Monday, 31 March 2014

American Civil War Battle Report - Battle of Olustee in 6mm

A very brief summary of an American Civil War battle I fought at Deeside recently, with a few pictures.  My co-conspirators (Andy and Luke) and I had succeeded in making and painting enough figures to make a decent fist of a battle, and I picked the Battle of Olustee out of an old Miniature Wargames magazine as a nice even and easy scenario.

For those who haven’t come across this fight before the date is 1864, and the Union forces have landed on the coast of Florida in the hope of defeating the Confederate military in the state and installing a pro-union civilian government.  Commanded by Brigadier General Seymour the Yankees have overstretched themselves in aiming to destroy a distant railway bridge, and met the rebels coming the other way.  The rebels, under Brigadier General Finnegan, have managed to get overexcited and left some perfectly good defences behind to settle for this fight in sparse pine woods with few other features.  Both sides are evenly matched in numbers (approximately 5,000 men a side historically, 18 regiments a side in our re-fight), and arrived on the battlefield in our battle at a simplified rate of a brigade every couple of turns.  Luke, normally a rebel, had to turn his coat and join my Union troops to even the numbers, and he took command of 2 infantry brigades, while I had 1 infantry and 1 cavalry. 

The Battle

On to the battle and the cavalry arrived first, with Andy’s first into the central field to control the middle, and mine, not fancying the fight, heading off in a right hook flanking manoeuvre.  Luke’s biggest brigade of infantry was first on the scene for the union, and marching at double quick speed up the centre he gave the rebel cavalry a bloody nose before settling for a tit for tat fight over the field with Andy’s central infantry brigade, first pushing them back, then being driven back to the far side of the field where they stayed.  My cavalry’s big chance to turn the tide of battle in the Yankees favour came when another of Andy’s infantry brigades ventured too close to them while still in march column, but command failures meant they didn’t charge and the chance was gone.  The rebels gradually extended their line so their infantry was no longer threatened in the flank while it traded fire with Lukes men.

On the union left my large infantry brigade gradually deployed to face an equally big confederate brigade, but slowly came off worst due to Andy’s correct deployment of artillery in the gaps between his regiments, while mine was stuck towards the rear.  The union aim was to inflict 60% casualties on the Confederate forces, but after 3 hours we could safely say we were nowhere near that total!  A final desperate charge by my infantry and cavalry on each flank was ill judged and we lost a number of regiments, putting a gloss on the rebel victory that really wasn’t needed.  History was repeated and Florida stayed for the South!

Andy's central brigade arrives.

The Rebel horse take up positions in the field.

Some very confused rebs fighting for the Union - Lukes troops.

Opening few turns - Union to the right, Rebels to the left.  Lukes Yankee infantry are closing in on the cavalry in the field while my cavalry are taking up a wide position near the buildings on the right.

Union infantry vs Rebel horse.

My infantry brigade arrive in march column along the road.

The union cavalry near the farm.

Luke's infantry meet Andy's which is at an angle due to the threat from the Union horse.

All the troops are on the battlefield and moving into position, Union to the right once more.

Luke's troops clashing with the Rebels in the centre.

And again - cavalry being defeated by infantry in combat.

My infantry taking a beating from closing fire.

The centre and right of the Union forces, with the Confederacy troops expanding to form a continuous line across from the pond.

Final positions.

Post Battle Thoughts:

The victory conditions were unrealistic, even if the rebels had suffered some shocking reverses – troops in Blackpowder rarely disappear that quickly!  The union plan (when we belatedly decided to have a plan around turn 2-3) was to threaten the Confederate infantry centre with my cavalry on its flanks with the aim of causing it to form up at an angle which would leave it vulnerable to being hit in the side by either my horses or Lukes infantry.  Sadly more rebel infantry arrived and got in the way, while Andy extended his troops to plug the centre gap.  On the right it was a straight fight, and because I pressed into close range I came off worst.  One of the oddities of the deployment was that it always appeared to us that Andy had more troops, but he had simply extended his line to overlap ours, while our troops were in deeper formations.  In the end this aided him because he was able to get more rifled muskets too bear.

