Sunday, 27 December 2009

A new French mortar

I have made a new model of a French mortar. This time it is not a Coehorn mortar but a really huge thing: a 24pdr mortar of the French artillery which was used in fortresses.
The model is about 5cm long and 2cm wide as you can see from the centimetre grid. The model consists of the "affût" (bed), the "coussinet" (cushion) and the barrel. Elevation is achieved with the help of wooden wedges hammered in between the barrel and the "coussinet"
As I have no gunners to man it yet, I have used my Redoubt FIW French artillerymen again, although their uniforms show the blue smallclothes of the AWI period. They will, however, give you a better impression of the size of the monstrous piece, I think.
Redoubt have shown interest in making a mould of it. Let's see what will become of it.
This picture by Moltzheim shows a mortar battery at about 1720. The men are occupied directing the mortar with the help of a quadrant and handspikes.
In the second picture (by Eugene Leliepvre from LE CIMIER Ancien Regime, serie 14) we can see a general of 1735 supervising the directing done by an officer. In the background two men are carrying a bomb hung on a pole by its "ears".
In both cases the mortars are obviously of smaller calibre than my model.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

British Legion Artillery

One arm of my British Legion was still missing - the artillery.
Of course the Legion did not really contain artillery. But the infantry had regimental guns, as far as I know. The question was: What did they look like? Which uniform did the gunners wear? No information to be got. Perhaps they did not exist after all.
But I wanted my Legion to have a regimental gun!
I purchased a set of Royal Artillery in cap hats with a 3-pounder from Perry Miniatures, gave them the green uniforms of the infantry, only with green breeches for practical reasons - their greasy job wouldn't allow white ones, I thought. I didn't bother to remove the feathers on their caps, just painted them green, and provided the peaks of their caps with the "BL" cipher of my infantry.
Somehow they seem to look authentic, don't they?

If somebody can tell me that I am completely on the wrong track, please comment.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Hazen's Regiment (1776-1783)

The regiment was named after its commander, Brigadier General Moses Hazen (1733 –1803). It was also known as Congress’s Own or 2nd Canadian Regiment, because it was authorized by Congress, and not by one of the colonies, in January 1776, and raised in the province of Quebec. So originally it consisted mostly of Franco-Canadians. Later the cultural differences between the original Quebec enlistees and new recruits from the Thirteen Colonies, mainly Pennsylvanians, became a source of trouble within the regiment, and Hazen kept the French speaking soldiers in separate companies.

The regiment was to have an authorized maximum strength of 1,000 men, and was to consist of four battalions of five companies each. It was to be the only such over-sized regiment in the Continental Army. But it never reached that strength, starting with 250 men (1st April 1776), and varying between 200 (August - October 1781) and 720 (Spring 1778).

The regiment or parts of it saw action in the Battle of Staten Island (22nd August 1777), the Battle of Brandywine (11th September 1777), the Battle of Germantown (4th October 1777), and the Siege of Yorktown (September – October 1781). There the regiment took part in the decisive storming of redoubts 9 and 10. According to Lafayette's own account the Americans storming Redoubt 10 did not fire a gun, but used the bayonet. The brigades of light infantry under Generals Peter Muhlenberg and Hazen "advanced with perfect discipline and wonderful steadiness. The battalion of Colonel Vose deployed on the left. The remainder of the division and the rear-guard successively took their positions, under the fire of the enemy, without replying, in perfect order and silence." Obviously Hazen’s soldiers were a crack unit.

The uniform coat was brown faced with white until 1779, and after that the facings were changed to red. The buttons were silver (pewter). Drummers wore reversed colours, i.e. white uniform coats with brown facings, as was the custom for drums and fifes of that period. The small clothes were white. However worn-out breeches or coats were necessarily replaced by other garments, although this regiment was usually more fully and well equipped than other Continental units.

The battalion companies wore black cocked-up felt hats trimmed with white braid. The light infantry company of the regiment was given black leather skull caps with peaked front shields decorated with the painted white cipher "COR" and the golden motto "Pro Aris et Focis" (for the house altars and hearths) over them. The Regimental Cipher "COR" and the motto also appeared on the drum shell (in a red field) and on the canteens.

The regimental colours were white, with the outlined black cipher “COR” in the centre, the word “Liberty” in outlined black letters above, and a red banner with the words “2nd Canadian” in white letters below. My flag is hand-painted.

