Wednesday 6 December 2023

Early Napoleonic Russian Hussars

Finally my first regiment of Russian hussars are complete. This is the Soumy regiment before they changed their uniforms in 1809.  I’ve only done five squadrons as that is more than enough as 30 miniatures is a big unit. A full regiment of 10 squadrons would be very impressive but silly 🤪 

These are old Casting Room Miniatures and I do like them. Barry did the hard work. I just based them up.

Next up will be the Pavlograd Hussars, which are 3D resin prints.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Battle of Khotyn 1621

Prolific author Michal Paradowski’ latest offering in Helion’s Century of the Soldier series is The Khotyn Campaign of 1621. Polish, Lithuanian and Cossack armies against the Ottoman Empire.

Michal’s approach to this subject is to give the reader a clear day-by-day account of the operations of the armies involved in this rather prolonged battle waged from 2 September to 9 October 1621. At its end the allies had successfully held off numerous assaults by the Ottoman’s on their defended camps, a feat lauded as a victory insofar as the advance of the Ottoman army was stopped in its tracks.

Before describing chapter on the battle, the author provides the reader with an introduction to the relationship between the Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire in the early seventeenth century. The Khotyn campaign actually began in 1620 with the defeat of a Polish army and the subject of this book is on what would be the final battle of the war one year later.

Before launching into the operations around Khotyn Michal provides a detailed description of the campaign in 1620, a fascinating introduction to the military systems of the nations involved, their commanders and the preparations for the forthcoming campaign. The Battle of Khotyn is covered in great detail and the day-to-day approach works really well as a means of documenting the action. Of course, while this was all going on, the Cossacks and Tatars were engaged in numerous cross border raids which help put the main subject of the book into a wider context.

Michal has again made great use of primary sources, such as diaries and official letters otherwise inaccessible to non-Polish speakers, which allow the English-speaking world a much deeper understanding of the conflict.

As ever, the book is packed full of contemporary black and white illustrations and the central bloc of eight colour plates depicting troop types involved in the campaign are wonderful, as are the four pages of flags and banner of both sides. The appendices are splendid, and include orders of battle and ‘army lists’ for both the 1620 and 1621 campaigns. There are also several contemporary documents, and I found the one describing the English and Irish troops who were sent to Poland (although they were deployed against the Swedes rather than the Ottomans) particularly interesting, if only because I had no idea that such an expedition took place.

This is a well written and, judging by the extensive bibliography, meticulously researched book covering a subject largely unknown to me, and the author is to be commended on the end result of his labours.

Of course, this book will provide plenty of itching for wargamers to scratch. Thankfully I already own more Poles and Ottomans than you could shake a stick at (where did that saying come from?), although I don’t have any Cossacks having sold them all (unpainted and doomed never to see the brush) a few weeks ago. 

ISBN 978-1-804513-50-7. 250 pages. Soft back.

Monday 4 December 2023

Austerlitz 218th Anniversary Game, but not the Ridley Scott interpretation.

Saturday 2 December 1805. The day of Austerlitz, Buonaparte’s greatest victory. Saturday 2 December 2023. Austerlitz the refight. Will history repeat itself or be overturned?  Mike had organised the game, using his extensive collection of 1/72 miniatures, held on a cold snowy day just like 218 years ago, and nine of us arrived to play with Mike umpiring. I’m not going to bore anyone with the story of the real triumph or debacle that was Austerlitz depending on who you were fighting for, so here are some photos and a brief narrative which should explain how the game panned out. Mind you, I was on the allied right so have no idea what was going on in the centre let alone the left! 

The allies advance off the heights. Most of our army were required to do so forth first three turns.
Richard’s command was destroyed so he was allowed to hog the radiator.

Bagration on the allied right.

Looking along the allied line from the right.

Me as Bagration.

Prschibishowski’ troops advance, and beyond them is the Russian guard.

Lichtenstein's cavalry under my command on the right. This was not a good location as we were facing lots of French infantry and artillery in quite a compact space.

The French facing our right flank.

The same French crossing the stream to attack my troops on the right. 

The French reserve cavalry, poised facing our centre.

Our left flank - it was along way away from my corps.

I'm not having a nap. Honest! But I am thinking of the venison casserole one of the guys made for us dinners.