Things I learnt:
The armies, despite their 6mm size, look very good on the table top, and the whole battle was very aesthetically pleasing.  The 6ft by 4ft table space was also great to use even with such large armies due to the troops scale.
Cavalry are no match for infantry in a fight – the infantry win firefights and combats, best to be used as a nuisance.
Scenarios make the game; straight Blackpowder fights between equal forces are more likely to turn into a stalemate.
The brand of Blackpowder we used may be a bit too ‘vanilla’ for a decent ACW taste (person point of view), in need of a few tweaks to make it more interesting and specific.  Alternatively I’ve long liked the look of Longstreet (but its expensive), or Fire & Fury (less expensive, but still a good chunk to spend on an experiment.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Queen's Baggage - An English Civil War Battle Report

 Welcome to a piece of fiction leading up to an English Civil War battle that never took place, between two armies that never existed, in a spot that may, or may not have seen any fighting in the 1640’s.  Should this offend you then you are free to be on your way to seek more historically-based reports and forego this piece of writing and the 28mm eye-candy that follows.  Your future is in your hands.


Spring 1643.  Following the Royal visit of King Charles and Queen Henrietta to Chester, they have continued upon their journey south to the Royalist capital of Oxford.  To enable them to move swiftly the bulk of their baggage, including the armies pay chest and their personal papers, has been left behind to follow on more slowly on the bad roads under heavy guard.  Unfortunately for the King’s cause news of the sluggish convoy has reached the regional parliamentarian commander, who, determined to win political favour and slice off a chunk of the profits himself, has galvanised all available troops and set off in pursuit of the prize.  Unbeknownst to him, however, a second convoy has also left Chester.  Instead of the Royalist’s pay chest this convoy holds the Queen’s entire wardrobe – generously proportioned, and expensively brought together from across Europe, it is this group of wagons that the Parliamentarians set off in hot pursuit of; their spies in Chester having been confused by the multiple comings and goings.

These wagons are also heavily guarded, as the Queen holds them in higher regard than the armies pay.  It is as they pass through the village of Wrenbury, Cheshire, that the rebels catch up to them.  The Royalists commanders’ intention was to pass the night in the dubious safety of the grounds of local Royalist, and all round swell guy, Lord Flashearts’ manor.  However, with the enemy pressing hard with superior numbers he will have to hope his men can hold them off until nightfall, and, forsaking Lord Flashearts’ hospitality, escape in the darkness.  The Rebels have been joined by a second force, not more than a mile or so behind the first, and they are eager to get their hands on the baggage, and settle a score or two with Lord Flasheart if the opportunity arises!

The Scenario:

I’ve pulled this scenario together to enable three of us to put our 28mm English Civil War collections on the tabletop.  Each player has a similar size army, so something that pits two against one, with the one having an equalling advantage looked to be the answer.  Here the local Parliamentarian ruffians (shoes eagerly fulfilled by Luke and Red) are seeking to catch up with the Royalists and dispossess them of the baggage train they are shepherding along.  The Royalists are waiting in turn for sunset (or in this case 9:45pm) so they can slip away. 

The victor will be the side with the most victory points at the end of the battle, with 1 victory point being given for each piece of baggage that a side holds at the finish.  A potential fly in the ointment is the existence of Lord Flasheart and his troops.  Added to the troops he can provide to the hard-pressed Royalist column, is the animosity that the local parliamentarians feel towards him.  A bonus 2 victory points is available for the rebels if they succeed in putting Flasheart’s nose out of joint by capturing his manor house. Finally everyone likes putting the enemy to flight, and 1 victory point will be awarded for each brigade that is broken by the end.

The baggage – The baggage is represented by 2 carts and a few donkeys and men; 3 units in total.  Each can be captured only by winning a melee against it, in which case it immediately changes sides and comes under the control of the commander of the unit that captured it.  It can be recaptured if the situation requires it, but never shot at – the foolish soul who puts a hole in the Queen of England’s under crackers will soon find themselves stricken from the new years honours list!  The only statistics the baggage requires then is as follows:
Movement – 6”
Hand too Hand – 1

Morale – 5+

Deployment and beginning the battle:

The Royalists began on the battlefield, with the bulk of their army  (3 regiments of foote, 4 of horse, 1 saker and 2 troops of dragoons, plus the baggage) just clearing the far edge of the village of Wrenbury and heading towards Lord Flasheart’s manor.  Flashearts not toothless; with a regiment of foote and a mortar guarding the grounds of his manor.  The Parliamentarians went first, beginning the battle off table and having to be ordered on.  Red’s troops, being a mile or so behind Lukes, are only available from turn 3 onwards, a fortunate arrangement because that was when he arrived in the building.

