Sunday 19 December 2010

French Light Infantry

Napoleonic wargaming is probably my first love, having collected and painted the things for more years than I care to count. Strangely enough, in all these years I have never managed to systematically build a collection of my own. I have started many times and with the best of intentions, but they have usually ended up being sold to finance other projects.

The group I wargame with has, for many years used Peter Gilder's rules "In the Grand Manner", but the games have started to become rather predictable, as anything does when you have done it regularly for 25 years. One of our number, Chris Flowers, who has over 16,000 25mm Napoleonic figures and a table to match, persuaded me to get on with a job I have been promising for years; to write a set of fast play Napoleonic rules that would allow games of 2-3,000 figures per side to be played in a reasonable time frame. The first draft is well on the way and should be ready for playtesting in the New Year. One of the reasons for this change of rules is that we are intending to stage a re-fight of Borodino in 2012 at Sheffield Triples and we need to be able to complete the game (around 6,000 figures) in a weekend - a tall order.

Because I still love the period, I decided to make a start on building (and this time keeping) a collection of my own. As I am also eye deep in other periods - of which more anon, this is very much a long term project, but this time I am determined to persevere. Rather than the Gilder style units favoured by Chris - 1:20 figure scale and large battalions of 32-48 figures each, I am making the first and necessary compromise of a 1:25 figure scale and "campaign strength" units of 24 figures for infantry and 16 for cavalry, representing 600 man infantry battalions and 400 man cavalry regiments. Some units will vary from this norm - most Austrian line battalions will be 50% bigger, as will Austrian and Russian light cavalry regiments and French Guard cavalry units. Artillery batteries will be represented on the basis of 1 gunner per actual piece; so a typical 8 gun battery will have 2 guns each with 4 crew, a 6 gun horse battery 2 guns, each with 3 crew on a proportionally narrow frontage.

The unit illustrated above is the 1st battalion of the 10eme legere; the 2nd and 3rd battalions are hot on their heels. The figures are Perry Miniatures (metal) with a GMB flag.

The coming year promises to be a busy one, with over 1,200 figures still to do for Borodino and others for a re-fight of Lutzen that we are planning for next year. I am also hoping to press on with my Grand Alliance, Italian Wars, Carlist Wars and other things. I am also planning a WWII project, from scratch. This will involve making everything from the terrain boards, drop on pieces such as buildings, woods etc, the figures and vehicles. The subject will either be the Ardennes in 1944, or East Prussia in 1945, as I fancy doing a special snow terrain theme.

This is the last post of 2010, but hopefully there will be lots more to come in the New Year. So can I take this opportunity to wish everyone an enjoyable and restful Christmas.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Dragoon Regiment Wartigny

The third and final regiment in my French Dragoon brigade, Regiment Wartigny seems to have served in Flanders before transfering to the Spanish front and later to Italy. Mainly dressed in red like the Regiment La Reine, the yellow facings and trim on the stocking caps offer a nice contrast. As the release of Lily Banners 2 grows ever closer, I have increased the painting tempo considerably, with several new regiments aiming to take the field in the near future.

I have also been busy with other periods, which I hope to include on the blog shortly. These will include The Italians Wars, Arthurian, Late Roman and Napoleonic. I have also got caught up in a plan amongst a couple of mates to start a Carlist Wars collection. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.!! Oh yes, and I also need to dust off and add to my 20mm WW2 collection and sort out my terrain boards and other drop on pieces. 2011 is going to be a very busy year I think.

The main effort however has been directed towards my forthcoming venture into scratchbuilt terrain, particularly buildings. Hopefully there should be a few pictures of completed items before too long. I will be concentrating initially on buildings suitable for 20mm World War 2 and 28mm "horse and musket".

Thursday 7 October 2010

Dragoon Regiment Fimarcon

The second regiment in my dragoon brigade, I particularly liked the dark green uniform, an unusual feature in the French army of the period. The unit served both in Flanders (Steenkirk and Neerwinden) and in Italy. The troopers are all Dixons mounted on their smaller dragoon ponies; the officer and standard bearer are Foundry. The flag (a bit of a luxury in 40mm scale) is from GMB.