The figures for my regiment are a mixture of Redoubt and Dixon miniatures with a slightly converted light infantry company; and my Colonel Hazen (in case you don’t recognize it) is a converted SYW Prussian dragoon officer by Front Rank. Though most of the figures are a bit dwarfy in appearance they match my idea of this regiment of disciplined and courageous soldiers well. I chose the uniform of 1776-79 because red facings would have been too similar to my 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment.

The lead regiment consists of 24 figures which are separately based. As the bases have got some magnetic tape underneath the troop may be arranged on a piece of iron sheet-metal as needed. Only for Yorktown the necessary 10 figures (ratio 1:20) ought to have red facings. Perhaps I will paint an extra 10 figures for that, one day.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

French mortar

I have created my first own wargaming figure! It's a French 12lb mortar, which was used by the French contingent at the siege of Yorktown, brought on shore from the warships and probably manned by Navy bombardiers. This weapon was in use throughout the 18th century.
My figure was produced by carving a model in two parts, base and barrel. And a collector friend of mine made a simple rubber mould of it. The result is not outstanding, but sufficient, I think.
In my photo it is manned by SYW figures by Redoubt, and positioned in one of my fieldworks. Up to now I have not discovered figures for bombardiers of the French Navy. So some tinkering will be necessary in the future.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

British Legion Infantry













Having finished my British Legion dragoons, I wanted to complete my unit with its infantry arm (artillery is to follow later). But I didn’t know what they looked like and how many figures I would need.







Uniform

There has been much disagreement and discussion among experts and collectors about the uniform of Tarleton’s Legion infantry.

I found some sources that solved the problem for me:

  • Great Britain, Public Record Office, Chancery, Class 106, Volume 90: A Return o f the Legion Arms, Accoutrements and Clothing (Charlestown, 14 June 1780) says "Green Cloth is wanting for 600 Men" and "400 Helmets are preparing for the Cavalry & 400 Leather Caps for the Infantry."
  • The British Headquarters (Sir Guy Carleton) papers (1747 –1783) refer to the Legion as follows: green jackets, white waistcoat and breeches; drummer green waistcoats and breeches.
  • A manuscript of 1783 notes: short round, tight green jackets with black collars, cuffs and lapels.
  • The issue of March 1782 for clothing was described as 'Green Light Infantry Coats & Jackets, Black Collar & Cuffs & white Breeches'.
  • Rivington's Army List for 1783: "British Legion Infantry -- Short Coat, Green with Same Lappel [sic!], Variety Button hole & Black Cuff and Collar."*)

*) W.Y. Carman, "Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion," Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 62 (1984), p. 130.

So with green jackets with black facings and white turnbacks and white waistcoats and breeches I would be on the safe side - even for the later years of the war. And black light infantry caps would be the right choice.








Numbers

According to the Legion Muster Rolls the British Legion Infantry began with 5 companies in 1778. One company was disbanded in late 1778 or early 1779, and another one was disbanded after its commander’s death and severe casualties. In the 1780s three new companies were established during the Legion's southern campaign. The Legion Muster Rolls from 23rd February 1781 to 1782 list the names of a large number of soldiers taken prisoner. They appear on the muster rolls of 6 companies of infantry.

The above mentioned paper at the Public Record Office testifies coats respectively jackets, waistcoats, and breeches for 30 sergeants and 600 men. This does of course not mean that the numbers correspond to the actual strength of the unit. At its best it might have numbered 340 men. At Cowpens the strength of the British Legion Infantry was probably between 200 and 250 men, there might even have been only 175 ! (cf. Babits, Lawrence E., A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

Figures

So I thought nine to seventeen figures would do to represent my British Legion infantry (ratio 1:20). I chose British light infantry figures by Foundry because their leather caps and uniform jackets suited the sources well. And the 16 figures corresponded with the actual (possible) numbers of soldiers.

The men got white small clothes, only drummer and trumpeter got green ones; the officers could afford buckskin breeches (I thought). The jackets were painted a dark green, with black facings and white lining. The caps are simply black, the white decoration on these (border and “BL”) is purely fictional of course.


Whatever you will say – I rather like them.




Friday, 6 February 2009

Allied Headquarters






La Siège de Yorktown le 17 Aout 1781
by Louis-Charles-Auguste Couderc (sometimes spelled Couder)











Since I had come across a picture of the painting “La Siège de Yorktown le 17 Aout 1781” by Louis-Charles-Auguste Couderc (which is at Versailles today) I had been pondering about constructing Washington’s and Rochambeau’s headquarters tent which is to be seen behind them.
I sat down at my desk with ruler, angle and pencil and conceived a paper model. After testing it I drew the final plan.









