Monday 30 April 2018

Helion Conference: From Reason to Revolution, 29 April 2018, York

Yesterday John the Red and I headed off early on the short trip down to York for this conference, organised by Helion Books, held in the York Army Museum. The museum is ‘home’ to The Royal Dragoon Guards and The Yorkshire Regiment and all their antecedent regiments, of which there are many after over half a century of mergers and disbandments. The museum itself covers the period from the Restoration through to the present day with a well-presented and comprehensive collection of weapons, uniforms, flags, regimental silver and of course medals. While I never tire of looking at “Captain Gillibrand’s” shako or “Corporal Baldrics’s” tunic and similar stuff, I always gravitate towards the medal collections, which for me all have their own story and offer up a very human side of conflict. The conference was sponsored jointly by the Museum and the Society for Army Historical Research.

The theme of the conference was Command and Leadership in the period broadly covering the XVIIIth century. The first session covered subjects such as the impact of the tensions experienced between French Colonial officers (coming under the Ministry of Marine) and those of the regular army (under the Ministry of War) during the Seven Years War in Canada, illustrated by the French attack on the British outpost at Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario. Ultimately these tensions were to cost France dear as they contributed to the loss of Canada. Next was a summary of the Austrian officer class during the Seven Years War. Finally, there was a presentation on the impact of the usually (in British histories) invisible Portuguese Engineer corps in the Peninsular War which I found particularly interesting given our family ties with Portugal and the Portuguese army.

There then followed a couple of book launches, one on the life of Sir George Murray, Wellington’s QMG, the other on 'The Scurrilous recollections' of John Harley (QM and Paymaster of his regiment the 47th Foot) during The Napoleonic Wars, which in true Daily Mail/Sun/Daily Star pulled no punches about the activities of fellow officers. I shall buy that one when it is available.

After a very nice lunch and a guided tour of the museum for those who wanted it we had more talks. The first 'panel' consisted of presentations on the command structure of the Jacobite army in 1745/46 and its impact on the uprising, and on the approach taken by the Duke of Cumberland in building up the morale of the British Army after the defeats at Prestonpans and Falkirk. Finally, we had a talk on Generalship in the Flanders Campaign 1793-95 (not that there was much to be seen on the Allied side, and that of the French was driven by a desire to avoid failure and an appointment with Mdm. La Guillotine). The speaker Carole Divall has just written a book on the life of Sir Ralph Abercrombie which is on my to buy list. This was followed by a session covering the much maligned Lord Chatham, who took a pretty undistinguished part in the 1799 Helder Campaign and is better remembered for leading the fiasco that was the 1809 Walcheren Expedition. I unwittingly unnerved the speaker before her session by jokingly suggesting that maps of the Header and North Holland looked like Scooby Doo! And they do too! Her first slide was of Scooby Doo! (No, North Holland). The last session of the day was by the French author Yves Martin, entitled 'The Maverick, the Hero and the Bureaucrat' (Bonapart, Kleber and Menou and their very different approaches to commanding the French campaign in Egypt between 1798 and 1801.

All of the talks were interesting, some very interesting and by and large the presenters did at worst an ok job, but mostly they were good at getting their subjects over. It was certainly a good day out and well worth a mere £30, which included lunch (the organisers over catered significantly). All the presentation papers and materiel will be made available by Helion shortly. The only negatives were the guy behind us who kept falling asleep and snoring, the uncomfortable seats and maybe the availability of drinking water and a healthy option at lunchtime.  I would certainly go again and will  be attending Helion's Century of the Soldier conference on 22 September at the Royal Armouries Leeds.

It was also good to have a chat with Philip Ball, author of 'A waste of Blood and Treasure' (an account of the 1799 Helder campaign) and Charles Singleton who it transpired went to the same school as me many hundreds of years ago - King Edward VII in Lytham. Small world.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Relocation to the Boro’ and a renaming ceremony

Well, hardly a ceremony really, not even a small drinks party or house warming. I have never really been keen on the term 'man cave' for my games room. If it was in a basement/cellar then maybe but...

When planning the building work to the Middlesbrough property including a big games room for me was a deal breaker, and in some respect the house extension was built as an add-on to my new room rather than the other way round. Well, as readers will know all the work has been completed and although I'm still waiting for the joiner to fetch up and extend my table I'm all ready to go.