Over the next couple of months I hope to start featuring other parts of my growing collection.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Dragoon Regiment La Reine

Counterparts to the Dutch dragoons that have already featured, this unit is the first of a brigade of three regiments, each two squadrons strong. Although inferior to the more numerous
"horse" in melee, dragoons can be used in a dismounted role, giving them a useful flexibility. One thing I must admit to being unsure of is how flexible they were in this mounted/dismounted role. It doesn't appear that they fought like, for example cavalry in the ACW, using both mounted and dismounted action in quick succession; a large number of French dragoons held the French right at Blenheim, but seem to have remained dismounted throughout the battle and were indeed behind barricades. This may have been due to a lack of horses. At Ramillies, a large force of dragoons that were initially mounted alongside the main body of horse, were subsequently dismounted to assist in an ill-advised counter-attack against the Dutch Guards. they were comprehensively shot up by these Guards and then overrun by Danish horse. This put them out of the battle permanently. This particular regiment had red coats with red facings and caps. The saddle cloths were also red, edged white. Most of their service was in Flanders.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Dragoon Regiment Dopff

This is one of my favourite units and is usually brigaded with the Garde Dragonder. The red uniforms are very distinctive - the Dutch army of this period having a tendency to white or grey. I have used the Foundry tricorned dragoon pack with the officer and standard bearer from the "informal tricorn" command and a hand painted flag. Whilst the regiments in BLB are not large, I am not averse to cutting down on painting time where I can and have included only 11 figures in the unit. As you can see the place of the 12th in the front left of the picture, is taken by a pool of water and a broken cannon wheel. Even such small attempts to "diorama-ise" a base can look quite effective.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Dutch Garde Dragonder

The Dutch Guard Dragoons, also known as Eppinger's, was an elite mounted regiment with a distinguished service record. At the Battle of the Boyne it was the strongest cavalry unit on either side, numbering over 6oo men and was prominent in the outflanking move against the Jacobite left. The regiment also distingished itself in the fighting in mainland Europe. At Steenkirk, the men dismounted and helped to cover the retreat of the army with their muskets. The inspiration for painting the regiment came from Barry Hilton (of League of Augsburg fame). I really liked his use of figures in both fur hat and tricorne; slung muskets and held on the hip. The unit, as befits its size in real life, is composed of 3 rather than the usual 2 squadrons. It is rated as Guard in BLB. The figures are all Wargames Foundry with a hand painted flag.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Infantry Regiment Clare

The second of my Irish regiments, Clare's service was initially in Italy for most of the War of the Grand Alliance, before transferring to the northern theatre. Here it fought at Blenheim, Ramillies and Malplaquet. In my French army it forms a small brigade with Dillon's regiment. Figures are mainly from Foundry with GMB flags.

With four units of infantry for each side now shown, I will upload some shots of the cavalry next.

Infantry Regiment Dillon

Part of the Irish Brigade, this regiment was employed mainly in Spain and later in Italy before seeing service on the Rhine towards the end of the War of Spanish Succession. A "must" in any French army with its distinctive red coats, the brigade stands out well amongst the mainly grey/white ranks of the French infantry. In BLB they would usually be rated as elite. Again the figures are mainly Foundry with the odd Dixon thrown in. Flags by GMB.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Infantry Regiment Limousan

This regiment also served in Flanders and Italy and was present at Malplaquet in 1709. As with the previous unit, I chose a firing line motif, with Foundry musketeers and Dixon standard bearers and pikemen. There is, unfortunately a distinct lack of reference material for this period, compared to say the Napoleonic Wars, particularly for uniforms and flags. A great help though are the various cds (available from Baccus), which contain numerous colour plates and background information. The French army is particularly well served, with comprehensive coverage of the infantry, cavalry and dragoons. I print them off on 160gsm paper (more like thin card) and they provide a beautiful reference resource.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Infantry Regiment Royal des Vaisseaux

This regiment fought in Flanders, Italy and Spain and was chosen for my collection, along with several others, because I liked the flags! Most of the figures are from the firing line Foundry pack, which give a pleasing massed volley effect. The pikemen are, as usual from the Dixon range as is the brigadier offering moral support. I am currently working my way through several French infantry units in an effort to get both sides ready for BLB2.

