Monday, May 31, 2010

Highlanders au go-go!

Here's the latest off the workbench; the 92nd Gordon Highlanders! Tartan kilts and diced bonnet bands just about sent me cross-eyed. I've also added some pictures of my HaT British light infantry that I'd painted as the 52nd, but after settling on painting this particular brigade, I changed to the 71st Glasgow Highland Light Infantry by adding the diced border to their shakos. One reference I saw seemed to indicate a dark blue shako or a black shako with a red pom-pom on the crown, but I've gone for the standard stovepipe with the diced border.

92nd Gordons in line

Can't have Highlanders without a piper!

92nd light-bob

Colour party. Made a real hash with the King's colour; glued it upside down, then tore it off the staff trying to remove it. Doesn't look too bad in the photo, though!

71st Glasgow Highland Light Infantry

71st GHLI bugler

NCO encouraging the trrops

I love this pose

Priming the pan

The officer from HaT's only other British infantry set set, the light infantry, which was pretty much rubbish, except for the officer. He has a head swap with the newer infantry set which was much clearer than the original

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review - Napoleon's Men

This blog seems to be devoted more to literary reviews rather than wargaming, at the moment.

I've just come out the other end of a week off with a nasty virus. Probably just the common cold, but in my wife's view a severe case of the man-flu! Anyway, 4 days off work and no painting just proves how sick I was!

In that time I finished my latest book, pictured (ISBN 13: 9781852855307). Having read a lot of books about grand campaigns and the high officers in charge and the great political machinations involved, this was a complete u-turn. Using the letters of ordinary soldiers on campaign, as distinct from memoirs written years or decades later, the author builds a picture of the upheaval caused to French society by the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Young men who had not expected to travel beyond the nearest market town in their lifetime found themselves slapped in uniform and sent off to the extremities of Europe to fight in wars in which they had little say or understanding beyond the propaganda fed to them by the officers. The stress of being away from home and family and the ever present threat of death in a far away land by bullet or disease was alleviated in a great way by being able to write to and receive letters from home.

What I hadn't considered before reading this book was the explosion in letter writing caused by these wars; If you never left your community, there really wasn't a need to write. With the sudden wrenching from home and hearth of a generation of young men conscripted, who, by dint of revolutionary education, could read and write better than any other generation, there was a sudden flowering of letter writing.

Previous armies had been populated by foreign mercenaries or the dregs of society who neither had the inclination or the ability to write. The new nation in arms, however, was a cross section of society who never considered themselves to be professional soldiers and for whom home still had a almost unbearable hold. Senior officers realised early on that writing could alleviate the homesickness , stress and depression which in those days was called mal du pays and encouraged writing. Fascinating reading.

I also received in the mail my latest goodies; the Mediterranean farm, dead figures and spare heads for conversions and the next volume of the adventures of Capitaine Margont. Stay tuned for more reviews and figures. My 92nd Highlanders have also been finished, but I haven't taken any happy snaps yet, either.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My little blog has been attracting some international attention lately, which is satisfying! Thanks all for visiting.

Dipping of French troops goes ahead and painting of Highlanders also slowly continues. The Rosbif PC at home has developed a worrying fault that stops any peripherals that require a USB connection from working, so there won't be any pictures this post (not that I've taken any more as the rest of the collection isn't up to scratch at the moment.)

Mrs. Rosbif is frantically finishing essays in time for the end of semester, so my available free time has diminished, but I will be going to the club this Friday, although only in the capacity of being kitchen monkey for the sales night, ie. I still won't be playing a game! I'll try and get a few photos of the skirmish game planned for the evening.

I'm waiting on some overseas purchases to arrive, which I ordered almost 2 weeks ago; some casualty figures and spare heads by Lancier Bleu from France, via MBM Models from the Netherlands and some 15mm Mediterranean buildings from Rusus in Germany. I thought I'd take advantage of the relatively low Euro. What I forget to think about is ordering from the U.S. as the AUD to the USD is about 85 cents at the moment.

My plan for the dead 'uns is to make markers to indicate retiring, retreating or broken units. Our club rules don't have any formal way of recording these, so it can get a bit messy trying to keep a track of which unit's doing what. I'm planning to make bases of one casualty for a retire, two for a retreat and 3 (including an officer, indicating loss of control) for a break.