(You may copy and use the plan if you like.)










Then I copied the drawing to thin cardboard and cut out the parts, glued them together and painted the whole thing. As a base I took a bit of thin plywood.
The flags to the left and right of the tent can be identified as the French and the American colours. I doubt whether this is historically correct. I would expect the personal colours of the commanding officers instead. As the colours of both, General Washington and Maréchal Rochambeau, are known, I decided to use these. So you can see the French commander’s colours at the left, and those of Washington at the right. I wonder if the obverse wouldn’t have been correct, as the American was Commander-in-Chief.

Monday, 2 February 2009

My first Americans

The artillery figures of my miniatures for the Continental Army were the first to be completed. The set is from Dixon Miniatures, and I am quite content with their appearance and modelling. I only decided to give my officer a gorget and epaulettes.









The figures painted quite well. I clothed them in 1779 regulation uniforms, and enjoyed their campaign worn apparel. I could have put some dirt on their uniforms, though. But I only decided to darken their white clothes.

The two-horse-limber will follow later. The reigns and traces for the leading horse are a bit of a problem for my old hands.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Field-works

I got the idea from a fellow blogger (http://steve-the-wargamer-awi.blogspot.com/). As I’ve made use of his idea - with some variations - I will here describe how I did my field-works.











First I made the bases from pieces of 3mm thin plywood that had once been parts of a crate for mandarin oranges. They were 7 cm wide, which set the measure for the length of the earthwork modules. I cut them into 5 cm broad stripes. The sloping edges I produced by tilting the table of my mechanical saw.

























Then I bought two ledges, one with rectangular cross-section (1 by 2 cm), and one with triangular cross-section (2 by 2 cm), and cut them into 7 cm long pieces. The rectangular bits were provided with slits with the help of a carving knife, to produce the effect of boards later. The triangular cross-section of the ledge on the “outer” side of my earthwork produced the basis for a rather natural looking slope (at least that’s what I think).

The pieces were glued to the bases as indicated in the sketch.












Then I smeared the outer side of my earthworks with my special filler which consists of proper filler enriched with white glue and a greenish brown Umbra hue. The parts of the base which were still raw wood, were then painted in the same greenish brown colour.











At the rear side, match sticks were then glued against the “boards” to provide the upright poles of the parapet. Finally the “woodwork” was washed with a light brown tone to create a more “used wood” impression.

When the thing was dry I put glue on the earth parts and spread sand on it (the same mixture of sand from a sandpit and gravel from a path, which I use for my bases). Finished! No more embellishments necessary.
























The “redoubts” were done similarly, but as bases I used styrene pieces that had been the base for pre-packed cut cheese (larger pieces of thin plywood would have been even better, I think). And on the outer edges I added some static grass.





Redoubt with added earthworks

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Wagon Train

I remembered that among my heaps of unpainted flats I had some nice models of vehicles I had intended to use one day. Now the day had come! I bought the necessary draft horses and drivers, experimented a bit with the traces, and finally scraped a slate mould to provide myself with this essential equipment.


Here is an example of my wagon train of altogether 15 different vehicles.








A French charette or équipage des vivres was not among my hidden treasures. So I had to settle down tinkering at one. Fortunately I found some wheels of about the right size in my spare part box. The rest was Japanese rice sticks, some wire, thin cord and a bit of an old shirt. This is the result The construction sceme I found at "Nec pluribus impar".



équipage des vivres

Ingénieurs

For my general staff I wanted some ingénieurs-géographes. I discovered three figures by Foundry (SYW) that suited my purpose. The general on horseback became a general, and the two figures on foot were painted as ingénieurs-géographes.

These soldiers played an important part in the Yorktown campaign, because they were able cartographers and provided the general staff with precise maps.




general and ingénieurs-géographes









For my field-defences I needed a member of the Corps Royal du Génie to supervise and command the building of defences. I took the AWI French senior officer by Front Rank, equipped him with a map, and converted an empty horse into his mare. La voilá!






member of the Corps Royal du Génie supervising field-works

Monday, 5 January 2009

Strengthening the artillery arm

In the beginning I had only a regimental 3pdr gun with 3 artillerymen by Front Rank. I added some tools, and was quite content.




























Now I have added a 24pdr to my arsenal, which you can here see positioned in one of my new earthe works. I is manned by three French SYW artillerymen by Foundry. The equipment to the right I made myself.











