Tuesday, 5 July 2022

“Without music, we wouldn’t have an Army.”

Much better painted than mine... but they're professionals.

 A number of years ago at the Hot Lead convention Bring-n-Buy, I picked up a French Napoleonic military band molded by Miniature Figurines. I think it's an old set. It sat for many years in a box of yet-to-be-done figures. I finally got around to painting them and lining them up. I have yet to flock the field, but I'm rather pleased with the outcome.

As a person who was a professional musician for a while (which mean I got paid to play, but not that I made my living playing my instrument), these were fascinating figures to paint up. They're using some obscure and often obsolete instruments. They're also playing instruments that are not often seen in North American field bands, like oboes and bassoons, although those can be seen in British bands. Neither the piston valve nor the rotary valve had been invented yet and the woodwinds were played without the benefit of the hole-covering mechanisms used in modern clarinets and saxophones. A Belgian instrument craftsman named Adolphe Sax invented the piston valve for brass instruments (like the Saxhorn - see below) and the Saxophone in the 1840's which changed the playing of music quite a bit from that time on.

Two things: 

1.) The title of this episode is from Robert E. Lee. I don't care for his politics, but I respect his military skill.

2.) Troops marched to a much slower beat in the Napoleonic era. If I recall correctly (and I may be wrong) 65-70 steps a minute. The French later pushed that higher. Normal march tempo today is around 120 steps a minute... unless you're British "Rifle" units who move at an odd double time or Italian Bersaglieri who run in step... even the band! (Look it up! It's wild!) {Bersaglieri}


A Saxhorn - either tenor or baritone - with piston valves
played by an American Civil War reenactor

The woodwinds - bassoons, hautbois, and a clarinet

For lack of a better term, the "hautbois" is just about the same as the modern oboe.

The percussion - cymbals, bass drum, snare/side drum,
a long narrow drum I can't identify, and the triangle

The brass - bugle, natural horns, and trombones
Neither the bugle nor the "natural horns" have valves or keys.

The band front - director of music, "Jingling Johnny", and the Drum Major

The Jingling Johnny/Bell Tree/Schellenbaum
In the piece, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine by Sousa,
the Bell Tree can be heard being shaken in the first strain
and then keeping the beat throughout the final part of the trio.
(Nobles of the Mystic Shrine)

Trombone with a dragon-head bell
I'm sure the sound would be odd. Yeah, it is.

A modern musician plays such a horn.
It's also called a buccin.
The Buccin

A pair of serpents - an odd instrument of wood and leather
with a brass instrument's mouthpiece.
It is not a saxophone... which won't be invented for another 25+ years.

Modern musicians with serpents
The Serpent played

The drum major - one flashy dude

The band - still in need of flocking.

Percussion leads off while in US and British style modern bands
the trombones lead since their shape changes as they play. German
and other European military bands seem to put the trombone to the rear.

I'm sure other modeler's have done better, but
this is my small contribution.

If you're interested in the music of the period, there's plenty available. One of the best pieces in my opinion is Bugler's Dream by Leo Arnaud (Bugler's Dream) which is believed to be based on French Napoleonic cavalry trumpet calls. Of course, there's always The Victory Is Ours /La Victoire est a Nous. (The Victory Is Ours) That shakes everybody up, although it's part of a larger march.

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Life in the Talbot Settlement --- 2022

This year's event (June 25-26) at the Backus Page House Museum in Wallacetown, ON, celebrated in particular the Fleming family, a family who settled in the area after the American War of Independence (although no one appears to be sure if they were displaced Loyalists or people who simply wanted to get away from the fighting.) 

In any event, the site was lively with about 90 reenactors present, with sutlers and staff added in and then visitors. The attendance of visitors was lighter than the past two years, but there were other events going on in the area to compete with ours. The weather cooperated for the most part. Your humble blogger was the commander of the forces of the Republic (17th, 21st, 22nd, and the Canadian Volunteers) while Many Strings, a veteran reenactor of Mohawk warriors, was over-all commander of the Crown forces. (the 1st of Foot/Royal Scots, the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada, the British Indian Department, Caldwell's Rangers, and His Majesty's Woodland Allies) Both days saw a "house raid" in the late morning where US forces raided and "burned" the Fleming house only to be chased off by Crown forces. (The Fleming household was actually burned in MacArthur's Raid in 1814.)In the afternoon, a skirmish on the hillside behind the house, letting both the artillery crews (the Provincial Marine and the Earl of Moira) and the infantry formations burn some powder. We always end with a salute to the audience and a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the service of their nation or in service of the land. (Sad to say, I forgot this on Sunday.)

Now... it's photos you want to see. These are courtesy of Steve Zronik, Tara Haves, and the staff of the museum.

Many Strings/Kim at his wiki in camp

Mr. Kidd, gun commander, in full dress

Our old friend, Norm with a new friend

IMUC (the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada) drilling

Tom of the British Indian Department makes his point

21st and 22nd US Infantry and a US scout/ranger
(Mike, Alex, Marcus, Neil, and Mike)

the small but mighty US side - Canadian Volunteers and regular infantry
The Volunteers were Canadians who fought for the US and, if caught,
were summarily executed.
"A lovely day if the Americans don't ruin it!"

The residents of the house suspect nothing.
(Actually they were well informed.)
The young fellow on the far left serves on a cannon crew.

The boys decided to take on the US scouts and were "dispatched."

IMUC makes ready to fire at the raiders.

The US raiders maintain individual fire. ("Fire at will!")

The Regulars await the Crown response.

Mike and Alex were the scouts. None better!

The Volunteers give fire.

The Royal Scots return fire.
This regiment served in North America for the bulk of the War of 1812,

"Remember men... pillage, THEN burn!"

The Volunteers' ensign advances the "torch."
I made up a fake torch with red, orange, and yellow tissue paper.
Not a real fire (God forbid!) but it didn't look bad.

In the afternoon, the action was on the hill behind the museum's buildings.

Alex, the Provincial Marine's cannon, and your humble blogger watch the battle start to unfold.
A young lady from Ukraine served on that gun crew... and had to "Kiss the sponge."
(An artillery custom on your first time on a gun crew.
Your cheeks and forehead get smeared with the dirty sponge.)

The Moira's gun fires

The "fog of war"   IMUC

One of the Scots takes a breather as a casualty.

Many Strings moves up on the US firing line.

The Earl of Moira's gun is put in position.
The guns use a comparatively large amount of powder, so usually on fire 4 times.

The Scots, grenadiers and light company, give fire.

The US Regulars engage the BID, Caldwell's Rangers, and the First Nations Warriors

The US firing line before the charge by the Regulars.
When they ran out of powder, the blue-coats waited until the Scots were ready to fire
and then they charged... and fell.

After the house raid on Sunday, we offered a salute and thanks to the staff and the audience.

On Saturday, we prepare to salute and then dismiss,

In the afternoon, the muskets are cleared before the salute.

"Present... ARMS!"

Back in camp, Alex splits wood for the fire.

A VERY popular destination after lunch and all afternoon.

On Saturday, John S. raised the colours.

Moving the gun by human power!

In the Kid's Area, this 'sensory table' was quite popular.
It was full of corn and various toys.

Linda Lee started this theme and her husband, Steve Z. took photos of 
many of the woman involved in reenacting and the museum.
What the sign says is true!

My wife likes to be seen as NOT well behaved.
She's made history with me!

Well, Mike of the Earl of Moira had to do it.
That's all I'll say.

My wife, Beth in her First Nation's gear.
Willow of the Unami Lenni Lenape

Your humble blogger, lounging.