So, its not a 'man cave' so what is it? Well, with due deference to the town I now live in, my games room will henceforth be referred to as "The Burrow".  Later this week I will post a guided tour of "The Burrow", i.e. I just need to tidy a few things away before I can allow any viewings.

Game planned for next Wednesday, and again on Bank Holiday Monday. The "official" inaugural game will be later in May or June, but both are busy months.

Monday 23 April 2018

New oddments for the FRW and 1806. A bits box clear out.

I had quite a few odd figures knocking around so over the last couple of days have been getting them finished. They're not my best but they will do for me as I enjoyed doing them.

Of no use whatsoever, a Prussian hussar picket of HR No 5 for the 1806 campaign. The figures are FGMiniz . I have a couple more that are almost done. I will surely find a use for them, not that the scouting prowess of the Prussians was anything to write home about.
These figures represent a detachments of the O'Donnell Freikorps, an Austrian unit raised in the early 1790s.  The hats probably should be of the 'Klobuk' pattern but I didn't have any hanging around. Their yukkey green coats and scarlet pants must have made them pretty tough boys in a fight. Eureka figures collected from Salute back in 2017.
Grenz in more traditional dress for a change. Eureka again. The bits of grass will be removed forthwith!
The guys at the front of the photo are Eureka Grenz in (mostly) more normal uniforms, but armed with the Hackenlanz (pointy stick) and  Doppelstutz, an over and under two barrelled rifle. 
More later this week if my mojo is retained.

Friday 20 April 2018


I thought it was time for another post so have decided to put up a few photos of my 1806 Saxons, the vast majority of which I purchased painted over a year ago. I got them for £5 per foot figure and £10 I think for the cavalry. Thats PAINTED which is an absolute bargain. The two combined grenadier battalions were painted by my friend Barry.

The figures are all Elite Miniatures and in total there are six battalions of musketeers, 2 of combined grenadiers and one of grenadier guard, accompanied by a regiment of hussars. The flags are from Adolfo Ramos. Sadly my painting is not up to the standard of these figures, and the commanders and some of the cavalry in the painting queue are Foundry and therefore a little short by comparison. I'm loath to sell them (even though I bought them during one of their 20% off sales and therefore might almost get my money back) and buy Elite Miniatures cavalry figures for the moment. A regiment each of cuirassiers and cheveau-legers would cost me another £140 or thereabouts. We shall see....

I finally have the joiner coming in next week to make the alterations to my table and to put up a couple of my old cabinets from the previous games room, so am eagerly anticipating that so I can hopefully have a game the week after.

I've ordered some new paints reviewed favourably in Miniature War-games this month. War Colours from Cypress. Once I've had a go with them I shall pass verdict. 

Sunday 15 April 2018

At the risk of being boring, more 1806 Prussians

Two more battalions of Prussian infantry graduated from basing school and have marched into barracks. FGMiniz again with Adolfo Ramos flags. Painted by Northumbria Painting Services and based by me.

I.R. No. 29

I.R. No. 37

I shall continue working on some Saxon artillery and commanders this evening. Tomorrow I promise I will refrain from posting anything Prussian.

The completion of these units means I now have one Jager battalion, three fusilier battalions, two grenadier battalions and nine musketeer battalions ready for action.

Saturday 14 April 2018

More Prussian Infantry for 1806

I wasn't able to post anything on Thursday or Friday as it was my 60th birthday and what with a big family lunch in our local (100 yards away) wine bar cum restaurant (The Vine, Middlesbrough, good food and they have some fantastic craft beers and gins behind the bar!), and a surprise romantic evening away I was otherwise occupied. However, all is back to normal now and I finished basing these two Prussian battalions this morning. The figures are from FGMiniz (Forgotten and Glorious Miniatures) and they were painted by Rob and Michelle of Northumbrian Painting Services a while ago.
I.R. No 40 'Schimonsky'

I.R. No 45 'Zweiffel'

I.R. No 40 again
I love this (currently unavailable) range except for the muskets and bayonets which are very, and I mean very fragile. I've had quite a few casualties but so far I'm keeping up with the repairs!

The flags are again off Adolfo Ramos.

Next on the painting desk is a battery of Saxon 12 pounders and two more Prussian infantry battalions are in line for basing. 