On the march these heavy pieces were transported in parts, carriage and barrel separately. In the picture you can see the piece being transported, with the artillerymen marching behind the carriage (originally they were Front Rank grenadiers with hats).

Lauzun's Legion infantry and artillery











I have meanwhile finished my infantry and artillery of the Volontaires Etrangers de Lauzun. I needed longer, as there were no figures available and more research necessary.

There is no report about the colours of the regiment. I painted them in the sky blue of the unit uniforms and put the arms of Lauzun in the centre.


The grenadiers had to be equipped with bearskin caps without plate (which was done with a bit of Milliput, not too difficult).






















And the chasseurs, who wore "modern" light infantry caps, had to be converted from SYW light French infantry with Schomberg helmets. The original helmets had to be transformed into a peaked horsetail helmet of the type worn by French light infantry after 1786.





I am not quite content with the result, especially as the cut of the uniform coat is too old-fashioned. But the figures must do for the moment. Perhaps one day I will model and cast new heads to be put on 1779 grenadier bodies.













With the artillery it was mainly a question of sources. Experts seem to disagree on every detail as there are no records. I finally decided that my cannoniers should wear normal French artillerists' uniform with yellow facings and grey turnbacks.

As figures I chose some Prussian SYW artillerymen. Anyhow: Most of Lauzun's men were German speaking mercenaries, and the command language in the Legion units was German!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Blueberry Farm

I have just finished my first buildings, a two-room log cabin farm house and well and a thatch-roofed barn.
The farm building I found quite interesting as it does not correspond with the stereotype idea of a log cabin. I found photos of this historic type of building on the internet, and knew I had to build it.
The ground structure is plywood, the "logs" are imitated with thin boards of balsa wood (which is easy cutting into shape with a sharp knife). The intervals are filled with filler.
The shingle roof is imitated by rows of thin cardboard, into which I cut slits, and the wood structure is produced with the help of glue stiffened paint and a coarse brush.
The door has got hinges and can be opened. And inside on the ground floor there is an open fireplace with a copper kettle. It doesn't make any sense in wargaming, but I enjoyed making it.





A look through the window at the fireplace.





With the barn walls and roof I experimented. The ground structure is again plywood. For the walls it was covered with filler, which was then modelled into boards, and with stripes of thin cardboard which were structured and painted as weather-beaten wood. Both methods I find practicable, the second one producing a less weather-beaten look.
The roof plates were covered with thin sheets of styrene which were then structured and painted in my well-tried method. The ridge was built up of thin cardboard with a layer of single sisal fibres glued on, kept in place by beams laid across. The colouring does the rest.
The gates are made from cheese-box wood, the hinges from sheet metal of an old cigarette box. (Never throw anything away, you might find it useful one day, as my grandfather said.)

Friday, 2 January 2009

The Battle of Hard Rain Creek

On October 11th 2008 the four of us had a test of our new version of rules. We had introduced the dicing out of the season and new “weather cards” telling what the weather was like for the next rounds.

The idea turned out to be practicable and had surprising results. The season was to be spring or summer (I don’t quite remember) and turned out to be as wet as last summer (I think it was on a Thursday) or even worse. After the first moves it started pouring, and continued to pour and to pour. The rule said that in case of heavy rain the gunpowder would get wet. So it turned out to be a “sabre and bayonet” affair.



The Comte de Brioche and staff officers








For the Allied Forces of Colonists and French it became a routing defeat. But not so much because of the weather but because of military blunders of the High Command. (Which sounds rather realistic, doesn’t it?) The fault must be searched with the French general, the Comte de Brioche. He gave the order for Lauzun’s cavalry to attack some light troops and Tarleton’s dragoons on the other bank of the river.

They got well over the old stone bridge, but got then under devastating flank fire of Hessians Jaegers on a hill to the left, without being able to attack them because of a steep cliff. They had to retreat under heavy losses. And then it started to rain. So the British were able to overrun the bridgehead on the right flank, because the artillery couldn’t fire a shot and the infantry forces were too weak, and consisted partly of militia who withdrew when the bayonet charge began.

We were very pleased with our new version of rules. So pleased we were that we forgot to take into account that the rules said that in case of such weather the river would swell and the two fords couldn’t be used. So the British might not have won after all.

By the way: We don’t fight against each other, but act as some kind of War Gods instead, deciding what a commander would have done in the given situation. But the weather god was in the cards!