The spare heads I'll use to vary any new battalions and include bonnets de police, pokalems, bandaged and bare. I have vague plans to paint up the rest of my unpainted French figures as Italians, so they might be the first candidates for the spares. Maybe one or two British figures will be sporting bare or wounded heads, too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book review

The Officer's Prey (isbn 1906040036) is a fictional account of a murder committed by a French officer during the 1812 Russian Campaign and the attempt to track him down and bring him to justice.

Capitaine Quentin Margont has been given the task by Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, his corp commander and stepson of Napoleon himself, of tracking down the murderer. This, of course, is easier said than done, because it all has to be done unofficially. As the initial murder victim is female and Polish, the reason for the urgency and secrecy is supposedly diplomatic, in order that the relationship with Poland is not damaged, but soon other, murkier political factors reveal themselves. Of the 4 possible suspects, none puts a foot wrong until the final, horrific retreat from Moscow.

In the meantime, Margont and his companions are still cogs in a massive war machine and cannot avoid being swept up in the battles of the campaign. This is where the book rises above any other historical murder mystery, in my opinion. The descriptions of the fighting, especially at Smolensk, come from the point of view of the infantry. They don't know of anything beyond what they can see, hear and feel. None of the grand tactics and maneuvers of the generals mean anything here. They see Russians in front of them, they fire at and charge the Russians. The pursuit ends in rout, once confronted by Russian reserves. Their rout ends when French reserves counterattack. The feelings of foreboding, followed by elation, quickly followed by terror, then utter emptiness and revulsion are all well described by the author, who also is a psychiatrist and well able to get inside his characters' heads.

There are two other books in the series, The Wolf Hunt (isbn 1906040087) and Memory of Flames (isbn 1906040133), the first a prequel set in the Danube campaign of 1809 and the second set in the last days of the Empire in 1814.

I'm looking forward to reading them both.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's on the workbench

Here is what's on the workbench at the moment : Highlanders!

They are taking a very LOOOOONG time to complete a) because I just don't seem to have the time for painting at the moment, and b) painting tartan is such a bugger!

I've chosen the 92nd as my Scots regiment of choice as I build up Howard's brigade from Spencer's division at Fuentes D'Onoro. I've already painted the 71st Highland Light Infantry, I'm now painting the 92nd and then will paint the 50th West Kents (known as the dirty half-hundred, because the their facings were black and when the soldiers wiped the sweat from their faces using their sleeve cuffs, the dye would run, smearing their faces black!)

Where it all happens!

92nd Gordon Highlander grenadier

Rear view of same

I've recently had my first overseas visitor! Thanks for visiting from the good ol' USA. I hope you're the first of many, sir!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Army Painter Quickshade

I've taken the plunge and bought a tin of Army Painter Quickshade - Strong, after seeing the results on other blogs and have experimented with it on one of my French HaT line battalions. It seems to engender strong opinions, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I'm still not convinced that it's more economical or more effective than a bigger tin of varnish from the hardware store, but I'll look into that in the future.

I found that the best way to spread it after dipping wasn't the prescribed flicking, but blowing on it after letting the excess drip into the can. I tried the suggestion of holding it with pliers while dipping and flicking, but obviously that's what you should do with metal figures, not plastic. The base of the first figure got a bit mangled by the pliers. The pictures in this posting compare one 12-figure battalion which has been dipped, with one that hasn't. I've then compared a close up of 2 of the same pose.

I know it's not to everyone's taste, but I quite like the effect it gives, especially for the skin. It defines the creases and folds of cloth well too. I like my figures to look a bit campaign-worn and not too shiny and new, so I think I'll keep on dipping the rest of my collection.

Dipped battalion.
Feeling a bit light headed after all that huffing and puffing!

Undipped comparison

Front view comparison. Left undipped, right dipped.
Left figure has light brown over-trousers, while the right figure has white trousers dirtied by the dipping process.

Rear view of the same pair

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More French troops

Some more of my French army, including more infantry and my cavalry. My artillery and command figures are still a bit too battered to warrant photography, so they can wait for another day.