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Prussians and Saxons 1806

The basing department has been busy again and managed to complete two battalions of Prussian combined grenadiers and a battery of Saxon horse artillery.
Two grenadier battalions, painted for me by Rob and Cheryl of Northumbrian Painting Services.  Bases by me. The figures are Forgotten and Glorious Miniatures (FGMiniz) from France. I think they are fantastic except for the crappy bayonets, many of which have detached themselves during the painting process and no doubt will do so again when being used.
There's a bit of a story with these figures which are currently unavailable. Early last year or maybe even the year before FGMiniz posted on their FB page to advertise a massive sale on their 1806 Prussians; I think it was something like 50% off or slightly more. Anyway, the infantry worked out at around the 50p mark or slightly less each. So I put in a massive order of course, never before having the slightest inkling that I wanted a Prussian Army for 1806. Why doesn't that surprise me?

Foundry or Casting Room Miniatures horse artillery from their early Saxon range.  I can't remember what make the cannon are but they are examples of their rapid-firing 4pdr. Figures painted by my mate Barry of the Like a Stone Wall group. Bases by me.

I have some more Prussian infantry to base which I shall get cracking on this evening. I might even start a unit of something to break up the monotony of sanding, grassing and tufting.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Prussian infantry 1792

Several years ago I picked these figures up off a friend and they remained in a box until rediscovered during the house move. Now that I am working on an 1806 project I thought they should be based up and put into barracks in readiness for their first battle. As the title of this post suggests however, these figures are wearing the uniform worn by the Prussian army during the War of the 1st Coalition, e.g. very silly hats.

These figures are old Foundry from their early Prussian Napoleonic range (might be under Casting Room Miniatures now). The range, as with many, not just of Foundry's but also of many larger (for some reason?) manufacturers is incomplete but they are very nice if a little on the short side.
These three battalions will form a small brigade on their own in the army with two other Foundry battalions. I plan to use them for both 1792 and 1806; in fact I will be using the 1806 figures for 1792! Why not?

I only have another 16 Prussian infantry battalions to base up and I'm done! I should be able to manage four a day so not long now till the end. Whooppeee!

Monday 9 April 2018

Back to the French Revolutionary War Vendee campaign - Days 5 and 6

After the Battle of Poulligeun the French army under General  Cancleux withdrew to lick its wounds while still blocking any British attempt to make another attempt on Le Croisic The British and French Emigre troops consolidated their positions at Poulliguen to cover the main depot at Pornichet and it’s harbour. They also buried Major General Sir George Ashton on the field of battle, mortally wounded as he led a single squadron of vastly outnumbered Emigre dragoons against a formidable number of enemy infantry (an entire division!), contributing to the final victory at the cost of his own life. Poems and songs will be written in his honour.....well  pub in his name maybe?

So far, neither side can be said to have covered themselves with glory. After the initial success of the landing we find the English recovering from a defeat at Le Croisic and a bloody victory at Pouilliguen. The French have been full of revolutionary fervour but with the exception of their victory at Le Croisic lacking in finesse.
The encampment before St Nazaire
The main Allied force is still entrenched sitting idly outside the town of St Nazaire. The Allied commander the Comte d'Hervilly delayed an assault on the town immediately on their arrival thus allowing the Republican defenders time to prepare themselves for the attack or to pre empt the Allied attack with one of their own. The English commander General Cyrus Trapaud, 80 years of age, was taken ill and retired to his billet in Pornichet, leaving only relatively junior, but more experienced, English commanders champing at the bit to do something, frustrated by the Comte's lethargy.

English soldiers taking advantage of the indecision and partaking of  some brew.
French Republican troops have been marching towards St Nazaire to reinforce the garrison there and to threaten the left flank and rear of the Anglo-Emigre army.  Reinforcements from Nantes are also close by and the Allies, despite being reinforced by two of Moore's battalions (79th and 92nd), from Pouilliguen,  are in danger of being cut off and overwhelmed. 