Bagration’s corps, supported by Lichtenstein’s cavalry begin their advance.

The extreme right flank of our army.

Davout arrives on Kollowrat’s flank, putting an end to any aspirations of capturing Sokolnitz.

Our flank being rolled up.

The allies putting a brave face on for the camera.

The following are more of the battle as it developed.

The French reserve cavalry smash through the Austrians in the centre. Three battalions were swept away.

The end!

Paul and Richard’s commands on our left had been brutally destroyed. Our attack led by Dom and Nick was stalling due to heavy losses and my advance had ground to a halt in the face of overwhelming numbers of French infantry and artillery. So, after nearly six hours of fighting the French were able to claim a victory, although a victory not nearly as decisive as in the real battle (so say us defeated allies).

This proved to be an excellent game and a great way to spend a snowy Saturday in December. The French commanders (John H, John the Red, Alex and Nick?) were a formidable team, or at least they were a more formidable one than us. Paul, Richard, Nick, Dom and me were faced with a bit of an uphill battle (actually a downhill one) against far superior Frenchmen. I am beginning to feel the love for Absolute Emperor as a set of rules (a bit), insofar as they work quite well with large games such as this. They’re quick and easy to pick up, even if some of the rules and mechanisms are a little odd, to my grumpy ‘I remember when I were a lad…….’ brain at least.

Big thanks to Mike for setting up and running the game and for letting us play with his lovely 1/72 scale collection, and to everyone for making it such an enjoyable game. Of course a big thanks also to Dom for his succulent venison casserole, and everyone else who contributed home made bread, cakes, biscuits and even roasted vegetables to keep us going.

Please note Sir Ridley that there were no frozen oceans, entrenchments or camouflaged artillery anywhere on the table.

Khalsa! A Wargamer’s Guide to the Anglo- Sikh Wars

Next up in the excellent Helion Wargames series is Khalsa! This is a sumptuous and comprehensive guide to wargaming the Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1845-1846 and 1848-1849, by Andy Copestake and James Main.

The book follows the usual format of most of its predecessors in the series, with a fact-filled introduction to the period and events leading up to each conflict that sets the scene for what is to come. The battles of both wars are each covered in great depth, with useful orders of battle and tips on how one might play each scenario. None of these are dependent on a particular set of rules so it is left up to the reader, armed with the necessary information, to shape this to fit their preferred set. As well as the full-on battles such as Mudki, Sobraon, or Chillianwalla to name but three, there are also several more ‘fringe’ scenarios covering the exploits of a few brave European officers leading the troops of various factions against the Sikh regime. The maps that support each of the battles, and the more strategic ones that appear throughout the book, are excellent and provide clear representations of each combat.

We are also provided with a wealth of information regarding the organisation (or not) of the Sikh forces, the different troops available, tactics and weaponry, as well as a discussion on the Sikh ‘leadership’ and the backgrounds and influence of the many European adventurers who acted as military advisors and generals in the army, and who led their own ‘Compos’ or brigades until immediately prior to the outbreak of war, when most were murdered by their men or fled. Similarly, the organisation, leaders and weapons of the Honourable East India Company presidencies of Bengal and Bombay, including the Crown forces who were to bear the brunt of the fighting, are covered. The authors also provide useful information on the dress or uniforms worn by all participants, and for wargamers, James shows us how to paint your miniatures. There are also lists of manufacturers and other resources available, together with some sample ‘army lists’. Particularly helpful are suggestions on how to adapt your rules of choice to more accurately reflect the weapons and tactics used during the wars.

The illustrations in this book are superb; as well as a number of contemporary images there are a vast number of gloriously colourful photographs of painted Wargames miniatures, not only from the author’s collection but also a good number featuring miniatures of my extensive collection.

It goes without saying that in my opinion this book sets the bar even higher for this series, which is quite an achievement. It is well written and researched, and is the product of a genuine understanding of the period by Andy. If you have any interest in this key period of Anglo-Indian history then this is a fabulous book, a veritable ‘one stop shop’ for wargamers and those interested in the fascinating history of British expansion across India, you should buy it.

 ISBN978-1804514900 182 pages, paper back.