HaT 1805 line infantry with some head conversions and eagle bearer conversion

More HaT conversions

Close up of eagle bearer conversion

Skirmishing voltiguers

Advancing Line troops with head conversions

Italeri hussars painted as the 5th Hussars

Elite company head conversion

Generic Chasseurs - HaT riders, Italeri horses. The HaT horses were deformed IMO.

Chasseur command figures

Italeri dragoons

Dragoon command figures

Dragoon elite company head conversion

My 25mm Warrior lead Cuirasiers thanks to John R. Slightly bigger than my plastic cavalry, but after all they were supposed to be big men on big horses. I've got the Legio plastic pack, but its fiddly assembly has put me off making many so far.

Cuirassier eagle bearer conversion

Cuirassier command figures

Monday, May 3, 2010

Surprise from South Africa

My step-father-in-law (complicated, I know) sent us this from sunny Cape Town of all places. The description on the back says; "Fusilier of the Infantry Regiment de l'Ile de France with the French colonial troops during the defence of the Cape in 1806".

SYW weekend game

So far this blog hasn't had any Napoleonic gaming to report, despite being the reason for it's very existence! So far I've played a game of AWI and now a weekend 3-a-side grand spanking 7 Years' War game with rules devised by our gracious host, Adrien, with his 15mm SYW collection.

The rules were different from what I've been used to, in that command and control is a much more important aspect of these rules. Depending on your generals' competence each command had a certain number of points to spend down the chain of command to individual units. Playing the French, I had quite big units that in theory could have been devastating to the enemy, but as the best of my commanders were average (and the worst incompetent!), the number of actions per turn was quite restrictive, which meant that as a commander, you had to spend your points wisely and not waste any. Quite frustrating to begin with, but made for a very interesting game.

Each player had a mission to accomplish, as well, to spice things up. My mission wasn't adhered to as well as it could have been because I had a rush of blood to the head which blinded me from making my superior look bad in the eyes of Madame du Pompadour by incurring less casualties than him (ie. I got stuck in to the enemy instead of holding back and letting the C-in-C do the hard work!).

The game was still in the balance and was left with the Prussians counter-attacking in the centre where Steve the Taller had done some sterling work previously, only to be let down by abysmal dice rolling. I was holding the Hanoverians on the right flank and actually pushing them back. As they fielded their entire army, they weren't all that interested in dying to a man for Frederick the Great and were beginning to withdraw after some cavalry heroics gave my infantry a black eye. Steve the Shorter was pushing his reserves up to help me on the right, as well as backing up my thrust though the town at the corner of the Prussian salient. The Prussians had battled hard to crush the French cavalry on our left flank, but reinforcements were on their way.

As there was no clear result, it was agreed to meet again at a later date to resolve the issue one way or another. Stay tuned for the result!

My initial dispositions

The battlefield from behind the Prussian positions

The French raring to go!

My worthy opponents, the Hanoverians

Steve the Taller's boys ready for action

Steve's impressive wheeling attack in echelon

My French and Jenko's Hanoverians dispute the woods

My horse guns approach to support the infantry

The casualties mount!

The battle for the woods continues

Steve's attack approaches the Prussian ranks

Steve's Austrians on the left flank

More of Maria Theresa's finest

The echelon attack goes in; orderly lines go out

Der Alte Fritz himself! (Tony)

His opposite, le Comte de Soubise (Steve the Shorter)

The view from the Prussian right flank

Adrien's Prussian cavalry go in while his reserve awaits the outcome

The battle in the woods from the German side

The attack in the centre continues

My attack approaches the village followed by our gallant leader's reinforcements in road column

The little battery that could. Survived 2 charges and a melee by Hanoverian horse

My attack progresses through the town while I shed deserters looking for loot and booze!

The Prussians react as I exit the village, but to no avail!

A bird's-eye view

The Hanoverians desperately try to break off, pursued by the C-in C's battle crazy men after a particularly successful French charge.

A French flanking charge being simultaneously charged in their flank by the Prussians.

Hanoverian cavalry charging French infantry, being charged by French cavalry. Flanks galore!
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