Sunday 8 April 2018

Prussian Dragoons 1806

Today's offering off the basing production line is the Prussian Dragoon Regiment No 5 using Elite Miniatures (flags by Adolfo Ramos).  These didn't seem to take as long to do; an hour last night sanding and daubing some brown wash over the sand to give it a darker hue then another hour this evening highlighting, applying static grass and a few tufts. Yes, "my name is Colin Ashton and I'm a tuftaholic!" It makes sense as I used to be a workaholic in the day and I probably got very close to going beyond having an unhealthy relationship with booze, but nowadays I get my kicks of (legal) prescription painkillers!
 I have to say that I really am pleased with the way this unit has turned out. Barry (aka The Flash) painted the figures for me and I did the basing and between our efforts I reckon we have a winning partnership!

That as they say is the last of my Prussian cavalry (apart from those I don't yet have of course, i.e. when I bring the cuirassiers up to 30 figures). I've also just completed my eight-gun horse artillery battery (four models) and this evening glued and sanded the bases of three Prussian infantry battalions, so progress is being maintained. In fact I'm running perilously short of sand (good job builders still here).

Saturday 7 April 2018

500 Today!!!!


Somehow I've managed to write 499 posts (500 including this one) since I started the blog way back in  April 2010. Some of the collections featured, such as the American Civil War and VBCW have long gone on to new homes around the world but the majority remain and over the years I've added new periods and armies as and when I've been inspired to do so. My wargaming circle has also greatly increased, with some comings and goings along the way, to become a very diverse and disparate (NOT desperate) group of like-minded wargamers.

The new man cave is technically up and running and tidied up enough for a game but I'm still waiting for the table to be increased to six feet wide. I might not bother with the three foot extension flap immediately. Invitations will be going out shortly.

Finally, despite having moved from Weardale to Middlesbrough I have absolutely no plans to change the name of the blog; for continuity it needs to stay unchanged.

Friday 6 April 2018

A few more 1806 Prussians

The last offering this week is a 12 figure unit of Prussian Cuirassiers together with an assortment of battalion guns.
Four battalion gun sections. One (crewed by Grenadiers, 2nd right) is from Foundry/Casting Room 1806 range while the smaller figures are also Foundry, from their Early Prussian range with the infantry and artillery in the silly little hats for the 1792'ish period of the Revolution. (Valmy, etc)

I've not yet worked out how I will deploy the guns in a game, but I will probably attach one to each infantry brigade as a visual reminder that each battalion has battalions guns attached, which in Black Powder gives them an extra firing dice (Well thats what I do anyway). Or, I could still attach them to each brigade and give each cannon stats of 1/1/0 and a range of 24" and don't give the infantry units the extra firing dice, which on thinking about it might make them too tough.
Prussian KR No. 7

The cuirassier regiment was painted by my friend Barry. I'm sure he will be glad to read that I have just ordered some extra cuirassier figures off Elite to bring this regiment and the one featured yesterday up to 30 figures, in five squadrons of six. The flags are by Adolfo Ramos (€6.20 each fully assembled) and the basing is by me.

I am going to start basing my large (36) Dragoon regiment this afternoon/evening so they ought to make an appearance by the end of the weekend.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Prussian Cuirassiers 1806 (just for Carlo)

Pictured here is a regiment of 24 Prussian cuirassiers for my 1806 project. These are Elite Miniatures and I think they look great. I've said before that Elite Minis are a bit like Marmite, Sprouts or Broccoli, you either love 'em or hate 'em. Well, I like all three!

 KR No. 11 Leibkarabiniers 

I have another squadron of 12 in the basing queue, as well as 36 Dragoons. Maybe I'll get them done over the weekend, but I want to get the infantry and the remaining artillery based up asap. I REALLY ought to bring all my Prussian Cuirassier regiments up to at least 30 figures so they can be deployed as five squadrons of six figures should I wish to. That will work out a little pricey at the moment as I would need another 24 Elite figures and 18 Foundry for KR No. 2. Its my birthday soon so.......

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Prussian Fusilier brigade 1806

Out of the basing production line this morning are three battalions of Prussian Fusiliers, which make  up the Fusilier Brigade in my 1806 Prussian Army. One battalion are Foundry/Casting Room (to the front in red facings) and the other two are from Three Armies. Actually I couldn’t sleep last night so was in the man cave at 1:30pm applying tufts to their bases.

Prussian Fusiliers were distinguished by four diffferent facing colours, Red, Black, green and light blue. I have three of those here, but the fourth (green) can be seen on one of the skirmishers bases that form part of the brigade.

Anyway, here they are in all their splendour.

What shall I do next?