The battlefield - Royalists just leaving Wrenbury on their way towards Flasheart's manor (tower and buildings to the right).  The change of colour of the battlefield shows the boundaries of Flasheart's coveted 'Sheep Park'.

Royalists on the march.

The Opening Scuffles

Marching confidently along the road the Royalists had barely cleared the village of Wrenbury when they heard the thundering of hooves – Luke’s lead battalia of Colonel Brian Cromwell’s horse was coming up fast!  In contrast to my own efforts Luke’s command rolls were excellent in the opening stages, and the rebel horse was upon the Royalists rearguard before they could react.  The dragoons scattered into the buildings; the white-pasted church and a peasants hut, either side of the road, but for the Royalist musketeers at the rear of the column there was no escape as the Ironsides scythed through them.  My command rolls began to slowly come off, and the Royalist resistance stiffened as the remaining musketeers formed a defensive line supported by their pike blocks.

Colonel Brian Cromwells Ironsides, curassiers and dragoons appear, moving fast.

The rebels crash into the back of the Royalist musketeers as the dragoons take cover in the buildings.

And again, the baggage just escaping as the men with swords go for the men with guns first rather than risk an encounter with a dangerous oxen.

Dragoons & Infantry

As the Parliamentarian infantry began to arrive the Royalist dragoons in the village began to cause serious problems for the rebel horse, disordering them numerous times, and catching the cuirassiers in a vicious enfilading crossfire which they were unable to escape from.  The cuirassiers would eventually flee from this pressure, while the remains of Colonel Brian Cromwell’s horse suffered from a galling musket fire from the rest of the Royalist foote.  Sensing this day might turn for them the Royalists stood their ground, Lord Flasheart brought most of his foote regiment out of his manor to support them at the fence line, and Sir Peter Wolfe moved his horse battalia forwards to flank the village.  At this point they were stunned once again to see a second wave of Rebel infantry and horse, if anything larger than the first, appear beyond the village.  Red’s men had arrived, and the Royalists resigned themselves to an inevitable retreat.

The first of the Rebel infantry - Luke's foote and artillery.

The Royalists start to form a line, foote in the centre and horse to the right.

The parlimentarian horse in the village being pinned down by the Royalist green-coated dragoons.

More roundheads; Red's horse battalia in the foreground.

Lord Flasheart.

Flasheart's men (bluecoats nearest) join the main Royalist body at the fence line.

Sir Peter Wolfe's Royalist horse battalia swing forward.

Doomed horse charges and a fall back

The mass of Parliamentarian horse now outnumbered the Royalist mounted troops by 2 to 1, but seeing his chance for glory Sir Peter raked back in spurs and ordered the charge!  Crashing up against Red’s horse battalia to the Royalist right they suffered badly from this rash decision, and subsequent poor dice rolling, and were roughly handled.  Reduced from 4 proud regiments to 2 shaken ones they began a withdrawal that saw them retreat completely from the fighting, although not before they had caused a blockage in the entrance through the fence, and inconvenienced the infantry in doing so. The baggage, moving slowly despite the urgings of their battalia commander Sir Henry Buxton, cleared the fence line and began to move past Flasheart’s manor while the Royalist infantry pulled themselves into a more compact formation and steadily fell back looking to make a stand behind the fence itself.

Royalist commanders in the foreground arguing over tactics while the baggage passes through the gap in the fence./


More baggage, this time donkeys.

Sir Peter Wolfe's ill-fated charge against Red's large horse battalia.

Having dispatched the Royalist horse Red's troops move onwards to try and flank their foote.

The Royalist horse cause a blockage.

Royalist foote - Hopton's regiment taking up a fence line position.

Desperate last stands and foolish heroics

In the village of Wrenbury the dragoons had missed their last chance to saddle up and escape being encircled by the advancing rebel infantry regiments, and prepared to sell their lives dearly.  First to fall was the peasants hut; besieged by Red’s infantry regiments it was also under fire from his manoeuvrable falconets, which raked it prior to the assault going in.  Somewhat surprisingly it took only two efforts for the combined pike and shot regiments to be victorious, something which Luke envied as his own infantry struggled to take the church.  Without the benefits of the falconets initially his rebels saw a pike block bloodily beaten back and shaken before a second, with plentiful musketeer and artillery support managed to storm the church at the third attempt.