Monday 27 November 2023

Wellington’s Unsung Heroes. The Fifth Division in the Peninsular 1810-1814.

One of Helion & CO’s more recent publications in their excellent ‘from Reason to Revolution’ series is this study of the 5th Division of Wellington’s army during the Peninsular War by Carole Divall. Wellingtons Unsung Heroes, so called as their ranks do not include the prolific letter and memoir writers found in other formations, such as the Light Division, nevertheless played a significant part in Wellington’s ultimate success in driving the French from the Iberian Peninsula, for example at Badajoz and Salamanca.

The author takes us through each year, from 1810 to 1814, giving an very interesting account of the experiences of the division, and the battles and sieges in which it was involved, as well as an analysis of the internal workings of the division and its key personnel. Despite not being as famous as other more well documented formations, a large amount of contemporary letters, journals and other records have been researched and used to create a fascinating and entertaining history, from the whole range of perspectives. Well supported by useful maps and illustrations the story of the division in the Peninsular War is one well told.

This is a useful book for aficionados of Wellington’s Peninsular campaign and it is certainly one that I can recommend.

ISBN978-1-915113-92-4 soft back 260 pages.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Battleground Stockton 2023 10th Anniversary Event

On Saturday I was among the hundreds to attend this year’s Battleground show, their 10th Anniversary and the best attended show to date, all organised by Leon and the Pendraken team. This year I’d offered to play in the Durham club’s Never Mind the Boathooks Game organised by Conrad. I have to say I was very impressed with the ships, which were all scratch built and/or heavily converted. The other games were all at least pretty good and some of course were excellent, often for different reasons. What follows is a mosh-mash of photos of many of the games, but due to a technical failure (phone ran out of charge, doh!) I missed some, and the ones I did get of Andy Copestake’s lovely Sikh Wars game were unusable, even by my very low benchmark, which is a bugger as it was very pretty. 

So, here they are in no order whatsoever, which I guess isn’t as important as actually getting some reasonable photos.

The Great Galley of Newcastle (under my command) getting stuck in after delivering a few withering arrow storms in the direction of the Frenchies and assorted Hanseatic pirates, er mean traders.

Now some photos of Dave Pengelly’s 1st Schleswig-Holstein War 1848, using an extensive privately commissioned range of miniatures which look great. Lots of lovely uniforms and weird contraptions, and more, even a train, so what wasn’t there to like. I like this little espignol gun.

Danish rocket launcher.
The train.

10mm battle of Nachod, one of the first engagements in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. 

WW1 Dogfights

One for the kids. Cosmic cakes. Don’t ask….

William III in Ireland.

Eylau, 1807. 

6mm Ancient Naval.

Cardboard Venice.

WSS game using Paper Soldiers.

Sorry, I had to…..

WW1 1918. Very impressive game from Grimsby.

More action on the high seas, well the Seine Estuary.

And more of Schleswig Holstein. I could feel an itch coming on somewhere. Oh dear….

The English flagship

Thus ended a great day out catching up with friends and acquaintances, some of whom I’d not seen for years, some I see almost every week but hopefully nobody whom I will never see again (So many references to getting old in our chats). It was also good to meet some new folks whom I hope will maybe even become visitors to the Burrow in the future. Bizarrely one of my new acquaintances lives 100 yards from our old house up t’dale in Westgate. (He moved in after we moved out).

The games as you can see were largely good, the trade was extensive and catered for most gamers’ tastes, so 10/10 for everything. Well done Leon! Technically apart from a bacon buttie I only bought some paints and MDF bases, except for a few Napoleonic Swedes and Spanish off Ian at Eagle Figures to make up a couple of incomplete units. I did collect several battalions of 28mm early Napoleonic Russians that I’d had painted having lost the will to spend more of my life painting dozens of men in greatcoats. What seemed like an easy job wasn’t. 

Thanks to John for picking me up in the morning and to the delightful surprise of my wife coming after lunch to make sure I was behaving myself (we live barely five mi items away from the venue). Gave me quite a shock when I just looked over my shoulder as my spidey senses started tingling and there she was, and had been for 10 minutes! Hope I’d not said anything I shouldn’t have!

Austerlitz at Durham next Saturday. In the meanwhile I have Russians to base up and my war room to tidy up.