
The US forces entered the field after a cannon bombardment and we pushed the Crown forces hard, so hard we were told we were moving too fast and if we captured one certain cannon, the Crown forces were set to use that as a signal to withdraw. The 1st US Rifles took it anyway. I could see their hatchets (rubber ones) flailing away over the gun crew. Lots of fire was exchanged and the US held the day for the afternoon.

Skirmishers from the 16th, 17th (Rob), 21st (Mark), and the 1st Rifles (extreme right, in green) take the field.

The commander of the British Indian Department troops in full skulk. He commanded reenactors dressed as Native warriors and British troops in green hunting frocks and tams. The officers of the BID dressed in red so they would not be shot by the Natives, who might think they were Americans.

Skirmisher from the 25th US and the 1st Kentucky Rifle Volunteers doing proper light infantry tactics.
James of the 16th is on the extreme right.

The 22nd US advances in line with the Canadian Volunteers just behind them. (Top hats with green hat band.)
The 16th NY Volunteers are just beyond the 22nd. Everybody in this crowd was in grey jackets.

Paul and I with our intrepid runner, Charlie, as we all survey the battlefield. I look rather stunned for some reason.

Jonesy, Rob, and Mark await the order to fire.

Battalion volley!

Jonesy, Roby, and Mark now HAVE the order to fire!

British Forces in line and in the shade. Maybe that's why they were so hard to move!

Another view of the British line. Some of the sergeants carry muskets or shorter musketoons, some carry spontoons (the boar spear-like weapon). I suppose it's a matter of taste, but I've read that many of the NCO's in North America carried a musket since the spontoon was so cumbersome. US sergeants carried muskets. Sergeants major on both sides did damage by force of personality... like they do today.

Rob in the act of loading. He'll go through a box of 36 cartridges in one engagement as light infantry.
He's learning to fire fast, maybe faster than he needs to. (Powder isn't cheap!)

I prepare to fire my one shot of the afternoon. Note the proper method of cocking the musket. ("I am the very model of..." "Oh, shut up!") As bodyguard/bugler, I fired one shot and played one call. I also carried Charlie into the shade when he "took a hit."  Our friend, Phil, is in the foreground in his huge chapeau bras.
James, commanding the 16th walks behind me.

The second battle was in the evening. (after a fine dinner. Thanks, Carre!) I was bodyguard/bugler again and this time I was told to play random calls and even to mimic the British calls in order to confuse them. It didn't work. We exchanged volleys on the Conservation Area's bridge while the lights skirmished in a hollow off to the side. The British were rather aggressive that evening and we finally withdrew by "leap-frogging" unit from unit, most of the way up the hill. Afterwards, the traditional march-past took place.

Paul and I await the assembly of the US forces... who -as usual and under orders- "gaggled over."

Troops of the BID scout the field.

Crown boat-men rowed around the pond while pyrotechnics made noise and smoke and the cannons fired.

A Yankee unit gives fire on the bridge.

The 22nd US, the 16th NY, and the Canadian Volunteers advance toward the bridge.
Phil is now in shako with his double-barreled carbine!

British skirmishers in the hollow off to the side of the bridge. My wife took all these photos and did a good job of getting a view through the underbrush.

As the 22nd prepares to volley, Paul talks to the Rifle commander. Note the young drummer of the 22nd.

The US retreat begins as the colour party falls back. The 16th NY begins the holding action.
The white litter on the road is spend cartridge papers. Yes, we tear them open with out teeth in best 1812 style!
Nothing beats a mouthful of black powder.

As dusk falls and musket smoke clouds our vision. the Crown forces advance.

One last blast from the 22nd. I though Rob was in the photo with his metal "kidney" canteen, but I'm sure now that he isn't in the photo; his crossbelts are black. I fell "wounded" about this time, wrapping my leg in a rag and ducking the British volleys. {Elevate, boys, elevate!}

On the whole, the day was well planned and executed. The setting is very nice and quite a few people came out to visit. Since the day was cool, I was in my blue wool all day - unusual for me since the heat bothers me a lot. Next, we have a display at the Anglican Cathedral in London later this month and the reenactment of the battle of Queenston Heights in October. Then we'll settle down to "winter quarters." This winter, Rob and I hope to make those peaked fatigue caps for ourselves. My fatigue cap is made from an old shirt and oddly, gets larger and larger as I perspire. I don't know why.