Foolishness aplenty was now to be seen around the main Royalist infantry force.  Firstly a nasty misunderstanding caused the pike block of the King’s Guard regiment to ignore instructions to fall back to the fence line, and instead they departed the main formation to advance towards the nearest rebel infantry on the edge of the village.  Spotting the signs of disintegration in the Royalist ranks Colonel Brian Cromwell shouted ‘Follow Me!’ (the only time this was used all game), and lead his last regiment of ironsides in an ill-fated charge at the nearest Royalist musketeers.  These white coated musketeers, of Talbot’s regiment, formed hedgehog with their pike block and the ironsides impaled themselves upon the 16 foot long pikes.  In the chaos of combat they fled the field, leaving Brian Cromwell a casualty.

Commander of Luke's infantry - chap named Fairfax.

Commander of Red's infantry, normally called Byron.

The dragoons in the church under sustained pressure.

They won't hold out for long against this lot.

Red's horse circling as the King's Lifeguard foolishly advances.

The baggage and Royalist horse beating a retreat.

Final attack of the game as Sir Brian Cromwell and his ironsides bite off more than they can chew and are scattered by Talbots foote in a hedgehog.

The End

With the fall of the dragoons, and the disappearance of the baggage and their horse to the rear the Royalist cause was lost.  And this was without mentioning the inevitable destruction of the King’s Lifeguard who were surrounded by Red’s horse having made such a foolish move earlier.  Flasheart pulled his men back to his manor, and prepared to gather a few select things before the looters arrived.  The remains of the Royalist army disintegrated, its battalia broken, disappearing into the gloom and leaving the Parliamentarian horse to round up the Queens baggage.  The rebels were victorious.

Post Battle Analysis:

An excellent game, with plenty of entertainment, most of which came at my expense as my Royalists failed roll after roll.  A good example being with command values of 8 all round I managed to roll ‘9’ for each of my 4 commanders in turn one, and Luke’s horse were then able to surprise them and destroy at least a third of my musketeers. 

My horse were thrown away in a gallant, but foolish, charge at Red’s superior numbers, but at least it was in character.  Even the infantry struggled to make the small distance back to the fence when under very little pressure initially.  Luke having bloodied my army, Red’s re-enforcements helped take the village, and by the end my infantry were at risk of being cut off by both his infantry to my left, and his horse to my right.  I did finish with all 3 baggage carts and Flashearts manor, but my horse and infantry were broken, and only Flashearts solitary regiment was left against many, many enemies so I conceded. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Saga - The Welsh Get Some Grass

Normally I don’t go back to a model after its finished, unless something happens to it like chipping or breakage etc.  But in the case of my Welsh for Saga I just wasn’t happy with their bases, and the feeling gradually grew.  I originally gave them a medium brown base with a lighter drybrush, and added some flowers and rocks with some odd idea that they liked raiding and would probably be up a mountain somewhere. 

In hindsight the flowers looked lonely, and the whole model was affected by the bases’ blandness and lack of colour, so having flocked a few different models with a nice bright green recently I decided to do the same to the Welsh.  Overall I’m liking it, although the pictures are shocking so its not obvious.  It’s also nice to do a few pictures of the whole 6 point lot, because I haven’t since I added the 8 warriors on horseback (Wargames Factory Ancient Germanic figures, and they suit it!) and 4 more hearthguard.  I do have a box of gripping beast generic un-armoured dark age warriors in the garage, and 4 more horsemen, but neither have made it as far as being added since they were purchased back in May 2013.

Finally I have also been frustrated with the way the metal spears/javelins bend so easily, so I’ve tried replacing it with a proper steel rod one from Front Rank.  Its gone ok, no pictures yet.

The levy and warriors trying to demonstrate the difference between grass and no grass.

Ditto, but more obvious.

Massed grassing.

The whole lot in formation - 2 points of warriors on foot, 1 of warriors on horse, 2 of hearthguard, 1 of levy, and one warlord.

Germanic horsemen turned welsh - pleased with that piece of work.