Friday 27 August 2010

Infantry Regiment Salisch

The final regiment in my first Dutch brigade. The figures are all Dixons, with the exeption of the officer on the left and the prone casualty figure on the right, who are from Wargames Foundry. The flags are, once again, from Maverick Models. The two ranges are very compatable both in size and design and I mix them together fairly freely in my units. I understand that a new and comprehensive range of Grand Alliance figures is being prepared for release in the next few weeks - details are on Barry's League of Augsburg website. From a comparison photo, they look to be a near perfect match for both Foundry and Dixons and I look forward to their release with anticipation. In future posts, I will feature some cavalry and also some French units.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Infantry Regiment Slangenburg

A native Dutch regiment, only recently painted. I have done the uniform coats in white rather than light grey. The actual shade for Dutch infantry uniforms varied considerably by all accounts - anything from white to steel grey would be acceptable. The drummers were clothed in red and make a nice contrast. The two figures on the left front row are grenadiers. Apart from the right hand standard bearer who is a Foundry figure, the rest of the battalion are Dixons. The flags are from Maverick Models. The imposing building to their rear is, I believe, a 20mm chateau from Sentry Models.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Infantry Regiment Hirzel

Although the Dutch provided a considerable proportion of the troops available to the "Grand Alliance", many of them were units of foreign origin, paid for and maintained by the Dutch government. Many of these units were composed of Swiss, Scots or Danes. Infantry Regiment Hirzel was one of the former. The inspiration for this unit was one of the magnificent Hall plates, available from the Pike and Shot Society. The figures are Dixons and the standards hand painted. I normally try and avoid this painstaking process if possible, but no-one produces the flags commercially that I know of, so I had to do them myself!

Thursday 19 August 2010

Dutch Guards

Veterans of the Boyne and Flanders, the Dutch Guards were regarded as excellent troops. At Ramillies in 1706, four battalions of them on the extreme allied left captured the key villages of Franquenay and Taviers and held them against determined French counter-attacks. their actions were to have a major impact on the outcome of the battle. These troops are given the highest (Guard) rating in the rules. The figures are mainly Foundry, with one of the officers and the three pikemen coming from the small but excellent Dixon range. The colonel's dog is, I believe from Irregular Miniatures. Much as I like Barry's hand painted flags (on linen, no less), it is a very time consuming business and like most people, I compromise with printed paper flags. GMB are without doubt the best on the market in my view, but their range for this period is restricted to the French at the moment. However Maverick Models do a very nice range for many of the other armies of the period and whilst not quite as subtle in their colouring or shading are more than acceptable, as can be seen from the photo.

Beneath the Lily Banners

Being an avid collector and reader of wargames rules and a regular visitor to Barry Hilton's League of Augsburg website, I watched the progress of his rules for this period slowly develop. At the time it wasn't a period I had any real interest in, but I bought the rules anyway, hoping that they might be a good read and provide a few ideas. They did a lot more than that and in the couple of years since they were published I have built up a reasonable collection of figures - around 500 or so and counting. What was the attraction? Quite simply the games looked great fun. The mechanisms were interesting but simple so I decided to take the plunge. In the end I went for the Grand Alliance period (1689-97), rather than the slightly later Marburian conflict. This was mainly because the use of pikes, albeit on a smaller scale than the ECW or 30 Years War, added some interest to the infantry v cavalry combats. In fact the units can be used perfectly well for both. For those not familiar with the rules, infantry battalions are based on 3 stands (typically of 6 figures each). For units equipped with pikes an additional stand of pikemen is placed behind the central stand to denote this. I actually use half a stand with 3 figures as it saves on painting and does not "stick out" too much. The pikemen are not, in any case extra figures - almost all battalions in "Lily Banners" have 18 men - they simply serve as a marker. Cavalry regiments are mainly of 2 or 3 squadrons each of 6 figures. For someone accustomed to painting Napoleonic units of 24-48 figures each, this was another attraction of the period, as it is quite easy to build up a couple of armies in a reasonable period of time. This was particularly important as I was doing both sides. I believe that in the next couple of months a second edition is being published, which hopes to clarify and amend some of the rules. I look forward to seeing it.

In the next post, I will get some images up to illustrate what the units look like and how attractive the uniforms and flags are for this period.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

A New Venture

Grenadiers of the Guard on the evening of the Battle of Rezonville August 16, 1870

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My name is Steve Shann, a passionate wargamer of many years standing. The purpose of this blog is to both showcase my own work and also my hobby, which has given me many years of stimulating entertainment. To this end, I will hopefully post regular updates of the progress of my own collections as they grow.

My main wargaming interests are, in no particular order: Napoleonic, AWI, WWII, Italian Wars, Grand Alliance/Marlburian, Colonial and the 30 Years War. My main historical interest is in the wars of the mid 19th Century, particularly the Franco-Prussian War, on which I have written a few short works, including a couple of Osprey Men-at-Arms titles on the French Army of 1870-71.

That's all for now, but I will add further posts soon with some illustrations of my work.

All the best

Steve (Nations in Arms)