More warriors.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Work In Progress......February 2014

February has been a good month for painting, but a bad month for putting the final matt varnish on models due to the damp and cold.  I have no wish to turn my carefully painted models white, so when it finally warms up I will have a nice and health ‘painted’ total.  I have not been able to focus on one specific project at the moment, so my painting efforts have gone across a variety of models, periods, and sizes.  For starters I’m now up to 19 28mm Frenchmen painted and dipped, with a further 15 waiting on sticks on the sidelines with a bit of blue and pink on them. 

I then became distracted (or possibly bored with the immense number of paints I had suckered myself into using on the frenchies) and diversified into a few 28mm Germans.  I have thought regularly about building a force for Bolt Action, and I’ve around 30 late war German infantry models so thought I’d give painting them a try again rather than start collecting again for another nation (I’d considered Russians).  I had had a shot at painting my, mostly Renegade Miniatures, Germans before, but it hadn’t looked too good half way through and I’d stopped.  This time I put my trust in The Dip, painted two all the way to the end, and quite happy with the results I went ahead and did another 7 to make up a full 9-man squad.  The second squad of 9 is now stuck to sandy bases and waiting for a coat of spray paint, when the weather is warmer again.

I had a day off which, having spent so long using my spare time in job searching (to no appreciable effect), I decided to designate as A Day Of Painting.  I actually managed less than I had hoped for, but I did get my air brush out again and successfully used it to camouflage two 15mm Panzer IV’s.  Having sprayed them with the Middle Stone previously to get the base colour I did the olive green camo lines first, and then discovered that the brown recommended by wargamestore was too close to middle stone, and as such useless.  I used the red-brown I had got to be a foundation colour instead, and finished by painting the few extra details (tracks, mud mostly) with a brush, and giving it a brown wash (no Dip this time).  I added transfers from my Old Glory stock, which was a tricky procedure, and they were done.  They’ve come out quite dark – I struggled to make the air brush lines thin enough and the middle stone is mostly obscured – but they look ok.  I certainly like the effect the air brush has compared to my previous brush-applied ones, even if that looks quite good still.  I’m aiming to  work on the other 10 Panzer IV’s I’ve got, but to try and lessen the amount of green and brown so the base coat of middlestone shows up much more.

Final period and size, and my eye was caught by the American Civil War and out came my 6mm Union troops again.  I’ve done a post for this, but to summarise it was more basing than painting, and my army is now pleasantly bigger.  I finished off the month by working on a 6mm Zouvre battalion which should give my lines a bit of extra colour, and by adding colour to a piece of scenery which I’ve had for an age, and just needed that bit of work to make it more suitable for the table top.

I wasn’t well for one Thursday late in the month, and subsequently failed to organise a game for one week as well, but I did manage to grind Aidan into a high scoring draw in the Flames Of War campaign, so that’s one to be pleased with.

Having read 3 books in January I’ve slowed down in February due to distractions (more time spent painting), and my choice of books not hitting the right note at the right time.  I have started on a new book; The Desert War, by Alan Moorehead.  It’s a trilogy written by a British war correspondent of his experiences during the North Africa campaign 1940-43, and despite its age runs along quite nicely, so when I get time to sit down and read it I think it’ll be rather good.

Painted Vs Purchased:
Nowt purchased, and only 6 things varnished (3 X 28mm Germans, a frenchie, and 2 X 15mm Panzer IV’s) and as such qualifying as finished.  So once it turns warm it should all look much better.  It also occurred the other day that I have never clarified what counts as ‘1’ model painted – I’m counting one base as one model, so my large bit of scenery is a single model, while the ACW 6mm bases with 4 strips of troops on also count as one.  Finally I’ve put in a holiday application form in the hope of having the 18th of May off so I can join up with a few friends and go to Triples in Sheffield.

Purchased: 0
Painted: 6

The number of paints I ended up using on my Napoleonic infantry, the plan to keep it simple failed somewhere.

Germans in progress - all renegade miniatures figures which I've a soft spot for, and which aren't in production at the moment.

Some finished frenchies and germans.

Initial Panzer IV air brush shots, with some other test subjects behind.

Old vs new, the one old panzer IV in the old camo, vs the two new ones.

Tiger in finished old style camo next to the two new airbrushed ones.

28mm building painted, with more frenchies waiting behind.

28mm Germans post Dip, but before flock and matt spray.